Body & Sports

Elle Macpherson talks with Sarah Brown about fitness & body

Updated: 2010-02-24
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Supermodel, super-fit and super business woman. It’s easy to get green eyed around Elle Macpherson, 46. Lucky for you she’s willing to share her get-gorgeous secrets with our guest editor Sarah Brown
Sarah: Elle, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me and pose for our wonderful shoot. Fabulous magazine is read by women all over the country and what I'm trying to achieve by guest editing this issue is to highlight how important it is that those women take more responsibility for their wellbeing. You're someone who looks after herself and takes her health very seriously, aren't you?
Elle: I have a very holistic perspective on health. I believe the NHS is a fantastic system in the UK - especially for its emergency services - but I do choose to look after my body from a Chinese medicine perspective, which promotes and maintains wellness rather than treats illness.

Sarah: What do you do to achieve this?
Elle: I have acupuncture regularly and I see a Chinese doctor who treats most common ailments with herbs. Maintenance is a concept for me across the board. For example, every six months I go to my doctor at Viveka in London to have ultrasound checks on my breasts, ovaries and uterus. I haven't been unwell for a long time, but a good thing about living in London is having the NHS on hand. I feel comfortable knowing it's there in case I did have a serious health problem.
Sarah: We're very proud of the NHS in this country.
Elle: I understand and appreciate an integrated health care system because in Australia, where I'm from, we also have one.
Sarah: Does your body feel very different to you now compared with 10 years ago?
Elle: These days I practise wellness over fitness. I feel I've discovered the things that are really important to maintaining health as I've got older because my body has become more sensitive.
Number one is sleep. Often when I don't sleep enough I notice a difference in the way I respond to everyday circumstances. Five hours sleep as opposed to eight makes a huge difference to my wellbeing. Sleep can also be a great detox for the body, giving it time to regenerate so it can function more efficiently on every level.
Sarah: So an early night is a real treat for you?
Elle: I try. But last night I was working until 2am!

Sarah: Your underwear range, Elle Macpherson Intimates, is an international business so do you have lots of late nights speaking to people who are in different time zones?
Elle: Most of the day I'm raising my two sons [Flynn, 12, and Cy, seven]. Once they're in bed, I start picking up the phone and doing my work for the day, mainly for Elle Macpherson Intimates. We have offices in New Zealand, Sydney and New York, and now we are opening in 11 countries throughout Europe over the few months - setting this up is taking some organisation!
I'm also working on Britain's Next Top Model, which I'm executive producing and hosting. It's an exciting new project - but also a lot of work.

1991: Showing off The Body aged 28

Sarah: Many of Fabulous' readers will identify with you juggling work and family life. Do you have any other tips for how to stay well while doing that?
Elle: Water is essential for me. I have six 500ml bottles that I refill every day. I put them on the kitchen table or on my desk and I count them down towards the end of the day. It's a good trick because every time I walk past them I can pick up a bottle and drink it as I walk around. I make sure those bottles are gone by the time I go to bed.
Sarah: So your advice to other women is health checks, lots of sleep and plenty of water?
Elle: I'd add laughter to that list. Laughter's very important. It is a great stress reliever and opens the heart.
Sarah: What makes you laugh?
Elle: People make me laugh, my children are hilarious. I think the universe has a sense of humour too sometimes.

Toned and tanned in Barbados in 2005

Sarah: Is your diet important to you?
Elle: Diet is very important to me and particularly for my children, as I have seen that low blood sugar levels can affect their moods along with excess sugar, salt, preservatives and food colourings. Thankfully, we can buy fantastic quality food in Britain.
From a nutritional perspective, organic food is really important. I can't stress enough the importance of eating non-processed food where possible. I try to buy Fairtrade and local fruit and vegetable produce that's in season.
Sarah: Another important aspect to health is exercise. I think people associate you very much with a physical lifestyle and I know that you're not long back from a skiing trip.

Flashing her pins in 1997 aged 34

Elle: When I was younger and had more time on my hands, I would run six miles or go to the gym every day. It didn't take a lot for me to stay in shape because genetically speaking I was born with good architecture. As I've aged, I've realised that continuous strenuous exercise isn't necessarily the best thing for my body. Strength and flexibility are really important so I choose to do different things.
When I'm in London, I'll do Heartcore Pilates or Bikram yoga and I'll work with my trainer James Duigan at Bodyism.
I'm gentler on my body than I used to be. It's not that easy because I don't have the same physique as I did when I was 20 and there's a temptation to do what used to work for me when I was younger. I've now realised that a more gentle, consistent, self-loving approach is more beneficial. As well as yoga and Pilates, I choose sports I love. I go water-skiing every morning when I'm in warmer climates, and I go skiing when I can in winter. I love to hike, surf and paddleboard. I do sport I really enjoy.
Sarah: You said, you started life with the gift of perfect architecture...
Elle: Not perfect!

Sarah: We're all born different shapes and sizes and although a lot of people would love to have your body they recognise that they're not going to wake up in the morning and look like you.
Elle: I'm conscious when I'm designing lingerie of the need to create for all different types of women, so that my designs enhance the proportions of a woman's body. Most women want to make their hips look narrower and their breasts look bigger.
Sarah: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about all different body shapes when you're working?

Surfing keeps Elle happy and healthy

Elle: Absolutely. We create bras for all body types and cup sizes. I've just launched a range of D-G cups and it's phenomenally successful. We also created a maternity line because I couldn't find anything pretty, comfortable and practical on the market when I was breastfeeding my sons.
Sarah: Your business is pretty huge now - are you involved in all aspects of it?
Elle: As creative director I'm involved in design, fit, colour, proportion, packaging, campaigns, advertising, strategy, sales and marketing.
Sarah: To many women, you're a role model, not only for your modelling career but for your business career too. Who are the people that you admire?
Elle: There are great women leaders, and many wives of wonderful politicians around who are incredibly brilliant and inspiring. But the people I have in my life that really mentored me are individuals you would never know. I meet a lot of unique people through my work. Some give their heart and time to an initiative for little financial return, but are so passionate they move mountains with their constant commitment to the cause.
I believe giving back is incredibly important for a person's wellbeing. Spiritually giving back is hugely important, too. It could be anything - helping somebody in the street, picking up a piece of trash, seeing someone in a coffee shop and buying them a drink without anyone needing to know it was you.
Sarah: What I like about Wellbeing of Women is that it's focused on research projects that you know will be of benefit immediately to the health services in western countries and then, over time, worldwide. WoW has funded real breakthroughs like cervical cancer screening, ultrasound pregnancy scans and the cervical cancer vaccinations. These are things we now take for granted.
Elle: However, many women don't take time out to be checked routinely, sometimes choosing to ignore it or worry about being checked. It's easy to think: "It won't happen to me," or "I don't want to know what's going on." The fact is, I always feel better after going to see the doctor for my regular checks. I know that I'm OK and that I've been responsible and faced my fears.
I recently said to my eldest son: "Why do you procrastinate with your homework? Try doing it immediately so then you don't have to worry about it, even if it's due in next week. Why don't you free your mind?" It's the same thing with health - so please get checked, ladies!
Elle's lingerie range Elle Macpherson Intimates is available at selected stores nationwide.
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