Chantal Paquet was born 59 years ago in Brittany, a western region of France. Describing her influence on leading a healthy life, she tells of how her grandparents lived in the country consuming mostly what they produced themselves. Chantal says that while she may have always led an urban life, she believes she has been greatly imbued with that family legacy and the way they used to live and consume healthy.
Chantal was recently selected as the New Face of Dove, “True Beauties Dove 2014” in France. Here she shares her philosophy and secrets to living healthy and happy at any age.
What motivated you to participate in the Dove campaign for the “New Face of Dove?”
I was always interested in psychology and women’s cause, so I studied and chose a career in social work. I met so many women who had bad self-esteem and I tried working on that with them. So Dove’s campaign about self-esteem (which has been their credo) really appealed to me. I also decided to take part in this project because I wanted to do something different, something lighter and get to meet new people. The essence of their message “all beautiful, all different” really suited me.
Sasha Frate: What all was involved in your participation with the Dove campaign?
Chantal Paquet: Everybody reflects an image that sends a message. As far as I’m concerned, I think this is what I was trying to portray: this woman seems to feel really good regardless of signs of aging, she moves about, and she embraces her natural white hair. On a social network, Dove associated this comment with my picture: “What you may consider a flaw can often be perceived as a quality by others.” This is how I think I’ve contributed to this campaign.
I eat French style! This includes appetizer, entree, cheese, and dessert. The secret is reasonable quantities, not too much salt, and not too much sugar.
SF: Can you share the aspects of your lifestyle that you believe have allowed you to maintain an ageless look and excellent health? CP: Besides the fact that I probably have a good metabolism, two things are essential to a good physical and mental health: eat well and exercise. Being very active in my everyday life, I’ve always preferred what was healthy for my body and mind! I only have one rule: eat a little bit of everything in reasonable amounts! I prefer a healthy, balanced, home made meal with no artificial additives.
As far as exercising, when I was younger I practiced team sports, and later I had to slow things down because of a busy schedule with work and a growing family of 3 kids (some would call it a sport too!), and I also wanted to try new activities like dancing. I still go for walks or bike rides on a regular basis.
SF: One of the things Dove was looking for in candidates for this year’s campaign was high self-esteem. How do you believe self-esteem impacts one’s overall health?
CP: I think it’s important not to confuse high with good self-esteem. There’s a big difference as having a high self-esteem is detrimental to a good mental health! It affects the way you relate to others, whereas having a good self-esteem will carry you through life and have an impact on your well being and therefore on the people surrounding you.
Looking kindly upon yourself is an excellent prevention against psychological illnesses, behaviors that will put your health at risk and all the physiological disorders that can affect your everyday life. Trusting yourself and believing in yourself allows you to positively move forward, to make the best choices and therefore embrace change more easily.
SF: Can you share some of the top health foods you like to eat?
CP: Overall I like all sorts of food- I eat French style! This includes appetizer, entree, cheese, and dessert. The secret is reasonable quantities, not too much salt, and not too much sugar.
I like fish but I won’t eat farmed fish. For the same reasons I like to ensure the origin and quality of the meat I consume. I love fruits, and local products, but I choose to only purchase seasonal fresh fruits. They are tastier and I do the same thing with vegetables. I’ve recently moved to the countryside so I’ll be able to enjoy the harvesting areas nearby.
I also like dark chocolate, and it’s better for your health. I consume all types of oils, olive, walnut, grape seed oil. I like dairy products, and I make my own yogurts. Food brings me the vitamins I need and also provides me with a sense of pleasure when looking at colorful plate filled with everything that nature has to offer!
SF: What do you see as the main issue with eating in society?
CP: Human beings have always adjusted but are taking more and more risks. Manufacturers push us to buy ready-made dishes containing all sorts of products extremely harmful to your health when ingested on a regular basis. Their fish are fed with dubious grains, animal meals, antibiotics, pesticides… Some countries have been faced with cases of serious illnesses directly linked to this madness. We are all consumers who choose to buy such and such a product, and public awareness could make a difference and change things. It’s a matter of survival.
SF: Has anyone in particular who has had a great influence on your healthy lifestyle? If so, in what ways have they influenced you?
CP: My parents loved products from farming. My mother was an excellent cook and I was raised with the awareness that every meal should be tasty and healthy. In addition, I think having studied in a hospital setting just reinforced my beliefs as I was introduced to psychology, diseases and the interaction between the two.
I was probably also struck by an American movie that came out in the 70’s called “Soylent Green,” depicting a future of suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, dying oceans… Much of the population survives on processed food rations called “Soylent Green”. Dreadful!