"I'm in the best shape of my life and people can't believe how old I am"

"I'm in the best shape of my life and people can't believe how old I am"
Jam Press

A 74-year-old woman has revealed she is in the best shape of her life and has more energy than she did as a teenager – despite enjoying a diet of wine, biscuits and bread.

Norma Williams, originally from Liverpool, claims mindset is everything and believes she has managed to slow down – or even reverse – the ageing process by the self-belief that she will never become “old”.

While she stays active with daily 9km walks and workouts, Norma’s diet includes a bottle of wine a day, as well as snacking on bread, cheese and biscuits.

Incredibly, the result is that she says she now looks and feels better than she did in her 20s – and hopes to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a catwalk model thanks to her youthful appearance.

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“Doctors tell me I have the health and fitness levels of a very fit 20-year-old,” Norma, who now lives in Spoleto, Italy, where she runs Umbria Holiday Rentals with partner Laurie, 85, told

Jam Press

“But for much of my 20s, I was overweight and would binge eat.

“I’d go to bed with several packets of chocolate marshmallows, huge bags of Wotsits and a freshly sliced white loaf. I was a wreck and felt bad all the time. The biggest difference between me in my 20s and me in my 70s is, quite simply, energy. My energy levels have increased exponentially over the past 50 years – and that’s what drives me to live the way I do now.

“People are generally shocked when they discover my age. Often strangers will stop me and politely ask my age. All youngsters say the same thing: ‘When I’m older I want to look like you, Norma’.

“I am an emblem of the future, but I think I look every second of my 75 years. But because I look so fit and am different to the stereotypical image we have of the ‘elderly’, people find it hard to believe. They think I seem to have defied age, but I haven’t – ageing has benefitted me. I show no signs of slowing down – if anything, I’m faster and have more energy with every year that passes.”

Norma, who lived in Blackpool as a child before moving to London at 17, had pursued modelling as soon as she entered adulthood but found that her career was short-lived when she gained weight.

She spent years binge eating and calorie counting throughout her 20s, and it took three decades for her to finally feel in control around food.

Now, Norma’s diet is surprisingly relaxed.

She said: “Breakfast consists of a wholemeal croissant filled with honey, plus a milky cappuccino – sometimes two or three cappuccinos a day. I also drink about six cups of tea a day, each with two sugars.

“My diet is not perfect – I can demolish four or five packets of five savoury biscuits easily after my main meal. But I have two golden rules – I never eat before my daily exercises and walk, which can sometimes mean not eating breakfast until 3pm, and I never snack between meals.

“For dinner I have mixed nuts, selections of meats and cheeses, wholemeal breads, grilled salmon or battered prawns, potatoes and vegetables. I also drink one whole bottle of wine every night.”

But while she enjoys treats, and insists she never counts calories, she is adamant on maintaining an active exercise regime.

Norma said: “Monday-Friday each morning I immediately get out of bed and do between 20 and 30 various reps with 4kg weights. I later do another 20 to 30 reps while I wait for the kettle to boil for my morning cup of tea. Then I go for a fast 9km walk which takes 90 minutes, and on the weekend I rest.”

Jam Press

Now, rather than enjoying what would typically be the quiet years, Norma has her sights set on a goal as ambitious as any 20-something: dominating the catwalk.

She said: “My ultimate dream is to walk the Milan catwalk. Why can’t I strut my stuff alongside 17-year-old beauties without having the obligatory white hair? I want to show the world you don’t have to look like the stereotypical old lady.

“I’ve always denied there is any such thing as ‘old age’ – I continue to improve every year and see no reason why I shouldn't achieve my dreams. It’s important as you age to remain relevant. If you retire and do nothing further with your life, that’s like putting one foot in the grave.

“It’s important to retain a spirit of adventure and to understand what’s going on in today’s world. I don’t accept that today belongs to the young as we are expected to believe – it’s up to the elders in our society to set examples and be role models. As a 16-year-old girl said to me recently, ‘Norma, by the time I’m 40 I want to be like you!’”

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