Andie MacDowell on Aging Well

Featured Article, Healthy Aging, Healthy Living
on May 1, 2012
Kwaku Alston

The march of time sure hasn’t slowed Andie MacDowell down. The actress, who turned 54 in April, is celebrating her 25th anniversary as a L'Oreal spokesmodel, starring in the ABC Family series "Jane by Design" and on May 25, releasing her latest movie, "Mighty Fine," with real-life daughter Rainey Qualley playing her onscreen offspring.

"I have achieved so much already that now if I do anything it is for the sheer pleasure of it," the South Carolina-born mother of three tells Spry in an exclusive interview. "I think when you are younger, you constantly worry about what other people think. Once you turn 50, you have pretty much done what you needed to do. Now it is all what you feel like doing. It’s all for fun."

In this interview, McDowell also talks about raising her three children, what she believes is the key to aging well and how all you need to get in shape is a pair of sneakers—and a good attitude!

You were quoted in a U.K. paper as saying you feel sexier now than when you were younger.  Is that still true and why?

I think it is just a sense of self that happens when you get older. You don't question who you are. You don't have to prove anything.

How has your attitude towards your looks changed over the years?

When you are young, you are never thin enough and you are always down on yourself. You don't think you look good. Then you turn 50 and you realize that you looked fabulous and you wasted all that time. I try to tell young people to really appreciate it because you are going to look back and you are going to regret that you didn't enjoy every moment.

RELATED: Andie MacDowell's Aging Secrets

Has your commitment to health and wellness changed as well?

I have always been pretty committed. I love to exercise. I encourage other women to love to exercise. It is really important not to say those negative messages like, "I don't want to do this. I hate this." Because if you say that, you most likely won't do it and you will hate it. I think there is a way for everyone to find a way to be active and enjoy it.

What is your exercise of choice?

I love to hike; I love to walk. People say, "You're a movie star. You can hire a trainer." I don't have a trainer. I am my trainer. You need a pair of tennis shoes and a good attitude more than anything. If you need a walking buddy, get a walking buddy, or get some music … do whatever it takes. Me? I meditate. I relax. It is my time to unwind.

My sister and I are in a hiking club. We are doing this challenge: 40 peaks each over 6000 feet in   the Appalachian Mountains. I’m halfway through. Only 200 people have done it. Part of it, you have to camp. You have to sleep in the woods to get these four peaks done. I have already done that. That was the hardest part.

One of the people I hike with is an 83-year-old man and he is one of my heroes. That is what I want to be doing when I am 83. I want to be like him.

Do you follow a particular diet?

I mostly just try to eat real food. Not packaged and processed food. Real fruit and vegetables. Organic milk. I think all the hormones are dangerous. Organic meat and chicken. Fish. Real food, rather than ready-made packaged food with preservatives.

Do you have a favorite healthy snack and/or go-to healthy dinner?

I love to make salads for dinner. I start with different kinds of lettuce. There are so many beautiful lettuces out there. I put so much in it, it is like a dinner. I put avocado, mozzarella, tomato, basil, baby spring greens and nuts all in the salad. A lot of times I cook a little salmon and put that next to it. Sometimes I put dried fruit into it or cut up real fruit, even grapefruit or other citrus fruit … whatever is in the drawer. It is always delicious.

Describe your beauty regimen.

Exercising every day is important to me. I think it keeps your circulation going and it is really good for your skin. I am not happy unless I do something every day. I make sure I eat fruit and vegetables. I am not one of those people who says they never eat carbs. I think that is a silly idea. I think anything too gimmicky is not good. Use your intelligence and be smart.

You turned 54  last month. How do you feel about birthdays now vs. when you were younger?

I don't think I have ever worried about birthdays. I am not one of those people who say, "Oh, I am a year older." Age is not something I worry about. Being healthy I worry about. Dying, maybe. But not getting older. Getting older is fine if you are healthy. It is only sad if you are not healthy. Otherwise, it is a gift.

Are there any particular health concerns in your family history that you take particular precautions against?

My mother died of a heart attack at 53. That is probably why I feel that way.

What do you think is the key to aging well?

Outside of everything I have told you is avoiding stress. That is one of the reasons I do a lot of yoga, because it isn't just about the body. It is also about your interior life. I think that is a really important piece—not to be overstressed and to watch your mind and your emotions.

How do you feel about fashion "rules" that some people espouse for women over 40 — no above-the-knee skirts, no below-the-shoulders hair, for instance?

I didn't cut my hair, so I obviously don't agree with that. I do think you need to drop your skirts down a little bit. It looks silly to be walking around in a mini-skirt when you are over 50.