No matter how hard we work, we can’t all look like supermodels (and frankly, many of us don’t want to), but that doesn’t mean we can’t emulate some of their uber healthy habits in an effort to achieve their glowing skin, toned muscles, and all-day energy. Super sought-after trainer-to-the-Victoria-Secret-stars, Heather Marr, has created The Model Trainer Method solely for this purpose. The holistic DIY fitness program features a month long calendar of workouts (with an emphasis on core and leg strength for all the riders in the house), an easy to follow meal plan, and inspiring words from friend, journalist, and mother of three, Tatiana Boncompagni Hoover (a brief excerpt of which we have included below, and highly recommend reading).
by: Tatiana Boncampagni Hoover
Like many women, I struggled with my weight for years. To get fit, I tried various diets and exercise regimens, but nothing moved the needle very far—or for very long. Even as a journalist (I’ve written about health, beauty and food for magazines like Self, Marie Claire, In-Style and Vogue, and for newspapers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal), I felt confused and frustrated by all the conflicting advice out there and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information: Every day there seemed to be a new study condemning a food product or championing one kind of exercise over another. Plus, I couldn’t relate to the twentysomethings on Instagram flashing their abs and perfect beach bodies. At a certain age, you can’t diet for a couple of weeks, do a few sit-ups and be ready for your bikini close-up. That’s just not reality.
What I needed was someone to cut through all the hail-kale, avocado-a-day trendy workout noise and tell me exactly what to eat and do in the gym to get the results I wanted. Oh, and could it be quick and efficient, too? Because with a career and kids, I don’t have all day to chop veggies and do jump squats in a fitness studio on the other side of town.
It was a lot to ask for, but I found it—and more—when I met Heather Marr, aka the Model Trainer. Heather is a former model, bodybuilder and a certified personal trainer who understands what a woman wants to look like better than any fitness professional I’ve worked with—and, as a health writer, I’ve been lucky enough to work with many of the best. Heather started training models in Canada, where she’s from, before moving to New York and quickly becoming one of the industry’s most sought-after trainers. (Her waiting list got so long, she had to close it; clients fly in from all over the world, spending thousands of dollars on airfare and hotels just to train with her for an hour.)
Heather’s clients are almost exclusively models who appear on high-fashion runways, in major ad campaigns and in the annual Victoria’s Secret runway show. Models like Caroline Brasch, Kate B., and Vita Sidorkina, In a word: goddesses. And there’s no one they trust more to tell them what to eat and drink and how to work out to keep those enviable model measurements than Heather. Normally someone like me wouldn’t have access to her expertise, but Heather took me on because I was writing an article about what it was like to train like a Victoria’s Secret model (she has trained several of them). (Answer: hard but worth it.)
Having had three children—ages 11, 9 and 5 at the time—my body had been through a lot of ups and downs. At my heaviest, not pregnant, I weighed a little more than 150 pounds. I stopped weighing myself then. At the end of one pregnancy, I weighed more than my husband, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall. I’m 5 foot 5. When I met Heather, I was physically fit but unhappy with my body, which didn’t reflect how athletic I felt I was. My arms were soft, my abs pooled in my lap, and my backside was best left covered. And yet I watched what I ate and worked out five or six times a week. I felt so frustrated. Nothing I did—no juice fast, no new diet, no workout plan—gave me the long, lean, muscled form I desired. Sure, I exercised because it made me feel good and was a great stress reliever, but for all those hours in the gym and poring over diet books, I expected to look a little better than I did. Plus, let’s not even talk about how much money I frittered away on all those juices, supplements and boutique fitness classes.
The first time I met Heather in person was for an hourlong workout at 5 a.m. at a gym near my apartment. She immediately started putting me through a circuit of exercises that got my heart pumping. The moves were familiar— burpees, lunges and planks—but she tweaked them so they fatigued me in a different way. Instead of trying to do a ton of burpees in 20 seconds, for example, she had me slow down and take the momentum out of the move so my abs had to work more. “I train for aesthetics, not athletics,” Heather explained. That’s when I knew her approach was unique. Maybe unique enough to actually help me break through my seemingly never-ending plateau. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Something told me this was going to work.
Heather’s approach is also different in that she designs not just workouts but diets for her clients. In fact, she won’t take on a client unless they are willing to follow the meal plan she creates for them. That’s because, to Heather, diet and fitness are inextricably linked. You can work out all day, but if what you put in your body is at cross-purposes to your body goals, you won’t get the results you want.
When I started following Heather’s diet, I’d just run my first marathon. Instead of getting firmer and lighter, I’d gotten heavier (about 5 pounds) and thicker-looking. I was very unhappy. I’d been working harder than ever, running for hours, literally, on weekends, and feeling the waistbands of my skirts get tighter as my mileage increased. It didn’t make sense. I was completely fed up. Heather quickly put my mind at ease. “Don’t even worry about it!” she emailed. “Your pants are going to be falling off you in the street.” She made me feel like there was no way her plan wouldn’t work. “People are going to pay you to watch you work out,” she assured me. That sounded a little far-fetched, but I was ready to commit.
Fast-forward two weeks. Sure enough, I’d dropped all my marathon weight and then some. I’d also gained new definition in my abs and arms. And my waist—which I hadn’t seen since pregnancy no. 2—was back. My glutes and thighs were tighter and firmer and, although I was fit to begin with, I gained strength and balance. I could do a pistol squat without wanting to curse a blue streak and could lift my 5-year-old without even a twinge of pain in my back.
I was thrilled with the results but hungry for more, so I continued Heather’s diet and convinced her to keep sending me workouts. As the weeks went by, my body continued to change. Friends started commenting on how fit I looked, and I really did have to buy some new pants. My energy level soared, as did my mental clarity and ability to stay focused at work, even during my usual postlunch slump (more on that later). My skin glowed, my confidence—not just body confidence—went through the roof, and when I looked in the mirror, I finally liked what I saw. The woman looking back at me resembled the woman I knew was inside me all along. I felt strong, capable and happy.
Sure, having toned arms and lean legs is pretty great. Not feeling my waistband pinch my stomach is admittedly awesome. But learning to love myself again? Reconnecting with the confident woman I once was? That’s the payoff that matters. Because we all know that life is not measured in dress sizes, or waist circumference, or how Instagram-ready your abs are. What matters is real “core” strength—things like self-esteem, discipline, a positive attitude— so you can succeed at whatever is important to you. I have no doubt that getting fit and taking control of my diet empowered me to believe, once again, that I, too, was worthy of happiness and capable of achieving my goals.
And so are you.
Which is why Heather and I created this guide: to help women like you regain some of what you may have lost over the years, or maybe find something you’ve never had. We believe there is a goddess, an athlete, a supermodel in all of us.