The 59-year-old former Sopranos star spoke candidly to ABC News about her weight, and says the death of her parents was the first catalyst for her change.
"We were sitting there, dividing these medications, who gets what when," Bracco recalls of her mom and dad. "It was insane. I watched and realized, 'I don't want to go like that'... I want to live every day the best I can be."
The actress weighed 183 pounds by the time of her parents' deaths. She enlisted a life coach friend to help put together a weight loss plan after she realized she had "let [herself] go" and put herself last "on the 'take care of' list."
Bracco says she shuns sugar and dairy, and aims to eat balanced meals. She is also careful about portion size, and substitutes quinoa for grains. When she craves sweets, she chooses to "indulge" in fruit, gluten-free cookies and Kind bars.
"I was a huge Twizzler eater. I love licorice," Bracco admits. "The other day I said, 'I haven't had this in three years,' and I had half a piece. I ended up spitting it out because I no longer have a taste for it. It was so sugary, it was almost like poison to me."
In addition, the actress began Pilates classes to help her stay in shape. She says her progress was slow at first, but her classmates help to keep her motivated. Now she hopes to inspire others to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
Bracco plans to write a new book, To the Fullest, that will include recipes, a liver cleanse plan and tips to manage one's weight. Rodale Books will publish the work, set for release in 2015.
"I am still a vibrant, contributing human being and I am not dead yet!" the actress asserts humorously. "I laugh because I used to wake up and everything ached before I got out of bed. Now I jump out of bed! I'm doing something right."
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