Golden Globe Award-winning actress and 1980s fitness superstar Jane Fonda had just gotten over an eating disorder when she released her iconic exercise routine video, Workout, in 1982, she revealed on the Feb. 1 episode of the Call Her Daddy podcast. “Most of the hardships that I’ve gone through in my life happened earlier in my life. I suffered bulimia very, very bad,” the 85-year-old star confessed. “I led a secret life. I was very, very unhappy. I assumed I wouldn’t live past 30. I’m 85.”
She also revealed that her eating disorder and dark feelings were triggered by being under so much pressure as she was going through a transformative time in her life: her 20s. “It is so hard to be young. Don’t let anybody fool you,” she instructed. “What am I supposed to do? Who am I supposed to know? Who am I supposed to become? What am I supposed to be interested in?”
Jane, who in Dec. 2022 announced that her cancer is in remission, recalled that she didn’t think anything of her eating disorder at first, but knew she was in trouble when it began to consume her life. “It seemed so innocent in the beginning, so innocuous, like, ‘Why can’t I have this ice cream and cake?’ And then I’d just throw it up,” she remembered. “What you don’t realize is, it becomes a terrible addiction that takes over your life.” She said her disorder got so bad that she would schedule her life around the times she would eat, which made her relationships suffer. “It’s a very lonely thing. You’re addicted, if you put any food in you, you want to get rid of it,” she explained. “It takes over your life.”
The Primetime Emmy Award recipient admitted she worked “most” of her life to overcome judgments that fueled her self-hate and unhappiness with her body but took things super seriously in her 40s. “As you get older, the toll that it takes on you, it becomes worse and worse. It takes days, at least a week to get over one single binge,” she noted. “It’s not just the fatigue, you become angry, hostile … It got to a point in my 40s where I thought, if I keep on like this, I’m gonna die.”
She continued, “I was living a very full life, I had children and a husband, I was doing political work, I was doing all these things. My life was important but I was becoming less and less able to continue it.” Jane said she quickly ended her eating disorder after the scary realization and also began taking medication to alleviate her anxiety.
The Book Club actress previously revealed that her famous workouts are what helped her overcome her bulimia. “I was doing the workout before I started the business, and it gave me back a sense of control over my body,” she told PEOPLE in 2018. “The longer space you put between yourself and the addiction, the easier it gets. I started the workout, and that kind of cemented my ability to eat normal, which I can do now,” she added. “Some people say you can never get over it, but you can.”
In January, she said she keeps in shape by continuing to do her original Workout exercises with a few modifications. “I’m 85 now and I can’t do the full workout per se, but I do the same moves only slower and with less weight, every day,” she told to ELLE. “If I were to go back 40 years to when I started the workout and see me now, I’d probably say ‘Oh, what a wuss! What the hell is she doing?!’ But the fact is that I have stayed in shape, even though I’m 85, by what I do, even if it is slower.”
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