For decades, I could only go to the bathroom ONCE a week, says Shirley Ballas of Strictly Come Dancing
AS a championship dancer, you’d assume Shirley Ballas was strictly in tune with her body—but for much of her life, that just wasn’t the case.
“My body was absolutely out of tune with itself for many, many years,” says the 61-year-old, who was born on the Wirral.
“I didn’t usually go to the bathroom, but once a week.”
she was in pain gas and constipation for decades.
“Maybe it was a little bit easier while I was competing because when you get nervous it seems to help the system a bit,” she says, but it’s only in the last 18 months that she’s finally gotten a handle on her gut health.
“I was always looking for something that could help me align my system and make me feel better.”
The Queen of Latin came across Symprove – a liquid probiotic – on social media and hasn’t looked back since.
Combined with good hydration and regular exercise, “I go from going once a week to every day, which is just amazing.”
It’s typically candid chat from the brilliantly scintillating dance expert.
Whether she’s talking about gut issues, menopause (“I had too much testosterone – I actually grew a beard!”) or cosmetic surgery, she gets right to the point.
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It’s intoxicating when someone is so open about topics that women in particular are often so secretive about.
Take Diet, Weight Loss and Body Image; all gnarly subjects that Shirley is not afraid to discuss.
She says she’s “a bit of a skipper from one thing to another” — sometimes following a vegetarian diet, sometimes not.
She is currently attempting Stephen R. Grundy’s The Plant Paradox with her son Mark, 35, and her mother, Audrey Rich, 84, who lives with her.
The diet prioritizes veggies (especially cauliflower rice), though there have been some disasters: “We still eat it when it’s all burned and charred!”
“We’re on very, very light diets and — my mom used to do that — fasting, where you have 16 hours off and eight hours off,” she adds.
“I feel like that helps me too; I don’t feel that heavy.”
Shirleyhas also transitioned from a dinner plate to a side plate — “it’s actually the size of your belly” — to help manage portion sizes.
“The hardest thing for me is after six o’clock, when I’m alone Danny [Taylor, 48, her partner] Travel and my mother has gone to her room to look at her novellas and is trying not to snack. I am working on it.”
While many of us would scoff at a mug of ice cream or a block of cheese before bed, Shirley might have a drink “with sugar in it or a cookie.”
She finds it impossible not to keep counting calories.
“It comes from years of training as a dancer and people who never feel like your figure is good enough.
“I’ll never get rid of it,” she says, not convinced that adding calories to the diet is a good idea.
“I’m very careful about how much I eat each day.”
That pressure to be lean, to be “fit,” and to constantly judge what she’s putting in her mouth runs deep.
“There’s no getting around it, there’s no way around it, there’s always something going on in our house,” says Shirley.
“I’ve just cleaned out all my closets and geared up for the next series in my own industry, and of course Strictly is coming up.
“We try on different things. I have everything from a double zero, which is a super small size, to what I feel is a comfortable size for me, which is a size eight or ten.
“Even when I’m trying on pants [I’m thinking]’Two more kilos, they don’t feel that tight’.”
It sounds exhausting.
“It’s not something I want to be, but it’s something that’s just instilled in me and innate,” says Shirley.
“And then you look at yourself and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness.'”
However, when you see Shirley on TV, “Oh my goodness” doesn’t necessarily spring to mind – the woman is seemingly pure glamor and confidence.
But you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s brain.
“Everyone needs to be comfortable in their own skin,” Shirley says, and she goes to great lengths to appreciate her flesh and bones and everything they’ve done for her.
“I was doing Happy Baby (where you hold your feet in a stirrup position) at yoga and it was all calm and hot, the class was packed,” she says.
“I stared at my feet and for the first time I said thank you to my feet for letting me dance for 62 years.
“I’ve been so self critical for so many years and it’s going to sound very, very strange, but at 62 I’m trying to say now, ‘Thank you legs for getting me through and thank you body for keeping me up.’ And let me do the things I want to do.
“I’m just trying to fall in love with the body that helped me do the things I did.”
Despite self-judgment and decreasing calorie count, Shirley is genuinely fascinated with taking care of her health and well-being.
Whether she’s doing hot yoga, riding her bike (“I’ve found 10 minutes is better than none”), or signing up for a juice retreat (she’s on her way to Jason Vale: www.juicemaster.com this summer), she’s really committed and researching.
“Social media could have saved my life”
Shirley has a refreshing approach to social media.
“Nothing on social media could be worse than the industry I work in,” she says, comparing it to the dance world.
In fact, she says that 95 percent of her social media interactions are “caring and kind,” while just 5 percent are “negative” or “involve explicit messages that are very disturbing” — the ones she blocks, deletes, and laughs at.
Her fans even helped save her life.
“Wasn’t that amazing?” says Shirely, struck by the memory of several texting her to say they spotted a lump under her arm.
It prompted a series of tests for the star, but thankfully the lump wasn’t cancer and a shadow found on her kidney was also ruled fine.
“Kudos and thanks to these wonderful people who went out of their way to even bother to say something.”
“When I do something, I want to do it 100%,” she says. “My goal for Strictly this year is to really improve.
“I’m now turning 62 and it’s hard work keeping things tight and looking reasonably attractive.”
When it comes to beauty, Shirley has no qualms about considering plastic surgery.
“Right now I’m in the process of keeping the skin clean and clear, the sun spots and the little veins, with some microneedling lifts,” she explains, but no, she’s not ready for a facelift.
“If I felt like I wanted a facelift across the board, then so be it.
“That’s my business and every woman is allowed to do what she thinks,” she says full of fire. “You want botox? Have botox. Don’t want botox? Don’t have botox.”
Her only advice is to research every nip, tuck and procedure before you get it, and then? “Do what is good for you.”
We all age, but what doesn’t wear off is Shirley’s love of dancing: “I’ll always have the same feeling because the heart never ages, it’s just the outside.”
Neither does your competitive advantage. “I did Celebrity Juice once where we had to turn all the boxes upside down and I had to win that game!” she laughs.
“I’m very competitive with myself because I always want to produce the very best version of myself.
“And that really comes at a price, sometimes you have to lead yourself with self-examination talks like, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself,’ and ‘It’s okay to take an hour off.’
“I’m going to have my first pedicure in three years, and just to take this time off for myself, it took me three days to make that decision!”
She’s “pretty hard on me,” but says she’s working on it.
“I’m trying, it’s an ongoing process.
“Until the day I pop my clogs, I will consistently work on the positive side of myself. I’m underway, I’m on the conveyor belt!”
Shirley Ballas is an advocate of the water-based probiotic Symprove, which delivers four unique strains of bacteria that reach the gut alive. To start your journey, visit Symprove.com.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8693121/shirley-ballas-could-only-go-to-the-toilet-once-a-week/ For decades, I could only go to the bathroom ONCE a week, says Shirley Ballas of Strictly Come Dancing