Rhys Stephenson has spoken out about his time in the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing last year.

Making it far into the competition, Rhys, 28 was the 11th contestant to make his exit alongside professional dance partner Nancy Xu, 31.

Now, in an intimate chat about The Diana Award on ‘The Big Anti-Bullying Assembly 2022’, Rhys has revealed how his nerves over performing a routine in front of the judging panel got the best of him.

"I really couldn't eat anything before the show on a Saturday," he explained ahead of the start of the 2022 series. "I remember they were trying to encourage me to eat food, like like a mother."

But no matter how much he wanted to consume some food, his body was too "tight" to do it. He said it was like he having the "fight or flight" response.

He said: "The only thing I could really have was soup. Whenever there was soup on the menu I was like, 'Give me that, just let me select that'. And then once the show was finished, my stomach opened up and I could go with anything."

Training hours on end and eating little but soup made Rhys lose "so much weight".

Rhys recalled how the costume department would measure him and find that his trousers had got too big for him, much to his surprise. "How am I losing weight?" he'd question, but would then watch back and and realise: "I looked malnourished."

He said: "I think a lot of people messaged me and was like, 'Are you eating?' I was like, 'Yeah, I am…' But it was the face that was the biggest shock, my face just streamlined and I couldn't believe it."

Despite losing weight, Rhys insisted he was never worried about his health and never once felt weak from his diet and training. He said: "I was still strong enough to do the things I needed to do. I was just very lean. Super, super lean. Almost on the worrying edge of it, but I was healthy the whole way."

Strictly Come Dancing returns to screen this Friday 23 September, with a new host of celebrities preparing to take to the dance floor. The launch show will reveal who is partnered with who, and the following evening (24 September) the first live show will air.

Rhys' open chat on his experience on Strictly comes as he shared details on ‘The Big Anti-Bullying Assembly 2022’ from The Diana Award and Nationwide Building Society.

"It's a virtual assembly on the third of October. It's got a whole bunch of celebrity faces speaking out about their experiences of bullying, and also encouraging children to kind of make a change that to not bully or how to better deal with bullying," he shared. "It's a really important assembly to kind of bring that really vital information for kids on a subject that has affected all of us for. Bullying is not just restricted to one kind of group of people."

He added: "I think it's a really, really wonderful thing to be doing. I'm really proud to be a part of it."

‘The Big Anti-Bullying Assembly’ from The Diana Award and Nationwide Building Society will be beamed into primary schools and homes nationwide on 3rd October 20212. To sign up to watch the assembly, download free resource packs and for more information visit www.thebigantibullyingassembly.com.

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