Adriana Lima made waves last week by candidly describing her pre-Victoria’s Secret fashion show diet: A regimen consisting of protein shakes (that include powdered egg) and a daily gallons of water (with some last-minute dehydration to help her look toned on the runway). But she quickly covered her tracks, insisting that young women shouldn’t follow her example or adopt extreme diets for weight loss.
Last Thursday, she told Canada’s ET:
Those teenagers out there, don’t go starving yourself or only drinking liquids. Don’t do that please. I know it’s very intense but … I just have an athlete’s mind and I appreciate doing this thing. It’s not that I do crazy diets throughout the year. I just do it for this particular thing. After this show, I become normal again.
We’ve already balked at her comparison of runway prep to athletic training (instead of focusing on athletic performance, she’s putting all of her efforts towards a personal best in being slim and toned, which happens to piss off certain marathoners among our writing staff). But her follow-up comment is especially misguided: By attributing her ability to live on liquid protein to an “athlete’s mind,” she makes flash dieting seem like an elite, prestigious activity.
But even Lima’s attempt to reassure fans that her diet is only happens once a year is off-key: Lowering calorie count and dehydrating yourself to look slim is dangerous, regardless of how rarely you do it. And the long-lasting effects of occasionally putting your body in starvation mode aren’t great for your “normal” weight, either: It can permanently screw up your metabolism, causing your b0dy to desperately store calories as fat once you finally do start eating normally again.
We’d like teens (and all women) to know: Extreme dieting isn’t like the Olympics. It doesn’t make you more athletic, elite, or prestigious. And, chances are, it won’t even make you look like a Victoria’s Secret model: These are women who’ve hit the genetic jackpot AND spend ample time maintaining their looks year-round (whatever Lima’s referring to as “normal” when she’s not on her extreme diets doesn’t necessarily look like your “normal,” and it doesn’t have to).
If you, too, have an athlete’s mind, and want to go to extremes to set some personal records, pick a more worthy and realistic goal than looking like Adriana Lima. Try lifting heavier weights (check out Dana McMahan for inspiration); let Hailey Eber inspire you to complete your first marathon. And if weight loss is on your list of priorities, as it is for many of us at one time or another, then do it in a sustainable, balanced way. (We have lots of ideas for that, too—check out Dr. Natasha Turner‘s column, The Hormone Diet, for great advice.)
But, as Lima says, don’t go starving yourself or only drinking liquids. Even if you do have an athlete’s mind or resolve to just do it once a year.