Jodie Prenger quickly became one of the nation's sweethearts after winning the role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh's production of Oliver! – and will be working flat out as families make the most of the holidays to enjoy the West End.
"I've got just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off from the show which I can't wait to spend back home with my family in Blackpool and I'll stuff my face – chocolates, Baileys and a full Christmas dinner," Jodie told us.
But with a new figure to maintain – Jodie's recently slimmed down to fit into a size 12 dress, having once weighed 18st – she says she'll also be walking the family dogs and aims to get back in the gym when she returns to London. So we asked her to share her tips for maintaining a healthy weight, to help us all balance our festive over-indulgence.
Keep food as simple as possible, without sauces or skin on meat that can load on the calories. Instead, Jodie says she uses spices to make food more interesting - slices of lemon with chilli or garlic or lime and coriander added to salmon cooked in tin foil in the oven – and bulks out meals with veg, such as tomatoes, mushroom and peppers added to an omelette made with two egg whites and one yolk.
Exercise portion control
"When you've been eating 'big' you have to get back into the habit of eating regular amounts," Jodie says. So that’s a clenched fist-sized amount each of protein and carbs and two fists’ worth of veg.
A low-cal Christmassy treat Jodie loves is apples baked with cinnamon and Splenda. "And if you freeze bananas and blend them, it’s like eating banana ice cream, with a little Cadbury’s Highlights chocolate sachets sprinkled on top," she says.
If the bad weather’s keeping you indoors, invest in kettlebells – you can buy them on line. "They come in a variety of weights and are like a shotput with a handle and because you use a lot of your body, you get more of a workout as well as working one section at a time," Jodie tells us. "You can swing them between your legs or pick them up as dead weights… They’re versatile and I reckon you get twice the workout in half the time."
Don’t give up
"My epiphany was when my trainer said to me, 'Never give up'," says Jodie. "It sounds corny, but I’d given up on myself so many times. You know when it’s time to lose weight and you’ve just got to do it. And now I have muscles, I look at them and see how much hard work went into creating them so I want to keep them!"