|Heather Mills McCartney in December Interview #963|
I'll be cooking for around 12 of us - as many of the family as possible - and although it will definitely be veggie, it will still be as traditional a roast as it can be. I'll do a Realeat chicken-style roast with sage and onion stuffing. Roast parsnips, broccoli, spinach, carrots and my piece de resistance, roast potatoes. They're always in demand. I parboil them first and score them with a fork - that's the secret - then roast them for an hour and a half in olive oil with a knob of butter on each one.
And I'll do Yorkshire puddings, too. I know it's not traditional with chicken - veggie or otherwise - but I was born and raised a northern lass and I'd eat them with just about anything. To top off the lot, there will be lashings of my homemade onion gravy.
Then it will be my turn to put my feet up. Which will make Paul happy. He's always encouraging me to relax more, because I've got so much energy, I'm always on the go. I certainly sleep better and longer since we've been together. Paul likes his eight solid hours a night, whereas I used to leap out of bed practically at the crack of dawn. Paul would say, 'You don't need to get up yet. Where are you going?'
So I learned to stay in bed a bit longer and I'm more rested because of it. Paul has definitely been a good influence. The other piece of advice he gave me was to give up chocolate. Though of course, like all chocaholic women, I wasn't having any of it at first! The issue came up over my skin. I'd always been prone to spots. Paul suggested it could be something to do with my addiction to Snickers bars.
At first I stamped my feet and said, 'No it is not!' Then Paul had a better idea. He said 'Why don't you just try giving it up for a week?' Good psychology, eh? I thought I could just mange that. And of course, he was right. My skin completely cleared up.
So I changed the habit of a lifetime and gave up refined sugar. Completely. I've become quite rigid about it. Even a trace will still effect me. I scrupulously check labels and I'll even ring a restaurant in advance to make sure there's none in the meal I'll be having. It really thrills me when anyone says to me, 'You've got such lovely skin.' If only they knew how it used to be. It's worth the sacrifice. Now when I get a little energy dip, I'll have some diabetic chocolate. Well, you can't give up everything can you?
In fact, I do eat a lot - certainly much more than Paul. He loves that. He's always saying, 'It's great how much you eat.' No danger of eating disorders here! I never go for anything low fat. All those products are full of additives. I love good country food - plenty of full fat butter and cream.
I've haven't been a dieter since I was a teenager. At 18 I read every diet book going. I was modelling and people were saying: 'You're too fat.' So for six months I took it to heart and tried all sorts of diets. Then I thought 'This is ridiculous.' I'm size 8-10. The biggest I ever got was 10-12 and that's only when I got a bit of premenstrual water retention around my tummy. Losing 4-5lb wasn't going to make me more confident or turn me into a supermodel.
It's all about body image, not actual size. I have met women of 20 stone who are gorgeous because they're fun. I'm very happy with my body. I wouldn't think twice about stripping off and leaping into the bath while having a chat with a girlfriend, even though I'm criss-crossed with scars.
There are scars from the accident - I didn't just lose my leg, my pelvis was completely crushed and had to be rebuilt. I've got a metal plate inside me holding it all together.. I've also had two ectopic pregnancies and I had a breast reduction in my 20s - that was one of the best things I ever did for myself. I went from a 34E to a 34C and overnight people started to talking to my face and not my cleavage!
So mine is far from body perfect, but this is me, the person I am, I'm happy with that.
The accident didn't change me as a person, but it did change my life. I'd always been forthright and a great believer in people's rights. But the focus of my life altered when I realised how many people who'd also lost a limb weren't getting the support they needed to get their life back on track.
Then, when I learnt just how many innocent people lose limbs to landmines, I felt passionately that I should do anything to try to prevent this atrocity. The Adopt-A-Minefield campaign rose out of that.
I'm very direct in my speech. I don't pussyfoot around. I'm also very quick thinking, which is fine 99% of the time. The other 1% I put my foot in it. But hey, if you worried about what other people think of you all the time, you'd never get anything done. Actions are what count in this life - turning strong words into action. I like to think that's what I've done. And will carry on doing. I was written off at school. One teacher even said: 'There's no hope for her at all.' I left school with no academic qualifications. And I have no regrets. I graduated from the school of life, that's the best way.
Some people may assume that I turned vegetarian because Paul is. In fact, I turned veggie when I lost my leg. I went for rehab in the Sates where they encouraged a strict regime - not meat, and all fruit and veg had to be eaten raw. I also tried the Eat Right For Your Type diet, which was a bit mad because I'd been diagnosed with the wrong blood type! I'd been told I was O rhesus negative. The right diet for that type had to include chicken and fish. So I resumed eating meat, but I felt terrible, really sluggish and tired all the time. After another op, I found out why. I was in fact A, not O, rhesus negative. So it was for medical reasons that I gave up meat.
Luckily, the one thing that didn't change after the accident was my fitness. I've always been extremely fit. I used to do weights and go running. Now I do Pilates three times a week and an hour of yoga. I'm like an elastic band, very flexible. And I still ski, rollerblade and cycle. People get confused. They often do a double take. They'll look at me and say, 'Well it looks like Heather but it can't be, she's running down the street! But I've always been the type who'd run rather than amble, anywhere.
Having said that, if I'm going to walk, I do it best in high heels. I do love nice shoes. And tanned bare legs. I'm a huge fan of fake tan and there are some brilliant products around today. But I won't go to a salon for tanning treatment. I do it myself: I've got it down to a fine art. First bath, shave and exfoliate. Miss out elbows, knees and toes - all the bits where you'll go orange and give the game away. I even do my back, I'm that flexible.
I've got to be tanned because I've got a summer leg that is a lovely honey colour. I can hardly go around with one pale leg and one brown artificial one! But I won't risk going out in the sun without sun block. I wear it all the time. I used to be a huge sun worshipper and a regular user of sun beds, until I got pigmentation some years ago - my skin went patchy and blotchy. I stopped right there and then. The marks have faded now, but it was a real wake-up call.
I like to look sexy and classy. I'm not onto having my boobs hanging out - that's just not my style. Nor do I like spending lots of money on clothes. My nickname is Bargain Queen. If I'm treating myself I'll buy Zara or MaxMara but most of the time it's M&S.
I've never really been obsessed with clothes. I think it's the person inside them that counts. I'll happily lend friends anything out of my wardrobe. When you've had nothing, you know the value of money, but frankly, you prize love and friendship so much more. I know I do. I look at my family and friends and no matter what, I always think the same - how lucky I am.
Heather Mills McCartney was talking to Ingrid Millar.
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