"My body belongs to ME—at every phase, in every iteration, and whatever I'm doing with it."
It was Lena Dunham who spoke those words in March 2017. A recent public appearance had incited an uptick in backlash toward the star and she was addressing her naysayers head on by way of social media. After suffering from symptoms stemming from endometriosis, she honed in on meditation, exercise and nutrition to combat her ailments and, in the process, had appeared to shed some weight. While she was no stranger to criticism, the Girls star made it clear her lifestyle changes were a response to herself—no one else.
"I am no longer scared of my body," she wrote in Lenny Letter. "In fact, I listen to it when it speaks."
Dunham is one of the many Hollywood examples of stars who have adjusted their approach to wellness as of late, whether through diet, exercise, surgery and professional treatment. For Oprah Winfrey, it was concern for her blood pressure that made her hone in on the scale and adjust her eating.
"For your heart to pump, pump, pump, pump, it needs the least amount of weight possible to do that," the Weight Watchers spokeswoman told The New York Times Magazine in August 2017.
"So all of the people who are saying, 'Oh, I need to accept myself as I am'— I can't accept myself if I'm over 200 pounds, because it's too much work on my heart. It causes high blood pressure for me. It puts me at risk for diabetes, because I have diabetes in my family.'' As a result, she dedicated herself to the Weight Watchers lifestyle, bid farewell to 30 pounds and basked in the results she had been aiming for: a clean bill of health. "Best Health report card ever!" the media mogul shared on social media following a checkup with her doctor in 2016.
For some stars, the lifestyle changes have been more binding. Fans of reality star Mama June Shannon got to follow along every step of her weight loss transformation as she endured invasive and costly procedures, including a sleeve gastrectomy, breast augmentation and skin removal procedures for her neck, arms and stomach. The outcome? The TV star shed more than 200 pounds and dropped six dress sizes. Seven months after revealing her new look to the world, Shannon proved she has maintained her hard-earned results. As she said on her TV series, Mama June: From Not to Hot, "I feel like [I'm] becoming the person on the outside that I always felt like [I was] on the inside."
Similarly, after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe wanted to make a change. "I genuinely [would] worry all the time about losing my toes," she told People. After a lifelong battle with losing weight naturally, she elected to undergo laproscopic bariatric surgery in May 2016.
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"I did not get this surgery to be beautiful," she elaborated in her memoir. "I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels. I want to do a cartwheel. I want not to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs."
Nearly a year after the surgery, Sidibe was continuing to set benchmarks for herself. "I have a goal right now, and I'm almost there," she told the magazine in March 2016. "And then once I've got it, I'll set another."
In many cases, stars consider the longterm impact of their commitment to wellness. For Meghan Trainor, her recent commitment to healthy eating and fitness isn't about her 20-pound weight loss alone. "One day, we'll have kids," she told E! News on the heels of her engagement to actor Daryl Sabara. "I want to be the healthiest I can be for those kids."
While some stars' lifestyle changes are inspired by the number on the scale, others' are focused on substances. Amid his separation from Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt came to terms with his alcohol use. "I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn't dealing with. I was boozing too much. It's just become a problem," the actor revealed to GQ Style in May 2017. "And I'm really happy it's been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I've got my feelings in my fingertips again."
For Ben Affleck, addressing his alcohol addiction meant seeking professional help, which he candidly confirmed in March 2017 that he did. "I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I've dealt with in the past and will continue to confront," the star penned at the time. "I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step."
As a source elaborated to E! News about the unexpected public statement, "He didn't want to hide...He will continue to work on it. This was a step, but it's a progressive process. He's in a good place."
Aaron Carter elected to enter a facility in September 2017 following a year featuring a personal revelation and run-in with the law. As his rep Steve Honig told E! News in a statement at the time, "Aaron has decided to enter a facility to improve his health and work on his overall wellness. He is going to do this privately and focus all his attention on being the best person and performer possible."
More than a month later, he had reemerged in public to reveal he had put on more than 40 pounds. "I went from 115 to 160 pounds in two months," he penned on Instagram. "I feel amazing. 2018 I'm ready for you!!
Motivated by her music to make a change, Miley Cyrus decided to stop smoking weed in the midst of releasing her sixth studio album, Younger Now.
"This record means so much to me and I want to be able to really just tell people what I feel about the record in a non-stoned way—in a real way," she told Howard Stern during an interview in October 2017. "I want to be present."
Of course, the physical changes can only succeed when there's a marriage of the mind and body. While Sam Smith had worked on his relationship with food and slimmed down to ease his body image concerns in recent years, it was when he accepted his shape internally that he could achieve the ultimate result.
"I think [being comfortable on camera has] come with me losing weight. When I was shooting my first music videos, I just wasn't happy with the way I looked, so I was trying to control the way the camera moved. I got a bit obsessive. I was constantly looking in the mirror, pinching my waist, weighing myself every day," he told Sarah Jessica Parker for an interview in V magazine. "Now, I've gotten to a place where I really love my stretch marks and I just enjoy my body."