Victoria's Secret angels seem to occupy a space that defines perfection. They are long, they are lean, they look great in a bra and panties. They are unattainable and it is unfair. Or is it?
Victoria's Secret requires that all of their models be 5ft 9in tall and have a 24 inch waist. So, genetics plays a part but that is not the entire story.
VS creative director Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou claimed: "It’s like being an Olympian – they have to be in peak condition."
Are they full of it or can us mere mortals attain that look? Fitness blogger, Poppy Cross put their exercise and diet routines to the test to answer that very question.
Under the advice of personal trainer Dan Roberts and Nutritionist Dr Charles Passler, both of whom work with the Angels, Cross set to work.
The main goal in achieving the VS body is to get the body fat percentage below 18. A healthy fit woman will have a body fat percentage between 21 and 24 percent whereas an athlete will have between 14 and 20 percent. At the outset, Cross was close but did not quite make the grade. At the beginning, she had a 26 inch waist and a body fat percentage of 22.
Cross said that Roberts told her she need to "make my glutes ‘as solid as concrete’, my obliques ‘sharply defined for a lithe look’, build muscle in my ‘skinny’ arms to get the ‘Gisele-esque lines’ and, finally, sculpt my thighs to get ‘more definition’. But I will also need to reduce my body fat – by four whole per cent. And this will mean serious training."
Weight training. And lots of it. Cross was given a routine that included squats, dead-lifts, weighted lunges, bicep curls, tricep dips and press-ups. Cross explains the plan by saying: "I am to be ‘eased’ into the programme, with one weight session with Dan each week supplemented by three to four other ‘homework’ sessions – sprint interval training for 20 minutes one day, weight training on my own for an hour the next, and classes including Pilates, boxing and ‘Ballet Beautiful'... After a month, my sessions with Dan are to increase to four a week but I will keep doing homework. So I should exercise six or sometimes seven days a week, and on some days do two sessions."
The first month was exhausting for Cross as she says she required an extra hour of sleep a day and caught a cold three separate times. But by the end of month three, she was able to dead lift 72kg -- more than what she weighs.
Running on empty
A few years ago, an uproar occurred when Adriana Lima revealed that she had been on a 9 day liquid only diet before a show in order to help her lose baby weight. Cross was relieved to learn that her initial diet would be mostly solid. But the diet isn't a cheap one as she is given expensive powders, pills and protein supplements. Of her supplements and dietary changes, Cross says:
"There’s a vitamin and mineral complex, digestive enzymes and BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids – to ensure my body burns fat not muscle for fuel) and even SeroSyn, a supplement designed to support ‘positive mood’. I’m put on a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet. That means chicken, fish or beef with almost every meal. If I can’t face meat, I have the equivalent amount of protein in eggs (three equals about a portion of chicken). Anything with sugar in it is out, including fruit. For the first month I can eat vegetables. Mostly those ‘that grow above ground’, such as courgettes, leaves, sprouts and broccoli. But then I graduate to the ‘pre-catwalk’ diet, where it is just proteins and fats. To keep my energy up, I have two tablespoons of oil or butter with every meal. Eating out becomes near impossible and celebratory dinners, birthdays and weddings difficult. I end up constantly leaving food on my plate. I have a post-workout whey protein shake made with coconut water or unsweetened almond milk, plus a protein bar as a snack. I’m to train on an empty stomach, apart from black coffee and water mixed with the vitamin and mineral powder.... My last meal of the day is at 6pm – to prevent laying down calories as fat – and there’s no alcohol. So long social life. I never feel starved, just unfulfilled before bed. I also find I’m not quite so, er, regular due to the lack of fibre in my diet."
At the end of it all, Cross didn't lose any weight but she went down at least a full dress size, lost 2 inches from her waist and lost an entire cup size on her bust. And likely due to an incredibly carb restricted diet, her cholesterol levels also dropped.
But to get these results required a ridiculous amount of time and dedication. She says, "The hours and dedication required to be VS catwalk-ready require a military mind and athlete’s performance – impossible to maintain if you have a job and family or want a social life." She goes on to say that even the VS models admit they don't live like this all the time -- it would be unhealthy.
Dr. Passler offers this warning, "no-carb diets are not for long-term use. The potential long-term negative effects are nutrient deficiencies and an imbalance of normal gut bacteria."
So, on paper, Cross was able to achieve her goal. She got to Victoria's Secret levels of perfection. She plans to continue weight training but will otherwise return to her old healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.
All this proves that it IS
possible to hit VS levels of "beauty" but can we really consider this way of life attainable? I say it is still unrealistic. What do you think?
h/t: Daily Mail