The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Why Uptown Girl is now my role model
Did you know Christie Brinkley is 67? Honestly, how did she get to 67? Wasn’t it just a decade or so ago she was immortalised as Uptown Girl, dancing somewhat questionably in the video for her then boyfriend Billy Joel’s hit song?
Well she is 67 which is just astonishing because if you asked me to name someone famous who is around 67 I would have said Joan Collins or Rod Stewart. It turns out that Joan is actually 87 and Rod is 76. Again, how can that be?
The only trouble with celebrities getting older is it means I am too. I used to like people asking if I was one of Rod Stewart’s misplaced wives (it’s the hair, apparently) but I’m not sure I want to think of myself as the spouse of a 76-year-old.
Anyway, back to Christie, who somehow escaped being one of Rod’s wives, because I have adopted her as my role model for ageing. Not in a four husbands/bikini-clad cover girl kinda way but in her approach to her body’s degeneration.
In essence, she’s simply taking it in her stride, fitting in a double hip replacement late last year after she’d performed in Chicago on Broadway, and laughing at a shoulder injury incurred while filming Dancing With The Stars.
In fact in an interview with The Times, Christie recounted how she decided to doll herself up for an event in Spanx and a tight dress despite having her arm in plaster. The trouble came when she needed to go to the loo and couldn’t get her undies down with one arm. She had to call her assistant, hilariously admitting: “We had to use cuticle scissors to cut me out of my underwear.”
This, I’ve decided, is exactly how I want to approach any ailments or infirmity. Of course, none of us can know what might strike us down, or the pain we might suffer, but I’m noticing that attitude goes a long way to mitigating both the discomfort and indignity of illness. That, and a willingness to do the work to ensure your body is as fit, robust and functioning as possible to combat accident or illness when it strikes.
I’m not sure if hitting the half century of life suddenly makes you consider the second half or because so many people I know are suffering, but to quote Dylan Thomas, I fully intend to rage against the dying of the light.
Recently I went hiking on Flinders Island, off the coast of Tasmania, with a group of 12 women, some a few years older than me.
Among them were women with hip replacements, buggered knees and shoulder pain but they all trudged up mountains, hopped across rocks and embraced nude swims, lying down occasionally to tweak their backs or stretch out tight glutes.
Back at camp we did yoga and had the occasional nip of whiskey but what was remarkable was that no one complained. Not one. Not once.
Yet a friend tells me ailment comparison has become the sole source of conversation in her 74-year-old mother’s friendship group. My friend is concerned her own mother, who is in poor health, is being further brought down by the constant complaints and detailed discussion around doctor’s visits and ongoing aches and pains.
“I’m not saying they’re whingeing,” she tells me. “Support is important but they can spend two hours talking about who’s sick, how bad it is and what medications they’re taking. It’s such a downer.”
I’ve always thought exercise was the best anti-ageing medicine and while researchers found 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise increases your life expectancy by between 0.4 and 6.9 years, it turns out that being optimistic will extend your life even more.
Extensive research by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has found that optimistic people live 11 to 15 per cent longer than less optimistic people meaning they can clock up another decade of life.
The boffins call these people “exceptional agers” and I’ve decided I want to be one.
Here’s how I’m going to do it. I’m going to plan my exercise for the week on a Sunday night and make sure it’s varied.
I’m going to continue swapping out coffee with friends for walks with friends because it’s less sedentary.
As for optimism I’m going to follow three tips suggested by experts.
Each week I’ll send someone an email thanking them or voicing my appreciation for something they’ve done and, secondly, when I think something negative about a friend or relative, I’ll flip that thinking to focus on something I like about them.
I’ll also attempt to see my own good fortune as the result of my abilities or tenacity rather than luck. Apparently, such thinking is critical in adopting an optimistic mindset. Finally, like Christie, Rod and
Joan, I’m going to keep working in some capacity for as long as possible though, in news which will please you all, I promise not to sing and am very unlikely to get the call up from Sports Illustrated.