"She's really trying to make a fresh start for herself," says PEOPLE senior editor Michelle Tan

By Dahvi Shira
June 28, 2012 01:30 PM

Now that Paula Deen has dropped from a size 18 to a size 10, the celebrity chef has an entirely new outlook on life.

“She’s really trying to make a fresh start for herself and for her family,” says PEOPLE Senior Editor Michelle Tan of this week’s cover subject. “We discovered a whole new Paula Deen. She was really devoted to living a healthier lifestyle.”

Deen, who admitted she had Type 2 Diabetes in January, was first “in complete denial” about her condition, Tan explains, adding that Deen “didn’t think it was a big problem and she [thought she] didn’t have anything to fix about her diet.”

These days, though, Deen is excited about all the vegetables in her garden and creating healthy recipes – some of which she shares in this issue.

“One of the great things PEOPLE magazine brings to our readers this week is we get to take a look into Paula Deen’s fridge,” Tan says. “A lot of people expect stacks of butter, tubs of lard, but what was really great was we saw a lot of new, great, healthy ingredients inside her fridge.”

For Paula’s secrets to dropping pounds and more on her decision to lose weight and stick to her plan, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday