Tiffany Haddish Shares the Strategy Behind Her 40-Lb. Weight Loss: 'Nutrition Is Everything'

Tiffany Haddish is proof that, even with the unusual restrictions of the pandemic, major personal achievements are still possible.

“During this COVID period, I've lost 40 pounds,” Haddish tells PEOPLE, adding that she’s been exercising every day for “anywhere from 15 minutes to sometimes two hours."

The actress and stand-up comedian, 40, says her new commitment to health and fitness was inspired by the late track-and-field superstar Florence Griffith Joyner, the Olympian athlete who still holds the world record as the fastest woman of all time.

“I had this thought in my mind that I want the body of Flo-Jo!” Haddish says.

She also sticks to a regular vitamin regimen and has significantly shifted her diet toward healthier foods.

“I've been eating differently, eating way more vegetables, definitely eating directly out of my garden and just really putting in the work, making sure I sweat every single day and staying up on nutrition – nutrition is everything,” she says. “And I try to dance every day for like five to ten minutes. I think that's really important, too: Make it fun!”

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Haddish, who stars in the upcoming film “Here Today" has also been taking time during quarantine to reflect on her own early struggles with homelessness and food insecurity.

“I was homeless and hungry – that's like two Hs you don't want to be! Once I got over that hump, I felt relieved. But also I felt like I must continue to work and create opportunity for others so that I don't end up that way again.”

To that end, and through her role as an ambassador for vitafusion Gummy Vitamins, Haddish has been bringing attention to WhyHunger’s Hungerthon, a holiday effort to ease hunger. “This is the 35th year that they've done it. I'm like, 'I'm going to be a part of this.' I wanted to see how I can contribute. In what way can I lend my platform to spread the word to help?” she says. “There's a lot of people in our country right now that are starving.”

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While Haddish has found stability and success in her life, she hasn't forgotten her past. “I'm grateful for those experiences," she says. “I believed there was definitely going to be a better day, that the things that I was going through was to get me stronger for something greater. That the pain that I was feeling was all to prepare me for success.”

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