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Model Rosie Mercado had to find her "happy place" after she regained 20 lbs. during her divorce

By Julie Mazziotta
August 29, 2018 05:38 PM
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Credit: Rosie Mercado/Instagram

After losing over 240 lbs., Rosie Mercado was dismayed to regain 20 lbs. during her divorce.

“I went back to my old habits,” the model, 38, tells PEOPLE. “I went back to feeling depressed and not taking my power back.”

But over time, Mercado learned how to prioritize herself and “who I am” as a person, and came out of the experience even stronger (and dropped those 20 lbs. once again). She’s now using that knowledge to help others as one of the cohosts on the new CBS talk show Face the Truth, premiering Sept. 10, where she and other celebrity experts help real people get through difficult conflicts.

“It’s about really being transformational and giving solution-driven advice that they can go home with and start implementing in their own lives,” Mercado says. “I’ve been through a divorce, I’ve dealt with a child with special needs, and with my health, and family differences. There are so many situations that I’ve gone through has made me the woman that I am, and I can tell people that they will be okay, and this is what they need to do.”

Health, in particular, is something that Mercado knows well after losing over half her weight with the help of a gastric sleeve, and going through the ups and downs of weight loss. Though she had learned how to implement healthy habits before her divorce, she had to reapply them when she was focused on losing those 20 lbs.

“I went through the divorce and it sucked and it hurt but I learned how to take care of me,” she says. “It taught me that life is going to happen, but you always have to stay consistent.”

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Now, the mom of three is eating healthy foods when she’s hungry, and avoiding the mindless snacking. She’s also working out with a personal trainer, and making a point to do fun activities that double as exercise, like dancing.

“I’m going out and not celebrating over food, but celebrating over shared experience with my kids and creating memories,” she says. “I’m happy that I’m in maintenance now. Everything I gained I’ve now lost, and I’m in a really happy place. And it’s not just about physical health, it’s about mental health as well.”

And Mercado is sharing her healthy habits, not just with the people on Face the Truth, but also in her own home.

“My daughter is 18, and because of genetics and bad decisions and past pain, she’s dealing with being overweight. And it’s something I’m so proud of her about because she hasn’t gotten the gastric sleeve, and she’s taking control of understanding why she’s eating what she’s eating,” Mercado says. “I tell them that I’m your mom and I love you unconditionally, but what I want you to learn is that every time that you have food in front of you, you have to consider if you need the food or if you just want it.”

“I’m really proud of my son because now he’ll say that he wanted ice cream but he’s not going to have it because he wants to take care of himself,” she adds. “Learning about that emotional connection with food has really changed my daughter’s life.”