From struggling with bipolar disorder to overcoming bulimia, the "Confident" singer has completely redefined what being healthy means to her.

By Faith Brar and Kelly Mickle
Updated July 24, 2019

If you're looking for inspiration on how to become happier and healthier, look no further than Demi Lovato.

For starters, beyond having some serious singing pipes, she's made a name for herself by destigmatizing mental health. She previously opened up about living with bipolar disorder and what made her decide to tell the world about her illness. "They say it takes the average person 10 years to get the right diagnosis and treatment," she told our sister brand FITNESS. "That statistic was very true for me, but I'm lucky to have the resources I need. Not everyone does. Sharing my story felt important if it meant that I'd be helping people get access to better care or showing that it's still possible to live a normal life." (Find out why she feels that extended time off can be good for your health)

Years of battling bulimia, self-harm, and addiction forced Demi to check into rehab, where she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011. She opened up to FITNESS: "I had two choices: I could pretend it never happened, or I could tell people the truth. I was tired of hiding and relieved to know what was wrong with me so I could finally do something to get better."

Yet another thing Demi has been candid about: Her ongoing battle with an eating disorder. Last year, she posted a "then" and "now" photo on her Instagram story with the caption "Recovery is possible" to show how far she's come in her own journey. Demi Lovato's weight-loss photo serves as a reminder to fans and followers that self-love and acceptance may not happen overnight, but that doesn't mean you should give up hope. (Related: Celebrities Who Opened Up About Their Eating Disorders)


That said, recovery isn't necessarily linear, and it's not always easy to feel good about yourself. Body positivity is a journey with ups and downs, rather than a destination—and Demi has been totally transparent about that. "Feeling gross today at a photo shoot, but I'm choosing to accept what I see because I love myself for who I am, and your love and support gets me through moments like this," she wrote on Twitter in early January. (Related: Demi Lovato Will Offer Free Wellness Sessions at Her 2018 World Tour)

She hopes that, by being open about her own issues with substance abuse, more people with similar struggles will be inspired to make a change in their lives and believe that being sober is possible. She's been honest about the fact that "I'm only human" and after six years of sobriety, she relapsed. As a result, she penned the song "Sober" and told People, “You just have to take it one day at a time, some days are easier than others and some days you forget about drinking and using, but for me, I work on my physical health, which is important, but my mental health as well.”

That's why she decided to quit dieting once and for all, even if that meant putting on a few pounds. For Demi Lovato, weight-loss isn't the goal. "No longer depriving myself of treats (in moderation)," she said in a separate tweet. "I'm not gonna lie, I put on a couple lbs since I've given up dieting, BUT I've given up the chronic stress of what I eat because I don't want to set that example for my fans. No more food shaming myself!"

Her message reinforced that labeling foods as "good" or "bad" can be bad for your mental health. Instead, it's better to listen to your body and eat what you want in moderation.

Another crucial factor in helping her make all of these positive changes: fitness. As an important role model in the body-positive movement (you can always count on her to show off her "flaws" and share some much-needed self-confidence tricks), Lovato has always been vocal about how focusing on exercise has helped her become her healthiest-but that has nothing to do with aesthetics. The badass videos she posts on Instagram of her martial arts workouts make it clear that she's all about kicking ass and gaining skills, versus working toward a "standard" body goal.

To make sure she maintains a healthy relationship with fitness, the singer says she tries to have a goal-based routine. "I've found that it's exciting for me to have goals in my fitness routine, where it's not just about wanting to lose weight or wanting to get my stamina up," she told Insider in April 2018.

Her latest passion is mixed martial arts (MMA), and she trains at Unbreakable Performance in Los Angeles (a place she's called her "oasis" on Instagram). She's currently working on earning her black belt and learning how to fight.

"She's more coachable than most of our fighters," her trainer Jay Glazer tells People. "She doesn't put ego in; she does it right, and she is vicious!"

Watch her in action, and you'll see it for yourself. "I kick butt all the time," she previously told Shape. "I love boxing and MMA, especially jujitsu. I get really excited about being able to push myself farther than I ever have before. Those moments teach you to appreciate and be grateful for your body and what it can do." (She sometimes spends four hours a day at the gym to hone her skills).

And for Demi, training isn't a chore. It's something she genuinely loves-and it shows. "She glows," Glazer tells People. "The happiness that she has, it's really from the inside out. Physically, she looks ridiculously amazing, but to get her to see herself as beautiful as she is-I can't tell you how proud we are of her. She's never been late, she shows up, she helps everybody. She's incredible." (Oh and her workout style is on point, too.)

"I realized I'd rather be strong and happy than be what society thinks is thin and perfect and be miserable," she revealed to FITNESS.

If all that doesn't scream #goals, we're not sure what does.

More from Demi's exclusive interview with FITNESS:

You battled body-image problems for a long time. How did you finally conquer them?

I've learned to appreciate my body for what it is. It helps to remind myself how far I've come. I recently saw pictures from my first tour, and I spent that whole summer performing in the heat in a red leather jacket because I was ashamed to show my arms. And that was when I was 105 pounds! This tour, I've had the confidence to show my arms at every single concert. It may seem like a small thing, but for me, that's huge. (Related: Eating Disorder Recovery Stats You Need to Know About)

What's your healthiest habit?

Definitely working out. Exercising has been so important for my recovery, both physically and mentally. On show days I count my concert as a workout, but on my off days I try to work out once in the morning and again at night. It can be a lot between performing and traveling, so I'm careful not to push myself too hard.

What's the best thing you get out of exercise?

My energy and endurance have gone way up. I feel so much stronger, and I'm much healthier. Normally I'd get the flu, but this tour I've had only a small sinus infection-knock on wood.

What do you do to motivate yourself when you don't feel like exercising?

A good playlist is crucial. Sometimes we'll blare music at the venue where I'm performing, and I'll run up and down the stairs or around the concourse. I also have a good team who are aware of my past health issues, so if they notice I'm having an off day, they'll be like, "Come on-let's go break a sweat!"

Has honesty helped you stay healthy?

I don't have a lot of yes-people around me, and most people in this business do. It's good to surround myself with those who aren't afraid to tell it like it is, because sometimes they see things before I do. It also creates an environment where I'm not ashamed to ask for help. What's your trick for staying positive even on tough days? My trainer will make me look in the mirror while I'm lifting weights or doing squats so I can watch my muscles forming. It's encouraging to see myself getting stronger. Now I get excited about seeing muscles instead of bones. (Related: Why Some People Have an Easier Time Toning Their Muscles)

What's your favorite meal?

A turkey patty in a lettuce wrap with vegan cheese-I'm lactose intolerant-ketchup, tomato, and a side of sweet potatoes. Or I love tacos made with ground turkey and spinach on a corn tortilla topped with lettuce, vegan cheese, and hot sauce. It's simple, but still has a ton of flavor, so I don't feel deprived.

What's the secret to making good-for-you changes stick?

Be patient, because real change takes time. I used to Google things like "How to lose weight in a week," but the world just doesn't work that way. If you want to lose weight, you've got to work for it. If you want to get stronger, you've got work for it. Any other way isn't going to be healthy, and it's not going to last.

Who inspires you?

My current life motto: "If Beyoncé can do it, I can do it." If she can work out, have the incredible body she has, have a kid, and be as successful as she is, then I sure as hell can, too. I'm also really inspired by other women in the spotlight right now who are embracing their curves. Say what you will about the Kardashians, but they've really helped make curvy bodies beautiful again.

What advice would you give other women struggling with body image?

We all have problem areas. I'm always going to have thick thighs. I can't change that, and obsessing over it will only make me miserable. Learning to be grateful for our bodies and taking care of them are the best ways for us to empower ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.