Whether you compete in pageants or not, there is an overwhelming need in today’s society to “look good”. From this need, we as consumers were given dozens of choices in diet and exercise fads.
As someone who has been competing for close to ten years, I am constantly looking for the best way to look my best. I’ve spent hours at the gym, I’ve tried juice fasting, and I’ve tried countless other techniques to look like my favorite supermodels and Miss Universe ™ contestants. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that our society has an unrealistic beauty standard. While I do put in the time and effort to look my best when I compete, I know that it’s not always possible to be competition ready everyday of the year. I am not going to sacrifice my love of pizza so that I can wear a crop top every day!
When I started college four years ago, the seemingly never ending battle of eating well without limiting myself and finding time to go to the gym while balancing my academics and social life seemed daunting. But I learned something really important; fitness is a mindset as well as a conscious choice. The first step, which always seems to be the hardest, is learning to accept my body the way it is. This, of course, is a lot easier said than done. But, it is possible! Once I was able to recognize every part of myself as something loveable, I was able to beginning the hard part; finding the “perfect” health program.
Something really wonderful about pageantry is that there seems to be a pageant for every type of contestant. There are systems that cater to being a certain height ( Miss Petite America and Miss Petite World); systems that are more focused on modeling (World’s Perfect Miss and the Miss Universe Organization); systems that focus on academics; the list is seemingly endless. This should inspire hope! If everything from our competitons to our wardrobes to our electronics can be customized for each individual, that means there is a way to customize fitness! This goes back to the need of self-acceptance. Ever since I can remember, Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella has been my #bodygoals, with her elegant frame and mile long legs. But that isn’t a realistic ideal for my body type.
It’s important to remember to find a program that works for you. If the very thought of going to gym pains you because of your workout program, it will be that much harder to stick with it. Finding a program that makes you excited is very important!
I may not enjoy going to the gym everyday, but I do enjoy hiking and going for long walks with my friends. I may not enjoying lifting weights (the fear of dropping a bar of weights on myself while attempting a chest press is all too real), but I have fallen in love with yoga, which helps me relieve stress as well as tone my arms! I may tremble with anger and fear at the thought of giving up my favorite carbs (mac and cheese is a food group and no one will make me believe otherwise), but to quote, Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation!” I will eat mac and cheese occasionally, but I also keep my fridge stocked with healthy snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
The most important thing to remember on your fitness journey, is that you’re doing this for yourself. No matter what your end goal is, whether it’s to find the perfect prom dress or to feel your most confident on stage, this journey has to come from you. The motivation and dedication has to come from within. Anything worth having is worth the effort of achieving it. But the effort needed shouldn’t be overwhelming, it should motivate you work hard. Fitness shouldn’t feel daunting, it should feel empowering. And, it can be, once you’re able to make it work for you.