To make matters worse, Penny, 49, was facing the menopause at the same time – causing ‘anxiety and fear’ thanks to mood swings and hot flushes.
But Rod Stewart’s wife has since revealed that she managed to lose 17Ib and 4in off her waist in just eight weeks, after embarking on a new diet and exercise plan.
A difficult time
The combination of anxiety owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, and the onset of the menopause, had an effect on Penny’s waistline.
‘During the lockdown, I found myself entering my menopause, and the side effects were exaggerated by the anxiety and fear of the virus and the unknown,’ she admits. ‘I turned to food and drink as comfort, and gained over a stone.’
Like most women, the TV star’s reaction to the menopause included mood swings and hot sweats. She explains, ‘I was in the kitchen, it had been one of those days where everything had been going wrong.
‘I ended up throwing the dinner across the kitchen. I just screamed and burst into tears. The boys came and hugged me.
‘I’ve been having really hot sweats, then [being] freezing cold. My body temperature is fluctuating all over the place. It affects your mood swings [and] I’ve been putting on more weight.’
A close call
Things got so bad that she mistook going through ‘the change’ for the virus, as the two conditions share similar symptoms.
The mum-of-two reflects, ‘I woke up sweating – horrific. I actually thought, “Is this Covid?” I had all the menopause symptoms – burning up, feeling wiped out, mood swings that are off the scale.’
Thankfully, Rod and their two sons, Alastair, 14, and Aiden, nine, have been incredibly supportive. ‘Rod’s been brilliant,’ she reveals.
‘But it’s hard for a man to understand, isn’t it? As well as the sweats, I have to keep explaining why I can become so cross all of a sudden.’
Turning it around
In a bid to get her life back on track, Penny admits that she ‘shamed’ herself into losing weight by taking a candid photograph in a pair of skinny jeans.
While Penny’s methods may seem extreme to some, it helped the Loose Women star come to terms with her weight gain and commit to seeing results.
‘As a wake-up call, I shamed myself by taking a photo. It worked, and with a new diet and exercise I lost 17Ibs and 4in off my waist in eight weeks!’
The face of fitness
Having been the face of multiple fitness DVDs back in the noughties – including Hotlegs Workout and Ultimate Body Workout – and as a trained aerobics instructor, Penny’s weight gain was, no doubt, a bitter pill to swallow, so it’s no surprise she wanted to shape up.
While Penny remains tight-lipped as to how she’s shifted the pounds, she has previously confessed to working with personal trainer Gary O’Connor, and lifted the lid on her secrets.
‘I ensure food isn’t cooked in loads of fat. I’ll eat grilled fish or roast chicken and a bit of red meat. But I avoid white bread and sugar and limit pasta – I have rice and potatoes.’
Her trainer also previously revealed that Penny enjoys ‘squats, press-ups, lunges and step-ups’ – all of which she can do at her state-of-the-art home gym – mixed in with a spot of Pilates and yoga.
Keep up the good work, Penny!