There was a time when Charlie Brooks was so unfit she could barely manage a ten-minute run – but she dramatically transformed her body and lost more than a stone and a half thanks to Closer’s special diet.
In January 2004, the 5ft 5ins actress weighed 10st 9lbs and was a size 14. After following a fitness and weight-loss plan Closer devised especially for her, Charlie’s slimmed down to a size 10, weighing a svelte 9st 4lbs.
What’s more, she was able to complete the London Marathon that year – at the start of 2004 she could barely manage half a mile. Needless to say, Charlie was over the moon with her achievement:
"Getting fit and losing weight has given me so much more confidence," she says. "Thanks to Closer’s diet and exercise regime, I lost one and a half stone. Better still, my entire body changed shape."
Charlie felt compelled to get in shape after a personal tragedy last year inspired her to sign up for the marathon.
"I did the London Marathon in memory of my friend Sarah Jones who died of cancer last summer," she says. "I wanted to raise money for charity and make Sarah proud.
"I could barely stagger down the road for ten minutes before going purple," she says. "But 3 1/2 months later I managed to run 26 miles. It just goes to show, if I can do it, anyone can."
Here Charlie talks to Closer about getting fit and her successful diet plan:
Tell us about Sarah and why getting fit was so important to you.
Her sister Kate and I went to drama school together when we were 16 and we became best friends. I was with Kate when she first got the phone call that Sarah had liver cancer. At one point she really believed she was getting better. But after five years it was clear she wasn’t going to make it. She died last July aged just 24 and we were all devastated.
So you ran the marathon to raise money for the Marie Curie nurses who looked after Sarah?
The Marie Curie nurses were incredible. They supported Kate and her mum and dad and helped look after Sarah. Both Kate and I wanted to give something back to the nurses for being so wonderful. We’d mentioned running the London Marathon to Sarah when she was alive and she’d encouraged us. It just felt like the right thing to do. And throughout every training session and the final run, we couldn’t help feeling Sarah was watching and egging us on.
Had you ever been on diets or trained before?
I did WeightWatchers when I was 15 and lost a few pounds, but I ended up scoffing a takeaway and gave up. I’d only ever been to a gym a few times, but I’d never kept it up. I was totally unfit and out of shape.
How did you feel about your body growing up?
I’d always been a size 12/14, but I didn’t mind my chubby cheeks too much or even the fact that I was a little plump. I was a confident person inside and boyfriends were always complimentary, especially about my bottom. But then I’d get the occasional ‘fat’ day, stare at my belly flopping over my jeans and wonder miserably why I couldn’t just be skinny. And on EastEnders I always shouted at cameramen to not to zoom in on my double chins.
What were you eating before the diet?
I loved toast in the morning and a huge baguette for lunch, but I was eating far too much bread and feeling sluggish as a result. On EastEnders there’s a lot of time to kill between takes, so I’d drink coffee and munch crisps and sausage rolls. I also had a couple of takeaways every week and a few glasses of red wine in the evening. The thought of only slurping orange juice in a pub filled me with dread!
What immediate changes did you make?
I cut out coffee, bread, potatoes and alcohol, choosing water instead. I also made lunch the biggest meal of the day, taking homemade soup, salads and pasta salads into work. In the evenings I ate lots of fish and always filled up on vegetables first. The weight really dropped off. And if I did want a takeaway, I avoided the rice and did an extra half an hour on the treadmill. In time, I actually enjoyed changing my eating patterns. I started jogging around the studio during my breaks, whereas before I’d always had a nap or read a book. I got strange looks from the cast!
What changes did you see in your body?
I began losing about 2lbs a week. My bum got smaller and my waist and thighs narrowed. My boobs went down from a 36 D to a 34 C which was great. But better still, my face narrowed out, I began losing my double chin and suddenly I had collar bones! I began wearing little tops and I had so much energy. When my mates started calling me Kate Moss, I couldn’t help giggling.
What did your boyfriend of two years, Tony Truman, 35, think of your new look?
He loved it. Although he did confess one day that he preferred me bigger because there was more of me to love. Aah! But he was really pleased to see me so happy. I’d still like to lose a few more pounds and get down to 9st. I fantasise about wearing bikini tops on the beach with long sarongs and low-slung jeans. And I’m adamant I don’t ever want to creep back up to 10st.
What was the training really like?
We started properly in January. At first Kate and I could barely breathe after ten minutes on a treadmill and a two-mile run nearly finished us off! But we steadily built our stamina. We ended up training five times a week, running for about two hours each time, or combining the session with exercises. Within just a few months we were running 15 miles straight through. We couldn’t believe how quickly we improved.
What was running the marathon actually like?
I was really nervous a few days before. I kept thinking how embarrassing it would be if I didn’t manage to complete it. The beginning of the run went well, but the last few miles were quite painful, especially on our knees. However, it was equally agonising to stop. So we did a slow jog and concentrated on the finish. Kate’s knee gave way at the end, but she kept going. Crossing the finishing line was amazing and very emotional. We hugged each other and cried.
How long did it take you to run?
Incredibly, we managed to run 26 miles in 5hr 23 min and raised £4,000 for the Marie Curie nurses. Sarah’s illness made us realise how precious life is, and that day we felt like we’d done something positive in the midst of so much loss. My parents arranged a big party and Kate’s family where all there. It was a bit teary but everyone was so proud. I’m going to carry on running and who knows – I may end up pounding the streets of New York or Chicago in their marathons. I’ve got the bug now – thanks Closer!"