“This year, I had a completely different mindset about my body and instead of always trying to fit in a certain sample size, I wanted to be strong and healthy,” Upton, engaged to Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander since May, told Sports Illustrated. “Changing my workout and focusing on weight training helped me do that. It helped me think about my body as a machine and less of something people can judge me on. People feel ashamed when they look bad one day, but it’s okay not to love yourself every second of every day. Appreciate what your body can do.”
Her trainer Ben Bruno, who also counts Chelsea Handler and Victoria’s Secret model Barbara Fialho as clients, offered some insight about Upton’s new workout routine when he congratulated her on Instagram. “She worked so hard and did it the smart and healthy way, both in the gym and with her diet,” he wrote Wednesday, February 15. “You might be surprised to know that she can push well over 500 pounds on the sled, deadlift close to 200 pounds, and hip thrust over 200 pounds. I'm very proud of her hard work and hope it can be inspiring to women who are hesitant to embrace strength training.”
While Upton hit the gym and watched her diet to achieve her model figure, this year’s Swimsuit Issue celebrates women of all sizes at every age with its Swimsuits For All campaign. Fronted by plus-size model Ashley Graham, the photo spread features real women and models of all ages and body types in suits from the 29-year-old's size-inclusive swimwear line.
“Those are the campaigns I want to do and the career I want to have — to inspire women to love themselves,” Upton continued to Sports Illustrated. “That’s a balance of working hard and eating healthy but also enjoying life and having cheat days and for the emphasis not to be on the ideal perfect body. It makes me proud to be asked back."
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