What it Takes to Become a Victoria’s Secret Angel
To continue with our Health and Wellness theme, today’s guest blogger is none other than my little brother, Jason! He holds bachelor’s degrees in Exercise Science and Psychology from the University of Southern California and is a certified personal trainer. He is currently finishing his MBA in Healthcare Management at Washington University in St. Louis. Basically, he knows what he’s talking about. Take it away, Ja…
This Monday was the much anticipated Victoria’s Secret fashion show, the one runway event which draws as much enthusiasm from its male viewers as it does from its female ones. The response to this event on social media ranged from humorous:
“F*ck you skinny b*tch” viewing parties in which girl friends gathered to eat, drink and be merry
To downright scary:
“BRB, starving myself. Thank you, VS fashion show.”
“Victoria secret fashion show = going to throw up to make myself look that good!”
“NEVER. EATING. AGAIN.”
“Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.. now I feel like a whale =[ “
While there are many blogs expressing why these sentiments are so harmful to women from a societal and body image standpoint that’s not what this post is about. This post is about why it is wrong from an exercise science standpoint.
What does crash dieting do to the body?
There are many theories about why obesity and diabetes (lifestyle diseases) are becoming epidemics. The one I subscribe to is that the evolution of our bodies has not kept pace with that of food science.
In the past, food was hard to come by and if we got our hands on some it was fresh and natural (think Paleo diet). Any excess calories were stored as life sustaining fat, one lb of body fat = 3500 calories.
Muscle on the other hand is expensive (no not because your Equinox membership runs 300$/month) I mean from a metabolic perspective, it requires a lot of energy to maintain, and the body’s energy currency is calories.
Crash dieting is interpreted by our bodies as periods of starvation. As we are evolutionarily programmed for survival not beach season, they will not simply shed life sustaining fat; they will do the opposite and get rid of expensive excess muscle. This process of indiscriminate weight loss leads to a dreaded state often called “skinny fat.”
What is Victoria’s Secret then?
The highlight of this show for me was not the multimillion dollar Diamond Angel Bra, but the training sequence featuring model Adriana Lima. It opens with the line “these women train like professional athletes.” It sends a much more realistic and positive message about how these bodies are obtained than what women on social media seem to believe. Granted no exercise program will make you 6 ft. tall and grow wings but you can achieve your own personal peak level of fitness using their same philosophy!
Watch out Rocky! View Adriana’s full training sequence video here.
What to do?
Diets should be rich in vegetables, lean proteins, and paleo style carbs (fruits, sweet potatoes, etc. nothing processed). If weight loss is the goal shoot for a 500 calorie deficit per day, since 3500 cal/lb → 1lb/week loss, this is the ideal rate which will minimize muscle loss while losing body fat.
Cardio can and should be used to improve heart health, endurance, and accelerate this calorie burn. Females are typically experts at cardio so I won’t go into much detail aside from recommending a mixture of interval training and steady state workouts.
Resistance training is the often overlooked magic third piece to this puzzle. While diet and cardio will make your body smaller nothing will give it the shape you desire like resistance training. Furthermore it tells your body that its muscle has a purpose and should not be shed during periods of caloric deficit. Just as starvation is the greatest myth about dieting, “weights will make you bulky” is the greatest myth about exercise. Don’t know where to begin? Try this best seller from one of my favorite fitness authors, The New Rules of Lifting for Women.
Incorporate all three elements and I’d love to hear about your results!
Thanks, Uncle Jason! Here is an oldie, but a goodie. This was taken when Will was just a couple of months old. I love how Will is staring up at Ja.