Flashback : So Long 2013

It goes without saying that this year has been the most fruitful! I have been blessed beyond words and have had opportunities unlike any other. Let’s take a look at how 2013 went…

My life changed the first week of June when I won the title of Miss Kansas. I still am in disbelief at how the months have gone by so quickly!

MA13

Three short months later I competed for the title of Miss America. I made international headlines everywhere by daring to be different; showing my tattoos, promoting the military and the outdoors, and standing up for my beliefs. Almost 500,000 people watched my YouTube video on why I should be Miss America, winning me the “America’s Choice” award. I placed in the top 10. The experience of those 2 weeks I spent competing for the title will never be forgotten. I made a great friend in Miss Nevada, I challenged the norm, and America was so receptive and willing to listen to my message. Thank you, America!!!

Diana

The months after Miss America have been incredibly busy. I speak to schools about bullying on a weekly basis, and I speak to other organizations about my personal platform; empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. Women face so many stereotypes that we may not even be aware of, which only aids in perpetuating them. My goal is to inform, educate and empower.

Since my love and passion for the outdoors became well known at Miss America, the months following have also been busy with “unusual” bookings for a Miss Kansas. I have attended the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt, I have taught girl scout troops how to shoot a bow, I have been a part of the Kansas BOW (Becoming an Outdoorswoman) event, I have traveled to Georgia to speak for the Concerned Veterans of America group, and so much more!

Hunting

The last event of 2013 had to have been the greatest moment of my year. Given my very busybusy schedule, I had not been able to go hunting all season. The incredible staff at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism understood what a passion it is for me, so they lined up a hunt with JB Outfitters in Pratt, Kansas. The outfitters asked that David Blanton, a hunting TV show personality for Realtree Outdoors, come film my hunt.

The three long, cold days of being in a tree stand with Mr. Blanton exceeded all expectations. He is the type of person that makes you want to be closer to God. He makes you want to be a better Christian. When I was around him, I could literally feel the Holy Spirit. I am so blessed to have gotten to know him, and honored to call him a friend. Thank you, David for sharing with me your testimony.Hunting1

In the last hour of the last day, I harvested a warrior; an old, mature, rough-looking buck. Godtested my patience waiting for this guy! It was 20 degrees all three days, it snowed on the second day, and on the third day the wind just wasn’t cooperating with us. But, good things come to those who wait, right?

The hunt would not have been the same without the help of Bear Archery and Realtree. A week before the hunt, Bear sent me a brand new bow—the Venue. It shoots like a dream (and has no pink on it…you guys know I hate pink camo)! Realtree ensured that I was outfitted properly for a cold-weather hunt. Thank you, both!

So what does 2014 have in store? I have 6 months left of my Miss Kansas reign before I’m forced to decide my path. I have been blessed with so many opportunities that I could go many different ways; having a TV show, working for Realtree, being a professional spokesperson, etc. I pray that I make the right decision in due time.

Whatever I decide to do, I know that I will not lose sight of my cause. I will continue to speak to women, empowering and challenging them to step outside of their comfort zones. I pray that God continues to use me as His servant, working through me to reach others. I am here to serve.

On a final, lighter note, I am on day 11 of a successful new year’s resolution! This year I needed more of a physical challenge. I wanted to take my body and its level of health and fitness to a new level. I decided to try the paleo diet. The paleo diet asks people to follow a diet similar to those who lived 10,000 years ago, essentially eating like hunters and gatherers. This diet is high in protein and produce. Now, make no mistake, I am NOT doing this to lose weight—I am doing this as a lifestyle change. I want my body to be in peak condition, physically and physiologically. How can I truly know the capabilities of my body if I’ve been polluting it with processed foods for 23 years?
The paleo diet was recently ranked last on the U.S. News and World report for being the worst diet. Why? Not because it is unhealthy…but because it was too restrictive for most people to actually follow. In other words…it’s a challenge! Right up my alley.
In the 11 days that I have gone paleo, I have never been so full of energy. I have never slept better (I’ve suffered from insomnia for many years), and I have never been so focused. Countless studies show how certain additives in processed foods yield ADD/ADHD behavioral effects. Well, problem solved; eat only natural foods!
I will continue to update you all on my journey through this challenge, through pictures and posts. I have a feeling it’s going to get difficult!

For those of you who have supported me through 2013, I thank you and I pray you’ll continue to support me through the events of 2014. What I have accomplished would not have been possible without my sponsors, my supporters and my fans. God bless you all!

-Theresa

God, Grant Me the Courage to Change the Things I Can

The title of this post is a line from the sacred Serenity Prayer. It is my personal mission statement for life, a constant reminder of how to choose to live. “God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.” It is also tattooed on my side…

I am writing this post just weeks away from competing for Miss America because I do not want to shock the nation when I’m seen in a swimsuit, bearing my marks. I want to explain the meanings and reasons behind them, and why I am opting to show them proudly.

I mentioned the first of two, the serenity prayer. As I was growing up amidst the bullying and neglect, I found myself asking God on a daily basis to give me peace in knowing I cannot change certain things about myself, but also asking Him to give me the strength to change things that I had the power to. Praying to Him for these characteristics got me through my adolescent years, high school and boot camp. When I was 20 years old, I knew I wanted to always be reminded of my past and its connection to this prayer. Thus, I chose to have it tattooed onto my body. I have no regrets.

The second is the military medical insignia. Though much smaller than the prayer, the significance is just as great. Since I was a child, God placed a strong passion for service into my heart. Service to my Country, and service to people through medicine. In the middle of this symbol is the letter “D” to represent my dad, whose influence was paramount in choosing this career path.

As you might have noticed, I did not mention dragons, flowers, hearts or other frivolous items as one of my tattoos. I am a firm believer that lengthy and conscious thought should be given before getting “inked.” I am also firmly against (personally) getting a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo. All too often I run into individuals that have no rhyme or reason for the choice they made, other than “I just wanted one.” Most likely they will regret their decision after a few years.

So, down to the reason for this blog. Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos? Reference A; my platform! Empowering women to OVERCOME stereotypes and break barriers. What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink. With my platform, how could I tell other women to be fearless and be true to themselves if I can’t do the same? Now, had my platform been something entirely different, maybe the tables would be turned. Maybe. But I am who I am, tattoos and all.

Now, many still believe that Miss America is apple pie and pearls. However, in the job description of Miss America it clearly states that “she must represent contemporary women between the ages of 17-24.” The operative word here is “contemporary,” synonymous with modern! 1 in 5 Americans have at least 1 tattoo. If I were crowned Miss America, bearing my tattoos, do you realize the stereotypes and stigmas it would break? Do you realize it would pave a path for a whole new audience to compete in the Miss America Organization? As of right now, the stigma is girls with visible tattoos do not compete in pageants, and certainly do not win. I want to break that. I am a traditionalist, I am conservative and I am a God-fearing woman. Having tattoos does not negate any of those. Think about it.

Two more phrases catch my attention in the job description of Miss America. “She must be comfortable in her own skin” and “She must be true to whom she is as a person.” If I covered my tattoos, would I be fulfilling any of those requirements? No. I would be doing a disservice to myself and to those who have found me to be a role model.

Should I win Miss America because I have tattoos? Of course not. BUT, I shouldn’t be discredited for having them either. This is 2013. We are not in the dark-ages, we are not in the 50′s. We are the leading nation for innovation, creativity and progression. When I dress for work everyday, I act like a professional and I look like a professional. YOU do not know that I have tattoos unlessI want you to.

If I don’t win the title of Miss America, I can only hope I have changed peoples perceptions of the type of women that choose to compete for it. God, Grant me the Courage to Change the Things I Can…

On a final note, I’d like to discuss my military service. It has been documented in writing that if I win Miss America, my obligations and responsibilities will be given to the crown. The military has been my number 1 supporter through all of this since they, too, believe in pursuing personal and professional goals. It’s not bad recruiting for them either ;)

If you haven’t already, PLEASE go vote for my video at www.missamerica.org/videocontest to solidify my spot in the top 15! That is the only way you’ll see me on the final night! Watch on Sunday, September 15th at 9 pm EST on ABC. I will also be featured in ABC’s 20/20 the hour leading up to the final event. So tune in!

God Bless

-Miss Kansas…

Memorial Day and My Journey to Miss Kansas

What is Memorial Day? I know many of you believe it’s that weekend you get to spend at the lake drinking beer. Or the weekend you get to hang out with friends and family, partying it up. But those are merely the activities you partake in to celebrate what this Holiday is all about. Memorial Day is a day to remember our fallen soldiers; those that fought and died for our freedom and rights. We do not celebrate their death, but we rejoice in the legacy they left behind. While you’re out there on the lake, or celebrating at the bars, remember that you’re able to do those things because selfless men and women fought for you and your families.

I have served my state and my Country for 6 years. I may not be on the front lines of war but I wear my uniform with unmistakable pride. I yearn for the day that I get to deploy and serve my Country to the fullest potential. I may not like where the government is headed, I may not agree with the presidency. But I don’t serve either of those. I serve YOU and the United States of America. Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day. Thank a soldier for their service!

              

After 14 weeks

And now to tell you about my journey throughout the past 5 months. In such a short amount of time I have changed dramatically. Not just physically, but in my way of thinking. If there is one thing that competing has taught me, it’s that you need to be unapologetically yourself and not let others dictate how you feel. I will be the first to admit that I cared about what others thought of me. I let their words get to me and it brought me down. I started second-guessing myself, asking myself if this is really what I wanted to do. I hit a low point…and then I grew up.

After tirelessly worrying about what other girls were thinking about me, I realized that I am the best version of me possible. I am a compassionate person, a selfless person and an all-around kind-hearted girl. There will always be people who don’t like you because they don’t know you, and people who don’t know you because they don’t like you. And there is nothing you can do about it except put your big girl panties on and keep moving. I AM unapologetically ME.

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The biggest improvement is in my legs. I finally have shape and definition to them!

So as for the physical improvement, I have managed to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 5 months. WOW! I have always been naturally slender so to see muscle on my body was a huge achievement for me. Now, many will tell you that physical fitness is not important to winning a pageant. While this may hold some truth, I am not going to undermine the value of a fit body. How can you be a role-model if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle? If you’re binge-eating because you can or getting drunk on weekends?

In 2 weeks, win or lose, I will know that I put every ounce of discipline I had into it. Just from that, I will walk away knowing I am a winner. I still have a long way to go in terms of fitness and building muscle, but I am surely on the right path.

If you guys have any questions or comments, please don’t be afraid to ask! I will update you all in 2 weeks after the results of Miss Kansas! Have a beer for me!

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl…

Body Image and Ideals

During one of my gym sessions a few days ago I stopped in front of the full length mirror and did something that I hate to admit; I looked at myself in disapproval. There I stood, nit-picking all of my so-called faults. “Trim up your legs, Theresa. Geez, I have man-sized traps. You could be a bit leaner, Theresa.” My subconscious was taking over, and there was nothing I could do about it.

  Attractive? More like unhealthy.

Attractive? More like unhealthy.

 

Now, for those of you who know me or have seen me, you know that I take care of my body. I’m in the gym daily and I eat clean. So you’re asking yourself why I’m thinking these things about my body. Well, I suppose there are two reasons. The first being societal pressure. We’ve been raised in a society that, for so long, has constructed these women in the media to be the pinnacle of perfection. These slender, desirable bodies. Since I was just a small girl I believed I was suppose to look like that, and sadly that mentality is hard to shake after living it for years on end. The second reason, I may be slightly obsessed with the idea of perfection. In every aspect of my life I consider myself a perfectionist. My hair must always be done. I won’t dare be caught wearing sweatpants. I will always look presentable. My house must be clean….you get the gist. I’m like a robot! The funny thing is, no one else in my family is like this. So where did I get it? Again, society is to blame. As a child I envied those girls in magazines.

I have come a long way since then but like every girl I still struggle. I battled anorexia on and off from 5th-11th grade. I felt like I had to look a certain way. I had to look fragile and petite, like those girls in magazines. I know what it’s like to feel pressure, to hate yourself.motivation1

About a year ago, something in me changed though. Maybe it was my silent way of saying “screw you” tosociety, but out of the blue I no longer wanted to be just skinny. I wanted to be powerful. I wanted a sculpted body, my muscles saying “look at me, look at the dedication it took to get here.” Anyone can be slender, but it takes work, determination and diligence to be fit. And so my journey began. Since then I have been the most confident I’ve ever been in life. I stopped worrying about the numbers on the scale, but rather about how I FELT.

So here I am telling you about how confident I am with myself, yet I prefaced this post with my body concerns. The truth is, I’ll never stop trying to achieve more. There is always something that I will want to change. And you know what, that’s okay. I will never pollute or harm my body as a means of changing it so why not?

I will always preach doing what makes you happy, so long as it is safe. If you want to change, make a change. Just be healthy about it. Do you know why I work out and lift hard? Yes it boosts my confidence, but there is something deeper than that. A FIT body, not just a skinny body, says something about the person. It shows that they are determined. They are dedicated. They do not quit. This isn’t just for working out, these are the traits that show in every aspect of their life. Their career, their goals, their family, etc. I want to inspire and motivate people. I want to be a role-model for girls who need one. How can I accomplish these things if I can’t take my fitness and health seriously? THIS is why I workout. I want to be the best version of me possible, so as to influence others to make a positive change.

My phone's screen saver. It motivates me on a daily basis.My phone’s screen saver. It motivates me on a daily basis.

Pressure from society will always be there, I don’t care what you say. It can be completely subconscious or right in front of your face, but it’s there. Once we get more comfortable with ourselves is when that pressure lightens. So, find what makes you confident. If you have to make a change to do so, then do it! The only person stopping you is yourself. What makes you confident?

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl