You look fabulous! Is there a secret to staying in such great shape?
Honestly, I think it comes down to the luck of my inherited body make up – and I definitely inherited good genes from my parents – who are now 88 and 90 and still as fit as fleas! Over the years I’ve really looked after these genes. Of course, being in the public eye has meant that I do have to look after myself, but actually, it comes naturally to me. I’ve never been much of a party girl – never taken drugs, and I’m an absolutely useless drinker. My friends will tell you I’m far more fun sober than I am drunk because after a couple of drinks I just curl up like a dormouse! I think it’s all about self-preservation and everything in moderation. I don’t do anything to excess … well … except shoes and handbags!
And I’m not one for dieting. It’s more about the choices we make. We always have a choice – the right food or the wrong food – it’s our choice. That’s not to say I won’t eat a huge slice of cheesecake when I want to, but then it becomes a treat. Anything to excess takes away the pleasure of a treat. On the path of life I have more years behind me now than I do ahead of me and that’s a sobering thought, so self-preservation and looking after myself are at the core of my thinking. Actually, I’ve always been the same! It’s all common sense really. Look after what you inherit. Listen to your body and what it wants. Stand up straight, have a good posture and smile. Always smile. It makes you look better immediately!
Any exercise routines you can share with us?
I don’t go to the gym, but Ido have little light runs, pop into a Pilates/Yoga class when I can, and I know my way round the weights. I have a good knowledge of my body beginning with ballet until I was around 19, so I understand how to include correct movement into my everyday life. In a way you are always doing a form of exercise, even by holding the steering wheel in the car with shoulders back like a resistance circle.
I’m lucky in that I’m naturally slim and supple (there’s the good genes again!) and I really value that. It gives me the ability to bend and stretch and to move easily and quickly. I’ve always moved quickly – my fiancé tells me that I’m like an insect – darting everywhere, swift and always on the move! And it’s true – I can’t seem to do anything slowly! Every day movement with alacrity – it keeps me fit.
Stretching your body is so important too. It should be instinctive – you only have to look at dogs and cats – the first thing they do whenever they get up is to have a huge stretch! It’s so good for us. It helps us to move, loosens everything thing up and it keeps us supple. We really need to value being agile as we get older – our ability to move. I’m a great believer in the Alexander Technique. Understanding proper movement – standing tall, shoulders back, engaging the stomach muscles and finding your core, because your core is your power and everything else just flows naturally from this. Just knowing how to walk correctly – something the Alexander Technique teaches you – is so important because it is such good exercise. It’s far better to walk properly than to run badly – and you burn the same calories right?!
You celebrated your 60thBirthday in May – what would you say is the most important lesson you’re taking into these mid-life years?
The best thing about getting older is that I have learned to just savour the moment – to know what’s worth savouring and what really matters to me. A good relationship is definitely to be savoured – know its worth! I don’t waste time anymore worrying about the past or the future – I live in the moment. When I was younger I would worry so much about everything – always thinking about the next step. Our youth is what we can learn from – life’s lessons! If I could go back and give the younger me some advice it would be this – to stop worrying so much, to live in the present, enjoy life and just savour the moment!
As a woman who has successfully maintained a long career in television, do you think we are beginning to see a shift away from ageism - particularly with female representation?
I think there is more to come and that we do still have a way to go. The wisdom of older women is just not tapped into enough. We’re a huge baby-boomer demographic. Marketing needs to be aimed at us so much more than it is – women in their 50s and 60s. It’s true that we do still seem to be judged by our age but, if you think about it, we are so different now to our parent’s generation. Who we are, at this age, could not be further from who our parents were at the same age – so in many ways we have come a long way, but we need to build on this. I think it has to come down to our own attitudes. We need to stay current, and we can definitely learn from today’s generation, who aren’t ageist or sexist or racist. I have a lot more faith now in this generation taking it all forward.
Three positives for women to feel more confident and less invisible as we age.
We need to listen to ourselves. We have such life lessons on tap! With so much more wisdom now, we have to remember this – and to use these as our reference points.
We need to think about what our own inner confidence has been built on – and what it is that makes us feel confident. Look at yourself as the person you are inside and not your outer shell. And I’m a great believer in a natural smile – it’s the law of attraction! If we stand up tall and smile – it’s enough. We’re confident and we’re seen!
Finally, look after your skin! I think for many women there’s little we would change as we age other than to still have the skin of a 30 year old! I’ve very lucky – my mum has lovely skin, she always has, and it’s another good gene I’ve inherited. Growing up I always had quite a chubby face – my Dad used to say I had a rising moon face! Of course I hated it at the time, but over the years this has worked so well in my favour. I still have to look after my skin though. My tip is to always wear a high sun factor. Many years ago Liz Earle taught me about the ravages of the sun on our skin and I’ve never forgotten it.
Hardest Challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Being divorced in my 50s is definitely the hardest challenge I’ve had to overcome. The optimism of youth that we had in our 30s and 40s is just not the same at all in our 50s, so it was hard. But actually, looking back it’s the best thing that could have happened to me – when I see where I am now and what I have. A great friend said to me that if a door doesn’t open, it’s not your door. She was so right. And I am so grateful that what happened then has kept the great pat of happiness I have now for this stage of my life!
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Definitely my three step-children. I honestly couldn’t love them more. The effort we put in to building these relationships – it’s a labour of love. I’m so proud of that – and of them.
After four long months of Lockdown mostly confined to our homes – what does ‘home’ mean to you?
Home is where the heart is! It’s our bedrock, our base camp and where we go to recharge our batteries. If you think about it, home is where we always go from and where we always return to, so we have to respect and look after it. I’d say the most important thing is not to have too much clutter. We have so much stuff these days and it’s just distracting. I did lots of de-cluttering in lockdown and had a huge turn out. I think it’s so important to make space in somewhere that’s our sanctuary, particularly the bedroom. This is the place we go to heal, to mend and to sleep! Of course, it’s subjective and down to personal taste, but too much clutter just restricts all of this. We spend so much of our hard-earned money on just having a home, filling a home – we need to look after it and love it!
Top beauty ‘must-have’ in your makeup bag?
A good set of brushes! And I can’t be without Studio10’s Wake Up & Glow Lip & Cheek Tint. If I’m on the go, a quick swipe across my lips and cheeks and I’m done!
I’ve travelled so much and been to some amazing places, particularly for work. But for me, the person I am with is my favourite destination. It’s exactly where I want to be.
Desert island disc, book and luxury item?
My disc would have to be Led Zeplin’s Stairway to Heaven.
My book is Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson. It was her first novel, written through a series of flashbacks around six generations of women – their failed dreams and living the wrong lives. It had such an impact on me.
My luxury would be Factor 50 sun cream! Or maybe I could take just one potato. I could grow a potato plant, keep replanting and they’d keep popping up! I wouldn’t have to worry about food …
And finally – your favourite quote?
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec