By MIKE CHAIKEN
When it comes to pageants, physical fitness is a key component of the final score that results in determining who gets a crown and who doesn’t.
Lori-Ann Marchese is a fitness instructor with Body Construct LLC. She is also the reigning Mrs. Connecticut. And she is prepping former Southington resident Sydney West, the reigning Miss Connecticut USA, for this summer’s Miss Teen USA contest.
On a recent Sunday at Body Construct studios in New Britain, Marchese met with prospective pageant contestants who are interested in everything from Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen to being Marchese’s successor as the next Mrs. Connecticut. And for several hours, she played guru to the women who would be queens. She put the participants through their fitness paces with a series of exercises intended to get them in shape and toned up for swimwear and evening gown categories. Additionally, Marchese offered up her own fitness meal plan intended to keep the women healthy and looking good.
Marchese’s plan was not about dieting but about eating the right kind of food to slim down.
“Your body is like a car, you can’t run a car without fuel,” said Marchese. “And if you fuel your body, it’ll burn more (calories).”
“You have to eat all the time,” said Marchese. “If somebody ever tells you to eat three times a day, tell them to get lost…. It’s wrong advice.”
But you can’t just eat anything those five times a day to get fit, she explained.
“You always have to eat fresh. You have to stay (on the perimeter) of the grocery store. Anything inside (the perimeter)— bagged food, frozen food, canned food, baby food— get rid of it… (Buy) fresh because it has the most nutrients.”
Marchese told the participants their diets, as the pageant days approach, should consist of properly portioned protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
“That’s what you’re going to eat all day, every two to three hours. (Under her meal plan), you get one protein, one carb, and the rest is vegetables.”
For your proteins, Marchese told the prospect pageant winners, the focus should be on plain ground turkey, chicken, any white fish, egg whites, and lean beef.
For those proteins, Marchese said that the women should remember, “When you eat lean, you look lean.”
For those vegetables, she said, “You can bake them, steam them, sauté them, grill them— as long as you use olive oil and coconut oil… Try to have spinach and broccoli and maybe add some color to it, with some peppers…
But carrots? Forget about them, said Marchese. “Carrots have a lot of sugar in them.”
“Other than that, (when you eat vegetables make it fun.”
In addition to the proteins, carbs, and vegetables, Marchese said that as the pageants approach, “You have to drink a lot of water because water acts as a fat burner. It’s very difficult, it is for me, to drink a gallon of water a day. (But) it flushes out your system. It acts as a fat burner because your body isn’t holding any sodium. It gets rid of that round look…”
To give the water flavor, Machese said, the women can infuse it with fruits such as lemons or lime.
In addition to the diet advice, Marchese also gave the women some tips about chosing their evening gowns and swimsuits for competition.
She suggested working with a stylist for selecting the gowns. But she said red tends to work well with blondes. Brunettes look better in yellows and neutral colors. And both blondes and brunettes do well in black.
Speaking in terms of swimsuits for the Mrs. Connecticut contestants, it’s a matter of choice whether you go with a one-piece or a two-piece. She wore a one-piece for competition when she won the title. She also suggested adding a little bit of “bling” to the suits, such as some jewelry on one of the straps, to give them more visual interest.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN