As no one can fail to have noticed, Strictly Come Dancing is back – and this series there’s a new sideshow: What Are the Contestants’ Health Routines?
So it is that we now know Angela “Legs” Rippon, 78, does ballet and Pilates, takes ginseng supplements and swears by eating “red” food. (This is the kind of stuff we absolutely lap up and if there isn’t a major Delia-style run on red cabbage this week then we know nothing.) We’ve also learnt that Krishnan Guru-Murthy has lost 2st in preparation for the show, as well as exactly how he did it.
And this is all more than useful because increasingly we see people in terms of their health choices. Take Davina McCall, for instance – once a television presenter, now a fit-for-her-age woman who cares about her health … and a television presenter.
If you want to know which Health Gang you could be in, read on …
The Midlife Crisis Gang
This would include Guru-Murthy, 53 – who was 5ft 8in and nearly 15st, with a heart condition – before he gave up snacking and took up soup for supper. Having some sort of health wake-up call in your 50s is pretty standard and we’re all delighted that Guru-Murthy has smelt the coffee.
That said, it could go either way: he might exit Strictly and continue to live a balanced, healthy life, or he might go the extreme MC route and start buying skinny jeans and polo necks, making all his friends roll their eyes behind his back. Hope not.
The Just Planning on Staying Thin Gang
Kate Moss could probably sue us for putting her in this gang, because as you know, she owns a wellness brand, Cosmoss, and Mossy’s undoubtedly put practically all her unhealthy habits behind her. Still, we will forever think of her as someone who prefers the fag diet to, say, the 5:2.
Also in the JPOST category would be Victoria Beckham who, according to husband David, eats exactly the same food every day (fish) to avoid accidentally gaining a gram, and Joan Collins, who loves to go out to lunch but whose health advice would be “eat half of what’s on your plate” – which is not likely to be a burger.
The Old-School Common Sense and Discipline Gang
Less intent on maintaining the waist size they had when they were 21, this gang is more practical and Joanna Lumley-like in their habits. Lumley occasionally pops up to remind the rest of us that you just have to say no to a delicious-looking cinnamon bun in the window of Gail’s, because that way lies weight gain. Simple as that.
The CS&D lot don’t diet or fast or avoid certain foods; they simply acknowledge that you are what you eat and if you eat cakes whenever you’re tempted by cakes, it will not end well.
The Always Got the Memo Gang
Angela Rippon evidently has never not looked after her health, and by golly it shows (she can get her leg up by her ear, for example). King Charles doesn’t have quite the same golden glow, but he’s another septagenarian who has always taken his health seriously (famously no lunch and RAF exercise regime) – and it’s no coincidence that he’s friends with Joanna Lumley.
The My Body is A Temple Gang
There’s being very healthy and then there is living in fear of anything passing your lips that isn’t 100 per cent organic/curated by teams/clean or whatever the word of the hour might be. This gang would include the actress-turned-wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow, famous for doing a “nice intermittent fast”, drinking bone broth and once saying that she would “rather smoke crack” than eat spray cheese from a can.
It also includes recovered unhealthy types such as Jason Donovan, who once preferred cocaine to any food but is now more of a fresh-lemon-and-hot-water-before-an-early-swim kind of a guy.
The Total Body Transformation Gang
Nigela Lawson was an early member of the TBT gang, and ever since there has been an ongoing low-level debate as to the wisdom of extreme weight loss in middle age (that was before we called it midlife). Since then, we’ve had many examples of any-age spectacular weight loss, including Rebel Wilson and Adele (reformer pilates three times a day is the rumoured cause, though the Sirtfood diet has also been mentioned).
It’s worth noting that, back in the Lawson weight loss days, the worst he could expect was some carping about him looking like a melted candle. If you lose half your bodyweight now you can expect to be accused of betraying those who are the size you used to be. No-longer-fat shaming is the new fat shaming.
The Just in the Nick of Time Gang
Keith Richards reminded us this week that he gave up heroin in 1978, cocaine in 2006, cigarettes in 2019, but he still likes the occasional drink.
He’s 79 and, though you wouldn’t want to put him under pressure in a quickfire buzzer Q&A situation, is in remarkable nick for a man who has led the unhealthiest existence imaginable. Just this week he was interviewed in this paper, his health came up, and you couldn’t help thinking … what if you can do whatever you want and a higher power decides? What if – bar a few scrambled brain cells – Keith’s regime is as good as Gwyneth’s?
The No Fun After Dark Gang
There was quite a lot of interest this summer in the health regime of Bruce Springsteen, who appears to be not ageing in the normal sense and, at 74, has the energy and physique of someone half his age. There may be lots of reasons for this, but the biggest thing, according to the man himself, is “diet, diet, diet”.
He eats one meal a day – and nothing after 4pm. This he has in common with both Coldplay’s Chris Martin and actor Matthew McConaughey, though the latter stretches the cut-off to 6.30pm. It obviously works in one sense, but what about the après ski part of life? If it’s all ski … we’re not so sure.
The Extreme Health Gang
Bear Grylls, once a vocal vegan, now only eats meat, honey and eggs. No vegetables at all. He says he feels great, but we say keep an eye on that, Bear: we find the wheel turns and it always comes back to “an apple a day” or, to put it another way, Be more Angela.