Joanna Chamberlain modelling picture

I am now living a life I should have lived 30 years ago.  I am no longer the shy, self conscious person that wants to just hide in the background. A new self confidence has emerged, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took a while to get used to my new skin, but now life is amazing – at times I have to pinch myself just to make sure it’s real. In the last six years, I have done things I would have never have dreamed of. Life is exciting these days. By Joanna Chamberlain.

Joanna Chamberlain modelling picture

I used to cook family meals from scratch, always with good ingredients but large portions. I would eat small sized meals in front of people I didn’t know very well, as I was frightened they would think ‘no wonder she is the size she is!’ But I used to be a binge eater behind closed doors. I would think nothing of eating 3-4 chocolate bars in one sitting, I knew it was stupid as it wasn’t even enjoyable. I actually used to feel quite ill afterwards and hate myself for having no self control. Looking back on it now, I realize I probably had an eating disorder.

The sad fact is that you are treated differently as a larger person. People automatically think you are not intelligent and you are treated like you are stupid. I also get more attention from men now, I seem to not be able to have a train journey these days without someone chatting to me, but maybe that’s down to the fact that I look happier and approachable. Looking at some of my ‘before’ pictures, even I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near me – I look very miserable and moody!

I had begun to feel really unhealthy too. I couldn’t walk for more than 10 mins without my back being in absolute agony and if I carried on the way I was, there is no doubt that I would have ended up with high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis (both of my parents were overweight and suffered really badly from arthritis) –  I was even starting to show signs of it in my joints and my hips. If I am honest though, this wasn’t the main reason why I decided to lose weight, my self esteem was at rock bottom. I hated what I saw in the mirror, my lack of self control, lack of confidence and my damn right laziness. I needed all this to change and weightloss was the start.

I took up exercise during my weightloss journey and its something that is part of my life now. I like to do a gym session 3-5 days a week with a combination of cardio and free weights – 5 times is a perfect week, but my job can at times make that hard.

Joanna Chamberlain modelling picture

During the week I eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, I also cook a healthy but tasty evening meal if I am not working. We try to eat fish a of couple times a week.  At the weekend I am not so good, I live by the 80/20 rule, good 80% of the time, not so good 20% of the time! My ‘not so good’ is not like the old days though, when I would binge because I had been naughty and would think ‘oh well I have done it now, might as well carry on!’ I am not perfect and I do enjoy a glass of wine most evenings but my attitude towards food has changed.

I have made changes to my beauty regime too. I  spend more time on my skin and make-up, although probably not as much as I should. I cleanse morning and evening and apply day and night cream. I always apply an eye cream and always make sure the day cream has SPF. I also exfoliate if I remember!  I get spoilt when I am modelling, as there is always a make-up artist to do things for me which makes me lazy – in my defense, I have mastered false eyelashes! I tend not to spend a lot of money on expensive products these days, but the one product I would never be without is Decleor Neck and Decollete concentrate, its magic on the old turtle neck!

To be honest, there are some negatives to my weight loss.  Sadly, I have some excess skin around my tummy area. I would love to have it removed surgically, but I am still not 100% sure the scarring wouldn’t be worse. At the end of the day, it’s a small price to pay, as the rest of my body is probably better than its ever been thanks to my exercise routine. My abs are very strong and my tummy is flat, so I know that it is never going to get better than this.  I look good in clothes and even a swimming costume, so what if I can never wear a bikini? There are people with much worse problems than that. I am a very lucky lady.

Unfortunately, I have also lost friends who I loved dearly. It seems that they cant cope with the new me and have shown what I can only think is jealousy. One very hurtful comment said to me was ‘you lost too much weight, you look scrawny and old and quite frankly it doesn’t suit you.’ It makes me sad, but other friends have stood by me and follow what I am doing with interest as I do them – we are always there for each other. As long as I have people like this in my life I can do without the rest.

Joanna Chamberlain modelling picture

So at 53, all in all, life is pretty amazing. I now do regular hair modelling for Richard Ward on QVC and I have also done videos for technical products. I have appeared in magazine articles and in the national press, I even did a tasteful nude shoot for the Sun newspaper about women and body confidence. Baring all was scary, but it was fun too. I have also been a model for Butterfly Kisses Lingerie, a company that brought out a new classy but sexy range aimed at mature ladies – thankfully they had the foresight to use mature models rather than perfect 20 year olds.

As well as all this, I am a qualified personal trainer. I retrained when I lost weight and I have really enjoyed the past 6 years, but this year it has had to take a back seat – things are getting really busy with the modelling and acting. I am working as a support artist at the moment, on what is going to be next years Hollywood blockbuster. Then in October I have a part in another new film.

The advice I would give to other mature women who want to go into modelling is to find yourself a reputable agency. You can find information on for a list. You will need some good photos for your portfolio, but be careful as there are lots of photographic companies out there wanting to rip you off – do your homework first. Be confident, prepared to be patient and never get upset at rejection. Give it a go regardless of your age, life really can be exciting at 50!”

Have you turned your life around for the better? Let us know:

Photography by Steven Brown: