The stunning transformation of Chrissy Metz

2016 was a big year for Chrissy Metz. The NBC show she stars in, This Is Us, premiered and was met with instant success. Although this wasn't her first acting role, with previous work including a role on American Horror Story, This Is Us was the project to bring Metz the praise she deserves. Playing Kate, a woman who works for her brother and is struggling through her personal weight loss goals, Metz's character is vulnerable — and viewers are given a close look into her day-to-day life.

While the show has been in the spotlight, Metz has opened up about her own struggle with weight loss in her personal life. In each and every interview, she seems so down to earth and grateful for what life has brought her. She keeps it real, which feels like a breath of fresh air in an industry that does not always do the same. Let's take a look at Metz's own weight loss journey, along with the positivity and gratitude she brings to every day of life.

She's struggled with her weight since childhood

Metz's weight is something she has dealt with her entire life. Even as a kid, she was aware of her body and how easily she gained weight. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, she said, "I was born chubby, and as I got older, at different times in my life I was thinner or more active or playing sport, but I was definitely always a chubbier kid. My friends could eat whatever they wanted to, but I knew that as a kid if I ate certain things I would totally gain weight. I had to be really cognizant of what I ate."

It took Metz time to realize what the importance of food was to her. In the interview, she continued to say that she bonded with her grandma over the grilled cheese sandwiches she made for her. She associated food with family and love. As she told Glamour, "I really valued that attention. As I got older, that turned into, 'Oh, I'm happy — let's celebrate and eat. I'm sad? Let me eat my feelings."

Being on a show with flashbacks to her character's childhood has been difficult for Metz; she even called it "heartbreaking." Metz opened up more with THR, discussing how she understands Kate's struggles and her relationship with her mom, Rebecca (played by Mandy Moore). "I remember going to Weight Watchers when I was like 11. I was the youngest person in the damned room and it was awkward. My mom was trying to figure it out, but it's a process. Kate wants her mom to be happy with her. She doesn't know how to do that because she has this issue. Rebecca just wants her daughter to be happy and of course not be made fun of and just live a normal life. No matter what, somebody is going to pick on you for something. It's a complicated dynamic and it is heartbreaking."

Acting came up unexpectedly

In her early 20s, Metz was a preschool teacher. Then one day, everything changed. As described by Marie Claire, Metz took her sister to an audition, and ran into an old teacher who encouraged her to audition as well. Metz had doubts. She described this feeling during the interview, saying, "In my heart, I was like, 'Yes I would love to,' but I was too afraid of my own shadow." But she took the chance, and it paid off. She received a call the next day, and less than a year later she found herself headed to Los Angeles to audition for pilot season. Her mom later reminisced on the moment with Marie Claire, saying about her daughter, "She said, 'Mom, I'm going to live my dream." Good for Metz for following those dreams.

She had to sit on the sidelines first

When she first came to Los Angeles, Metz was able to see acting from a different viewpoint — that of a talent agent. As described by Marie Claire, she became her agent's assistant after auditioning for roles for a few years. Although a job, it wasn't Metz's reason for coming to LA. As she said during the interview, "I was like, 'This isn't fair, I didn't come here for that." She continued to act, but working at the talent agency became Metz's full-time job. She eventually became an agent, but still wanted to see acting through.

As she discussed with Harper's Bazaar during an interview, "Scheduling auditions for the talent was like watching your boyfriend take out another woman every single day." Luckily Metz did not give up. She continued to audition, and, as everyone knows, it worked out.

It took panic to make a change

Metz has been determined in the past to lose the weight, and a few years before This Is Us premiered, she took it to an extreme. She shared with People that before moving to Los Angeles, she lost 50 pounds on the recommendation of her then-manager. She then gained back 100 pounds due to depression and "eating my feelings." It took a trip to the hospital on her 30th birthday due to a panic attack to make her rethink her strategy. She told the magazine, "I was so gung-ho, I lost 100 lbs. in less than five months … All I did was eat a 2,000-calorie diet and walk 20 minutes a day."

After getting to a better place, she snatched up her role in American Horror Story. She played a character who required her to wear a fat suit. This was also a big moment for Metz. "It was sobering … I thought, 'What if I become that heavy and can't walk around or get stuck in the doorframe?' I was like, 'I don't want this for me.'"

This awareness has led Metz to become a voice for those who may be uncomfortable talking about body image issues. From her time on This Is Us, she's learned just what kind of effect she is having on the show's fans. "You don't realize that somebody who's average or even very fit could relate to someone who's overweight … but it's not about our size — it's how we look at ourselves and how we feel about ourselves," she said.

Even her bank account was suffering

Even though acting was what Metz knew she wanted to do, getting to where she is now was not easy. After her big break on American Horror Story, the role ended and she was back where she started. She had to sacrifice and work really hard for what she wanted. She's also the first to admit that she needed help along the way. She told Glamour, "I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit card debt gaining interest … I went on unemployment. I bought ramen noodles at dollar stores. I never had to — God forbid — live on the streets; I moved in with a roommate who told me, 'Stay with me until you can afford rent. Don't give up.' People who supported me were like, 'If you don't have money for food, I'll cook you dinner. You don't have money for acting class? Let's get together and read lines.'" It was this support system that helped Metz through the tough times.

When she booked This Is Us, the actress had 81 cents in her bank account. And then life changed quickly. But what makes Metz so fabulous is that even though her fortune changed, her attitude has not. She told the magazine, "You may think, 'Ooh, you're on TV, you're a millionaire!' No. It's definitely a lot more than I was making, but I still live with my roommate — though I pay my proper share of the rent now. Meeting my car payment on time? That's new. I paid my friends and my stepdad back. And three months ago I finally paid my credit cards off! Funny, but I still get buyer's remorse — I just got my first pair of Alexander McQueen shoes; I'm so convinced I shouldn't have bought them, I still haven't busted them out of the box." We're the first to vote that you deserve those Alexander McQueen shoes, Chrissy!

Weight loss isn't a requirement in her contract

Although there has been speculation regarding the details of Metz's This Is Us contract, she clarified to People that her contract does not state she has to lose weight. However, Metz understands her character and journey and seems happy to have the motivation to be healthy. She told the magazine, "Why not have a motivation beyond me to get to a healthy weight? Every actor does that. We're chameleons. We change, we grow as an actor … you lose weight, you gain weight, you change your hair or whatever." And how does this make being healthy easier? Accountability and support. Speaking with TVLine, Metz shared that as humans we're "more likely to do something for someone else." But even with this incentive, Metz wants to make one thing clear: this is all about health. She said, "I just have to be very clear. Whether or not I lose weight or stay the same, it's purely a choice of mine for health. Not because I think that plus size, curvy, voluptuous, big bodies aren't attractive — because I think they're awesome and sexy." You go, girl. Metz is someone who is beautiful both on the inside and out, and we can't wait to read more interviews and get a look at her character's journey on This Is Us.

She believes everything happens for a reason

Although Metz has had to go through some tough times and struggles to get to where she is today, she has no regrets. As a matter of fact, she firmly believes everything happens for a reason — and that her journey with weight loss, and putting the weight back on, and losing it again, is all a part of this. She told THR, "The trajectory is that Kate will be losing weight just as I will in real life to reflect the character in her arc and her journey. That's exciting for me, especially because losing weight is something I've struggled with and contemplated. I have lost weight and I've gained weight back. I wouldn't have this amazing role if I'd already lost all the weight. So I have to believe that everything happens for a reason, and I do feel that way in life." With such a positive and open attitude, the actress is ready to tackle the tougher issues on the show. As Metz explained to THR, "I have friends and I know that when you do lose weight, you're happy and it's exciting but there are other things going on. There are other things that make us want to eat or overspend or fill a void with something. And so as she [Kate] loses the weight and puts the food down a lot of other things start to come up, which happens in real life. It's going to be really fascinating to watch that unfold on a lot of different levels."

She knows life can't be perfect

Many of the storylines on This Is Us have hit on very real topics, ones that feel so casual but tend to bring out even more emotion than the most dramatic scenes do. Metz's character of Kate struggles with the fact that her boyfriend is able to lose weight faster than her even though it was her idea to lose the weight in the first place. Metz understands this feeling and addressed it during her interview with THR. "You get frustrated. Not that it's a positive way to counteract the lack of weight loss by binging or having a little snack, but at some point you just can't beat yourself up because it's counterproductive." When Metz gets down to it, she says, "Nothing is ever going to be perfect." In the interview, she went on to explain her thoughts: "We have to learn to celebrate the victories but not hold onto the shame that we have of not doing something fast enough or quickly enough or the right way. Everything in life has its flows and ups and downs." Sounding like a great role model to look up to, the actress continued, "We're all works in progress and not everything is going to be perfect all the time. It's important to show that."

Everyone can relate in some way

Yes, life may never be perfect, but what makes Metz and her show This is Us so special is the vulnerability shown each week. This display of emotion gives the audience a chance to see these characters, Metz included, for who they are — and to realize they are relatable in both their good and bad moments. Speaking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (quotes via ET) about this very topic, Metz said, "I think everyone has shame about something, whether it's a lack of a relationship with a child or maybe their weight or a lack of communication within their marriage … Everyone can relate to that because we all have something that we're like, 'God, I can work on that or I wish I was better at doing this.'"

Metz, in particular, has been so open about her own journey in life that it seems near-impossible to not relate with her on any topic that comes up. And her fans have been pretty vocal about their support and feelings. As she told Glamour, "I've had women — average women, older women, teenagers — who say to me, 'Your role and this show has changed my life.' That makes all the struggle, all the ramen noodles, all the times when I couldn't pay my bills, all the times where I was like, 'I can't do this,' worth it." And don't think that with all of this success Metz is going to change. She's grounded and intends to stay that way, and she isn't taking anything for granted. She told the magazine, "Sometimes I cry on the way to the set still. There is something that happens when you are grateful: You continue to keep receiving blessings. So I will always be grateful." We couldn't have said it any better.