André Leon Talley is looking good!
The fashion guru, 68, who says he struggles with a food addicition, slimmed down recently at a weight loss center.
“It’s been an emotional journey for a very long time — about a decade – I live with it every day,” he tells PEOPLE of his addiction.
But now the Vogue contributing editor is down 34 lbs. after a stay at Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina.
“I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas there,” Talley says. “In the past, I’ve had terrible challenges around the holidays, so this year I decided to go there.”
He spent time on and off for six weeks at the residential medical weight loss program taking nutrition and fitness classes and examining his relationship with food.
Working one-on-one with the fashion icon was the center’s director Dr. Will Yancy. “He’s like a magnet, people just want to come and sit and talk with him,” Yancy says.
This wasn’t Talley’s first visit to the clinic. He says the camaraderie of the center is part of what keeps him coming back. “It’s a very encouraging environment,” he says, although he admits it can be hard to get into the mindset at first. “The experience for me is always very daunting in the beginning. You certainly have to reboot your skills in weight-loss and I think it’s one of the best places to do that.”
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Nutrition Director Elisabetta Politi has been at the center 20 years and has worked with Talley several times. “When people carry excess weight they tend to isolate themselves a little bit,” she says. “I realized he was spending many evenings at home watching tv and it was not uncommon for him to eat sweets while he was watching tv. I think coming here this time helped him to break that vicious cycle.”
Yancy confirmed the importance of workouts in Talley’s case. “He hadn’t been exercising a lot before he got here so just getting him moving again was critical,” says Yancy.
Talley says he’s keeping the weight off by foregoing some of his favorite treats.
“I had to cut out ice cream and desserts, pie, cakes and cookies. I don’t keep those things in the house,” he says. “It’s very tough with my lifestyle. I have learned to avoid the temptations.”
He explains further: “Food addiction is a very serious thing and I try not to get so stressed out. Now though, if I’m stressed, I don’t go to the trigger foods anymore.”
He also says it helps that he stays in touch with the doctor and the nutritionist he worked with at Duke, since he thinks so highly of the center.
The feeling is mutual among the doctors there. “He is extremely humble, very approachable and fun to be with,” says Yancy. “He treats everyone the same way, from the housekeeping staff and the waiters to the doctors. He just enjoys talking to people. And women love to ask him what to wear.”
And on that subject of fashion, Talley says he’s never faced any criticism from his stylish peers as he has struggled with the scale.
“There is no bullying about my weight,” he says. “The fashion world has accepted me and they keep me there for my knowledge, not my looks.”