WIPING away tears, Charlotte Dawson admits she cuddled her baby boy Noah a little bit tighter when he turned eight months old.
It might not be a typical milestone in a baby’s first year, but the 29 year old, who welcomed her son with fiancé Matthew Sarsfield last January, was just grateful she was actually there to celebrate with him.
The date reminded her of losing her own father, Les Dawson, when she was the same age.
It was particularly poignant for the TV star, as just two months earlier, doctors had warned her that her weight had left her in danger of “dying like her dad” if she didn’t make serious changes to her lifestyle.
“My dad died when I was Noah’s age. When Noah turned eight months old in September, it broke my heart.
"He’s already such a character and the way he lights up when he’s with his dad… It really hurts that my dad died when I was that age,” she says.
As she talks about Matthew’s relationship with their son, she starts to tear up again. It’s obvious how much losing her dad at such a young age has impacted her.
Les, who was one of Britain’s most-treasured comedians, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes just before his death from a heart attack in June 1993, aged 62.
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Celebs Go Dating star Charlotte might have won legions of fans for the realness of her Instagram posts – where she proudly showed off her rolls of belly fat and talked about her love of chips and gravy – but the doctor’s warning that her blood sugar was so high she would also end up with the condition if she didn’t massively shake up her lifestyle, was the wake-up call she needed.
“I think about Noah with my dad [what it would be like if they had met] and it breaks my heart. Although I feel like he is my dad reincarnated.
"Honest to god, I actually do – he is so funny. So when I found out [about the possible diabetes diagnosis], all I could think about was being around for Noah. I don’t want to die. I had to change.”
Charlotte had already struggled with gestational diabetes, which affects one in 20 pregnant women, while she was expecting, and had been careful to eat healthily. But she mistakenly believed she could revert to her old habits once her baby was born.
“When I had Noah, I was so excited to eat bad food again and went back to having Nutella for breakfast, a chippy for lunch and Chinese for dinner.
"I’d get extra, extra large portions of fish and chips with two portions of gravy, mushy peas and a sausage on the side.
'HAD NO IDEA HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT'
"It’s just not normal – but I was breastfeeding and you need food. I used to have three takeaways in a day if I was hungover, like McDonald’s for breakfast, KFC for lunch and chips for dinner.
"But in June I started to feel a bit dizzy so I went to the doctor and when I was given the diabetes warning, I burst out crying.”
Charlotte, who was a size 14-16 and 121/2st at the time, heeded the doctor’s words and, with the help of former rugby league player turned nutritionist and personal trainer Matthew, 30, she completely changed her lifestyle, dropping almost 4st to 8st 10lb and a size 8-10.
“I had no idea how to lose weight. I have no idea how to exercise. So I went to Matthew because he looks amazing and loves fitness.
He would say: ‘Come to the gym with me,’ but I would feel so intimidated being bigger. I didn’t want to go on the cross-trainer for two hours. Plus I’m a new mum, so I didn’t have time.”
Instead Charlotte turned to fitness trainer Emma Teitelbaum, who she found on Instagram and who taught her different fitness routines on Zoom. Because they were only 15 minutes long, she was able to fit them in around Noah’s naptime.
Charlotte’s diet and fitness plan
- Calories 3,000
- Breakfast: McDonald’s breakfast
- Lunch: Extra-large fish and chips with gravy
- Dinner: Chinese takeaway
- Snacks: Crisps, chocolate
- Calories: 1,500
- Breakfast: Boiled egg and asparagus soldiers
- Lunch: Chicken wrap
- Dinner: Cod with roasted veg
- Snacks: Philadelphia and breadsticks
COWGIRL HOP: Start in a lunge position, then kick your back leg up into a high kick. Follow with alternating heel kicks to the front. Repeat on the other side.
TWERKOUT: Stand with your legs wide apart ina squat position and side step for three, finishing with a booty pop twerk – moving the hips in and out. Repeat for 30 seconds on both sides.
SEXY-ROBICS: Do a side lunge, driving knees up to your elbows on each side, then jump into a wide squat with sexy hip roll to each side. Repeat for 30 seconds.
NIGHT FEVER: Adopt a John Travolta pose – alternate arm pointing up and then to the opposite hip – and at the same time perform a grapevine, criss-crossing your feet and side stepping. Continue for 30 seconds.
BELTIN’ BALLET: Sit on your bum, balancing feet off the floor, with arms above your head in an arc. Turn side to side, taking each arm in turn down to touch the floor for 1 minute.
She also overhauled her diet with the help of nutritionist Jo Travers. “She sorted my diet with foods that don’t spike my blood sugars. I’ve still been eating meals I love, like spaghetti Bolognese, but the portion sizes are a lot smaller so I can stay within 1,500 calories,” Charlotte says.
She snacks on Philadelphia cheese with breadsticks, which is low in sugar but high in protein, as well as eating lots of vegetables to help keep her blood sugar down.
“I’ve not changed who I am. The exercise fits into my lifestyle. Obviously the food has changed, but I’m honestly loving it. I still love my prosecco and fish and chips, but now I have it as a treat at the weekend.
"I’ve been so dedicated, because I needed to do this for my son and my family. It was really difficult, but [any time I struggled] I would think about my dad. And I’ve been given the all-clear by the doctors now, which is amazing.”
Although Charlotte only decided to lose weight for health reasons, her new physique has made her realise how unhappy she really was being bigger.
“I thought I was happy being ‘chunky but funky’,” she explains. “But I look back now and honestly my mental health wasn’t right when I was that big.
"I used to hide behind my belly and food. Everyone loved me showing off my stomach on TikTok and it would fuel me to do more videos.
"It would give me reassurance that it was OK. My mum [Tracy, 70] used to get upset by them and Matthew would say: ‘I love you, baby, but it’s a bit embarrassing.’
"But they made my followers happy. I was definitely seeking validation from people to make myself feel better.”
And while Matthew, who popped the question in September 2020 beside the Les Dawson statue in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, has always found Charlotte attractive, slimming down has brought them closer together.
“It’s definitely improved our relationship. We’ve been so much better since I started this journey, because we were starting to argue. I would be a bit of a slug and he was like: ‘Come on, get up. You’ve got a baby now. Let’s get a bit of motivation.’
“Matthew has helped me a lot and he’s jumped on this [fitness regime] too, because I’ve actually been a little bit of an inspiration. I think he’s a bit jealous. He’s got to up his game!”
BEEN AN INSPIRATION
Charlotte is keen to help others shed the pounds by launching her own online fitness platform called Chazza’s Belleh Blaster.
There was a huge backlash in 2018 against celebrity fitness DVDs after it emerged that instead of following her fitness plan, Scarlett Moffatt had actually attended a Swiss bootcamp and starved herself on a 700-calorie-a-day diet in a bid to lose 3st.
But Charlotte stresses that her new platform is a sustainable lifestyle change not a quick fix. “With Scarlett Moffat and other people, obviously they put the weight straight back on and they weren’t happy.
"But I’ve done everything my way and it’s different to what anyone’s done before. I can’t go back to eating the way I was, because of the diabetes risk.
"I just want people to get motivated, even if it’s out of their comfort zone. I’ve added comedy into fitness. It will have you laughing at home.
"You don’t need weights, all you need is yourself and me – Mrs Motivator. This has nothing to do with making money or how many plans I sell, this is to raise awareness of diabetes.”
I used to hide behind my belly and food
And she’s already achieved her first success story after helping her mum drop five dress sizes and improve her own diabetes diagnosis.
“My mum is so proud of me. It’s actually hilarious, because I inspired her as well. She’s been on the diet and she’s gone from a size 24 to a 14.
"Just after I went to the doctor’s, she was diagnosed with diabetes. She’s managed to control it now [type 2 diabetes can be reversed by losing weight], but she had to sort herself out. So I said: ‘Let’s do it together.’”
Charlotte’s biggest regret is her dad wasn’t able to lose weight, which perhaps would have prolonged his life.
“I wish I had been older [when he was diagnosed with diabetes]. I could have helped him. Don’t get me wrong, my mum tried, but he didn’t listen.
"It was a different era, but I feel like if he could have sorted himself out he could have been here with me and Noah. I wish he was still alive for us.”
Although, in typical Charlotte fashion, she breaks any emotional moment with a joke, showing off a tattoo of her dad on the back of her neck. ‘He’s got thinner here. I’ve finally helped him slim down!’”
As well as changing her fitness and diet, Charlotte has had to give her wardrobe an overhaul, too. “All my clothes were size 14-16 so I had to order loads of size-12 clothes and now they drown me because I’ve lost more!”
The one outfit Charlotte isn’t worried about is a wedding dress. She’s postponed her wedding indefinitely until the world is a bit more certain.
“How the hell do you plan a wedding with coronavirus going on? I want the biggest wedding ever over five days with 200 people there, but it all depends on what happens. At least I’m literally wedding-body-ready now!”
It’s not just Charlotte’s figure that’s impressive – her skin is radiant, she’s energetic and she admits her mind feels clearer, too. But despite this, she’s had criticism online for slimming down.
“I’ve definitely had negative comments like: ‘I only followed you because you were chunky,’ and ‘You were really funny when you were fat.’ It’s absolutely disgusting.
"But my loyal followers are lovely. I’ve spoken openly about why I’m doing this, so if you don’t support me, unfollow me. I’m doing this for my family. I want to run around after Noah. He needs his mum. I needed my dad and I’ve not got my dad.”
As well as criticism online over her weight loss, since becoming a mum last January, Charlotte has had to deal with trolling over how she is raising her son – such as being blasted for feeding him chips.
“Oh, I give him chips all the time. If we’re going out for a meal, I’ll give him a couple of chips because they’re easy to eat. The mum-shaming is a joke. I can’t believe how bad it is.
“When I had Noah, Matthew said: ‘I’m not having him eat what you eat. You eat shockingly!’ Noah has avocado and scrambled eggs on toast now. Although, I gave him a Percy Pig the other day and [trolls] went mad. I had messages like: ‘He’ll be in the hospital choking.’
“It’s a nightmare, honestly. Being a mum is hard enough, we don’t need mum trolling. We’re all learning as well. Motherhood does not come with a textbook, we’re just winging it. We should all be supporting each other.”
Chazza’s Belleh Blaster online fitness platform is available now, priced £39.99 for a three-month programme (Bellehblaster.com).
In the make-up chair with Charlotte
What are your skincare heroes?
Epionce has changed my life. I used to leave my skin, but now I use its cleanser, toner and moisturiser every single night.
Any make-up bag essentials?
Mac’s Spice lipliner and Velvet Teddy lipstick. And my Dawsylicious tan – you never know where you’re gonna end up, so you need tan on you at all times.
What’s your best budget buy?
Doll Beauty always has amazing offers.
And your favourite splurge?
I feel nice if I’ve got a Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir candle lit.
Who’s your beauty icon?
I love RuPaul. He’s definitely a make-up icon – to be able to change his face like that. I’d love to be on the Drag Race panel.
Describe your beauty evolution.
I used to put concealer on my lips and have blue eyeshadow. It’s mad how much make-up has changed.
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