ON LIFE, MODELLING & STAYING HEALTHY
If you’re thinking Australian model Catherine McNeil undergoes gruelling four-hour cardio sessions and extreme diets to obtain her lithe physique, you’re very wrong. The 22-year-old, who has graced the covers of Vogue Australia and Numero magazine and walked on the runways of the world’s top fashion labels, including Chanel and Prada, follows just three simple rules: drink plenty of water, eat a lot of vegetables and walk – everywhere.
“I’m just very tall and lean, so as long as I eat lots of fruit and vegetables and do lots of walking, I’m all right,’’ the 1.8-metres-tall Queenslander says.
McNeil, who got her big break at age 14 after winning Girlfriend magazine’s Model Search competition, is now one of Australia’s most in-demand models.
The constant travel and long hours are challenging, but the New York-based beauty says she manages to maintain a nutritious diet despite the unpredictable nature of her job.
McNeil recently flew into Sydney to shoot a new campaign for Bonds to launch the brand’s new Trainers range, which is when we caught up with her.
What does a typical day or week for you usually involve?
You really don’t know very much in advance about what you’ll be doing each week. There’s a lot of waiting around to hear about jobs and stuff, so you just have to have your bag ready to go and wait until you’re told where to go. Then you just get on a plane and go.
What is your diet like?
I’m always just trying to drink a lot of water and eating lots of fruit and vegetables. I always carry snacks on jobs just in case they don’t have the right foods for me to eat, because I’m a vegetarian, but they’re usually pretty good about catering for my needs. I felt becoming vegetarian was just a lot easier and healthier for me. I still eat fish, though.
Do you have any particular foods you like to keep in your bag when you’re running between castings or on fashion jobs?
I take a bag around with me which I fill with wasabi peas, nuts, goji berries, raisins and foods like that, and I always carry oranges and apples around in my bag – and lots of water.
Are there any foods that you like to indulge in occasionally?
I can’t live without nuts and almonds, and wasabi peas – I have a real addiction to those! I think with nuts, though, you shouldn’t eat too many because they’re hard to digest, and I’m a sucker for chocolate, especially dark chocolate.
How do you cope with the constant travel? Is it hard to fit in regular exercise?
It’s kind of hard, but I think living in big cities – especially in New York and London – and running around from job to job, means I’ll sometimes be walking up to five hours a day. I was very sporty at school, but now I mostly just walk. I still don’t know how to drive, so I walk everywhere and it keeps me fit. It’s always tiring and stressful when you’re constantly changing time zones and running around, so it’s important for me to get a lot of sleep and keep hydrated. It helps me to adjust.
How do you relax and de-stress in between modelling jobs?
I’ve been a model since I was 13, and I think it is stressful and there are long hours and lots of flying, so it does take its toll, but you just have to take down time and rest. I think you just get used to it in the end, and when you do get those days off, you just enjoy it, relax and bum around on the couch all day. But my favourite way to relax is to take a long, hot bath.
Can you tell us about your beauty routine?
I sleep as much as I can when I’m on the plane and drink lots and lots of water, because travelling does make you dehydrated. It’s also really important to moisturise your face and always take your make-up off after a day of work, because it’s always getting caked on. I also use Chanel’s Precision Hydramax moisturiser – that’s kept my skin really healthy.