Vicky Pattison: As a woman it is a daily battle to get up and like what you see in the mirror
TV star Vicky Pattison tells Liz Connor all about her realistic approach to fitness and why she'll never be the type of person who gets up at 5am for a 5k run
With 3.9 million Instagram followers, Vicky Pattison might just be one of the most well-liked reality TV stars going.
She first came to our screens as the feisty Northern lass with a quick-witted sense of humour on Geordie Shore - but truly won the nation's hearts when she was crowned I'm A Celebrity... Get me Out Of Here! winner in 2015.
Despite her popularity, Vicky is no stranger to cruel comments online, after yo-yo dieting made her weight fluctuate dramatically. Back in 2016, she also admitted she'd experienced reverse body dysmorphia - which led her to believe she was a size 10, when really she was a size 16.
Now 30, she says she's happier than ever, having found love with businessman John Noble (the pair announced their engagement last July), and with lots of exciting new projects on the go.
Here, Vicky talks to us about her post-Christmas fitness routine, wedding plans and why she's determined to help others find body confidence with her new MTV show, Ex On The Beach: Body SOS.
You recently said on Instagram that you're not too happy with your body - why is that?
"I spent last year being very cautious about my body while filming Beach Body SOS, then I had a little bit of time off and a busy festive period, full of mince pies and far too many glasses of Baileys. My body just gave up a little bit and I got really sick. The last three weeks, I've had a horrible cold and flu - it's so incapacitating.
"I suppose it's just standard to how everyone's feeling post-Christmas, but I'm not used to taking this long off training. I'm going to be honest, I don't like what I see in the mirror. And I think if most women are candid, when it comes to January, not many of us do. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself, but I'm also trying to put a realistic and honest representation of myself out there on Instagram. I just want to be honest and let everyone know that I'm struggling a little bit."
You seem to have a good sense of humour when it comes to food and fitness - do you think it's important not to take things too seriously?
"I think it's important not to take anything too seriously, full stop. I just want people to stop being so hard on themselves and stop holding themselves up to these unrealistic images of perfection.
"We can all be guilty of taking a great picture from a good angle and using a nice filter, but recently it's gone so much further with all these airbrushing and editing apps.
"It took a lot for me to put up that video of me working out (Vicky posted a video of herself getting back into the gym in January), because even now when I'm not feeling that great about myself, I can still take a good picture. But a video in tight workout leggings? There's actually nowhere to hide."
You've battled with fluctuating weight, which you've said in interviews has knocked your confidence. Do you think you're in a better place now?
"I think as a woman, I'll always struggle. It's a daily battle to get up and like what you see in the mirror, isn't it? I think if I ever became one of those women who woke up at 5am, went for a 5K run, ate poached eggs and kale and gave birth to avocados, I would not recognise myself.
"I'm always going to be the woman who wakes up slightly late, rushes into the spin class, likes gin too much, and fluctuates. That's me. It's taken turning 30, growing up in this industry and meeting a man who loves me just the way I am, to accept the fact that I'm never going to like 100% of what I see in the mirror. I've got boobs and I've got a bum, and I'm okay with that."
Your new show, Ex On The Beach: Body SOS, is all about helping people feel good about their bodies. How did it feel to help others find their own inner confidence?
"The best thing that ever happened to me was losing weight and learning more about health, fitness and nutrition. If I wake up in the morning and I don't go to a gym then I get stressed out, things can get on top of me and I can't manage things so well.
"If I go to the gym, I get a level of clarity I can't achieve anywhere else, and the day just manages to fall into place. Making a sensible decision about what to have in a restaurant is easier, rather than just thinking, 'F*** it, I haven't trained, I'm having a pizza'.
"I wanted to impart some of that wisdom and help people learn about nutrition and health through our brilliant trainers. It's about confidence and loving yourself and being healthy - not about what size you are."
Do you find it difficult being in the public eye and having your weight scrutinised?
"I get demoralised and I find it degrading. I made a point last year not to discuss my weight in numbers in interviews. If I get papped on the beach not looking my best - and I told a magazine that I weigh nine-and-a-half stone - I don't want be held personally responsible for young girls believing that nine stone is not healthy or attractive when they see that picture splashed across the front with people criticising me. It's a terrible thing and I think women in the press should take this responsibility so much more seriously.
"I've come across a lot of negative people on social media, criticising the show for supposedly deeming what is 'beach body ready'. I have not done that. It's upsetting, because we take people who are overweight, underweight, or who are just a bit unfit and don't like what they see in the mirror, and we are giving them a better quality of life.
"I've not said, 'In order for this to be a success, these women have to end up being a size 6'."
What does your current workout regime look like?
"I've trained four times this week and I intend on going to hot yoga tomorrow to try and sweat this dirty cold out of me. I'm always on the lookout for new things, but predominantly I love weights. I do heavy squats, lunges, conditioning and pull weighted sleds. It's functional and it's tough. The more girls we get in the gym, feeling confident and lifting weights, the better."
Are you in the midst of wedding planning at the moment or are you planning a longer engagement?
"I think the latter is probably more likely. We had a huge engagement party in October, and it left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I'd not anticipated the work that actually goes into something like that and I found myself unable to enjoy myself due to the pressure. That is the last thing I want to be saying about my wedding.
"I think, subsequently, we need to take our foot off the gas a little bit. I've got my entire life to be a wife. So I'm going to spend a little bit more time being a fiancee. I think we're looking at July 2019 for our wedding day."
Will you start a family soon?
"It's definitely something we're thinking about more than we did before. I didn't have maternal instincts, so the fact we're even discussing it now is a huge step in the right direction, but it's something that is very far off in the future."
Ex On The Beach: Body SOS, continues on MTV on Wednesdays at 9pm