Born into one of entertainment's most famous families, Marie Osmond grew up in the spotlight. She became a household name in the '70s as both a country singer and the co-host of Donny & Marie, a variety show in which she appeared with her brother. As her success grew, however, so did her struggle with body image. "I started dieting at age 10," she says. "By the time I was 14, we did the pilot for the Donny & Marie variety show, and I was down to about 110 pounds and feeling really thin. Shortly after that, I was taken out into a parking lot by producers and told that if I didn't lose more weight, the show would be canceled. So I went from about 110 pounds to 93 pounds, which was absolutely stupid."
Constantly worrying about her weight, Marie says she's tried just about every method of weight loss. "Everything from diet pills to starving myself to bulimia," she says. "You name it, I tried it."
A mother of eight, Marie says she starting gaining weight when she gave birth to her last son. "I'm working full time and I was getting worn out and I ate for the energy," she says. " All of a sudden, one day I woke up and I was no longer a size 2–4. I was a 12–14, and I couldn't see it in the mirror. I didn't want to see it."
In 2007, Marie hit her highest weight of 165 pounds. Two years later, she's shed 45 pounds with the help of the NutriSystem diet plan and has traded in her size 12–14 clothes for sizes 2–4. "I'm a very small frame, and I'm 5'5"," she says. "This is a really healthy size for me."
Marie believes that most of her ongoing weight struggles were caused by the entertainment industry. "You see the Twiggy models, and you [feel like you] have to be emaciated to be accepted in society," she says. "There were a lot of head trips. ... Every week I was standing by Raquel Welch and Cheryl Tiegs and Cheryl Ladd, and I'm 14 and looking really stupid. I think that girls do that, [and] women do that. We compare our worst to everybody's best."
Losing weight wasn't just about shedding pounds for Marie...it was also a matter of overall health. "My mother, on her deathbed, said to me, 'Marie, don't do what I did. ... I'm trapped in a shell of a body. I'm only 79 years old. We weren't smart like you can be,'" Marie says. "Heart disease is terrible in my family, and all the women have been taken because of it, and I was showing every sign of it—I couldn't breathe. I remember I was out getting ready for a Christmas tour, and I couldn't cross the stage without panting. My knees were hurting."
Realizing the health risks involved with being overweight, Marie was determined to change her lifestyle. She decided to follow NutriSystem because she says it is both heart-healthy and private. "I didn't want to weigh-in in front of somebody. Please, I'm enough in the public eye," she says. "It was smart, and it made sense for me. It was also easy for me—no stress, no weighing things, no measuring things. I could just grab it off the shelf and go."
Marie started NutriSystem around the same time that she appeared on Dancing with the Stars, which catapulted her back into the public eye. When executives at NutriSystem found out she was following their plan, she says they approached her about becoming their spokesperson. "It was a good marriage," she says. "The biggest thing that they taught me is to eat again. ... The fact is, we all go up and down. We're women."
Once Marie committed to following a diet plan and exercising—this time in the form of ballroom dancing—she says she lost 45 pounds in four months. "I'm not interested in being skinny," she says."I did it because my oldest boy came to me, and he was 23 at the time, and he said, 'All of us got together, Mom, and we love you, and we want you to be around for our kids, your grandkids.'"
When your family asks you to get healthy, Marie says you have all the motivation in the world. "I could sure use my mother in my life right now, and I just couldn't do that to [my kids]," she says. "We can lose weight for many reasons—we can do it to look good or to get in those tiny little jeans. But I'm telling you, health is the only way. Not only health physically, but health mentally."