Now that we're poised to peel ourselves out of our cosy winter wardrobes and away from the warming comfort foods that cheered us up through the darker months, it's time to get energised and supercharged for summer.
We've been hearing for the past few months that ‘strong is now the new skinny', which is a concept that has been wholly embraced by our top models. Far from the size zero, ‘heroin chic’ and waif looks that were popular a few years ago, the girls rocking the catwalk these days tend to be lean, toned, strong and healthy. As their bodies are essentially the tools of their trade, they understand how to work them most efficiently in ways that many of us average women haven't learned.
So, how do we mere mortals kick-start our sluggish metabolisms, and overhaul our diets to boost our energy levels? We spoke to top models with the Andrea Roche Model Agency — Rosanna Davison, Rozanna Purcell and Karena Graham — about their diet and exercise regimes. These women, whose sparkling energy levels and glowing skin are a testament to the positive effects of eating well and training properly and effectively, know that the better you understand your body, the harder you can make it work to rev up your metabolism.
As you will see, they have learned how to regulate their appetites through carefully planned meals and snacks. They tend to favour whole, unprocessed foods, and both Roz and Rosanna eschew meat in their diets.
And disappointingly for the rest of us, while they eat well and in large amounts, and understand that everyone needs a treat the odd time, even their splurges tend to be pretty healthy.
Karena Graham (27)
"My advice for revving up your metabolism is never to skip breakfast. When I'm on a shoot, I would usually have a protein bar with me in case I get hungry, or else a juice from The Punnet Health Store in Dublin. My top tips for staying in shape are to eat 'clean', exercise regularly and avoid alcohol as much as possible.
"My typical week of exercise would be strength and conditioning classes every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in Origin Fitness. On Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays, I do Pilates in Pilates Plus in Dun Laoghaire.
Karena's Favourite Meals
1. Eggs with spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers and avocado.
2. Eggs and salmon.
3. Eggs and guacamole (I LOVE eggs!)
1. Protein shake and a bowl of porridge with cinnamon, flaxseed and berries.
2. Prawn and bacon salad with spinach leaves, pine nuts, tomatoes, feta cheese, lime juice and olive oil.
3. Chicken and peppers, or tuna and peppers.
1. Salmon with spinach, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, onions and cottage cheese.
2. Chicken and prawn vegetable stir fry with a stock cube and lemon juice.
3. Moggy's Meal (paleo-friendly meals delivered to your house or work.) I love the sweet potato shepherd's pie and the chilli con carne.
Chocolate and McDonald's.
Alcoholic: Rosé wine and vodka with soda water and lime.
Non-alcoholic: Water and ginger ale.
Weekly Shopping Basket
Avocados, eggs, salmon, berries, spinach, tuna, bacon medallions, asparagus, natural yogurt and dark chocolate.
Chicken fajitas in wholemeal wraps, or lettuce leaves. I make guacamole and instead of sour cream, I use natural yogurt.
Rozanna Purcell (23)
"My top tips for staying in shape while remaining healthy and strong are to lift weights, get plenty of rest, and don't eat less, eat right. I use only whole foods, and I avoid processed goods, aspartame and foods containing words and additives I can't even pronounce. My meals change depending on my training, as some days I have major bike sessions and long runs, so I need to refuel properly.
"I tend to opt for vegan, raw, and gluten-free meals, and snack very consistently throughout the day with protein shakes, seeds and fruit mixes, and sometimes, dark chocolate. I would usually carry homemade granola bars around with me when I'm working, as I get very 'hangry' if I miss a meal.
"I'm training for a Half Ironman in Austria at present, so my exercise regime is a little over the top.
I train six days per week, and four of those would be double sessions, including running, swimming, biking and a little core work. My food intake has definitely stepped up, and I'm enjoying my favourite splurges very regularly!"
Roz's Favourite Meals
1. Three-egg omelette with sweet potato.
2. Porridge made with coconut water, almond butter and toasted nuts.
3. Homemade bread with avocado, or buckwheat pancakes with nut butter.
1. Quinoa salad with avocado, almonds, chickpeas and butternut squash.
2. Rye bread sandwich with smoked salmon and spinach, plus baby potatoes.
3. Chicken with grilled tomatoes, olives, pesto and tabbouleh (Levantine Arab salad) or brown rice.
1. Big piece of salmon, baked sweet potato or pureed cauliflower and lots of veg.
2. Vegetable curry – butternut squash and chickpea with rice or bulgur.
3. Homemade quinoa pizza (my new favourite) with sweet potato fries.
With my training at the moment, I'm always kind of splurging. I love peanut butter cups and all kinds of cake, especially banoffee pie.
Alcoholic: I don't drink.
Non-alcoholic: Mi-Wadi (will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me) and tea.
Weekly Shopping Basket
Almond milk, eggs, avocados, quinoa, porridge oats, salmon, honey, maple syrup, sweet potato, courgettes, coyo (coconut yogurt) Medjool dates, and nuts and seeds, including almonds, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds.
I make a pretty good, healthy carrot cake, or peanut butter banana bars.
Rosanna Davison (30)
"I think that weight training is so important for staying strong, especially for women. It won't make you bulky because we just don't have the hormones for that. Lifting heavy weights gives you lean, toned limbs and a strong core, plus it really benefits your metabolism because you burn calories long after the workout is finished as your muscles repair themselves.
"When exercising, keep consistent and do what feels right for your body. Over-training can be just as damaging as no exercise at all. It's better to stay focused on looking after your physical and mental health all year round. View it as a lifestyle, rather than an annual race to get in shape for bikini season.
"I usually work out six days a week, and do a combination of weight training with a personal trainer at BodyByrne, Pilates classes, and cardio workouts on the elliptical bike and treadmill. I have always loved working out, and find it a great way to stay focused and clear-headed and relieve stress."
"When it comes to diet, work on eating as many whole plant foods as possible for good health and a strong immune system. I'm vegan, and always carry healthy snacks, such as a banana and a bag of raw almonds, with me, because I need to eat regularly to keep my energy levels up."
Rosanna's Favourite Meals
1. Green smoothie made with organic baby spinach, celery, kale, broccoli, apple, banana, pineapple, lemon, ice and ginger.
2. Baked oatmeal made with gluten-free oats, coconut milk, chopped apple and cinnamon, topped with goji berries, blueberries and hemp seeds.
3. Homemade smoothie made with blueberries, beetroot, banana, chia seeds and unsweetened almond milk.
1. Large leafy green salad with avocado, green beans, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and cherry tomatoes, dressed with lemon juice and black pepper.
2. Homemade butternut squash soup with lentils, topped with pumpkin seeds.
3. Toasted nori seaweed wraps with avocado, peppers, spinach and sprouted chickpeas.
1. A big bowl of courgette spaghetti with a spicy tomato and red pepper dressing.
2. Homemade butternut squash stew, made with roasted butternut squash, peppers, onion, garlic, mushrooms, vegetable stock, curry powder and a splash of coconut milk, served with quinoa.
3. Roasted Portobello mushrooms topped with homemade pea puree, served with a green salad with an avocado and tomato relish.
Dark chocolate, or a big bowl of vegan ice-cream topped with coconut milk yoghurt.
Alcoholic: Champagne and gin and tonic with cucumber and ice.
Non-alcoholic: Coconut water and homemade smoothies.
Weekly Shopping Basket
Baby spinach, quinoa, pineapple, bananas, blueberries, tomatoes, hemp seeds, chia seeds, mushrooms, bell peppers, lemon and kale.
When I fancy something sweet, yet guilt-free, I whizz up a bowl of chocolate banana ice-cream in my blender. It's just frozen bananas, raw cacao powder and a little vanilla extract, but it has the taste and texture of real ice-cream without all the bad stuff.