the awakening

Happy Monday friends!

Today is a great day because not only is it a start to a new week, but NASCAR is back!

Let’s be honest, it’s really only a great Monday because of Motorsports. I mean, I finally have something to watch every single Sunday for 38 weeks! That’s worth a solid fist pump or two, maybe even a Tom Cruise in Risky Business slide across the house.

It is always such a dark, dark time when NASCAR and football are off TV for those few weeks – even if there is Supercross.

How about that Daytona 500?! That was wild!

Anyway, today I wanted to focus on how I realized it was time to make some changes in my health to help boost my personal self-confidence and move away from some bad eating habits.

As I said in my first post, welcome to my journey, I really started to learn to get healthy when I started dating my now fiance. However, there are a couple of photos, in particular, that I had looked at that made me cringe and think WTF!

It was the awakening.

For three years I was blessed to have a rather high-profile job within the NASCAR community. I was called a Miss Sprint Cup, and I was one of three amazing women who had, not only beauty, but brains! As someone who typically doesn’t think of herself as holding those qualities, it was such an honor to be one of the MSC’s.

Our position was a combination of sorts. We were primarily Brand Ambassadors who helped represent Sprint in the media, at the track and through several social media channels. We interviewed NASCAR’s elite drivers, we were savvy with brand messaging, we enjoyed meeting with fans and we were in a plethora of photographs on the regular.

When I say plethora of photographs I mean it! I wish I had a running tally of the number of photographs we would be in throughout a race weekend!

Most recognized us for being the mobile billboard in Victory Lane with the race winner each weekend, but it was so much more than that. Plus, I was able to work with such an amazing group of people who became practically a second family to me – I am forever grateful for their time, support and patience.

As I was saying before, we were in a lot of photographs – some which helped me see that how I was fueling myself during the off-season, and even once the season started, was not for the best.

While some may think I am crazy, I could see a major difference in myself and in my face – and here is the photographic evidence to prove it…

Here I am working my first Daytona 500 in 2014, posing with a stand of myself.

In 2014, I was running and eating decently well – but as the year went on and I started traveling a lot and eating out frequently I let my younger self get the best of me. It became all about having a drink or two after a long day and eating whatever I could to use my $60 per diem.

Hey, that was free money so you are dang right I was going to spend it! It went away if I didn’t – so food, food and more food!

Going into 2015, I had gained around 10lbs on to what used to be my healthy weight, and while I wasn’t heavy, I wasn’t happy looking at myself in pictures.

Posing on the frontstrech at Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500 race weekend, 2015.

I had started to notice in pictures early that I didn’t look the same. My face was fuller and not the sleek and slender face that I was used to seeing in photographs. Honestly, I didn’t feel the same either – my energy was so low and I was often extremely mentally and physically exhausted.

Kobalt 400
Interviewing Jeff Gordon during pre-race ceremonies at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2015).

Suddenly, my firesuit was tighter than it had ever been and I noticed that my stomach was protruding more than it used to. These were things that I didn’t notice regularly in the mirror because the weight gain had obviously occurred over time.

I think the thing that struck me the most was when I noticed that my favorite sunglasses looked small in comparison to my face. Talk about a harsh moment.

Despite having a role that seemed to require a lot of self-confidence, what a lot didn’t know is that I really struggled with that part of myself. Here I am supposed to be this model-like figure and inside I felt disgusting. Mentally, I wasn’t thrilled with my image – even though I know I was still healthy for the most part.

Signing autographs and meeting fans at the Neon Garage, Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2015).

I know I probably sound ovely dramatic, but it wasn’t fun to lose my self-confidence and notice that my bad habits had changed my image. I’d always been quite slender and still was, but I was heading down a road I didn’t want to walk down.

After taking a hard look at the photos that showed a rounder face and waist, I told myself I needed to realign my habits – no more greasy junk, no more excuses. I told myself I would become better, regain that confidence and learn to focus on one thing – me. So I created a mission, to make myself better everyday because I want to age with grace.

I started eating healthier, working out smarter and changing the way I think about things. Changing yourself requires a strong mindset, something that everyone possesses – we just don’t always use it, or at least I didn’t. I used to tell myself that one bite of that chocolate cake wouldn’t hurt me, and then I’d wind up eating the whole thing. Do that a couple of days a week and suddenly you’re adding a lot of BS to your diet.

During the 2015 season I went from looking like those first photos, to then this…

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400
Pre-race at Homestead Miami Speedway shaking hands with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2015).

I had found my confidence again. I had started to have more energy each and everyday. I started to be able to see muscles that I didn’t know existed!

My face thinned out, I lost a decent chunk of my gut – which seems to be the main place I gain weight (eye roll) and I felt like I was finding out who I am meant to be.

One weekend, I was even asked, by a fan, if I was ill. Turns out, she had noticed the change in me and wanted to make sure I was OK! It was so sweet how concerned she was. I was baffled that someone aside from myself and my family had noticed. Thankfully, I was able to give her the good news – I am great, I am healthy and my fiance will attest to the fact that I eat A LOT (about 6/7 times a day a lot).

How you fuel yourself is so important, and I am well aware of that now. You are what you eat is an all-too-true saying! When I ate crap, I felt like crap. When I ate good, I felt good – and that still holds true to today.

Don’t get me wrong, I am human and have my bad days here and there. I primarily stick to things that are gluten-free (which I can dive into another time), but sometimes I just have to have some of that amazing Mellow Mushroom pizza paired with an ice-cold NoDa Jam Session!

My point is…

It’s pretty incredible what a picture can do, and you always have to remember that you are your own worst critic. However, nowadays I am so thankful that I was hard on myself because it had led to becoming a better person.

Sometimes I think it takes a hard look in the mirror and have a reality check. You must ask yourself, “Is this the best that I can do or be?” I know I have personally just started and I do not want to quit anytime soon.

I want to get better everyday. Don’t you?



  1. Gail Tome Brenner

    I enjoyed today’s blog. You mentioned confidence which is so intertwined in how we feel about ourselves emotionally, physically and mentally. You spoke about regaining your self-confidence and being a better (and I paraphrase ) me. What a perfect truism of what some of us go through everyday. I am an emotional eater and realize how my emotions especially if under duress dictate how I feel and look. I applaud your openness in this blog and feel energized to make a better “me” as well. Thank you for lifting my spirits.


    1. Brandon Baxley

      I will miss seeing you at the track. Glad you finally got to feel confident in youeself. I know my recee cups werent helping your diet at all lol. Love your blogs!


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