The air is finally getting cooler, the leaves are changing… you might say, there’s some relief in the air. Swimsuit season is over!!! But not for everyone. In fact, for 24-year-old Colorado Springs native Melaina Shipwash, it’s time to kick her training into high gear! She’s the reigning Miss Colorado and is getting ready to compete in the Miss America Pageant in January. That means being in a bikini in front of, potentially, millions of people on LIVE TV!! But with the hard work she’s putting into ALL of her preparations (not just for swimsuit), she’s poised to walk away with the crown and some serious scholarship money. The Miss America Pageant is the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women… over 45-million was given out across the U.S. last year alone. So the pageant is looking for someone who wows in ALL areas of the competition… interview, talent, swimsuit and evening gown. And Melaina is ready to do just that. She gave KKTV's Stacia Naquin the scoop on training for Miss America:
Stacia: Congratulations! You must be so excited about Miss America. What all is involved in preparing for the pageant?
Melaina: Thank you so much! I could not be more excited and honored to represent our beautiful state, and everyone in it, at the 90th Anniversary Miss America Pageant coming up January 11 – 15, 2011. I have dreamed of this ever since I can remember and I am still in awe that I am one of three thousand women who have graced the Miss America stage in the last ninety years. Preparations for me include many mock interviews, staying in the gym and making healthy lifestyle decisions, remaining current with news and current events, not only in the United States but in the world as well, and practicing my talent until it becomes muscle memory! Preparations are definitely demanding but I love every second of it because I know I will have no regrets after competing at my personal best at Miss America 2011.
Stacia: When it comes to the swimsuit portion of the pageant... you must be nervous at the thought of being on stage in your bikini in front of millions of people!
Melaina: Call me crazy, but swimsuit is actually my favorite portion of competition! While I do work hard in the gym and make healthy diet choices, I do have imperfections as everyone does. The key I have found is not only accepting my imperfections, but embracing them. Swimsuit is about overall health and fitness, but also largely includes confidence. Nobody can take away that sparkle in your eye when you are comfortable in your own skin.
Stacia: So what's a typical gym session like for you?
Melaina: I absolutely love doing cardio, which is a main contributor to maintaining a high metabolism (which means you can eat more)! I do about 45 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of lifting. I lift low weight with high repetitions to build lean muscle. I work a different body part each day I exercise so a certain muscle group doesn’t get overworked and has a proper recovery time. I also really enjoy doing Zumba, which is a salsa based cardio class. This can easily take the place of a regular work out if I am looking to change things up.
Stacia: You make tons of appearances everyday as Miss Colorado...You're driving all over the state... how do you find time to hit the gym?
Melaina: I make time for things that are important. My number one priority right now and for the next three months is working my hardest to become Miss America 2011. Sometimes, that means getting up two hours earlier or staying up two hours later. However, I do pay close attention to my body and I adjust my schedule when I know rest is more important than getting a work out in.
Stacia: What do you eat to keep your energy up?
Melaina: I believe in a balanced diet. By diet I mean a daily intake, not a “diet” to lose weight. I do not believe in cutting out any particular food group, especially not carbohydrates. I eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and most importantly carbohydrates. I eat the “right kind” of carbohydrates such as wheat bread, rice, and pasta, rather than refined and processed sugars like candy and cakes. The biggest part of maintaining energy is eating every 2-3 hours which totals to six smaller meals per day. I typically take in 2,000-2,200 calories per day to maintain my weight while exercising.
Stacia: Your platform as Miss Colorado deals with eating disorder awareness. Tell us about Project HEAL.
Melaina: Project HEAL is an amazing non-profit organization started by three young women that met in recovery for their own eating disorders. I believe a role model can be empowering and relatable through their own personal experience with the disease. Project HEAL hosts fundraisers and collects donations to put toward the Help to HEAL scholarship fund, which they then donate to an individual suffering with an eating disorder. A selected scholarship recipient is then granted the chance to participate in a fully paid, in-patient treatment system to aid them in their recovery. These young women are truly dedicated, as am I, to ensuring the recovery opportunities that we were once given, to others willing to recover as well. I am grateful to be a part of such an incredible cause.
Stacia: You've spent a good deal of time training/mentoring young girls as an ice skating instructor. How do you instill a positive body image in them?
Melaina: When I was an elite athlete, I had some experiences in which I was pushed in the wrong way. I would be told, “You aren’t trying hard enough,” when I would in fact be pushing myself beyond my limits. Of course, in my mind this turned into, “You aren’t good enough.” Hearing that over and over again eventually impacts a person, no matter who they are. I try to use positive reinforcement and tell my students, “That spiral was great. However, we need to get your leg a little higher, but I know you can do it so let’s try again.” This does not directly enforce a positive body image but it instills confidence in them, which can lead to a positive body image and a positive overall attitude.
Stacia: So, you're about three months away from the pageant... what are you looking forward to most?
Melaina: I am really looking forward to the entire experience! The Miss America Class of 2011 is full of wonderful young women and I could not ask for a better group to spend ten days with in Las Vegas. As far as competition goes, I am most looking forward to performing my talent on the national stage at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. My routine is high-energy and so much fun, and has a few aspects that are “different.” I hope to be performing my tap dance live on ABC on January 15, 2011 so remember to tune in and root for me, Melaina Shipwash, Miss Colorado!