My body story is dynamic and begins with the story of a young girl whose body image was that of an athlete to what happened when she became a woman.
I was an elite competitive soccer player as a young girl. Academics were difficult for me, so I treasured my time on the soccer field where I felt strong and powerful. It was the place where I excelled the most; the place where I felt the most comfortable. I played soccer a minimum of ten hours per week; having time to worry about my body was not one of my concerns.
Around the age of 13, my weight started to drop dramatically and I felt completely spent on the soccer field. Though I had not changed my eating habits, my body no longer had the energy to keep up with my competitors or my teammates. I was 5’7” and when my weight hit 98lbs, my parents decided it was time tomeet with a nutritionist.
At our first meeting, the nutritionist calculated that based on my activity and my age, I was consuming less than a third of the calories recommended to maintain not only a healthy weight but also peak athletic performance. After logging my food for two weeks, it turned out I was not eating: A) enough calories, or B) enough protein. I also was not consuming my proteins within the proper amount of time after my practices. Finally, the nutritionist warned that the consequences of not adjusting my diet immediately would be like those who suffer from anorexia. For the first time in my life I had to start thinking about making smart choices when it came to my body.
It is important to understand my mindset at this age. Soccer equaled Life. I thought I would play for the US Olympic team and would be paying my parents back all of the money they had spent on my ‘career’! The reality of my predicament hit hard. The nutritionist’s plan recommended 3,400 calories a day and a gain of 10 pounds. How was I going to do this? Focus, determination, and lots of Tiger Milk Bars! At the time, I was entering a new high school (where I knew no one) with a partially torn hip flexor and on crutches. I was struggling with a battle I felt no one could understand. It took me a year to reach my goal and boy was it difficult!
By the age of 16, I hit another challenge. I started to notice that girls who were originally my size, were now developing stronger and more powerful bodies. It seemed like no matter what I did, I could not increase my bulk. It wasn’t long before those same girls were the ones getting picked by college coaches to play for their teams. After watching college level soccer, I finally realized there would not be a place for me on the teams. My body was not meant to have bulk. Though I was strong, my body was naturally thin and narrow.
In my last year of soccer, I started modeling. Though modeling was enjoyable and I was successful at it, I struggled with my body image. I couldn’t find the confidence I had always had when playing soccer. Again, it was a personal struggle which I felt no one could understand. Two years later, a coworker on setsuggested that I compete for the title of` Miss California Teen USA 2010. Using the discipline I had learned playing soccer and the modeling skills I had recently acquired, I competed. To my surprise and everyone else’s, I won!
While preparing for Miss Teen USA my mom and I discovered developed and written by dermatologist, Dr. Perricone. This diet was perfect for me because the focus was not on calorie restriction but rather on reducing foods that create internal inflammation. While following this new regimen, I worked out with a personal trainer. It wasn’t long before I started to feel more beautiful! On this diet, I was able to eat the right amount of daily calories and because I was eating the right foods, my body became chiseled rather than bony. I had no problem maintaining my energy throughout the entire week while in the Bahamas. I placed second runner-up at Miss Teen USA 2010!
It was in the following three years that my body naturally matured and transformed into a curvy, womanly figure. It was difficult to get used to but I had committed to a healthy lifestyle.
Last year, I competed for the title of Miss Washington USA 2014. To prepare for this challenge, I followed the same Perricone Prescription regimen. I encouraged myself and easily managed to stick to the diet for four months. I did not have access to a gym but I had a local field and a sidewalk. We became very close…! For me, it was one of the greatest personal challenges. I was my own coach; my own champion. I felt incredible; strong, empowered, and accomplished. That October evening on stage, I could not have felt more beautiful. I placed second runner-up that night. Of course it was devastating not towin, but in retrospect, I recognized it was all about the journey.
The pageant industry has taught me about myself; my personal battles as well as the gifts I’ve been given. We are all unique that way. Each aspect of our lives teaches us our weak points and strong points. I’ve discovered mine and continue to live my life promoting only the healthiest of habits. I encourage you to find yours! What is your body story?
`Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
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