Friday, April 25, 2014

Journey to Miss New York - The Swimsuit Competition

When I first started competing in pageants, the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit competition freaked me out. I was barely comfortable with wearing a bikini alone in my room, let alone on stage (in heels!) in front of a crowd! I've always been naturally thin, but I have not always had the confidence to strut my stuff in what basically equates to bedazzled underwear in public.

At a Westchester Pageants Photoshoot prior to competition...I think my body language shows that I'm not 100% confident here.

Over the past 3 years, I have become more comfortable in my own skin. A lot of that has to do with the confidence I've gained just by participating in pageants. It also comes from growing up! I feel far removed from the awkward, frizzy-haired teen with braces that I was in high school. Okay, so I still might have frizzy hair some days. But as a woman making her place in this world, I've learned to embrace my flaws and own every bit of who I am.

Taking the stage a few months later...with MUCH more confidence!

Aside from having a higher sense of self-esteem in general, much of my confidence in swimsuit comes from knowing that I've worked hard to ensure that I'm in tip-top shape when I hit the stage. I may have always been naturally thin, but I haven't always been fit. Recognizing this, and working to change it, has made all the difference for me. Here are some of the ways I've worked to become fit and healthy on my journey to Miss New York 2014.

1. Practice wellness year round. I don't only eat well and work out when I'm preparing for a pageant--I do so all the time! Of course, I may indulge in treats more often when competition isn't approaching, but I still strive to move my body once a day and nourish my body with healthy foods. My usual diet already excludes a lot of foods that I find slow me down and leave me sluggish: soda, white bread, processed and fast foods. And while I might not hit the gym as often off-season, I find other ways to stay active, like taking my dog for long walks and doing at-home strength training.
2. Have a plan. One of the best decisions I've made while preparing for pageants is signing up as a member of Complete Physique. Complete Physique is an online fitness program specifically designed for pageant competitors. Founder Nancy Bond creates an individualized workout plan and meal plan for me each month. She's there to answer any questions I have, provide support, and hold me accountable.
3. Have a backup plan. And by this, I mean have your own setup at home where you can workout if you don't have the time or energy to make it to the actual gym. In my room, I keep a BOSU, jump rope, exercise ball, resistance bands, a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell, a workout bench, and a medicine ball. I didn't buy everything at once, but looked for sales and slowly built up this mini home gym (Dick's Sporting Goods is my go-to for great prices). It takes up less space in a room than you'd think, and makes it so simple to squeeze in a workout before bed on a busy day!
4. Make it a habit. It is really, really easy to give up on lifestyle changes when you first begin to implement them. Stick with it. I promise that it gets easier. When I first began to make dietary changes, I thought I would never be able to survive without endless amounts of bread and cheese. But the longer I went without overindulging, the easier it began to resist the temptation. When I realized how much better I felt when I avoided certain foods, it was even easier to maintain my new lifestyle.
5. Be inspired. I don't always have the motivation to workout. I've found that following inspirational accounts on instagram makes me want to workout. I love seeing workout ideas, fresh new fitness fashion, and delicious food pictures posted. Some of my favorite accounts include:

Picking the perfect swimsuit to wear on stage is the final piece of the puzzle. Since 2011, I've worked with Kandice Pelletier for all of my pageant swimsuit needs. A former Miss New York, Kandice knows what it is like to search for a swimsuit that helps you look and feel like a perfect 10 on stage. Her suits make the selection process a breeze! I can't wait to rock my newest selection at Miss New York in May.

I hope this post was helpful--if you enjoyed it, check out my fitness blog, Sweatsational for more fitness tips, workout ideas, and healthy recipes!

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