Rebel Wilson on overcoming ‘emotional eating’: ‘I knew I could be a healthier version of myself’

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Rebel Wilson has always been an open book when it comes to her dramatic weight loss.

But before embarking upon her 2020 "year of health" journey, the Australian actress, 41, had to admit to herself that she was using “emotional eating” as a way to deal with her feelings.

That realization ended up being the first step towards losing weight despite not-so-subtle pushback from her fans, as she recently described in an in-depth interview about the process.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 08: Rebel Wilson arrives ahead of the 2021 AACTA Awards Presented by Foxtel Group at the Sydney Opera House on December 08, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for AFI)
Rebel Wilson is proudly speaking out about her weight-loss journey while encouraging others to find their own routes toward better health. (Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for AFI) (Brendon Thorne via Getty Images)

“I definitely had people not being supportive of that life change when I announced this is gonna be my year of health,” Rebel shared on the podcast Life Uncut with Britt and Laura about her decision to lose weight two years ago. “I guess it’s because, being big, I didn’t have any serious disease or whatever. I was getting checked for diabetes and things like that. I didn’t have anything. But I knew secretly my emotional eating was unhealthy.”

“I knew that it’s not really a healthy way to be dealing with emotions, whether they’re happy or sad emotions,” she continued. “I knew deep down I can’t keep doing that. Like, I can’t. I have to have a healthy option for my life. But it was hard because I’m traveling all around the world having this amazing life, making a ton of money and having a great career.”

Wilson, who lives with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, making it harder for her to lose weight, explained that a major shift happened when she got older and started to look at health differently.

“I just knew, OK, I’m turning 40. I know I can be healthier,” she said. “Even though I loved myself being bigger. It never stopped me from doing anything, really, and then I was like, OK, I’m going to make the big change and lose the excess weight that my body doesn’t need to be carrying around.”

Still, losing the weight brought criticism.

“I had quite a lot of pushback because people were like, ‘Why would you want to change? You’re awesome just how you are,’” she recalled. “And I was like, yeah I know that, but I also know I’m engaging in things that are unhealthy and I gotta work on that.”

These days, after losing over 70 pounds, the Pitch Perfect star said she’s been offered more dramatic roles — a huge shift from her early comedic characters, which is something her fans are still getting used to.

“I turned what was to a lot of agents as a disadvantage into my advantage,” she said of being plus-sized. “I knew I was a bigger girl so I was like you just got to embrace it. That's why I went into comedy acting, because I knew how much power comedians can have. People are more likely to laugh at people they don't want to have sex with.”

“If I tried to somehow look like Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman, I wouldn’t have succeeded,” she added. “I had to be myself. I had to be me. There were so many more people that were way more gifted than me but I was unique and I was an individual.”

Rebel Wilson arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Rebel Wilson has used her platform to shine a light on body empowerment. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls) (Henry Nicholls / Reuters)

Even though her representatives are "amazing at what they do," Wilson said they pushed back at the thought of her losing weight, fearing that it would prevent her from booking roles. Still, as she said, “they weren’t living my life.”

That mindset also became apparent by her fans online. “Some people on social media would be like, ‘Oh are you going to be funny now?’” she remembered. “And I'm like, well, physicality is one tool in your toolkit as a comedian you can use. But there’s many many other tools that I have and that you guys will see in upcoming movies, so it’s just about diversifying that. So yeah, it’s interesting, but on the whole pretty much everyone’s been so supportive. And I made my journey very public to make it accountable.”

Despite the criticism, Wilson doesn’t blame anyone for not wanting her to change. In fact, she said it's par for the course when you're a public figure in Hollywood.

“They see you as one way … and they want you to be that,” she explained. “It's like, in your family, say there’s two sisters and they’re both overweight. One loses weight and the other doesn't. There could be some resentment from the other sister going, ‘Well why did you change?’ And it makes them not feel good about themselves for whatever reason. It’s so relatable."

"There are some people out there that don’t like the change, but I’m kinda like, I did it for myself," she said. "I knew I could be a healthier version of myself. That was my only goal and I was so proud of myself that I could actually do it.”

“It’s now opened me up dramatic roles, which I wasn’t really getting considered for before, which is awesome,” she added. “Now I can use that acting muscle which I haven’t used much of.”

Wilson has spoken openly about her journey with weight loss in the past — and how she's battled criticism.

"I was earning millions of dollars being the funny fat girl and being that person," she told the BBC last month. "I was still very confident being bigger and, you know, loved myself."

"I would rock a red carpet and was probably double the size and sometimes triple the weight of other actresses, but like I still felt confident in that," she added. "But I knew deep down inside some of the emotional eating behaviors I was doing was not healthy. Like I did not need a tub of ice cream every night … That was me, kind of numbing emotions using food, which wasn't the healthiest thing."