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As requested, I’ve decided to share my pageant diet with all of you, so be prepared– cause I’m going to give it to you straight. Building muscle is the key component to my routine, and that cannot be done unless changes are made in your exercise habits. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of trainers. I think they can be great motivators, but I often find them to be huge wastes of money, and I’d rather devote those extra funds to buying quality groceries than to paying someone for yelling at me.
As far as dieting goes, I hate to admit it, but it’s a critical aspect of this process. You’re going to have to cut calories, and you won’t be able to eat garbage for a few weeks. Don’t– under any circumstances— buy into “tea detoxes” or “cleanses,” at least not for dieting purposes. How in the world do you expect to have any energy if you’re not fueling your body with the gas that it needs? It blows my mind, but you see competitors do it all the time. I always like to use the example of Kelly on the Weight Loss episode of The Office. Another word for these miracle methods is anorexia, and it’s frowned upon in the healthy living community.
Here is the daily routine I follow in the weeks immediately preceding a pageant, big modeling gig, or important life event I just want to look/feel great for:
1. Warm Up
Working out and eating right can really throw your body and energy levels off kilter at first. To circumvent any lethargy, I get my blood pumping first thing in the morning. I’m not the kind of girl who can run 5 miles in the AM. It would be awesome, but it would also be a recipe for fainting. Instead, I do a quick toning routine that takes just under 10 minutes and doesn’t leave me drenched in sweat before work:
- 60 Second Plank
- 45 Second Side Plank on Both Sides
- 2 reps of 25 leg lifts
- 2 reps of 25 sit-ups
- 2 reps of 20 lunges
I’m not your typical breakfast lover. I’m not usually hungry in the morning, but that’s probably because I’m addicted to caffeine. You don’t have to give up coffee, just be willing to downsize to one cup a day and forego the whip.
As far as the menu goes, make sure you’re getting both protein and carbohydrates. My favorite quick and easy breakfast, which I eat regardless of my diet, is Chobani Greek yogurt. Luna Protein bars are also deliciously awesome (particularly in Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate Chip), although I typically save these for my afternoon snack. Other great protein-packed items include hard boiled eggs, fruit with skinny Nutella, real oatmeal with nuts and/or fruit, or a low-fat smoothie.
3. Snack Time
Eating little amounts throughout the day is key to keeping up your metabolism and for helping curb your insatiable appetite. My snacks of choice are a handful of almonds, a cup of blueberries, a cup of strawberries, and a spoonful of peanut butter.
No, you don’t get to eat subs, but you do get to eat Subway! Subway’s salads are jam packed with protein and veggies– and with less than 300 calories for a huge platter of fresh ingredients. Their whole tuna salad is to dieee for, and drizzled with oil and vinegar? It’s only 250 calories. Before you knock it, I’ll have you know that I’ve successfully hooked a handful of my friends on their salads, too. For the size, taste, price, and/or calories, there’s literally nothing better!
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, join the club. Curb your sugar cravings with sweet cherries. When they’re in season, they literally taste like candy. I couldn’t have made it through Miss Florida week without my two bags of dark cherries.
5. Stay Active
Take the stairs wherever you go. In my office building, we’re on the 4th floor, so that’s a guaranteed 8 flights of stairs I walk per day– not including the 4 or 5 intentional mail room runs to the 1st floor I make when I’m feeling lethargic.
For extra jolts of energy, do 30-60 seconds of jumping jacks in the bathroom or behind closed doors, otherwise it legitimately gets embarrassing.
Keep that metabolism up, up, up! I usually grab a Pure Protein or Luna Protein bar, which give you up to 19 grams of protein in each bar, but other viable options include peanut butter, some peppers with hummus, 2-3 pieces of low calorie cheese, a handful of trail mix, etc. Fruit, in my opinion, is always favorable, and it’s a great way to get your sugar fix without compromising your diet.
As I said before, I’m not a huge advocate of trainers, although I’d never knock you for getting one. I saw amazing results from Shaun T’s Insanity program when I competed in Miss Florida 2011, so for my Miss Florida USA 2015 prep, I couldn’t justify paying someone $60 an hour to scream at me when I had Shaun T to fall back on. Plus, he explains the merit of each exercise as he demonstrates them, so you learn the same valuable information you’d receive face-to-face from a trained professional. Honestly, it is insane, and it is really hard on your body, particularly your knees. That being said, I limit my workouts to those primarily focused on cardiovascular exercise. You will see ridiculous results in a very short period of time, though, so you’ll stay motivated.
Before this year’s state competition, I alternated between Insanity’s Plyometric Cardio Circuit, Insanity’s Cardio Power & Resistance, Insanity’s Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs, and walking at 3.5-3.9mph at varying degrees of incline on the treadmill. Some days, for some inexplicable reasons, your body just needs a break, so walking at an incline is a great way to still tone up without overworking yourself.
For dinner, I try to avoid heavy carbs at all cost. When you only have two or three weeks, you don’t want to jeopardize your figure with fatty foods lingering in your stomach overnight. I stick with lean meat and a whole lot of steamed vegetables. My go-to brand for freshness is Bird’s Eye. I’m obsessed with their steamed vegetable medleys, and I’ll usually scarf down a family-sized bag in one sitting. Next, I’ll cook up a grilled chicken breasts or salmon filet and season it with herbs (is butter a carb?).
Typically after Insanity, I’ve lost the majority of my appetite due to exhaustion. However, in the rare case that my famish still remains, I’ll eat cherries or blueberries for dessert.
It is absolutely imperative that you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. Not only will this help mitigate your hunger, it will do wonders for your skin and your overall well being. Invest in a measured water bottle to track your daily consumption and carry it with you everywhere. When I was in the midst of my training, I couldn’t have lived without my HydraCoach Intelligent Water Bottle. Its durable bottle tracks your intake, calculates your hydration needs, and paces you to make sure you’re on track. Ya, it’s like your own personal water coach, and it’s awesome.
If you’re not a fan of boring regular water, try one of my favorite infused water recipes here. They’re healthy, loaded with antioxidants, and ultra tasty.
And that’s the drill! Remember, this is just a final stretch plan; I wouldn’t recommend following this long term unless you want to lose a ton of weight. Even then, cutting carbs is great for quick toning, but in my experience, it’s just not sustainable. How do you get in shape for big events? Which exercises are your favorite?