"I was like, 'Oh, man. Did I really let it all go?'"
Taylor Lautner is opening up about how his breakout role as Jacob Black in the "Twilight" franchise affected how he viewed his body.
During an appearance on his wife Tay Lautner's The Squeeze podcast, the 30-year-old got candid about the pressure he felt to maintain his famous physique following his departure from the franchise.
"When I was in it, when I was 16 through 20 years old, starring in this franchise where my character is known for taking his shirt off every other second," Lautner said of his time in the "Twilight" films. "I did not know that it was affecting me or going to affect me in the future with body image, but now looking back at it, of course it did, and of course it is going to."
The physical transformation to portray Jacob eventually took a toll on Lautner's body and his relationship with exercise, saying he was "forced to be in a gym multiple times a day, six days a week" to keep it up.
He recalled, "In the first movie, I was 140 pounds, and in 'New Moon' I was 175. So yeah, that wasn't my natural body. I had to work very hard for it and very, very hard just to maintain it."
"What happens when you don't want to see a gym? You start losing the eight pack. I started having more normal of a body," the "Scream Queens" star continued. "I remember one of the first times seeing it online was very tough. I was filming a movie called 'Run the Tide,' and my character in that is not supposed to be a body builder or ripped guy in any way. I thought I looked fine."
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Following the release of "Run the Tide," Taylor recalled seeing side-by-side comparison photos of his body in the movie and his cut figure in "Twilight."
"They put the side-by-sides of me shirtless in the ocean in a scene from that movie compared to me in 'Eclipse' or whatever and being like, 'Wow, he's let it all go.' I was like, 'Oh, man. Did I really let it all go?'" he explained. "I didn't think I looked that bad."
From then on Lautner said he got stuck in a cycle of weight losses and gains, saying the photos had an effect on his mental health.
"I've gotten healthy again, but in order to get my body physically healthy, it took my mind getting healthy first," he said. "But yeah, those side-by-side images continued for years and years, and it messed with me. It hurt."
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Now that Lautner has a healthier relationship with his body, he stressed the gravity of realizing how prioritizing mental health and self care is just as important as body image.
"Your body can look unbelievable, you can be ripped, shredded, whatever you can lose weight, you can put on muscle, and if you're not healthy mentally, then that's all for nothing because that can work against you," he said.
The actor also gave a piece of advice for men experiencing body image issues, saying that what people see in the mirror can be a result of how our brains "sees things differently."
"It's not as bad as you think," Lautner continued. "You always tell yourself that it's worse than it is. Don't find happiness in what you want your body to look like. Don't think just because you lose the 20 pounds or put on the muscle, you're going to wake up and look in the mirror and all of a sudden be happy. That's not where you should be finding value."