Interview with body positivity expert, Charlie Workman!
In our latest interview, Britain Uncovered is speaking with Charlie Workman, who explains how her Slimming World journey morphed into a self-love and self care project that has succeeded by prioritising happiness over weight loss. Charlie opens up about diet culture, reveals why focusing on self-improvement is the key to success, and discusses how her Instagram account is providing a safe, positive and loving environment for people on a similar journey.
Britain Uncovered: Hi Charlie! Back in 2018, you launched the first incarnation of your Instagram account, and at the time, you described it as the first step of your new Slimming World journey. What prompted you to launch the account, and how has it helped you with your body confidence over the past couple of years?
Charlie: So initially, my second Instagram was extremely private and I had started it as a food/accountability account that I was completely embarrassed about. I didn’t tell any of my friends about it. I was at uni at the time and I was scared of anybody finding it – my friends knew I was going to Slimming World but my little page where I would post my meals and snacks was completely private and would only accept followers who seemed interested in Slimming World.
Over time, that plan just seemed to give a massive negative connotation with food, so I swapped between calorie counting and the ‘Shreddy Challenge’. These plans were all great; however, no matter how much weight I lost, my self worth and acceptance of my own body didn’t change.
When the Shreddy Challenge ended I was at a bit of a loss. I still wanted to lose weight, but more importantly (in my eyes) I wanted to become more loving and accepting of my own body, and in turn help others with loving themselves for everything that they are.
On June 8, 2020 I made the switch. I changed my account name and the aim of my account. It was no longer a weight loss Instagram – I made it into a safe, positive and loving environment for whoever wanted to join me. Before the switch, I was still really struggling to love myself and love the body I was blessed with; as I was always hoping for the pounds to drop off so I could update my (few but lovely) followers.
However, when I took the power away from the weight loss and started injecting time and energy into my own self improvement and growth, I saw the main change in myself – I started being in more photos, taking more photos of myself and stopped hiding away from mirrors. The way I saw myself was no longer filled with hate and disgust but was flourishing with love and acceptance. I think if I hadn’t made the decision to make my Instagram a safe space for positivity, I would not be half as happy as I am today.
Britain Uncovered: Having now transitioned to content that primarily promotes body acceptance and self-love, how would you reflect back on your time with Slimming World and your Instagram page at the time?
Charlie: If I’m to be completely honest, I think my Slimming World content kind of negated all the positive emotions I was trying to emit. As I said over on my latest blog, I found Slimming World contributed to a negative opinion of food in general. I would go through phases of being really ‘good’ and then would go through phases where I would have the ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude where I would binge on food and alcohol and make myself feel 10 times worse.
However, as soon as I started to notice how much I wanted to love my body, more so than how much I wanted to lose weight, it was like a ‘lightbulb moment’. I started to follow more body positive ladies and gents rather than weight loss, and in return, I had an immense sense of relief. The farther I pushed away the Slimming World ideals of syns and healthy extras, the happier I became within myself. This is where calorie counting came in; I could eat whatever I wanted, whilst still being sensible with my food and not going back to the binging habits. The more I loved my body how it was, the less I felt the need to self-sabotage or binge and more the need to eat well, healthier, and more regularly – and actually enjoy my meals and exercise.
Britain Uncovered: Several of your posts feature ‘then and now’ comparisons where you reflect on past photos and compare them to your present-day self. Does looking back on where you started keep you motivated and help you to appreciate the progress you’ve made?
Charlie: Absolutely. When I look back to how I was, I don’t look so much at the weight loss, I look at the smile and the sparkle that I have back – the way I now feel about myself is something that weight loss didn’t bring me.
I had a determination to appreciate myself, I researched into being genuinely healthy (mentally and physically), and worked to make myself feel good and get the endorphins pumping rather than to lose weight. Looking back at how far you have come is one of the best ways to show yourself the progression you’ve made, so you can really show up for yourself again and again.
Britain Uncovered: As far as weight loss goes, how important is it to still ‘eat the cake’ and reward yourself from time to time?
Charlie: So important – I think in order to keep on a health journey, whether it be your mental journey or a spiritual journey or your weight loss journey, you need to reward yourself, take breaks and really enjoy the process. You are way more likely to stick to a journey if you enjoy it and if you take your nights off now and again.
Now, this isn’t me preaching to you to eat 5,000 calories every Friday night whilst you’re on a strict plan as you won’t see the results (it may just be reversing the hard work you have put in during the week) – however, you do need to treat yourself and keep that balance, keeping the determination but never restricting yourself.
I saw a quote on Instagram that basically said: if you are sticking to a plan, that’s great – but if you don’t take part in your Christmas dinner or friend’s birthday party due to not wanting to take a break from that plan, in the long term it will be doing more harm than good and will be promoting that negative view of food.
Britain Uncovered: You mentioned in one of your posts that you’ve experienced ‘not only a shift in body size and shape, but a complete change in mindset’. Other than the weight loss, what have you learned about yourself during this journey?
Charlie: I’ve learnt a lot of things really, through my mind shift and through my Instagram – for instance, I deserve to be happy in my body and with my life, which is something I never believed before. I have also learnt that when I love myself I can be a ray of sunshine to other people. I have had lots of messages recently just letting me know how much my positive attitude is really helping others on their own journeys.
I have learnt that I am stronger than I thought too – the amount of times I have wanted to give up and go back to old ways I couldn’t count on one hand, but it really has paid off to be resilient. I can also now tell when I’m getting run down, when I’m not looking after myself and in turn then what I need to make myself feel 100% again by relaxing, getting an early night with a facemask and a treat (usually ice cream!)
Britain Uncovered: Back in June you explained that comparing yourself to other gorgeous women on social media was resulting in bad/negative energy, and that it was something you were keen to avoid. Do you think this is a common pitfall that people on social media get themselves into, and should we instead celebrate and embrace our rolls and stretch marks rather than strive for perfection?
Charlie: Absolutely. I have spoken to so many amazing, stunning women who still have a negative view on themselves due to the unobtainable ‘body goals’ seen on social media. The blurred stretch marks and the pinched-in waists that are obviously touched up can do nobody any favours – you end up looking at the photo thinking, ‘Shit! why do I not look like that?’, and surely if you are doing that to your own images, you must feel a little rubbish as that’s not a 100% representation of you.
As much as I respect and appreciate that influencers and ‘Instagram famous’ celebs have huge audiences, and the hate and negative comments that come with that would be overwhelming for anyone… I think the generation of myself and younger have grown up with a more consuming social media, in a way of the constant comparison that I know from experience isn’t a nice feeling.
I think through my journey so far I have really tried to promote natural and loved bodies, where you embrace your belly pouch and stretch marks. I think I went wayyyy too long hating my body, so I feel like there was a lot of making up to do. Now I try and love each and every part of me rather than hiding behind baggy clothing or selfies from the shoulders up.
Britain Uncovered: In addition to your Instagram page, you’ve also launched your own blog that tackles diet culture and weight loss, and contains lots of useful tips and guidance that will definitely help and inspire others. Do you think everything you’ve experienced in your self-love and weight loss journey will be able to guide others in the right direction?
Charlie: I really hope so. I feel like through my own personal journey, there have been so many influences that have inspired me to change for myself and if I could be the person to influence someone to love themselves, dance in their living room for exercise and prioritise their happiness, I would be so incredibly proud.
I’m spreading the word to focus on your wellbeing instead of trying to lose 50 lbs, because trust me; once you start loving yourself you will be able to achieve your goals 10 times faster and actually enjoy your journey.
Britain Uncovered: Many of our readers and followers have discovered newfound body confidence as a result of trying various social nudity experiences. Is this something you have experienced, or perhaps something you’d like to try one day? Do you think such an undertaking could help cement your body confidence levels?
Charlie: Absolutely – I commend those participating as it’s invigorating but so scary! I have played around with home shoots in my underwear and as much as I felt amazing and sexy, I was also overcome with a little bit of fear about being judged (which is RIDICULOUS, as who cares what other people say, right?)
I would be so interested in a more professional nude shoot as currently I am just using my iPhone, propping it up wherever I can! I am looking into getting a tripod and maybe a camera to really level up my photos. I think taking photos of this manner would really excel your body confidence and self-love as you would be able to see how god damn fire you look through someone else’s lens.
Britain Uncovered: With 2020 coming to an end, what are some of your goals for 2021 and beyond – and what’s next for your body positivity journey?
Charlie: 2020 has been a crazy year, and has really made me appreciate what I have – my amazing family, my lovely boyfriend and the most supportive friends (both in day-to-day life and those I’ve met through Instagram).
My goals for next year I must admit are a bit all over the place! I want to continue with Instagram and I really want to inspire others and excel with some collaborations. I want to continue to love myself and keep making my happiness a priority over weight loss. I also aim to continue connecting with inspirations (such as Britain Uncovered!) and I also look to put more time into my own blog.
I have enjoyed being interviewed so much – thank you for asking me to get involved! I’m going to sign off with a quote. Thanks again, Charlie.
“I don’t know how much value I have in this universe, but I do know that I have made a few people happier than they would have been without me; and as long as I know that, I’m as rich as I ever need to be.”