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Mrs. California talks dress size, dieting with coffee and loving Michelle Kwan

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With the Mrs. United States pageant coming up next week, lifetime beauty queen Christy Van Der Westhuizen and reining Mrs. California 2011 is revealing top beauty secrets behind the crown. Competing in pageants since the age of 12, the beauty queen bombshell interviewed with us on Tuesday dishing the best of what's helped her stay super confident, über slim over the years and why she's head-over-heels inspired by Olympic iceskater Michelle Kwan.

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Interview with Mrs. California 2011 and Mrs. United States contestant Christy Van Der Westhuizen

Sunny Pepper: What are your measurements?
Christy Van Der Westhuizen: I don't know my specific measurements, but I am a size 2.

SP: Have you always been a slim size 2?
CV: No. When I went away to college, I did struggle with gaining the "Freshman 15," and it took awhile for me to get into a positive rhythm of diet and exercise to find my healthy weight and size.

SP: What are some weight-loss struggles and how do you give them a TKO?
CV: Occasionally, I do take some time off from my workout routine, and that is when the pounds slowly start to creep back up. For me, it is important to be consistent and to do exercises that I just love to do. I’ve also started to drink Coffee Shape Slimming Green Coffee, which has been a best-selling weight loss program globally since 2008, but which is brand new to America. (Read about Christys's Coffee Shape coffee diet here)

SP: What are your top three secrets for achieving total beauty?
CV: For me, total beauty is being authentically you, having a positive outlook, and maintaining a consistent (and very fun!) workout routine. (Click here for Christy's workout routine...Coming Soon on July 31!)

SP: What do you love most about your body? If you could magically change one thing, what would it be?
CV: My favorite and strongest body part are my legs, but if I could change one thing, I would have fabulous, six-pack abs all the time!

SP: How has your attitude about your own body image changed over the years?
CV: I definitely have struggled with self-acceptance throughout the years, especially during my teen years. I think I looked to others for approval, rather than looking toward myself for my own self-approval and body image. Actually, I think that is a very common occurrence, where we look to others to give us the self-worth we are looking for.

Now, I certainly feel confident about myself, both internally and externally, but that has only come from me...no one else.

SP: What was your motivation to make the run for Mrs. California and Mrs. USA?
CV: I have always loved watching pageants, even at a very young age. So, this was a natural progression for me, even before I was married, I did compete in local and state Teen and Miss pageants. However, I've never been extremely successful at the state level. I thought after I got married four years ago, that my pageant days were over. Little did I know that they were far from over!

I love the way pageants have helped me with many facets of my life, and I still strive to be the very best "Christy" that I can be, as well as make as much of a mark in my community as I can. It only takes one person to really make a difference! That is my motivation!

I entered Mrs. California in April and I had no idea that I would win! Honestly, I thought I was a very small fish in a very large pond. It was an amazing experience to be rewarded for my hard work and determination.

SP: Tell me about your previous pageant experience.
CV: I entered my first pageant when I was 12 years old, the Miss Pre-Teen Los Angeles Pageant. I believe I was second runner-up there, which sparked my love of pageants. Then, I competed as a teen in the Miss California Teen USA pageant and then as a miss contestant in the Miss California USA pageant. I never won, but it did teach me that pageants are a hobby for me, but not my total life. I also competed in a lot of local pageants, some I won, and some I lost. But, I love the entire journey!

SP: On Facebook, it says your mission is to "empower women." What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in general and what can you do to help empower them?
CV: I think the biggest challenge for women is to stay authentic. We have so many expectations of ourselves, and then we also put others' expectations on ourselves.

We must strive to stay true to who we are and stay the person we were meant to be. The best way is to surround ourselves with people who love us, care for us, and only want the best for us. I call them our #1 fans.

SP: What can girlfriends do to help each other feel empowered and lead healthier lives?
CV: I think we all need to look at each other as sisters, and realize that we cannot tear each other down. We must build each other up and choose to be supportive, which helps us all band together to be empowered. Also, I think it is important that we involve each other in our physical activities as well. I have a few girlfriends who do morning boot camp with me, and we definitely hold each other accountable!

SP: Who or what has been the most positive influence on your body image and confidence over the years?
CV:
I think all female athletes have been inspirations to me, especially figure skater, Michelle Kwan. She showed me that you don't need to bring home the gold medal to be a true winner, and that victory comes by just giving it your all. She is a strong, but graceful, figure on the ice, and I grew up watching her every chance I got.

SP: What's the best advice someone has ever given you that you can pass onto Examiner.com Celebrity Fitness and Health readers?
CV: "Happiness is a choice" - I learned this by one of the many wonderful seniors that I work with at my job as a marketing director for a senior living community.

The woman who gave me this advice is in her late 90s, wheelchair bound, but always, without fail, has a smile on her face. So she makes it a choice to be happy and thankful for what she does have, rather than what she doesn't have.

SP: Do you have a favorite workout routine?
CV: I love to change it up, because I get bored so easily. Lately, I have been doing a lot of pilates on the reformer, pure barre classes, and morning boot camp. I like the way I look when I do more weight training than just cardio, like I have done in the past.

SP: What does a day-in-the-life of Christy's beauty queen diet look like?
CV: I start each morning with Coffee Shape Slimming Green Coffee before breakfast, and throughout the day I eat 5-6 small, protein-packed meals now that I’m preparing for Mrs. United States (Editor's Note: It's July 31-Aug. 4!). First, I have 5 egg whites with veggies, then a few hours later, I have oatmeal, peanut butter and a 1/2 cup berries. Three hours later, I have a small salad with chicken and vegetables. Three hours later, I have chicken breast and broccoli, and then I will have either fish or chicken with another green vegetable for my final meal.

SP: What's your #1 go-to for a cheat meal?
CV: Cotton candy - isn't that funny? I am a sugar-a-holic and cotton candy is my ultimate favorite meal!

SP: How are you changing your diet prior to Vegas?
CV: I am very conscious about what I eat. No more empty sugars or salty foods. I have also dramatically increased my water intake, and I drink Coffee Shape each morning before my daily workout (I’ll be taking samples to give to my fellow Mrs United States contestants). I aim to fuel my body every single day!

ABOUT THE MRS. UNITED STATES PAGEANT

The Mrs. United States pageant will take place July 31 - August 4th, 2011 in Sin City Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. Celebrating it's 25th Anniversary year, the Mrs. United States competition and pageant gives married women the chance to "celebrate their success" at the state and national levels.

Much like the Miss America pageant, the judging rounds will consist of personal interviews, swimsuit competition and an evening gown competition. For more details on the Mrs. Unites States pageant or to apply to participate next year, click here OR check out the photo slideshow of the beautiful Mrs. California 2011 Christy Van Der Westhuizen at left.

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