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Shonda Rhimes is an established television-producing powerhouse with prime time dramas including  Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder. Now headed to Netflix after signing a multi-million dollar deal to create a new selection of shows, the media mogul has more than proven herself as top a TV developer.

Several years ago, Rhimes embarked on a journey of health and wellness which involved many aspects of her life. The Grey’s creator was inspired to tackle one particular issue after a wake-up call on a plane.

Shonda Rhimes attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Shonda Rhimes of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Shonda Rhimes and the power of one word

Writing about a complete life shift in her 2015 memoir Year of Yes, Rhimes describes how saying ‘yes’ to opportunities she normally turned down became a true awakening.

“I sat down and said, ‘I really need to start saying yes to the things that scare me. If I never say yes to anything, I need to start saying yes to things that I would always say no to automatically,’” Rhimes shared in 2015, according to Parade. “I promised myself that I would do it for just a year because I thought that I wasn’t going to survive. I really thought, ‘I’m going to die of shame and shock and fear.’”

By responding with that one small word, Rhimes soon discovered she had to say ‘yes’ to all areas of her life including her health.

“One of the yeses was, I can’t say yes to everything and not say yes to taking care of yourself and not say yes to health,” Rhimes explained. “That came from having an epiphany. I work so hard at everything that I do. I work my butt off at work and I work hard at being a mother, why do I think losing weight would be easy?”

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ creator on slimming down for the right reasons

Though the television producer works in the Hollywood limelight where appearance often takes precedent, Rhimes’ reasons to lose weight had nothing to do with glamming it up.

“I did not do it because I thought I would become beautiful like in the movies,” Rhimes said of her slim down in her Shondaland newsletter, according to “I did it because I could not walk up a short flight up stairs without stopping to take a break and wiping sweat from my brow.”

Emphasizing her choice was due to being healthy, Rhimes expressed that she had to override her drive not to conform. “I really am super feminist, and I’m like, ‘Everybody should be whatever shape they want to be. How dare anybody tell anybody anything?!'” she shared with in 2015. “Then I thought, ‘I’m going to fall over, because I don’t feel good.'”

Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Airplane Seat Belt Incident’

In a 2015 discussion with Time, Rhimes revealed what pushed her to say ‘yes’ to changing her nutrition regime. Labeling it the “Airplane Seat Belt Incident of 2014,” the Scandal creator opened up about a somewhat eye-opening experience.

“Getting on a plane and discovering that your seat belt won’t fit around you was a moment of extreme horror,” she revealed. It was very hard to ignore.”

Rhimes went on to describe her unexpected turn of events when she went to her seat. “I got on an airplane — I was going to New York from LA — and it was like a first class seat. You know, they’re bigger,” the Grey’s producer recalled. “I was like, ‘This is going to be really comfortable.’ I got in my seat, I took off my shoes, I pulled out my book, I went to buckle the seat belt and … it wouldn’t buckle. It wasn’t the seat belt. It was me.”


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Realizing she had a decision to make, Rhimes decided to forego buckling up rather than calling attention to her dilemma. “I could ask the airline flight attendant to get me a seat-belt extender,” she said. “Or I could die and not have a seat-belt extender, and maybe the plane will crash or I’ll fly out of my seat when we take off. I decided I would risk it and just fly out of my seat, because I wasn’t going to say anything.”

The incident motivated Rhimes to pursue better health and wellness, where she succeeded in losing almost 150 pounds. While she was thrilled with the results, Rhimes admitted she didn’t enjoy the journey. “There is nothing fun or interesting or great about it,” she revealed. “I hated losing weight. I hated every single second of it.”

Rhimes always knows how to keep it real!