EXCLUSIVE: I'm A Celeb host Julia Morris on her weight loss transformation

From battling the bulge to dealing with professional burnout, Julia Morris opens up about her newfound health revelations.

By Paul Ewart
Straight-talking, self-deprecating, and incredibly frank, Julia Morris is the kind of celebrity that Australia needs way more of.
Armed with a wicked sense of humour – and an infectious cackle to go with it – she has spent the last 30 years making us laugh, whether it's on the stage as a stand-up comedian, or on our TV screens via a string of top-rating shows.
All the while, she's a wife and mother to two young girls so to call her life 'busy' would be an understatement.
Over the past 12 months in particular, a succession of high energy, prime-time shows – including I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!, Blind Date, and Sunday Night Takeaway – left the 51-year-old feeling exhausted and frazzled.
Proving that age-old maxim 'something has got to give', in Julia's case it was her health.
"I've definitely spoken about burnout before," she tells Good Health & Wellbeing, "but I don't think I had actually experienced it until we finished shooting Takeaway last year. Then I was like: 'Oh this is burnout.'
"I asked my husband Dan and my lovely psychologist: 'Am I depressed?' I didn't understand what was happening. I got a cold and ended up taking to my bed for three weeks. I got up only to drop the girls to school and to pick them up, other than that I spent the rest of my days upstairs in bed watching Netflix."
Julia realised she was burnt out from overworking herself and needed to focus on her health again. Good Health

Clearing the decks

So, how has Julia remedied the stresses of an epic work schedule? True to form, it has nothing to do with meditation, massage, or crystal therapy.
"I'm literally just coming out of a self-imposed three months off," she says.
"I've spent it all at home and have just been trying to learn how to slow things down. If I don't feel like going out, or catching up with a friend, I have no problem in cancelling. I just let them know.
"Instead, my time has been spent putting loads of washing on, doing the school pickup, turning up at the netball court to watch my two girls play – just fully immersing myself in my mummy life, rather than running it alongside my work life.
"Having only one job is pretty amazing and I'm now left feeling refreshed. I haven't had a stressed moment since I took the time out. I cleared the decks until we started to get ready for the jungle."
Speaking of, when we catch up, Julia is in the beginning stages of preparing for her return to the South African jungle for I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!
Now going into its sixth season, the co-host says she's still as excited about the return of the ratings hit, as she was when she first entered the wilderness.
"Each season feels as fresh as the first," she says, flashing a toothy grin.
"Because I still can't believe that we get to go to South Africa and stay in a place that honestly just takes my breath away every morning. And that's not PR talk.
"It is honestly overwhelmingly beautiful. I saw Chris [co-host, Dr Chris Brown] yesterday and he was so excited and I'm like, 'How are we still excited about this show six years later?'"
Julia is currently in the South African jungle as the host of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! Good Health

Getting active

She's the first to admit that she's far from a poster girl for fitness. For decades, Julia was a confirmed non gym-goer, but these days the presenter is making a few small concessions to her physical health.
And the turning point was in April last year following a visit to a physiotherapist.
"He asked me: 'What's happening with exercise?'" she recalls.
"He said, 'You need to start doing something or you'll be in trouble.' He warned me about osteoporosis and said that I really need to sort my core out. So his harsh talk – it wasn't that harsh, but you know what I mean – made a big difference. I started seeing a trainer the next day and have been seeing one twice each week since."
In addition to training, the comedian has also started to walk for "an hour" three times each week. But it's not endorphins and fresh air fuelling Julia's newfound exercise regime. It's fear and dealing with an unfortunate side effect of ageing.
"Middle age spread!" she giggles. "You turn 51, and you're like, 'Oh no, I've made a terrible mistake – I need to get back on that nightmare treadmill again!'"
And while she's still in the early days of her newfound fitness regime, Julia is already feeling the burn – and the benefits.
"It doesn't feel like early days to me," she says.
"It feels like nine years of working out! But what it has done is that – while I'm not sure if my body will ever again be bikini-ready in my lifetime – it has completely changed my posture and my strength levels.
"I've been trying to improve my wrist strength in particular, because someone told me that's the first thing to send you into the nursing home early."
Julia's health and fitness goals are now related to living a longer, happier life, not just weight loss. Good Health

Being kinder to herself

But what about her core? We ask.
"I mean… it's no longer as bad as jelly," she laughs. "It's getting stronger. My core values are amazing, but my own core is getting better too!"
In tandem with the changes she's implemented in her fitness are tweaks she's made in her diet, namely attempting to curb her sweet tooth.
"I have a very large love affair with sugar," says the small-screen stunner.
"So now I'm trying to counteract that. I like sugar too much to give it up, but I'm trying to stick to salads and to be conscious of each meal, though I'll continue to have the odd treat. I'm making an effort to eat slightly smaller amounts."
On the flip side it has also led to a softening in Julia's internal monologue with her acknowledging that she's "caring less" and learning to "be kinder" to herself.
However, though the mum-of-two may be poster girl for '50 and fabulous', since turning 51 last year, she admits that the physical signs of ageing are taking some time to get used to.

Thoughts on ageing

"I think there is something incredibly cruel and distressing about ageing," muses the straight-talker.
"Because at a time when you are at the apex of everything in your life in terms of success, your skin starts to droop, and I'm having to make sure I'm not dressing too young. I find myself thinking, 'Is this something a 50-year-old woman would wear?'
"Part of it is your sexiness winding down ... I think you get to a certain age where you need to turn down the swing in your bling! Young people don't need to see me being sexy, I mean, could you bear it? Not letting it bother you is the challenge. Luckily, all I have to worry about is that my hubby, Dan, still finds me sexy. He definitely does, so I'm still in the zone!"
Another unpleasant side effect of the ageing process for Julia has been menopause – specifically the "intense aggression" that the process induced.
After enduring bouts of this "rip-someone's-face-off rage", the Melbourne-based performer decided to get some help.
Visiting a psychologist back in 2016, she was introduced to cognitive behavioural therapy, or 'CBT' – a type of psychotherapy designed to change unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling, or behaving – and hasn't looked back.
Now part of her overall wellbeing strategy, the comic puts her regular visits to the psychologist in the same self-care basket as going to the hairdresser, or the dentist.

Speaking up

"It definitely is like that," she says.
"It's totally pedestrian. And in actual fact, by being open about seeing a psychologist, the number of people who are then open about their own mental health in return, is genuinely surprising."
Though the TV star is candid about her own mental health, she reckons that there's unfortunately still a long way to go before it loses the negative stigma and is normalised.
"I don't even think we're halfway there yet," she says. "But we're in a better place than we've ever been."
Luckily for Julia, whenever she needs a mental pick-me-up out of hours, she has her husband, Welsh comedian Dan Thomas, who acts as a sounding board and counsellor.
"And me for him," she enthuses.
"We're each other's counsel and it's really good if we have an altercation about something because we can sort it out without a fight. Things get cleared up a lot quicker. Knowing one another so well, you can see changes in each other's behaviour. You're like: 'What's happening with you?'"
Together since 2002, the pair met through friends at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and are still going strong more than 17 years later.
WATCH BELOW: The most incredible celebrity weight loss transformations. Story continues after video.

Slowing down

"Yep, we've been kissing for 17 years," she says, smiling.
"We were married on New Year's Eve 2005, but we've been together since 2002. And it has been nothing but joy!" she exclaims, with a hint at sarcasm. "He's never ready to kill me and I'm never ready to kill him!"
Family life is clearly a balm to the TV juggernaut that is Julia's working life. And one of the happy consequences of her burnout revelation has been an appreciation for the mundane, simple things that go hand-in-hand with motherhood.
From the school pickup to school meals, the funny lady knows that this period in the lives of her kids won't last forever, and she's intent on soaking it all up while she can.
"That's very much on my mind," she admits. "Time is going by quickly and it's distressing! I definitely wanted to slow things down this year. So, stopping and slowing down has meant that we can reset as a family – and that doesn't happen very often."
While daughters Ruby and Sophie are still a good number of years off university age, the prospect of an empty nest is already hanging over Julia and her hubby.

Looking ahead

"There's a sadness that is omnipresent about them getting older," she concedes.
"It's really odd, because I'm so happy that they're turning into these lovely women. And I know that I'm going to see plenty of them. It's just a real… not regret, but there's a real sadness about them getting older. It's so weird. Just thinking about it is odd."
But when the girls eventually do fly away and leave, Julia has a plan in place to help counteract any empty nest blues.
"That's when Dan and I will start following the sun," she says, smiling.
"That's our intention. He and I will go and live in Europe for the summer, we'll travel around the US, live in Fiji for a month – we'll go wherever we like. I know that, even when we're empty-nesters, we'll have a lot of fun."
I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! airs from January 5, Sunday to Thursday on Ten at 7.30pm

read more from