A 74-year-old woman who claims to have the fitness levels of a 20-year-old has shared her top tips for looking and feeling great at any age.
Norma Williams, originally from Liverpool, previously made headlines revealing she is in the best shape of her life and has “more energy than a teenager”.
Now, Norma has lifted the lid on her secrets to maintaining a healthy physique no matter your age.
“So many ageing women give up on themselves,” Norma, who now lives in Spoleto, Italy, where she runs Umbria Holiday Rentals with her partner Laurie, 85, told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“Ageing can be a depressing process, but it need not be.
“Ageing should be celebrated – you’ve lived longer than others and you’ve acquired more wisdom.”
For Norma, her health and self-confidence levels have improved enormously over the decades.
She previously said: “Doctors tell me I have the health and fitness levels of a very fit 20-year-old.
“But for much of my 20s, I was overweight and would binge eat.
“I’d go to bed with several packets of chocolate marshmallows, huge bags of Wotsits and a freshly sliced white loaf.
“I was a wreck and felt bad all the time.
“The biggest difference between me in my 20s and me in my 70s is, quite simply, energy.
“My energy levels have increased exponentially over the past 50 years and that’s what drives me to live the way I do now.
“People are generally shocked when they discover my age. Often strangers will stop me and politely ask my age.”
Now, she has shared her golden rules for continuing to look fit and defy the impacts of ageing on her body, and they’re pretty simple.
NO COUNTING CALORIES:
Incredibly, despite her slim frame, Norma swears by not counting calories, a classic dieting technique.
She said: “Whenever you want to eat, even if it’s nonstop – I’ve been there! – you should always choose the healthy option and steer clear from refined and sugary foods.
“It may be that at first, you gain weight by eating masses of cheeses, wholemeal bread, fish, meat, nuts, vegetables, yoghurts without sugar, with honey, and fruits – just look up what constitutes healthy foods.
“[But then] eat as much as you want!
“You’ll find over time that your appetite will diminish because you’re satiating your body.
“Cravings will cease over time and naturally you’ll lose weight and your autonomy over your body will increase.”
FIND YOUR ‘MAGIC NUMBER’:
Norma swears by daily stretching and exercise and recommends you fixate on reaching a number goal – for example, 20 lunges – to complete.
For the fitness buff, that involves regular stretching and daily walks of 9km.
She said: “Every morning you must do some stretching – you have the time so use it wisely. This way you wake up your battalion of armies and you’re ready to start the day.
“I have a magic number of 50. So, while I’m boiling the kettle for tea, I’ll do 20, another 10 after I’ve poured the water into the cups and another 20 stretches while I’m putting on my makeup.
“Your magic number can be 5 or 10. I’m a very experienced exercise fanatic so 50 exercises with weights would be too much for most 74-year-olds.
“If you’re a starter, look on the Internet for easy exercises for beginners. The most important thing is to begin.
“The second most important thing is to repeat the pattern every day.
“You’re allowed to take the odd day off but the next day, try to do twice as many.
“This activity will enable you to make contact with your body.”
While she insists you can eat as much as you like, Norma recommends doing so in three sittings – meal times – rather than snacking throughout the day.
She said: “The first principle is to eat only three meals a day and to not eat between meals.
“It’s not easy when you’re used to eating whenever the urge takes you!
“My diet is not perfect – I can demolish four or five packets of five savoury biscuits easily after my main meal.
“But I have two golden rules, and one is to never snack between meals.
“Stress can make you eat more. And if [you are stressed], then do eat more. But make sure it’s from all the healthy food groups, however high-calorie they are.
“I overeat constantly but because I eat mainly healthy foods, there’s a natural cut-off point when you’ve just had enough. Eat until you reach that point.”
SELF-CONFIDENCE IS KEY:
While she would love to dominate the runway one day, aspiring model Norma insists we should always focus on our own health and self-confidence, and not try to emulate others.
She said: “Your self-image will improve as you start to engage in a more productive way with your body.
“It’s all about how you feel not how you look. If you feel good, you’ll look good!
“Don’t compare yourself with some socially constructed ideal – it’s the fast track to misery.
“We must aspire to be the best versions of ourselves.
“Try to engage in activities that take your attention away from the way you look – horse riding, swimming, study… anything that enables you to be interested in something other than the way you look.
“An aura of self-confidence that arises from such activities can be extremely alluring.
“Emphasise your uniqueness and enjoy it.
“I’m nearly 75 and I’m an example of uniqueness.
“When I say to my young friends in their 20s, ‘Maybe my clothes are too tight and short?’, they always retort with, ‘It doesn’t matter what you wear! You’re Norma!’.”