12 MARCH 2008

After a two year campaign to tone up, shapely Natalie Cassidy, best known for her former role as Sonia in EastEnders, declares she feels "happier, prettier and more womanly than ever". And as the former Walford local took to the beach in a series of itsy bitsy bikinis on vacation in Portugal it was easy to see why.

The actress - who shed shed her frumpy image as the Square's chubby teen through a regime of thrice weekly workouts - was holidaying in the Algarve. Her trim appearance is proof the days when "I used to get called that fat girl off the telly" are well and truly behind her.

Speaking after losing over two stone, Natalie revealed: "I convinced myself that they were talking about the character. That was just a get-out clause. It wasn't as if I unzipped my fat suit and went home."

And the trim and toned physique she showed off this week belied reports that Natalie, whose fitness DVD became a Christmas bestseller, had begun to pile on the pounds again.

She clearly has no intention of letting that happen. The 24-year-old was accompanied by the best possible holiday companion, her fitness trainer Dee Thresher, who put her through her paces with some exercises along the shoreline.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
After years of being known as plump Sonia on EastEnders, Natalie is clearly proud of her trim and toned physiquePhoto: © Rex
Photo: © Alphapress.com
And stunning pictures of the actress holidaying in the Algarve are proof her hard work on the exercise front have paid offPhoto: © Rex
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Donning various different bikinis, the former Albert Square resident was revelling in the opportunity to show she's maintained her weight loss Photo: © Rex