Over the course of her more than 30-year career, Ricki Lake has been through it all: weight woes, heartbreak and even unthinkable loss.
"She's the first to admit that life has been tough at times," notes an OK! insider. "There have been lots of tears and periods of uncertainty." But the actress survived — and she's stronger because of it. "Ricki's learned so much about herself these last few years and she's telling friends she's never felt happier," spills the insider.
As she celebrates her one-year anniversary with her fashion exec boyfriend, 55-year-old Jeff Scult, the star's found inner peace. "Ricki says Jeff's love saved her, and she's finally content with herself," the insider continues. "It's been a long journey, but now she wants to help others — so she's speaking out and telling her story."
Lake, 52, has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember. While filming Hairspray at 19, she tipped the scales at 260 pounds. "Ricki was miserable, and it made her eat even more," says the insider. In 2010, she lost 100 pounds by severely restricting her diet, then quickly gained it all back.
Adds the insider, "She's been up and down on the scales so many times it would make your head spin." These days, she's a healthy size 8 thanks to a sensible eating plan and five-day-a-week workouts. "It's taken her years to love her body," the insider reveals, "but she can honestly say she's never felt better about herself."
In 2017, Lake's life took a tragic turn when her ex-husband Christian Evans committed suicide at 53. Evans suffered from bipolar disorder, and the two had remained tight after their 2015 divorce. "It's a tragedy I don't think I'll ever recover from," Lake said of the devastating loss.
According to the insider, "she lived in a fog for months" and felt "tremendous guilt" for not being able to save Evans, who was also close to her sons Milo, 23, and Owen, 19 (from her first marriage to Rob Sussman). "Ricki hopes that by talking about Christian and the struggle he went through, she can help others."
Scult has helped bring Ricki back to life. "Jeffrey knew my heart was in a very precious state," she has said, "and he had reverence for that." The insider notes that they're a low-key couple. "They love to stay in, cook fabulous meals and binge watch TV shows with their dog sleeping on their laps."
As for marriage, the insider says they're in "no rush," adding, "Ricki doesn't need a piece of paper to be happy, but never say never." In the meantime, Scult is encouraging Lake to get back on TV. "Big plans are in the works," the insider continues, noting that Lake's been taking meetings with network execs. "She's very excited, and fans will be thrilled to see how much she's changed for the better."