Gabourey Sidibe isn’t following in the footsteps of other calorically challenged actresses and singers who lied about their weight loss journey.
The 33-year-old Empire star admits she had weight loss surgery to help her lose over 150 pounds.
The actress revealed she was diagnosed with diabetes type 2, which can cause peripheral artery disease (poor blood flow to the legs) and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). Both of these conditions can lead to amputation of the legs, feet or toes.
In an exclusive interview with People magazine, Gabourey said “I just 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.”
“The surgery wasn’t the easy way out,” she tells PEOPLE. “I wasn’t cheating by getting it done. I wouldn’t have been able to lose as much as I’ve lost without it.”
In her memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, Gabourey described her lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.
“My surgeon said they’d cut my stomach in half,” she writes in the book, which is set for release in May. “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.”
Gabourey said the surgery helped to boost her confidence and gave her more energy and stamina.
“It has taken me years to realize that what I was born with is all beautiful,” she continues. “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.”
In her memoir, Gabourey revealed she’s anxious to see her new body, but she also fears losing too much weight after the surgery.
“I know I’m beautiful in my current face and my current body,” she writes. “What I don’t know about is the next body. 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**t. Probably. My beauty doesn’t come from a mirror. It never will.”
The actress has a message for Internet bullies.
“There’s nothing ugly about me,” she told PEOPLE. “Anyone trying to convince me that I am – and it’s usually me – is wasting her time. I was in a war with my body for a long time. If I’d started treating it better sooner, I wouldn’t have spent so many years hating myself. But I love my body now.”