Feeling Fab At 50

Former punk Toyah Willcox puts her new zest for life down to country living, healthy eating and a wise and loving partner...

Despite turning 50, actress, singer and writer Toyah Willcox has more energy than ever and attributes her enthusiasm and zest for life to her healthy lifestyle and happy marriage. 

Her career isn’t doing badly either. After 30 years in showbusiness, she is strutting her stuff on tour in the hit rock’n’roll show Steve Steinman’s Vampires Rock. 

She has just released a CD of original songs – In The Court Of The Crimson Queen – and plays Billy Piper’s mother in ITV2’s Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. 

The woman who first hit the charts in 1981 with It’s A Mystery says: “Vampires Rock is an incredibly energetic show. I’m loving every minute and, as usual, I’m being strict with my health regime. 

“I have to watch what I eat. At barely 5ft 1in, every extra pound shows. In the past, I’ve been just as guilty as anyone else of yo-yo dieting. I dieted constantly from the ages of 12 to 30. Then I realised I didn’t want to do it any more and I simply stopped. 

“I realised self-discipline and moderation were the key. I firmly believe that if you have a healthy diet and get enough sleep and exercise you can ward off most petty illnesses and look good at any age. 

“I think it’s very important to tell young women to invest in their future and that means keeping fit and staying a sensible weight all their lives. The problem with getting into your fifties is that your hormones change, which naturally makes you put on weight.” 

Toyah, who lives in Worcestershire with her husband, King Crimson guitarist and music producer Robert Fripp, 62, certainly looks fantastic. 

Although she is happy to admit to the odd nip and tuck, it’s her inner health and vitality that make her glow. With her diary booked up for 2009, she says her passion for life is all about feeling well. 

“Living in the country makes me happy. I love my home and looking after my parents who live nearby. I find nature very soothing. I need silence – just being alone is incredibly important to me. I feel quite mad if I can’t be on my own at some point in the day.” 

Toyah’s lasting marriage is the most significant relationship in her life. It may seem unconventional as their careers force Toyah and Robert apart for many months. For instance, right now Robert is working in Seattle. 

They met in 1985 at a charity event. Princess Alexandra introduced them when she asked the pair to pose together for a photograph. They married a year later. 

Toyah says: “What I like about Robert is that he is an old-fashioned gentleman. He is gentle and very cerebral and I love that. 

“He is very much a soulmate and my best friend. We talk endlessly. There’s no one in the world I’d rather talk to and we still hold hands whenever we are out together. 

"We can’t work out why people laugh at us but they seem to find it hysterical to see middle-aged people holding hands. I wish we Brits could be more like the French. 

"What I love about French men is that they see the beauty in every woman, regardless of age,” says Toyah, who has a holiday home on the French Riviera. 

Over the years she has discovered the things that make her feel good. 

“When I was young, I used to feel mentally stodgy and realised I was drinking too much alcohol and eating too many processed foods and too much red meat. I only smoked for six weeks, when I was 14. I have completely cut out alcohol, coffee and tea. As for processed food, don’t even mention it. 

“I eat organic food and very little wheat. The only dairy I eat is pro-biotic yogurt. Everything else is mainly soya-based and I eat a lot of pulses with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 

"I take hemp seed oil, cod liver oil and vitamin E and I always try to include in my meals something like sweet potatoes as I have a sweet tooth. 

"I also love lots of herbs and spices. Food must be tasty. I drink lots of water because women often mistake thirst for hunger.” 

Although she was a vegetarian for about 25 years, Toyah eats chicken and fish if she feels she needs it. She also boosts her immune system with bran flakes and green tea. 

“I eat my evening meal at six and try to walk at least three miles a day. If I’m on the road and near a gym I’ll go along and use the walking machine. I do some weightlifting and that’s about it. I try to keep everything very low impact because, as you get older, you need to protect your joints. I don’t do any high-impact aerobics at all now. 

I also avoid wearing high heels anywhere other than on stage as that’s asking for trouble. 

“For me, life just keeps getting better and I’m determined to work until I drop as I think retirement is madness. 

"Everyone I know who has made the decision to retire has regretted it as we all need to feel needed. I also believe it’s important to stay positive. 

"The most important thing is being happy with what you have. We do tend to envy other people, which is sad. Make the most of what you have and rejoice in it.” 

Daily Express
December 2008