Clad in a neon pink sports bra, grey sweatpants and a light grey jacket – all from Penneys – Roz Purcell got just about everyone talking this week… or rather, her abs did.
Shooting an Xposé segment featuring the Irish clothing retailer’s new summer workout collection, the former Miss Universe Ireland took to Instagram to give fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of her look.
The image, which quickly notched up close-to 1,900 likes, was notable for Roz’s particularly toned and taut stomach – something which wasn’t lost on her fans. “Best pic I've ever seen of her #abs,” commented one Instagram user. “Look at this for perfection… jealous doesn't even cover it,” said another. “I hate sit-ups!” joked a third follower.
But speaking exclusively to SHEmazing! today, Roz is typically modest about the image. “I promise, it’s all about clever angles and knowing how to hold yourself,” she laughs. “Every model knows how to do that.”
Shockingly, the 24-year-old also admits that as recently as last year, she struggled with persistent and painful bloating. “Eight months ago I couldn’t eat anything without getting seriously bloated,” she confesses. “It didn’t matter what I ate, the end-result would be a sore, swollen stomach.”
She adds: “I went for a load of food intolerance test but they came back clear – which in itself is quite unusual. So I just kept telling myself that it was nothing and that it would gradually go away. But then as the weeks went by it only got worse. There were times I couldn’t sleep at night because of the pain.”
She says eventually it was a neighbour who encouraged her to go to hospital. “I bumped into the doctor that lives in the apartment below me one day and he said he was taken aback at how ill I looked. At first I thought, ‘oh, thanks very much!’ but he said I looked really drained and puffy.”
Roz went to hospital, where it was explained that a parasite was living in her gut. “I was told it was chronic, which means it had been there for at least six months,” she explains. “So I either picked it up in Jordan, where I had been with World Vision six months previously, or in Austria where I had done an Ironman. Part of the swim segment had been in water next to a heavily polluted river, so it could well have been that.”
The Tipperary-native was subsequently treated with antibiotics. “Though that in itself was tough on my stomach,” she says. “My doctor explained that the drug I was taking was basically like chemotherapy for my gut.”
Unsurprisingly, these days she doesn’t take her digestive health for granted: “I make sure I get a pro-biotic in everyday. I don’t overload my stomach with big meals because I prefer eating little and often throughout the day. I’d snack on things like prunes too.”