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Compete In Miss America And Learn Lifelong Healthy Success Strategies

09/21/2016 10:12am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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Weight A Minute: Your eating affects everything from your health to your level of success. - Margaret Marshall

"The older we get, the more we fight the battle of the blow-outs. I was in the best shape in my life when I had to parade across the stage at the Miss America Pageant wearing a swimsuit, high heels and a smile. To say the least, I was motivated! But I need practical advice. What is a woman to do who struggles to be in control of her weight?

"Margaret Marshall is the author of three books. Her newest book is entitled, HEALTHY LIVING MEANS LIVING HEALTHY: Lose Weight, Feel Great. Margaret believes "It is not dependent on the numbers on a scale, but rather on how you conduct your thoughts and feelings, and how you manage the many challenges throughout the years." Jane Jenkins Herlong

This is an excerpt from an article that Jane Jenkins Herlong wrote about my new book, Healthy Living Means Living Healthy. When I saw that a contestant in the 1980 Miss America Pageant wrote an article about my book, I knew she cared deeply about living healthy. I wanted to meet her to find out what she does now, and what it was like to be in the Miss America Pageant. I thought I'd discuss how one eats and exercises in order to have the physique to compete in beauty pageants. Instead, in our conversation I learned how pageants prepare you for success in life.

Herlong, who shares her humor on Sirius Radio channel 97, claims her mother was funny, and her dad was a hard-working farmer with a 10th grade education. Although her parents supported her in many ways, she found that in her formative years, the outside world did not. "Outside forces discouraged me, and I spent most of my childhood playing with my dog," she recalls. Winning Miss South Carolina in 1980 and competing in the Miss America Pageant that same year was her way of saying to all those who dampened her spirit, "Yes I can. Watch me!"

Women who entered the Miss America Pageant were everything she wanted to be. People around her though told her she was not smart enough or attractive enough for the event. Competing in the pageant taught Herlong to have a healthy mental attitude, to set boundaries and to carefully select those who she allowed in. She also learned to control negative thoughts, and how to embrace her favorite four-letter word...NEXT.

What she learned from the pageant and life, she shares in her comedy, her three books - Bare Feet to High Heels, What Ta Tas Teach Us, and Bury Me With My Pearls and by being a Hall of Fame speaker with the National Speakers Association.
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She believes pageants have five phases of success which can translate to success in life:

  1. Herlong claims the worst part of the competition was the swimsuit, but it taught her to be physically able to handle life's challenges. "With health and well being you'll have a successful outcome in life's challenges."
  2. The pageant taught her the importance of communication skills, and the need to convey your message concisely and eloquently.
  3. She learned to recognize her talent, and believes the pageants taught her to "Find it, improve it, and exploit it."
  4. "Being of service to others is the ultimate reward." She learned you must always give, or share, your talent with others.
  5. The evening gown competition taught Herlong how important it is to have your own style.
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In speaking with Herlong, I learned that the pageants are a comprehensive education. They teach us that personal style is essential. How you communicate, care for your health and well being, and embrace your unique style, is paramount to any outcome. Then they teach us to share our achievements and talents by being of service to others. When you live these lessons, you demonstrate your success.

After speaking with Jane Jenkins Herlong, I will not look at another beauty pageant the same way again. We never talk about how diligently one must diet or how extreme the workouts are to achieve the physical appearance needed for beauty pageants. We'll save that for a future article. But I believe the lessons Herlong shares from her Miss America experience are sound and healthy. Regardless of who you are, what you've done, or what you're doing now, enjoying good health both mentally and physically is what gives you the ability to keep saying...NEXT.
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