Women We Laud

By Lauren K. Terry

This holiday season, supermodel Sarah DeAnna has a lot to be thankful for: a flourishing modeling career between New York and Los Angeles thanks to some of her best clients (Stella McCartney, Armani, Versace, Belstaff, Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, David Yurman) and multiple gigs as a TV model for such stations and shows as TLC, Bravo, MTV, E!, Hollywood Insider, and Good Morning America.

But life for DeAnna wasn’t always so bountiful. Overcoming childhood poverty and personal tragedy, DeAnna graduated high school with honors, put herself through college, and graduated early with an International Business Marketing degree. DeAnna was “discovered” in Los Angeles and sent right away to Fashion Week in New York, Milan, and Paris. Having no modeling experience whatsoever, she was able to make an impression in the fashion industry and immediately began shooting for some of the most coveted international fashion magazines such as German Vogue, Italian Vogue, Japanese Vogue, French, L’Official, NY Times Magazine, Marie Claire UK, and Elle.

Despite her strong and rising modeling career and potential supermodel status that many women would love to have, something wasn’t right. Sarah DeAnna took a hiatus from modeling in the major fashion markets and moved to Los Angeles to focus on her true passion of health, fitness and helping others. And, now, with the release of her new book, Supermodel YOU: Shockingly Healthy Insider Tips to Bring Out Your Inner Supermodel, DeAnna hopes to help YOU have your happiest and healthiest holiday season.

BeautyNewsNYC sat down with DeAnna for this exclusive interview to get her best tips on how to be supermodel smart, self-aware, and “skealthy.”

BN: Being self-aware is one of the Five Keys to health and wellness you list in your book. Why do you think it’s so important—and can you give our readers any tips on how they can work self-awareness more into their everyday lives?
SD: Self-Awareness is the true key to health and happiness. If you aren’t aware that you’re doing something how can you ever change it? Becoming more self-aware is the only way you learn what it is that you’re doing and how that is preventing you from having the body, life, and health you deserve.

Developing a keener sense of self-awareness is the key to being able to listen and understand what your body is saying and needing. Models develop a strong sense of body and physical awareness because a model’s job is based on those existential factors. A model has to be aware of everything from their posture, their toes, the fit of their clothes and so much more. Improving your posture not only makes you look better and feel better but it also burns calories. Paying attention to how your clothes fit and feel does the same thing. Uncomfortable and ill-fitting clothes reduce the desire to move because you are simply uncomfortable and sometimes unable to move. There are so many ways to exercise your self-awareness and it starts with being keenly aware of how you feel and by questioning the other keys in the book such as: how you eat, sleep, stress, and move. So right now, sit up, take a breath, stop squinting at the screen, and pay attention to your body.

BN: In order to help boost self-esteem, you advise women to “think like a model” and to “spin it.” Can you give examples of these two techniques and explain how they help women overcome negative thoughts?
SD: Models are constantly judged and scrutinized based on their physical attributes. You have to learn to think differently and spin the negative things into positive things. Tyra Banks was scrutinized for her big forehead, Cindy Crawford for her mole, Lauren Hutton for her gapped teeth, Gisele for her large nose, and Heidi Klum for her lazy eye. You will hear countless stories of how these super successful supermodels had to think differently and turn those seemingly negative attributes into assets. Every person can do the same. If you have something you dislike about yourself or get teased for frizzy hair or crooked teeth or something else that you can’t change, find a way to love and appreciate it. I used to hate my huge hands until I realized I could palm a basketball and throw a perfect spiral football better than most guys I know.

Models also think differently about food and exercise. If they indulge in something, they don’t sweat it. Instead they say things, like “I can eat whatever I want and never gain a pound.” It beats the alternative of self-loathing and negative thinking about how what you just consumed has ruined your diet and that you’re never going to lose those unwanted pounds. It’s really a mental game and can actually be fun. There are so many tips in the book on how to do this that really work.

BN: In your book, you coin a term called “skealthy”—skinny and healthy. What does this term mean to you?
SD: Skealthy really has a lot of meanings. The original book title was Model Skinny. Which I liked because I felt that this was what so many people wanted. They wanted to be “skinny” like a model and believed that in order to do that they had to be unhealthy. Skinny does not mean unhealthy or healthy. The emphasis should always be on health. The new book title, Supermodel YOU, is so much more empowering, but we still used the word skinny a lot in the text of the book. Regardless of the emphasis on healthy and happiness, the mere word “skinny” has a negative connotation for a lot of people, so under the guidance and mentorship of the National Eating Disorder Association, I coined the word “skealthy”.

BN: Instead of dieting, you advise women to try “intuitive eating.” What does this mean, and how can women try it over the holidays to keep off unwanted pounds?
SD: Intuitive Eating as well as all the keys ask you to go back to key 1, Awareness. Intuitive Eating is being aware of what you are eating, why you are eating, when you are eating, and how. Do you even know what’s in your food? Are you really even hungry when you eat or are you bored, stressed or simply doing it out of habit or because food is around? Do you pay attention to your food? Do you chew your food thoroughly? You may not always eat perfectly healthy or choose the right foods, but when you understand why you are doing what you do or eating what you are eating, it makes all the difference in the world. Intuitive Eating is not just choosing the right and best foods for your body and health, but also in developing the awareness that sometimes you’re simply tired and stressed and feel like eating that brownie. Which is perfectly okay because tomorrow and in the future you are going to work on what is stressing you out and you are going to prioritize your sleep so that that brownie doesn’t become an addiction and get the best of you.

In terms of the holidays and really any occasion where food is in abundance you can ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” Do I really want this? Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. Food at holidays and other occasions is more of a tradition than intended to feed people. Even the recipes are the same. If you want to indulge your senses and reminisce in the joy of the occasion or event, then do and never beat yourself up over it. But realize that you are indulging. Realize that this is a treat and use that extra food (energy) to move more at the party, walk around, dance, and so on. Don’t just stand next to the food table or remain seated where the food is. Get up and move. Your body will thank you.

BN: You are a big proponent of “modercizing.” Can you give some examples of what women can do to keep themselves healthy and fit without going to the gym?
SD: Like I mentioned above, getting up and moving after you eat is always important. Food is energy. Modercizing is any time you move your body. It really counts as exercise and can add up to major weight-loss. Just paying attention to how and when you move is key. Next time you clean the house, go grocery shopping or even shower, recognize it as exercise because it counts. You’ll start to notice little things like how much mopping uses your abs. The next thing you know, you’ll have a six pack without ever hitting a gym. It all goes back to key 1 and being aware of your movement.

BN: What tips do you have for women to de-stress over the holidays?
SD: Just relax. Try not to do too much. Women try to be superheros at the holidays. They cook, clean, host, shop, and try to attend every social event. Only do the things you really want to do. Take time for yourself. You don’t have to go to every party or be a superwoman. Be Supermodel You instead. And Supermodel You, always makes sure she gets her Beauty Sleep, manages her Stress, Eats Intuitively, and Moves her body.

BN: Finally, what does a model like yourself do and eat on Thanksgiving?
SD: I travel all the time and my family doesn’t really get together during the holidays so I often join another family’s festivities or celebrate with a group of friends who also can’t be with their families. There is always the traditional Turkey and too much food and alcohol, but I’m a vegetarian. I stick to the vegetable dishes and always overindulge on the sweet potato dishes. It’s a weakness for sure. I also usually try to bring or prepare something. Last year, I made a raw vegan pumpkin pie and it was amazing. I focus on the heart of the holiday which is being grateful so I love taking time to be with my friends and the people I call family and appreciate them instead of worrying about the food, work or anything else.

For more information about Sarah DeAnna and her program, pick up Supermodel YOU (Hay House, 2013) at all major book stores and online and follow Sarah DeAnna at @SupermodelYOU on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Originally published November 2013
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