'You have kids to take to school, you've got to work and the diet goes on the back burner'
Alison Hammond has come a long way since appearing on Big Brother. Here, she tells Keeley Bolger about her struggle with her weight and why she’d never go back on the reality show that made her name.
Alison Hammond is uncharacteristically coy. After announcing her split from fiance Jamie Savage a few months ago, the 42-year-old This Morning regular giggles when she reveals that things have taken an unexpected turn.
"We're back together!" says the Birmingham-born and based showbiz reporter, letting out a big laugh.
"I haven't made a big thing of it because it's a bit embarrassing isn't it, when you've announced that you're not together any more.
"We're taking things slowly, but he's still in my life. Things are good."
Though on-screen Hammond proposed to will.i.am, had a coquettish 'date' with Hugh Jackman and gave Jamie Dornan a G-string after chatting about 50 Shades Of Grey, in real life, she's more discreet.
"I find it a bit cringe to talk about my boyfriend. I'm not the sort of person who holds hands in the street. Do it behind closed doors!"
It's this relatable warmth that made Hammond an instant hit with viewers of the third series of Big Brother alongside Jade Goody and has since kept her career afloat in a fickle industry. Her bubbly personality has landed her an ambassador role for Together Mutual Insurance's campaign to encourage people to read the terms and conditions on contracts to avoid trouble further down the road, after discovering 70% Brits don't read them.
"We all say, 'Yes', to contracts without reading the Ts and Cs because they're so boring to read, but it's leading to problems," she explains.
"I went on holiday, broke my mobile phone, had insurance and thought, 'Brilliant, when I go back I'll claim from the bank'. When I got back, I told the bank I'd broken my phone seven days ago and they were like, 'You're supposed to report it within 24 hours'. That was in my Ts and Cs."
As for her own contract with showbiz, many might have written her off years ago as another reality TV contestant. But longevity doesn't prey on her mind.
"Do you know what? I don't think about it," reasons the mum of one. "I'm motivated by being happy. That's the truth. I only do things if I'm happy. If I'm not happy doing it, I'm not going to do it, that's my motivation more than anything and my son Aiden as well. I think, would he be proud of me if I did this show? Or would he be happy with me if I did this?"
She wouldn't, for example, appear on Big Brother. "I don't think I could do it now, purely because of Aiden," says Hammond, who lives around the corner from her mum, brother and sister. "But then if they offered me £1 million, we might have to change that up a bit; 'Sorry son, let's get the money!' - I'm only joking!"
Where weight loss is concerned though, Hammond has a packed reality TV CV, competing on Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity Fit Club and, more recently, ITV's Sugar Free Farm.
Her appearance followed an emotional interview where she revealed that her 'addiction' to sugar was such that she ate 666 bars of chocolate a year, weighed "20-something stone" and was "embarrassed" by her size.
Although diligent on the series, it hasn't all been plain sailing back in reality. Currently 70-80% sugar-free, she laughs when she admits that she's sipping a Coke while on the phone.
"On the Farm it was easy, wasn't it?" explains the presenter, who had a gastric band fitted in 2006, but later had it removed.
"Get up in the morning, have my breakfast cooked for me and then you come into real life and you've got kids to take to school, you've got to go to work and the diet goes on the back burner. I guess I still do struggle. I'm not going to say I'm cured. I'm not, but I'm a lot better."
Although her efforts resulted in a two-stone weight loss, she's pragmatic about the future.
"Don't be expecting me to lose any more weight because I really haven't since Sugar Free Farm," she says. "Sugar passes my lips, sometimes without me even knowing it. I'll get a salad and there's a dressing on the side, but it's laden with sugar."
One of her biggest helpers is Aiden.
"I'll tell you what, this little 12-year-old thinks he's running the world," she says with a chuckle. "He's like, 'Mum should you be eating that?' He's really up on healthy eating. He has a treat twice a week on a Monday and a Friday. He's really good."
Although shedding weight was a driver, going sugar free helped with a long-standing problem too.
"The only thing that gets me down is when my skin is not very good," she explains. "I get a lot of eczema on my face and that really makes me sad. But what I do is try and change my diet. It's mainly if I have a bit of sugar, I notice my eczema flares up. Don't get me wrong, I have my off days where I feel a little bit down, but don't we all? I try to be positive."
"I always think, 'Come on. There could be worse things. Look what's going on in the world.'"
Confident as she seems on live TV, nerves do get the better of her from time to time.
"I had to pretend to be Missy Elliot for Comic Relief," she recalls. "They put me first on. Honestly, my heart was coming out of my chest, I was so nervous. I was looking around at the dancers and they seemed so cool and calm and collected and I just thought, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm about to do this.' But then I breathed and I was fine. I get nervous when I interview famous people as well. But I think I'd be worried if I didn't.
"I just think, 'It's your job, you're getting paid for it. Just shut up and get on with it.' But I love it. It's such a great job and I'm so grateful that it's been going on for so long."
Career as good as it is, there are no prouder moments than when her son is thriving.
"I love seeing him happy in his school life with his friends," she says. "I probably do live for my son a little bit too much, because he is my everything. He's my anchor in life, my go-to point. If he's happy with everything, then I'm happy. I'm doing it all for him really."
- Alison Hammond is an ambassador for www.togethermutualinsurance.co.uk and encourages more people to read the terms and conditions before signing contracts