by Gerry Strauss
Supermodel extraordinaire Christie Brinkley looks as amazing in her 60s as she did when she first graced the cover of Sports Illustrated nearly 40 years ago. In a new book, Timeless Beauty, Brinkley reveals her anti-aging secrets, many of which involve reliance on healthful foods, a caring attitude, good skin care and exercise. Here, she shares some highlights of how she keeps her mind and body healthy.
Why did you become a vegetarian at 14?
When I was 13, I picked up a book off the nightstand in my parents’ bedroom called Miami and the Siege of Chicago by Norman Mailer. I happened to open to a page with a highly graphic description of Midwest slaughterhouses. What I read turned my stomach because I loved animals and wanted no part in this inhumane system. I swore at that moment I would never eat another piece of meat and have not done so since. For the past 49 years I have enjoyed the resulting good karma in the form of healthful benefits from avoiding the antibiotics, growth hormones and fats associated with a carnivorous diet.
Was it tougher to maintain your natural standards as your career took off with travel and tight schedules?
After I first became a vegetarian kid living at home, I soon convinced my family to go vegetarian, too. I read a lot of books to learn how to replace meat protein with healthier choices. Through the early years, as I continued to learn about options, I tried many kinds of vegetarian, macrobiotic and vegan approaches.
Once I started modeling in seashore locations, it seemed natural to me to add bits of fresh fish and some dairy; so for the most part I have been a lacto ichthyo variation of vegetarian. I raised my children as vegetarians, and recently my daughter and I took the next step to become mostly vegan. I allow myself a little mozzarella and an occasional salmon dish when my body is craving it, because I think we need to listen to what our body needs.
After the environmental disasters of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, made worse by toxic dispersants, and the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown that pumped radioactive isotopes into the Pacific, I am extra-cautious about the salmon I choose and don’t eat other seafood. I’m lucky that as a model, my career has naturally kept me aware of the amount of sugar I consume, limiting its effects on skin and overall health as well as weight.
How much of anti-aging do you believe is tied to mental and emotional health?
Growing old gracefully is all about the positive energy that you use to power through your day and project to others. Happiness is a youthful quality and a smile is always our best accessory; it’s also been proven to release feel-good endorphins.
When you take good care of yourself by eating right and exercising, you naturally feel better about yourself. If we’re feeling down, stressed or depressed, we’re tempted to eliminate exercise, which is the very thing that could lift us up and make us feel better. The more we move the merrier we are.
Because you also recognize the importance of treating the body well from the outside as well as from the inside, what other practices do you apply?
With everything we know about the sun damage to our skin, it’s crucial to use a moisturizer with broad ultraviolet spectrum blocker of both UVA and UVB rays to prevent wrinkles and hyper-pigmented spots. I created my own skin care line that offers an SPF 30 broad-spectrum moisturizer that also defends against infrared rays [IR], which represent more than half of the sun’s damaging rays that reach Earth. IR emissions also come from manmade objects such as computers and cell phones. I wanted a product that also takes advantage of our body’s own circadian rhythms, using special peptides that help the body build collagen and elastin as we sleep and repair.
Using a gentle exfoliating scrub is also key, a step many people overlook; I’ve included it in my daily skin care routine for 30 years.
Gerry Strauss is a freelance writer in Hamilton, N.J. Connect at GerryStrauss@aol.com.