Fitness Fridays: Loni Love Joins WW, Talks Past Weight-Loss Letdowns And Finally Having The Tools To Meet Her Goals
Comedian and The Real co-host Loni Love has been on a health and wellness journey a few times before, but this is the first time she’s actually been excited about it.
The 47-year-old was recently appointed the newest ambassador for WW (commonly known as Weight Watchers), joining the likes of Tamela Mann, DJ Khaled, Kate Hudson, and others. And with Oprah Winfrey as the face of the brand, she’s in fantastic company.
Instead of an attempt at weight loss, Love is looking at her present endeavor as an overall health transformation, and a delightful one considering that she gets to continue to eat some of her favorite things. From pasta to tequila shots, the personalized plan put together for Love ensures that she eats better, has the tools to do so, but doesn’t have to miss out on some of the things she loves to consume.
“I’m so serious about it because in the past, I was doing the soups and the salads, and you have cravings and everything,” she said. “But I can still have my pasta and feel healthy? That to me, that’s what actually had me sold.”
That has her on board, along with the support she gets via the app, from an actual WW coach, and from loved ones who’ve decided to sign up and get their own personalized plans so they can do it with her (that includes her boyfriend, James Welsh).
We talked with Love about why her past efforts to get healthy didn’t work out as she’d hoped, why she’s not shy about going on this journey in front of everyone, and why her goals are not just about shedding a few pounds, but also about looking and feeling like her best self.
MadameNoire: One of the first things I wanted to ask you about is something you said in the promotional clip for this new role. You said you tried a number of different diets over the years but you would gain the weight back. Why would you say those efforts didn’t work?
Loni Love: Well, with my type of schedule, it’s really hard to stay on track with certain things. I really think, to be honest, I did not have the set of tools that I needed, so I was always doing things on my own. I was doing the soup diet, or I was doing the diet with the cayenne pepper — basically fads. When I look back now, that’s the mistake that I was making. When I was looking for something different in my life, I started actually researching WW and they have actual tools that help me. I was interested in that because I’m a numbers person. When I realized they had this program called the Freestyle program, that was something that actually sparked my interest because I travel so much. I’m so busy. What I was missing was actually having the tools to help me to live a better lifestyle. You gotta remember, I grew up in the projects. My mom was a low-income earning woman. She would just feed me whatever was there. We never really looked at the point of being healthy, and I think that has moved into my adult life, that I never had truly learned how to eat properly and correctly to maintain my weight.
I’m excited because this is an actual lifestyle program. With this plan I can actually eat real food. That was my main thing: how to eat real food and it’s not processed. It’s fresh food. The main tool that has really helped me since I started is an app. It’s the WW app that actually is personalized for you and it gives me my daily requirements of points that I’m allowed to eat, and I can eat real food. That’s why I got so excited and I am excited about taking on this lifestyle change.
Being in the public eye, especially after nearly six years on The Real, has it been tough to open up about your health and wellness journey, talk about the efforts you’ve made, have success, and then not be able to maintain it? I know you talked about how people can see you on a journey like this and become judgmental.
I never started doing The Real talking about “Oh I’m big” or “Oh, I’m trying to lose weight. I was never that girl and I’m still never that girl. I think at times we’ve had conversations that would make me go, “Well, I know what it’s like to be a big woman,” or “I know what it’s like to be a Black woman” or “I’m trying to be healthy,” so it was never a problem for me. When I started The Real I told the producers, “I’m not going to be the big chick.” I want people to see me for me, as being smart, funny, I’m an engineer. But I think a lot of times, because we don’t see a big woman on television, that’s the first thing we see them as. So I was always letting the producers know, that’s not going to be my focus. My focus is not going to be, “Ok you guys, I’m on TV now, I’m going to lose this weight [laughs].” It was never that. So I really have to give it up to myself and to the producers for not letting that be the focus. What I’ve noticed is because I’m on television, there’s so many women in my community that I inspire, and I didn’t realize that until I started understanding that when you’re on TV every day, people get used to you. They get invested in you. So now that that is happening and I’m actually evolving as a person where I want to get healthier, that is becoming a point. I’m very open and into sharing what my journey is going to be to get healthier. That’s the reason why it’s an announcement. It’s really to inspire our community.
As you know, especially women of color, especially African-American women, our rate of obesity and being unhealthy is at epidemic proportions. We have to do something about it. And if I can inspire one person, then I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, especially being on the platform that I have.
So you don’t feel any nerves or pressure about taking on the ambassadorship and the expectations that come with it in the public eye?
No. Girl, I’m from Detroit. First of all, this is not a challenge for me. Go to my page, check out this whole Freestyle system, because it was something I was looking for for me. So I don’t have anything to prove except to myself. My thing is, I have to get healthier. I’m getting older. I want to be able to move, I want to be able to have energy. The way my whole scheduling is with doing a television show, then getting on a red-eye [flight] and then doing live shows and hosting events like the Essence Fest, I have to be healthy. It’s not about I’m trying to prove something to people like, “Look at me!” No. I’m working on myself, and I think that is the message I want everybody to do, is to improve themselves.
On the plan that you have with WW, what is the tastiest thing you’ve been able to have that might surprise people?
I love pasta [laughs]. I love me some pasta, girl. My plan with my numbers, if I do it right, I can have me some pasta, have me a little glass of wine and I’m still on track. I’m like, wow, it’s so refreshing. Plus, once I was announced as ambassador, Oprah Winfrey posted it on her IG. She basically said, save up your points for some tequila shots. I’m like, yes! I can still have my shots? I’m like, OK. Alright. I’m sold.
But the key thing here is learning how to do it and still be healthy. Learning how to be able to lose weight if that’s what you want to do. It’s being healthier, being able to lose weight, being able to have control. Because I travel so much, a lot of the times, I didn’t know what I could eat. Now, with the WW app, I know I have it right here in my fingertips. If I go to a store wherever I’m traveling at, and I’m like, well let me see how many points this is, they have a system that you can actually scan the barcode to tell you how many points it is. I’m like, girl! This is something brand new for me. It’s like having the tools. I never had the tools, that’s why this is exciting for me. If I didn’t believe in this, if I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t tell anybody about it. I’d be like, “You know what? Nah. Go on.” But this is something so new and exciting and it’s refreshing, and for them to actually ask me, I’m just honored to be an ambassador.
How has your partner James [Welsh] supported you as you’ve prioritized your health? Are you doing it together and he has his own plan?
James has to do it with me, okay? He needs to and he knows. He has decided and he’s got his app and we’re going to do it together. You gotta understand, when we first started, we’ve been seeing each other since last August, so we’ve gained happy weight. You know how you get in that relationship, you meet that new person and y’all are going to the movies and eating the popcorn and drinking and ain’t thinking about it? Y’all just happy. I looked up and said, “Whooo, James!” So he’s joining me. He has his own personal app and he’s keeping up with his numbers. Also, some of my friends have joined along with me, so I have a really great support system. But most of all, I have a WW coach. She is just fantastic. The reason why I need her as my coach is because I’m just starting, I want to be honest, and I know I don’t know everything about the app and the whole program. Also, there’s a great chat in the app if you have questions or you don’t know. They still have places, WW studios, where you can go and have support systems so you’re not alone. That’s another thing I liked about it. James is doing it too, and he gon’ stick to his points [laughs].
What ways are you currently being active in between your busy schedule?
I’m getting up in the morning because now I’m starting to have more energy. I’m able to take my walk. I have joined a gym. Movement is very important, just for overall health, too. I’m excited to actually do that, too and that’s part of my personal goal.