I ate and exercised like a Victoria's Secret Angel for a week -- Here's what happened!

When I was 16, my family's entire kitchen was plastered with cut-outs of Gisele Bündchen from various fashion magazines. A beachside editorial adorned the cereal cabinet. A pantsuit-clad spread decorated the snack drawer. A page from the Victoria's Secret catalog hung from the refrigerator. That spring, I had been instructed by my gymnastics coaches to "slim down" prior to my string of national competitions later that summer. Bündchen's superhuman physique became my guiding light, though unhealthily. And it took me years to realize that her build was just that: superhuman. I spent the rest of high school bopping on and off the scale, inanely comparing myself to women who strutted down the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show catwalk year after year.

I only tell you this because diet stories (i.e. "I Tried Beyoncé's Diet And Lost 45 Pounds!!!!!!!!") can be...difficult. Not only can they inspire hysteria in the writers who personally attempt them, but they can also set unrealistic standards for the "perfect body." There was a physiological reason (many, actually) why I was unable to morph my 5'6″ frame into Bündchen's 5'11" one.

While my viewpoint towards diet and exercise has grown significantly healthier since my granola bar-nibbling teenage days, I remain as transfixed by the Victoria's Secret Angels today as I did back then. As far as the Victoria's Secret bombshell-type woman goes, Candice Swanepoel is it. At just 26, the South African model has been an Angel for more than four years. Her baby blue eyes are giant, her waist impossibly itty-bitty. But, what's even more alluring is her effortless, breezy confidence, a positivity that inhabits every inch of her toned, Barbie-like body.

When I interviewed Swanepoel for the first time last month, I was eager to ask her about what she does to prepare for the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Somewhat reverting to my diet-crazed adolescent days, I felt selfish when she revealed her regimen. This is GOLD, I heard myself thinking, devilishly. People will have to pry this intel from my cold, dead hands.

But because I write for a living, I figured it was only fair to share the scoop—though not before I could give it a test run first. Lo and behold:


Her Daily Menu: "I try to keep it clean so I have energy throughout the days leading up to the show. Eating more protein helps. I also love coconut water to hydrate, Earl Grey tea for a pick-me-up and love frozen grapes as a sweet snack!"

Her "Cheat" Meal: "Saucy, cheesy pasta."


Her Frequency: "Three to four times a week, approximately one hour" per session.

Her Routine: "I do mostly muscle-building with weights and bands, mixing in Pilates on the machine and boxing." No cardio (!).


Right off the bat, I will tell you I did not lose any weight. So, for all you readers scanning this for a quick fix to dumping those extra few Thanksgiving pounds, please do the right thing and peacefully quit out of this window.

Now, I will also tell you Swanepoel's so-called intensive, body-boosting diet and exercise routine isn't all that different from my own—or most people's, really. If anything, Swanepoel actually works outless than I normally do. She also surely has a team of highly-trained personal trainers that specifically target every flab-gathering area of the human body. In my week of Being Candice Swanepoel, I simply worked out in my apartment's in-building gym. Alone. Har har!

But, I did what Master Swanepoel told me and quit the cardio altogether. I stuck with my normal intervals of weight training and Pilates, and—you know what?—felt a whole lot tighter than I had at the start of the week. Things weren't as droopy! I didn't even miss bread!

Just kidding. I took a creative liberty and cut out carbohydrates entirely, seeing as the lower portion of my body tends to hoard bread-based weight like it's about to submerge into a Dust Bowl-era famine. Can you imagine Swanepoel biting into a full-sized baguette whilst screaming bloody murder at Jeopardy on TV? Me neither. So, I bid adieu to my (whole wheat!) cereals and my (whole wheat!) avocado toast and my (multiple slices of!) pizza.

Over the weekend, my boyfriend assisted me in cooking a weekly "cheat" meal of "saucy, cheesy pasta." We made a variation of this Martha Stewart recipe, and it was divine. I highly recommend it to all Aspiring Candice Swanepoels who are seeking a perfect "cheat" meal of their own.

By the end of the week, I wasn't Victoria's Secret Fashion Show-ready by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't felt better than I had seven days earlier. I didn't feel skinnier or more babelicious, necessarily, but I did feel like I'd just done something great for my body.

While we may attribute Swanepoel's, Bündchen's, Karlie Kloss' or Behati Prinsloo's killer bodies to their having won the so-called "genetic lottery," being a Victoria's Secret Angel is obviously not easy. This year's 47 catwalkers sure as hell didn't roll out of bed the morning of the show's taping, cellulite having been miraculously wiped away with a magic eraser. No, all genetic blessings aside, these women's covetable physiques come from months of dedicated training, and they'll be the first to admit it. Having Swanepoel-like measurements is near-impossible, but gaining her contagious confidence doesn't have to be. One day, I hope someone finally invents a time machine so that I'm able to go back to 2006 and tell my 16-year-old self as much.

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