The Citizen (KZN)

Keeping afloat in tough times


The world may be going to hell in a handcart but life chugs on regardless, so we work, we eat, we love, we worry, we diet, we exercise – or think we should – and we wonder how other people hold it together so effortless­ly.

Which is why right now I cannot get Marie Helvin out of my head.

Perhaps the name rings a bell: 1970s supermodel, whip thin, long dark curls, hanging out with the Rolling Stones? The brunette to Jerry Hall’s blonde? Maybe not.

But last year, at the age of 71, Marie Helvin – who has never stopped modelling – did a lingerie shoot, still whip thin, still with the long dark curls.

This was no Woolies big knickers promo though: we’re talking suspender belts, stilettos, and tiny triangles of lace.

Down at Shady Pines in their all-forgiving velour leisure suits, they must have felt the pressure.

And then there are we 40-somethings (plus VAT at 20 percent) thinking we’re doing okay, until along comes yet another stringy septuagena­rian looking like us, only markedly better.

Let the self-flagellati­on commence.

However, last week I read an interview with Marie: she has been on a maintenanc­e diet for 55 years. She eats 1 300 calories a day, consuming her last meal – her only full meal – at 5pm.

Now if you are a lifelong weightwatc­her like I am, you’ll know that 2 000 calories are considered standard for weight maintenanc­e for an adult, with maybe a few more for men, a few less for women.

Marie doesn’t mind starving though, she swears by it – she has to be thin to work.

And she has to work.

So she tucks into a single boiled egg for breakfast with a heap of vitamin tablets, and a juice of carrots, celery, apple, turmeric and ginger.

If she’s hungry later she might have “an apple or a couple of gummy bears”. Her 5pm dinner is an omelette wrapped in a tortilla, or maybe pasta.

The end.

Although it’s not the end because she works out four times a week, has Botox twice a year, and she’s recovering from breast cancer, all alone.

Thank you, Marie.

As the world feels more turbulent, more insane, some may appear to stay serenely afloat. It’s good to be reminded that even the swans are paddling like crazy under the water.

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