The Detriments of Crash Dieting
By Olivia Amourgis | Images by Dallas Olsen | Model: Nina Silic | Hair and make-up by Lisa Lee
The potential damages of yo-yo dieting* (the cyclical loss and gain of weight) are well known: slowed metabolism, hormone imbalances, increased risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes… just to name a few. Yet it’s a fluctuation in behaviour extremely familiar to countless women – and men – worldwide. It’s that desperate battle between all or nothing; where salads and lengthy runs create the perfect pair for a few weeks. Then on your regular morning run – which just so happens to be past the cake shop – you stumble and find cheesecake and the couch far more appealing for the following four months. But one night as you’re indulging in your dessert – no doubt seated snugly in your well-worn couch – a bikini ad catches your eye, promptly reminding you summer is a mere four weeks away. Out goes the cheesecake, in comes the chicken, and the morning runs start all over again.
Cover model Nina Silic is one of the many who has fallen prey to the demoralising cycle of yo-yo dieting. Driven by the need to look ‘thin’ as she pursued her dancing career, from a young age her workouts were prioritised by cardio, and devoid of weights for fear of becoming ‘manly’. These efforts at the gym were often negated by her love to party: weekends of binge drinking and binge eating after a big night out created a less-than-healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t until years later, though, that these unhealthy habits began to catch up with her.
After 20 years of dancing, Nina’s passion to pursue her talent professionally began to wane, particularly given the unhealthy lifestyle so many girls led within the industry. So she went in search of a new challenge. It was around this time she discovered Oxygen magazine and turned her eye away from dancing and toward the world of bikini modelling.
“I remember picking up one of my first Oxygen magazines with Justine Switalla on the cover and thought to myself, ‘that’s going to be me one day’,” Nina says. “I just loved her fit and healthy physique and it’s something I really wanted to represent.”
Not long following that Nina recalls watching her first bodybuilding show and feeling compelled to achieve a stunning, strong and fit body similar to all of the female athletes competing. So she set herself the challenge to train consistently and gain a better understanding of nutrition.
From a cardio bunny fearful of getting ‘bulky’ with weights, Nina now incorporates strength training (low reps and heavy loads), hypertrophy (moderate-to-high reps) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into her weekly training regime. Her dread of getting too big has been completely discarded after seeing first-hand how effective weight training is for shaping and sculpting the body. What’s more, she finds it extremely empowering to discover just how strong she really is.
“I really feel like it’s about training smarter now and maximising your time in the gym, or during any workout, rather than spending hours working out,” Nina says. “Instead of doing hours of cardio I prioritise weight training, lifting heavy in the gym and complementing that with nutritious foods. I still enjoy the occasional red wine here or there, and do not deprive myself of foods any more.”
The transition from dancing to competing as a fitness model in hope of a healthier lifestyle didn’t come without hurdles, though. After struggling with yo-yo dieting for many years and competing for two, Nina’s unhealthy habits caught up with her 18 months ago with a series of diagnoses.
“I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism and PCOS [Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome]*,” Nina says. “On top of this I found out that the pain in my hip I had for three years was a chronic case of tendonitis and bursitis. I had to take six months off regular training to have treatment and rehabilitation on my hip. Due to lack of training, my metabolism really shut down and after being on a very low-calorie diet for some time, this also destroyed my metabolism. As a result I had fatigue, hypothyroidism, and discovered PCOS was something I had had for some time as it is more of a genetic disorder.”
Being a bikini model, Nina was used to being fairly lean all year round; however, for the next year she worked tremendously hard to repair her body. To heal her metabolism she slowly increased her calorie intake via reverse dieting, she helped to restore her hormone* balance by changing the foods she was eating, altered her training to accommodate her hip recovery and transformed her mindset to ensure long-term recovery. During this process she gained about 15kg from her stage weight (10kg above her regular weight), making the development even more mentally challenging.
For the full article, check out the latest issue of Oxygen in all good newsagents, or you can click here to subscribe.
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