Caro­line Flack

It’ s a work in progress, by her own ad­mis­sion, but caro­line flack is feel­ing more com­fort­able with her­self than ever. haters be damned

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY IAN HARRISON WORDS STEPHEN UNWIN STYLING SASKIA QUIRKE

The face of Love Is­land opens up about over­com­ing body wor­ries, the lure of a good dough­nut and her sur­prise en­gage­ment

Play­ing it safe isn’t the first phrase that springs to mind when de­scrib­ing Caro­line Flack. From her close-to-the-bone cameos on Bo’ Selecta, dressed down in an LBD be­side Keith Lemon’s Michael Jack­son, to en­ter­ing the world of pugil sticks and skintight Ly­cra as a pre­sen­ter on Gla­di­a­tors; then there’s the fact that she said yes when her on/off boyfriend of just three months pro­posed mar­riage. But when it comes to de­scrib­ing the state of play right now, she chooses her words care­fully. ‘I feel re­ally con­tent. I like the word con­tent, it’s a safer word than happy,’ she says, as she fi­nally sits down fol­low­ing an af­ter­noon of pranc­ing in the swimwear equiv­a­lent of undies, as per our pho­tog­ra­pher’s di­rec­tion. Be­cause happy might be, what, tempt­ing fate? ‘Yeah. Although I don’t worry so much now – you get to your mid-thir­ties and you lose the worry you car­ried through your teens and twen­ties,’ Caro­line adds.

Though the 38-year-old might avoid us­ing the term, there’s more than enough for her to feel happy about. She’s spend­ing her third sum­mer as the face of ITV’S BAFTA award-win­ning Love Is­land (that show you say you won’t watch but get sucked into within a week), is seem­ingly be­sot­ted with new fi­ancé An­drew Brady (our shoot takes place one day af­ter the cou­ple re­turn from the hol­i­day on which Caro­line shared their big news) – and, of course the ic­ing on the cake, she’s fronting our In Shape My Shape is­sue af­ter hav­ing launched the in­au­gu­ral body con­fi­dence cam­paign two years ago.

Hav­ing un­der­gone a body and mind trans­for­ma­tion just be­fore she last ap­peared on the cover of Women’s Health – ‘I wasn’t ed­u­cated in what a healthy diet and lifestyle re­ally looked like; then my whole out­look changed’ – Caro­line has spent the in­terim work­ing out how best to bal­ance what she learnt with a propen­sity to in­dulge. It turns out, the key for her is to fo­cus on where her head’s at. ‘I think that if my mind is in a good place, ev­ery­thing else is in a good place. It works the other way around, too. I al­ways thought a “detox” was for the body, but even af­ter a week of get­ting up early and train­ing well, your mind just goes to a dif­fer­ent place com­pletely.’

Switch­ing the em­pha­sis from calo­rie con­trol to men­tal strength works be­cause Caro­line isn’t one of those peo­ple to whom an iron will at an over­laden ta­ble comes nat­u­rally. ‘Oh my god, I was at Soho Farm­house [in Ox­ford­shire] the other day. Have you had their Sun­day buf­fet? I was in pain for two days be­cause I just couldn’t stop eat­ing.’ Never ideal. The rest of the time, she tries to ex­er­cise a more in­tu­itive ap­proach – ‘I’ve learnt to eat, stop and wait, then you’re go­ing to feel full’ – and take con­trol of her cir­cum­stances. ‘It’s about eat­ing the right foods but, at the same time, I’m re­ally not very good at not giv­ing into temp­ta­tion. If some­thing’s in front of me, I’ll usu­ally take it. I’ve al­ways been like that since I was a kid.’ For ex­am­ple? ‘A re­ally nice dough­nut.’ I as­sure her it would be rude not to.

It means her body might not be quite as ripped as it was two years ago, but that’s okay. ‘I did a full-on nu­tri­tion plan with no sugar for three months and I was train­ing five times a week. It was just eas­ier to not re­ally go out. But I want to eat bread. So now I’m eat­ing bread and train­ing at the same time – I haven’t got as much def­i­ni­tion as I had, but I’m com­fort­able. And I like curves.’

Speak­ing of train­ing, Caro­line en­joys mix­ing it up, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween weight train­ing with Sarah Lind­say at Roar Fit­ness in Lon­don and re­former Pi­lates. But she knows what she likes – and what she doesn’t. ‘I tried spin­ning, but it’s so dif­fi­cult. I hate be­ing out of breath! And you can’t just walk out of that room be­cause ev­ery­body’s go­ing to see!’ I get the im­pres­sion she views fit­ness as an ex­ten­sion of her so­cial life. ‘Go­ing to train with Sarah is just like go­ing to have a drink with a mate. She’s not judge­men­tal. If I go, “I went out last night,” she just says, “Okay, what time do you want to come in?”’

Wor­ry­ing about how she looked wasn’t re­ally part of Caro­line’s con­scious­ness un­til a col­league made a flip­pant – harm­ful – re­mark. ‘There was a mo­ment. It was a man I worked with. I was about 27 and he comes over to me and says, “You need to start get­ting in shape.” And I was like, “Wow!” I was quite happy with how I looked un­til then.’ As she con­tin­ues, it be­comes clear that it was less a case of Caro­line al­ways hav­ing been happy with her ap­pear­ance, more that she just didn’t re­ally think about it too much. ‘I’ve never re­ally been overly ob­sessed with the way I look. I just come from that kind of fam­ily where we didn’t fo­cus on it, it wasn’t a big thing when I was grow­ing up. Which I know is an amaz­ing place to be – and I don’t think most peo­ple are in that place.’

So, what made the com­ment stick? ‘I linked it to my job, some­one telling me to try harder. I started think­ing maybe I should give more at­ten­tion to what I look like.’

And although she seems gen­uinely chuffed with her lot, Caro­line’s one of the few celebri­ties will­ing to say she’s still got a way to go when it comes to body con­fi­dence. ‘Be­ing happy with your­self is the most im­por­tant thing, but I won’t lie – I’m not go­ing to say I stood in front of the cam­era

‘IF MY MIND IS IN A GOOD PLACE, EV­ERY­THING ELSE FOL­LOWS’

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