How do I even begin to blog about my exciting weekend at the NAM Minnesota state pageant? I was able to help out as the new Minnesota Miss alongside the 2011 MN royalty which included the incredibly energetic Princess queen Chloe, the sweet Jr. Pre Teen Haley, the beautiful Jr. Teen Abby, the talented Teen Alyssa, and of course the fabulous Miss Jackie. I've known Abby, Alyssa, and Jackie for years and they were so much fun to hang out with backstage and in between events. In addition, we had the best of the NAM staff on hand to help out and visiting royalty from different states as well! I was even able to meet Charity, Miss Iowa who will be at Nationals with me.
Ali & Julie: former NAM competitors and current NAM staff
Miss Minnesota Teen, Alyssa who I crowned in 2011
Isabelle, Miss Illinois Jr. Teen and I
Backstage love from Miss Jackie
Visiting royalty
A typical day in the life of a pageant queen: hanging out with queens and staff before running off to help out

My little surprise of the weekend

Throughout the weekend, I was everywhere. I was able to help register all the contestants during registration where my station was to sign girls up for bouquets and boutonnieres. Apparently I did so well (thanks to having a job in sales) that the staff had to go out and get more flowers to fill all the orders! I also helped with formal wear rehearsals for the Princess, Jr. Pre Teen, and Pre Teen divisions. One priceless moment of the weekend happened when the princesses had about 10 minutes before rehearsal started. Each one wanted me to watch them to ballet, cartwheels, or spins. Then about four girls were huddled together and I asked them what they were up to. "We want to play duck, duck, grey duck" one told me. I asked them if they wanted to invite the other girls as well and before I knew it, all 25 little Princesses were in a circle playing the game. I would have loved to join, but 5 year olds hitting my head while I wore a crown...not the best idea.
Jr. Teen opening production number
Talking Teen USA results with Christy, 1st runner up to Jr. Teen title
Grabbing a quick picture with a Jr. Teen contestant
Introduced during Orientation

Sophie & I know it, do you? MN ROCKS!
We'll be waiting for you at check-in!
Let's dance! Get pumped for the Opening Production Number
So who is ready for an INCREDIBLE weekend? I've been counting down in my planner for months and NAM Minnesota state is finally here! Looking forward into this next weekend, I'd love to share some of my thoughts about competing that I have learned over my years at NAM.

  1. Go to win, but also go to enjoy: Ken Maples explained it best my first year with NAM. Only one girl will walk away with the crown this weekend. Only one out of so many accomplished, poised, and energetic girls. Her year will be amazing but eventually the roses will die, the crown and sash packed into a box and scrapbooks put on shelves. It's the memories, experiences, and above all the friendships that never fade. I may not be able to tell you exactly how i placed in casual wear in 2008, but I can tell you that year was when I started to get to know Jackie Bordes and we've been friends ever since. 
  2. Plan and Practice: Follow the advice in the NAM magazines. Make a checklist for packing and double check you have everything! White tennis shoes are something I always seem to forget (and now I have about 4 pair that my mom has bought for me last minute). Practice your Personal Intro, Casual Wear, Spokesmodel, Actress etc. so you're comfortable and ready to rock that stage. Basically, make it easy on yourself so you can enjoy the weekend instead of panicking.
  3. Take care of yourself before: You know you better than anyone. If the best way to relax and get ready is doing yoga, do yoga. If you relax by whipping up come great cookies, get baking. For me it's nails and tanning. It's my time to mentally prepare and get looking my best! If you're looking for tanning, check out my sponsor, Just Julie Marie Airbrush Tanning.
  4. Be confident in yourself: Don't worry about other girls competing in your division. YOU do the best you can and I'll bet you anything you'll learn something about yourself this weekend.

So excited to see you at NAM Minnesota State Pageant!

Today was truly a pageant day: working, hitting the gym, meeting with a sponsor, going to a pageant event, and seeing the boyfriend. It was a busy day! Mainly I want to focus on the exciting send-off party I attended for Kendra Berger, the current Miss Minnesota Teen USA. Kendra was my sister queen as the Jr. Teen in 2010 for National American Miss. She's headed to the Bahamas this next week to compete for the Miss Teen USA title. So exciting! I got to see the dress she's planning on wearing for evening wear. It's stunning of course and she's going to rock it.

So one great story of the day: I was chatting with Linda (NAM staff, pageant mom, and friend) for quite some time in Kendra's backyard. We got up to move seats and I look down at my chair and see this big wet spot. I felt the back of my dress and it was wet too. What was going on? I looked over and Linda's chair was wet too. Turns out the fabric chairs had adsorbed the rain that had come earlier that day. Whoops! It was a bit of a surprise. Even pageant girls have embarrassing moments.

Best of luck to Kendra as she competes this next weekend!

Thanks Instagram for the new Facebook profile pic!
Kendra's autograph cards
I'm here to explain in a little more detail exactly how I was granted the honor of being crowned Miss Minnesota in a week. I've already described the differences between pageant systems in my blog Pageant 411: Miss America vs. Toddlers and Tiaras so you know I'm a queen for the National American Miss (NAM) pageant.
I've been competing with NAM since 2005, so that's 7 years for the mathematically challenged. Any other year I'd be blogging about how excited I am to compete and what I'm doing to prepare. However, this year I already know!
The Miss system in NAM is a little different than the typical Princess through Teen age divisions. At the state level, we have a different way of competing.

In April I sent in my application: resume, photo, and essay. I decided to follow one of the given prompts: How do you define true beauty? This was a natural choice for me since Amanda Moreno, the current National All-American Miss was Miss Georgia Teen in 2010 with me when she decided to start the True Beauty movement. Almost all of the 2010 teen queens took a picture with sashes, a white t-shirt, and NO makeup to show that although pageant girls love to get all dolled up with makeup, rhinestones, and super sassy and stylish outfits, we're also down to earth girls who are comfortable in our own skin. In my essay I was able to incorporate a little background of the movement along with my personal journey with NAM. I think I wrote the entire essay in 20 minutes because it flowed easily. When you're speaking from the heart, the words come easily.

My True Beauty Movement photos
As if spilling my entire progression from a shy 6th grader to confident college aged leader wasn't enough, I also had an extensive phone interview. At the state level for interview each contestant gets one minute with each judge to answer a few questions. In competing for Miss, however, I got to know my interviewer a lot better as we spent almost 20 minutes talking on the phone. What's even better is that I did it all in yoga pants!

So then I waited....and waited. Patience is still a virtue I'm working on so it was very difficult to wait until mid May to find out the results. Early May I was getting pretty antsy to find out how I had placed. What made it even worse was soon all around Facebook I started seeing posts from other states that had found out! Patience I kept telling myself. Each text from pageant friends asking if I knew yet made me even more excited...and nervous.
Finally after I felt everyone from different states had found out, I got the call. You don't know how much a stomach can flip until you see "NAM NATIONALS" pop up on your cell caller ID. Our nationals representative told me I had gotten it! I was to be crowned Miss Minnesota for NAM at the end of July. SO EXCITING! I called my mom right away to share the good news.

The long awaited e-mail
However, one thing I was confused about was that the representative asked me if I had gotten the e-mail from NAM already telling me. I hadn't. I would know because I had been checking my e-mail constantly for that exactly that news. I searched my e-mail later that day and in my junk mail I found the e-mail I had been dying to receive. In my junk mail! I quickly told my e-mail that nothing from NAM is junk. How unacceptable! What's even worse is that I looked at the date: 2 days previous. I could have known and saved myself all the nervous excitement of the previous days when all the other states had found out. I guess I can understand how "Congratulations, you're Miss Minnesota" could seem like a scam for anyone else, but I'm so incredibly blessed that in my life, it was just the news I was looking for.

So what's next? I officially get crowned by our current Miss queen, Jackie Bordes, after the teen formal wear competition at the Minnesota state pageant. It's just a week away! Then the real fun (and picture intensive blogs) starts. I'll be doing appearances and heading to Nationals in November to compete against the other state Miss queens for the title of National American Miss. *Happy dance*
It's no secret I'm 100% obsessed with National American Miss and everything it stands for.  Recently I've been creeping on facebook and seeing pictures from NAM state pageants. It's getting me so excited for the Minnesota state pageant! There were just some pictures I had to share because I feel they really capture the feel of the state pageants. From glammed up teens to NATURAL princess competitors, these girls look like they're having a great time!

Newly crowned Miss California Teen wins state title, Casual Wear, and Top Model competitions with a HOT PINK CAST
NAM is a family event! Two sisters both competing and looking stunning in formal wear WITHOUT makeup
Love the relaxed rehearsals!
Behind the scenes work from our National Queen!
Contestants bond in PJs!
Miss California Jr. Pre Teen is loving being a state queen! The confidence built through competing in NAM is incredible.
The 2011 National Queens take time during the National photo shoot to support the True Beauty Movement started by a NAM queen. Click picture to find out more!
Miss Indiana Princess gets the girls excited and ready to go before Opening Production Number!
Professional and age appropriate as a contestant heads to Interview
A contestant shines as she showcases her skills in talent
A contestant tries on the National All-American crown and banner. Keep dreaming BIG!
GET EXCITED! Jr. Pre Teens practice Opening Production number in rehearsals

See you at the Minnesota State Pageant!

There's a lot to be said about sisterly love. It's strong, it's real, and it's something I had always wanted. I love my older brother and am so proud of everything he is doing. Wrestling with him on the floor until one of us got hurt or my mom made us break it up when I was younger was one of the best memories with him. But I never had a sister to look up to, to share makeup tips, to watch horribly sappy romantic movies with. Now I have over 100 sisters through my Alpha Chi Omega sorority. I'm so proud of each and every one and look up to many outstanding women in my house.
One really special part of Greek life is getting a Big Sister. There's a special connection that is made with your Big or Little as you become a family. And I just happened to get the most amazing, smart, caring, determined, and dedicated Big Sis out there, Alexis Freisen.
As soon as I found out we had a pageant girl in the house, I knew I needed her as my Big. People say we're a lot alike which I take as the biggest compliment. And when I heard she was giving up her Miss Lakeville Princess title, I knew I needed to be there.

Visiting Roalty
Getting to Lakeville South High School wasn't exactly the easiest task. I naturally assume any city I've heard of is about 20-30 minutes away from where I live. That's great logic, right? Well not so much as I soon discovered that it's about double that. Getting ready (this includes changing, curling hair, touching up makeup, and downing dinner) took all of 12 minutes. Beat that! When I have a goal, I make it happen.
Driving 40 minutes away, getting a little lost, and battling traffic all without A/C didn't make for a super calm Miss Minnesota. Thankfully Kathy, my roommate from last year, came along with me and we didn't miss much.
Farewell speech
Thanking the directors
Watching the contestants compete was fun, but the real joy of the evening for me was watching Alexis deliver her farewell speech. I felt like the proudest little sister ever! I now can understand why pageant moms take so many pictures as they're proud and want to capture the moment. In all the farewell speeches, you could see how much a year of volunteerism, parades, and appearances had shaped and molded the queens. As a queen I feel you always make it your goal to give to others but end up receiving so much back.
Lakeville Junior Royalty--SO CUTE!
Newly crowned 2012 Lakeville roalty
One of the cutest moments of the night was listening to the Lakeville Junior Royalty. One little boy liked Pan-O-Prog (the main Lakeville Festival) because he won $2.17. It was a big deal. So congrats to the newly crowned Lakeville royalty and good luck to the Lakeville Queen as she competes for the Aquatennial title.
Alexis & I, Big & Little

Love you BIG!

Succession of Miss Minnesota High School queens
WOW! Has it already been 4 years since I secured my first state title as the first Miss Minnesota High School? It's crazy to reflect how much I've grown since then and how fiercer of a pageant competitor I have become. I've won 2 additional state titles since then and I must attribute that to my experiences as Miss MN High School.

I've had the joy of seeing the pageant progress and grow over the last few years...and knowing I was the first to kick off the Minnesota program as a state queen. The state directors, Suzie and Allyson, have dedicated countless hours to produce the state pageant and I am blessed to call them friends.

On Saturday, July 7th, the Miss Minnesota High School and Collegiate pageant was held at Normandale Community College. In addition, Iowa and Wisconsin girls competed for their respective titles. All competitors showcased their attitude in the opening number, their funky fashion style in fun fashion, their grace in evening gown, and their sharp brain in an onstage question.

Miss Minnesota High School America 2013, Molly West
Miss Minnesota Collegiate America 2013, Gianna Capuzzi
Molly West captured the title of Miss Minnesota High School while Gianna Capuzzi won the Miss Minnesota Collegiate title. Courtney Igbo (Miss Wisconsin Collegiate), Christy Prust (Miss Minnesota High School), and Haley O'Brien (Miss Minnesota Collegiate) gave up their titles as they crowned their successors. However, Haley O'Brien's year is not over as she is the current Miss Collegiate America and is competing in the Miss Collegiate International pageant in August 2013. Best of luck to her!
At the event, I was also able to catch up with some old friends, one being Bailey Wacholz who is the current Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen for the Miss America pageant. We were pageant sisters when I was Miss MN High School and she was Miss North Dakota High School. Such a sweetheart and I wish her the very best as she heads to nationals soon!

So happy to be allowed to share in the excitement of the Miss High School and Collegiate system. Best wishes to the newly crowned queens. Make your year count as it flies by so quickly!

July 1st marks the start of a new month, but it also marks the start of my new getting-ready-for-pageant routine. I'm eating healthy, working out a LOT, and getting to bed on time. I'm not trying to lose weight, but I'm trying to tone...a lot. So what better way than to start with a 2 and 1/2 hour workout at my favorite fitness center, Lifetime fitness. Oh goodness I'm going to be dead tomorrow, but it'll be worth it.
To help me stay on track, I finally registered online with my Lifetime card and found out classes like Yoga, Pilates, Hip Hop and some types of Martial Arts are totally free to members. Guess where I'll be living until pageant? I've recently taking a liking to yoga and I'm really excited to try Pilates.
In addition, I downloaded a health app to track what I eat just so I can keep myself accountable. And of course, I perfected my workout playlist. Need to update your own? Here are just a few I added to get my list to get myself moving and to cool down.

Working Out
  • Mr. Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan
  • Wild Ones by Flo Rider
  • The One that Got Away by Katy Perry
  • Sexy and I know It by LMFAO
  • Love you like a Lovesong by Selena Gomez
  • Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
  • Say Hey (I love you) by Michael Franti
  • Diva by Beyonce
  • Check on It by Beyonce
  • Shake It by Metro Station
  • The Time by Black Eyed Peas
  • United States of Pop by DJ Earworm
Cool Down
  • 1234 by Plain White Tees
  • Put your Record On by Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Cut Myself Some Slack by City Series
  • Clumsy by Fergie
  • Potential Breakup Song by Aly and AJ
  • Halo by Beyonce
  • 5 O' Clock by T-Pain
  • Fireflies by Owl City
  • Say Ok by Vanessa Hudgens
  • Your Love by Niki Minaj
Listening to my motivational new playlist, I did a medium intensity workout with running, stair stepping, abs, weights, biking etc. When I was good and worn out, I took a 5 minute break and then hit the hard stuff. A Hip-hop class taught by a 33 year old intense dancer. Wow. I couldn't keep up but I did my best and it was really fun.
Awkward moment of the day when a guy (props to him) joined our class and attempted to do our booty shaking, hip circling moves. Bless his heart he really did try.
Exhausted after an hour, I finally called it quits then enjoyed a well-deserved dinner of sushi and a white peach.

So here's to working out, being healthy, and shedding those extra pounds. If you're attempting the same journey, I'm right there with ya.

Remember, you can always find an excuse for anything you don't want to do and you can always find a reason for anything you do want to do. You decide...then get your butt out to run!