When we last caught up with Jasmine Harman, she admitted she had “never been in better shape”. Posing for her first bikini shoot in ten years last summer, the TV property presenter and devoted vegan had lost 2st following a diet overhaul, and said the transformation had changed her life.
But Jasmine reveals that her healthy eating habits and six-day-a-week workouts have fallen by the wayside in recent months, and admits she’s gained a 1.5st during lockdown. After falling ill with coronavirus – and paying for a private antibody test to confirm it was COVID-19 – the star found herself on a downward spiral emotionally and physically before taking action.
The 44 year old – who shares six-year-old daughter Joy and four-year-old son Albion with her cameraman husband Jon Boast – tells Closer, “I fell ill with the virus in mid-March, and it wiped me out and left me fatigued. I had no appetite or sense of taste or smell. Once I recovered and we were in lockdown, it dawned on me how different everything was.
“Jon was locked down on a job for two weeks away from home when I fell ill, and I had two young kids and a puppy to look after. The reality was overwhelming. My days revolved around homeschooling, making sure the kids were occupied and going to the fridge to get them a snack before helping myself to one. I couldn’t exercise because I was on duty 24/7 and I was eating so much more.”
The TV presenter – who has spent the last 16 years helping people find their dream home abroad in C4’s A Place In The Sun – is open about how drastically her eating habits changed.
She says, “I’d never been a tea drinker but I’d got into the habit of having tea with sugar and biscuits before breakfast. Whereas nuts used to satisfy me, I’d snack on crisps, and instead of my usual protein shake, I’d have ice cream. In the evenings, I used to have a small bowl of vegan curry or pasta, but in lockdown I was loading a bowl the same size as my husband’s, or I’d eat a whole pizza, going back for seconds… and dessert!”
And, like many of us during isolation, Jasmine says her alcohol consumption increased, too.
She says, “I’ve never been much of a drinker, but it got to the point where I’d have wine every day with dinner. If friends were toasting a new baby I’d think, ‘Why not have a gin ’n’ tonic and celebrate with them?’ In some ways, it felt like being on holiday when you let yourself go. I was totally comfort eating and drinking.”
On top of that, Jasmine candidly admits that scrolling through social media added to her anxieties.
She says, “I’d go on Instagram and feel like a failure. I saw people decorating, exercising, and nailing homeschooling, whereas I didn’t feel productive or adequate. I had less time than before and was barely keeping my head above water ensuring my kids were happy. In the end I had to stop comparing myself, learn to relax my expectations and enjoy the time I had with my children.”
Jasmine admits she was confronted with the realities of her weight gain when she could only fit into the size 14 clothes she had earmarked for charity donations after dropping to a size 10-12 last year.
She says, “I noticed my belly was hanging over my clothes, and I’d look in the mirror and see my double chin. I just felt uncomfortable. I weighed myself and I was 11st 9lbs. It was a shock because this time last year I was 10st.”
Watch: tips on balancing home and work life with Honest Mum
But the 5ft 7 star admits she was thrown a “lifeline” when her long-term fitness instructor, Sally Rutland, reached out a month ago and encouraged her to do a three-week fitness challenge.
She says, “Sally got in touch and badgered me to take part. It was just 30 minutes of exercise a day online. She knew I’d been avoiding her and making excuses, but she persuaded me and told me I could do it. I could have drowned my sorrows in another bottle of wine and a pizza after seeing the scales, but having someone behind me felt like the first step.”
While she vows to get fully back in shape this summer, Jasmine is already reaping the rewards of her new exercise routine.
“All the workouts are online so I can do them before the kids wake up,” she says.
“Getting up earlier is easier when you haven’t been drinking. I’ve lost a few pounds, and I’m starting to see my cheekbones again. I’ve been making better choices with snacks, cutting down on bread and reducing some of my portion sizes.”
She adds, “It’s important to reward yourself, but I want to feel healthy and confident. I’m an older parent and I want to feel full of energy to keep up with my kids. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’ll get there!”
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