Back in May of 2011, Alec Baldwin received some bad news during a doctor's visit that turned out to be one of the best wake up calls of his life. After years of not watching what he was eating, the 54-year-old was diagnosed as pre-diabetic
- a medical red flag that currently impacts more than 79 million Americans.
"When they put it to me in terms of being ill -- I drink soy milk now -- and they said to me that your problem is that you're pre-diabetic and you're never going to lose weight until you embrace that sugar is a toxin for you, everything changed overnight," the 54-year-old tells USA Today
. "That Tuesday, I think May 12 or 13, it was over," he says. "I've eaten sugar in some fruit. I just try and eat berries. Candy, gum, mints, ice cream, cake, pie, that's all gone. I lost 35 pounds."
According to a recent study, U.S. adults consume 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day, or 355 calories. Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, says average-sized women should be consuming no more than 6.25 teaspoons; men 9.4.
"We know for sure that if you are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, you will add calories, which leads to weight gain, or you will displace other essential nutrients," Lona Sandon, a dietitian, told MSNBC
In addition to diet, exercise is also key for fast results - with Baldwin's success a mix of pilates, yoga, and the beneficial addition of his health-conscious wife Hilaria Thomas Baldwin. The 28-year-old, a yoga instructor in New York City, is planning her own empire building. "My wife is about to be in a yet-to-be-announced fitness/health show, and she's going to make a million dollars and be the next Jane Fonda," Baldwin said recently
"You become really knocked out by how much you want to be around people who live the way you want to live," he added to USA Today
. "My wife -- I'm very lucky they can't have my wife because she's mine -- is a very wise beyond her years and disciplined person. She's helped me. Food is for fuel. We try to access food that is good and that we enjoy. A lot of people go home and close the door and the person they're spending the evening with is someone who's just as challenged as they are. They have a tough time."
The actor's new health regimen is also inspiring other Hollywood legends, with Tom Hanks the most recent to tip his hat.
"I ran into Alec Baldwin, who looks fabulous, and said, 'Dude, your health is so fantastic,'" the "Cloud Atlas" star told Rolling Stone. "And he said 'Yeah. White sugar. I'm staying away from white sugar as much as I can'."