'Cake-gate made me lose 9lbs!'
Thursday 12 January 2012
She’s always had an enviably slim figure, but after finishing a vigorous Strictly Come Dancing tour last year, Tina O’Brien found the excess pounds creeping on.
While at first she was happy relaxing her diet a little, the shock of seeing unflattering pictures of herself scoffing cupcakes proved a wake-up call for the former Coronation Street star.
She reveals: “I knew I’d put on a bit of weight, but I didn’t realise just how much I’d let things slide. I looked at those pics and thought: ‘Oh my God!’ They were so unflattering. Being petite, even a few pounds can really show – my face and arms looked big and fleshy.”
The actress adds: “I nicknamed that episode ‘Cake-gate,’ but it made me realise I needed to sort myself out and get back into exercise.”
Tina, 28, admits that bingeing on sweet treats and no longer burning calories on the dance floor had led her to gain 9lbs.
“I was on the Strictly tour for six weeks and the cakes they gave us were the most amazing I’ve had in my life,” giggles Tina, who’s mum to Scarlett, three, by ex-boyfriend and fellow Corrie star Ryan Thomas, 27.
“The food on tour was unbelievably good, but I was just eating far too much of it.”
And after the tour finished, Tina carried on with her bad eating habits, but eased up on the exercise.
“I’d spent all this time on the road and away from Scarlett, so we’d go to a play area and have cake together as a treat. Or while she was playing, I’d treat myself to a biscuit.”
But after being photographed on a visit to a cake shop with Scarlett, Tina was inspired to start a healthy eating and exercise plan.
She swapped a diet loaded with bread, cheese, chocolate and biscuits for porridge and blueberries for breakfast, veggie soup for lunch and baked chicken for dinner.
She says: “I’m cooking more often and eating more vegetables – and it’s good to set a healthy example for Scarlett.
It’s nice to get her involved with meal times and cooking with me, too.”
Tina says she’s found that being super-organised with her meal plans has helped her stick to a low-fat diet.
“I try to plan days in advance, but sometimes I’m too busy so I just choose what I want to eat on the day and get the ingredients when I can. Stir-fries are great for that and I love prawns, so I make a lot of seafood dishes.”
And it’s paid off. Tina, who’s 5ft 1, has gone from 8st 4lbs to 7st 9lbs, which puts her in the healthy weight range for her petite frame. She’s gone from a curvy size 10 to an 8.
Tina combines her new healthy diet with regular workouts and, as a busy mum, she says fitness DVDs are the easiest way to fit exercise into her everyday lifestyle.
“They’re brilliant,” says Tina, who is an ambassador for the 10 Minute Solution DVD series, which specialises in short bursts of interval training to target problem areas.
“The DVDs are literally 10 minutes at a time, so they’re perfect if you’re too busy to do a whole hour’s workout at the gym.
“I think a lot of fitness DVDs are successful purely because of the celebrity on the cover – it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re any good. But the 10 Minute Solution DVDs are put together by personal trainers who really know what they’re talking about.”
And Tina, who tries to do one of the 10 Minute Solution DVDs three times a week, adds: “What I’ve noticed from doing the workouts is, along with losing weight, I’ve toned up, too. I noticed a difference in my thighs and arms three weeks after I started.”
Tina already looks fantastic, but she wants to tone up even more.
She says: “I just want to be really fit and athletic. I don’t know if it comes with age, but I’ve realised how much better I feel when I’m active. It just makes you feel happy and you feel good from the inside out. If I don’t exercise regularly, I miss it – and I never thought I’d say that!
“When I was on Strictly, I was probably slightly bigger than I am now, but I felt incredibly healthy. Then there were times on Corrie when I was probably the thinnest I’ve ever been, but it was because I was exhausted and ill from working so hard, and I probably wasn’t the healthiest.”
And Tina says having personal trainer boyfriend Adam Crofts, 26, on hand to coach her also helps her stay focused.
“When we first met 10 months ago, I ate more because he eats loads as he’s exercising all day for work, but I quickly cut back on my portion sizes. And when I’m working out regularly, I find I watch what I eat. I’m much more aware of what I put in my body.”
Life is going well for Tina, who is about to star in new BBC1 series Call The Midwife.
She says: “Adam and I have just been on our first holiday together. I was a bit nervous before we went away, worrying if we’d get on, but we had such a lovely time.
“I was lucky when I met him that I was generally happy in myself and enjoying it being just me and Scarlett, so I wasn’t looking for anyone. So when I realised I liked him I knew it was for all the right reasons. He’s amazing with Scarlett, I fancy the pants off him and while we don’t live with each other yet, we have such a good life together.”
And while Tina would still like to be a little more toned in places, she says it’s more important to stay healthy than be super-skinny.
She adds: “I think you’ve got to be realistic about things and just be happy in yourself. Maybe becoming a mum has changed my priorities in life for the better.”
By Ally Oliver and Maddy Biddulph