Looking at supermodels Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski's impossibly fit figures, as if molded with clay, you'd assume they both adhere to intense diet and fitness routines. But what's confusing is that they've flip-flopped when speaking about their regimens: Hadid once said that she's not "really big on exercising," yet has since admitted to putting in the work at the gym with a combination of boxing, cardio, ab workouts, and the like. Similarly, Ratajkowski has claimed she's "not a crazy fitness person" and that she skips the gym in favor of long strolls and hikes, but she later shifted this mindset in an interview with InStyle where she spoke of her weekly muscle-strengthening gym workouts. Hadid has also shared confusing diet contradictions: "My diet is pizza," she told WWD. "Or burgers, French fries, grilled cheeses… " Then later, in Harper's Bazaar, she revealed a much cleaner diet of lean protein, veggies, and green juice. Ratajkowski's diet isn't nearly as crafted from a mall food court as Hadid's once claimed to be, but she says she starts the day with a pastry, eats a lot of meat, and most always goes out for dinner or orders takeout. She also told Elle that she's "definitely not the kind of person who you will find eating a salad," but a year later, she told Harper's Bazaar that a typical lunch for her consists of a sandwich or a… salad. Sure, it's completely fair to have a lifestyle evolution, especially as we learn more about our bodies as we age. But professing such a white-flour, processed, low-impact counterculture lifestyle—even for a fleeting moment in time—in an industry that sets an unobtainable standard for both women and men is discouraging.
I have a very unscientific psychological explanation for all of this: My theory is that celebrities feel they'll sound more relatable if they cop to a laissez-faire approach to diet and fitness. But this perpetuates the body image issues we face on a daily basis: Seeing Bella's lithe figure only to learn that she maintains it with a seemingly unhealthy diet is entirely unrelatable and frustrating. If anything, it's admirable to learn about a model's fitness discipline and dedication to eating whole, nourishing foods—in fact, it's motivating. Playing devil's advocate, maybe these models really are genetically blessed and can easily maintain their figures while happily indulging. And the fact that they've since shared a more wholesome approach to wellness is a step in the right direction. Regardless, the idea of embellishing one's diet in favor of something less healthy is head-scratching.
When I was given the opportunity to interview two models, Stella Maxwell and Josephine Skriver, at the launch of Victoria's Secret's fragrance, Bombshell Summer, I decided to take the opportunity to glean their honest-to-goodness diet and fitness regimens—no BS allowed. Though, quite honestly, they wouldn't have given me false answers even if I'd asked for them. When I told them both how skeptical I get when supermodels insist they don't work out, Skriver quickly retorted, "That's such a myth." Sharing similar sentiments, Maxwell said, "We have to." Below, learn how each girl stays in such amazing shape year-round.
On Her Workouts
"I do a lot of yoga. Ashtanga, it's kind of like a flow. They play music. Yoga can seem like it's boring and kind of just like stretching, but once you get into the flow, it's really like a mental experience. You go through an hour of mentally thinking about how you're stretching your body into these positions, and—I don't know—I find it interesting how you walk out feeling completely different than how you walked in. I have a personal trainer as well that I go to see, and she does a lot of toning and lengthening. I think trainers look at models and sculpt them kind of like dancers—kind of long and lean. To do that, they use a lot of bands. I like the step machine and the climber because it says, 'You've climbed the Eiffel Tower' [when you hit goals], and it's really satisfying and you're like, Wow, I did that in 20 minutes.
"I work out an hour a day. I kind of do it whenever—I'm not picky about what time I work out. I'd rather sleep in a little longer, so maybe not quite early in the morning, so I tend to go later at night. I work out as often as I can, in general, four to five times a week. Once you've reached an hour, your body's kind of—you don't want to exhaust yourself, and I think it's good to slowly build that and not push it too intensely."
Once you've reached an hour, your body's kind of—you don't want to exhaust yourself, and I think it's good to slowly build that and not push it too intensely."
On Her Diet
"For food, I kind of eat in moderation. I don't think it's good to cut anything out 100% or go on some crazy diet. I've never really believed in that, and I think your body will respond well if you make it happy in a moderate way—kind of like portion control. For breakfast, I like scrambled eggs, avocado, oatmeal—I really love oatmeal—or granola and yogurt. Lunch would be a piece of fish like salmon and then maybe some salad on the side—today we had chicken and salad. And then dinner, probably the same thing—a protein and a green. For snacks, I like nuts and those dried peas. They're really addictive."
On Her Workouts
"I've tried every workout, and I think that's a journey everyone has to go through to figure out what works for your body. The best advice I can give is to make sure that it's fun. Working out doesn't have to be lifting weights or spinning—it can be Zumba dancing, swimming, or hiking. I've tried everything from yoga to spinning to Pilates, and the workout that I've landed on is weights. I finally got past the myth that girls develop muscles so quickly that I was scared I would lift one weight and be bulky, but really, if you stick with it and take a few weeks off, muscle memory helps you snap back.
"On a good week, I go to the gym five days a week, sometimes three days a week, or sometimes I can't even make it one, so I really try to listen to my body. I always say that every day is a good day to go to the gym, and because of the schedule I have, I can't say Oh, I'll go on Mondays, because I don't know what I'll be doing next Monday. Don't feel guilty about it—set yourself a goal that's reachable, don't over-exceed, and find a buddy. Working out with friends really helps. [Ed. note: Skriver has a kilIer Instagram account with fellow VS model Jasmine Tookes.] That's how we girls stay motivated because we're like, I really can't go, and one of the Angels will say Hey, we're doing a 7 p.m. workout—join us!' There's no such thing as a bad workout. Even if you make it a half-hour, it's good to go and get out there.
"A year and a half ago, I decided to be a morning workout person. It took me four months to not hate it—I was such a night person, but there was always a dinner, or something came up, or a friend wanted coffee, or you sit on the couch and you turn on Netflix. So I really made it a thing. It's like eating breakfast for me now; it's just a habit, it's what I do. I don't ask myself, Do I want to wake up at 5 a.m. to work out at 6 a.m.? I just set my schedule that's just what it is. So it's a habit for me, and it takes a while to form a habit.
"My workouts are an hour long. I would say 80% of my workout is weights, and then I add in cardio once or twice a week. I notice that I lose my muscles when I [just do] cardio. Some of the other girls do more cardio because it's better for their body shape—again, it's so hard for me to give you specifics and say, If you work out like this, your body is going to look like mine. Half of it's genetics, and half of it is figuring out what works for you. But it's a journey, and it's hopefully a fun journey."
Half of it's genetics, and half of it is figuring out what works for you.
On Her Approach to Wellness
"There are some people out there who can just [eat anything]. I know one of my friends, she is that person. She works out a lot, but she can eat whatever, whenever, and it's kind of annoying. But that's why I love to talk about it, because, for me, I want to feel sexy and I want to build shape, so it's all about working out and building that butt and building shape and curves, and you have to eat accordingly for that—you have to eat in healthy moderation. For me, I travel the world and sometimes have three red-eyes in a week, and if I don't eat for fuel or eat to stay energized … I can't live off of burgers! I might not gain as much as some people, but I would be slumping off if I ate sugar all the time—it's more like health consciousness for me, but I also always do the 80/20: 80% of the time, I eat healthily and work out, and I stay on a schedule because I really am all about taking care of my body. My body is like my temple, and you only get one shot.
"I've never believed in the word diet—I believe in lifestyle. I don't believe in quick fixes. There's no such thing as doing 30 ab exercises and then you get a six-pack. Even if you do really well for three months and you look great, the second you stop … it has to be like a lifestyle thing. I've always been active, so in that sense, it wasn't hard for me to work out, but I do work out a lot. But then you have to let yourself cheat once in a while; you have to give yourself a cheat day and give yourself a splurge—I actually hate the term cheat day, so I call them treat days. Cheat feels like, Oh, I should be ashamed! You shouldn't feel guilty about eating a burger, but for me, it's more about knowing the nutritious value of what's in a good piece of chicken or veggies. Eat the right kind of carbs and think about what will keep you energized throughout the day.
You shouldn't feel guilty about eating a burger, but for me, it's more about knowing the nutritious value of what's in a good piece of chicken or veggies.
On Her Diet
"I don't follow anything strictly. I just eat a lot of protein and a lot of veggies, and I make sure I get my carbs because the way I work out, I need healthier carbs like brown rice or sweet potatoes because if I cut out carbs, I would have no energy to do what I do. For breakfast today, I had scrambled eggs, spinach, and a cup of brown rice. I would say most of the time it's grains, protein, and rice, but sometimes for lunch, I don't do as many carbs because it makes me sleepy. But for breakfast, it's such a good start—especially after my workout, I'm dead tired and I need fuel for the whole day. My biggest meal is breakfast—sometimes I have it twice because I'm so hungry.
"I used to drink a lot more milk when I was home [in Denmark], but I don't love the milk here—that's just like a taste thing. But I don't really cut out any food groups. I think just everything in moderation—I feel like the second you cut something out it becomes Oh, I'm not allowed to have that. I obviously don't eat sugar and junk food every day, but I make sure once a week you have a good treat day and you just go all out.
"For snacks, I love everything from fruit to carrots or nuts—like a little handful of nuts keeps me going or just a half a portion of what I ate earlier. I always carry fruit and nuts with me. Nut bars are good and easy to bring in your bag."
Match your body confidence with a fun power scent; Skriver tells me this is her new go-to: "When you put it on, it's fruity and immediately makes me think of being on vacation and being on the beach. It's all I need right now."