Despite clearly not looking it, Samantha Womack (née Janus) has just turned the big four oh.
And to celebrate she’s joined a campaign to remind us that yes, life really does begin at 40.
She’s teamed up with Linwoods Superfoods to get the word out that turning 40 isn’t anything to be scared of. In fact, 60 per cent of women who took part in its survey rated their 40s as the best years of their life, compared to just 15 per cent of those who’d give their 20s this accolade.
We had a chat with Sam to find out what she’d do differently and why getting older is no bad thing.
[Related: Are women now aging better than men?]
Many of us dread our next birthday. How can we get over that?
“I think it's been very interesting that the survey has highlighted that women in their 40s are feeling very secure and happy with themselves. The prejudice has gone, the idea of middle age has changed and most of the women over 40 in the media are very impressive.
“Women including Jennifer Lopez, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz are strong women in the public eye who are beautiful and inspiring. So there’s much more visibility of aging. It happens to all of us and it’s not too scary!
What advice would you go back and give yourself if you could?
“My advice to my younger self or to my daughter is to not people-please so much. When you're a young woman you care what other friends think, what society thinks and that’s often not very helpful for you.
“It’s hard really because you have to go through that learning process to come out the other side and feel liberated when you realise that actually, you can say no sometimes. So maybe it’s something you just have to go through.”
[Related: Middle age now begins at 55]
Best piece of advice for your 20s
“Take your time. Try to be in the moment a bit more rather than not seeing where you are, or lusting after something else. Especially with your career.
"Often then best parts of what you do are there and now and I it’s easy to take for granted the things that are really fabulous.”
“Oh, and be careful with alcohol. That actually worries me quite a lot!”
And your 30s
“In my 30s I was a young mum so really it’s the same thing in a different context. Try to follow your instincts and thrust them, rather than trying to be other people’s version of a perfect parent.”
Women of ages tend to worry about their diet and their bodies – what tricks have you learnt?
“One thing I did learn is that the faddy diets are unsustainable. Everything in moderation. I don't like to cut anything out and I'm the same with my kids. If you do you just want it more! I don’t eat a large amount of white bread or high GI. When I have carbs, I have brown rice or pulses. It's interesting when you start to eat healthily and then go back to old habits, you suddenly notice how toxic things are.”
“I am an advocate of superfoods. I think it’s the little things that can make the most difference so what you snack on can really improve things like energy levels.
“I love pumpkin and flax seeds on porridge. I love goji berries! It sounds hippy but I work in musical theatre so all of the dancers are always going on about them. They've got to sustain their energy for eight shows a week so it’s vital they’re scoffing something that doesn’t make them feel bloated, and gives you a natural boost.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
“My grandmother was a very hard worker, she was a dancer and then a choreographer, and she spent a lot of time juggling lots of balls in the air. She said ‘be kind to yourself, don't try to be perfect’. And it’s OK to fail, we all make mistakes.
“Oh and in general, don't worry about tidying all the time! I say that to myself, you can often miss the magic because you're worried about cleaning up.”