From her perspective about, oh, three feet away on the guest couch, Vernon native Trina Marr (née Burston) thinks legendary TV host Oprah Winfrey is in a good place in her life.
Marr, 37, a hair stylist and business owner (Hair Flairs, www.hairflairs.com) in Calgary, makes her third and final appearance as a guest on the Oprah show Friday at 4 p.m. PST.
“She is so gracious, I think knowing that this is her final season she has a sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment,” said Marr, a 1991 Fulton secondary graduate, talking about her appearance which was taped in Chicago Jan. 19.
Marr is back on Oprah on an update show about memorable couples who have appeared on the show in the past 25 years.
The thing is, Marr appears as a single.
She was first introduced to Oprah and her millions of viewers in 2005. Oprah’s producers found Marr and her then-husband after watching Marr appear on a Canadian reality TV show, Taking It Off, a show about losing weight.
Marr, then 250 pounds, came across to viewers as a sad and sorry girl whose husband was cheating on her.
“Life was not great but I was still fat and funny,” said Marr. “I was taking everything in stride.”
Six months after the first appearance, Marr and her ex were brought back on Oprah for an update. That second appearance prompted Marr to file for divorce from her husband and change her life tremendously.
“Food was like comfort, for 11 years I was in a carbohydrate coma,” said Marr, displaying her obvious great sense of humour. “My attitude is I’m a calorie counter. I don’t care where food comes from. I don’t care if it’s a chocolate bar or a piece of lettuce. A calorie is a calorie. The body doesn’t differentiate.
“I used to be an overweight girl. I conquered my weight loss, divorced my ex-husband and got on with my life. I’m 90 pounds lighter. I stopped playing the blame game. It wasn’t my ex-husband’s fault I was fat. I was putting too much food in my mouth and being too lazy.”
Thanks to one of her clients, Marr attributes her weight loss to becoming enamored with the sport of roller derby, which she said “changed her whole word.”
“My client said I’d be great at it. Of course I’d be great. I’m 250 pounds of hitting mass,” said Marr, who went by the persona Goldie Golddigger during her three-year derby career. “As I started skating and getting happy and becoming more healthy in my mind, the weight came pouring off.”
Now a healthy 160 pounds, Marr retired from the sport because “even though your mind stays young, your body does not.”
“And when I realized I could have birthed half the children I was playing against, it was time to retire with my dignity intact,” she laughed.
As a Canadian who has appeared on Oprah three times, Marr would almost certainly have to be a rarity. She made herself a promise in 2005 that if the opportunity ever came about to go back on the show, it would be because she had accomplished something in her life.
Now married to her best friend, Mario, and with two kids, 16 and 14 (who were both born in Vernon), Marr, an only child raised by a single mom who still lives in Vernon, attributes her Okanagan upbringing and her upcoming 20-year-high school reunion to helping her succeed.
“Six years ago I was beaten down by my life and the choices I’d made,” said Marr. “I didn’t want to go to my reunion this summer as still the funny fat girl. I wanted to come back and be able to say to my classmates, ‘I didn’t just make it on Oprah because I was fat. Look where I’m at now.’
“My mom always told me I was lucky to get a job here because we didn’t have the same economy Alberta’s been blessed with. I’ve always come out with everything in my life with that Okanagan “go-to-it” attitude. When I was down six years ago, I felt I needed to re-engage that spirit and do the best I could do.
“I can come back to my hometown, be proud of the person that I am and share that with 25 million people who are average watchers and say if you get up off your ass you can accomplish anything.”