Feelin’ Myself

Last night, I got to show off the body I’ve worked so hard for. It meant so much for me to get to rock a swimsuit on stage. It is so important to take care of the body God gave you. By putting healthy foods in and taking the time to stay active, we can all look and feel better. We can all be more confident! Any girl can wear a swimsuit on stage and feel great; it’s all about putting good in to get good out. #APerfectFit

  

Food is NOT the Enemy

There is no diet that will do what eating healthy does.  Skip the diet.  Just eat healthy.

As we have started getting closer to Miss South Carolina, people have begun to ask me about my diet.  Diet is a huge part of cutting fat and building muscle, but some of the questions I’ve gotten have been hard not to laugh at.  Some of my favorites have included:

1.  Will you be taking water pills to ensure you lose your water weight?
No.  2/3 of my body is water because my body needs water.  I have no intentions of dehydrating myself to win a pageant.  In fact, I won’t even be turning down water on swimsuit day.  Why?  The human body (including mine) needs water.  I think this is especially true considering I plan on dancing for my talent, which tends to lead to me sweating out at least a gallon.

2.  Do you intend to start replacing meals with baby food?
No.  I have seen people do this, and I think you could do it safely if you were really careful.  However, intaking a 90 calorie can of pureed banana (containing just 1g of protein with 19g of sugar) seems like a waste of those calories to me.  I would much rather drink a protein shake or eat a piece of chicken.  Low calories, less carbs, less sugar, plus I’m full and feel like I have energy to stay active.  Also note that I got my calorie information off of My Fitness Pal, so it seems clear that plenty of people do use this method.  To each their own.

3.  So you cut out carbs, right?
No.  Carbohydrates are an essential fuel source for any high energy routine, and in case you didn’t know, I like high energy workouts.  Our body enters ketosis (burning fat as fuel) once we run out of carbohydrates.  The problem with fat as an energy source is the amount of time it takes to break it down.  I’ve tried lowering my carbohydrate intake, and it leaves me feeling sluggish and beat down.  I tend to eat high protein and low carbohydrates naturally, but I could never cut carbs out entirely.  Carbohydrates are not the enemy.

There are healthy ways to lose weight.  To some extent, I rank decreasing carb intake among them, but it’s all about balance.  No food is “evil” or a “miracle”.  It’s about balancing intake and exertion in a way that keeps you energized but doesn’t leave a ton of leftovers.

What is my diet plan for Miss South Carolina?  I can honestly say I haven’t changed my eating habits much.  I eat around every 3 hours (not only is this good for your metabolism, it’s also the only way I’m not hungry) but try to intake small portions each time.  I eat a lot of high protein foods (which goes back to decreased carbohydrates) like eggs and chicken or even protein bars.  I also try to incorporate a protein shake as a snack or sometimes even as a meal each day.  I don’t let my body get hungry, though.  The minute I get too hungry, I’m going to go running to the nearest Clemson bar for a quesadilla and french fries.

Figure out a way to incorporate healthy eating into your daily life.  Don’t jump on the latest diet trend.  I can promise its results won’t have a lasting impact on your life, and your body probably won’t feel its best.  Keep a watchful eye on eating suggestions that involve cutting water.  Although losing water weight makes the number of the scale go down, it does not decrease your fat percentage or actually make you healthier.  Find foods you love that also love your body, and exercise portion control.  I hate the American clean plate mentality, and I promise it won’t kill you to have leftovers for tomorrow.

Create a sustainable diet plan for yourself.  Incorporate foods you enjoy; eating shouldn’t become a painful chore.  Remember to limit your portion size.  Accompany your healthy eating with an active lifestyle.  Try things like biking or even walking in a local park.  30 minutes a day will change your life.  Plus, if you have a sustainable healthy life, you will be completely prepared to walk on a stage in a swimsuit and heels if the occasion ever arises.  You won’t even have to make drastic changes to get ready!

Happy eating!  #APerfectFit

Crunch Time

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

I’m a week away from Miss South Carolina check-in, and I feel as though I was crowned Miss Greater Easley last night.  Time has certainly flown by in the most surreal manner as I’ve undergone my competition preparations.  From the perfect evening gown to just the right talent selection, it’s been a much more elaborate process than I anticipated, but I wouldn’t change anything that has happened.  I’m grateful for the doors opened to me by the crown as well as the stressors put on me through it.  I truly believe both the good and the bad of the pageant realm is preparing me to be a well-rounded adult.

Here’s my bit of advice about preparing for anything in life: you can always do more.  I don’t care how many times I practice my dance or go to the gym or watch the news; I could always have done more.  I use to be very bothered by this.  I felt like if I could do more, I should, and to some extent, I still feel that way.  I believe in giving my gifts and talents back.  I believe in using up what God gave me while I’m here.  I’ve also learned that just because you can do more doesn’t mean you should.

What I’m trying to say is, I feel completely prepared for this competition.  Yes, I could tone up a little more, or I could tap a little clearer.  The fact of the matter is, I like my body, and dancing is fun.  I don’t want to give up Zaxbys on Sunday to ensure my abs pop, and I don’t want to give up having a social life to ensure perfect tap sounds.  I wake up happy, knowing I’ve done what I can and leaving the rest up to God.  Maybe I can’t practice until I’m perfect, and I’m learning that that’s OK.  Sure, I could have done more, but I don’t think I could have done more and maintained my positive vibes.  Here’s to one more week to put in work before I get to leave it all in God’s hands!

Finding Time for Fitness

We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work
-Thomas A. Edison

Whenever I tell people how I strive to lead a healthy lifestyle, one of the most common questions is, “How do you have the time?”  I totally get that.  It’s a lot easier to go through a drive through after a long day instead of prepare a meal, and the drive through comes with the added benefit of disposability whereas the kitchen requires clean-up.  After a day of hard work, it’s a lot easier to flop on the couch instead of continue being productive by making the trek to the gym.  We can justify being lazy after a long day because we all deserve a break, right?

Trust me, I understand the feeling of wanting a break.  Between my employment as a college student and my “big girl” job, I often want nothing more than to curl up and watch my latest favorite TV show in binge-like fashion.  Add on the stress of competing in the Miss South Carolina system (think paper work deadlines, appearances, and people needing you often) and mentally I tend to be done toward the end of the day.

I’ve learned there are ways to combat being lazy.  If you don’t set yourself up for success, you will settle into a habit of failure.  That’s why I want to share some of the ways I handle stress and time commitments in conjuncture with my lifestyle choices.

There was a time in my life when I would wake up at 5:00am to go to the gym.  When I was in high school, that worked for me.  When I got to college, it didn’t.  I had to stay up a lot later to complete assignments and have a social life, so getting up early was no longer an option.  My workout habits suddenly shifted later in the day, but I found that the further I pushed working out back in my schedule, the less likely it was to happen.  Sure, I’d have every intention of going to the gym at 11:00pm, until a friend called or I got settled down in my apartment.

What works best for me is to keep my gym bag in my car.  If I have to go back to my apartment after work/class, there’s a good chance I’ll end up deciding to skip the day’s workout.  If I go straight from one to the other, I give my lazy half no time to convince my better half that the day’s workout is unnecessary.  Find a plan that works for you, but I highly recommend not taking a break in between the grind of your regular day and the grind of your fitness plans.  Lump them all together, then reward yourself with relaxation when all the work is done!

As far as sustainable healthy eating, it all comes down to meal prep.  I use to hate the idea of meal prep.  It’s intimidating to prepare food for a whole week all at once, but once you start, I can almost guarantee you will love it.  For me, the key has been to prepare only a few things, but to make sure those things can be used in many ways.  My favorite staple is chicken.  At the start of every week, I throw some chicken into the crock pot with a little chicken broth, salt, pepper, and maybe some of whatever seasoning is in the cabinet.  I take it out, shred it, and store it in the fridge.  I can now eat it plain, throw it in a salad, or make a sandwich.  There’s no end to what I can put something so simple in, but it eliminates a huge part of the preparation since the time-consuming cooking part is done!

Another key point when it comes to eating healthy is staying full.  I know we all try to cut down on portion size, and I think some aspects of that are great!  The serving at the average American restaurant contains enough calories for the whole day, not just one meal.  I like the idea of smaller portions, but I also encourage multiple meals each day.  I try to eat every 3 to 4 hours.  I might have eggs and toast for breakfast, then I’ll have a banana at 10, then chicken for lunch, then a protein shake around 3, etc.  If you eat all day, you boost your metabolism.  You also have the benefit of not getting hungry.

When I neglect a snack or meal, I don’t just get hungry; I get mean.  My dad is the same way, and I guess we are just really sensitive to our blood sugar.  I also reach a point of hunger where I am going to gorge myself the minute opportunity presents itself, and in that state, I’m probably not going to select the most healthy option.  In fact, I’m probably looking for something deep fried and served in massive portions.  I’m probably going to Zaxbys.  Don’t let yourself get to that point!

Another note, I eat Zaxbys almost every Sunday.  I find that it’s much easier to eat healthy most of the time if I know I’m going to treat myself some of the time.  Some people have a more “cold turkey” approach to bad food and believe in cutting it out entirely.  This approach would never work for me.  I would be miserable.  A little fried chicken each Sunday hasn’t killed me yet, and if it does, well, I had to go somehow.

I hope these little tips and tricks from my life can help you say no to your lazy half at the end of each long day.  If eating well and being more active is a new change for you, I want to say first that I applaud your efforts, and you have made a great decision.  Second, this is going to be hard at first, but it does get easier.  Your energy level will increase.  Your happiness will increase.  It doesn’t happen all at once, but it will change your life for the better.

Please send me your healthy lifestyle questions!  Tag your fitness efforts and link them to my platform with: #APerfectFit

My Miss South Carolina Headshot

Headshot

I would like to thank AJ Day and Kristen White for sharing their talent with me.  I would like to thank my parents for footing the bill and continuously supporting my journey.  I would like to thank God for this and so many other opportunities that have come my way as Miss Greater Easley.  Last but never least, I would like to thank every friend who has taken the time to support me through this incredible experience.

FTK Always, All Ways

“Even miracles take a little time.”
The Fairy Godmother

I believe in making commitments to things I feel passionately about.  That way, losing sleep and pouring out energy is worth it.  When I attended my first dance marathon my freshmen year (2013) I walked away knowing that Children’s Miracle Network was a cause I wanted to take a stand for.  I applied and was accepted to a position on Clemson Miracle’s executive board, and since then, I’ve given countless hours to the kids at Greenville Children’s Hospital.

On March 7, 2015, we raised a little over $42,000 for CMN.  After the incredible amount of time and commitment put forth by our executive board, it was overwhelming for us to see such huge success.  This was the most Clemson University has ever raised for CMN, and of that money, over $10,000 was raised during the event itself through in house fundraising activities.

I love everything about Clemson Miracle, but one of the best things is the people on the executive board.  Each of us is passionate about the children we work to help, and each of us is willing to push for what we believe in.  The committed people I’ve worked with over the past year to organize this event have never tired, refusing to give up on the kids at Greenville Children’s Hospital.  This executive board not only continues to inspire me, but we have inspired so many others.  We’ve lit a fire in the hearts of Clemson students for the kids, and we will fan those flames until it consumes the entire Clemson community.  I know for a fact that the executive board of Clemson Miracle will never settle, we will always push for more, and I thank everyone I’ve worked with over the past year.

So why do we do it?  Where does the passion come from?  We each have our own personal reasons, but I think this cause is universal.  Every child who is admitted into a Children’s Miracle Network hospital has the innocence of youth.  They should be worried about being found in hide-and-seek, not worried about the next needle or procedure.  Every child deserves a childhood, and growing up in a hospital is not the life any parents wants for their kid.  Life doesn’t work like that, though.  Life isn’t fair.  Kids will spend hours on end undergoing treatment, and the outcome isn’t always what we think it should be.  I believe God has a plan and a reason for everything, even if we don’t always understand, but I also believe we should do everything we can to make the lives of those children as innocent, happy, and fun as possible.

Although there were many emotional moments for me during the 10 hours dance marathon, one of the most upsetting occurred toward the beginning.  Every participant is given a hospital bracelet with a miracle child’s name on it to wear during the course of the day.  At the end of the day, there is a circle of hope ceremony in which all the dancers stand in a circle, while a miracle child walks around and cuts off each bracelet.  It shows support of the kids, but it is also a prayer that every child will one day get to remove their bracelet.  Mia, one of our miracle children, was checking in.  She reached for a bracelet, and I asked her if she needed help putting it on (many of the college kids had; the snap can be confusing).  She looked up at me, smiled, and said “No offense, but I’m probably better at this than you are.”  She proceeded to snap on the bracelet with her name, cut the annoying tail off, and leave the table, and for the first of 50 times that day I was reminded of why I gave up my Saturday and plenty of other hours throughout the year for CMN.

Mia
(
Mia also insisted on taking a selfie.)

I just want to say thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who put their money where the miracles are and gave to Clemson Miracle.  Your generosity to this incredible cause means the world to me and to these children.  Thank you to the best executive board around.  Each of you inspires me daily, and it was our passion that made this event a success.  Thank you to the miracle families who gave up a Saturday to share their stories.  I cannot think of anything more moving than hearing what you have been through and am so glad that your strong, brave kids are giving their time to help other hospitalized children.  I am blessed by the opportunity to serve this organization, and I promise that I will never settle.  Next year, Clemson Miracle will continue to grow, and we will astonish even ourselves with what we can do.  Through love, nothing is impossible.

For The Kids
Always, All Ways

James Mason

PS. My fundraising for CMN has not ended.  If you are willing and able, please consider making a donation to help me on my journey to Miss South Carolina this summer!  As always, it’s FTK!

http://www.missamericaforkids.org/Donate/tracyelizabethmcgee

Julia

Happy Tears Only

In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I was not raised to be a pageant girl.  Mama didn’t make me wear a flipper as a child or force me into frilly dresses.  I had girly hobbies like dance classes, but I also loved spending time in the garage with my dad.  I don’t think anyone thought I’d grow up to be a pageant queen, but this is where my life has led me.

On January 21, I won the title of Miss Greater Easley.  I’m not sure if that moment will ever seem any less surreal than it does right now.  My imaginary princess crown was suddenly a real weight on my head, and with that weight, I felt not only excitement but responsibility.  I suddenly had my little claim to fame and a way to make my voice heard.

I’ve always believed in serving any community you come in contact with, but I think the real attraction of the pageant world was the way it gives women an opportunity to be heard.  My platform, A Perfect Fit, is something near and dear to my heart.  By inculcating into the hearts of young girls a mindset of health and well-being, a belief that their bodies are incredible because of what they allow them to do and not how they look, the future of South Carolina will be happier, healthier, and more confident.

So here’s my one rule for this whole journey: Happy tears only!  All things coming out of this experience will be positive because things happen like they’re meant to.  God has a greater plan than I can imagine, and to Him be the glory.  Win or lose at Miss South Carolina, no one can take away my ability to serve as Miss Greater Easley or the memories of this year.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and I thank everyone taking the time to read this and support me!

XOXO,
Miss Greater Easley 2015
Tracy Elizabeth McGee