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Women's Health

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Mary J. Blige Resolves to Be Healthy

The R&B and hip-hop soul sensation reveals the inspiring fitness, food, and anger-management lessons that are driving her on a powerful journey of personal and professional transformation.

The 411 on the New Mary J. continued...

As Blige’s rags-to-riches success story unfolded, so did the news that she could be difficult and temperamental, and suddenly fly into a rage. She admits to past struggles, including drinking too much, abusing cocaine, and being depressed. The out-of-control anger, Blige says, was programmed into her as a child -- the way nearly everyone around her responded to life’s disappointments.

“That’s all I ever saw, people reacting to things that way,” she tells WebMD. “When someone disappoints you -- bang! You automatically default back to that stuff.”

Over the years, the shame that followed her temper tantrums convinced her that she needed to change. Finally she said to herself: “You can’t keep doing this all the time -- screaming, throwing stuff, breaking things, kicking windows.”

She credits her husband, music industry exec Kendu Isaacs, 40, whom she married three years ago, with much of her resolve to improve herself. He has encouraged her to turn off the “old stuff” and begin anew. “He’s committed to me, his job, his children [her three stepchildren], himself,” she says. “He tries very hard. In some areas he is stronger than in others, and that’s where I come in to help. We balance each other well.”

Lessons learned from the past few years of self-improvement are packed into Growing Pains. Listeners hear the story of Mary, her work in progress, and perhaps, she hopes, their own unfolding tales.

One other new rule, Blige reveals: She surrounds herself only with positive people -- besides her husband, she says, people like her trainer. And Miele’s steady nature and constant support are evident. If she lags even a tiny bit during the hour-long sweat session, he’s right there: “Four more,” he says in an encouraging tone. “One more.”

Mary J. Steps Up Her Workouts

Exercise has been part of Blige’s life for years, but she’s pumped up her routine recently, motivated by appearance and health. “A couple months ago, I was walking up those stairs right there,” Blige says, pointing to the long, spiral staircase that connects her home’s upper and lower floors, “and I was out of breath.” Blige, who turns 38 on Jan. 11, knew she was way too young to be that out of shape. “Then I saw all this cellulite forming on my leg, and I started to cry. Then I thought, ‘OK, this [exercise] is for health reasons. OK, the cellulite might be a touch of vanity, but the fact that I can’t breathe when I am walking up stairs -- it’s like, I have to do this for myself.’”

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