TV's Emma Louise Johnston on how she lost three inches from her waist, dropped two dress sizes and got her hourglass figure back... thanks to the Corset Diet
She was one of television's best-known faces, so former GMTV reporter Emma Louise Johnston surprised everyone when she gave up her high profile career to return home to Northern Ireland to get married. Now a happy mum-of-three, she talks to Karen Ireland about country living, motherhood and her latest challenge of battling her baby weight gain
She used to travel around the UK to cover hard-hitting news stories as a GMTV correspondent, but life for Emma Louise Johnston (38) now revolves around nappies, nap time and being a full-time mum to Emily (4), JJ (2) and Lucy (six-and-a-half months).
We catch up as one child is at nursery, another is dozing and baby Lucy is happily munching on a snack in her high chair.
Emma Louise is, as always, bubbly and talkative and has plenty to say, as life has been busy since the birth of her third child.
Married for nine years to Jonathan Crawford (39), who owns an independent supermarket in Maghera where the couple now live, she reveals she has been battling with her weight since Lucy was born just before Christmas.
"I am not one of those women who do a slim, sophisticated pregnancy," she jokes. "I see celebrities and even friends who put on a couple of pounds during pregnancy and then bounce back into shape the day after giving birth.
"Sadly, that's not me. I put on about four stone with Lucy. I don't blossom in pregnancy, I balloon.
"I was very conscious of my weight, especially around January when everyone is starting new health regimes, and I felt like I was huge, and of course most people didn't know I had just had a baby, so I probably just looked fat to them."
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She reveals that with running around after the three little ones and keeping busy and active and joining a spin class at the Train Station Gym in Maghera, the first three stones came off easily enough, but the last stone was stubborn until she found a secret weapon.
"I was offered the chance to try a Cinch Corset by a local company. I had seen pictures of them on Facebook and in magazines and thought it sounded like a good idea and I thought - why not give it a go!"
Emma Louise, typically, embraced the challenge head-on and started wearing her especially fitted corset for seven days a week, from nine to five.
"I instantly felt better about myself. It gave me great posture and pulled me in, so I looked better, too. Also, wearing it I became very mindful of what I was eating and I started to eat much healthier food and make better choices.
"With the corset on it would feel tighter when I was full, so I would know when to stop eating. Beforehand my brain was slow to comprehend when it was time to stop eating, as I have a huge appetite and love my food.
"Friends started commenting on how well I was looking when I was wearing the corset and I knew it made a difference to my shape."
Six weeks on and Emma Louise is delighted with the results - she has lost three inches on her waist, the stubborn extra pounds have shifted and she is down two dress sizes to a stunning size 10 again. "I am ecstatic at the success of the corset and think it has given me an hourglass figure. I am curvy and will never be super thin, but I feel so much more confident about my body shape. It accentuates my waist and my whole body shape has changed," she reveals.
Her new shape and confidence has meant Emma Louise shopping for some slinky new tops to replace the baggy ones she had previously been wearing.
"I am delighted to get some more fitted clothes and everyone has been commenting on my weight loss," she says.
Emma Louise says high praise came from Jonathan, who said 'this weight loss thing has really worked out for you'.
"That's as good as it gets from Jonathan," she jokes, "although if it didn't work he would soon let me know, too."
The couple have been together 14 years and met during a Fatboy Slim concert at Kelly's nightclub in Portrush. They were with other partners at the time but hit it off and met up again a few months later when they were single.
"We just get on really well and have the same set of values and a great friendship," she says.
When Jonathan popped the question during a walk around Emma Louise's favourite place - Cave Hill in Belfast - she knew she had some big decisions to make. "It was all very romantic and he had glasses and Champagne in his rucksack, which isn't like him as he isn't normally romantic, but it was a lovely proposal," she adds.
"As well as saying 'yes' to becoming his wife, Emma Louise knew this meant huge changes for her career.
"I couldn't continue to work for GMTV, as I was based in England working long, crazy hours and rarely home. I knew if I stayed I would never see Jonathan, and that's not how I wanted my marriage to be. I wanted to be a wife and be at home with my husband, so I handed in my notice and left just before we got married."
Life changed dramatically for Emma Louise after coming home from honeymoon to a strange house, a new area and a whole new way of life. "I was a city girl born and bred, so it came as a huge shock to me at first being stuck out in the country. We hadn't lived together beforehand, so I had to get used to that as well as living out in the middle of nowhere, having no friends and not knowing my way around."
Despite all the changes Emma Louise says she never looked back and soon loved country living.
"I worked in radio for the BBC for a few years before Emily was born and then when she came along I decided to go freelance, and have been ever since.
"I can't imagine getting up at 6am on a Monday and dropping the children off at day-care somewhere so I could go and work a full day's shift. "I love the balance of what I do now. I have a degree of indepence and work around the children. I do voiceovers and corporate work, and still write a bit from time to time."
Emma Louise, who studied politics at Queen's and then did a Masters in European Law at the University of Ulster, says she wanted to go into journalism from an early age despite protestations from her mum, veteran journalist Mary Johnston.
"Mum tried to talk me out of it, but it is what I wanted to do, so I got a job as a trainee at Reuters before working at ITN and then getting the post at GMTV."
She admits that, secretly, her mum, who is also her best friend, couldn't be prouder of her.
"I see loads of mum, she comes and helps out with the kids and they absolutely love her. She is like the baby whisperer and just has a way with them.
"Mum and I love getting our raincoats and wellies on and taking the children to the beach up on the north coast for the day or just up around Cave Hill, where I grew up."
So, does she miss the glitz and glamour of her TV days? "I'm happier in my wellies and running about with the children. I feel very blessed to have three wonderful, healthy, happy children and I know they won't be babies forever, so I want to enjoy as much time with them as possible.
"If I do get glammed up for a night out I'd much rather it be for a night with my good friends than a work related event, when you have to schmooze and make small talk. I don't miss that. We often come down to Belfast and stay with mum and dad, and mum will look after the children while we have a night out in Belfast."
And what about date night in the Johnston/Crawford household?
"We are pretty useless at organising that," she admits, "but we do love our Saturday nights in with a bottle of wine, a takeaway and a Netflix movie.
"We've just come back from two weeks in Italy, which was fantastic. It was great for the children to have so much time with their dad, as he is so busy and does long hours at work. They adore him and spending time with him."
So, is she planning to purchase a few slinky dresses with her new found body confidence?
"Actually, I have a wedding to go to in September, so I am going to get something made - and I can't wait."
One year on, company has built a foundation for success
Cinch Corsets is a Northern Ireland-based lingerie brand that's just celebrated one year in business.
High demand for the corsets has secured sales from leading Irish retailer Arnotts department store in Dublin.
Set up by local businesswomen Angela Hunter and Nicola Crawford, Cinch Corsets retails hand-stitched waist-training corsets, made using high quality breathable fabric which is designed to support the back while 'cinching' in the waist, creating curves and a flat tummy instantly.
Since inception the company has racked up thousands of online orders and has models Gemma Garrett and Lucy Evangelista as the faces of the brand.
Cinch Corsets can be purchased from www.cinchcorsets.co.uk or at stockists across Ireland including Arnotts; Shaws; Peaches and Cream; the Lingerie Room, Dungannon; Orchid, Lisburn Road; Menary's, Bangor; the White Bicycle, Holywood; La Bella Vita, Holywood, and Vanilla, Lisburn.