From Chubby Teen to Beauty Queen

Bree Boyce had big dreams.  But she also had a big body that got in the way of achieving those dreams.  One day her appetite for her future exceeded her appetite for junk food and the 17-year-old embarked on a healthy lifestyle that started at home and ended up on a national stage.

Bree, who weighed 234 pounds a few short years ago at age 17, was recently crowned Miss South Carolina.  In the past she ran from cameras; now she embraces them.  As an overweight child Bree never went to pool parties.  “So to go up on stage in a bathing suit was terrifying.”  But having worked so hard for it, her proudest moment was strutting her stuff in a slinky black swimsuit during the recent fitness competition of the state pageant and she rocked that swimsuit all the way to winning that round.  “I proved a lot of people wrong. Winning that swimsuit award was the icing on the cake. The cake I didn’t eat the night before.”

What’s her secret, you might ask? There is no secret, she’ll tell you.  It’s just about hard work.  And keeping it up everyday.  It took Bree three years to lose 112 pounds the old-fashioned way:  through healthy eating and exercise.  She has changed from eating fast food in her car from the moment she got her driver’s license to viewing food as fuel for her body.  She works out every day, up to three hours when she is training for a pageant, and is now an avid runner.

And thus her platform was born.  This beauty queen is preaching healthy living and has the history to validate that she knows what she’s talking about.  Bree doesn’t regret her overweight past, because it’s helped make her who she is today and gave her the background to help others.  She says that it isn’t about being a certain number or size, it’s about being “size healthy” and loving yourself.  And she is well on her way to inspiring people of all ages to “become healthy through good eating habits, exercise, and believing in yourself.”

I envy Bree.  Not for her crown or her body.  (Okay, a little for her body.)  But because she is so wise at such a young age.  And acting on it!   If you’d like to learn more about this healthy living role model, who clearly is more than just another pretty face, check out her facebook page.  And for a different perspective, read this thought-provoking blog post.  Now go out there and strut your stuff, crown or no crown:)

When did the concept of “healthy living” come to mean something to you?



Filed under Uncategorized

65 responses to “From Chubby Teen to Beauty Queen

  1. Although I had an idea of what healthy food should look like, my obsession with living healthy and exercising only started about two years ago, when I started working as a medical translator at the embassy of a country with many wealthy and obese people. The things I learned about obesity and diabetes really made me want to *not* become one of them.

  2. Hi Karen! Great post! Look at that definition on her legs!! Yes, I’m totally with you that I wish I had gotten in shape earlier (in my late 20’s and my 30’s), but I just wasn’t mentally there yet. Oh well. I love it now.

    🙂 Marion

    • Karen

      I made a few half-hearted attempts earlier in life but really only started doing anything consistent when I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. And then it was another decade maybe before I moved beyond walking and joined a gym, adding all sorts of stuff.

  3. OMG her body rocks – i guess she has youth on her side…2 pregnancies and years of being over weigh left me with lots of extra skin.

    I hope she uses this opportunity to help inspire kids. my favorite line of the post: it’s about being “size healthy”

    • Karen

      I have seen stuff written about her that she does talk to kids. She has a car analogy she uses with them… about what would happen if you put the wrong fuel in your car.

  4. Wow, that is inspirational! It must take so much guts and courage and strength to go from being overweight to be a beauty queen! Totally awesome! 🙂

    • Karen

      The story goes that it wasn’t her idea. Someone suggested pageants to her BECAUSE it would give her a platform. Probably not at all how most girls end up doing it.

  5. I love your perspective – it’s more positive than mine was! And isn’t it interesting how many “facts” we are reading about her story are already contradictory? I blame the media frenzy for that, but let’s pledge to keep up with this story and watch how it plays out over the next few years. I want SO badly for the story we are hearing now to be true because she has such a platform for encouragement and change for many. I’m trying hard not to be skeptical that some deep, dark secret from her past will come to light!

    • Karen

      Yes, contradictory indeed. I did hear the 3 hours from her though on the Today Show. It is interesting that she is getting a lot of air time for her story and I’ve heard nothing about a single other state pageant winner. But this is a nice change… it seems usually pageant winners only make the news when there is some “negative” controversy.

  6. Yes, Karen, as we all know, it is HARD WORK! I lost weight young BUT I had to relearn the right & healthy way in my 30’s & 40’s… and I still learn something new every day! It is great that this young lady learned it the right way early!

    • Karen

      I’m still learning too, Jody. Of course, what the experts and science tells us is often evolving! Honestly though, if I had always been skinny I’m not sure I’d ever have thought much about what I ate. Maybe. And if I had not been diagnosed with high cholesterol I’m not sure what would have led to me exercising. Maybe I’d have gotten there on my own.

  7. I think it’s awesome how she can be a testimony for all the children/teens who are obese in this country…that with dedication to healthy changes….you can become a healthy adult….Happy SITS Day!

    • Karen

      I also saw something about her wanting to be a model for people who are NOT obese. Just about healthy living, I guess, regardless of what size one is.

  8. I saw her interview on either the Today show or GMA and I was so inspired. I love her message and her platform. It is about hard work. I’m glad there’s a role model out there not talking about quick fixes and lying about how they lost the weight. 🙂

    Love this post! Have a wonderful week!

    • Karen

      And I think from what I have seen, her approach is much like yours, probably. She and I certainly go about eating differently. She is all about moderation which, as I have shared many times, doesn’t work so well for me. BUT, it might have when I was her age and had not yet “dieted” myself into the crazy yo-yo mess I have become.

  9. When I started losing weight 6 years ago- it was ALL about weight loss. It has not been until this year that I have really shifted my thinking. It is about a healthy lifestyle for me. It is about being a good role model for my daughter. Now, when I think about exercise, it is about how it is going to help me as I age. When I eat- I think about how I am fueling my body. I am still a work in progress- but the shift in my thinking has finally happened!
    Thanks for this post! So inspiring!!!

    • Karen

      Kudos to you for being a good role model! I am often glad I have boys because I wonder how very much I would have screwed up a daughter with my crazy relationship to food. Thankfully my boys, while they are picky eaters and not into stuff like veggies, don’t have food issues like their mom:) Or body issues. Of course, both are skinny things.

  10. Unfortunately for me, not until a year ago. That is my only regret in my very full life, that I waited to long to get serious and move forward. No stopping me now, though. Plus, I am in a great place to set a good example for others about NOT waiting till you are older. There are no tricks, just eat less and move more and don’t give up. have a great week, Karen! michele

    • Karen

      And then it is even more amazing to me that you go about this so logically, so practically. Seems to me that often people are just really looking for the quick fix and not the healthy life.

  11. Three years ago. And I don’t regret the time lost or the damaging things done to my body. As Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better” — most of the time. I may be sad for those things sometimes, but I never regret it. Regret has no place in my life.

    • Karen

      I think I have gradually evolved. The dieting has gone on for decades but that was about weight, not healthy. The exercise started in response to a medical issue. But putting together the desire to be healthy overall, that is much more recent.

  12. Jan

    Healthy living – always a concept, never a reality until 2 years ago.

    Just ask Mike Huckabee who said his weight loss was all about “healthy living” and has now regained most of his weight. Me thinks he missed the point.

    Healthy living consists of many behaviors to get to just one of many outcomes that normal weight. Other behaviors that are equally important are in my idea of living (besides healthy eating) are physical activity, handling stressors (in fact decreasing them), keeping strong connections with others, making my life meaningful. Healthy living itself is not the goal. Quality of life is the goal. If I am normal weight but feel like crap, treat my spouse poorly, hate my job, etc. – what’s the point?

    • Karen

      You are so wise! I know that I tend to ignore the “softer” less tangible components. Like the zen peace. And Oprah would say I need to find the passion in my life. I think she is right on that one. I’ve been thinking about you:) Hope you are healing well and feeling better.

  13. Definitely a thumbs up here Karen!!!!

    I love how you mix your blog with your life, and other important things to share (sorry, lack of better words, but I think you understand what I’m trying to say). Thank you for sharing this! Love it!!!

    • Karen

      Thanks, Lisa. This story was one that I was watching and immediately thought to write about for the blog. Actually, I’ve done that a handful of times but they don’t always get published.

  14. Roz

    Yay for Bree and her amazing transformation! (and at such a young age!!) Holy smokes, her legs are incredible. I hope she goes far, and tells her story to young people who can absolutely see her as a role model for healthy living. Thanks for introducing us to her Karen. Have a great Monday.

  15. I love the concept of “size healthy”. A number in your pants or on the scale doesn’t necessarily say you are healthy. A few pounds here and there is okay on some…not on others. It’s dependent upon your body. But eating right and exercising regularly are what’s important.

    Thanks for this post! She is beautiful!

    • Karen

      I hope she really believes what she preaches and it isn’t just nice words that she is selling for her platform.

  16. I’m firmly convinced my successful weight loss was due to changing my thinking from the diet mindset to simply doing things because they were better for my health. Maybe that’s why I’m managing maintenance reasonably well? It’s not about a size or weight–it’s about what I do.

    • Karen

      How did you get to be so smart about all this stuff? There are so many things that I have learned from you that just were outside my thinking in all my many years of dieting.

  17. Bravo to her! I like Cammy, changed my thoughts from thinking about being a certain size or number on the scale to deciding I needed to eat for good health and the happy weight goes right along with that!

    • Karen

      I wonder what would happen if I got over my dislike of cooking and tried to emulate you in the kitchen now and then:)

  18. If only I had been wiser at a younger age! I remember when I was about to hit 20, then 25,then 30, then 35….each of those “milestones” was going to be the year I finally got control of my weight issues. I am happy to say that as I approach my 40th, I am beginning to figure it out. It will be a slow battle, but if Bree is any indication of what slow and steady can do, I’m all in! Thanks for an inspiring post!!

    • Karen

      I’m like you. My first official diet came my freshman year in college. And there have been so many over the year. If only I’d gotten this right way back when I was Bree’s age.

  19. i think i’m still working onthat as i tend to have nore bad days lately then good

  20. What an inspiring story Karen! I love stories like this. I think for me I was always into healthy living when I was young. I did a lot of sports and activities every day and I made an effort to eat healthy (except for my already bad sweet tooth). It was only when I got older that I “lost” what it means to be healthy in mind body and spirit! Now I hope that I am finding it again… 🙂

  21. I like her alot.
    Read Sharon’s post too. Lots of healthy role modelling there. That’s what I like best.
    I wish her all the luck and happiness in the world.

  22. Thanks for posting, she is an inspiration for sure!! I think for me, healthy living became a part of my life when my “dieting” became natural and became something that I WANTED to do instead of something I was forcing myself to do to lose weight. Now it really is a way of life, which sounds so cliche, but thankfully has become true in my daily life. I think that only happens over time rather than an overnight change.

  23. What a wonderful story! I’m originally from SC and that makes me even more proud of her. The concept of healthy living first came to mean just feeling better back in 1992. Ironically obsessing about the number on a scale freed me up to start losing the extra pounds. How about you?

    • Karen

      Well, sometime in the 90s I found out I had high cholesterol so there was a shift then, with eating and exercise. But only for that goal, I think, not as an overall healthy living desire. So, I guess for me the real paradigm shift has only been in the last couple of years!

  24. I’m always quick to pay attention when I run into a young, smart person. I didn’t have my smarts so early on, so I love to hear stores of “young people” (haha, because I’m getting old now, I call them that) doing and achieving wonderful things. Yes, I will check out her FB page and blog. Thanks for this!

    • Karen

      And I also struggle when I run across a young person who I think is making the same mistakes that I made. So hard to not give advice. I ran across one in my “diet” forum the other day and worked hard to word a tactful, supportive response when I really wanted to speak a some harsh truth.

  25. Wait! It’s not her blog, but hmmm, she should get one. hehe

  26. I am so glad you wrote the post the way you did. That you included the no regrets part especially. Thank you for doing that.

    I wish it did not take me 15 years to work through things, but, alas, it has. But those are not lost years. One day I will find the right words to write about it. I have tried, but I think some may be put off by it and I have not been able to fully quantify it or get my arms around it yet? so for now it stays in the back pocket.

    But I know this. I would not be the person I am now if I had not been heavy.

    Not too fond of pageants, but it is nice icing for this young girl.

  27. What a great story! As I do not watch TV I never hear about this stuff 🙂

    Anyway, I feel very much like Jan. It’s about my quality of life more than anything else, and that includes physical health in addition to mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And I didn’t start to “get” that until early 2005, when I went to an EFT (emotional freedom technique) practitioner for the first time (in order to help me lose weight) and the tapping phase she came up with for me was, “even though I am overweight, I still love and accept myself.” And I couldn’t say it. It was at that point that I feel like my journey to real health started.

    • Karen

      Seems to be a non-TV watching trend! It is always interesting to me how we all have such different stories and still find things in common. One of my very first blog posts raised the question as to what I’d eat if weight was not an issue for me. And would I exercise.

  28. Miz

    it took my daughter being here for me to really truly and wholly DEFINE AND INTERNALIZE what being healthy means for me.

    • Karen

      I often wonder how I’d be if I had a daughter instead of two sons. Dr. Phil, who I have not watched in ages but who still sometimes resonates in my head with his Philisms, says that kids emulate the same sex parent more than any one else in their lives. Lucky Tornado:)

  29. Sable@SquatLikeALady

    I don’t know. First of all: I do absolutely and totally respect and admire Bree’s weight loss, especially at such a young age. I do also respect her emphasis on healthy living, not necessarily a specific size.

    But I don’t think any role model for young women should be exercising for 3 hours a day. I’m sorry — that’s unhealthy. Even if it is for a competition of some sort. Bodybuilders, who *usually* train for a maximum of 2 hours a day (some train up to 3) for their pre-contest period (16-18 weeks on average) are quick to point out that their lifestyle is not, at that time, conducive to health.

    I think what we (living in the land of the eating disordered, where many, MANY people suffer from not only anorexia nervosa but also bulimia and binge eating disorder) need is role models who are actually a healthy size (so NOT a size 2 or 0) and maintain their weight through healthy means (so not exercising for 3 hours a day) preaching healthy living.

    • Karen

      On her behalf I think that is only during the competition season and she does much, much less in the off season. Maybe only 30 minutes, even. Hopefully she is sharing her message in a way that gets across exactly what you mean about the healthy (as opposed to being skinny or obsessed) aspect.

  30. While I admire her efforts and the ways she has changed her life – I was pretty shocked to see that she is so, so thin/ripped. She looks like a body builder and they don’t do healthy things to get to looking like that. I hope when she is off the pagent prep she will let some body fat smooth her out a bit. I would worry for her reproductive health, etc. the way she looks now.

    • Karen

      Interesting observation. The contest is now “fitness” not “swimsuit” so I wonder what the criteria are.

  31. What a great story! I wish I could have learned what she learned at that age! I wouldn’t have become so unhealthy or have sagging skin leftovers.

    I try to surround myself with people like Bree, to help keep me motivated. Thanks Karen!

  32. I love her message! Wish I had captured that “a-ha” moment when I was a bit younger too. Thanks for sharing!

I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s