What would David Gandy do? This is never a bad question to ask oneself. Yes, the world’s most beloved male model looks good — with the olympian physique, the twinkling smile, and the blue eyes that launched a thousand brands. But the more you read about him, the more you realise that the surface appearance comes from within, too; that most of the work is done not in the gym, but in the office, the mind, the hours in between.
Earlier in the year, when we interviewed David about Wellwear, his hugely-popular new fashion venture, we learned of his belief that the clothes we wear “shouldn’t just make us look good — they should make us feel good, too”. You can see that mantra come to life, in fact, in his latest Blue Collection — an ingenious capsule informed by something called colour psychology. This is the burgeoning area of colour theory that identifies psychological connections between colours and emotions. Blue — and, in particular, this shade of blue — is proven to conjure feelings of tranquility, well-being and calm; and actually lowers blood pressure and moderates breathing. Beautifully crafted and built to wear for years and years, the collection is a new wardrobe staple that evokes its own virtuous cycle. Buy good clothes, feel good, do good.
This, in sweatshirt form perhaps, is the credo that has governed David’s life for a while now. So, with our own self-improvement hat on, we asked David to zero on five key areas of modern life — and share with us his own tips on living well.
David on... diet
Nutrition is fuel your body, whether you’re training or not. I like to keep my relationship with nutrition clean and simple:
- I try to stay away from processed foods.
- Good fats are essential, but stay away from saturated fats and food with a high sugar content.
- There seems to be a myth that carbohydrates are bad — and this is wrong. ‘Whole carbs’ i.e. vegetables, grains, nuts, oats and beans are all good. ‘Refined carbs’ i.e. white bread, pastries and cereals are the things we need to limit.
- I would advise understanding and educating yourself on nutrition and what you are putting in your body. For example, proteins are essential when training, especially for building growth.
- I always say everything in moderation. Having one day where you eat and drink what you want is not bad. I am a big believer in enjoying food and life and am not one of those people who is too obsessed about what they eat and drink. That said, if I have a big shoot coming up I will exercise moderation in the weeks leading up to it to ensure I am my best self on the day.
- People have to work out what works for them. I am constantly on the move; I walk 6-10 miles a day and train at the gym, so I need high levels of calories including carbs and protein to maintain my size, however I have never eaten breakfast. For years people have said that it is the most important meal of the day but I don’t believe this for me. I skip breakfast and wait until lunch — which is now called ‘fasting’. I have been doing this for decades and to me it’s not fasting — it just suits my routine better. But it’s an effective way of losing fat.
David on... fitness
I believe in setting a goal to keep motivated. Keep yourself focused by signing up for a half marathon or a 10 km run and you will be less likely to give up training in the early stages. Weight training is different and you don’t always see the benefits immediately as it takes time, but try to persevere as you’ll reap the rewards.
I don’t do what would be considered ‘hard core’ cardio. I walk everywhere, including 3-to-6 miles every morning with my dog. Don’t underestimate walking: it’s a great place to start if you’re a bit overwhelmed by gyms or the choice of fitness programmes out there. A 2-to-4 mile walk to work or the gym every day can make a huge difference.
As with nutrition, you have to train in a way that works for you. I prefer solitary training, however some people prefer a training partner while many favour the competition of a gym class.
Fitness has always been a huge part of my life, even before I started modelling, and over the past twenty years it has not only kept me in shape for work, it’s also an important mental health tool for me and over the years that has become my motivation just as much as the physical rewards.
Remember something is always better than nothing, and you must enjoy your fitness regime otherwise you’ll give up.
David on… hydration
Never underestimate the benefits of water and hydration. I will admit to being terrible at hydrating properly but it is one of my areas for improvement this year. It is key for healthy looking skin, temperature regulation, for energy and for the functioning of your organs. I have also learnt the hard way over the last few years of how water lubricates joints and helps to eradicate back pain. This is after suffering from degenerative spinal discs. Simply hydrating properly has helped so much.
David on... sleep
Everyone is different when it comes to sleep patterns. Many people need 8 hours sleep a night while others work better on 5 or 6 hours, and I am certainly in the latter camp. It is all very well preaching how many hours sleep a night people should get. However, I think we need to be realistic and understand that lifestyle and work may get in the way. I have been on and off planes for most of my career and jet lagged for most of the time in between. Even though I don’t travel as much as I used to, I now have two very young daughters who like to wake up a few times a night and who love to wake me up early in the morning. I have also launched my own business — David Gandy Wellwear — in the past couple of months so recently sleep has been a big luxury for me. I have learnt that I can function on five hours sleep a night, but to take short power naps wherever I can to help my energy levels and productivity throughout the day.
That said, I am not denying the benefits of sufficient sleep and a healthy sleep pattern. I am very aware that sleep enhances muscle recovery and growth, improves immunity, reduces stress and improves your brain function and therefore your mood and overall wellbeing. So, along with hydration, it;s something I will be focusing on improving for 2022.
David on... mindfulness
There are some great mindfulness tools out there including apps, meditation and whole channels dedicated to breathing techniques. As with all aspects of wellbeing I am a firm believer in there being no ‘correct way’ to enhance mindfulness and wellbeing; it is so subjective. For me, it’s all about exercise. A solitary dog walk in the morning and training in the gym is my version of escapism; time to switch off and ‘reset’. I always leave feeling energised and in a very positive and productive mindset. I also try to have time away from social media and my phone on the weekend if I can. This means my full attention is on my family and daughters so I have a complete awareness of the environment around me.