By Nicole Berrie
Photography by Libby Gray
IT’S HAPPENED TO ALL OF US. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue hits newsstands and the self-scrutiny begins. How did she get those abs? They shot Kate Upton where? Nobody looks that good in an all-painted G-string! Yes, it seems the unearthly goddesses splashed across the centerfolds of the hotly anticipated annual issue are exactly what they seem, unearthly. But for model Jessica Gomes, an S.I. veteran, she couldn’t have her feet planted more firmly on solid ground. “I don’t fucking care about being super thin,” deadpans the Perth-born Aussie model over iced almond milk lattes at Irving Farm in the Lower East Side. Clad in ripped Nobody jeans, a hot pink Fendi crossbody bag and Saint Laurent trainers, Gomes looks every bit the supermodel that she is. “You look better when you’re just happy and not stressing,” she continues. “That’s the biggest problem for girls is the stress level. They’re just never happy with themselves. If you’re too crazy about it, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.” When the half Chinese, half Portuguese beauty is not jetting to far-flung destinations for shoots, Gomes loves frequenting the farmer’s market and going for hikes through Runyon Canyon near her home in Los Angeles. Below, we caught up with the LA-based stunner on her beauty and health secrets, favorite recipes, not to mention her month-out plan to looking bikini-shoot ready.
How would you describe your outlook on health?
I feel like health is a happiness thing. I really hate it these days that girls put so much pressure on themselves that they need to be super skinny. It’s not about that. It’s about feeling good and having energy. I really hit that point in my life where I’m like, I don’t fucking care about being super thin.
That said, would you describe you approach to diet?
When I started modeling after school in New York, I definitely became more aware of having a personal trainer and different health tips. I was reading a lot of books. I read the Eat Right for Your Blood Type and I really got into raw foods. My blood type is A, which needs more chicken, fish, vegetables, versus red meat. I’m half Portuguese and half Chinese and I grew up with a lot of meats at home so that was interesting. I tested that out for a while. For me, it was just finding what worked. I had to go through trials. Now, I pretty much do the Paleo diet. I try and stick to good proteins and good fats with vegetables.
Take us through a day in the life from morning to bedtime?
I wake up in the morning, have lemon water and then I either train with my trainer in the gym or I go for a hike up Runyon. Then I always like to get my toning in, so I do Pilates on the reformer. Then I come home and I do my green juice in the morning and I have my proper breakfast. I love breakfast, it’s my favorite meal of the day. I’ll scramble organic free range eggs with avocado and turkey bacon so it’s full protein and good fats and then I have my coffee afterwards. Or, I have some berries and fruit. Other times I do have my smoothie after my workout. For lunch, I’ll have a boiled chicken salad with flax seed oil and apple cider vinegar. I have all those things at home, which really make a difference for me on the way I digest food and the way I feel after eating. You want to feel like your food is your fuel. It’s giving you energy, not weighing you down. At night, I’ll have grilled fish with vegetables like grilled salmon with steamed broccoli and maybe some yams. I’ll go to a yoga class in the evening. I really like doing evening yoga classes at YogaWorks in LA. I love Hatha Yoga, I think it’s great for stretching. I always like to feel like I’m stretching.
How would you describe your fitness regimen?
My trainer Cynthia Czarnecki used to be a dancer for Janet Jackson and Tina Turner. I found her at this no-frills gym on La Cienega. It’s not like Equinox or anything. I went through a lot of “model trainers” in New York and ended up hating them because it was really gossipy. Cynthia is really into the Pilates reformer because for women, it’s strengthening and stretching for the core. She’s also into weights, which I just started doing because I thought that it would bulk you but it doesn’t. With the right foods afterwards, it literally rips you up and burns through the fat. We do a power circuit training but I don’t feel exhausted after seeing her, I feel energized.
Do you workout when you’re traveling on shoots?
I usually bring weights that you fill with water and wrap around your ankles and for butt lifts. I love that workout, you can really feel it.
Would you say models workout differently than mere mortals?
For me planning is important. If I’ve got a S.I. shoot in a month, I’m like, let’s do it. When I motivate myself, I’m really good, If I’m floating around, I get lazy. When I’m working and shooting, it’s hard work when you’re working all day and you don’t want to be around anyone because you’ve been around everybody, poking with makeup so I just want to lay down, watch TV and veg out. Maybe I’ll jump in and do a Soul Cycle, they’re really good to get it going after a trip. That’s the tough part, even doing a walk on the treadmill. Some of the girls I see on Instagram, I’m like holy fuck. I’m like, have your abs girl I don’t fucking care.
Ok, but when you’re prepping for a swimsuit shoot, you go in right?
I’m psycho. I pretty much go into athlete mode. Everything is a diuretic because really it’s just fluid. I get puffy from having Japanese food the night before. I’m drinking green tea. I’m having no dairy but I can’t say no to coffee. Caffeine is good. I did a caffeine scrub where you mix coffee and coconut oil. I’m just making sure that I time things. You want to wake up the day of your shoot feeling lean, sucked in and tight. Then I just have full on protein, little bits of chicken with steamed broccoli. I do Korean spa every week with saunas, body scrubs and massages, really just taking care of myself. I cut out alcohol, dairy and breads, sugar. Sugar is really hard to cut out because it’s in everything and it’s addictive but I try to leave that out. I still have berries and I’ll have my green smoothies everyday after the workout. I find what you put in your body after a workout is so important. That’s something I didn’t know before. I’d work out and just eat oatmeal, but that’s not good. You have a to have a smoothie with protein at certain amount of time. My body goals are not that high. This is my body shape but it’s not as if I want to have six pack or look like this person, I just want to feel good about myself. And on a S.I. shoot, they don’t want you super thin anyway. I just want to feel like I’ve done the best that I did and I feel that I worked really hard. I also go see Dr. Bo a colonic hydrotherapist who works with Cate Blanchett.
What’s in your smoothie?
Almond milk with a protein powder from Dr. Bo, I put that in and I add blueberries or half a frozen banana and I put my greens in and maybe a little bit of stevia. And just blend that through. I also squirt in these ionic minerals.
Have you picked up any secret S.I. beauty tricks?
Now you can just airbrush everything out but they love it when we push up our boobs and there are certain ways you can pose, it’s very suggestive. And there’s a lot of fake tan and bronzer.
Tell us more about that caffeine scrub that you do.
It’s brown coffee and you mix it with coconut oil so you get the paste. Then you literally rub it on all over your body in the shower and stand there for five minutes and then wash it off. It drains the fluid out of you. It literally pulls all the water retention out of you. It’s a natural diuretic.
Do you have any travel essentials for staying on your game?
Dr. Ohira probiotics are the best. I also take women’s formula multivitamins from Dr. Bo. It’s just a little pack and it’s got enzymes, minerals and vitamins. His whole thing is if your body doesn’t have the minerals and vitamins, you’re not going to get the nutrients from the food and it doesn’t matter what you’re having. So you must set your body up first in giving it the right minerals and vitamins. I also bring my Garden of Plenty green powder and mix it with water.
What are the beauty essentials that you can’t live without?
Nu Skin spray. I won’t even wash my face with regular water, I just spray that on. For a moment, I was using a lot of SKII products. For me it was good because when I work, I wear tons of makeup, which is a lot of chemicals, so I need the stronger products to take off the makeup. I love their water essence. I also love the Korean brand Amore Pacific, which is based on green tea. Now I’m using natural stuff, rose hip oil or almond oil. I use Kerastase or Aveda for my hair. I also love organic coconut oil for my skin and oil. It feels like food for my skin. I also travel with my aromatherapy oil, I have this oil called Sleeping Beauty Oil and it’s lavender and I sprinkle that on my pillow, so it’s a familiar scent because I’m constantly going to different hotel rooms so I do that to bring myself down to home.
Do you like to cook?
I love cooking. I love going to the farmer’s market in LA and just getting fresh produce or sole and veggies and salmon. I’ll cook an onion and garlic because I love that smell and I’ll stir fry broccoli or asparagus and then I’ll grill sole or salmon and just put olive oil on top with pink Himalayan salt.
What are your pantry essentials?
Pink Himalayan salt, flax seed oil, apple cider vinegar, truffle salt. I love condiments like mustards and garlic aioli. When I’m going clean clean, I’ll do flax seed oil and ACV. You feel better afterwards too, especially if I’m doing colonics.
Do you ever go away to recharge?
I do the We Care retreat in Palm Springs every year. I’ve been going back to this place since I was 22. It’s a detox retreat. You can go for 3 days, 5 days or a week. It’s a juice cleanse. They do colonics every day but it’s also a healing, spiritual place. They have infrared saunas, yoga, Pilates and meditation.
What is your favorite Indulgence?
I love a bagel with cream cheese or French fries. I’m a foodie, I fucking love food. I was just at the Jean Georges restaurant with my friend David Chang. Every time I’m in New York, he takes to me the best restaurants and I eat so much.