08/20/2013 11:50 am ET Updated Oct 20, 2013

Confessions of a Model and Former Pageant Queen

I was having dinner with a good friend last night in San Francisco who is also a model and we shared our experiences in the pageant and model industry. The conversation inspired me to tell my story because there aren't many speaking the truth to young girls about societal pressures of being thin.

What most people don't know is that I used to be 50 pounds heavier than I am today. Granted, that was during my college days and as a pre-med, all I wanted to do was eat to relieve the stress. I started doing beauty pageants and competing in Donald Trump's Miss California USA Pageant, which forced me to assess my health and change my lifestyle. I educated myself on the importance of reading nutrition labels. I read books, watched documentaries and formulated a plan to get to a healthy weight. Around the time the Miss CA Pageant came around, I was at a healthy weight for myself, but of course that wasn't pageant standards. I was 5'10 and 134 pounds then, and was still told to lose more weight, but I didn't care because I was healthy. I saw many pageant girls starving themselves, admitting they hadn't eaten in X amount of days. Some wouldn't drink water, as that would bloat them up. The pageant provided lunches for us that weekend and a few other girls and I felt out of place being the only ones eating while the others didn't even touch their food. That night I didn't place, but it did change me. I got obsessed with exercising and counting calories and dropped down to 118-122 pounds. I remember my sister showing a picture of what I looked like and I was disgusted. I looked sick. I knew as a public figure, I didn't want young girls to follow this pattern and this wasn't how I wanted to live my life. I got a nutritionist and she has been there for me ever since, formulating a fantastic diet and exercise plan to get me to a healthy weight.

Fast-forward to now. I have been consistent with staying healthy and fit with my nutritionist and I am the healthiest I have ever been. I am with a modeling agency that doesn't pressure me to be severely thin, but to be healthy, and that is refreshing.

I'm a believer in treating yourself and indulging in what you want in moderation. Feeling like a prisoner with what you eat and how you exercise is no fun. Many young girls and even women go through such desperate measures to have that perfect body when they don't have to. As a model, yes, there are many who starve themselves, but as a future physician, I know the ramifications of doing so will only hurt you in the long run. I want to be as transparent as possible and practice what I preach. We need to set an example for other women. NO ONE should be starving themselves. Eat healthy and eat happy!!!!

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