It’s easy for Mo’Nique to stay grounded. The comedian says she will always remember where she came from, even after her Academy Award win for best supporting actress for the film “Precious.”
“I used to work at Popeyes,” she recalls. “I know what it is to live check to check. I know what it is to have a baby and no health insurance. So if at any moment this [success] starts to make me feel that I’m something special, the universe will slap me in my mouth.”
The success of her Atlanta-based talk show, “The Mo’Nique Show” (11 p.m. weeknights on BET), has given the comedian a platform to be frank about her weight loss, which spurred a passion for physical fitness. She works out about six days a week and has lost more than 40 pounds.
I wasn’t feeling bad; it was just that one day my husband asked me, “Mama, how much do you weigh?” And I said proudly, “262 pounds.” He said, “That’s too much, and I want you for a lifetime.”
Baby, I instantly began to do something because it was so sweet. I had never had anybody say that to me. I started walking. I got a trainer, and it’s been almost a year now.
One place I love is Amicalola Falls. It’s a 600-step climb and a waterfall in the midst of the climb. It’s amazing. I go to Stone Mountain, too. I also love my step and spinning classes. It’s like I’ve gotten really passionate about living and my health. I really want to meet my grandchildren.
It’s no longer a struggle to work out. When I’m in my spinning class — and that class is kicking my [behind] — I say, “I’m spinning to meet my grandchildren. I’m spinning for the generation that will never get a chance to meet me.” And when they do read about you, you want them to know that you were healthy. You loved them enough [to get healthy].
Exercising clears my mind. It helps me to work it through. Because when you’re exercising it’s just you. There’s nobody that can pick those weights up for you. There’s nobody that can jog that mile for you. In my mind, I’m having my conversations with God.
Diet is a big part of it and very challenging. I’ve stopped eating all red meat. I might eat fried food once every month or every other month. I don’t do a lot of bread at all. Certain things I no longer have a taste for.
I’m very comfortable doing it this way [as opposed to being official spokeswoman for a diet company] because I have this platform. I love being extremely honest. This is very challenging. I don’t want to get in front of you and say, “Eat this.”
Listen, it’s almost like you are a junkie because you do have those moments at 2 a.m. where you just want to eat something. So for me, I can say, “OK, today I lost the battle.”
Somehow people got the perception before that I was saying, “Be big and unhealthy, and don’t work out.” I never said that. What I always said was, “Big is beautiful.” And I still feel that way. But let’s be big, healthy and beautiful.
One time [this lady] said to me, “Mo’Nique, I’ve got to introduce you to my niece. She’s big and doesn’t care what anybody thinks.” Her niece was 10 years old and my size. I had to take a step back, because that’s not at all what I’m saying.
Now that I have this platform and can be seen every night, let me show y’all that I’m putting in the work.
By no means am I trying to be skinny. I’m trying to get to 200 pounds so my husband can pick me up and his legs won’t shake.
As told to Adrianne Murchison
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.