When you compete in pageants, your appearance is scrutinized — sometimes without mercy. I’ve learned that the best way to be happy with your body is to feel healthy. Rather than going to either extreme on the weight spectrum, you should find a happy medium where you feel the most confident and energized. These five tips can help you develop the perfect body for you.
1. Set goals.
If you want to achieve a long-term goal, short-term goals help map your progress. Write down your goals for each step of the process, and post them where you can see them daily to stay motivated. For Ms. America, my long-term goal was to be toned and healthy-looking for the competition, but I had short-term goals of toned arms, tighter legs, and a flatter stomach. Each benchmark along the way helped me reach my ultimate goal: feeling ready for the pageant.
2. Set rewards and consequences.
You’re more likely to work harder if there are real rewards and consequences. When I write down my goals, I list my rewards and consequences next to them. Avoid rewards that involve food, since that can be a slippery slope, but a night out or a new outfit is a great way to celebrate. Likewise, the consequences for not achieving a goal should be severe enough to add motivation, like canceling your Netflix account or staying off Facebook for a week. You want the consequences to disrupt your life enough to notice (and create more free time to focus on your health).
3. You are what you eat.
What you put in your body can have immediate effects on everything from your energy level to your complexion. Use common sense and avoid overconsumption, along with foods with a lot of sugar, fats, oils, or artificial colors and flavors. It doesn’t take a nutritionist to tell you that natural, nutrient-rich foods will help you feel and look better. I try to only eat foods that can be found, or have ingredients that can be found, in nature. If I don’t understand what something is made of, I don’t eat it. Throwing out unhealthy snacks and keeping fresh fruits and vegetables around, for example, can jumpstart a healthy change.
4. Make yourself a priority.
Schedule time for yourself, and don’t cancel unless it’s an emergency. Everyone is busy, but if you don’t take care of your mind, body, and soul, you’ll have less energy for those “more important” things. In fact, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can develop a host of health problems that take you away from the things you love. I literally put myself on my calendar; whether I try a new recipe, go to the gym, or take a long bubble bath, this “me time” keeps me centered and feeling healthy.
5. Don’t do it alone.
People feel better when they have a person or group for support while they work hard to achieve their goals. For me, this means working out with my husband as a way to spend more time together. Sharing this makes it easier to follow through. You can hire a personal trainer or nutritionist to help, but a friend can encourage and hold you accountable just as well. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your health, and ask them to help you stay motivated to the end.
These guidelines can help you find the health and energy you’re looking for. You don’t have to have the perfect body, but you can be perfectly happy with the body you have.