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Jessie Wallace reveals why she lost so much weight



Fiery actress Jessie Wallace is as famous for her yo-yoing weight as her turbulent love life. The former EastEnder's party lifestyle once saw her bloat up to a Size 16.

But now the 37-year-old actress is almost unrecognisable after shedding two stone and dropping down to a Size 8. And ironically, her weight loss has come just as she is about to play a fatty on stage.

"When I got the role I was overweight," says Jessie, who quit the BBC soap in 2005 after five years playing Kat Slater. "I used to wear clothes to hide my shape. But now I can wear a pretty top and skinny jeans and I don't look like an Oompa-Loompa any more."

However her Size 16 figure was thought to be just perfect when she was offered the role of food-obsessed Sylvia in stage drama Stepping Out in April.

But Jessie said her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing last year had left her shocked by what she looked like. She was particularly appalled by her broad frame and big back - and panicked by the over-the-top frocks she had to wear.

She says: "I thought, 'Blimey! It looks like a coffee table!' The final dress that I wore for Strictly... made me look like a butch Barbara Cartland!"

So Jessie signed up with personal trainers and went on a strict exercise and diet regime.

As well as punishing bouts in the gym, she gave up wheat, dairy and alcohol. Jessie admits she initially found it hard to give up alcohol and chocolate and struggled to lose weight around her stomach. But she says: "My trainers said, 'We can change you in six weeks' - and I thought it was such a great opportunity that I'd give it a go. They explained the training programme and the diet and I just got cracking.

"Because I've loved the food and started to see real results after just two weeks, it's been easy to stick to it. It really has changed my life. Now I'm actually beginning to see a little bit of a six-pack coming through, instead of a beer barrel."

And now she has to wear a fat suit on stage. "It's hilarious, isn't it?" she says. "All those years when I tried to get rid of the flab and now I have to wear a fat suit. At least I can take it off every night!"

And the weight has continued to fall off . Honed and muscular, the 5ft 2in mum-of-one - voted sexiest female three years running at the British Soap Awards - has been transformed. "I run three miles in the morning now," she says. "I've been on so many faddy diets and always kind of said 'sod exercise'. Now it's such an amazing feeling to finally get fit."

And she certainly doesn't miss her old curves which wowed EastEnders fans. She says: "Back then I wore push-up bras and showed off my cleavage but that was part of the busty barmaid look. I was always quite heavy on top and now I've lost a lot of weight and my boobs are smaller - so what? There's more to life than having big breasts."

And she hit back at recent claims that her new look was too masculine after pictures appeared of her sporting Madonna-like biceps.

Jessie, who lives in Old Harlow, Essex, says: "There were photos of me on my way to rehearsals, after being at the gym, so yes, my arms were pumped up. I didn't look my best because I wasn't wearing any make-up but it was just a really unflattering angle."

But she adds: "I know that with the short hair, muscles and tattoos I have to be careful though - or I could look like a sailor!"

Jessie's dramatic transformation follows a bespoke fitness regime devised for her by personal trainers Paul Ellis, an ex-footballer, and retired boxer Tom Stockwell. The six-week programme consisted of three 90-minute sessions per week, combining cardiovascular, strength and weight-bearing training with pilates. Before training, Jessie was told to eat "good" carbohydrate such as porridge or muesli to help boost her energy levels. After training, Ellis and Stockwell advise re-hydrating the body with fluids rich in electrolytes such as orange and tomato juice plus lots of water.

Post-workout snacks and meals include good forms of protein such as nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, fish and protein shakes to help with muscle repair.

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Tags: british celebrities, soap opera
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