Maria Menounos may now be famous for her enviable figure (those abs!), but the TV personality isn't afraid to admit that she struggled with her weight in her earlier years.
Looking stunning on the cover of Ladies Home Journal, the 35-year-old Extra host opens up about growing up in an extremely health conscious household, which she says led her later to binge on all the sugary foods she was denied as a kid, causing her to quickly pack on the pounds.
"There were no chips, ice cream, or sugary cereals anywhere at home…I didn't even know what bagels or waffles were until late in high school," she tells the mag, describing how her parents, both immigrants from Greece, were raised on a Mediterranean diet and her father had type 1 diabetes. "For dinner we ate a variety of dishes made with lentils, vegetables, and beans from the garden. Our dessert? Fruit."
"Then when I was 13 I got a job at a doughnut shop. Surrounded by sugar for the first time in my life, I couldn't resist," Menounos shares. "In my freshman year of high school I was a size 3, and I grew a size every year."
Menounos continues, admitted things "got worse in college" once she was off her "parents' proverbial leash" and as result, her weight only increased.
"I didn't gain the Freshman 15—I gained the Freshman 40," she revealed. "I could keep candy and chips in my room and eat all the late-night pizza I could afford. I grew to a size 14 and kept growing. I felt sick and lethargic. I wanted to nap all the time."
Finally, when Maria hit her early 20s, she decided she had enough and was "tired of feeling tired."
"Since I couldn't find a plan that worked for me, I decided to create my own," she says. "Within a year I lost 40 pounds."
The newly skinny Maria then moved to California where her television career quickly took off and while she maintained her thin frame, her eating habits "took a nosedive" as she felt she only had time for fast food.
"There were consequences to eating so much junk," she says. "I was in and out of the hospital multiple times for exhaustion, malnutrition and dehydration. I realized my whole quest to have an amazing body needed to be seriously reevaluated," she admitted, adding, "Just because you're thinner doesn't mean you're healthier. I made it my mission to figure out the very best ways to control my weight and be healthy at the same time."
So what are her tips for shedding those pesky pounds in time for summer?
Menounos advises to set a deadline. "My goal was to stop overeating, make healthier choices, and lose weight slowly over the course of one year," she says. "Trying to rush or do crazy crash diets does not give you sustainable results."
She also advises to keep your weight loss journey to yourself ("Why make it harder?") in addition to tying your weight loss goal to an event.
"Before you change your diet, spend a week recording everything that you eat—and when you ate it—in a weight-loss journal," she advises. "Now that you know what you're eating," Menounos says you should focus on cutting back slowly. And girl is serious! She admits to previously eating seven pizza slices in one sitting.
The brunette beauty also says you should start recording your exercise and "aim for 10,000 steps per day" and she advises to avoid the scale so you won't find yourself obsessing about numbers.
Last but not least? Eat your calories, be sure not to drink them, and if you like dessert, have it, just don't always indulge in the most decadent options.
And finally, rejoice and reward yourself after you reach your goal!
Head to LHJ for more of Menounos' favorite foods as well as more weight loss tips!