Carrie Fisher, who has spoken candidly about struggling with her weight in the past, was slimmer, eating healthier and exercising regularly in the years prior to her death.
The Star Wars actress, 60, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement to PEOPLE on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd:
“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” read the statement.
Before her death, Fisher had spoken openly about losing weight for her appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year. The actress said she was pressured to lose 35 lbs. for the part, but worked off the weight the right way.
“I did it the same way everybody has to – don’t eat and exercise more! There is no other way to do it,” she told Good Housekeeping U.K.
But those 35 lbs. were nothing compared to the self-imposed weight loss Fisher underwent when she became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig in January 2011. The actress, who weighed around 105 lbs. when she starred in the Star Wars trilogy in the late ’70s and early ’80s, said her weight crept up over the years and grew out of control while doing her one woman play, Wishful Drinking.
When she first started the program, the 5′ 1″ actress was 180 lbs. at her heaviest.
“I’m fat,” Fisher told PEOPLE. “All the clothes in my closet belong to another chick. They have to make a new alphabet for my bra size.” But with diet and exercise, Fisher had already lost 30 lbs after a few months. “I feel much better,” she told PEOPLE. “My blood pressure is down. And I can stand on the scale at the doctor’s office.”
At the time, she also opened up about the bad habits that led to her weight gain. “I went on the road with the show and I did not exercise for three years and I just ate horribly,” she said. “My ritual was drinking regular soda and having pounds of peanut butter protein bars.”
After a year of hard work dieting and exercising, the actress had lost 50 lbs. “I want to get into the metal bikini and just walk around the house like an idiot,” the actress told the Today show at the time. “Answer the doorbell: ‘What is it? This old thing?’ I’ll come out with a line of metal bikinis for women over 40. If you want dignity, you wear metal bikinis over [age] 40.”
Fisher continued to share her thoughts on weight and appearance in Hollywood while promoting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, telling PEOPLE, “When I do lose the weight, I don’t like that it makes me feel good about myself. It’s not who I am.”
Growing up with her famous parents, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, 83, Fisher said she never felt like she was as attractive as her mom. “I looked at my mother and said, ‘Wow, she is gorgeous and I don’t look like her, therefore I’m not pretty,’ ” she explained. “‘And my father doesn’t visit – I mustn’t be pretty because he likes pretty women.’ ”
Fisher relayed her experience to new Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley and advised her to avoid getting forced into a “sex symbol” role – like Fisher in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, when she wore the iconic gold bikini.
“You should fight for your outfit,” she warned Ridley. “Don’t be a slave like I was.”