In response to all the messages I receive about my health and nutritional habits, I thought it might be helpful to create a blog post that informs girls about how I stay in shape. Some may find it helpful, others may not, but I at least hope that people might be able to take one or two things away or at least resolve any questions about diet, exercise or competition training. Also please note that I am not a professional trainer or nutritional specialist. My trainer for Miss Massachusetts and Miss USA is Katie Boyd of The MissFit Club. She taught me everything I know about proper diet and exercise and is a magician when it comes to transforming the female body. Please contact me to get her information. In this post I am just educating you on my personal method.
Before I dive deeper, I need to stress that while some of my practices are a bit intense (which is why they work for me) there are things that aide in a persons shape and size aside from diet and exercise. My mom has small bones and was very petite at age 26. So yes, genes play a part in everyone’s metabolism and shape. Also, an individual’s response to their emotions plays a major role in maintaining or losing weight. Some people eat when they are happy, others eat when they are sad. I lose my appetite when excited or stressed, and I am easily excitable and lead a stressful life. I became painfully thin upon moving to UMass Amherst for undergraduate studies because I was so excited by the new surroundings and masses of people. I hardly slept and never ate. I’ve never been asked more times in my life if I had tapeworm because I was so gauntly thin.
I am always frazzled by something. This year I can honestly say I have attended hundreds of events as Miss Massachusetts USA or through work as an event planner. I associate being in public as being “on” and therefore excited and lose my appetite. This is why girls at Miss USA lose 5-8 lbs the week before the show. Events, men, and traveling all have the same effect on me. I suggest evaluating what emotions make you hungry and replace those thoughts with actions. If you are sad, call your best friend to vent, or if you are happy and bored…clean. Become so engulfed in another productive task that you stop thinking about food.
My weight stems from the mentality I have towards my body. The pageant has truly helped me view my body as a tool rather than something I am deeply connected with (yoga enthusiasts would cringe) therefore I mold my body into certain ways to get what I need out of it. I never realized I was a perfectionist until my director called me one, now it is something I understand about myself. Having extreme self discipline comes with being a perfectionist. If I want something, I will do everything in my power to get it and I usually do. I set rational goals but I know what I can and cannot do. I’m a fan of unique cultural sports but I would never commit to a sumo wrestling match because my body could never endure the weight of an extremely large man, I’m not built for that… this is an extreme example I am using to illustrate a point.
For Miss Massachusetts, I knew my body had the potential, I just needed motivation. I wanted to win the title because I knew it would help my career and empower me as a woman, but I needed more than that. I needed serious motivation to get my body into shape, and for me that was anger. At the start of my training, my boyfriend cheated on me with an underwear model (not the famous, well paid kind) and I went through the worst experience of my life. I used my anger as motivation to transform myself, and granted this might not be healthy, but it worked for me. What started out as work out sessions fueled by anger and frustration soon faded and transformed into a journey about self improvement…something much more purposeful than hate. People are generally scared of anger, but I think the emotion exists because a lot of amazing things can stem from it- if used in a healthy way. Think about all those activists out there trying to change the world because they are angry over inequality or world hunger…just an example.
I found a different kind of motivation after winning my title. When you win a title based on physical appearance people don’t shake your hand and pat you on the back, they tear you apart. People said I was too ugly, too muscular, too thin, too flat etc. Once again, this motivated me in an amazingly positive way that let me go beyond what they were saying. I made it a point to maintain my appearance throughout my reign but also throw myself into the arms of my community so that not only would I stop focusing on my looks, others would stop too. Ever notice how no one comments on the waistline of a literary genius or famous doctor but the world goes crazy if Giselle shows a dimple of cellulite? Simple solution here is to stop focusing/depending on physical appearance as what is giving you value and use that energy to do something great. There’s actually a lot of soft-bodied, powerful people out there that are ruling the world.
I guess the key to my weight is also balance. I have an “on” season and an “off” season. My “on” season occurs during summer and fall. I choose these two seasons because you wear form fitting clothing, attend pool parties and it’s pageant/wedding season. I don’t suggest switching your “on” and “off” season too often or cutting them too short… likeone month on and one month off. This wouldn’t work for me because the first month is dedicated to losing, then the next two to three months maintaining. You don’t want to lose and gain too quickly either, yo-yo dieting is terrible for your health. Once again, the goal is not to aim to look like a super model, just to be the best version of yourself. For some people that means rocking a six pack, others it means being thin with slight definition and fitting into a size 4. If you are never going to be a size 0 because it is geneticallyimpossible, I suggest setting rational goals for yourself. Take a photo of yourself (not a celebrity) looking the best you ever have and make that be your goal for you’re “on”season.
I make sure to slowly ease into my “off” season. No one has to look perfect all year round, so why kill myself and damage my body to do so. I allow myself to put on weight gradually and this process does not make me insecure or upset. My stomach gets softer, my hips wider and I embrace this. It’s important to feel confident in your skin, a few pounds heavier or lighter, as long as you don’t go over your personal weight limit (this is what I call the highest weight you let yourself get to before feeling like you have hit your max. For me this is 128 lbs.)
It took me a very long time to realize what works for my body and what doesn’t. I can’t run because I will get thunder thighs, I need to walk long distances. During my training for Miss MA and Miss USA I walked 8 miles a day, an hour in the morning before work and an hour after work. I then did an hour of weight lifting in the gym 5 nights a week. I made sure to do this, even if it meant getting up at 5am every day…it didn’t matter. During a certain point in training you start to feel like a machine or zombie and you stop thinking…just do. During my off season I work out 4 times a week, once a day. I also dance, non-professionally of course. I literally make up dance routines, memorize them and practicethem at home or in a studio pretending to be my favorite artist. I feel amazing when I dance and I know most other women do to, so next time you are alone in your house I encourage you start dancing in the mirror for one song and I promise you an hour will go by and your husband/boyfriend will come home and scream at you for forgetting to make dinner.
Sadly, sugar is my vice. I’m addicted to sugar and I can’t have just a little. It’s actually a serious problem for me. I will go overboard, become panicky if I eat too much or fall into a sugar coma. My sister can attest this is not fun to be around…so I have to give it up when training. Good news is after exactly two weeks you stop craving it all together, which makes it easier to keep away. In general I eat a lot of natural peanut butter, chicken without any sauces, green vegetables, dairy, coffee, whole grain bread and some fruit. For competition preparation I cut out fruit, dairy, sugar and cheat meals 2 months prior to State and USA level. Two months prior I also cut out salt and season all my meals with vinegar and Mrs. Dash, which is salt free. I drank apple cider vinegar in the morning, and only eat cucumbers or almonds for snacks. I took many vitamins including a multi vitamin, a b6, an iron pill and drank one glass of Emergence a day. On this diet I lost 10lbs in two months easily getting down to 115 at a 5’9. I went to bed hungry and had trouble sleeping, but I would get up and drink almond milk in the middle of the night.
During my off season I still practice a low carb diet but eat larger quantities and include various types of meat, fish, nuts, ezekail bread, brightly colored vegetables but still with limited fruit and dairy. I also give myself a lot of cheat meals (sweet and savory) but I balance them with healthier meals. For example I eat a healthy breakfast and lunch but have a sundae for dinner. If you work crazy hours and need the energy, sometimes the only thing you need to keep you sane is a Snickers, so I say go for it
I’m not a big drinker so this has never become an issue in my on or off season but drinking will make you gain weight. Doing it in excess is sloppy and hanging out with people that do is in poor taste. It’s crucial to consider your alcoholic drinks when evaluating your diet. I feel like some people think it doesn’t count because it’s liquid. When I did drink during training I had vodka soda with lime.
Even after reading this I realize how extreme pageant training is, but just as atheletes train for the Olypmics, pageantry is also a competitive sport and those that take it seriously do well or win. Once the competition is over though, it’s important to regain your sense of self. Thinking it is OK to stay perfect all year round is an unhealthy mentality and could lead to eating disorders or make you incredibly ill. It is important to not get trapped in the training zone and always have a purpose for your nutrition goals that are rational. Learn to embrace your body through its different phases. People tell me you shouldn’t call it a diet, it should be a lifestyle. This doesn’t work for me because I could never think of a lifewhere I am eating healthy and excessively exercising 12 months in a row. When I travel to Europe you better believe I am eating a crepe the size of my head every day for breakfast. Dieting for Miss USA was the longest period I went eating clean and it was scary. I lost all enjoyment for food and which became worrisome. I came home and craved nothing. It took me two weeks to regain my cravings but this is exactly why I need my off season. It is just long enough to enjoy myself, but never long enough to do serious damage and gain 50 lbs. I usually gain 5-7 lbs during my off season and by then it’s already time to get back into pageant mode.
This lifestyle won’t work for everyone and I know not everyone competes in pageants but from the girls I have talked to, the “on” and “off” season makes sense to them and gives us all hope that our lives don’t always have to be lettuce with a glass of water for dipping.
Any questions/comments? Reach out!