There is a ton of pressure on young women today regarding our body image. Between maintaining our college social life, schoolwork, and a part time job, the last thing we need to stress about is the perfect body image. Michelle Leonardo is a college student at Suffolk University and the reigning Miss New Jersey. CL spoke with this inspiring young woman to see how she juggles the college lifestyle and the pressure of body image.
CL: You are right in the center of the pressure of body image the media puts on girls our age, how do you handle it?
ML: While training for Miss USA, I kept reminding myself that my goal was not to be stick thin, but rather have a healthy, strong body! A woman is suppose to have curves, they are sexy! They say you are what you eat, and I would much rather be a cupcake then a carrot stick, they are much more delicious!
CL: Who is your biggest support?
ML: My parents, sister, nana, boyfriend and best friend have been there for me since day one and I don’t think I could have done any of this with out them.
CL: Who do you aspire to be?
ML: I like to say I am going to be Carrie Bradshaw without the love drama- I want a great job with a fabulous wardrobe and amazing friends! I either want to work for a magazine like Cosmo or Glamour or be a news, sports or entertainment anchor! I can really see my life going in a few different directions.
CL: Who do you look up to, why?
ML: I look up to many people for different reasons. I have learned compassion from my mother, how to work hard from my father and was taught how to handle every situation with grace from my nana.
CL: What is your diet like?
ML: What diet? Before Miss USA I tried to eat as healthy as possible, egg whites for breakfast, grilled chicken, tuna, etc… I will never say no to a chocolate chip cookie! A good way to lose weight is to limit your carb intake. Carbs are what give you energy, without them you will turn into a complete grouch! But when you work out, your body first burns off the carbs, so if there are less carbs then your body will next move onto the stored fat.
CL: Do you have a regular exercise schedule/ routine, if so what is it like:
ML: Right now I am getting back into the swing of things. My workout routine will consist of me running 4-5 days a week mixing in pilates and resistance training. My Miss USA trainer, Swan Lyons, is a pilates instructor in Boston and she is amazing!! I love pilates and it has completely changed my body, I will do it for the rest of my life!
CL: Do you have any tips/ secrets to staying in shape?
ML: It is really hard to stay in shape in college, I gained the freshman 15 because I would eat terribly and late at night. Let’s be honest, we are in college and we all go out. So when you get home at 2 in the morning, don’t pop easy mac in the microwave. Instead, have a piece of fruit and a tall glass of water. Next, try to make a schedule and stick to it. Write down what your work out goals are for that week and the hours you want to work out and it will help keep you on track. Finally, set goals that are achievable. No one can lose 10 pounds in one week (without surgery). Be realistic, find out what a healthy weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) is for you from a dietician or your physician and make a long term work out plan and nutrition goal to lose the weight.
CL: What is one piece of advice you would give to girls about the pressure of body image today?
ML: Life is way too short to obsess over your body! Get out there and indulge in life’s different pleasures! They’re worth it