Catherine Tyldesley has told of the positive impact Strictly Come Dancing has had on her body image and how she is getting over her “hang-ups”.
The former Coronation Street star also said she has had to make changes to her diet, such as increasing her carbohydrates and good fats, so her body can cope with the hours of training every day.
Tyldesley and professional dancer Johannes Radebe will take to the dancefloor on Saturday evening for the first live show of the series along with the other 14 celebrity contestants and their partners.
Speaking ahead of her live Strictly debut, Tyldesley told the PA news agency: “In terms of body image, it makes you appreciate your body, because we’ve all got our hang-ups and I was like, ‘Ooh I’ll be jigging around’, but an hour into the first day I was like, ‘I don’t care.’
“I’m doing things I never thought I’d be able to do – well done body. And we’re lucky that we’re able-bodied and able to do this, and that’s really motivating.”
On her concerns about the sometimes revealing outfits worn by stars on the show, she said: “I’m a bit scared what they might put me in further down the line, the wardrobe department are amazing and they listen to you.
“If you really hated something, you have to feel comfortable, and for me I have to feel in character, because I’m going to be in character each week – that’s how I’m going to get through this. We will have character names and that will continue.
“I’m Bella, and this is John. And if they put me in a really short skirt that I feel a little bit uncomfortable in, I’m going to be like, ‘It’s not me, it’s the character.'”
Tyldesley, 36, has spent the past two weeks training for her first dance, a Viennese waltz to I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher.
She said she has noticed a change in her body already, particularly in terms of how it has affected her diet.
“I’m definitely eating more, you have to,” she said.
“In the first week, with the group dancing, straight away I was like, ‘OK I need to up my carbs, I need to up my good fats’, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“I need to just look after myself, and sleep is massively important. We had a day last week where I didn’t sleep and I just couldn’t absorb the information (Johannes) was giving me, so I’m just trying to be good.”
She said she could not sleep because her four-year-old son Alfie got into bed with her and husband Tom Pitfield, adding: “So I went to the spare room and I said to Tom, if that’s what I’ve got to do to get my eight hours, then I’ve got to do it.”
The soap star said her stamina has already improved just weeks into her Strictly journey, adding: “The first two days I was like, woah.
“I’m used to nipping to the gym for an hour and it’s a different thing training sometimes for eight hours a day, or more if you need it.”
Tyldesley will be competing against the likes of Olympic rower James Cracknell, veteran TV presenter Anneka Rice, comedian Chris Ramsey and ex-footballer David James in the dancing competition.
Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One at 7pm on Saturday.