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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.

Mary J. Cleans Up the Menu

Blige soldiers on, doing crunches on a floor mat. Miele holds the elastic resistance bands as she does arm work, and her limbs look strong and defined. But her newly buff body is not all due to hard time in the gym, she says. Blige has overhauled what she eats these days.

"Three months ago, I was 146 pounds," says Blige, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall. Since then, she’s dropped 11 pounds, weighing in at 135. She’s a size 8 now. “I want to get to 125 pounds with muscles,” she says.

The self-confessed sweets lover focuses on cutting down on refined carbs (including her favorite cookies) and limiting calories to about 1,500 per day.

Blige’s calorie goal is very realistic, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, a New York dietitian. “If you eat below 1,200, it’s hard to meet your needs nutritionally,” she says.

Likewise, Blige’s goal of 125 pounds is excellent, as is her focus on “quality” carbs, Taub-Dix says. And in moderation, “cheat” foods are OK, Taub-Dix adds. Blige is far from perfect, of course. She can’t name just one “cheat food,” for example. She has several, and they’re all sugary: cheesecake, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate-chip cookies.

To help Mary J. cope with her sugar cravings, her trainer has penned in a signature Miele-ism on the bulletin board in front of her treadmill: “What you eat in private shows up in public.”

Mary J. Reins in Her Rage

Consistent workouts, a newfound respect for what she puts into her body: What accounts for this new attitude? “Sometimes anger is positive,” she says. “It pushes you."

Blige reports that a few years ago she learned to redirect her rage with help from a Christian television show and the Bible. “I watched this pastor by the name of Joyce Meyer,” she says. “I’d TiVo her and watch her every morning. She was talking about anger one day. I started looking up these Scriptures [she referred to], and in one it said anger and vexation lodges -- meaning hangs out -- in the bosom of fools. And every Scripture I read ended with fool. And I thought, ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to be a fool.’”

Blige had just taken her first step toward reining in her rage problem.

About one in 100 adults is angry enough to benefit from anger management, estimates George Anderson, whose firm Anderson & Anderson in Los Angeles provides anger-management programs for businesses and individuals.

For many people, anger is the “default” mode, as Blige calls it, learned growing up, says Robert Allan, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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