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When we spoke to Chantelle Houghton last year, she was celebrating her whirlwind engagement to family friend Michael Strutt after three months of dating.
But as we catch up over the phone, the former Celebrity Big Brother winner tells us that she and Michael decided to go their separate ways earlier this year.
“It was amicable and we are still very friendly. At the start of the year I moved out,” Chantelle, 38, tells us. “With lockdown, I think a lot of people probably started relationships and we moved in together really quickly… I think that it put a lot of pressure on things and it just fizzled out.”
With the support of family and friends, Chantelle – who was married to fellow CBB contestant Preston – has picked herself up and is feeling positive about the future. The mum-of-one tells us she’s working on her health and fitness and wants to build up her confidence after a tough few months.
“I’ve put on about three stone since the start of the pandemic, mainly on my tummy. It just crept up and up and I’m now the heaviest I’ve ever been,” she tells us candidly. “So I’ve started working with MuscleFood on their GoalGetters healthy eating plan, which has been a really big, positive thing for me to concentrate on.”
Here, the star opens up about her split, her weight-loss journey and why she’s not given up on love…
Hi, Chantelle. We’re so sorry to hear about your break-up with Michael…
It was amicable and we are still very friendly. I’ve got a lot of love and respect for him, he’s a lovely guy. At the beginning of the year, I moved out. You know what it can be like when a relationship ends, you sort of still see each other, but then we just realised it wasn’t going anywhere. So it’s been a little while now and I’m in a really good, positive place.
The last time we spoke you’d got engaged after three months together. How far did you get with wedding planning?
Because of Covid, we didn’t plan anything. We did speak about it, and it was just going to be family and very close friends, but we didn’t get to the point of wedding dress shopping or anything like that, because nothing was open.
Do you have any regrets about moving so quickly with him?
I have no regrets about anything, I had a lovely time with Michael. Sometimes things just don’t work out and you can’t stay in an unhappy relationship.
Do you think you’ll take things slower next time?
I don’t know. I think sometimes you just have to go with things if it feels right. We’re not alive for a long time, so it would be sad to put someone off just because of past failed relationships.
How have you picked yourself back up?
All break-ups are different. This wasn’t sudden or a massive thing where one day you wake up and your partner says, “I don’t want to be with you any more.” It wasn’t that kind of break-up, it just fizzled out. But you’ve got to keep yourself busy and be around your friends and family as much as you can. You’ve got to focus on something positive.
So what have you been focusing on?
I put on three stone during lockdown. It just crept up and up and I’m now the heaviest I’ve ever been. We started eating a lot of takeaways as it wasn’t always easy going to the supermarket – and being at home I was much less active. So I’ve started working with MuscleFood on a healthy eating plan, which is a positive thing for me to concentrate on.
What was the turning point that made you want to change things?
The weight mainly went on my tummy, so many people were congratulating me for being pregnant. It did hurt occasionally but whenever I put on weight, it always goes to my tummy. One time, I was in a shop buying baggy summer dresses and a lady said, “How far gone are you?” I just said, “Yeah” and changed the subject – I wanted to save us both the embarrassment.
Oh gosh, it sounds like it’s really affected your confidence…
Definitely. I’ve been wearing oversized shirts and baggy dresses. I’ve shied away from big occasions. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity with MuscleFood to get the weight off and get my confidence back. I’m a size 16 at the moment and my ideal would be a size 10-12.
When did you start the plan?
A few weeks ago. I have a complete meal plan where my breakfast, lunch and dinner is delivered, as well as a morning and evening snack. I’ve got a mix of prepped meals and ones I do myself, as I do enjoy cooking. But it’s all there, you just have to put it all together.
Have you noticed any effects already from doing the plan?
I definitely feel healthier inside. A friend told me my skin was glowing the other day. I’m not going to keep weighing or measuring myself but I feel a difference in my energy levels and how I’m feeling now.
Have you found you’ve been exercising more?
I’m doing a lot of swimming as I enjoy it, as well as using the cross trainer and step machine.
Are you still vegan?
I am. People say you must be really healthy being vegan – but clearly not as I’ve got an extra three stone around my belly!
Are you seeing this as a post-break-up glow-up?
Definitely, it’s come at the best time in my life. When you feel healthy and your body is the way you want it, confidence is priceless.
I can’t wait to feel good.
Do you still believe in love?
When I love, I love hard. If I meet someone, I meet someone, but if I don’t, I don’t. I remember reading something years ago that said when a woman is in her thirties, that’s when she really knows who she is and what she’s about. I think when you’re in your twenties and meet someone, you paper over any cracks and ignore red flags. But now, if there’s one red flag, I’m running. I know what I want and I won’t settle for anything less – but I still believe in love.
What would your perfect partner be like?
I haven’t really got a type. My exes have never looked the same. I think when you have a connection with someone, that’s what matters the most.
Would you date someone in the public eye again?
I’m open to dating someone in the public eye as much as I’m open to dating someone who isn’t. For me, it’s about trust. And I mean trust in many different ways – not just that they won’t cheat on you but a personal trust as well, in that you can trust them with information about your life.
Would you keep your next relationship private?
I didn’t go out of my way to make things public with Michael. It goes with the territory of the job I do that people will know about things, but as long as I’m happy and my family is happy, that’s all I care about.
Would you still like more children one day?
I think I’m too old now! I’m happy and healthy, and so is my family, and that’s all that matters to me. I’ve been blessed with a child,
so I feel grateful.
Do you feel excited for the months to come?
Yeah. I don’t even look at this like a diet. Things I’ve done in the past, like meal replacement shakes and things like that, were so different. This is actual food, with all the nutrients, protein and vitamins you need. It’s a lifestyle change with really nice, healthy food being delivered to my door weekly, and I’m going to reap the rewards in the months to come.
You started working as a Body Shop consultant during lockdown. Are you still doing it?
No, I’m not. The Body Shop products are still amazing and I’d recommend them to anyone but when I started as a consultant it was purely because I was so bored in lockdown. The whole celebrity world had shut down and there wasn’t much work, so it was a good way to keep mentally active. Now things have picked up again, I’m not working with them any more.
It’s been 15 years since you appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. How do you feel about fame now?
Even when I was massively in the spotlight, it wasn’t my life and I didn’t live and breathe it. Once I was home and the doors were shut, I’ve always lived a very normal life. I did take a step back from the limelight for quite a while but I’m really glad to be back and doing what I do. I love what I do, it’s a great industry to work in – it’s fun!
So you don’t have any career regrets?
I definitely wouldn’t have had a boob job! But that’s done now, they’re out and gone, so other than that I don’t have regrets.
I don’t think you realise when you’re in your twenties how young you actually are, but you have to make your own mistakes in life. Then all of a sudden, you’re old and wrinkly, so there’s no point worrying about the past too much!
Chantelle is following the MuscleFood Goal Getters SuperSlimmer meal plan, see MuscleFood.com for more. MuscleFood offers £10 off and free delivery on your first week when you use the code GGTEN.
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