Star Jones Opens Up About Weight Loss and Body Image: ‘I Chose to Live and I Took Care of Myself’ (Exclusive)

Jones also shared her tip for people looking to get healthier: “Eat less, move more. It works every time"

<p>JC Olivera/Getty</p> Star Jones

JC Olivera/Getty

Star Jones

Star Jones is getting candid about her motivation for staying healthy.

The Jones & Jury star, 62, shared in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE what her health journey has meant to her and how it has fueled her own public advocacy to encourage others to “take care” of themselves.

"The most important thing is for men and women to take care of their health,” the actress told PEOPLE. “And I chose living over dying.”

“One of my very favorite lines is from Shawshank Redemption. ‘You either choose to live or you choose to die,’ “ she continued. “I chose to live and I took care of myself, and literally 20 years later, I have taken care.”

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty</p> Star Jones attends the 51st Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on June 7, 2024

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty

Star Jones attends the 51st Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on June 7, 2024

Related: Meredith Vieira Says 'View' Hosts Were 'Angry' They Couldn't Be Honest About Star Jones' Weight Loss 

She also noted that she is a “heart disease survivor” and successfully underwent “open heart surgery,” and those experiences have fueled her to keep up her healthy habits.

"Because of those choices, I was able to walk out of that hospital a whole, healthy survivor and thriver,” Jones explained. “And I don't take anything away from my journey.”

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As for her advice for other people looking to change their life and get healthier, she said: "Eat less, move more. It works every time."

Jones previously discussed her struggles with weight during an appearance on the Tamron Hall Show in 2020, saying that for a “majority” of her life she was “morbidly obese," and the highest she weighed was 307 lbs. "I wasn't fluffy, I wasn't plus size, I wasn't overweight — I was dying," she said at the time.

Related: Star Jones on the 'Hilarious' Moment She Got Hit On in 'Divorce Court' : 'First Time in 24 Seasons'

However, the Divorce Court star later said her health wasn’t something that she was always honest about during an appearance on The View’s 25th anniversary special in 2022. She shared with her former co-hosts that she regretted not being truthful about her mental and physical health struggles back when she worked on the show.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Star Jones in 2023
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Star Jones in 2023

"I regret that I was not strong enough to admit that I was in a depression and really ill about my health," she said. "I really regret that I just wasn't there."

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Jones went on to have gastric bypass surgery in 2003, though she never revealed it on The View. She eventually opened up about the surgery in a Glamour essay years later in 2007, saying she chose to conceal the operation because she was "scared of what people might think."

During The View's 25th anniversary episode, Jones said she could now look back on the experience from a better place. "My greatest achievement is that I'm healthier now than I have been in my whole life," she said.

"You have grown tremendously since then," co-host Joy Behar told her. "It's good that you've come this far."

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