Geordie Shore star and Weight Watchers ambassador Vicky Pattison talks to Gabrielle Fagan about the worst time of her life and finding happiness after suffering heartache
Vicky Pattison has become a hugely popular presenter since first finding fame on MTV reality show Geordie Shore, but in 2018, her personal happiness was shattered.
She broke up with her fiance, John Noble, which she bravely documented in Vicky Pattison: The Break Up, while also sharing her feelings with her four million Instagram fans in her characteristically upfront and honest way.
Now, she reveals, she has lots to celebrate. Her career's flourishing: she's a regular guest on Loose Women, and last year competed in Celebrity MasterChef and joined E4's Celebrity Coach Trip. She has a newly-found confidence, and has found love with former TOWIE star Ercan Ramadan (26).
"I feel grown up, confident and happy in my own skin. I've discovered a lovely sense of acceptance about who I am," declares the down-to-earth, Newcastle-born star. "On top of that, I love Ercan to bits and would love to be with him forever. Life's pretty good."
Here, Pattison (32) - who is also a WW brand ambassador and is following the new myWW programme - opens up about her relationship with food, hopes for marriage and children, and why her new rule is 'moderation'...
How have you changed over the last year?
"I'm in my thirties and just working on being the best version of me: I'm Vicky Pattison, who's got boobs and a bum and I'm about a size 10-12. Most important of all, I'm healthy. Women should love whatever shape they are, as long as they're strong, healthy and happy.
"Over the years, I've had some real ups and downs and a real love/hate relationship with food and my body in particular. I've always loved food in a big way, but it hasn't been the healthiest of relationships and I have a tendency to overindulge when I'm not feeling confident or happy.
"Other times, I've really restricted myself and worried about my food choices. I don't want to have this unhealthy mindset anymore - life is for living and the reason I've joined the WW programme is because it's not super restrictive, so it means I don't need to give up things I love.
"I'm never going to be a size six, I'm done trying to pursue that or comparing myself to those glamorous, glossy but unrealistic Instagram images."
Do you regret your hard partying in the past?
"I always say, 'You can't be old and wise if you've not been young and daft', and put it this way, with my past, I'm on my way to being very old and wise!
"Everyone's seen the Geordie Shore years and me falling out of nightclubs, although I don't particularly think I did anything far more excessive than any other people my age, but the difference was mine was filmed.
"I did though repeat some of the mistakes over and over and over again, and I do look back and wish I'd learnt a bit quicker."
Are those days behind you?
"Nowadays, I try to apply an 'everything in moderation' rule. Sure, I love good nights out along with the next person, but now I don't let it snowball out of control because I realise how negative it can be for my wellbeing.
"I was very shocked to hear from a doctor when I did a fertility test for my TV show that although my eggs are healthy, drinking heavily could affect my egg count.
"Fortunately, I'd already cut down on my drinking. I'm older and these days instead of getting smashed with the girls, it's usually just a night in with my fella, watching TV and having a lovely bottle of wine. I'm actually even doing Dry January. Years ago, I honestly dreaded being what I thought was that 'boring' person, but I'm there now and it's so good.
"All I can hope is that the excesses of the past didn't have any long-term ramifications on my health - particularly my fertility - and try and do the best I can going forward."
How is your romance with Ercan?
"He's wonderfully romantic and spoils me with incredibly thoughtful gestures. Of course, we occasionally have niggles and rows, in my book a little bit of jealousy and tension means you really care, but there's enough love there, enough respect and enough good times for it not to be an issue. Ercan's got my best interests at heart, is very supportive of my career and he's following WW with me, so he's got to be a keeper!"
Will you marry?
"I'm a proper hopeless romantic... We do talk marriage, but just like we talk about everything else, from holidays and houses to kids.
"I don't want to go, 'Yeah, he's Mr Right', because quite frankly if you look back, how many times have I said that before! I don't want to jinx it, but all I can say is, he's a refreshing change from the people I've gone out with before."
How do you feel about the six-year age gap?
"Every so often, he teases me about being a cougar and I go off in a massive huff! But we don't look any different in age, we get on great and he's a helluva lot more grown up than anyone else I've ever been out with.
"Age is just a number. Ercan has a certain quality, where he just totally knows himself, he's so secure, and in turn makes you feel really comfortable with who you are. He's very accepting of himself, which is very attractive and a very mature quality."
Would you like children?
"I'm dying to be a mam, but I'm trying to just do it for me when it's right. Of course, those maternal feelings have got stronger now I'm with Ercan. He's very family orientated, his three brothers all have kids.
"Put it this way, if I turned around to him tonight and said, 'I want kids tomorrow', he'd be compliant, but I don't want that. I want it to be we're engaged, married, and then we both say, 'Hey, we're ready for this'.
"I have a follow-up appointment in the next couple of weeks to take the process of freezing my eggs forward. I'd love kids in the next couple of years, but at the same time, I don't want to put unnecessary pressure on myself and my relationship with Ercan, so doing that gives us time."
How did you get through 2018 - the toughest year of your life?
"In the space of a year, my best friend and my grandma died and then I broke up with my fiance, so it was pretty devastating. You're just so grief stricken you think, 'Why me, why do I deserve this?'
"But I refused to allow the break-up to shake my trust in men, it didn't stop what or who I wanted to be, and the message I wanted to put out is that I'm a strong woman. Happiness is the best revenge, as the saying goes, and I was determined to find it again and I have."
How do you look after your wellbeing?
"Exercise is a huge part of my life and I can't champion it enough. Training and eating well keeps me fit, and is essential so I sleep properly. I urge everyone to do something, whether it's a work-out, a run or walk in the park with your dog, Pilates or whatever.
"Frankly, do whatever gets the endorphins going, as it's so positive and beneficial.
"Also, I'm cutting down my time on social media so I've got more time to relax with Ercan, my wonderful supportive mum Caroll, and my family and friends.
"Time with them is key to helping me feel good and grounded."