The entertainment capital of the world might not seem like the place you'd find an Osmond, a show-business family with a squeaky-clean image. But being smiling and upbeat doesn't equal bland, as Osmond well knows.
"You know what a positive attitude is? It's not walking around being vanilla," she says. "I love to laugh. You have to count your blessings instead of looking at everything you're not doing. Find things that uplift you."
At Osmond's core is a love of family. One of her passions is raising awareness about heart disease, which her mother died of. "It's the number one killer of women in this country," says Osmond, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
Women know that to prevent heart disease, we should eat right, exercise, and monitor our cholesterol. But around the time of your mother's illness, you weren't doing that, were you?
"I'd go upstairs and get winded. My oldest son said to me, "Mom, we love you, but we need you to lose some weight, because we want you to be around for our kids."
How did that make you feel?
I wanted to hug him and slap him at the same time [laughs]. The fact is, what he said was true. It was like, Oh, my goodnesss. Heart disease runs in our family. I'm in my forties. I'm a ticking time bomb. You have to switch your whole mindset to stress management, exercise, eating right, taking care of your body.
How did you get back into exercising?
I started walking. I love to read, so I would walk outside and listen to books I had downloaded. I was almost fifty pounds overweight. I'd think about going into a gym, and it would be depressing.
Everybody in there is in shape!
You dropped ten pounds when you began walking, but you really started losing weight on Dancing With Stars in 2007.
That was the catalyst. There's nothing more humiliating then wearing spandex when you're forty pounds overweight. My top weight in 2007 was 165 pounds.
When you fainted on that show, were you initially afraid it was your heart?
There had been massive brush fire over five hundred acres of Malibu that day, and the Santa Ana winds were blowing smoke and ash over most of LA. Everyone's eyes and noses were burning, and I tend to have asthmatic reactions if the air is polluted. I had performed the complete dance in rehearsals earlier that afternoon, but as the day wore on, the air quality got so bad that I had a hard time breathing. I think it was the exertion of the dance and a matter of not getting enough oxygen. But we all know that the girls dance harder than the boys do anyway, right?
How do you monitor your heart health?
I just had a 320 slice CT coronary angiography. It was not something that would be part of an annual exam. And my heart is in fantastic shape.
What are your workouts now?
I get a lot of cardio exercise while I'm doing the show - an hour and forty-five minutes, five days a week. I dance on stage - even powerful singing is a cardio workout. And I lift weights. But that couldn't have happened initially.
You started Nutrisystem around the same time you did Dancing. What role had diet played in your weight gain before then?
I would skip breakfast, throw something together for lunch, and eat a big dinner. One of the things I learned from Nutrisystem is that if you're not eating consistently, your body doesn't know when it's going to get fed next, and so it hoards fat. [Osmond is a paid Nutrisystem spokesperson.]
You lost forty pounds in about four months and have kept it off. You're a size two, right?
Well Donny is very petite and I have to stand next to him [laughs]. No, I'm five-foot-five and very small-boned. My ring size is four. Size two is healthy for me. I'm not trying to be Twiggy, believe me - I've worked with her! It's about being healthy, having a quality life.
How do you feel about cosmetic surgery?
We cherish youth more than we do wisdom. Will I do it? I'm sure. Nobody wants to have a saggy jowl. Is it bad to do? I don't think anything is bad if it makes you feel better.
Have you tried anything?
I've had a HydraFacial, which is a non-laser skin resurfacing. I had a second procedure which was done with infrared light; it tightens the sking and stimulates collagen to make your face look more toned. And I use a lot of sunscreen.
||You seem like the kind of person who has a lot of good friends.
I wish I could say I had more. I don't get to hang out a lot because I work full-time. But I have great friends at church. I call them my low-maintenance friends. They're all busy, too, so we call each other and just pick up where we left off.
Is there a song in your show that's especially meaningful to you?
I do Pie Jesu off my new album (I Can Do This). All the proceeds from it go to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals [a charity she cofounded that provides hope and treatment to millions of sick kids each year] on behalf of my son Michael [who committed suicide in 2010]. I enjoy doing that because in some way, you're helping other people.
So many people struggle with grief. Do you have advice for them?
It comes and goes and comes and goes. It's not a fun sorority to belong to. I have great faith in God. Without faith, I don't know how I would have been able to get through what I've been through.
What helps you combat difficult times and come out the other end?
Serve other people. Find a little lady in the neighborhood who's getting old and tell your son to go mow her lawn. Take cookes to somebody, ring their bell, and run. Just find fun little things you cna do. Yes, it's work, but it makes you feel good.
Still, do you feel overswhelmed?
Life is life. You have these places and periods in your life. Losing my son was hard. Divorce is challenging. When your kids go through things, it's tough. But it's no different for any other woman. And I have great compassion for single moms.
In what way?
It's lousy out there for them. I had the ability to work. I have alwyas been the provider anyway, but there are a lot of women who can't support themselves. For women who are going through divorce, you need to know your finances. You can get through anything with the right attitude. God will walk you to safety.
What else does your faith give you?
Women's intuition is the most powerful gift - God sent women down with it. If women would listen to their gut - don't listen to that gut or you'll want pizza [laughs], but listen to your intuition. The big mistakes I've made in my life were when I didn't follow my gut.
Sounds like words to live by.
The best advice my mom ever gave me was, "When you're hurt by somebody, they own you. Let it go. Keep moving forward and being positive." You can do everything you can try to stop bad things from happening to you, but eventually things will happen, so the best prevention is a positive attitude.
And what was the best thing that happened when you did follow your gut?
Moving to Vegas. On every level, it was the craziest decision. To leave all the support I get from my family - who are in Utah - and come out here by myself. I prayed about it and pondered...but I felt like it was the right thing to do for my children and myself.
What do you try to teach your children?
The greatest thing my parents taught me is to feel the worth of hard work. School is very important. When they get an A, I don't just say, "Oh, I'm so proud of you." I follow it with, "Aren't you proud of yourself?" Because true self-esteem comes from feeling good about working hard.
Any fun summer plans?
I'm doing state fairs, singing my country hits. I want my younger four children to have that experience - be on a bus, eat corn on the cob, see the 4-H animals.
At mid-life, your career is soaring again. How does that feel?
To have people still be interested in you is a blessing. We're one of the few entertainers in Vegas who meet people after the show, and Donny and I decided to do that because for us, it's not about money, it's about giving an hour of your time. When you find out you're on somebody's bucket list, it's the least you can do to make time to meet them.