If you think beauty queens are all grown-up Honey Boo Boos on crazy diets, then you should meet Joanne Nosuchinsky, the 24-year-old who recently won the title of Miss New York USA.
To get her already-toned body into pageant shape (yeah, we’re talking bikini and stilettos—not an easy combo to pull off gracefully!), she diligently hit the gym five days a week for about an hour each day but refused to give up her fave foods. As she prepares for the Miss USA competition, she took time to chat about her platform, staying confident while surrounded by tons of gorgeous women, and training like a Victoria’s Secret model.
SHAPE: Why did you decided to compete for Miss New York USA?
Joanne Nosuchinsky: I have a background in theater and was looking for new opportunities to network within my career. But as I was prepping, I realized what an opportunity it would be to be Miss New York USA and to help inspire other young people, as well as promote my personal platform, supporting the arts and arts education.
SHAPE: How did you change your diet to prepare for the competition?
JN: I’m never one to really restrict myself on what I eat. I believe that moderation is the best way to live your life. I definitely had to cut out some of those carbohydrates—the sugars, the white starches—but when I have a craving, I usually let myself have a little bit of something.
RELATED: Ditch the extreme diets. Instead of a cleanse, follow our non-juice detox and clean-eating plan.
SHAPE: What about the other half of the equation: Did you have to revamp your workout routine?
JN: I started doing a lot more cardio. I usually go to the gym about two to three times a week—I upped it to about five. I would do interval training on the treadmill for a half hour, then another half hour to 40 minutes of resistance and weight training. However, as we got closer to the pageant date, I noticed I was losing more weight than anticipated, so I actually had to cut back on cardio and do more of the strength training. You don’t think a girl would say, “I’m losing too much weight,” but that was a reality for me.
SHAPE: And what will you do now to prep for Miss USA?
JN: I have an amazing sponsor, Dasha, from Kettlebell Kickboxing, so that’s going to become part of my regimen. It’s really high-energy and combines cardio and weights. What’s really great is that Dasha trains a lot of the Victoria’s Secret models, so in no way will I have to worry about bulking up. It’s just going to be a matter of getting those long, lean muscles and that gorgeous, curvy physique.
RELATED: You can train like a VS model too! Try Alessandra Ambrosio’s at-home total-body workout.
SHAPE: You seem like a confident person, but was it hard to keep that confidence when competing?
JN: Of course! Come competition weekend, you’re surrounded by a hundred-plus women, and everyone is beautiful in such a different way. That’s what’s great about New York—everyone is so diverse. I had my moments of doubt, however, I just had to remember that we all have something different. Whenever I started to get a little insecure, I would just remind myself that I have something to offer that no one else has—my own personality, my own background, and my own talents.
SHAPE: Can you give some advice for people currently trying to achieve their goals?
JN: I think the best piece of advice would be to know yourself. Really dig deep, do some soul searching, and know exactly what it is that you want. I think if you can clearly define what you're after, it’s easier to get there because you can make a plan and stay focused.
SHAPE: What do you wish more people knew about the pageant world?
JN: It’s really not as cliché as they think it is. It’s not just about waving and looking pretty. And it’s not super catty; it’s really a great group of women getting together and celebrating. It’s a celebration of beauty, brains, your background, and how far you’ve come, as well as the opportunity to pick a platform and really promote a charity and a cause that is near and dear to your heart.