“It was pretty interesting,” Schmidt said of the “Oprah” experience, which took several hours to tape. “I had to send my old clothes (size) in ahead of time. They put our clothes on a hanger and we all held them in front of us. Then Oprah said to drop the clothes.
“There were people from all over — Boston, California, Canada ...” Schmidt added. “It was fun talking to people about how they lost weight. Everyone did it differently.”
Schmidt’s method was and is lots of walking and biking; and a diet of chicken, seafood, vegetables and fruits. Protein is in; red meat, cheese, bread, candy and ice cream are out.
“I eat food as close to how food comes out of the ground as possible, so I’m not getting all the preservatives,” the 1976 Grand Haven High School graduate explained. “I don’t drink any pop — just water.”
Winfrey congratulated and posed with Schmidt for photos.
“She was very nice, very friendly,” said the 5-foot-7-inch Schmidt, who once weighed 311 pounds. “We talked about weight loss.”
Schmidt’s son and daughter-in-law live in Chicago. Her daughter-in-law, an Oprah Winfrey fan, nominated Schmidt for the weight loss segment. Schmidt submitted answers to producers’ questions — and, in late March, was invited to the April 27 taping.
“We found out once we got there that (President Barack) Obama was going to be on the show after us,” Schmidt said. “There were Secret Service dogs all over the place. I didn’t get to see hi, but my son lives on the 36th floor and we saw Air Force One flying in over Lake Michigan. It was quite a sight.”
Schmidt is in Florida this week with her family. She said they’ll be watching the show from their rental home.
When she returns to Grand Haven, she expects the arrival of a Schwinn bike that Winfrey gifted to all the show’s participants.
“I love to bike, so getting a bike was fantastic for me,” said Schmidt, who dropped from a size 24 to a 10. “My bike was older, so a new one will be fun. She gave us helmets, too. I can’t wait to ride it.”
Schmidt said she feels so much better without the extra weight.
“I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, I was borderline diabetic,” she recalled. “My doctor said I had to lose weight or I was digging myself a grave. I didn’t have a choice. And now, I feel so much better. It’s so much more fun to shop and my knees feel just great. Everyone is so supportive. And my husband has been great through this whole thing.”