DR Alex George went on an "extreme" diet and worked out two hours a day for FIVE months to get a six pack before his stint on Love Island.
The reality star, 30, opened up about his body image worries before entering the villa three years ago on the most recent episode of Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast.
The A&E doctor – who rose to fame on the fourth series of the ITV dating show – admitted that his insecurities got the better of him and took extreme measures to look his best on telly.
Despite being "pretty fit and healthy", Alex felt self-conscious about his looks and went on to "restrict his life in every possible way".
He explained: "I restricted my diet. I removed everything apart from basic components that would make me lean and lose weight. I exercised excessively.
"I cycled an hour then I was gyming for an hour which was an unhealthy amount to exercise every day."
This started to affect other aspects of his life, including seeing pals, and he decided that he only wanted to go to work and train hard.
He continued: "I stopped seeing any of my friends because I thought, if I see my friends or eat one chocolate bar or have a full fat cappuccino or a pint of beer that is going to set me back.
"So I removed myself from all my social groups."
Reflecting on the extreme measures he took to try and make himself feel better, he now knows that it wasn't healthy.
Alex said: "Yes I looked aesthetically quite good in that time, but was I healthy? Absolutely not.
"I was a recluse. I had lost contact with my friends. I had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise and really I went on the show and thought: ‘What am I doing?’
"I might look good but I don’t feel good.
"When I came off the show I thought: ‘I cannot do this.’ I changed the way I approached things."
He added: "I had to restrict my life in all kinds of ways just to look like that and maintain that shape.
"Was I living? I wasn’t living? It is not worth doing that to yourself psychologically mentally or physically to look that way."
He now feels much healthier working out every other day and enjoys a much more balanced diet after eating different portions of brown rice, broccoli and meat for five months.
With the highly anticipated seventh series of Love Island due to hit our screens in three months, Alex hopes that producers are "working on body image importantly and thinking about representing people that are the ‘normal people’ out there".
The star added: "I hope reality TV shows value more the personality rather than whether they’ve got a six pack or not.
"Ultimately that isn’t what matters in life. Was I happier with a six pack or now with a balanced life.
"I am much happier not having that six pack.
"If I were on the show now… I am not saying I’d sit here and eat junk food and put a load of weight on to go in but I certainly wouldn’t do what I did then. I would happily go in without a six pack. I seriously mean that."
And now Alex feels confident enough to post pictures of himself as he is now on his Instagram – and hopes his new found confidence will help others too.
He said: "I have posted images of me on my Instagram just as I am now. I don’t feel the pressure… There is an expectation from people but I don’t feel that.
"We all have a role – not just those with big platforms – you might have a friend posting perfect pictures. It is everyone’s role about putting content out there.
"A) how authentic that content is, has it been massively edited? And secondly… particularly influencers. Think about what they are putting out there. What impact that might have on young people?"
Before Alex joined the cast of Love Island he was working in A&E as a doctor and over the past year has been on the front line saving lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Back in February he decided to take a break from work as the past "long and hard year has taken its toll".
He told fans: "It’s been a bit of an up and down week.
“I always want to be honest with you guys and the last thing I want is for my page to be a highlight of good days, hiding the bad.
"It’s been a long and hard year, which ultimately takes it’s toll. I have really felt it this week and I am aware I need a break.
“I am taking a full week off from Tuesday. Recognizing when you are becoming stressed and acting on it, is so important.”
The former Love Island star also tragically lost his younger brother Llyr, who took his own life aged 19, in July last year.
But Alex has plenty of things to keep his mind busy.
He was appointed the Youth Mental Health Ambassador by Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in February.
The reality star is also planning to become a general practitioner and his book Live Well Every Day is due to be released this month.
All his hard work is definitely paid off.
Last month Alex surprised his mum with her dream car – a £21k Mini Cooper.
Listen to Fearne's Happy Place podcast here.
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