Celebrities are constantly put under a microscope for their physical attributes. Whether it be a breakout on their face, a bad outfit or five extra pounds gained over the holidays, they can be sure that the world will know about it thanks to the thousands of paparazzi lurking behind them around the clock. Being overweight on its own is tough enough in today’s society, with strangers thinking they can comment on people’s physical appearance and weight loss ads staring at us everywhere we turn. Just imagine that same pressure and magnify it a thousand fold for celebrities, who are relentlessly scrutinized and criticized for their physical shortcomings.
Going beyond how good the world thinks everybody looks when skinny, Hollywood takes it a step further and rewards actor for committing to their roles and losing shocking amounts of weight. Tom Hanks, Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey were all hailed by critics for their dramatic weight loss in movies like Castaway, The Machinist and Dallas Buyers Club respectively. If you look at it that way, it seems downright cruel for the media to then turn around and shame women like Kim Kardashian, Hilary Duff and Christina Aguilera for gaining large amounts of weight during their pregnancies – a time when the female body is hardwired to do so. While weight loss isn’t always done for the right reasons, sometimes it truly can change somebody’s life. We’ve compiled a list of the most shocking celebrity transformations below, whether they were motivated by health, vanity or just a great movie role.
10. Jonah Hill
In 2011, Hill’s co-star Brad Pitt urged the 5’7, 250 pound actor to lose weight for his health and for his role in the film Moneyball. A longtime fan of beer, Hill claims that by cutting back drastically on the beverage and turning to a diet heavy on Japanese food, he was able to shed up to 40 pounds in just a few months. He relied heavily on a high protein, low carb regime which was incredibly effective, although sources around the actor claim that it left him with rancid breath. When people turn to Atkins-style diets that center around protein, the body produces ammonia while digesting meat and leaves the dieter smelling like acetone. Not exactly the most attractive scent in the world, but hey – it worked. Sadly the results didn’t seem to last long-term and Hill has gained most of the weight back in recent years.
9. Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie rose to fame as Paris Hilton’s wise-cracking, charming sidekick on the hit television series The Simple Life in 2003. In the first seasons, she was curvy and round and then displayed gradual weight loss as the series progressed. In 2006, a paparazzi photo was published of her gaunt, 96 pound frame running down the beach in a blue bikini and the world was shocked by her painfully thin and bony appearance. She credits the dramatic weight loss to stress following her breakup with DJ Adam Goldstein (who later died from a drug overdose in 2009), but sources close to the star claim it was as a result of an eating disorder which left her surviving on celery sticks and chewing gum.
8. Jennifer Hudson
When the world was first introduced to Jennifer Hudson on the third season of American Idol, she looked nothing like she does today. The beautiful songstress was quite curvy and not slim by industry standards. Following the murder of her mother, brother and nephew by her brother in law in 2008, Hudson became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers in 2010 and dropped an astonishing eighty pounds in four years. She has been vocal about how she doesn’t enjoy exercise, so she credits her success to counting calories and watching portion size. Although she admits that chocolate is her vice and she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
7. Matthew McConaughey
To portray the role of AIDS sufferer Ron Woodroof in 2014’s Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey shed 40 pounds – which roughly equated to one quarter of his body weight. His goal was to seem as frail and gaunt as the character he was playing, which he achieved very successfully, if not alarmingly. He reportedly ate only two egg whites, some chicken, two Diet Cokes and a small pudding every day and stopped working out. In an interview with talk show host Ellen Degenres, McConaughey mentioned how he purchased an incredibly tiny spoon and used that to take small helpings of his daily tapioca pudding in order for it to last an hour. Now that’s commitment.
6. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
Having admitted to struggling with anorexia in high school, Snooki gained a significant amount of weight in her early adult years after starring on MTV’s Jersey Shore and drinking alcohol every night. At one point, the tiny 4’8 star weighed 150 pounds and was considered quite overweight for her frame due to her excessive partying. Once taping on the show wrapped however, Snooki began doing high interval plyometric and cardio training and watched her calories, shedding an impressive fifty pounds and getting down to just 99 pounds. She also cut out most alcohol altogether. Just two weeks after giving birth to her second child, she was able to fit into her old jeans again because of all of her hard work in the gym. Now that’s a success story if we’ve ever heard one.
5. Kim Kardashian
Prior to giving birth to her daughter North West in 2013, Kim Kardashian reportedly gained 55 pounds throughout her pregnancy. The media blasted her for it, criticizing everything from the clothing she chose to wear to how tight her shoes appeared on her feet. As somebody who is usually always conscientious of her appearance, Kim spoke out on how unfair it was to speak negatively of a woman when she is going through such a happy time in her life. Since then, Kardashian has dropped the weight and then some while adopting a strict diet of only 20 grams of carbohydrates a day, lean protein and steamed vegetables coupled with intense exercise.
4. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera has had a tumultuous relationship with her weight, yo-yoing between being very slender and overweight throughout her career. A love of fast food and deep fried treats is what contributed to her weight gain, and in the past year she has managed to lose over fifty pounds by eating healthy portions of the right combination of carbs, protein and fats. While she credits running after her children as her main form of exercise, she takes very good care of her body through diet and likes to snack on things like shrimp rings and almond butter with celery sticks as snacks.
3. Randy Jackson
After suffering from chronic obesity for many years, beloved American Idol judge Randy Jackson was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes in 2003 and opted to undergo gastric bypass surgery shortly after. The procedure creates a smaller stomach pouch to curb food intake by stapling a portion of the stomach, to energize weight loss efforts. It isn’t fool-proof though and Jackson had to stick to a strict diet as well as regular exercise. Since then, he’s lost over 100 pounds and credits the procedure and lifestyle change for saving his health and adding years to his life. Had he kept going on the track he was on, his diabetes would have eventually gotten the best of him.
2. Tom Arnold
As a former drug and alcohol addict, Tom Arnold also claims that he was addicted to food prior to his 100 pound weight loss in 2014. Inspired by the birth of his son, Arnold decided to take his life seriously starting with his health. He began to intensely track calories and portion size and took on twice daily workouts – which he found helped him shed weight quickly and more effectively. He also credits his wife for helping him succeed, claiming that she helped prepare almost all of his meals and acted as a motivator along with his son. The heightened endorphins in his system due to exercising also helped cure his depression.
1. Kirstie Alley
Ah, Kirstie Alley. The queen of up and down dieting lost an astonishing 100 lbs from 2010 to 2011. After becoming the Jenny Craig spokesperson and failing to maintain her weight loss from it, Alley worked with a nutritionist to develop her own supplement program that works for her. One of the most difficult things with dieting is keeping off the weight and the actress’s goal with her tailor made program – Organic Liaison – was to promote long-term results. Alley still turns to the Jenny Craig program for her meals, but now couples them with her supplements as well as daily bike rides. We can’t even process the idea of losing 100 pounds – that’s a whole Snooki!