Jessica Simpson has experienced several body transformations over the years, but none as dramatic as her most recent. After a pregnancy which saw her coping with health issues and mounting weight, the singer took charge and turned things around. In fact, her weight loss journey – shedding an incredible 100 pounds – has been inspirational.
On March 19, 2019 Simpson gave birth to her third child, Birdie Mae Johnson. She informed fans about the happy news with an Instagram post, noting that Birdie weighed 10 pounds 13 ounces. Given that the average newborn is in the 7 pounds 5 ounces range, Birdie was definitely on the larger side. Perhaps this explains why Simpson had such an uncomfortable pregnancy.
Because Simpson put on a lot of weight during the pregnancy and suffered from extremely swollen ankles. Despite this being fairly normal in pregnancy terms, it was still no picnic for the star. The poor woman also broke a toilet seat at one point, but she was thankfully able to see the funny side of it.
On Instagram Simpson posted a picture of her holding the broken porcelain seat up for the camera, with the caption, “Warning. Don’t lean back on the toilet when pregnant.” And by the time Birdie was born, the singer weighed 240 pounds. It was a far cry from the slim, yet curvy, figure she’d become known for in her career. But she would find her way back.
Simpson grew up in Abilene, Texas, the daughter of a Baptist minister and a Sunday school teacher. And she first discovered a love for singing at the age of 12, in her church choir. At 14 she began recording an album after Proclaim Records, a small Christian label, heard her singing at a camp run by her church.
Unfortunately the label went out of business, and the album never saw the light of day. Undeterred, Simpson left high school in her senior year and began touring with Christian bands. She did record an album independently, and it found its way into the hands of record producer Tommy Mottola. He turned the young Christian singer into a bona fide pop star.
Because Simpson released the albums Sweet Kisses and Irresistible in 1999 and 2001 respectively. And she even went on to marry boyband superstar Nick Lachey in 2002, and their life was turned into the groundbreaking reality show Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica. Simpson’s star rose over the next few years, though she and Lachey divorced in 2006.
Simpson briefly flirted with being a movie star when she played Daisy Duke in 2005’s The Dukes of Hazzard. And she dated singer John Mayer and Dallas Cowboys player Tony Romo, before she met NFL player Eric Johnson in 2010. They married in 2014. By this point, both Simpson’s music and acting careers had taken a backseat.
Unfortunately for the star, playing a sex symbol like Daisy Duke wound up giving the public an unfair expectation of her body. In her memoir Open Book, she revealed it, “created a gold standard Jessica, the ‘before’ for every ‘is she fat or is she thin’ story for the rest of my career.” She even felt like she had to take diet pills to try and maintain Duke’s physique.
And Simpson’s weight has always been a topic that has fuelled the media over the course of her career. It got particularly bad in 2009 after she performed at the annual Chili Cook Off staged by Radio 99.9 Kiss Country. She was wearing high-waisted jeans on stage and they were branded “mom jeans.” Social media and the press had a field day, and these days it would be considered body-shaming.
In 2014 Simpson told Redbook, “What’s so unbelievable is that I was probably at least 15 pounds smaller than I am right now. What’s more unbelievable is that the press could create something so crazy out of a pair of jeans. What woman wants to be brought down for that?”
The singer later expanded further on the damaging incident in Open Book. She wrote, “It was awful, but the worst part was this: my very first thought was not my pain at becoming a joke or everyone laughing at me.” She instead worried about her then-boyfriend Romo potentially being embarrassed to be, “with the fat girl.” Harsh to say the least.
Simpson addressed the topic again during a TODAY interview with Hoda Kotb in 2020. She explained how she felt humiliated and revealed, “The picture that circulated and went worldwide broke my heart.” Referring to the barrage of cruel comments in the media, she added, “I was taken down by the world.”
The effect on Simpson’s mental health was devastating. She told Glamour magazine that she had felt confident in herself on the day, but the reaction soured her performance. She said, “I felt good up there, I felt confident, and then it ruined the stage for me, and the stage was my home.”
And public scrutiny of Simpson’s weight went up a level when she began having children, too. While pregnant in 2012 with her first child Maxwell Drew, she posed nude on the cover of Elle magazine. She spoke to Ryan Seacrest about the shoot, explaining, “I’m, like, 170 pounds and I wanted to pose nude.”
“I try to be, like, 110 pounds,” the mom-to-be continued. “It’s funny to be at your heaviest and feel the most confident. I just take such pride in being a mom! I just love my body now more than ever now.” Following Maxwell’s birth, Simpson revealed Weight Watchers had been instrumental in her losing 60 pounds.
Second child Ace Knute followed in June 2013, after which Simpson actually became a brand ambassador for Weight Watchers. Five years later, she became pregnant again, and it would be during this pregnancy that she would put on the most weight. In fact, she told the Home Shopping Network in 2019 that she was shocked by how heavy she got.
“When you’re pregnant, I gain a lot,” confessed Simpson. “I mean, a lot. I didn’t expect to gain as much with my third. I thought I’d learned my lesson, but apparently, that’s just the way God made me, very hungry and pregnant.” She also didn’t believe she’d ever fit back into her skinny jeans, as her pregnancies had changed her hips so much.
In July 2019 Simpson spoke with People magazine about her quest to get back in shape. At that point she was three months removed from giving birth to Birdie Mae, and she wanted to regain her pre-baby body. She said, “I am working really hard right now. It’s not easy at all, but I am determined to feel good.”
“I have been doing a lot of walking,” continued Simpson. “Getting my steps in not only burns calories but it also helps me clear my head and get focused.” The star had previously talked up the benefits of walking back in 2018, when she posted on Instagram about recording 12,000 steps in one day. She also spoke to People in 2015 about how she loved family walks.
“I walk three miles a day,” a smiling Simpson revealed, before speaking about how husband Johnson and their children also tend to join her. “Eric and I love taking the kids out for long walks in the neighbourhood. And chasing them around our yard is a workout all its own.”
But Simpson also told People that she had been working on improving her dietary choices. She said, “I am eating healthy too – I discovered I really like cauliflower. Who knew it could be a substitute for almost anything?” The singer’s rigorous diet was set by none-other-than celebrity personal trainer Harley Pasternak, creator of The Body Reset Diet.
Speaking to People, Pasternak explained his creation. He revealed, “It’s three meals and two snacks a day, and each meal has protein, fiber and fat, and snacks are protein and fiber or protein and fat. She’ll have foods that are very flavorable, that are healthier versions of things like a tortilla soup or Tex-Mex.”
Pasternak continued, “And if she has a birthday party one night and a date night another night, she’s going to indulge both of those nights, but that’s it. It’s about balancing in a way that doesn’t make it painful or too much of a departure from your life before that.” The dietician had previously worked with Simpson for years, but this time he knew they had to go further.
“I’ve kind of helped her come back after each baby,” said Pasternak, “and this is a bit different, in that she was tipping the scales at 240 [pounds]. This is sort of the aggregate of being pregnant nonstop for a decade, and so we had a little more of a challenge between this and the other ones.” So Pasternak changed things up by advocating a holistic approach to Simpson’s lifestyle.
“The difference between this and the other times was that she worked out, yes, but her transformation was more about what she did on her own time,” explained the celebrity trainer to People. “She was so motivated and positive. She was saying that her body has not belonged to her for the past decade.”
Pastnerak then clarified this comment with, “Not in a bad way – in a positive way. Her body has been designated to create life and now it’s hers again and she’s going to make it fantastic in a really enjoyable way.” To regain control of her body, Pasternak set Simpson five simple tasks to accomplish each day.
Task one was to get in her daily number of steps. So Simpson started with the goal of 6,000 and did this for a few weeks, before graduating to the 12,000 she would have done before falling pregnant. Task two was to avoid technology for an hour, and task three was to get a good amount of sleep. Tasks four and five were the healthy diet and the exercise plan.
The exercise regime included three 45-minute gym sessions per week. Pasternak told People, “My mantra is you get lean in life, and strong in the gym. So, the majority of the weight loss actually came from everything she did outside of the gym, and then everything in the gym is about toning and tightening.”
Yet Pasternak was adamant that he never set a goal for Simpson to lose a specific amount of weight. So they never discussed aiming for 100 pounds. And he never even weighed her. The fitness expert said, “I never work with scales. My work with her is more about the habits she’s created and kept up.”
Pasternak continued to People, “Every night before she goes to bed, she sends an email showing that she hit all five tasks, so she’ll go to bed feeling successful. She’s hit her step goal, she’s eaten well, she’s balanced her responsibilities. So, she can go to bed with a sense of fulfilment, and that’s everything. And, as a by-product of doing these habits, she lost 100 pounds.”
On September 24, 2019 Simpson posted two photographs to Instagram that perfectly showcased her weight loss. In the first, she was dressed in a black dress and black shades, about to head out for the day. In the second, she was smiling while holding little Birdie Mae. She captioned the pics, “Six months. 100 pounds down. Yes, I tipped the scales at 240.”
The singer continued, “My first trip away from Birdie Mae and emotional for many reasons, but so proud to feel like myself again. Even when it felt impossible, I chose to work harder.” Over 600,000 fans liked the post, with many choosing to congratulate Simpson on her incredible achievement.
Fast forward to August 2020 and Simpson spoke to Hollywood Life about her weight loss journey. She again pointed to the value of walking, saying, “I like to track my steps, keep myself accountable, and to just know my movement throughout the day. If I haven’t moved enough, I’ll make sure and get in extra steps the next day.”
“For me, it’s moderation,” continued Simpson. “I don’t put too much pressure on myself.” At this point in her journey, the star was maintaining the weight loss she had achieved after giving birth. Addressing her weight at its highest, she said, “My weight was in the high two hundreds – that’s a lot of weight – and I was just uncomfortable.”
“But I worked hard, and I am a determined person, so if I set my mind to it, I do it,” explained Simpson to Hollywood Life. “I couldn’t handle being so big and my ankles were swollen. So, I’m just happy to feel comfortable again. I was literally uncomfortable for so long that now it’s just nice to relax.”
And Simpson credited her active family life with helping her keep the pounds off. She revealed, “We have a big family, so we’re always on the go, go, go – even if it’s just in the house, the yard, or the neighborhood. We go on family walks, we visit the pigs in the neighborhood, we visit the horses.”
“We’re constantly active, and if our kids are going stir crazy, we all go jump on the trampoline,” continued the mom to Hollywood Life. “Just get it out, get the energy out.” But although her hectic family life hadn’t changed, there were a few food items that were now off the menu. Because Simpson had eaten too many cauliflowers and eggs while losing weight – and had become sick of them.
Over the years Simpson’s public and private battles with her weight have taught her a lot about moderation. She confessed that she doesn’t diet, per se, because she’s afraid she’d break the rules. But she does strictly write down what she eats, while counting the calories and being fully aware of what she is consuming.
“I personally don’t stay away from food if I want something,” Simpson explained to Hollywood Life. “I’ll have some of it, but I’m good at putting it down. I mean, listen, I have kids, so if I want, I eat like a kid. I like corn dogs and mac and cheese – you don’t limit yourself.” And this approach has clearly paid off for the slim and happy star.