a much overdue miss virginia 2013 review

Well, let’s just state the obvious…I didn’t win Miss Virginia. In fact, I didn’t even make the Top 11. I will be honest, I was surprised by that. Not because I felt like those who made the 11 were undeserving. Quite the opposite–getting to know the other contestants throughout the week is an amazing and humbling experience because it becomes quite obvious that any one of the amazing, accomplished young women would make a fabulous Miss Virginia! I was disappointed because I felt that all of the work I had put into preparing for the one-of-a-kind job interview had made me as prepared as I could possibly be and I wished that would be enough.

Arrival at the Hotel Roanoke

Arrival at the Hotel Roanoke

Pageants are a subjective game. There are so many variables at play…what are the judges’ preferences? what are they looking for? what if one judge had to go to the bathroom really bad during my interview? …seriously, you never know what factors are at play. I truly thought I had done the best I could do in each element of onstage competition. So after I wasn’t called as a finalist, I thought, “I must have blown it in the interview room” which is such a discouraging feeling because I had originally thought my interview went very well!

After a long period of confusion and self-doubt, I realized that I had done my best. I had done my best. I don’t know what anyone else’s interview looked like or what the judges were looking for. While I had done my personal best, perhaps it just simply did not scream MISS VIRGINIA in the same way that others’ did. And that’s okay.

Because in the end of it all, I know I put it all out there. I did my personal best and that is enough. I am enough.

Post-interview

Post-interview

One of my goals for the week was to live in the moment. I didn’t want to get so caught up in what the outcome would be that I missed out on the experience. That I didn’t laugh and bond with the other contestants, show my appreciation for the volunteers, and giggle with my teen & preteen sisters. I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal!

150982379.RkNDAj4E

My Miss Virginia journey took a large role in a powerful faith-building experience that has changed my life forever. It wasn’t until I put God at the center of my life and sought to use my experience to glorify his name that I really started to do well–both in terms of actually competing and getting the most out of my experience as a local titleholder. The crazy uncertainty of pageants forced me to throw my hands up in defeat and look towards God for one last shot at the game in my final year of eligibility. When I competed at Miss Greater Richmond I felt the calm of trusting Him with my future, and I had never felt so at peace about the outcome, whatever that might be. I rejoiced when I won and praised Him because I knew He had given me this title as a gift and that there would be much to learn from the opportunity.

Backstage at the final night of competition at the Miss Virginia pageant, I took a quiet moment to ground myself in prayer. I remember praying that I trusted whatever God’s plan for me was, whether that was to become the next Miss Virginia or not. I was ready to accept whichever outcome He had planned for me that evening. BUT…I can admit that in my heart there was a caveat…and deep down I was saying “but pretty please just let me at least make the top ten so that my efforts will be validated and I can be on TV and I can say I accomplished something!!!!!” Instead, God humbled me and reminded me that HE is in control. I had to accept His plan without any stipulations.

As previously mentioned, after the pageant was over, I did a lot of self-reflection and I talked to God a lot about my experience and what I should take away from it. Here’s where I am so far…

1. My efforts were validated. My friends and family and MGR team know how hard I worked and what I put into my preparation. It didn’t take more than five seconds for them to tell me how proud they were. And I couldn’t me more grateful for their support and the sacrifices they made to let me pursue my dreams.

2. I was on TV. BOOM. Y’all saw me in that amazing purple gown! :)

3. I have developed life skills, built a network, and made friends that will last far beyond my years vying for a sash and crown. These are invaluable assets that I may not have gained, or gained so abundantly, without the Miss Virginia Organization.

4. I truly reaped the benefits of sacrificing a part of myself to make the world a little brighter for someone else. Between graduate school, an internship, and a hectic schedule of preparing for the Miss Virginia pageant, there were often times I didn’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to get done-up for an appearance (or even take a shower, for that matter). Sometimes I would wonder, “does this really matter?” and time and time again, an interaction I had would blow that doubt away in an instant. Walking away from an appearance and realizing that I was part of a memory a pediatric heart patient would cherish for years to come or that a hardworking volunteer felt they had a noteworthy guest of honor made every early morning, every gallon of gas, and every high-heeled step SO worth it.

5. I gained a better understanding of who I am and what I value. I spent many an interview trying to play the part of Miss Whoever and say what I thought the judges wanted to hear. Preparing for Miss Virginia and being Miss Greater Richmond gave me the confidence to be myself because that’s good enough. I stopped obsessing over what I ate and regretting a “bad” food choice and started developing a passion for fitness and wellness. I stopped counting calories and I didn’t stop eating ice cream. I stopped telling myself my talent was no good and started practicing a lot more. I stopped trying to impress people and started having more fun! I stopped desperately grasping for a title and started actually appreciating how each experience has shaped/will shape the path of my life. I  stopped trying to control things and started trusting God.

While much of the growth process has occurred over the several years I competed, a large portion took place within the past year. The effects of trusting God have made an astounding impact on my life outside of pageants as well. When I look back and see how far I have come from when I was crowned Miss Greater Richmond only a year ago, I think, “If only I had trusted God sooner!”

There are so many exciting things happening in my life and I cannot wait to see His plan unfold.

I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to serve as Miss Greater Richmond 2013. It was an incredible year!

Team Greater Richmond/Hanover arrives at the Hotel Roanoke

Team Greater Richmond/Hanover arrives at the Hotel Roanoke

My fabulous roomie, Miss Hill City!

My fabulous roomie, Miss Hill City!

All the contestants with Miss Virginia at the Rockledge Mansion on Mill Mountain

All the contestants with Miss Virginia at the Rockledge Mansion on Mill Mountain

Overlooking Roanoke

Overlooking Roanoke

Reception with Miss Greater Richmond's Outstanding Teen and Preteen

Reception with Miss Greater Richmond’s Outstanding Teen and Preteen

Spending time with Miss Greater Richmond's princess before crowning her onstage

Spending time with Miss Greater Richmond’s princess before crowning her onstage

Miss Virginia week is exhausting!

Miss Virginia week is exhausting!

Talent: Jazz Dance to "The Twentieth Century Fox Mambo"

Talent: Jazz Dance to “The Twentieth Century Fox Mambo”

Swimsuit

Swimsuit

Onstage Question

Onstage Question

Evening gown

Evening gown

Evening gown

Evening gown

Thursday night visitation with a fraction of my amazing supporters

Thursday night visitation with a fraction of my amazing supporters

At Friday night visitation with Brad

Friday night visitation with Brad

My awesome family

My awesome family at the Fourpoints Party

Feeling the love!

Feeling the love!

hit the barre

I have been so blessed during my journey as Miss Greater Richmond 2013 to have been overwhelmed with support from my family, friends, and community. Several businesses and individuals have been so kind as to have contributed goods, services, or funds to help me prepare for the Miss Virginia pageant in June. I am so thankful for their generosity and will be taking some time to tell you all how amazing they are here on my blog. Additionally, all my sponsors will be featured on the Miss Greater Richmond 2013 page.

PBlogo

Pure Barre Charlottesville

It would be an underestimate for me to say I’m obsessed with Pure Barre. I’m actually addicted. I have never been a huge fan of working out. My activities of choice growing up were dance (ballet, jazz, tap) along with theater, music, and art, so athletic-conditioning style workouts have never “clicked” well with me. I’ve pushed through Cardio Kickboxing, Body Pump, and even pretended I liked running (I planned to sign up for a half marathon for about 3 days–that was a joke!), but I never stuck with a routine very well.

Pure Barre has been a whole different story. As in, I wake up at 5:30 AM to go to the 6 AM class. And I’ve always been the last thing from a morning person! For some reason, these intense workouts that incorporate a series of isometric movements to target the entire body have me hooked! Although it’s harder some days than others, I “hit the barre” each day looking forward to a good workout and leave feeling great!

So what is PB? Like I said, each workout uses small, isometric movements to target your thighs, seat, abs, and arms, and burn fat and calories along the way. PB promotes itself as “the fastest, most effective way to change the shape of your body” and I can personally say, I have seen amazing results! They say clients will see results after 10 classes, but I could feel my body getting stronger, more flexible, and leaner even quicker. The tagline “lift . tone . burn” sums up the PB mission and is a great motivator!

Each class will leave your muscles completely fatigued and shaking after each exercise (“Shaking legs are changing legs!”). After targeting each muscle group–arms, thighs, seat, abs–thorough stretching is done to lengthen said muscle. Additionally, the exercises are safe and no-impact to protect the joints. This joint-friendly creation of long, lean, non-bulky muscle is perfect for pageant land because the results for swimsuit are awesome and the workouts complement my dancing quite well!

IMG_1798

On top of it all, the classes are set to great music and the instructors are awesome! The max class size is 25, so you get a lot of personal attention to make sure you’re properly executing the technique. The instructors are all so sweet and encouraging–many of the inspiring “Pure Barre-isms” have crept into my database of daily go-to phrases! I’ve also been so impressed by how committed the PB staff is to getting to know each client’s name and a little bit about them. Valerie Morini, the Charlottesville PB franchise owner, has been so generous to sponsor me with unlimited classes in preparation for Miss Virginia, and for that I can’t thank her enough!

Come join me at PB–I don’t always go at 6 AM and would be happy to join anyone at an alternate time if you want to give it a try!

lift . tone . burn

IMG_1804

Pure Barre Charlottesville

2200 Old Ivy Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
ph: 434-245-1119
e: charlottesville@purebarre.com

Facebook: Pure Barre Charlottesville

http://www.purebarre.com

ready to run

I’m home from Hatteras and it’s back to reality…including the reality of the post-Miss VA “padding” I’ve acquired. My parents and myself have chosen to battle the results of our beach week bingeing by returning to Weight Watchers Online, our favorite way to track our eating habits and stay motivated to make healthy choices. I have a very obsessive personality, so being able to track what I eat and “geek-out” with the online tools really works for me!

Of course, eating healthy is most effective when paired with physical activity—the recommended minimum is 30 minutes each day. But to achieve a lean, toned, pageant physique, I’ll have to go above and beyond the minimum! Two years ago, before I competed in my first local preliminary for Miss VA, I started running to improve my fitness, along some light weight-lifting. The running, which admittedly is more like jogging (I’m slow!), worked like a charm! I was energetic & slim and it was great for lower-body toning. I won the swimsuit award in that first pageant, much to my surprise!

Unfortunately, my hectic school schedule eventually got the best of me and I no longer had the extra encouragement from my dad, an avid runner and half-marathoner. My regular jogging turned into an occasional painful trip to the treadmill. I’ve rediscovered the inner motivation, though, and I’m jumping back on the jogging bandwagon. This time, I’ve developed a five-step plan to stay on track (pun intended) and keep moving.

Step 1. New running shoes (and socks!): It’s extremely important to have running shoes with the proper fit. I recommend going to a running specialty store, like Ragged Mountain Running Shop in Charlottesville, to get fitted for the first pair. The trained fit specialists will ask you what activity you plan to use the shoes for and then look at your old shoes to analyze wear. Next you’ll put on the old shoes and jog back and forth in the store (semi-awkward) while they watch your gait. Based on their observations & analysis, they’ll recommend a pair with the correct cushioning, support, etc. for your needs. Don’t forget to replace your shoes every 400 miles to prevent injury. Extend your shoes’ lifetime by ONLY wearing them for running/exercise. Save your old pair for “knocking around”.

After buying the first pair at the potentially overpriced retail location, you can purchase future replacements in the comfort of your own home and search for the best deals online. Or, you can continue to support your local retailer–approximately 63% of the money you spend will return to the community through taxes and other fees! I personally wear the Asics GT-2150 and just got a new pair in the fresh “Island Blue” color.

Socks are another important part of the equation. Socks specifically designed for running will save you from the pain of blisters, chafing, and other forms of irritation. Thorlos(R) are my personal favorite. They wick moisture and have padding in all the right places. I always got blisters before I had these socks. At $13-14 a pair, they’re a little pricey, but totally worth it!

Step 2. Get the right gear. Luckily, I’m already set in this department. It’s important to have running shorts (or skirts, which are growing in popularity!) that don’t bunch up, ride up, or give you wedgies; comfortable, supportive sports bras; and moisture-wicking, lightweight shirts/tanks. I’ve learned this the hard way, through uncomfortable runs! Target has a great selection of activewear, and you can easily get by with only 2-3 outfits if you don’t mind doing laundry. Do a load with just your running clothes and use a detergent intended for activewear to fight those sweaty odors!

Also be sure to secure your hair back properly. I always have a problem with this, because my hair is super thick and it’s long, so my ponytail always falls loose. Wearing a baseball cap and pulling my pony through the loop helps, and doubles up to protect my eyes and face from the sun. Don’t forget to lather on the SPF!

Step 3. Set a goal. For me, the goal of increasing my fitness level just wasn’t concrete enough to keep me motivated. This time, I’m trying something new. After some brief online research, I’ve decided to enter my first 5K race! At 3.1 miles, a 5K is a very attainable goal and having the date on the calendar will really keep me focused. I will be doing the Star City Women’s 5K on October 1st. The race is sponsored by the Star City Striders, Roanoke’s running club. One the best things about races is that the proceeds typically go towards a charity…physical fitness & philanthropy?? Who could say “no”?! This particular race benefits both the running club and Children’s Trust. I’ll be saving the children one stride at a time!

Step 4. Make a plan. It’s not wise to participate in a race without the proper training, and since fitness is my overall intention anyways, I need to have a plan and stick with it! Sometimes, with exercise, it can be overwhelming to try to determine what you should do, how gradually to increase your intensity, etc. It’s easy to take on too much too fast, leading to injury or just wearing yourself out so much you never want to try again! Luckily, with the internet at my fingertips, I can access the pros in 0.12 seconds, according to Google. I’ll be following Hal Higdon’s “Training for your first 5K” 8-week plan. Although I could probably handle the intermediate version, I decided to stick with the novice plan to avoid the “too much too fast” syndrome. Today I’ll do a 1.5 mile run, but I’m waiting for the evening to avoid this afternoon heat. I’m not a morning person, so getting up early to run is just not going to happen for me!

Step 5. Provide incentives. It’s important to reward yourself for hard work! In my case, my dad is going to reward me, since he is my fellow family runner (and the one with the funds!). I really want a running watch with GPS, so I can track my time, pace, distance, and other data. My dad gave me his old one when I first took up running, but it was so large my hand practically dragged on the ground and the GPS was slow and unreliable, easily interfered with by tree cover—can you say “dinosaur”? I really like the Garmin Forerunner 110 for its sleek design and its many features, including a PC or Mac syncing option that allows you to upload your workout data, track progress, and set goals (hooray! something else for me to obsess over!). To ensure I’ll actually stick with my plan and use the gadget, my dad is making me wait to the 3-week mark of my training plan, which is now decorated by the words “GPS Watch!” inside of a bubble. Perhaps I’ll give myself a gold star that day as well.

Registering for the race provides its own incentive to show up on race day, as I value commitments highly (and don’t want to lose that 20 bucks!), but don’t forget about the race t-shirt! I’ll wear it proudly, possibly with a new pair of cold-weather running tights. Stay tuned for future blogs about running! I’d love to hear your stories and running experiences…feel free to comment below.

xx cef