Bear Grylls Survivor, from Scousewife to Survivor, read our exclusive interview with Elissa Corrigan.
Feisty and fearless, the former Desperate Scousewives star swapped glamour for gruel as she pushed her mind and body to the limits during her recent time on the Channel 4 show, Treasure Island with Bear Grylls.
First appearing on our screens back in 2011 starring in the ITV2 reality show, Desperate Scousewives, Elissa played the role of the hard-hitting journalist, armed with high heels and a high temper.
Soon enough, the 33-year-old writer became the centre of the story with the show jumpstarting her career in showbiz, leading her to ghost-write autobiographies for celebrities including Geordie Shore star, Holly Hagan.
However, this year, the star proved she was more than just makeup and rollers, taking on the treacherous challenge of Treasure Island with Bear Grylls, where contestants battle it out on a remote island for a chance of winning a £100,000 cash prize.
Speaking exclusively to REVIVE, Elissa reveals all about her fight for survival and how her time on the show equipped her with the skills to empower others to break out of their comfort zone.
“I was a bigger girl when I was younger, but I’ve lost weight and managed to stay healthy.
If I can do it, anyone can do it – I’ve been there,
and I know how you feel.”
How did you come to apply for Treasure Island with Bear Grylls?
“I’ve watched the show and been a huge fan for years. I was looking for an adventure and a thrill.I applied online, got a call, and I went to London. I was one of the last to get through, and within 25-30 days I was on the show – it was that quick.”
Why did you want to go on the show?
Keen to challenge her physical and emotional strength, Elissa told us how she thought the torture on the show would make her a stronger person.
“I genuinely believe that any growth and development will happen as a result of pain. Whether that be emotional or physical, if you put yourself in emotionally difficult situations, it will build resilience. If you never push yourself, you’ll lose your sh*t over the smallest things.
“I’ve been through the depths of hell, and this is the toughest and most unrelenting reality show in the world. I thought, if I can complete that, there’s nothing I can’t achieve.”
What was your toughest moment on the show?
“The lack of food and hunger. Your body is slowly dying every day, and we were surviving off very little food. If we went out, we might burn 1500 calories, but only eat 200. We always had to weigh up if it was worth it.
“I was obsessed with food; I was dreaming about it. I couldn’t listen to people talk about it.”
Formerly following a plant-based diet, Elissa was told she wouldn’t survive and would have to eat anything she could source.
“I was warned at the beginning I wouldn’t survive from eating a plant-based diet, so I gave it up, eating anything I could get my hands on. It was mainly just seafood and coconut – when I look at coconut now, it makes me sick.”
With no technology, the star was unable to speak to her family during her time on the Island.
She said: “I didn’t miss my phone, but I missed speaking to my family. I had to put them out of my head as thinking of home navigated a downward spiral.”
Your exhaustion led to an enormous nosebleed while on the show, and you must have been frightened?
“I wasn’t frightened, but I was very dizzy. I exerted myself too much. My blood pressure was lower than anyone else’s on the Island. When I stood up, I felt drunk, and my legs were buckling on the beach. We could call the satellite to remove us from the show at any time, and it took a lot of mental strength to not to do that.”
Did the £100,000 cash prize make it awkward while on the Island?
“The money caused murder, and while I didn’t go on the show for the money, I am competitive, and obviously wanted to win it.”
Despite donating her £9,500 prize money to charity, One Woman at a Time, Elissa revealed how this caused tension on the island as contestants expected her to share the cash.
“It looked like I was being selfish not sharing the money on the show, but I had already promised it to the charity.The short term pain of people falling out with me on the show was worth it, as I knew it there was a long term reward when I got home.”
You say you’ve been through the ‘depths of hell’, but what other physical challenges have you faced?
“After the show, I did a 10k barefoot run around Manchester. I shattered my kneecap on the island and was told I’d never run again, so I thought I may as well go out with a bang.
“My feet were ripped up, running over tarmac and glass, but I got such a sense of achievement.”
“I also did the Great Wall of China for charity, but that wasn’t so much of a challenge, it was just a great experience.”
Looking back now, what advice would you give your younger self?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the past, I’ve been in some sh*tty relationships and didn’t have much respect for myself.You should develop yourself, be kind to yourself, and enjoy every moment.”
Mixing with celebrities, do you feel pressure to look a certain way?
“I’m quite glamorous on the outside, but I can get down and dirty, too. I like the glitz and the glamour of wearing nice clothes and getting my nails done, but I contrast that with going climbing or walking up a mountain. I believe you can do it all.”
Ambitious, strong and determined, Elissa has strong views on how a 21st-century woman should be perceived.
“A modern woman should be independent, physically fit, earn her own money, and have her own sense of style. I am fiercely independent because you can’t rely on anybody else. When I get into a relationship, it’s because I want to be with them – not because I need to be, and that’s empowering.”
After such an exhilarating year, what does the future hold for you?
“This year has been all about growth and development, meaning I now want to empower others because I know I’ve been through the toughest times.
“I’ve pushed myself physically and conquered it. However, I’ve neglected personal relationships for physical challenges, so I want to work on those. I also want to invest in some more businesses and focus on my current ones.”
Not just a writer, but also an entrepreneur with a passion for well-being, Elissa launched Life Lab Retreats in a bid to educate women on health, and banish negative attitudes around weight.
“I’ve been running the retreat for a couple of years now, but I knew where my weaknesses were, and I wanted to improve on them. Everything I’ve put myself through this year has been to develop myself so that I can share that knowledge and experience with my clients.
“If you come to Life Lab Retreats, you’ll see we focus on nutritional education. We do lots of lectures on how to rebalance your health with food.
“We hold fitness classes, along with yoga and meditation, all designed to optimise the body and mind.
“I was fed up of the diet industry preying on women’s weight and appearance. So many companies sell garbage products purely for profit, and I was tired of seeing this nonsense.”
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