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"Real Housewives" Star on Taking Her Weight Loss Struggle Public

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She may not be a housewife herself, but Lauren Manzo, daughter of Caroline Manzo, gets tons of screen time on this season's Real Housewives of New Jersey. Or rather, her struggles with her weight and her decision to undergo Lap Band surgery does. Appearing on reality television takes a certain willingness to expose yourself, but putting your weight loss journey into the spotlight really ups the ante. The 24-year-old spoke to DivineCaroline about her decision to undergo Lap-Band surgery, how she's dealt with her weight on T.V., and why she may never become a housewife herself.

DivineCaroline: I always felt you flew under the radar until this season when you really came into your own.
Lauren Manzo: Yeah! In the beginning there was a different set of producers. Then last season there was a producer who really believed in me. He was the one who told me, “You are such an interesting person. I think you would be a great asset to this.” Until I heard those words I never felt like I could put my two cents in, maybe because I thought I was too young. But when the cameras were off I was throwing my opinion around all over the place. It was then the producer said, “Why can’t you do that when the cameras are rolling?”

DC: Another reason you've commanded so much attention is your willingness to discuss your struggle with your weight. Why go public with something so personal?
LM: It was really hard for me. I think that is why I looked so miserable this season.

DC: Why?
LM: I felt like every scene I was talking about my weight. The reason I started really talking about it was because I started having a real presence on the series and getting all of this feedback like, “I love the fact you are not a size-2 or I love the fact you are a real size.” Although I never addressed it last season, this has always been a huge issue for me. I thought maybe if I could show people what I am doing to lose weight I could inspire others to do the same.

DC: There was a published report that said you had the Lap-Band surgery.
LM: I have had it. What is so incredible about this, I have had so many people come up to me and say, “I decided to make my appointment because you did it” or people will say I am now dieting and exercising now because of you.” 

DC: Why did you decide to get a Lap Band?
LM: When we were filming in California, I had a fight with my brother and then I had a mental breakdown. I was saying things like, “I am really unhappy,” “I really can’t do this anymore,” “I hate myself,” “I hate everyone and I don’t wish anyone well.” It was my dad who said to me, “Do you think it is your weight?” I was like, “Yeah. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything at all.”

DC: So what did you do?
LM: My dad suggested we go talk to a lap band doctor. After he said that I got mad and starting saying, “I can’t. I am not heavy enough.” Not only did I go but I am so glad I did.

DC: Why?
LM: The doctor said listen you have to do something about this now before you get diabetes. Then I started asking questions like, “What if I get pregnant? Can I have a baby? Will I be able to have a baby without complications? Then he told me if I was to try and have a baby now, I will have more complications and be a high-risk pregnancy. Once he said that, I went the following week to do it.

DC: How are you feeling now?
LM: It is hard. Some days are worse than others. Some days I have a hard time eating anything at all. I throw up a lot, I have indigestion constantly. Yet at the same time, this is the best thing I have ever done. I don’t eat as much anymore. Although it stinks sometimes because I want to enjoy the good food I know it is the band doing its job.

DC: What does your diet now consist of?
LM: I am not a salad person. I would rather a piece of grilled chicken or fish. I will say the appetizers like the mozzarella and bread are my weak spot.

DC: Do you feel great when you look in the mirror?
LM: I feel better when I look in the mirror. Another 30-pounds and I will feel great. But right now, I feel great. I am wearing different clothing now. I used to only wear black and now I am wearing all sorts of colors. I feel more confident, I don’t wear as much make-up as I used to and I feel great.

DC: No regrets about making it a storyline?
LM: I am so glad I put it out there. Yes, it was scary but I wanted to acknowledge it.

DC: Is there a lot of pressure being a Manzo and succeeding in the business world given the lifestyle people see you growing up in?
LM: No but it’s funny you ask that because I get asked that a lot and not just about doing well professionally but about my body too. The show has never put more pressure on me to do this or do that. If that were the case, I would have been 50-pounds thinner three seasons ago. As far as professionally, I have always wanted to be successful and own my own make-up place.

DC: Good for you.
LM: I have seen so many women in my family depend on their husbands, get divorced, get down and out and then have nowhere to live. The last thing I want to do is always run to my husband for everything. I am the type of person who wants to do it and depend on myself.

DC: You have had a boyfriend, Vito for a long time. Might marriage be in your future?
LM: I love him and yes, we probably will get married.

DC: So I will see you in a white dress in an upcoming episode?
LM: No. Not anytime soon. Don’t hold your breath. I used to say last season I wanted to be engaged by this summer. I know Vito is ready but I am not sure it is the right time for me because I am not ready just yet. I mean, why rush it? I want to enjoy what I have right now plus devote the time I need to make my business successful.

DC: You are an accomplished make-up artist. What is your #1 make-up tip?
LM: It is actually a skin care tip. I always say, make sure your skin is taken care of. If you take really good care of your skin you won’t need a much make-up. I love Dr. Perricone’s products and the Saffron skin care line.

DC: What is the one make-up product you never leave the house without wearing?
LM: A tinted moisturizer or the Temptu foundation.

image via Celebuzz

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