O Phase: Living Oprah documents Robyn Okrant’s year of practicing Winfrey’s advice

Illustration of Robyn and Oprah by Caitlin Kuhwald

In 2008, Robyn Okrant, a Lincoln Square yoga instructor, embarked on a yearlong quest to do everything Oprah Winfrey advised. The project cost her more than $4,700 and 1,200 hours of unwavering obedience to Oprah’s mantra, “Live your best life.” Okrant’s blog, livingoprah.com, documented the whole project. Her new memoir, Living Oprah (Center Street; $24.99), hits stores in January—on the heels of the talk queen’s announcement that her show will end in 2011.

You spent 262 hours watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. Why?
Not to be overly dramatic here, but I think there’s sort of this epidemic in this country of chronic dissatisfaction with life. Especially with women, where we have this tendency to look outside ourselves for guidance on making ourselves happier, richer, thinner, prettier, et cetera. Of all figures in the media today, Oprah Winfrey is absolutely the most powerful. I thought maybe I’d just play crash-test dummy for the year and see what happened.

Oprah encourages a lot of self-discovery. How many different meditations were you doing?
Sometimes I did about four or five a day.

That’s a lot even for a yoga teacher.
You ain’t lying. I was stressed out trying to make time for all of this meditation.

What was Oprah’s worst advice?
I hope it’s clear from the book that I adore my husband, but we had to do this kissing exercise where every day for ten seconds we had to kiss. I began to dread those ten seconds of kissing.

Whose idea was it to wear the leopard-print shoes on the book cover?
Not mine! My friends last year, whenever they’d invite me to a barbecue they’d say, ’Wear the white jeans and the leopard-print flats.’ Everyone wanted me to come in costume. I feel like I should bronze them.

Would you be disappointed to find out that overwhelmed Oprah fans were buying your book to follow her advice more systematically?
I think that might happen. Some people don’t like Oprah; some people pray to the idol of Oprah. They all projected on me what the project meant to them. The same thing is going to happen with the book, probably. It’s almost none of my business how they respond to it.

I’ve noticed you get frustrated when people ask you if you’ll ever go on Oprah’s show. How come?
I guess I wince at it because I just don’t want people to think that I did this so I would get 15 minutes of fame on Oprah’s couch.

What if she endorses your book?
I’m not going to lie to you, that would be really cool. She is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to marketing and consumerism.

And everything you bought during the project?
I have donated a lot of it. Today I wore my crisp white shirt, though.

And the leopard-print shoes?
No, but if you ever want to borrow them I have huge feet, so you’re more than welcome.

 

Illustration: Caitlin Kuhwald

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