This Is Us airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC

By Lanford Beard
February 08, 2017 12:00 PM
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After years of struggling with diets and depression, This Is Us star Chrissy Metz looks back on her journey to self-acceptance, fame, and becoming a role model for body positivity. Subscribe now for the inside story — only in PEOPLE!

It’s only natural that Chrissy Metz‘s body is a topic of conversation.

The star of This Is Us has become a beacon of self-acceptance since breaking out on the show’s premiere last September, and Metz is the first to acknowledge how her own journey with weight — and weight loss — relates to her character Kate Pearson’s.

“You have to use what you have,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue of her fan-favorite role on the the NBC smash hit, “and I wouldn’t have this role if I had already lost weight. Now it’s about telling a story of a woman struggling with her weight, just as I have and still am.”

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

And while viewers have been curious about, not to mention fairly resistant to, Metz’s previous statements the part of taking the role meant losing weight in step with Kate on This Is Us, the actress now tells PEOPLE her contract with NBC does not mandate a specific workout regimen, any surgery or include an explicit weight-loss target.

  • For more from Chrissy Metz on how her confidence led to the role of a lifetime, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Still, she’s faced rumors in recent months about the way she’s losing weight. Though Kate has considered gastric bypass surgery on the show, Metz is ruling out the procedure at this time.

“There have been so many discussions about my weight: How is she going to lose weight? Is she going to lose weight? When is she going to lose weight? It’s kind of it’s funny,” she says.

“I do want to lose weight,” she says, but adds that her priority is on her longevity both personally and professionally. “I want to have a fit, healthy body and not have to be put in a box. I don’t want to be limited by anything.”

Having overcome years of self-doubt, depression and weight gain, Metz admits that reclaiming her confidence is still an ongoing process, “Sometimes I feel like I’m two people,” she says. “I’m proud of who I am as a person, but I do want to be at a healthy weight. Just not for anybody but myself.”

This Is Us airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.