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Miss Kansas is Anything but the Beauty Pageant Norm, and We Love It

“I try to be like my dad, he’s where I get my characteristics and strength,” said Miss Kansas Theresa Vail. She went on to call her father her role model, but she hopes other young women find inspiration in strong females. Based on how people are responding to her participation in the Miss America pageant, it’s almost guaranteed that many will be looking up to Theresa Vail.

Theresa Crown

Raised as a self-described “military brat,” Vail moved around a lot. She was bullied as a child, and nearly ended her own life at the age of ten. Seven years later she joined the Army. Now she is a sergeant and has recently signed on for six more years of service. Only the second representative of the military to compete in Miss America, Vail has broken quite a few barriers. She was America’s Choice in last weekend’s pageant, which earned her a place in the Top 15 and placed her just outside of the Top 5 overall.

It makes sense that her platform is “Empowering Women: Overcoming Stereotypes and Breaking Barriers.” One of the biggest stereotypes Vail overcame was the thought that Miss America contestants shouldn’t have visible tattoos. Instead of hiding her large tattoos, Vail proudly displayed them.

“I told everyone before I left for Miss America that whether I win the crown or not, if I can change people’s opinion, then I’ve done my job,” she said. Many people’s opinions of Miss America and the women who compete for the title are based on how the contestants look. The focus on body image and self-confidence is something Vail has already encountered while she has been serving as Miss Kansas.
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Mess Hall Makeovers Help Obese U.S. Army to Slim Down

I’d like to nominate America as a candidate to participate in The Biggest Loser 15. But if they’re too busy, maybe the U.S. Army could fill in, considering our troops’ swelling obesity rate is now a national security concern. Apparently, as U.S. citizens ascend toward new heights of corpulence, so goes the armed forces.

The army has historically had stringent fitness demands, and “boot camp” is synonymous with hellacious physical exertion, so the weight gain can’t be for lack of trying. From 1992 to 2007, more than 24,000 soldiers were discharged for falling short of the Army’s weight standards.

Fortunately, the U.S. Army’s Military Nutrition Division may have an answer. In a recent intervention conducted at five dining halls on Fort Bragg, N.C., researchers found that replacing foods heavy in fat and sugar with fruit, veggies, whole-grains, and lean meat significantly improved the nutritional health of the soldiers and led to weight loss. “Go for Green” placards with nutritional information were placed around the mess halls to incentivize the soldiers.
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The Four-Star Diet is Not a Book for People Who are Attracted to Fad Diets

I would never guess by her images on Google that Laura Wellington used to struggle with her weight. But she uses diet-talk to describe her former mindset when she says, “I’m just in my self-destructive mode, but I can always go back on a diet.” Eventually, Laura does change her perspective in many small ways that add up to a critical mass when she becomes fundamentally changed. Exactly how she did it is not the point. Laura is simply writing about the lessons she learned for living a meaningful life along the way.

Somehow, Laura, a young widow, mother of four, owner of a TV show and brand, turned it all around. In trying to explain how she did it, she was inspired by a presentation, A Leadership Primer, on victory in business and life made by General Colin Powell. She applied Powell’s twenty principles for business to a weight-controlled life, and she sprinkled her new book, The Four Star Diet, with personal anecdotes and advice from inspirational leaders like Gandhi and Einstein. The book has only 136 pages and you don’t have to read it in order.

Laura Wellington believes that weight control is about taking personal responsibility for choices in less than optimum circumstances.  As a result, she asks you to “reflect daily,” “look below the surface,” and “live fearlessly!” When General Powell asserts, “Endeavors succeed and fail because of the people involved,” Laura interprets it as, “Birds of a feather flock together,” and then explains how positive role models provide invaluable visual lessons, while toxic people in your life must change or perish. She takes no prisoners, in the best possible way.
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10 Ways We’d Improve the US Navy’s Fitness

Obesity is rampant across the entirety of the US population. Epidemic is one word often used to describe the increasing weight that is creeping in on more than half of our citizens. For as sexy as they can look in those sailor suits, and physically demanding their jobs can be, even the members of the US Navy aren’t immune. The National Institutes of Health reported in November that 15.1% of male US Navy personnel are obese. However, for the confined space they often live in on submarines, the obesity rate “remains below U.S. nonmilitary comparison data.”

Posted on the Navy Times today, the problem is something that they’re asking for crowd-sourced support in alleviating, even if that means from civilians. The publication posted that, “A recent audit of the Navy’s fitness program revealed that many commands do not take fitness seriously, and that there’s too little accountability at the top.” In a business where fitness is everything, much like law enforcement or firefighters, the physical fitness should be a priority to everyone.


Navy Times is asking people to email their thoughts on both personal experiences regarding fitness in the Navy (for instance, “are you allowed time to work out?”) and how to improve the fitness of the Navy. While they’re likely looking for answers primarily from their own men and women, they’ll no doubt hear from anyone who stumbles across the article who want to share their two cents. Like us!

We’ve got ten tips for the Navy to improve the fitness of its personnel. When people are fitter and healthier, and encouraged to be so, they think clearer, have fewer days off work, are more productive, not to mention generally have better overall morale. We’re sure all of this would be appreciated by everyone in the Navy, from the top down.

Be Accountable. Enact a buddy system where each person is accountable to another for their workouts, diet habits, and even other health changes like smoking. This shouldn’t be a commanding officer, but a peer, that way you eliminate any fear. The relationship should be supportive and mutually beneficial.

Stand Up. Get rid of the space-eating standard office desks and install standing desks. This will get your personnel up out of their chairs and on their feet, which promotes more movement, better posture, and overall better fitness.

Promote Personal Training. Certifications, that is. The NESTA personal training certification is now covered under the GI Bill tuition allowances. It can help individuals not only prepare for a career after the Navy, but help them keep themselves and their peers in shape during.
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Memorial Day Food is Trumped by Remembrance and Respect

Fat-free potato chips and low-calorie onion dip may grace your picnic table this Memorial Day. Or maybe an ice-cold beer is your perfect accompaniment to the spirit of freedom that dances across your weed-free yard. And nothing says “barbeque” more than an extra day off of work, but sometimes the food and drink takes the spotlight away from the real reason for the celebration. We must not forget the brave men and women who gave their lives so we can feel safe reveling on our shaded back patios.

For some, Memorial Day is just another unmemorable day that makes for a three-day weekend. For others, it is simply an opportunity to try their hand at baking a deep dish apple pie for a neighbor. While many Americans have a sense of disconnect to the idea of war, few gravely understand first hand the sacrifice it takes to have enough nerve to stand up for what they believe.

Instead of stockpiling the turkey hotdogs or turning grandma’s bean dip into the highlight of the day, take a moment to sit quietly and give gratitude to those who died at war. You don’t have to listen to Taps, but you can be sensitive to the real reason for this special American holiday.
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