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Marilyn Monroe’s Diet & Workout

Frankly, I’ve never considered my own figure so exceptional; until quite recently, I seldom gave it any thought at all”

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe has one of the most desirable figures in the world. Well, so the internet seems to say, each to their own, right?. Needless to say, Marilyn had a curvaceous, hourglass figure. So, how did she obtain it? First of all, this is by NO MEANS a recommended diet or workout plan, this is for informational purposes only. Every body type is different and reacts in different ways to dietary plans and workout routines. And I personally want to say YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR WEIGHT OR SIZE. Focus on your personal mental and physical health and the rest will follow.


MARILYN’S WEIGHT AND MEASUREMENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

  • 2nd August 1945 – Blue Book Modeling Agency
    120lbs
    36-24-34
  • 1951
    36½-23-34
  • 8th February 1954 – DOD ID Card
    118lbs
  • 1955
    38-23-36
  • May 1962
    Approximately 35½ – 23½ -33¼
  • 5th August 1962 – LA Coroner Medical Report
    117lbs

You can read more about Marilyn’s true size here


“NORMA JEANE HUMAN BEAN”

Growing up, Norma Jeane stood out from her classmates. Naturally, tall and skinny the children at her school nastily nicknamed her “Norma Jeane Human Bean.” A boy in her class also cruelly commented., “I hope someday your legs fill out.”

However, like many girls, Marilyn began developing a shapely figure on the cusp of teenagehood, resulting in getting attention from the opposite sex. She stated, “At twelve I looked like a girl of seventeen. My body was developed and shapely.”

As Marilyn had no money for a new blouse (her others were torn) she wore another girl’s sweater, which was too small. This accentuated Norma Jeane’s natural curves which drew in groups of boys on her way home from school. This attention she thoroughly enjoyed. These famous curves would later be a household name alongside her films, quick-witted personality and ethereal beauty.

By Andre de Dienes, 1945.

1952 DIET AND WORKOUT

When married to James Dougherty and living in Avalon, Norma Jeane was taught how to lift weights a skill she would continue to do for much of her adult life. In 1952 Marilyn was interviewed by Pageant Magazine where she discussed her diet and workouts. She was photographed by both Andre de Dienes and Philippe Halsman using weights in 1952 with De Dienes’s images being used alongside the article.

By Andre De Dienes, 1952

Frankly, I’ve never considered my own figure so exceptional; until quite recently, I seldom gave it any thought at all. My biggest single concern used to be getting enough to eat. Now I have to worry about eating too much. I never used to bother with exercises. Noe I spent at leasy 10 minutes each mornng working out with small weights. I have evolved my own exercises, for the muscles I wish to keep firm, and I know they are right for me because I can feel them putting the proper muscles into play as I exercise.

She Doesn’t Like To Feel Regimented

Exercise. Each morning after I brush my teeth, wash my face and shake off the first deep layer of sleep, I lie down on the floor beside my bed and begin my first exercise. It is a simple bust-firming routine which consists of lifting five-pound weights from a spread-eagle arm position to a point directly above my head. I do this 15 times, slowly. I repeat the exercise another 15 times from a position with my arms above my head. Then, with my arms at a 45-degree angle from the floor, I move my weights in circles until I’m tired. I don’t count rhythmically like the exercise people on the radio; I couldn’t stand exercise if I had to feel regimented about it.

How To Feel Blond All Over

Sports. I have never cared especially for outdoor sports, and have no desire to excel at tennis, swimming, or golf. I’ll leave those things to the men. Despite its great vogue in California, I don’t think sun-tanned skin is any more attractive than white skin, or any healthier, for that matter. I’m personally opposed to a deep tan because I like to feel blond all over. 

By nature, I suppose I have a languorous disposition. I hate to do things in a hurried, tense atmosphere, and it is virtually impossible for me to spring out of bed in the morning. On Sunday, which is my one day of total leisure, I sometimes take two hours to wake up, luxuriating in every last moment of drowsiness. Depending upon my activities, I sleep between five and ten hours every night. I sleep in an extra-wide single bed, and I use only one heavy down comforter over me, summer or winter. I have never been able to wear pajamas or creepy nightgowns; they disturb my sleep.

A Set of Bizarre Eating Habits

Breakfast. I’ve been told that my eating habits are absolutely bizarre, but I don’t think so. Before I take my morning shower, I start warming a cup of milk on the hot plate I keep in my hotel room. When it’s hot, I break two raw eggs into the milk, whip them up with a fork, and drink them while I’m dressing. I supplement this with a multi-vitamin pill, and I doubt if any doctor could recommend a more nourishing breakfast for a working girl in a hurry. 

Dinner. My dinners at home are startlingly simple. Every night I stop at the market near my hotel and pick up a steak, lamb chops or some liver, which I broil in the electric oven in my room. I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat, and that is all. I must be part rabbit; I never get bored with raw carrots. 

P.S. It’s a good thing, I suppose, that I eat simply during the day, for in recent months I have developed the habit of stopping off at Wil Wright’s ice cream parlor for a hot fudge sundae on my way home from my evening drama classes. I’m sure that I couldn’t allow myself this indulgence were it not that my normal diet is composed almost totally of protein foods.”

By Andre De Dienes, 1952
By Phiilippe Halsman, 1952

WEIGHT GAIN AND PREGNANCY

In both 1958 and 1960 when Marilyn stepped off the plane to make Some Like It Hot and The Misfits, the press commented on Marilyn’s weight gain.

1958

During the filming of Some Like It Hot, Marilyn was in the early stages of pregnancy so it’s natural she would’ve put on some weight. Nontheless it seems unnecessary to comment on her figure whether she was pregnant or not, and its unfortunate that even today the press comment on figures of both men and women and see weight gain as a negative. Marilyn was also a sufferer of endometriosis which can cause severe bloating. You can read more about endometriosis here.


1000 CALORIE DIET PLAN

In 2016, Marilyn’s personal diet plan, written by Dr Leon Krohn, was sold for $3,437.50.

Although the typed meal plan had been found in a 1958 notebook it is quite likely that it could be from after Marilyn’s 1961 gall bladder surgery where she was required to not eat fatty or rich foods, however, it is undated and unconfirmed.

This Calorie Restricted Diet/ 1000 Calories/ 100 Grams Protein, as stated by Julien’s “presents sound health advice even by today’s standards, recommending the restriction of sugar, fats and carbohydrates to whole wheat and “one small white potato boiled baked or riced” as a substitution for one slice of bread.”

The plan consists of two options for each meal, consisting mostly of fruit, vegetables and meat/fish.


AUGUST 1961

Marilyn was delighted with the fact she had lost an awful lot of weight, effortlessly, on the diet prescribed after the gallbladder operation.

“And all the massages are keeping the body firm,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I think I have a better body than I’ve had since the early days at Fox. If you want to give the diet to any of your friends out here, I would certainly recommend it.”

Then, as if I didn’t know it by heart, she repeated it. “Before each meal, half a grapefruitt. The grapefruit is better than half a glass of the juice , because the bulk helps grind up fat. For breakfast, the whites of four eggs, I poach mine. The whites of eggs are among the highest concentrated protein anywhere – the yellow highest concentrated of fat. A piece of toast. Lunch, a tuna salad with greens and diet dressing. Or, the white meat of chicken or turkey. Dinner, a salad, a small baked potato, and a filet mignon, preferably charcoaled. If I get ravenously hungry mid-afternoon, a few bites of white meat of chicken, a few shrimp. Vary the steak with fish of some kind.

“I never feel the need of stuffing the face withbread, or sweets, and oddly enough, fruit…”

… I thought it’s interesting that in the diet I could pass on to other friends, she neglectede to mention the split of champagne before dinner. I think that’s the main ingredient of any diet – relax.

Mimosa by Ralph Roberts

Along with her diet, Marilyn felt that a huge part of her losing weight was down to receiving regular massages with Ralph. She said to Ralph in September 1961, “Thanks to the diet and to you, I’m sure I could make the best impression for an awfully long spell” before going to a party with Frank Sinatra.


MARCH 1962

Ralph Roberts later comments in the book on how slim she looked in March 1962, ready for Something’s Got To Give.

She removed a loose jacket she was wearing, and displayed her trim, firm body, very slender.

“Having those massages while losing all that blubber sure paid off. I went to the wardrobe at Fox the other day and tried on a dress I wore in “Gentlemen,” and it was a perfect fit everywhere but the waist and a teensy bit loose there. I’m better than I’ve ever been.”


As with all of us, our weight and body change over time. Marilyn was no exception. Marilyn’s diet and routine would change regualrly depending on what was occurring in her life at that time.

As mentioned at the start of this blog post, this article is for information purporses only. I don’t by any means believe you should attempt to follow Marilyn’s diet just because it worked for her and health and diet advice has changed a lot over the years. Please talk to your own doctor or a dietician plus trainer when planning weight loss options.

Our Marilyn Monroe

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