Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others. (Music plays and stops).
Today we have the incredibly inspiring Caroline Labouchere. She’s a performance coach. She sets out to empower women, and her own life story is absolutely fascinating. She was on antidepressants. She didn’t have a lot of money. She was in Dubai, and she decided to turn her life around. So, at 53, she did her first modelling assignment and she went on to be on Vogue. She’s gone on to be in Tatler and Hello [magazines] . She’s a style icon and she is leading her best life today.
So Caroline, what is wellness to you?
Caroline Labouchere: Life is a journey. Wellness may be different for everybody. It is everything, isn’t it? It’s a balance in life, which would be sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mind, which would be goals, setting goals, emotional people around you. You know, you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with, and spirit. And that’s by doing the right thing by yourself and by other people.
AB: I think that is wonderful. Now, can you quickly tell us how you turned your life around?
CL: My daughter was working in London, and her boss was looking for a gray model. And they invited me to London to cast for this job. And they had been looking at Maye Musk and some incredible women out there who have been around and in the limelight for many years. And I was working as a school receptionist in Dubai and was never, I mean; modeling has not been on my radar since I was about 16, you know, when you want to be a dancer and singer and a model and all of those things. And I got the job, and it just lit a fire inside of me that I had no idea existed. And I didn’t know the power of it once it ignited. Whatever it is can be incredibly strong, but you have to keep feeding it.
AB: That’s so interesting that you said it lit a fire inside of me because after talking to you, I was chatting with someone and I said, there is a light inside her. That’s the exact words I used. I said, there’s a light that touches you when you talk to her. Amazing that you should feel the same way. So, you look amazing at 57. You look incredibly fit. You’re glowing. You look gorgeous. What’s your secret?
CL: Well, I have been honest, and it took me a long time to be totally honest on Instagram. I’m totally honest when people talk to me. But I thought, and indeed knew, that I would get a lot of stick for saying that I had had a brow lift six years ago. It’s the best thing I ever did, and it will last for 10-15 forever years. So, I did that. And I also had a lower facelift, but my hair is natural. But I have had some help fitness-wise. It takes every day, even if you don’t feel like it. That is a journey in itself.
AB: Yes, you’re right. That is a journey in itself. So, tell me, what advice would you give younger women, so people in their 20s, in their 30s, in their 40s, for each decade, what would you say they do which would help them later in their lives?
CL: My mother didn’t use moisturiser on a daily basis. She didn’t really paint her nails. She didn’t wear makeup. She still doesn’t. She’s 78. So, I wasn’t brought up around that beauty. I have some friends who are my age, and they’ve used moisturiser every single day of their life, and their mothers taught them that. And by golly, their skin is amazing. So, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do that. You can change your skin to a certain extent in your 50s. Just remember, anything you do in your younger life, you will have to work on later. So, my mum and I, for example, were sitting in the garden with tin foil. That’s what we did in England. So don’t beat yourself up too much about it. Live your life, enjoy it. But there are consequences.
AB: Okay. I must remind my teenage daughter.
CL: I have a daughter who’s 25, and I remember not being able to get her to brush her teeth.
AB: What has been the toughest part of your ageing journey over the years?
CL: It would be skin texture. It’s being fit, it’s sleeping. It’s everything I do but cannot change. So right now, it would be skin texture. But the toughest part of my journey, I think it certainly isn’t fitness, because I believe that if you stay fit, you can continue. And there are certainly some amazing women out there who are doing a great job at that. Maybe it’s not being able to have sugary things. Change your diet. As you get a little bit older, you tend to put on more weight easily.
AB: Oh, God, yes. The weight is definitely a struggle, and I struggle with the sugar as well because I have a real sweet tooth, so I need dessert after every meal. And what has been the best part of your journey? I can see you’re an empowered woman. You don’t feel like, oh my God, where am I going?
CL: I think realising that I’m 57, that I have 30-40 more years ahead of me, and I can still be excited about life. I am more excited about life now than ever. And when I look back and think of my mum… At my age, nobody was thinking that in their 50s. So I think that is the most exciting thing, knowing that there are brilliant things ahead.
AB: And Caroline, what would be really useful for our audience is if you tell us how much time you spend looking after yourself and give us an idea of your daily regime.
CL: Not enough. Nobody is perfect. When people message me and they say, you’re perfect. I am not. I don’t believe there is a perfect person in this world and I think that’s putting too much pressure on yourself: to want to be perfect. I get up in the morning and have coffee. That’s the first thing I have. Feed the dogs, take the dogs for a walk, go to the gym at some stage during the day, and try to in the morning, because as the day goes on, who wants to put gym kits on and go to the gym? I’m on this trying to do weights, not running anymore. Have been a runner all of my life. I have set myself a goal to enter a bikini fitness competition. I am terrified. I’m terrified now. Well, that’s going to be like by next year, I don’t know. The food is the hardest, the weights are hard and getting harder. Then cook supper. I love my supper in the slow cooker, so I’ll probably put supper in the slow cooker early in the day. But food is an issue, so I do spend quite a lot of time thinking about food. And then we go to bed at about 9:30.
AB: And also, you’re an early sleeper.
CL: Yes, well, David gets up at four. Incredibly fit. He goes out and it is also very hot in Dubai most of the time, so he’s off cycling at 4:35 o’clock every morning. Not that I get up that early. I get up at about 6:30 – 7:00 o’clock. The dogs tell me when it’s 07:00 because that’s the time they get fed. But anyway, we both go to bed at 9:30. So sleep helps.
AB: And tell me about nutrition, because you said you think a lot about food. Are you very careful about nutrition?
CL: Yes, I have to be now. So, I’ve got my calories set, which is 1300 calories. I’m doing this because I need to get lean and I need to build muscle, but all women, especially at our age, need more protein than we’re having and it is incredibly hard. I’m supposed to be getting, I think it’s between 80 to 100 grams. I hit 35, a maximum of 50 a day. It is a very interesting thing to do to track your nutrition. So, I track it every day. I choose to have my coconut latte because I love it. That’s 135 calories gone. Thinking about what to eat. So, vegetables… Sometimes I eat vegetables in the evening because they bloat me if I eat them during the day. It’s quite dull thinking because there’s nothing exciting about my food thought process. I guess it always has been because I like to be trim. I’ve always liked to be trim. I allow myself cheat days. Now it isn’t as easy, especially when we are very thick around the middle. I do have to think, if I have a cheat day that’s going to put me back, is it worth it? It’s only me.
AB: So, while you’re talking about your sort of daily routine, do you have any advice for skin fat around the middle? For belly fat around the middle?
CL: It is hard, but it’s not impossible. And it’s also, to a certain extent, a choice, because women say to me all the time, oh, it’s menopause, I put on weights around my middle, full stop. It’s an acceptance. So, if you want to accept it, then fill your boots. If you don’t, it is blooming hard work, but you can do it. So, it’s a calorie deficit, it’s sleep, it’s stress, it’s all of those things that, you know, really, but you just don’t really want to do it because it takes a lot of thought.
AB: Yeah. And things that we could do much easier when we were younger, now takes so much more time and energy and planning. As you said, the food takes planning.
CL: And I do have to feed my husband, but I will tend to eat. So, if I cook a chicken, for example, I’ll leave the chicken in the vegetables and then I’ll make him a baked potato or rice or whatever. It is a choice. You can do it, but you can’t if you’re stressed or if you’re not sleeping. So those are the two top things.
AB: Tell us about your skincare routine.
CL: Well, I have an amazing dermatologist. I only started taking care of my skin about three years ago. I was very much a flat dash. Get it done because it needs to be done. But Vaseline, that is the moisturiser and tretinoin and retinoid is what I use at night time, it does tend to make you a little bit red.
AB: Do you use a retinoid every night?
CL: Every night, yes.
AB: What was the name you gave?
CL: Tretinoin. That’s it— Tretinoin, but it’s prescribed by her. But you can buy it, for example, in Dubai, I think, Spain, and it’s called Tretin on about £8 for a tube. So, you can buy it and you start off at 0.025 and then you can move up to 0.05 going on up. It can make your skin red and irritated, which you just have to get over. And you can use Vaseline on top of it to help with the dryness, because it can also make your skin dry.
AB: And tell me, Caroline, if there was any advice that you had to give to your younger self, if there’s something that you would tell yourself to do differently, what would it be?
CL: Go ahead and make all the mistakes that you made because they make you the final person. I’ve done some stupid things. I’m sure that I’ve upset people. I know that I’ve upset people. If you don’t make a mistake, you don’t learn. And you can’t be expected to be born and know everything. Live your life, but try to be kind.
AB: That was wonderful. And finally, any advice that you have for our audience.
CL: It’s never too late. Never too late. And finding a passion has got to be the number one thing. Everybody, I believe, has a passion inside them. So, the more we talk to each other, the more we ask questions. You may not know what it is. You may have no idea or even believe that there’s anything in there, but I love talking to people. People visit Dubai and say, hello, I’d love to meet you. And I do. And I learn from them. And the world is fascinating. People are fascinating. I love people. Find your passion. Be excited about the rest of your life.
AB: How fabulous was that? So, thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the Wellness Curated podcast. Please subscribe and tell your friends and family about it. And here’s to you leading your best life.