She found fame with chart-topping pop band Steps – but Claire Richards has become just as well known for her wildly fluctuating figure and public weight battle, which has seen her yo-yo between a size 10 to 20 for most of her adult life.
After admitting food was “like a drug”, Claire, 41, appears to have conquered her addiction, shedding an incredible six stone and embracing a permanent lifestyle change. We look at her weight loss roller-coaster and the secrets behind her transformation.
Claire was renowned for her high-octane dance moves and washboard stomach in Steps, but the singer confessed she “starved herself” and struggled with bulimia and anorexia during her years with the band.
She admitted, “I ate as little as I could possibly get away with.”
When Steps split in 2001, Claire turned to comfort food to cope as she struggled with crippling depression amid the break-up of her first marriage to Mark Webb.
Within five years, her weight had ballooned from 8st 7lb to 16st 7lb and her self-esteem hit rock bottom.
“It was a vicious circle. I’d look in the mirror and think, ‘I’m disgusting’, then I’d get depressed and eat another cake.”
After shedding almost six stone through a calorie-controlled diet and rigorous gym sessions in time for her wedding to second husband Reece Hill in 2008, Claire released a fitness DVD and said, “I never want go back to being big.”
But the years that followed saw the singer’s weight fluctuate again between a size 10 to 20 and by 2012 she declared she was “sick of dieting.”
However, in 2014 the mum-of-two wowed fans by unveiling yet another six stone weight loss transformation – this time in a bid to boost her chances of having a much longed-for third child.
But it seemed that years of constant crash dieting had taken its toll and the singer was horrified when doctors told her she may struggle to conceive naturally again due to damaged hormone levels.
Claire, mum to son Charlie, 11, and Daisy, nine, decided against IVF treatment, saying, “I don’t deserve to be third time lucky.”
Last year, in a tearful interview with Lorraine Kelly, Claire admitted her dreams of a third baby were over.
Having lost – and gained – between four to six stone six times over the years, Claire appears to have broken free from her cycle of yo-yo dieting.
In 2017, she showcased the results of her most recent weight loss for the Steps reunion tour and hasn’t looked back.
Her secret? Sticking to a 1,500 calorie-a-day diet and ‘walking everywhere’.
She’s swapped McDonald’s breakfasts for small portions of yogurt and fruit and calorific three-course lunches and dinners for healthy salads, grilled meats and vegetables. But she admits, “It’s a daily struggle. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about food.”