Shonda Rhimes Was Inspired to Lose Weight After Being Unable to Buckle Her Seatbelt on a Plane

Shonda Rhimes has lost 117 lbs.

Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty

Shonda Rhimes is opening up about the moment that inspired her 117 lbs. weight loss.

During an appearance on Monday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal touched on the embarrassing story behind her impressive slim-down.

Rhimes, 45, said the weight loss was part of her resolution to begin saying yes to opportunities she had previously avoided – which is the topic of her new book, Year of Yes.

“It was a crazy byproduct, somehow, of doing this,” Rhimes explained. “The more stuff, the more fears I conquered, the more I felt like, ‘Oh, I can do this, too,’ or ‘I can do that, too.’ It was exciting. And I decided well, I’m going to try doing that. So yeah, I lost weight.”

Rhimes then described the moment she was inspired to begin shedding the pounds, which dawned on her when she was unable to buckle her seatbelt on a plane.

“I got on an airplane … it was a first class seat, you know, they’re bigger, and I was like: ‘This is going to be really comfortable,’ ” Rhimes recalled. “And I got in my seat, I took off my shoes, I took out my book and I went to buckle my seatbelt – and it wouldn’t buckle. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, something is wrong with this seatbelt, it’s broken.’ And it wasn’t the seatbelt, it was me.”

Rhimes said she debated whether to ask the flight attendant for a seatbelt extender – and ended up saying nothing

Still, the Shondaland creator said her weight loss was about being healthy for her daughters and had nothing to do with conforming to societal views.

“It really was about the fact that I have a 3-year-old, and a 2-year-old, and a 13-year-old, and I kind of wanted to be around for them, to be healthy,” Rhimes told DeGeneres. “I’m super feminist, and I’m like, ‘Everybody should be whatever shape they want to be, how dare anybody tell anybody anything!’ – and then I thought like, ‘I’m going to fall over, cause I don’t feel good.’ So it was really about that.”

Rhimes also recently told PEOPLE that her weight loss has “never truly been about a number.”

“It’s just about feeling good. I feel good and really healthy,” Rhimes said. “And I’m going to work to stay in that space.”

In a new Nightline interview, Rhimes explained how she has much more energy since slimming down. ”

“I put my 3-year-old on my back and we galloped up and down the hall for, like, 20 minutes. And then I put her down for her nap,” Rhimes said. “I sat down and burst into tears because I really sort of realized that, like, I don’t know, a year ago that – I might literally have died. That would’ve given me a heart attack.”

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Nightline airs Tuesday at 12:35 a.m. on ABC.

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