Suzi Grant: ‘I prefer being old to middle aged’
As the founder of Alternative Ageing Suzi Grant loves nothing more than kicking stereotypes to the curb and living life to the full. Here she talks to Lumity about her best age, worst age, wine and why what you wear is way more important than worrying about your wrinkles.
Former TV and radio presenter Suzi, 69, is an Instagram renegade, a style icon and a fabulously outspoken woman with an alluring zest for life. Her brutally honest and often hilarious approach to ageing is refreshing and although she’ll admit she doesn’t like the sound of 70 – apparently “it’s old” – it doesn’t mean Suzi isn’t ready to leap into her next decade with gusto.
Related: Meet the women who got better with age
Her age-positive blog for the over 50s is more popular now than ever, not to mention her book ‘Alternative Ageing: How To Stay Looking And Feeling Younger For Longer’ is flying off shelves. So we were thrilled when she agreed to share her secrets to a happy, fulfilled life with Lumity.
What inspired you to launch your blog?
“I had been in TV, radio and writing all my life. But when I retired at 60 I got really, really bored,” Suzi tells Lumity. “None of the writing I was doing filled me with joy anymore and I knew I needed a hobby. My God children encouraged me to start blogging.
“Five years on and ‘Alternative Ageing’ is ridiculously successfully, which I never expected and although I’m essentially semi retired, I’m really not.
“What I love about it is I’ve learned so much and my brain functioning is still spot on. I rarely forget words in the middle of a sentence – unless I’ve been drinking,” she jokes. “It’s done wonders for me. I learned to edit on iMovie, do weekly blogs and figured out Instagram, all in my 60s.”
You are all about loving the age you’re at, but was there an age you weren’t a fan of?
“For me 50 was the worst age,” she admits. “For some odd reason, I ran away and hid in a health spa in Thailand and I didn’t tell anyone until my best friend sent me a fax message saying ‘happy birthday’. Then of course the whole spa knew.
“I honestly think I prefer being old to being middle aged. Because by the time you get to your 60s you’ve lost friends and you realise; ‘Hey, I’m alive and I’m still here’. You accept it and get on with it.
“I don’t mind being called old but I hate being called a pensioner. However 70 is looming at the end of the year, so I’m going to bang that drum and embrace it.”
How did you make that mental shift to believing it’s not all downhill after 50?
“A lot of women in their 50s feel invisible. You realise for the first time in your life that men aren’t giving you the eye. It’s non PC now, but I grew up in a generation where men wolf whistled and it suddenly stopped happening, it came as a shock to the ego.
“But the mega change happened when I moved from London to Brighton. It’s so bright, vibrant and colourful. Women and men of any age don’t care. If they want to rollerblade down the beach at 80 they will. If they decide to windsurf at 70 they can and I realised this could be great! It changed my attitude to being invisible.”
Is that when you transformed your look too?
“Yes, I started dying my hair bight red, I got into vintage. I was no longer on TV or in London wearing black all the time.
“I started enjoying up cycled and vintage clothes and that became my hobby. Wherever I travel now I find second-hand stores and revel in saving money and the planet and looking good at the same time.”
How important are clothes to the way you feel about yourself?
“Clothes have given me the confidence to walk out and be happy in my skin,” says Suzi, who has amassed an Instagram following of more than 22,000 people. “I know everybody on the planet suffers from some sort of body dysmorphia, feeling invisible, ugly or hating parts of their body. But when I make an effort and I trot out looking the very best I can, not looking younger, it radiates from my face and people treat me completely different. It’s weird and wonderful.”
Would you say that your best age is now?
“Well, I do love my age and my life but I’d say my favourite age was my 40s. You know who you are then. You’re still fit and full of energy. But often women don’t recognise that until they’re through it, which is a shame.”
You are fit and healthy at 69 though, so how do you stay that way?
“I retrained to be a nutritionist too so I know how to eat right, but also everything in moderation. Think of yourself like a vintage car. We need to be polished regularly and have the best oils put into us or we won’t go as far, or last as long.
“As for exercise you have to be realistic. Metabolically I’m actually only 52, but I don’t have the energy I used to have. It’s like ‘where did that go?’ I can’t over exercise. It’s why older people also keep fit with Pilates and yoga.
“People always tell me I have much energy and it’s true, that I do for all things I’m passionate about, but believe me by the time I’ve walked my dog for the second time and I’ve done this, that and the other, I’m ready for a little bit of a lie down. I’m a firm believer of taking a nap, or resting in the day if you need it too.
“I also do 10 minutes of meditation every single day.”
So what is it that you’re looking forward to about being 70?
“Once I get to 70 I will thoroughly embrace it and celebrate,” Suzi promises. “I’m going to ring in my 70th with the knowledge that it truly is a privilege to be ageing. I’ve lost so many friends way too young, that I recognise we should appreciate life.
“There is no point in fighting the ageing process. There is no antidote. You age, you’re old or you’re dead, there is nothing in between.
“I’m living the best life I possibly can. I don’t care about wrinkles and things like that. I’m not trying to look younger. Most importantly I’m looking after myself from the inside out and caring for myself so I can feel my best self too. There’s nothing wrong with getting old, it’s how you do it that counts.”
If you want to follow Suzi’s wonderful action plan to give you more energy and vitality then you can buy a copy of her book here.