Thursday, September 16, 2010

Zone 2

This may be common knowledge, but I have just learned something very interesting:

I have been busting my butt at the gym trying to get my cardio in gear -- running on inclines at 7.0, 7.5, even 8.0 mph, sweating through multiple shirts, getting my heart rate up as high as 191 and maybe sometimes more, its madness ... and its extremely tiring.

Finally, I decided to ask one of the trainers at my gym to tell me why I work so hard and am not seeing much of an improvement. He took one look at my heart rate monitor that I try to wear during all of my workouts, and gasped. APPARENTLY, getting your heart rate that high is over-training and isn't really benefiting me. I'm burning the muscle I worked so hard to gain and the fat just kind of gets bypassed. When I asked him what to do to burn the fat, he said I need to do EASIER WORKOUTS!!!! WHAT?! Yes. He suggested I try to keep my heart rate right around 150, which would put me in my "Zone 2," or my fat burning zone. I tried it this morning, and all I had to do was walk at 4.0 on an incline to get it there. IT WAS SO EASY!! I couldn't believe it, and frankly, I didn't trust it. So ... I went on the Internet to see if what he said was true.

It turns out, staying in the fat burning zone is EXACTLY the way you can shed those extra pounds, which means keeping your heart rate lower and not working as hard. This concept is just beyond me, but facts are facts. I'm nervous to give this a try, but I don't think I've got anything to lose! I'm going to focus very strongly on staying in zone 2, and MAYBE it will work! WHO KNEW?! If anyone knows any more information about this or can offer some encouraging success stories please let me know, I'm doubtful and curious. YIKES. But here goes nothing ... :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Well well, today is Wednesday. It has been such a fun and busy few weeks!! I judged a crazy hat contest at the Barker family picnic, I attended Winfield Days and judged a talent contest, I participated in a shoe kicking contest (its exactly like it sounds, lol), I was on the radio to promote the SOS Children's Village, I helped raise money for the Castle Challenge in Dekalb with Miss Iowa USA ... and the list goes on and on! Excitement is never more than a day away, and as the days go on I am beginning to realize how fast it all goes by. ITS CRAZY!

I continue to be excited that there are so many young women looking forward to this year's competition. It is definitely going to be a great year to compete since this is the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Miss USA Pageant system. I think its going to be an absolute ball of a time, and I can't wait to meet all of the lovely and driven women in person at the seminar in October. For those competing -- make sure you keep asking questions, getting help wherever you can, and working hard! Only two months left!! YOU CAN DO THIS!

The best part about life for me lately has been reconnecting with old friends and figuring out what I want to do with myself. For the past few years I have had such a strong focus on finishing college, getting a job, and winning a pageant title that I haven't given myself much time to just enjoy things. I am excited because although I am still quite busy, I have taken some time to get back in touch with old friends, finish reading a few books, and practice the piano again. It may seem petty, but its very exciting for me! Also ... I am THRILLED because I have FINALLY found my calling. After quitting my job with Robinson & Maites, exploring the world of Sales with IST Management, working part time as a freelance designer, writer, and training at the gym, I have FINALLY decided what the heck I want to do with my life! It is such a relief too, because this is something that has really been bothering me. I have had a lot of experience this year with radio and television, getting up at a microphone in front of an audience, and participating in some really cool things that get me very excited. I have decided that I absolutely 100% want to be in broadcasting in one form or another. I am very excited about it, I am driven to do it, and I am determined to make it happen. I am grateful for the Illinois pageant system, Daphne Ortiz, my mom, and all of the people who have helped me this year for giving me the opportunity to realize this!

Sooo, besides that, I am very much looking forward to the next events I have lined up. I will be volunteering at the SOS Village Balloon launch to help raise money for the orphan and foster children in Lockport. I will be working with the Save Abandoned Babies organization to help kick off their newest awareness campaign. I will do a ribbon cutting at a new restaurant in Arlington Heights called Salsa 17, I will be mingling with the Boy Scouts of America at their 100th Anniversary celebration, doing a photoshoot, working with the Honor Flight, and so much more. Fit it all in before the title is passed on to the next girl you say? Well, alright!! :)

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cure Juvenile Myositis

Please Vote!!! Cure JM at:

They're so close to the big win, and today is the last day to help. Its a wonderful cause, please vote!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Game Time Dine

Thursday evening I had the opportunity to give a live cooking demonstration with DC Crenshaw for "Game Time Dine." I was to prepare, cook, and serve two of my favorite dishes for the live studio audience. I chose to make my home-made pasta noodles with a creamy vodka sauce, as well as crispy golden chicken with potatoes. I wasn't told to bring anything with me to the studio, so I came with nothing by myself (and my camera of course!)

This was to be the final episode for the second season of Game Time Dine, and their first ever live performance. I think it made everyone a little nervous, and sadly, we didn't seem to create the perfect show. However, we had a fabulously fun time doing it, and the viewers both in the studio and watching at home on Facebook seemed to be interested -- they asked a lot of great questions.

One question that came up a few times for me was how I choose to eat when I am prepping for a competition such as when I was getting ready to compete for Miss Illinois USA and Miss USA. Well, to be honest, it's not very exciting, guys. I try to eat as clean as possible, meaning everything is fresh. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh fish, cottage cheese, etc. Basically, if it doesn't rot in a day or two it shouldn't be going into my body. However, that's what I do when it starts to get down to the wire. There are a lot of great, tasty and filling things you can eat for the months leading up to your competitions that will help your body get itself in the right shape. Check online or at your local bookstore for books like the Flexitarian Diet, Clean Eating, etc. I just take recipes from books like those and try to eat at least three or four times a day along with drinking lots and lots of water. Not only is it good for my body, it's great for my skin too!

Speaking of skin, I remember when I was growing up my mom always told me that I had so many pimples because I ate too much chocolate. I didn't believe it for a second and kept right on eating it ... I just saw a dermatologist to help the problem. However, it seems that mom may have been right (don't tell her I said so though!). When I was clean eating for Miss IL USA and Miss USA I really didn't have any skin problems. BUUUUT, when I got home from Las Vegas after the pageant and ate what I wanted without hesitation, my face looked like a pepperoni pizza. Not only that, but the weight I had worked hard to lose had started to come back. Sooo, I started clean eating again a few weeks ago, and I have already seen a huuuuge improvement in my skin, as well as the fit of my clothes. I hadn't changed my workout routine at all, I simply started eating better and the changes began to take place. This, again, reiterates how important I think a healthy diet is when you are trying to be in great shape. Truly, I could work out for hours and wouldn't have much to show for it if I didn't eat right. The two must work together!!

And now I'm off to the airport. I'm flying to Atlanta tonight on a business trip! I return tomorrow evening and Tuesday morning I move to Chicago. OOOOOH the madness. :) I'm looking forward to very busy and exciting week!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Saturday evening, Brandon and I competed in the DWI4 Latin Rhythms dance competition. We rocked the show with a nearly flawless performance, and the crowd went wild. As nervous as I was right before getting on stage, hearing the audience cheer that way was the most exhilarating feeling I've had in a long time, and all my nerves turned to excitement. My advice to anyone who is ever watching a stage performance ... be a good audience! It brings so much more life into the performer, and you will definitely see a better show. The cheering helped my confidence, which improved my dancing, which made the show more exciting to watch. I can't wait to get the video and watch it from an audience view! I am so so so happy I had this opportunity to learn to dance, and I can't wait to continue learning at Latin Rhythms this fall. Look out for me next summer at DWI5!


Last week, I attended a business/leadership seminar in Dallas, Texas. I was hesitant to go since it was a lot of money and I just left my full time job to pursue other interests, but I'm so glad I decided to go through with it. It was extremely motivating, and at some parts even made me cry with the stories they were presenting to us. Who knew a business seminar could be so powerful? One thing that really touched me is when one woman said this:

"God didn't have time to make a nobody. He only had time to make a somebody -- and that is you."

I thought this was an awesome quote, because its true! I keep thinking about the girls who will be competing in the Miss Illinois USA pageant this year, and as I've said in past blog posts ... it makes me excited. I remember this time one year ago, I was at the gym twice a day, thinking about what my evening gown would be, practicing my interview with my parents, and just focusing 100% on the goal I wanted more than anything in the world to achieve. I was just being myself ... a recent graduate, living at home, working a new job, wondering whether or not I would ever make my dreams come true. Little did I know in just a few short months, my life would be changed drastically. It could happen to anyone. If you just realize that you were meant for greatness and put your heart and soul into it, it could be YOU with that crown on your head in November. WHO KNOWS! But what better way to find out if Miss Illinois USA 2011 is your destiny than by giving it your best shot?

Something else that touched me at the seminar is, "If your friends don't laugh at you, your goals aren't big enough." I remember my first year trying for Miss Illinois USA I didn't tell anyone I was doing it. I didn't want to spread the news and come home without anything to show for it. But after I had that first experience I knew I had to let people know my intentions if I was going to make it happen. I told everyone. Friends, family, even strangers! It kept me accountable. A lot of people were shocked when I told them, because back then I didn't even wear make-up let alone high heels, but it gave me something to prove, I think. If everyone in my life knew I was trying to be the next Miss Illinois USA, I had to follow through. My thought was, "Even if I go home without the crown, I'll know I gave it my 100% BEST effort, and that's just the way it was meant to happen."

The trick with pageantry ... or with ANY aspect of life ... is that you simply cannot wait for your ship to come in. You have to swim out and get it. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to get it. For me right now, there are many things I wish to achieve, but of course, some of them or closer to my heart than others. What is it for you? What do you want more than anything in the world? Now ... how do you go about getting it?

I am sooo excited for the coming months, as I'm sure many of the women in training and preparation right now are too. My wish to you is to enjoy the journey, and get help where you need it. Ask me, ask your friends, your family ... but set that goal for yourself and turn it into a reality. If you're going to bother dreaming at all, you might as well dream big ... and if you're going to bother trying, you may as well try your best. GET IT, GIRL!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tech Rehearsal

Mom and I are about to leave momentarily for the tech rehearsal to my "dancing with the instructors" competition. I am so excited for her to see the dance that my partner Brandon and I have been working so hard on over the past few weeks. It's going to be a tango that turns into a salsa ... its very fun, sexy, and fabulous. At the end we do a really cool trick where Brandon throws me up in the air and I spin around really fast, then he flips me over and pulls me into a final dip. Oh boy oh boy, it's going to be amazing. I can't wait for the competition next weekend! Lets just hope this time I don't nail him in the face like I did during the last round's tech rehearsal. YIKES!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dew Tour

This past weekend I attended the Dew Tour at Soldier Field in Chicago. I got to sit at the Q-101 radio station booth signing autographs and taking pictures for awhile before I was escorted to the VIP section to watch the athletes compete. I had never watched a BMX event before, and it was incredibly exciting to attend. After the competition I was delighted for the opportunity to present the awards to the winners along with NBC Sportscaster Daryl Hawks. It was a very exciting event that I am glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of as Miss Illinois USA.