Sunny Griffin has some great healing stories to share. This is a survivor with a great zest for life and a wonderful “can-do” attitude. Her life as a super-model pales in comparison with some of her fitness achievements and personal tragedies that she’s overcome and I know you will be inspired. Read on….
1) Sunny, you have aged remarkably well and people will want to know your secrets for staying so young-looking. I know normally this would be considered a rude question, but could you please tell us how old you are?
I was born in 1940 and am delighted to be 72, and by the way, I don’t think that is a rude question at all.
2) You mentioned in an interview that you gave that you eat a raw vegan diet. Could you give us an example of your daily diet? What led you to eating this way and how long have you been eating this way? What benefits have you noticed?
I started eating raw food long before we even knew what is was. Back in the 1960’s I was a fashion model (what they call a Supermodel today) working every second of every day with no time to eat and having to be extremely skinny, as well as healthy and energetic, so I carried lots of carrot sticks, celery, cucumber, zucchini, apples, almonds, walnuts, etc. around in my model bag to munch on in cabs between bookings. People used to ask me if I was going to visit a sick rabbit.
Today I am not 100% raw vegan, as I still love seafood, but am about 70 to 80% raw. I almost always have papaya or mango for breakfast (I live in Thailand half the year where these wonderful fruits literally grow on the trees) and I make all kinds of different raw foods all the time. I am always experimenting with new recipes that I get off the many raw websites every day. Also, in Thailand, a few days a week my maid cooks Thai vegetarian dishes for us with brown or red rice. We try to get organic produce and, thankfully, it is becoming more and more available worldwide. I decided I could easily do raw when I realized that wine is raw and I love sashimi (raw fish).
3) You mentioned that you’ve always been fit. What do you eat when you do your mountain climbs? How did you get in shape for those? What other fitness routines do you do such as weights and yoga?
My passion is ballet. I had my first ballet class at 40 years old. In the USA I take ballet class, often with 10 to 12 year olds (which is ridiculous at 72, but that is all that is available in Telluride).
All through my modeling career I took gymnastics to stay fit. At the end of an exhausting day of work I would go to the gym for a workout and always came out feeling so much better.
I started Pilates when I was pregnant with my daughter who is now 36 and started hiking at The Ashram right after she was born. I fell in love with hiking around the world ever since and have climbed Mont Blanc in France, Kilimanjaro in Africa, and Aconcaugua in Argentina. That is why I chose to live in the mountains of Tellluride, Colorado, where we can hike all the time.
I did many 8 hour hikes at high altitude to get ready for big mountains and simply ate healthy food. Today I hike and do yoga and have 5 lb weights that I use for about 10 minutes several times a week while watching TV.
And I take ballet class whenever it is available.
4) Have you had your bone density or blood work tested? How are you in these parameters?
My bone density is very good, which is good for someone who has struggled to stay thin her whole life. I attribute that to lots of exercise. Everyone in my family is obese so I certainly did not grow up doing any exercise or having a clue about good nutrition. I had to learn all that on my own. My blood work is fine too. I don’t even remember what it is.
5) You carry a skin line. What types of ingredients do you use in your products and why did you choose those products? What benefits have you noticed using those products?
We make my line, Astara Skin Care, from raw botanicals that, like raw food, still have the enzymes alive. These products act like skin food and actually help the skin regenerate itself. My skin looks better now, at 72, then it did 20 years ago and that can only be because of Astara Skin Care products.
6) Do you avoid the sun? What is your philosophy on sun exposure?
I believe that the sun is good for us. Our bodies desperately need it to make vitamin D which is essential for strong bones, avoiding cancer and everything else having to do with being healthy.
I have never used an SPF product because we now know that SPF (which is the government’s meansurement of how much chemical, avobenzine or parsol 1789) are in the product and they are proven carcinogens. The more SPF you use the more likely you are to get skin cancer because those chemicals absorb the suns ray and release them into the skin as carcinogens. They also only protect from UVB rays and not UVA rays, which damage cells. I have always looked better with a little tan, having a rather sallow complexion, and it never made sense to me to put on sunscreen so I had to spend much more time in the sun to get a little tan. If I have to be in the sun for an extended period of time then I would use a product with titanium dioxide which reflects the suns ray and protects agains UVA and UVB rays, but I rarely use any sunscreen because I use a lot of antioxidants, both internally and externally, and they are Natures sunscreen. Astara products are loaded with antioxidants and I layer them. I try to get about 15 minutes of sun all over my body every day. I rarely do because I always seem to be too busy, but I NEVER use sunscreen.
7) Do you ever eat flax or chia seeds? What about nuts? How often and in what quantities?
I practically live on nuts – almonds, walnuts and cashews mostly. I use them in all kinds of recipes and, of course, always soak them first. I make my own nut butters in my Champion juicer. I make incredible raw cheesecake and ice creams with cashews. I make cranberry scones (dehydrated) with carrots, apples, flax seeds and almonds ground up as the batter. I make my own corn chips with almonds, flax seeds and fresh corn. I make walnut milk and add a little raw cacao and palm sugar for an amazing chocolate milk shake. etc,etc.
8) What do you feel are the secrets to staying young?
Eating a diet of raw organic foods, lots of exercise, and religious use of excellent, chemical free skin care products (Astara Skin Care).
9) Sunny, given that you look so young for your age, some will wonder if you’ve had plastic surgery done or if your young looks were soley due to your diet and lifestyle choices. Any comments you’d like to make regarding that?
I am so glad you asked the question about plastic surgery. Unfortunately, most people lie about it. Plastic surgery is today where hair color was 40 years ago–“only your hair dresser knows for sure”.
Yes, I have had plastic surgery. When I was 36, I did two commercials for Avon that had to be thrown out because my eyes looked so bad. My choice was to have them “done” or quit working. I had double bags under my eyes. Actually what they called “fat pockets” and droopy eyelids. I had my upper and lower lids done while 7 months pregnant with my daughter and then shot a cover 10 days later.
You heal insanely fast when you are pregnant. I never had my lower lids done again but I had my upper lids done again at 46 and 56. Droopy lids are genetic in my family and my mother had to have hers done at around 60 because they were going to take away her driver’s license because her droopy lids were obscuring her vision.
At 61 I fell and crushed my nose on the edge of a glass coffee table. It was absolutely pulverized and I had to wait three months before they could do anything because the bone had to harden before they could do surgery.
They took one of my ribs to try to form a new nose and the result was far from great. It was wider and lumpy and I look so different that old friends sometimes don’t recognize me.
I have been to several plastic surgeons for consultation and like Michael Jackson, there is no way they can fix it.
I have never had any body plastic surgery and grew my own breasts, which are no quite droopy. I lift weights and do push ups, but at 72, my boobs still droop. Oh well, that’s why they make bras.
All the raw food in the world is never going to fix droopy eyelids and sagging skin. These are genetic factors. If your grandmother’s and mother’s skin fell into deep creases as they aged, yours probably will too.
A good diet and excellent skin care involving lots of exfoliating and moisturization will keep your skin looking healthy and you looking fresh and young far longer than a bad diet and skin care products full of chemicals.
I do not use Botox because the thought of intentionally injecting poison into my face while searching out organic food simply doesn’t make sense to me. I have seen a lot of people who have injectibles in their face and I think they are starting to look like aliens. I will not do that.
10) Your mate eats healthy too right? How helpful do you feel that has been in helping you stay healthy? Did he have any resistance to changing to a healthier diet or was he already that way when you met? If you transitioned together how did that go and what made it easier?
People ask me all the time: “How can I make my husband eat a healthier diet?” And my answer always is: “You can’t. All you can do is set a good example and he might follow suit.” When I met my husband he had nothing raw or even green in his fridge, just a lot of meat and sea food. Now I actually hear him telling people about how good a raw diet is for you. He has lost 25 pounds since we met and it happened without him doing anything other than eating the food I prepared. Don’t get me wrong, he will still have the guys over and throw a steak on the grill when I am out of town, but we mostly eat super healthy. And not that there is anything wrong with the occasional grass fed steak. I just don’t like meat so I don’t eat it.
11) How is your health compared to your peers of your same age group?
Well, let me put it this way – a friend I hadn’t seen since college was here a few weeks ago and people asked if she was my mother. We are exactly the same age only she was very overweight, had swollen legs and all sorts of problems making it difficult to walk without a cane and thought that was normal for 72.
12) Did you have any menopausal symptoms? How did that go for you?
I got a little warmer when I went through menopause at around 52, but that was all. Recently I have started getting occasional hot flashes and I am wondering what that is all about. Maybe it is living in the tropics.
13) You were in a severe car accident a few years ago. How do you feel eating raw vegan helped your healing process? What advice would you give to someone who just underwent surgery or had some major healing to do due to some sort of physical trauma?
My back was broken in 3 places and my neck was shattered when I was 69. I was put in a metal brace from my waist to above my head for 3 months before the bones solidified enough to do surgery. It was horrible and I could hardly sleep at all because of the extreme discomfort of that brace, but my neck had to be totally immobilized. After 3 miserable months I had surgery to put 2 Titanium rods in my neck, held in place with 5 screws, and the doctors said I had to go back into that brace for a minimum of 6 months more, but probably more because of how old I was. At that point I decided to go 100% raw. To the amazement of the doctors I was out of the brace in 2 months and 3 weeks. I take that as an example of how raw foods can enable the body to heal itself, rather than using up the bodies resources to digest enzyme deficient food.
14) Why did you choose to move to Thailand? How is the selection of produce there? What are your favorite raw food dishes?
Thailand is one of the most wonderful places to live if you want easy access to healthy food. The selection of fruits and vegetables is amazing. While Asians eat almost nothing raw, the ingredients are everywhere so I make most of my own food. Papayas and mangoes grow on trees in our yard and Thai farmers are starting to grow organic crops so they are becoming more available if you look for them.
I make raw apple pie, cheesecake, cranberry scones, corn chips, and guacamole, raw pastas, from zucchini, marinara sauce, raw soups, raw rice and raw mashed potatoes from cauliflower. I could go on and on as I am always making new and different things from recipes I get off the internet (I lvoe Mimi Kirk’s raw cookbook) but my all time favorite is Chocolate of the Gods made from avocados.
15) Is there anything else you’d like to add that you feel would be important for people to know?
If you want to look good in your 70’s and 80’s START YOUNG. It’s like saving for retirement.