Yes, you can! I share these photos of myself to give you hope, and here’s why. All of the above photos were taken 5 years ago when I was 39 years old and actively competing. One of the reasons I chose to reenter the pageant world after having my third baby was to get my swimsuit body back. I wish I could share a before photo with you but only a couple exist and I couldn’t find them.
You see, I had three babies (weighing 7lb 10oz; 7lbs 12 oz; and 9lbs 4 oz- all born naturally, no c-sections) within four years. With my last daughter, I had gained over 60lbs. On my tiny 5’3” frame, I was as wide as I was tall. Ugh!
When I made up my mind to do the Mrs. Ohio pageant, I used my previous dance and exercise background, a library of home workout videos, and one year’s time to get back into my swimsuit. I didn’t have any surgery, and yes I have stretch mark and some saggy skin. I mean let’s be real. Some things just aren’t going to snap back after they’ve been stretched to the limit, know what I mean?
I am a master at the art of tape and glue, which I needed to be able to pull off that two-piece bathing suit. But that’s another story for a different time. That was a onetime deal and I did it just to prove to myself I could.
Was it hard work? Oh my gosh, yes! But to me, the alternative was like a living death sentence. Not only did I want to look and feel good about myself again, I wanted to be able to keep up with my daughters. So pageant haters can bash the swimsuit portion of pageantry all they want, but it was the external motivation I needed to jump start my internal drive to get off my butt and do something about my “after baby” body.
This week's Pageant Secret article:
It’s never too late to make the decision to regain your health and wellness. Within the next 3-6 months, woman across the country will be preparing for the Miss USA, Miss America, Mrs. America, Mrs. United States and Mrs. International pageants. I’m sharing not only my experience but interviewing an expert to help you get fit and keep your swimsuit body for a lifetime.
Get Fit and Keep Your Swimsuit Body For A Lifetime
When most people are putting away their swimsuits and breaking out their sweaters for fall, pageant contestants around the country are getting fit and shopping for the perfect competition swimsuit.
With the Miss USA and Mrs. America state competitions taking place in the upcoming months, I asked Aleah Oelmann, a Certified Personal Trainer and a Presidential Director with ViSalus Sciences, to share with us the nutrition and fitness plan she uses for her competitions.
Last year when we were working on her interview skills for the Miss Ohio USA pageant, I was very impressed with her passion for wanting to help people better their lives through building a healthier body. Aleah’s passion for this topic stems from the fact that her mom and dad both have Type 2 diabetes and her sister struggles with her weight. Her vision is to blend faith and fitness so people can p hysically, spiritually, and mentally be healthier. The Miss Ohio USA 2009 pageant was her first pageant ever and she made the top 15. Aleah is currently training for a figure competition with the National Physiques Committee and planning her wedding.
Q : What is the hardest thing about preparing for either swimsuit or figure competition?
A: The mental struggle people go through when trying to accomplish their weight loss goals.
Fighting the cravings is the worst. It’s that fight between what your brain is wanting (the foods that taste good) and what your body needs. There’s also the feelings of guilt when you have a cheat meal or eat something you know isn’t good for you. Your body gets conditioned to what you put in it. It’s craving nutrition and it’s not being satisfied with junk food. That’s why people can eat so much junk and still be hungry. People need to recondition their brain. I’ve found once you master your thoughts; you can achieve anything you want.
Q: How do you fight your cravings?
A: When you’re trying to slim down and reducing your calories, fatigue and cravings can be a huge issue. One key product I use from ViSalus is Neuro which is an all natural herbal energy blend. It mixes with water and has less than 1 gram of sugar unlike other energy drinks that are filled with tons of sugar and caffeine. I use it in between meals when I need that extra boost of energy without feeling jittery.
Another product I use is Vi-Shape. Because there are three unique proteins in Vi-Shape, it’s 60% more absorbable than whey protein so you don’t have that bloated, gassy feeling some people experience with meal replacement drinks. Each protein in the Vi-Shape has been specially processed to remove fat, lactose, carbohydrates and isoflavones to provide pure, concentrated protein. Our shake is lower in sodium, fat, and carbohydrates than other shakes. It’s diabetic friendly, has no gritty or chalky after taste like other shakes and is affordable.
For more information about ViSalus products email Aleah at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website at www.bodybyvicompletewellness.com.
Q: Tell me about your competition meal plan and exercise routine?
A: I eat 5 smaller meals a day of about 250-300 calories ever 3-4 hours, watch my carb intake, and use the Vi-Shape meal replacement shakes and supplements. Here are five sample meals that I use:
½ cup regular oats
¼ cup blueberries
1 whole egg + 3 egg whites
1 Vi-shape Meal Replacement with water or Almond milk
4oz. sweet potato
4 oz. Tilapia
4oz. sweet potato
4 asparagus spears
4 oz. baked chicken breast
4 oz. Tuna
2 cups fresh spinach
¼ cup cucumbers & peppers
1 lowfat string cheese
Aleah consumes a gallon to a gallon and a half of water a day. The last week of competition she gradually decreases that amount by 16 oz. For the days of the swimsuit competitions, she just sips water throughout the day.
Most people think that drinking water will cause them to bloat. The opposite is true. Water keeps the body hydrated so it doesn’t hold onto excess water. It’s the salt, sugar, caffeine, carbs and alcohol that all dehydrate your body and causes it to retain water and be puffy.
The swimsuit look in pageantry is a trim, lean look with no bulky muscles. So interval cardio training is important. When using weights use light weights and high reps to achieve a toned smooth look without the ripping definition you may see in figure competition.
Food cravings are nothing new; but it’s only been in recent years that researchers have begun to study the psychology of food. Psychological scientists Eva Kemps and Marika Tiggemann of Flinders University, Australia, review the latest research on food cravings and how they may be controlled in the current issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Their research suggests that cravings start with mental imagery. Try these suggestions if you find you’re struggling with cravings.
- Shut off the TV. The commercials trigger your desire to snack on junk.
- Think of something else.
- Go for a walk or exercise.
- Drink more water.
Isn’t it amazing how everything comes down to the way we think. Everything starts with our thoughts. It’s never too late to make changes that benefit in your health and wellness. Contact me today if you want to create a plan that will give you winning results in swimsuit and beyond.
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Really, this was totally his idea☺.
The 90 day challenge – In 90 days, it will be Christmas. When most people will be thinking about holiday weight gain, Steve (my husband) will be celebrating his new found health. His current 42” inch waist and weight of 233lbs will shrink over the next few months. I’ll be posting a picture every 30 days so you can see the transformation.
Want to join him? Take a photo of yourself today, create a realistic plan that you can hold yourself accountable to, and give yourself the best Christmas gift of all- your health. If you need someone to hold you accountable, then contact me.
A note from Steve:
Well, here I go…90 days to fitness and health. I do have to say that putting my beautiful starting photo on here is definitely going to keep me accountable, but still it is a bit overwhelming. I have the Visalus products for the challenge…As Aleah says, they are really good. Still though, I don’t think I am going to be able to pour one of the healthy Visalus mixes over a large bowl of chocolate ice cream and get the desired results. I’m going to have to put effort into this as well, so ladies…here I go. If you friend me on Facebook I will walk you through my daily transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly…..or perhaps just a less chubby caterpillar. Either way, I am into it. It’s time to get it done!
Rhonda Shappert is an expert pageant coach, an iPEC Certified Professional Coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and a member of the International Coach Federation. She created Winning Through Pageantry® to partner with pageant contestants and their support people to provide complete pageant preparation, achieve winning results in life through pageantry, and to Succeed From The Inside Out®. She has over 30 years experience in the pageantry world as a contestant, judge, emcee, staff member, mother of daughters who compete, Mrs. Ohio America 2005, and has held multiple titles at the local, state and national levels.
Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three home educates their children and has been married 21 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com .