Monday, May 17, 2010

Raquel Welch's Stay-Young Secrets

Raquel Welch's Stay-Young Secrets

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Categories: Healthy Living, Anti Aging

raquel welchRaquel Welch -- the international sex symbol who first made men pant when she donned an animal-skinned bikini in the 1966 film "One Million Years B.C." -- is still hot. Very hot. As it turns out, maintaining one's babe status only gets slightly more challenging by the decade: At 69, Welch follows a disciplined exercise and diet routine that includes plenty of downward-facing dogs and platefuls of steamed veggies. And yet the actress and mother of two says the secret to vitality extends far beyond what you put on your fork. In her new book, "Beyond the Cleavage," Welch reveals what truly makes a woman gorgeous at any age.

AOL Health: I've heard you say that women should "embrace their older years." What do you mean by that?

Raquel Welch:
Even as young as 12, women start getting the idea that they're not young enough -- that they're about to turn a corner where they'll no longer be physically desirable. So by the time they hit 40, they're like, "It's over for me." It's a psychological warfare in the media. I don't recall that women's ages used to be published so that it seems as if they have an expiration date. Women buy into the idea that there's a demarcation line -- and after that, they will be put on the bench and discarded. It all comes down to how you think about it. If you think it's over, then you have no chance of it still being on. You have to remain positive. I've had so much more fun after 40!

AOL Health: But did you ever fear aging before you turned 40?

To tell you truth, I kept thinking, I'm gettin' down the road here now -- I'm 36, 37, 38. Whoa. Not too long before I might be set aside, especially as an actress. But when I actually reached 40, I felt that I was entering an exhilarating time. It was the beginning of real maturity. I was feeling more comfortable in my skin and more accepting of myself and all of my shortcomings. Because 40 was such good news -- after having anticipated the bad news telegram -- I was emboldened at that time. So I thought, "Forty has gotten a bad wrap." It was not just good. It was really cool. I still looked good, because I'd spent all those years exercising, watching my diet and living healthfully. I've never liked drugs, drinking or late-night partying. And I'm a hard worker. So at 40, it was as if all that good behavior had paid off and I felt great.

AOL Health: There's 40 -- and then there's 69. How do you manage to look so good at this age?

A lot of people fantasize that I'm having all these special procedures, but they don't see me in person. I do have little lines around my eyes. But primarily, aging well is about taking good care of your property -- your body and the soul that goes in it -- you only have one. As I write in the book, "My body is the shape I live in, and it shapes the way I live." You need to care [for] your body like it's gold. But instead, there's often this constant self-loathing that goes on with women: Oh, I got stuck with this body, and I don't like this or that about it. But when you start out with the premise that life is pretty darn great, and when you count your blessings, that can change the way you perceive your life and your body.

AOL Health: Let's get down to the details, how do you eat and exercise to maintain your vitality?

On a typical day, I wake up around 5 a.m. After a very light breakfast of egg whites and Bieler's broth, I go to my yoga class that begins at 6:30 and goes until 8. After yoga, I feel energized, and I have my whole day ahead of me. Yoga really has an enormous rejuvenating quality to it because it affects the endocrine system. And for a woman who's aging, you need flexibility, and you need to work your joints -- and yoga does that. I do yoga six days a week.

When I get back from yoga, I might have poached or grilled salmon and some green steamed vegetables. Later in the day, around 1 or 2 p.m., I might have a meal with larger portions: a big piece of protein, like fish, veal, [or] chicken, and a big portion of vegetables. When you want to be lean and mean, you need to eat small portions throughout the day. It's called grazing. Then in the evening, I'll have a huge plate of steamed green, non-starch vegetables -- celery, broccoli, snow peas, asparagus or spinach.

The way I eat might sound too perfect for words -- and I don't do it every single day. I'm human.

AOL Health: So are your eating and exercise habits the secret to why you've aged so well?

I think so. There's also an attitude to aging well: You need to relax, enjoy life, have your family and friends around you and stay connected with people who allow you to be yourself. My real friends and my family are the substance of my life. And if I have a significant other -- which for me, preferably, would be someone that I'm interested in marrying, because at my age, I'm not interested in a temporary arrangement.

AOL Health: You've been married a few times. Do you think you'll marry again?

That depends on if I'd meet someone I'd like to marry. The childbearing years, when you want to have children and set up a family -- that's an earlier period for me, quite simply. Now I would like to have a soul mate who shares my interests and goals. I don't like these casual sex things. I'm square in that department.

AOL Health: What's your definition of beauty?

Somebody who exudes a beautiful quality. When that person enters a room, he or she brings warmth, fun, good energy and interest in other people -- and not just interested in looking perfectly. For me, that's a big deal because I was given this mantle of "international beauty" who's supposed to have this perfect body. It gets to be a burden after a while. People are expecting so much. Who could ever live up to that? Thankfully, I got over that. There's reality, and then there's the world of show business, fantasy, and image making. The truth of the matter is that you still have to be a full person. You have to do what interests you and enjoy it. Any woman can be beautiful if she feels good about the life she's leading.

Living a full life includes taking care of the skin you live in. If I had a granddaughter, I would get her involved in some physical activity. I would also teach her to scrub down her body with a nice loofah, like I do. Your skin needs to be stimulated and moisturized every day -- dehydration accelerates as you age. You're shining up your epidermis, the biggest organ in the body. I moisturize every morning and evening -- something that my mother did for her whole life. So I copied her.

AOL Health: What's your take on cosmetic surgery -- and have you ever had any?

I don't think cosmetic surgery is a taboo. At my age, I certainly wouldn't deny that I may have had some maintenance work done. It's certainly not something that I think of as the major source of the way I look. If people saw me in person, they would realize that. I still look like myself. I don't look like I've had a lot of special injections. And I'm not perfect. The thing is to look good for your age -- not to pretend that you're 19.

The preoccupation with cosmetic surgery as a cure-all is a myth. Every day in Beverly Hills, I see so much work that has been done, and it's counter-productive and not at all attractive. It's not fooling anyone. It doesn't make these people look normal or natural. Then you have the younger generation who start having these procedures way too early. People seem to be going nuts. They're addicted.

AOL Health: Why do you think our culture has become so obsessed with looking young?

To tell you the truth, I think the obsession with youth is a fear of death. You fear death when you're not enjoying life -- when you don't have any peace with the way you're spending your days. A lot of people are miserable about the way they've lived. As you age, you have to be able to face yourself when you're alone. You have to make amends with anyone you need to. You have to be willing to open the closet door and look at the skeletons. You have to admit that you're not happy with the kind of mother, wife or friend that you were -- and then use the following years to address that. You have to feel like you've done a good job with your life. That's one key to aging well -- and the superficial, cosmetic procedures can't give you that kind of peace.

AOL Health: Why did you write "Beyond the Cleavage"?

My image was inanimate and symbolic. That image didn't really have a voice -- and it certainly didn't have my voice. I wanted to finally share what it was like to go through all the stages of womanhood: to be a mother, a wife, an ex-wife and to experience middle age and menopause. Most of us don't welcome aging. But growing older and facing yourself is a gift. It's a chance to reflect on what kind of life you've lived -- and what you want to discover about yourself next.

More on Anti-Aging:
Everyday Activities That Age You