Want to get ready for that beach holiday but don’t have Cheryl Cole’s bank balance or Paris Hilton’s free time to dedicate to your cause? No problem! Read on...

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In the beginning...

THERE are 65 stairs up to my office.

There’s also a lift – a wonderful contraption – but all that really matters now are those 65 stairs, a further 104 paces that take me from the entrance of the building to my desk on the third floor.

Considering most days I make this round trip around four times, that’s an extra 832 steps – nearly half a mile – of exercise a day.

Incredible!

I assure you this nugget of seemingly useless information is actually completely relevant as I’ve spent the last eight weeks on a mission to ‘get fit’ for summer, squeezing every ounce of exercise I can out of my daily routine.

It only takes the rain letting up for 10 minutes in good old England to trigger the panicked realisation that the warmer weather has arrived and will be gone just as suddenly.

I went into panic mode at the beginning of June when I booked my dream holiday to Italy and suddenly thought of the all bikinis and shorts I’d relegated to the back of the wardrobe.

The problem was that, like every woman I knew, I was paying the price for a winter of stodgy foods and dark nights with no motivation to go the gym. After months of hiding beneath wool dresses and fashionably oversized jumpers, the sight of my skimpy summer wardrobe was starting to taunt me. In the end it was flipping through a magazine in the queue at the newsagents and seeing all the celebs on the Caribbean beaches that made me return my Twix reluctantly to the shelf.

So what to do?

It’s all well and good if you’re a rich celebrity who can afford the time and money to dedicate to your mission, but what about the rest of us? I get so frustrated when I read magazines that boast: ‘Inside: celebs healthy eating secrets!’ I allow myself to think: “Fantastic, now I can have a figure like Gwyneth Paltrow,” only to discover that this would involve living on steamed fish, with some roots, brown rice, lentils and maybe a stuffed tomato thrown in for flavour.

I don’t think so.

The problem is that we mere mortals can’t afford personal training sessions six days a week, working for a living gets in the way of our morning yoga and, as for healthy macrobiotic meals delivered straight to our door? Forget the expense for a moment and just imagine what the neighbours would say!

“I don’t have the energy to work a 10-hour shift and then hit the gym,” one friend complained to me recently.

“Even if I do manage to get there I’m starving by the time I’m done and can’t be bothered wandering around the supermarket figuring out what I can cook that’s healthy.

“The idea is all so exhausting that I usually end up just kicking off my shoes, ordering a takeaway and collapsing on the sofa.”

We needed help.

It was time to consult the experts and separate the fact from the fiction. Most of us can’t afford to make fitness our priority, so instead it’s about figuring out how it can fit into our already busy lives so that we too can get the summer body we want, without having Cheryl Cole’s money or Paris Hilton’s free time.

The ‘Get Celeb Fit’ Challenge was born!

And no it’s not too late. Whether you’ve got a holiday booked or just want to be able to enjoy the next couple of months in sunny - hopefully! - England, the information and tips in this booklet can help to have you feeling beach-ready in no time. Is snacking good or bad? Is detoxing for you? Want to know how eating a Mars Bar a week can help you lose weight and why even the way you sleep makes a difference?

Myths be gone! Read on...

The End...

A LOT has changed since I started the ‘Get Celeb Fit’ Challenge two months ago.

I used to get a bit out of breath walking up the stairs at home - scary but true - and now I take the stairs to my office two-at-a-time!

I’m definitely more toned and a few pounds lighter than when I began, but the main thing I notice is how much better I feel and how much energy I have.

I’ve always loved food and was often in the habit of eating for pleasure - even when I wasn’t that hungry. I was guilty of making a beeline for the kitchen just because there wasn’t anything good on TV and snacking just because the people around me were.

It’s easy to do.

The GCF Challenge has changed the way I see food.

I adore food and, if it were up to me, there’d be no calorie content in any of it and we could all eat as much as we wanted. The reality though, is that our bodies are machines. They need a balanced portion of food to operate and we should give it just that – no more, no less.

Of course we’re always going to have those days when we fancy a big plate of pasta, dripping with creamy sauce, or a bar of Galaxy with a glass of wine - and why not! As long as it’s not EVERY night.

Moderation is the key.

I found it’s the little things that make a difference. Gone are the days of microwave meals and takeaways. Instead I picked up a few cooking skills and started making my own healthy stir-frys and curries. Believe me - if I can, ANYONE can.

Stocking the kitchen with meat, fish, vegetables, granola and low fat yogurts, rather than biscuits, frozen lasagnes and bottles of wine helped. The golden rule: if it’s not there, you can’t eat it!

Exercise was another thing I found I was having trouble fitting into my busy life before.

The GCF Challenge taught me that everything we do counts and it’s about maximising that. Don’t waste your time feeling guilty if you’re too busy to make it to the gym one week.

Instead, go for a walk at lunch rather than sitting at your desk with a KitKat and always power-walk - don’t stroll - around the office building. Make the most of the little time you do have and if you find yourself with half an hour before dinner, chuck on your trainers and go for a brisk walk or jog around the block. Take a friend or loved one along and multitask by combining a workout with what would have been a gossiping session on the sofa!

After the past eight weeks I can’t imagine going back to my old diet and the guilt and general sluggishness that went along with it.

There are bound to be slips along the way - I know I’ve had a few! - but on the whole, getting ‘Celeb Fit’ is about developing a lifestyle that suits you and helps you keep your body feeling healthy.

I’ve managed to dispel a few healthy-eating myths and pick-up lots of tips along the way that will stay with me forever.

And as for my chocoholic nature? I’m afraid I’ve yet to learn how to tame that particular beast.

I have, however, figured out how to keep him caged until the weekends.

For the most part.

WANT TO READ MORE? Buy our 8-page pullout special only in The Star today for all the tips and hints you’ll need to get bikini ready for that beach holiday!