Hollyoaks star Jennifer Metcalfe reveals how she achieves her size 8 figure – but still keeps the treats
“I’m a healthy weight now and happy with my body – I love being an hourglass shape!”
She caused concern among friends for getting too skinny back in 2008 – even admitting herself that she was “too thin” – but now Jennifer Metcalfe says she’s found the perfect balance between staying slim and being healthy.
Brimming with confidence at Closer’s exclusive bikini shoot, the Hollyoaks actress looks a far cry from the worrying photos that caused a media storm four years ago. The 28-year-old star smiles: “I’m a healthy weight now and happy with my body – I love being an hourglass shape!”
In 2008, Jennifer – who plays Mercedes Fisher in the Channel 4 soap – was forced to fend off rumours of an eating disorder after she was snapped in Marbella in a bikini, revealing a super-slim figure and protruding ribs. There was speculation she had lost weight as a result of splitting from her then-boyfriend, Stoke City footballer Jermaine Pennant, that July – but the actress told Closer at the time: “I haven’t been on a heartbreak diet. For the last couple of months I’ve been manic, filming in the evenings and at weekends. I’ve also been having work done on my house, so it’s been chaos. I didn’t have time to eat and whenever I did, I burnt it off straight away.”
Fortunately, within six months Jennifer was back to her shapely best, having admitted she had been “too thin.”
It looked like Jennifer’s body issues were over, but in 2010 she hit the headlines again after having liposuction to remove fat from her thighs and bum, taking her from an already slim size 10-12 to an 8. Prior to the £2,000 op, she admitted to having a love-hate relationship with her bum, saying: “My bum is quite a shelf, it’s got meat, it wobbles and sticks out.”
She told Closer: “Surgery is a personal choice. It’s up to the individual whether or not they want it – but I can completely understand that if there’s a part of your body you don’t like, then surgery is an option.”
Two years on, Jennifer looks super-confident as she poses in a bikini at our shoot, and tells us that she has finally found the diet and exercise formula that works for her, adding: “Now, as long as I’m not too thin or too curvy, I don’t worry.”
The 5ft 6 star’s weight has settled at 8st 6lbs and she’s a slim size 8. And, refreshingly, Jennifer admits that it takes hard work to achieve her toned figure – and says she hits the gym to maintain her shape and keep her stress levels down.
She says: “I always feel much clearer after working out and I have more energy. If I don’t go to the gym for a few days, I start to feel it both physically and mentally. And over the past few years, I’ve noticed it’s helped me to tone up all over.”
She tries to fit in gym sessions twice a week, doing Body Pump classes, running on the treadmill and weights. She also enjoys fitness DVDs and is an ambassador for the 10 Minute Solution DVD series, which specialises in short bursts of exercise that target problem areas.
She says: “Thinking about going to the gym for an hour can sometimes be off-putting, so these DVDs are great as they are broken down into 10-minute sections.”
Jennifer adds she doesn’t have any major body hang-ups, but tends to target her abs during workouts. She even ropes her Hollyoaks co-stars into exercising, doing the DVDs in the green room in between scenes.
“I often try to work out in the morning to get it out of the way. It boosts your energy and means you can relax, knowing you’ve done your bit for the day. The key to exercise is finding something you enjoy."
She says: “I often try to work out in the morning to get it out of the way. It boosts your energy and means you can relax, knowing you’ve done your bit for the day. The key to exercise is finding something you enjoy. But it’s also important to keep it fresh and interesting – I use the DVDs to do kickboxing one day, tone my abs the next and then do yoga.”
She also sticks to a healthy, balanced diet to keep her weight stable. “I have a positive attitude towards food,” she says. “I like to eat well, but avoid sugary and fatty foods. I eat eggs and lean bacon for breakfast, a jacket potato for lunch and chicken for dinner. I feel secure about my body and love being an hourglass shape.”
And Jennifer admits that, while she works hard to stay slim, she refuses to deny herself her favourite takeaway or Nando’s meal.
She says: “If I really want something, I’ll have it. Life’s too short not to. But I have to be aware of what I eat – I’m not someone who can scoff anything and not put on a pound. I have to work at keeping my weight down.
“But if it’s a choice between going to the gym or a meal out, the meal wins every time. I love the butterfly wings at Nando’s! I also can’t resist a glass or two of red wine.”
Jennifer lives with her professional skater boyfriend Sylvain Longchambon, 31 – who she met when they were partnered together on last year’s Dancing On Ice – and says they enjoy trying out recipes at home.
“We love cooking together. I’m lucky that I don’t like the taste of creamy sauces so we make tomato-based pasta or pesto chicken,” she says, before adding with a laugh: “Although if we’re hungover we often just end up dialling Domino’s pizza!”
Like most of us, Jennifer is also a big fan of chocolate, and admits: “My favourite things to munch on are Domino’s chocolate chip cookies. I also love chocolate cake. Once I start eating chocolate, I find it hard to stop!”
The star adds that her busy lifestyle can sometimes make it difficult to eat healthily – especially as she can be on the Hollyoaks set for up to 12 hours a day. She says: “I find it hard to eat proper meals when I’m working really long days. But other days, I only film for a few hours and, as I only live five minutes away from work, I can pop home to make a nutritious lunch.
“I try to take healthy snacks into work with me, like cereal bars and fruit, so I’m not tempted by the canteen.”
Jennifer’s healthy approach to life is clearly paying off, but she believes being body confident is all about what’s on the inside.
She says: “It’s all about how you carry yourself. There’s a lot to be said for having your own individual style. That’s what’s sexy.”