Adriana Lima and I have one thing in common: bruised knuckles courtesy of boxing. "Sometimes they open up," she says with a smile.
It's appropriate, then, that we meet after a boxing workout with her coach Dino Spencer, to celebrate the launch of Puma's Mode XT sneaker (Lima is an ambassador for the brand). She likes sharing her battle scars, and she squeals when she sees that I have them too: "It's empowering," she says. "And I love the challenge." Her agent, less excited about the bruises, would surely prefer a less physical path to empowerment: "No sparring," he says.
But for someone who just did mitt work with one of the best boxing coaches in Miami, someone who likes the fact that her knuckles "open up" from time to time, Lima is glowing—like she may or may not be wearing a highlighter and a hint of lip gloss. And yeah, she probably had her makeup done before the workout, but I don't see how she had time for a touch-up, and she looks just as photo-ready as she did an hour ago. (FWIW, she credits this glow to coconut oil and SPF. "Your skin absorbs oil more quickly than you think, and I live in Miami, so I need to wear sunscreen.")
Our similarities stop at our bruised knuckles, and our differences begin at this effortless post-workout glow. I'm beet red and sweating like I'm on a beach in Salvador, Brazil (Lima's hometown), and my side bangs are sneaking out of their contained braid as if to say hi to their favorite supermodel. But I try to play it cool and turn down her water offer. Lima insists: "Still or sparkling?" Um, still? Did Adriana Lima just wait on me? (Related: The Coolest Boxing Gear for Your Next Sweat Sesh)
The people who know her confirm: The Victoria's Secret model is nice AF (and probably won't kick your ass even though, let's face it, she could). "The first time she walked into my gym, I tried to make sure no one bothered her with picture and autograph requests, but she gave me a look like, 'I don't need special treatment,'" says George Foreman III, who trains Lima when she's in Boston.
Foreman says that if she weren't a model, Lima could be a professional boxer, "hands down, without question," adding that she's a "brawler, through and through." (Spencer seconds this sentiment during our workout in Miami: "I'm waiting for her to give up this silly modeling thing and start fighting.") Indeed, Lima has been committed to the sport for more than 15 years, before every other model leaped into the boxing ring in the name of a badass Instagram photo. "Of the 40+ pro and amateur fighters that I've trained and managed, I've only seen her level of grit and discipline a handful of times in my career," says Foreman. "And she's a really good boxer."
The secret to commitment, in Lima's opinion, isn't so much exceptional grit and discipline, as it is finding something you really love. "I've tried lifting weights, step aerobics, yoga—I tried everything," she says. "But I found my comfort zone in boxing."
Feeling inspired? Steal some of her secrets to workout success and balance here. (As for boosting your grit, check out Why "Grit" Is the Key to Your Strongest Mind and Body Ever.)
Always have a backup plan: "If I don't have access to a gym, I find a place where I can jump rope. You can take a jump rope anywhere."
Score a quick sugar hit: "I'll have a teaspoon of raw honey or some orange juice when I feel like I need some extra energy."
Don't expect to nail every workout, every time: "I just tried jujitsu, and I wasn't that good," she says. "It was fun, but I think I need more practice." See? There's that grit.
Indulge in the things you love: "I love cakes—any type of cake...vanilla, chocolate—but I recently discovered Nutella brownies and now that's my favorite indulgence." (Make something similar at home: This Single-Serve Brownie Is the Ultimate After-Work Treat)