When you think of fashion models, what are the adjectives you might use to describe them? I’d guess that the word “healthy” isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind.
But Erin Zajac—a well-known and respected model with an extensive resume (she’s modeled for Macy’s, L’Oréal Paris, Bazaar, and Glamour among others)—is just that. She’s a living testament that models can in fact, be fit, healthy, and have a thriving career.
I’ve personally known Erin for years. When she’s not jet setting around the world, going from one job to the next, she’s dedicated to training with me. And since the day I met her, I’ve been inspired by her undeniable and unshakable belief in herself. She’s in an industry where rejection is common and unhealthy lifestyles are the norm. Despite it all, Erin handles herself with grace and more importantly—with confidence.
Via Erin’s Instagram: Behind the scenes of Harpers Bazaar Thailand
If you pass Erin on the street, you might see her tall, statuesque body and striking beauty and instantly class her as a certain stereotype—perhaps assuming she never eats and works out all day just so she can look like that. Or that looking the way she does means she has no insecurities. But as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Within minutes of talking to Erin, you’ll see that she’s utterly relatable, and find that she has tons of wisdom to share about the power of being healthy and finding peace in rejection.
Via Erin’s Instagram: Black Card Magazine
I started modeling during my last year at UCLA—I was studying international business law. One day I was out shopping with my mom and this woman asked if I were a model. I awkwardly laughed and said no. Throughout my childhood, I was a serious competitive athlete, so the idea of “modeling” seemed so superficial and shallow to me at that time (my opinion has since shifted). My mom suggested giving it a try, since it seemed like a financially rewarding job that could work well with a busy school schedule. I gave in, and within the next month I interviewed with multiple agencies around Los Angeles until I found the perfect fit. It was important to me that I find an agent I could trust and who put my best interests, and not their own, first.
Honestly, I’ve been modeling for six years and I feel I really came into my own only about a year and a half ago. It took me a long time to build that thick skin you need to brush off rejection and criticism. I think that’s really been the key to success in this industry, at least for me. I also make it a point to keep my home life separate from my work life. Not that I don’t enjoy the fun, talented people I work with, but when I’m done with work, I go home and enjoy a normal, quiet life. I don’t like to surround myself with industry parties, drinking, and the superficiality that sometimes goes along with that. This balance has really helped me get away from the negativity that surrounds the fashion world.
After being sent through the rejection wheel over and over, I’ve learned that you just have to find what makes you YOU and embrace it! Once you’re able to do that, the confidence you have for yourself, will actually lead you to more success than you could ever imagine. Seriously, people can feel positive, confident energy. So instead of being afraid of rejection, go out there and be yourself. You’ll be surprised that when you are, the only thing rejection can do is make you stronger and better at what you do.
Via Erin’s Instagram
Of course! In all honesty, there are areas that I wish I could shrink and others that I wish I could enhance (you know what I mean!). In the end, I only have my body to work with and I’m willing to improve it in a way that’s healthy—I’m not willing to make it something that it isn’t. In this industry, your body and how you take care of it is a direct reflection of your professionalism. But we see it too much—models who abuse their bodies just so they can maintain a certain look. Even if they overcome that and start taking care of themselves, these bad habits will make it harder to live a healthy life after modeling. For me, I want to have kids, go hiking, and travel around the world. So I know that I need to not only maintain my current health but improve it, too! I want to be one of those 70-year-old women coming out of Pilates. Of course, I have certain aspects of modeling in mind when I work out, but the reason I really do it is because fitness just makes me feel good!
Via Erin’s Instagram
I’ve found that working out two days in a row, followed by one day off, works best for my body. I’m constantly traveling, so I’ve learned to bring my workouts with me. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very influential trainers (like you, Kit!), who have helped me create a fitness and diet regimen that doesn’t sacrifice my health.
My diet mostly consists of lean proteins from chicken, turkey, and egg whites, grains like quinoa, oatmeal, and brown rice, and healthy fats from nuts, avocados, and coconut oil. And I try to eat vegetables with every meal, even breakfast. The best tip that I can give is: don’t eat in a way that makes you feel guilty! You don’t want to deprive yourself and end up binge-eating a whole container of ice cream. Eating a balanced diet (including carbs, sugars, and healthy fats) allows you to indulge in things you enjoy in moderation, so you don’t feel the need to go crazy.
Via Erin’s Instagram: “Friday night dinner a casa, Fatto da me ;-) #mussels #clams #brownrice-paella”
As hard as it is to believe sometimes, the absolute truth is that we are all beautiful in our own way. I’ve been all over the world, and have seen so many different features and faces. No matter how unconventional someone seems to be—whatever’s unique about you is what makes you beautiful, as cliche as that sounds. It’s easy to focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves. But really, I can guarantee that there are people who have stared directly at you and said, “Wow. I wish I could look like her.”
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood’s hottest stars are addicted to Kit’s unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit’s clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, “with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh.” Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.