Lifestyle

So what is Victoria's secret? We trained like a Victoria's Secret model for 2 weeks to find out

The glitter. Bombshell hair. Teasing winks. Being a VS model is the stuff of fantasy. But what's a girl got to do to earn these wings? Ahead of the annual runway show, Hoe I Yune angel-fies herself (kind of)
 

The diet

To look like an Angel, I had to go through hell. I’d been forewarned by articles about the Angels’ punishing diets: think Adriana Lima’s nineday liquid diet and former Angel Doutzen Kroes’ nocarb, no-sugar juice fasts. But the ordeal still came as a shock. To get in shape, I contacted New York-based Dr Charles Passler, Adriana Lima’s nutritionist, who famously helped her lose 20kg two months after she gave birth. He prescribed me a “regular” meal plan for the fi rst week to lose 2kg – similar to the plan the Angels go on two months before their runway show. “You’re going to feel great… at the end. But not the beginning,” Dr Passler said. Thanks, doc. A typical lunch in my fi rst week: vegetables, two tablespoons of olive oil and 120g of protein (about two eggs). Carbs? Non-existent. I was given a list of 24 “approved” greens that included jicama, asparagus, chard and exotic options like kohlrabi. High-calorie veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes were off limits. Even at salad bars, I had to avoid my usual cherry tomatoes and olives. I felt slightly deranged quizzing the staff on how much their meats weighed. The first night, I dreamt of bread. Having to pack my meals into lunchboxes before bed every night was no easy feat, but I figured it was still the best way to cut costs and carbs. 

When a friend visited from overseas, I repeatedly scanned the menu at fancy bistro Wild Honey only to settle on the ultimate “customised” order – raw baby spinach, olive oil and toasted pine nuts in place of the smoked salmon, poached eggs and brioche I really wanted. I still had to pay $22 for it. Bright side: I did lose the promised 2kg. The following week, I embarked on Dr Passler’s “aggressive” programme, which he prescribes to VS Angels four days before the runway show. “At this point, most of the girls only need to get show-ready,” he explained. I cut eggs, chicken, steak and fish proteins from my diet, and had veggies and olive oil for lunch and dinner. I must’ve eaten enough vegetables to feed a house full of bunnies. I could only have lowglycaemic fruits such as apples and watermelon for breakfast – and only one type of fruit at a time, because this is reportedly easier on the digestive system. Snacking between lunch and dinner was restricted to fi stfuls of nuts and seeds, which I ordered from healthy snack box subscription service Boxgreen. I lost another kilo, but getting through long work days on this diet was a killer. I also ate larger quantities of vegetables at a time – like an entire head of broccoli in one sitting, so my grocery trips became more frequent, and I spent triple my usual weekly food budget. Eating healthy doesn’t come cheap.

 

The workout routine

In the months leading up to the show, Angels exercise up to two times a day, every day. Model Gigi Hadid reportedly woke up at 6am and hit the gym thrice daily ahead of her debut. “The thing about Victoria’s Secret girls is that they need to think of themselves as athletes,” said Dr Passler. I decided to subscribe online to a Lily Aldridge workout favourite – Mary Helen Bowers’ Ballet Beautiful Custom Workout, a danceinspired workout that doesn’t tax the quads or bulk up the legs. (Fun fact: Mary trained Natalie Portman for her role in Black Swan). I stuck to the home-based routine for fi ve days, two hours a day. Don’t let names like “swan arms” and “waltz of the fl owers” deceive you – I could feel my muscles working hard and
was literally shaken to the core when I had to hold a position during an ab exercise. Allotting time to work out was the biggest challenge as I found myself exercising past midnight one day. On day six, inspired by Candice Swanepoel’s circuit workout, I signed up for Primal classes at Fitness First’s Capital Tower club. No, no primal screams were involved, but this circuit training class did involve squats, twists and lunges with weights. I thought I was going to die, but the muscle soreness I felt the next day was oddly motivating. Normally, I’d be tempted to indulge post-workout, but Dr Passler’s voice resonated in my head that weight loss is primarily down to what you eat. This called for some serious mental strength.

 

The look

“To achieve the intense model gaze, look as far into the [camera] lens as you can.”
– Singapore model Sheiryn Aisiqa from Phantom Model Management Agency

I met 23-year-old Singapore model Sheiryn Aisiqa from Phantom Model Management Agency to pick up some modelling tips. She’s not an Angel, but has modelled lingerie in her eight-year career. Doesn’t hurt that she knows how to party like an Angel too. (Psst – her wildest night out: taking a private jet to Las Vegas and partying with 10 other models in the exclusive Bellagio Villa!) “Putting yourself out there is the first step to feeling comfortable. Of course we all have stretch marks and scars, but there are tricks for hiding them. It’s like putting on makeup to enhance your beauty,” she tells me. Want to blow a kiss like an Angel? Bend your torso towards the camera so that your head and boobs look bigger, while your legs look slimmer at the back. If you’re standing in a group, keep your body at a 45-degree angle to look skinnier. “[ Just keep] moving rather than striking poses,” she says, as the latter makes you look stiff . To achieve the intense model gaze, “look as far into the [camera] lens as you can”. I put her advice into practice with help from the Her World team and a few besties: 

 

➊ The pout There’s this kissy face the Angels like to do, but the expression doesn’t come naturally to me. I ended up looking like I was auditioning for a role in a Shakespeare production.

➋ The bored but come-hither gaze I mastered bored, not so much comehither.

➌ All dressed up The girls clean up real nice and I’d like to think the Her World team does a pretty decent job too.

➍ The hippy inner child I ended the week attending the Ultra Music Festival Singapore, hands in the air Angel-style, and channelled Alessandra Ambrosio’s bohemian aesthetic, complete with flower crown and peace sign. Hurray for Snapchat filters! I would’ve loved to recreate her beachy waves, but even Snapchat doesn’t have it all just yet.

 

Back to reality

Eating like an Angel made me more aware of the junk I was putting into my body. I’ve also been inspired to add the Ballet Beautiful and Primal workouts to my weekly routine. Of course, whether I’ll stick with all this is another matter. Truth is, sashaying into the new Victoria’s Secret fl agship store at Mandarin Gallery is probably the closest I’ll get to walking in the label. The Angels have an army of trainers, stylists and nutritionists at their beck and call. Experts like Dr Passler monitor their metabolic rates, fine-tune their diets, and recommend supplements so they get enough nutrients. Seeing that I’ve none of these resources (or the self-discipline), it’s back to gluttonous living for me. Alessandra Ambrosio once said that the girls celebrate the end of the Victoria’s Secret show with a pizza party and drink. “I don’t even care that much about the food. It’s about being young, normal and carefree again,” she quipped. I second that. But I do want the pizza too.

 

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