How Rebel Wilson Lost Weight & Got Healthy (Diet, Exercise, & Mindset Plan)Jan 28, 2021
Note: Reshape Physical Therapy and Wellness evolved into Weight Loss for Health, and finally Zivli. How to Lose Weight After 50 was our first course that eventually grew into Zivli. Some old blog posts or resources mentioned in this episode may have been removed.
Australian actress, producer, writer, and lawyer Rebel Wilson lost 60 pounds in 2020 going from about 100 kilos, or 220 pounds to 75 kilos, or 165 pounds.
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She declared 2020 her year of health on Instagram and recently opened up with an hour-long video detailing how she lost the weight. In her own words, she went from being Fat Amy to Fit Amy.
While she plays lighthearted funny characters, as I’ve researched for this video I’ve learned she has quite a bit of depth and has put a ton of work into her wellness journey. So if you’ve never taken her seriously, now’s the time because she crushed her weight loss and wellness goals.
Highlights From This Episode
- A discussion about where her weight issues stem from in the first place.
- Why she wanted to lose weight and get healthy.
- The Rebel Triangle of Health that addresses her nutritional, physical, and emotional health.
- What she had to change about her nutrition, how many calories she eats in a day both for weight loss and as she’s moving into her weight maintenance phase.
- What kinds of exercise she does and how frequently she does them.
- How she’s working to overcome her biggest battle of all - emotional eating.
Why Rebel Wilson Wanted to Lose Weight & Get Healthy
So let’s start from the beginning of where Rebel’s weight issues started. She’s been overweight since she was 20...so about 20 years. In college she started to gain weight rapidly and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. The doctor prescribed a pill but didn’t really say much else. Now that she’s healthier, she reported she doesn’t need to take that pill anymore.
Rebel revealed that was at her thinnest when she had Malaria and almost died. She hasn’t been the weight she is now since high school. Here’s a recent clip from SkyTV where Rebel shares just a little about where her issues with weight started.
Rebel recently spoke with Drew Barrymore about her motivations behind getting healthy.
She always wanted to be healthier but didn’t feel like she had the time. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, she knew she wasn’t going to work that much in 2020 so she’d have more time. Rebel was also freezing her eggs and wanted good quality eggs in the bank.
Her Lifestyle Overhaul
Rebel had an on-again, off-again relationship with weight loss until 2020. She’d do a diet or go real hard on the exercise for a while and then gain it back. But here’s a really important takeaway for you. Rebel was determined to actually change her whole lifestyle. So it meant not only physically but mentally as well. Losing weight is a big commitment and you have to get outside your comfort zone on a regular basis.
The mental and emotional side turned out to be the biggest challenge for her. We can all logically learn what to eat and how much exercise to do, but it was the emotional stuff about realizing why she was emotionally eating, why she was overeating, and trying to solve that, that turned out to be the hardest part of losing almost 60 pounds.
Another mental block she had to get over was that she was making a lot of money being bigger and it’s part of her comedic persona. Hollywood loves to type cast people and she was the funny fat girl.
This has been a journey for Rebel and took her a little over a year. She’s not perfect about it which is a good thing. I like to say progress over perfection. Perfection is not sustainable. She didn’t have incredible discipline and wasn’t overly restrictive or crazy intense with her workouts. She focused on balance and attacking health from all different areas. There’s no right way to do things. There’s no one person or book. You learn tid bits along the way and see what works for you.
In true celebrity fashion, she started by going to a luxurious Austrian medical detox and wellness center called VivaMayr. Her mostly carb and sugar diet led to an overgrowth of candida in her gut. This was making her feel like she was starving all the time and for someone who already has a big sweet tooth trying to lose weight, she wanted to be sure that she was starting with a clean gut and fresh mindset.
After the detox, she started to feel a whole lot better but hadn’t put both feet into the health journey yet. She wrote a letter to herself about how she was going to give it her all this year and approach her health transformation from all different angles. She made a strong internal commitment and externally committed to Instagram followers for more accountability.
Now that you have a better understanding of why Rebel struggled with her weight, let’s get into the nitty gritty of exactly what she did to deal with her emotional eating habits and change her lifestyle.
How Rebel Wilson Addressed Emotional Eating
Rebel admits that everyone has a vice. She doesn’t have a problem with sex, drugs, alcohol, or gambling. But when it comes to emotional eating, especially sugary foods? That was her downfall. She has a huge sweet tooth (which by the way doesn’t just completely go away after losing weight).
She loved brownies and ice cream and would often suffer from emotional eating whether that be from happiness, sadness, celebrating, or feeling down. Emotional eating was the thing she did.
As an actress, writer, and producer her work can be extremely stressful. How she was dealing with the fame and pressures of work was by emotionally eating. She shared some really great tips for how she’s dealt with her emotional eating.
She recommended an audio book by Dr. Habib Sadeghi called Within. It’s a book about how your weight and physical health is related to what’s going on mentally. She took the time and energy to listen and learn about herself. This is an overlooked area of weight loss. People so often want a quick fix and aren’t willing to get uncomfortable, identify problem behaviors, and take consistent action to change them.
One of the biggest issues in her life was that she would get into a negativity cycle because she’d try to exercise and work really hard then she’d feel tired and eat a couple desserts then she’d feel guilty and shameful for not sticking with her plan, and this cycle continued for twenty years.
This emotional eating cycle can be really hard to break but it is definitely possible to get a handle on it and Rebel is proof of that.
She’d never worked on the emotional side of things before. She’s done a lot of work on herself to identify the unhealthy patterns and behaviors and why she was doing them. That doesn’t mean those old thoughts and behaviors have completely gone away. When she gets stressed she still emotionally eats sometimes. The old patterns still come up when she’s worried or anxious, just not every day now. And she has positive coping strategies to deal with her emotions in ways that don’t always involve food.
Again, emotional eating is not something that’s going to disappear. I think we can all be emotional eaters at times. The people and triggers that drove her to emotional eating didn’t go away. Her external circumstances didn’t change but her internal self and mindset did.
She just has to manage it moving forward. Rebel had a special message for those viewing her Instagram video who struggle with emotional eating. She said, “If you’ve struggled with emotional eating and overeating, know that it doesn't mean that you’re a bad person or you should feel bad about yourself or guilty or ashamed. Because everyone has vices. It’s about how you manage it, and replace your unhealthy habits with healthy ones.”
Rebel became tearful in her Instagram video when she spoke about emotional eating. You could tell that she’s really worked so hard to process her experiences, thought patterns, and behaviors but admitted she still hasn’t fully processed everything. She said the reason she was doing these unhealthy behaviors is because she wasn’t treating herself with the same love and respect that she treated everyone else with in her life. She left herself to last. I’m sure many watching or listening can relate to that.
She wasn’t valuing herself. She was telling herself negative things like, and I quote, “Stuff it with a whole thing of ice cream or packet of brownies because you deserve that.”
She’s trying to change those patterns so she’s more loving and respectful to herself. She still wants the sweet treats but she’s working on self-love and for her, self-love is a hard concept to master.
Self-Worth Versus Self-Confidence
One of my many favorite parts of Rebel’s video was how she spoke of the difference between self-confidence and self-worth. She didn’t know if she inherited a low self-worth, or if it had something to do with being a woman, or just childhood experiences.
Rebel confessed that her weight was a barrier, a protection in a way because she was bigger. She’d make jokes about her weight.
Even though she’s a confident, skilled, accomplished woman, she still struggles with self-worth.
Self-worth and self-confidence are completely different. Just because she had a high level of self-confidence, didn’t mean she had a high level of self worth. I know so many women, and men, deal with either low self-confidence, low self-worth, or both.
She wasn’t properly processing her emotions and so whether it was from fame or being a movie star...all she was doing was eating to numb those emotions. Getting serious about her weight loss meant she had to get serious about her emotions. The best thing to do was process those emotions so she didn’t have to numb herself from anything. Emotions themselves aren’t bad. They are a normal part of life. We just want to properly process those emotions, not stuff them down with food.
A few things helped her. One I really liked was to set a timer for 12 minutes and write out all your emotions. Not just to vent, although that can be helpful, but to see things from the other person’s perspective. She likes to end this writing with some gratitude. Once the timer is up, you destroy the piece of paper. Burn it, shred it, toss it. How you destroy the evidence is up to you. But once that piece of paper is gone, forgive yourself and try to move on.
Rebel listened to a lot of podcasts about body image, body positivity, mental coping strategies for anxiety, stress, and depression along this journey.
She also learned about mindful eating and why when you eat, that is all you should be doing. Not watching TV and eating at the same time because it leads to mindless overeating. She tries to slow down, take one bite at a time, and really chew and enjoy her food.
Lastly, she downloaded a couple meditation apps and does those if she feels really stressed out. So that’s one side of the Rebel Triangle of Health - Emotions. We have two more to cover - physical activity and nutrition.
Rebel Wilson’s Exercise Plan
Rebel admits that she’s lucky in the sense that her wealth affords her access to some of the best personal trainers. One of them - Gunnar Peterson also happens to be the LA Lakers strength and conditioning coach.
So yeah, she had some great help in the fitness programming department. But the majority of her exercise has just been walking.
She enjoyed having a personal trainer because she liked to chit chat and build rapport with them. And they can be a great source of motivation and accountability.
A tip Rebel used to make physical activity more enjoyable was listening to a podcast or motivational book. If you follow my work you know I love the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. One of the rules of habit change is to make the new habit more enjoyable. She has a gym playlist, a musical theater playlist with her favorite musical songs, and hardcore songs to get her going up the big hills on her hikes.
She never thought she would like hiking but she loves being in nature. She tries to vary her exercise to get different benefits including strength and cardiovascular training. Rebel encouraged women to not be afraid of doing strength training with weights. It makes her feel strong and powerful and the weights are good for your muscles and bones, too.
There are all types of physical activity. If you have bad knees or ankles, try swimming. In my opinion, there is a form of physical activity for everyone and it’s just a matter of being committed enough to get it done.
Rebel is active six to seven days a week, even if it’s just taking a leisurely walk. She takes Sundays as a rest day. I want to take a pause here and highlight her consistency. Move your body a little bit everyday! It adds up. The more you do it, the better you’ll feel. Make the time for exercise and I promise you’ll have more energy and be more productive.
Rebel Wilson’s Nutrition Plan
Rebel explained that she had a little bit of an uphill battle with nutrition because of her PCOS and genetics. She got her genes tested and said she has the “gaining weight gene.” Genetics do play a part in your weight and health.
Research is still working to find out just how much is environment versus genetics but here’s a takeaway point. Rebel was able to lose 60 pounds in a little over a year despite having the “gaining weight gene” and PCOS. And she did it without crazy dieting or intense exercise. If she can do it, you can do it, too.
She understood nutrition was a big deal and actually said one of my personal favorite quotes in her Instagram video, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” Personally I like the spin from Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and you can’t out-diet no training.”
Rebel thought that because she was exercising a lot, she’d be able to eat 3000-4000 calories a day but it didn’t work like that. She had to look really at what she was eating. She grew up eating fast food several times a week. Pizza Hut. McDonalds. And she loves In And Out Burger.
But she was eating processed take-out way too often. She told a funny story about how she used to think glucose (or sugar) made the neurons in your brain fire faster. So when she was in law school studying for exams she’d always have candy like jelly beans because she thought it was making her smarter.
Here’s a key part in her story I don’t want you to miss. She said she didn’t have great nutritional influences growing up. Her family went out to eat a lot. But she knew she had to take responsibility for herself. The little girl in her still wants the snacks and candy but she knows she can’t have it, at least not all of the time.
Rebel has a real sweet tooth. She only used to eat carbs and sugar.
So when she started this weight loss journey, she switched to a high-protein diet. She doesn’t eat healthy and clean every day but she is prioritizing protein where she can. Switching to a high-protein diet was a little challenging because prior to 2020 she was mostly vegetarian and didn’t eat much meat. But her body responds really well to a high-protein diet and she's done a lot of chicken, salmon, and vegan protein shakes.
Ditching the Food Guilt
Rebel admitted that she used to eat a whole thing of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or a whole pizza when she was emotionally eating.
She’d feel guilty, but the guilt didn’t make it any better. It made it worse. How she handled the guilt was just to forgive herself and release herself from any feelings of guilt or shame. Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to do you any favors.
You should never feel guilty about eating healthy well-balanced meals because your body needs fuel. Rebel has a say no food is forbidden.
She eats potatoes, rice, fruit, all of it. She doesn’t get bored with meals because she’s not on a super strict diet. She’s eating a variety of stuff but just concentrating on the protein.
During her weight loss, she has tried to stay under 1500 calories a day but now that she’s hit her goal weight, she’ll be increasing that to 2000-25000 during maintenance because she is working out regularly.
As a side note, 1500 calories a day for someone losing weight is so much more doable than 1200 which is a number I hear thrown around a lot by clients who have previously tried to lose weight with caloric restriction. You really do need to fuel your body properly - which she did - in order to sustainably lose weight otherwise you’re not going to be able to maintain such a restrictive lifestyle. You’ll get hungry and your hormones will win by regaining the weight.
Rebel was a little worried about addiction transfer, or going from one extreme of emotional eating to the other of obsessing over calories. She doesn’t obsess over what she’s eating or a number on the scale. She told a story about when she came to Hollywood there was a girl who’d lost weight and weighed every gram of food and she really didn’t want to do that.
During her weight loss, she weighed herself once every other week and now that she’s in maintenance she’s going to aim for once a month just to be sure she isn’t moving too far in either direction.
Rebel's strives for a healthy balance with her nutrition and drinks 2-3 liters of water a day. Like most people who’ve lost weight, she found several pounds came off easily but then she had to consistently work for it. The more weight she lost, the harder she had to work for it and she eventually returned to the detox center to get the last few pounds off and reach her goal weight a month early.
Your Size Doesn’t Define You
When she started her weight loss transformation, she was at 100 kilos or about 220 pounds and she wanted to get under 75 kilos or 165 pounds. While she admits it’s really cool she’s been successful in doing this, the number on the scale is not the end all be all. She wanted something tangible to measure progress. She did this so she could be a healthier and happier person.
She likes being curvy and her goal was never to be skinny. She feels confident at any size. She put a goal weight on there because she needed something tangible but also used body measurements to track progress.
Your size isn’t the one thing that defines you. It’s your personality, your skills, and your abilities. There were a lot of people in her life who didn’t want her to change, maybe didn’t want her to be happier. Industry-wise there were a lot of people that wanted her to stay fat Amy and at the end of the day it’s her life and her body.
Sometimes when you’re changing for the better, people may not be happy and they try to sabotage you. But you have to stay true to yourself and stay focused. Hollywood wanted to type-cast her but she came to the wise conclusion that her health was more important.
Her career is very demanding and she has to be healthy to sing, dance, act, and travel. She’s proud of herself for losing the weight and establishing a lot more balance in her life. For Rebel, it’s about being a better version of herself. She had some great advice from her Instagram video.
Her advice was that, “Every body type is different but just try to be a healthier version of you. In a global pandemic, health is one of the most important things because if you’re healthy and have a strong immune system you’re less likely to be susceptible to serious complications of COVID-19. There’s a reason why billionaires and CEOs believe health is wealth because without health they don’t have anything. Never feel bad about yourself but if you are engaging in things you think are unhealthy, try to make some positive changes in your life. Beauty can be at any size.”
Her ultimate goal is to have a healthy, balanced life and at least from what I can tell from her Instagram, I think she is crushing it. I hope that her story has been an inspiration in balance, consistency, and personal responsibility to you.
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Resources From This Episode
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Watch Rebel's Full Story
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