The 52-year-old star opened up about turning down roles that require her to lose weight in an "unhealthy" way.
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Headshot of Queen Latifah
Credit: Getty Images

Queen Latifah understands that having to look a certain way for a movie or TV role is part of the territory in her line of work. While she's willing to make some adjustments for future jobs, she isn't going to compromise her health while doing so, she revealed in a recent interview with People.

"Health is most important to me. It's not about losing weight or gaining weight. When I want to lose weight, or gain weight, I know how to do it in a healthy way," she told the publication. "So, if I have to do something that is going to be completely unhealthy for me, then that's not the job for me."

The 52-year-old actress admitted that she literally practices saying "no" to certain opportunities. "I practice my no's. I go in the mirror, and I say, no, no, no, no, like 20 times. And that's it," she said, "I need to be okay with me. If I'm okay then I feel like I can do anything. But if I'm not okay, I have to say something."

In addition to learning to say "no" to things that don't serve her, Latifah has had quite a journey with her weight and health. When her trainer told her that she "falls into the obese category," it was an eye-opening and "scary" experience, she told the magazine. Since her discovery, though, Latifah has made it a point to learn more about obesity, which is a "disease involving an excessive amount of body fat" that contributes to health risks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Despite what others may think, sometimes obesity may be a result of uncontrollable factors, such as "genetics and hormones," Latifah told the magazine. The actress wants to build awareness and offer help to those dealing with the condition, as well as destigmatize the disease. (Related: 8 Medical-Related Reasons for Unexplained Weight Gain)

"We need to change the conversation. We need to change the culture, we need to change the stigma that's involved in it," she said. "Let's just get real with it. And then let's back it up with some information that can empower you to do something about it, or change your mentality about it."

Now, Latifah is in a healthy space and mindset as it relates to her health, she explained. "I know what I'm doing now. I know the difference between right and wrong, for that matter, for me. I know when I'm going to have some fun with food and know when I'm going to chill," she said. Finding a balance that works for her and her lifestyle not only improved her health, but it also improved her self-esteem. This has taken time and constant personal check-ins to achieve, she admitted.

"I think self-esteem is like maintaining a car. You can't just buy a car and think that you're never going to have to get an oil change, a tune-up, change the tires, you know, you have to do that," she said. "And health is like that, you have to check in with yourself."

Let this be your reminder to do a little physical and mental health check-in with yourself today and say "no" to things that don't serve you.