She had no trouble telling the world “I was fired” when she left The View last year. And she was hardly shy about sharing her love for husband Al Reynolds when they wed in 2004. But when anyone asked Star Jones Reynolds how she shed 160 lbs. over the last four years, the Court TV host would coyly answer, “a medical intervention,” and leave it at that.
Now with the encouragement of her husband and after two years of therapy, Jones Reynolds, 45, has finally decided to utter the three little words that have made such a big impact on her life: gastric bypass surgery. In an essay in Glamour’s September issue, Jones Reynolds discusses the drastic procedure she had in 2003. Her reason for the delayed admission? “First, I didn’t know if the surgery would work,” she writes. “But the complete truth is, I was scared of what people might think of me. I was afraid to be vulnerable and ashamed at not being able to get myself under control without this procedure.” Adds a close source: “It took her a long time to be able to say what it was. She had to come to terms with it herself.”
Her decision to undergo the surgery was difficult. After celebrating her 40th birthday in 2002, the 5’5″ Jones Reynolds ballooned to her peak weight of 307 lbs. “I just allowed myself to become sedentary and uncaring,” Jones Reynolds told PEOPLE in 2005. “It was bad to walk from the door to The View stage to the table and be out of breath.” Finally a friend confronted Jones Reynolds about her growing size, which brought the tough-talking lawyer to tears. “She loved me too much, she said, to allow me to continue killing myself,” Jones Reynolds writes.
After consulting doctors, Jones Reynolds underwent the hush-hush operation. Within months, fans of The View could see the pounds melt off the cohost’s size-26 frame, raising questions if surgery was involved. “I was intentionally evasive,” writes Jones Reynolds. Her husband, 37, urged Jones Reynolds to go public, “believing that it would free me, but I couldn’t do it,” she writes. Says the close source: “She wasn’t ready and he respected that. He’s been a major support for her all along.” Ultimately, with help from a therapist, “I learned that I couldn’t control what others thought,” Jones Reynolds writes. As fans urged her to be honest about her weight loss, keeping the secret “started to feel hypocritical and cumbersome.”
Jones Reynolds says she hopes speaking out will encourage other obese people to get healthy. “Her weight was a real health issue for her, but she looks fantastic now,” says longtime friend Morris L. Reid. “She’s happier, she’s fit. She can be an inspiration.”