Tricia Penrose: "I've lost my jelly belly now I'm a bikini babe!"
Wednesday 02 January 2008
Actress Tricia Penrose knew she’d put on weight, but an innocent comment while she was on holiday made her realise she needed to change her eating habits – and her life.
Tricia was in Dubai with her son Jake, four, and businessman husband Mark Simpkin, 35, and was about to hurtle down a giant water slide in a theme park when the lifeguard stopped her.
Tricia, who plays barmaid Gina Bellamy in ITV’s Heartbeat, explains: “He told me I couldn’t go on because I was pregnant. I wasn’t, but my big belly obviously made me look as if I was. I was so mortified I couldn’t speak. Mark had to explain that I wasn’t expecting.”
Wake up call
It was a humiliating moment, but the wake-up call Tricia, 37, needed. The 5ft 4 star had gone from a size 10 to a size 14 in a year and felt flabby and unfit.
“It was down to overeating and lack of exercise,” she admits. “I love food, but I never went to the gym. On a typical day, I’d have beans on white toast for breakfast and a toasted sandwich for lunch.
“On the Heartbeat set, I’d have scones and chocolate. After making Jake’s tea, I’d eat his leftovers, then I’d have a big dinner and a bottle of wine with Mark every night.
“I’d always fluctuated between a size 10 and a 12, but when I went shopping for my holiday wardrobe in April 2007, even a size 14 felt tight. Nothing fitted me.”
Went up to 11st
She adds: “It affected my confidence and I stopped wanting to go out. When I got on the scales, I was shocked to see my weight had crept up from around 10st to 11 stone 3lbs. I couldn’t believe it – the heaviest I’d ever been was 11st and that was when I was really expecting! The fact people thought I actually was pregnant on holiday was the final straw.”
On her return, Tricia jumped at the chance to make a fitness DVD – not only to lose weight, but keep it off long-term.
“I’d tried quick fixes before, losing 10lbs in a week, but then I piled it all back on. This time, I decided I needed to make a lifestyle change – eating healthy food and exercising regularly – so I could keep off the weight for good,” she says.
To reach her goal weight of 9 stone, Tricia stuck to porridge and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches made with lettuce leaves instead of bread for lunch and fish or stir-fry for dinner.
“The key for me was learning to eat slower and to always leave some food on my plate,” she reveals. “Doing a big weekly shop and planning my meals in advance meant I was more likely to eat something healthy, rather than grab a ready meal.
Snacked on yoghurts
“If I did want a snack, Burgen Soya bread and Shape yoghurts filled me up instead of chocolate and crisps. I gave up alcohol, too. Now I’ll just have a glass of wine as a treat on a night out.”
After just a week on her new regime, Tricia started to notice a difference. “I felt less bloated and my skin looked clearer. I lost 2lbs in the first week, and after a month I’d lost 10lbs,” she says. “I got lots of positive comments from friends and colleagues.”
Getting fit proved more of a challenge. Tricia embarked on three hour-long sessions a week with trainer Leroy Stewart. She did a mix of cardio work and tummy toning exercises.
“I was so unfit! After the first session, I nearly died,” she confesses. “You can see it on the DVD – I look completely exhausted.”
She adds: “But after a month, I didn’t need to stop for a break as often, and my tummy and thighs were more toned. After three months, I’d lost 2st, nine inches off my waist and four inches off each thigh,” she says.
Slim size 10 now
Now down to a slim size 10, Tricia still follows her healthy eating regime and does her DVD workout to stay toned.
She says: “The fat rolls have gone and you can actually see my belly button piercing again! Mark is thrilled for me.
He’s been so supportive, eating what I eat and doing the DVD workout and sit-ups with me at weekends. He’s lost 2 stone as well and has gone from 14 stone to 12 stone.
But there is one down side. “Jake misses my tummy – he used to love grabbing my big fat belly. Thank goodness he can’t do that any more!” she laughs. “The best thing has been people coming up to me in the supermarket saying: ‘You look just like that Heartbeat actress, only thinner!’”
Click here to win Tricia's Before and After Body Blitz DVD as well as a DIAMOND WATCH!
WORDS: Juliet Blank