Last month, we, along with many other people, noticed that actress Gabourey Sidibe looked quite different. She had been snapping a boatload of selfies in the mirror and was showing off what was clearly a slimmer body. Our assumption, through the clues she left behind on social media while still keeping hush about her weight loss, was that she had changed her diet and was working out consistently. That’s true. However, as she’s revealing in her upcoming memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, Sidibe also had weight-loss surgery last year.
In excerpts given exclusively to PEOPLE, and via an interview, the 33-year-old revealed this information. She said a diabetes diagnosis that both she and older brother Ahmed, 34, received, caused her to turn things around. She sought out laproscopic bariatric surgery in May 2016, and afterward, started making major changes.
“I just didn’t want to worry,” she told PEOPLE. “I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes. I genuinely [would] worry all the time about losing my toes.”
Because of that, she had surgery to kickstart the change in her relationship with food. And while some might say that it’s an easy remedy to a major problem, Sidibe doesn’t agree.
“My surgeon said they’d cut my stomach in half,” she wrote in the excerpt from her memoir. “This would limit my hunger and capacity to eat. My brain chemistry would change and I’d want to eat healthier. I’ll take it! My lifelong relationship with food had to change.”
She continued, “The surgery wasn’t the easy way out. I wasn’t cheating by getting it done. I wouldn’t have been able to lose as much as I’ve lost without it.”
And while no number was given, Sidibe has lost a considerable amount of weight as she approaches the one-year anniversary of her procedure. That is thanks, in part, to working with a nutritionist, increasing her exercise regimen and generally being more active than ever.
Having the surgery and making these changes doesn’t mean she gave in to the things that people have said about her since she stepped on the scene after Precious. She wrote in her book that it was about making the necessary health changes so that she could live a more comfortable life. She’s doing it all for herself.
“It has taken me years to realize that what I was born with is all beautiful,” she wrote. “I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels. I want to do a cartwheel. I want not to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs.”
She continued, “I have a goal right now, and I’m almost there. And then once I’ve got it, I’ll set another. But my starting weight and my goal weight, they’re personal. If too many people are involved, I’ll shut down.”
Still, she admitted that she was worried about the work she would have to do to love herself at a smaller size after working so hard to embrace herself at her biggest size. However, Sidibe recognized that she was going to be beautiful no matter her size, because it’s not about what people, including the actress, see on the outside.
“I know I’m beautiful in my current face and my current body. What I don’t know about is the next body,” she wrote. “I admit it, I hope to God I don’t get skinny. If I could lose enough to just be a little chubby, I’ll be over the moon! Will I still be beautiful then? S—. Probably. My beauty doesn’t come from a mirror. It never will.”
Check out the memoir, which drops in May.
Feature image via People and WENN