Before Vanna White became America’s favorite letter-turner on TV’s “Wheel of Fortune,” she battled depression and was 25 pounds overweight, as she struggled to break into show business.
Vanna was forced to do odd jobs just to pay the rent and she became very discouraged. For two years she was a compulsive eater, sometimes eating a whole pie or meat loaf at one sitting. She gained 25 pounds quickly, which made it even harder for her to find work, as an actress and model.
“When I first moved to Los Angeles, with the change of environment, food and everything, I got extremely depressed and became 25 pounds overweight. Changes were going on in my life and I found it very hard. I just got sick of myself. My clothes didn’t fit anymore and I felt tired and awful. I just didn’t want to do anything,” Vanna explains.
“After two years of living like that, I realized I had to make a drastic change in my life.”
Instead of turning to diet pills or crash diets, Vanna decided to start eating healthy foods. She ate only small amounts, but didn’t deprive herself. Then she started to run for exercise and the pounds melted away quickly.
“I decided to try a good diet and exercise program. I started to run and it was amazing. I started out slowly and soon increased the distance. Soon I lost ten pounds.
“I stopped eating all of the bad foods. I was eating more fruits and vegetables and getting into more balanced food groups. I lost the other 15 pounds by eating right and I started feeling good about myself.”
Soon, she was spotted by Merv Griffin. “Maybe it was a certain glow that made me stand apart from the other 200 girls, trying out for “Wheel of Fortune,” Vanna says. “But, I believe that my diet and exercise program had a great amount to do with it.
“I started to eat healthier. My body had changed and I was adjusting to lighter foods. I know how bad I felt physically and mentally when I was eating lots of cakes and desserts, so eating the healthy way gave me more energy and a nicer figure. Instead of depriving myself, I’ll eat smaller portions to maintain a good energy level.”
Vanna, who is 5'6" and now weighs 105 pounds, says that she doesn’t believe it’s always necessary to eat three meals a day. “I’ll eat only when I’m hungry,” she says. “If people could learn that, they could stay as slim as they want.
“Some mornings, I’ll wake up with a craving for pancakes, so I’ll have them. Other mornings, I won’t have anything. It has something to do with my energy level. If I need carbohydrates, I’ll crave pancakes. My body tells me what it needs.”
Aside from having an upbeat attitude and not depriving herself, she also keeps in mind, to incorporate a vegetable before lunch and dinner.
“I have a salad at the beginning of a meal. Fresh vegetables always aid proper digestion. I love all kinds of vegetables. There’s not too much I don’t like.
“I also eat a lot of pasta, which is very good for you. If you eat it in moderation, you can enjoy it without the risk of gaining weight.
“Dinner is my main meal. I’ll eat red meat when my body tells me I need it. I’ll have some sort of roast, about once a week.
“I also feel that drinking a lot of water is very important and it’s good for you too. It cleanses the body of impurities.
“Another tip is not to buy all kinds of sweets and fattening foods and keep them at home,” she says. “If it’s there, you’ll eat it. Nobody is going to throw away a bag of cookies!
“I enjoy my diet program. I have a better attitude about myself and I’m aware of what I eat every day. I think that’s important. You’ve got to be aware of the amount of food you eat.
“I watch my diet and do some good at-home exercises to keep in shape and to stay toned.
“If you really want to lose that weight, you can,” Vanna says. “The thing to do is start out slowly and don’t demand too much from yourself and make sure you exercise often.”
Breakfast: 1 cup black coffee, occasional pancakes or eggs.
Lunch: Large salad, with tuna or chicken, mixed with fresh vegetables; or soup and a chicken or tuna sandwich.
Mid-afternoon snack: A banana or some other fruit.
Dinner: Broiled or baked chicken or poached or broiled fish, with a large salad or soup and steamed green vegetables; or calves’ liver fried, with onions or roast beef or brisket of beef, with mashed or baked potatoes and gravy, a salad and steamed vegetables; or pasta with sauce and meatballs and 1 piece of garlic bread. All in moderation.
Daily liquids: one quart of bottled water, one cup tea, two cups coffee, 6 ounce glass of apple or carrot juice, and a12 ounce can of diet soda.
Dairy products: American or Swiss cheese, a little ice cream.
Snacks: Unsalted raw nuts, popcorn or apples, bananas or white grapes.
Daily vitamins: One mega-multivitamin, vitamin C- 1,000 mg., vitamin E- 400 I.U., iron- 100 mg., calcium- 600 mg.
Vanna’s exercise program:
Running one mile, at least twice a week.
Working out on a mini-trampoline for 15 minutes, three times a week.
On a daily basis, she does: 100 sit-ups and pushups (20 at a time, rest, start again); 50 leg lifts on her back; lifts ten pound dumbbells, 50 times total; does 50 leg lifts on each side; ten minutes of stretching, just before going to work.
— Jay Christian, from the book Hollywood Diet & Exercise Secrets.Copyright 2013. Reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved.