Friday, March 14, 2008

Health Week: Learn from my work out mistakes!

As I look back on my pageant career, I regret never having my body at the level it could have been. Trainers have told me that I have the body type that can be extremely cut, if I did the right things. Not everyone has this body type, and I kick myself for not taking advantage of it.

I am now well aware of the excuses I let hold me back; I will shamefully share them, in hopes it helps current contestants.

I ran track and cross country in high school and have always been naturally thin. So when I won my first title, Miss Lake Festival, in the summer before my second year of college I was taken aback when told to work on toning my legs. Every night for a month or two before that pageant I had run a mile or two on the track across from my apartment!

Here’s a news flash to skinny chicks- even if you’ve always been thin and like the number you see on the scale, your body will start to change as you age and you will need to tone!

Let me be conceited for a moment- friends don’t just call me “Abs” because my name is Abby. A great deal of my confidence in the swimsuit competition came from my best asset; I always focused on the good, and was in denial about a dismal derriere!

So lesson number one is confidence is great, but don’t be blind to ways your body is changing or think an asset will cancel out a negative on the judges score sheet!

I mentioned above that I ran track and cross country in high school; I wasn’t good at either of them, but I was in shape and I enjoyed them. While there’s a team element, these are sports of solidarity in many ways. Ideal exercise for me is running three miles all by myself! Somewhere along the way I allowed myself to develop a gym-phobia.

I am so ashamed to admit that I can count on one hand how many times I went to BGSU’s campus rec center! Here were my excuses: I don’t want to look stupid in front of other people trying to figure out how to use a machine. My work out gear from high school is tacky, but I’m not about to spend money on new work out clothes. The rec center is all the way across campus! I don’t want to drag shower stuff all the way to the rec center… nor do I want to walk back to my room sweaty and gross. It doesn’t fit into my schedule: I’m not a morning person, if I do it in the afternoon, then I waste an hour showering and getting ready again, I have rehearsal and other things in the evening…

Now obviously, I didn’t get to Miss Ohio five times by never working out! Luckily, an apartment I lived in for two years had a 24 hour workout room, which I would use in the middle of the night when no one else was there! I also ran a lot and did Abs and Buns of Steal workout videos, but that was never quite enough. Looking back, I can not believe I didn’t utilize the campus rec center, which my tuition was paying for! What was wrong with me?!

I’ve known of contestants who get a local gym and trainer to sponsor their membership. I personally wouldn’t want the pressure of everyone at a gym knowing I was a Miss Ohio contestant, but if you’re better than me and can get out of your own head, that’s definately a great thing to do!

Even if you can't go to a student rec center for free, I’ve found a gym membership is well worth it! I’m working to get over my gym-phobia and the results I have seen are amazing! I still don’t like the idea of working out with others, and I tend to go to the gym later at night when the crowds have gone, but I’ve found they drive me. I think, “I can’t get off the elliptical machine until she does…” or “I have to finish this set in case someone’s watching!” It’s pretty selfish of me to think a stranger is more interested in my work out than their own, but if you think like this too, at least use it to push yourself!

The bottom line is that a gym can offer you more machines, classes and motivation than you can ever get by yourself.

So lesson number two is if you’re still a student, go to whatever student rec center is available to you and even if you’re not, go somewhere!

In preparation for my last year at Miss Ohio (America) and the past two years training for Miss Ohio USA, I worked out with Loren on his BowFlex, in addition to my running, work out videos and a Gazelle. The trouble was, I didn’t work out consistently.

I’m not a fan of working out; I think it’s a huge pain. It fits best in my schedule to work out late at night right before bed, but I realize that’s probably the worst time to do it! I am always an active person, but I would only work out consistently for a few months before a pageant. When you’re competing in local pageants, that might mean you have a few months of working out, then a few months off, then you’re back on to get ready for state… But think about how amazing your body could be if you had worked out consistently for six months, instead of just three! I was always happy with myself at Miss Ohio, but I’d also think, “Wow, if I could accomplish this, think of what another month could have done!”

One of the biggest things fans blast contestants for on message boards in obvious fitness “cramming.” You can not crash diet and aggressively work out right before a pageant and expect to do well. The swimsuit competition is about health and being a good titleholder is about leading a healthy lifestyle- year round.

So lesson number three is work out consistently!

Share your own work out tips in a comment!

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