It’s a Promise She Plans to Keep: She’ll Never Give Up


One of my best friends resists visiting Los Angeles because she says all the women out here are thin, maybe even thin and beautiful. I don’t agree, but Debbie got me thinking: If a tourist can be intimidated, what must Hollywood be like for a resident non-skinny actress? Liz Torres sums it up matter-of-factly: “You combine the cruel, heartless, rude town with an out-of-work, overweight, over-40 actress and you’re not going to get great treatment.”

Torres was an Emmy nominee in 1994 and 1995 for her portrayal of Mahalia Sanchez on NBC’s “The John Larroquette Show,” which was canceled in November.


Question: What are some memorable treatments?

Answer: The day after I got the job, all my calls were returned--after 10 years.

Q: I’m smiling but it’s not funny.

A: I was the only girl at the Emmys without a designer dress. All these girls got offered clothes, you know, designers chasing after them. So when they asked me who did your gown, I said, “I don’t want to say this guy’s name. That’s free advertising. He didn’t call me. I paid for this.”


Q: Is weight a constant struggle?

A: Always. I’m always striving to lose weight. And it’s not a matter of wanting to be a size 3 again--I brought out my leotards and a friend thought they were doll clothes. Being heavy isn’t good for you. How long can your heart take the strain? So, I never give up but it’s hard. Being on the television show helped a lot.

Q: You took off 40 pounds.

A: Right, just by cutting down on the food intake, trying to eat healthy, exercising. And I don’t even like to exercise. I’m still waiting for my endorphin high to kick in. And just trying to pay attention to myself. When I’m tired I think if I eat something, it’ll pep me up and it’s not true. Just makes me more tired. So, I try to get into bed by 10.

Q: What do you do for exercise?

A: Five days a week I get up at 4:40 a.m. and then walk with my next-door neighbor, Diana, who is a schoolteacher. We go twice around the inside of a shopping mall. Sometimes I bring my Yorkshire terrier. Libby starts out good, but then she stops and I have to carry her.

Q: Do you do anything at home?

A: I have a stationary bike that I do twice a week, but I’m not really serious about it. I just do it until I get tired. And then I have a step thing that I really hate. It’s hard on your knees. I have a treadmill that keeps getting stuck. It’s nice to have equipment around, though, because you can sit on it any time. And I used to have a weighted jump rope and that was great.

Q: What happened to it?

A: I got to be 49, that’s what happened. My knees said, “No, we won’t.” No, the only one I like is the bike.

Q: Food-wise, how did you lose weight?

A: I cut back on everything. In the morning, whole wheat toast with fake butter and I try not to have coffee but when I do, I’ll give myself a double espresso or Cuban coffee, the little, tiny cup. I’m Hispanic--don’t mess around with my coffee. Leave my beans alone.


Q: What about the rest of the day?

A: Sometimes yogurt or ready-made salads, which I’d put in the car the night before. Otherwise, in the morning, I’d forget. Or for lunch, fish, salmon, greens and tomatoes. And at night, if I have a frozen dinner like a Healthy Choice at least I’ve had a meal. Otherwise, I’ll munch. Skip dinner and you end up picking all night.

Q: Do you eat when you’re nervous?

A: Very much so and I’m nervous all the time. You’re just shoving it in your mouth and you’re not thinking, “I’m not really hungry.” You eat from sunrise to sunset and sometimes you wake up with crumbs in bed.

Q: How do you feel about your appearance?

A: I’m heavy. This is the reality. I don’t kick myself about it, but I don’t think I look fabulous in my clothes. I know that in my suits I look like a box walking down the street. That’s the thing that hurts me most. Thank God, there’s a product out there that you can wear that’s passable. It’s corrective dressing, but it’s not who I am and ultimately that’s very hard. I can’t even look at fashion magazines anymore because the styles aren’t going to be anything that I can wear.

Q: What else do you go through when you’re heavy?

A: When you gain weight, nobody looks at you. When I got heavier--and being Hispanic on television is limiting--I played a lot of maids. I would go on the set and people would not look at me. They also tend not to hear you. You have to make them focus on you. If I really want to be heard, I have that command but a lot of heavy women don’t. When I see someone heavy working on television I say, “Oh, God, go girl. You do it.” You know, it shouldn’t stop your life.

* Guest Workout runs Wednesdays in Life & Style.