By James S. Fell
November 10, 2012
Wendy Williams used to love the McRib, and she hid eating it. She hid eating a lot of things and also engaged in unhealthful behaviors to try to combat her weight. That's all changed. Now the syndicated talk show host embraces her body type and uses exercise and healthful eating to look great for the people who really matter: herself and her husband.
And she doesn't hide her occasional indulgences any longer. I spoke with her the day after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and she was having a "natural disaster binge day," sharing treats from the fridge with her family just in case the power went out and things spoiled.
Tell me about your battles with your weight.
I've been battling weight since first grade. My mother did things like give me mustard in my tuna fish instead of mayo, and make sure the tuna was always packed in water because it had less fat in it.
I grew up in a house where my mother and father never had weight issues. And my own parents called me fat. My mother would bring cookies home for my brother, and I'd bribe him to give me some of them. Once I got my driver's license, I could go to McDonald's and eat a couple of McRibs and then go home for dinner and act like it never happened. I took weight-loss pills like Dexatrim or would take a fistful of laxatives. And in my late 20s, there was a couple of years when I made myself throw up after eating.
Was there a catalyst that changed things for you?
I really think that everything changed when I became a mother. I weighed about 200 before I got pregnant and during the pregnancy gained 103 pounds because I was on bed rest. After giving birth, I realized that this just wasn't right for me. The goal was to be a great example for my son and decide to get in the best shape I can ever be.
Also, my husband is a gym rat. He watches his weight. My mentality now is that I only have one body, and it's been good to me in spite of some of the bad decisions I've made.
How has exercise become a part of your life now?
I go to the gym at least two or three times a week and work out with my trainer, Ann, for an hour each time. It's mostly about cardio, and some yoga. I do work with some weights, but it's all about my arms. The upper arms start to fall like snow when you reach a certain age.
I work a lot with the elliptical machine because it does arms and legs at the same time. And I can watch TV and talk to my trainer. I need to be able to talk when I'm exercising. I went through a few trainers to find one that was a good psychological fit for me. Prior to her, they had all been men, but Ann is also a mother, and we've got lots of things in common to talk about. We have a good rapport, so the time goes really fast.
And what about the food side? How has that changed for you?
I try my best to eat clean. There is nothing I don't eat: pork, beef, chicken and fish. Cheese is my kryptonite, and I have to monitor it. I like kale chips instead of potato chips and poured egg whites instead of full eggs. I love sardines, as long as you don't look at them because they're so ugly. I'm a foodie. And I drink a lot of water.
Another thing is that I get on the scale only when I go to see my endocrinologist. That's the only time I weigh myself. My doctor has me on Levoxyl for my thyroid condition and taking vitamin D. I also take Caltrate to keep my bones strong, plus fish oil, a multivitamin and B12 each day.
What's your source of motivation for living healthy now?
I want to keep myself together first and foremost for me. I want to be viable and attractive. And my husband is right on board with this. My son is into working out too, and playing basketball. Really, the three of us have a fitness lifestyle.
Now, at 48, I have it under control. I'm not meant to be skinny, but I can be healthy. I'm 5 foot 11 and weigh 175 and feel fit as a fiddle. I'm very comfortable with my height now and with who I am. I own it. I love myself best when I am naked when I get out of the shower, because in my opinion I look good. Being on TV is third or fourth on the list for looking good. I want to be hot for me and for my husband. I don't have unrealistic expectations.