I have blogged about how to work out and how I got started, but the question everyone seems to ask me all the time is: How do you feel?
People expect me to tell them how different I feel – how losing the weight is like losing the weight of the world, and that I feel confident and sexy. The truth is, I do feel confident and I do feel sexy but I kinda always did.
I was very surprised when I became a role model for overweight girls everywhere while playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray on Broadway in 2003. I didn't set out for that job, but I took it very seriously. At that time I was almost 80 lbs. heavier than I am today, but I was still a strong, powerful woman and I was the best me I could be.
Yes, there were moments of self-doubt. Yes, there were many times I needed help to get a dress for a party – or even for the night I won my Tony – because designers do not design for a real person. But I always found something and I always looked great!
Hollywood's Weight Issue
A few years later, I lost about 45 lbs. and did season six of Dancing with the Stars. I remember it was the skinniest I had been in my adult life (until now) and still, entertainment shows would refer to me as the "the plus-size dancer."
I was one of the first overweight people to do the show, and I was happy to represent a real woman on the show. But I wasn't there to lose weight; I was there to have the time of my life – and I did!
Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur
The question I cringe over now is: "Do you think you'll work less now that you have lost weight?" I smile and answer, but it makes me feel bad that they think the only reason I worked as an actress is because I was fat.
I know there are people out there and maybe some family members who are waiting for me to gain back every pound – and I can't promise I won't. I am truly doing the best I can, and hope I can follow this new lifestyle.
It's hard. People say mean things when you're fat and then the same people say mean things when you lose the weight. You just have to stay true to yourself and be kind to yourself. I believe at any weight I am beautiful, but today I am healthier.
And while I lost weight for my health, I will keep it off for vanity and financial reasons. For the first time, I can go into cheaper stores and buy jeans. Last weekend I spent $11 at Walmart getting cute red jeans! I finally had to get new bras going from a 38DD to a 34C, and my underwear was so silly and big.
I spent 40 years buying stuff because they fit; now I can buy things I like.
Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur
And the Moral Is…
Last week I was pretty down on my former self when I read some mean online posts about me and my before and after pictures. I questioned who I was physically before, why I was so overweight.
A year ago, I was lucky enough to meet sisters Hannah Curlee and Olivia Ward, the runner-up and winner of season 11's The Biggest Loser, and they have inspired me every step of the way, from the "Why isn't the scale moving?" phone calls and "Why don't I feel skinny yet?" to "Will the skin on my arms ever tighten?"
They talked to me about feeling bad about my former self. They reminded me that at my heaviest, I was strong enough to get to where I am today. That the girl that people are/were being mean about is the strongest woman I know, and she brought me to this healthy happy life. She made the decision to get healthy. She is not weak; she is strong!
I hope I won't need her again, but she will always be inside me ready to kick ass and keep me on track! We are all strong enough to take charge of our lives; we have to be brave enough to do it.
The moral of my blog is ... try to find happiness wherever you are in your life, and find friends that let you evolve into the best you can be on any day!