8 Tips To Get YOUR Shape, In Shape.

In exactly a month I will be competing for Miss Utah USA. I am unbelievably excited. Pageantry often receives a lot of criticism for the swimsuit portion of the competition, and I'll be honest: the swimsuit section has definitely been what I've been most nervous about. 

Top Left: September Bottom Left:  October Top/Bottom Right: November Only one pound of weight loss. LBs aren't everything. 

Top Left: September

Bottom Left:  October

Top/Bottom Right: November

Only one pound of weight loss. LBs aren't everything. 

I've fluctuated between two extremes ever since middle school: out of shape, and unhealthily skinny. Unhealthy because I struggled from an eating disorder. Before you say: "Of course,  another model/pageant girl with an eating disorder," I struggled with an eating disorder LONG before entering into any beauty industry (particularly in middle school and high school), and pageantry may have ultimately been the cure. Intrigued? Good.

I received the title Miss Provo USA 2015 in January of this year. I felt fairly confident about my body, having overcome the thick of my "food issues" years before. Unfortunately, while the disorder was gone, the bad habits I had formed because of it were not.  It was still deeply rooted in my mind that if you want your body to look good, you pile on the cardio and substanially cut down how many calories you eat. So January through September of this year my weight went up and down a LOT, because this idea is not a sustainable technique.  I would celebrate "I lost fifteen pounds this month!" Only to gain it all back the next month. Or "I lost five pounds this week." To gain it all back over a weekend filled with delicious ice cream and pizza. September came around and I began to be legitimately stressed out about the health and fitness portion of the pageant, because I had not been participating in healthy behavior, and the sole purpose of this portion of the competition is to gauge our dedication to a healthy and fit lifestyle. Note: Looking good in a swimsuit has MUCH less to do with how much you weigh, or even being "skinny", and MUCH more to do with building muscle. If you want to lose weight, there are a lot of unhealthy yet simple ways to do so. If you want to look good, to look healthy and strong, you need to build muscle, and the only way to do that is to earn it. 

Between the two before pictures and the after pictures, there was only 1lb of weight loss. That's right. One.

There are so many things I've learned from being Miss Provo USA, and prioritizing my health has definitely been one of them, though it didn't click for me until a few months ago. In September I expressed my concern about being ready for the pageant to some other girls, and I was told that I would be fine as long as I exercised for 5-6 hours a day, starved myself, and threw up what I ate. The girls who told me this were skinny so I believed them. I spent a week tearing the capillaries in my cheeks from vomiting (you can see this puffiness in the top left before/after picture at the beginning of this post, not pretty.) A week of hell, thinking only of myself and every thing that passed through my lips. One week was enough to realize I was either about to slip back into a person I thought I had left behind a long time ago, or I was going to have to dedicate myself enough to become someone who was willing to do "healthy" the hard way. You can't fake health, and if one day I ever have the opportunity to represent my state, I wouldn't want to do so knowing I achieved the appearance of health for one night, by risking my life. You all deserve better than that.

Knowing what to eat is difficult, because there are so many diets and so many opinions out there. What works for me might not work for you. If you are unsure where to start it is always safest to meet with a nutritionist.

That being said, here are 8 tips to get YOUR shape, in shape.

Diet

1. Change Your Dairy

I love to eat plain nonfat greek yogurt and egg whites, as these are excellent sources of protein, but I have swapped out regular milk for almond milk and cashew milk. These nut milks are amazing for you, the one featured below has almost 18g of protein which is perfect for a post workout snack. I have also removed cheese entirely from my diet, not even sprinkled on salads. I didn't say this was going to be easy... 

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2. Juice Cleanses

I absolutely recommend juice cleanses. Essentially juice cleansing consists of consuming juice made from raw produce (organic and local is preferable) without any added sugars or preservatives. Juices often can contain seven servings of veggies and five pounds of produce, which is way more than I could consume in one sitting otherwise. My definition of eating my "daily veggies" has often been the lettuce on a hamburger.  I have attempted juicing from home, which is unfortunately only slightly more economical with how much produce it takes to fill a cup, and the time you spend at it. I cleanse about once a week, and often replace snacks with a fresh juice from Mend, which is local to Provo, but delivers out to Utah County.

Learn More At: www.mendjuicery.com

3. Understand Carbohydrates

If you're going to try to lose body fat, it's incredibly important to understand simple vs. complex carbohydrates.

Often Carbs get a bad rep, but not all carbohydrates are created equal. Simple carbs means sugars, which are frequently added to processed and refined foods, including but not limited to breakfast cereals, yogurt, and white bread. Simple carbs also includes fruit. Fruit however, provides much more nutritional value than other simple and refined carbohydrates. These simple carbs are rapidly digested and provide energy quickly, which is good if consumed before a workout or at breakfast. Unfortunately, this rapid digestion means it can be stored as fat if the body is idle after consumption.  Complex carbs are rich in fiber, referred to as dietary starch. This includes green vegetables, whole grains such as oatmeal or whole grain bread, starches like sweet potatoes, and beans.  Your body has to work harder and longer to digest complex carbohydrates, which means that complex carbohydrates will provide you with energy for longer amounts of time, and are less likely to get stored as fat. 

Here is a link to a quinoa salad recipe I created as an excellent source of complex carbs. I LOVE quinoa.

Chamomile Quinoa Salad

4. Eat More Protein

I know. You suddenly are picturing jacked dudes in bro tanks comparing their biceps while chugging their protein powder. Embrace it. Protein is KEY when trying to change body fat to muscle, particularly when combined with rigorous workouts. Protein does not necessarily mean just meat and protein powder, which can get old, but is also found in yummy protein bars, dairy (see above), nuts, beans, and quinoa. Get creative!

5. Water and Small Meals

The last tip I will add is to drink lots of water, and split up your meals throughout the day. My goal is usually 5-6 small meals and a gallon of water. I rarely ever make it to a gallon each day, seeing as I am a little person with a tiny bladder, but it's good to aim high here. 

Exercise

1. Strength Train

I combine circuit training with a personal trainer, and work outs at Xtend Barre Provo. I aim for 4-6 days a week. Strength training is the most important when trying to transform your body. Simply pushing cardio will lead to weigh fluctuations like I mentioned at the beginning, you have to build muscle. 

2. Cardio

I take a contemporary dance class through BYU a few times a week, which is good cardio and also has strength training elements. I also enjoy running. I know. Weird. I aim for 45 minute runs when I have time to. Running, while it doesn't affect your overall physique drastically, is a good add on if you are looking to bust belly fat.

3. Variety

People have asked me how I've been able to get in shape in two months, the answer is that I've prioritized it. My goal while training for Miss Utah USA is to work out six days a week for about two hours. I don't always accomplish this as it is a LOT of time to dedicate to exercise, but on the weeks where I am successful generally it looks like this:

Monday: Circuit Train, Run

Tuesday: Circuit Train, Contemporary Dance

Wednesday: Circuit Train, Run

Thursday: Xtend Barre, Contemporary Dance

Friday: Circuit Train, Run

Saturday: Xtend Barre, Run

Sunday: Rest

It is important to state even though I do dedicate a lot of my free time to exercise, I do not accomplish this schedule every single week because there are other factors that arise, like homework, work, and maintaining relationships, which are all more important than getting your workout for the day in. Seriously.

If you have any questions or comments please share below! I would also be happy to answer questions personally through my contact page: Say Hello.