Lorraine Kelly tells Gabrielle Fagan how her health regime is helping her beat back the years and kick middle-age into touch and how she plans to never retire
“I’m 57 and know I’m heading towards 60, but I can’t believe it. As far as I’m concerned, I feel 28 at the moment, with even more enthusiasm, energy and positivity than I had then,” Lorraine Kelly declares in that familiar Scottish accent.
The TV legend, who has been a familiar face on breakfast-time screens for three decades and has presented her hugely popular daily talk show, ITV’s Lorraine since 2010, has devised her own recipe for keeping ageing at bay.
She’s transformed her appearance over the last couple of years by losing two stone, is now a size 10-12, and has a new outlook on food and exercise.
“I’m happy with the way I look - something I never expected to say at this age. I really think I’ve found myself. It’s down to making exercise part of my life - I do a cross between Zumba and Eighties aerobics - and actually enjoy it because it makes me feel good and relaxes and de-stresses me. In fact, I don’t feel right unless I’ve done my regular sessions. I’ve given up diets - I’ve tried every silly one there is and they just used to make me miserable. Instead I try to eat healthily, apart from some treats, so I don’t feel deprived. After all, you can’t beat a curry and a glass of wine! But, because I’m more active, everything seems to balance out.”
There’s not a trace of smugness about this down-to-earth presenter, who, as a mother-of-one with a demanding career, recognises only too well how women juggling the demands of work and family life struggle to prioritise themselves and their appearance.
“Women put themselves at the bottom of the list, which goes kids, husband, work, dog, goldfish, friends and then themselves. We’re all inclined to go, ‘I’ll buy that when I’ve lost half a stone’, but sometimes, you just have to say, ‘No, I have to do this for me because it’s important’. I’ve been there myself and realised, if I could make time for my favourite TV programmes, I could make time for my body and my health.
“My personal satisfaction nowadays is that I’m happy to show off my arms because before, I always used to wear wee cardies to cover up that area. These days it’s not about having a perfect body - nobody actually has that in reality - it’s about real women. It’s about sending out a message that it doesn’t matter what age you are - 40, 50, 60, 70 - it’s about realising, ‘Hey, you’re in your prime!’ I say, go for it, life is short and don’t put things off.”
‘Go for it’ is an adage she certainly lives by. The Glasgow-born presenter, who began as a reporter on Scotland’s TV-am, seems to effortlessly manage a host of stars and guests on her show, and is also widely considered one of the nicest women on TV.
“Well, I’m glad people say I’m nice - the alternative would be awful, wouldn’t it!?” she says, roaring with laughter. “All I know is, my grandmother and my mother always drummed into me, ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated’, and that’s what I do. Anyway, it must be such an effort to be a diva, and such an effort to be horrible to people. Why would you do that? If you’re happy, as I am with my job and private life, you want to give out that happiness.
“After all, I do have the best job in the world. Recently I’ve interviewed astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to land on the moon, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Hugh Jackman, who all bowled me over. Although I don’t get nervous, I do get star-struck. It was so lovely to find that despite their fame, both Hanks and Jackman were without ego and just natural, nice people, that you could easily go and have a drink with.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, mention of the word ‘retirement’ is greeted with a firm, ‘No’. “Eamonn Holmes and I have both said we’ll still be working when we’re on Zimmer frames. They’ll have to get a big hook to get us off,” she jokes. “Seriously, while people enjoy watching, I’ll carry on, but even if it came to an end, I can’t see myself ever completely stopping work. I’d continue to write and do other projects.”
Away from the world of celebrity, her family is at the heart of her happiness. Kelly, who recently launched a new collection of homeware, Lorraine At Home for JD Williams, has been married to cameraman Steve Smith for 25 years. She spends the week working in London and returns to their home in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, every weekend. Their daughter, Rosie, 22, is currently working abroad.
“Although Rosie’s left home, I’m in touch with her regularly, so I’m not feeling that empty nest syndrome yet. We’re very close and while, as a mum, you never stop worrying about your kids, I’m so proud of her. I miss her, but if she’s happy, I’m happy.”
Kelly, who’s spoken in the past of having had a miscarriage when her daughter was five, admits: “I would have loved more children - I had a football team in mind originally - but it just didn’t happen and by the time I realised that, I was in my late forties. For me, that was way too late to go down the IVF route. I don’t feel sad about it, rather, I feel blessed to have one very happy, healthy child.”
She recently returned from travelling from the South Atlantic to South Georgia, following in the footsteps of Polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, with her husband, to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. “Spending three weeks together on our own and seeing somewhere I’ve dreamt of visiting since I was a little girl, was wonderful. Steve and I get on brilliantly and never run out of things to talk about. Actually, I think our absences - me away in the week and back at weekends - help keep the romance in our relationship. We have little reunions all the time,” she explains.
“I think relationships stay strong when you never take the other person for granted and stay interested in what they have to say. What’s really important is that Steve makes me laugh all the time - he’s hilarious with a great sense of humour and, another bonus, he cooks. That’s amazing, because I don’t cook! He’ll even go to the supermarket and come back with the right things, apart from the odd sort of boy things, like he’s seen some sort of weird chocolate which he insists we try. Sorting out the shopping list and only slipping in a few ‘boy’ extras is really a giant plus in any chap!”
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