Miss Texas International Taylor Ashworth Encourages Everyone to Stay Heart-healthy

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Some members of my family have had of heart-related issues over the years.  This is partly because so little was understood about the effects of poor diet and bad habits in past years; but that has changed now.  My parents educated me on the importance of maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle and I try to follow their lead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a heart health fanatic; far from it.  However, I do work on maintaining a healthy body and mind.

I don’t smoke.  By never smoking, I have reduced my chances of having a heart attack by 70%. 

If you smoke, then stop smoking now.  Just twelve months after you stop smoking, you can cut your chances of having a heart attack in half.  That’s a great return on any investment.

Good eating habits.  I enjoy burgers, steaks, spaghetti, enchiladas, and the Texas Lumberjack breakfast; but not every day, or for every meal.  I eat smaller portions of these foods and if I have a burger at lunch, then I try to have a salad or sushi that evening to balance my daily intake.

For snacks I eat try to eat fruit instead candy bars, vegetables in place of potatoes and nuts & seeds over chips. 

I also eat fish on a regular basis with tuna & salmon sushi among my favorites.  Both are great for your health.  I think fried fish is delicious; but it’s not a healthy fish meal; so eat it in moderation only.

I avoid salt whenever possible.  I don’t add salt to my meals and I even try to limit my salt when eating out.  Did you know you can ask for fries without salt and that most places will make a special order for you?  This not only reduces your salt intake, but has the added benefit of getting you very fresh & hot fries. Yum!

Drink lots of water, avoid sodas (regular and diet) and limit your alcohol intake. 

Exercise regularly.  I’m into full-blown workouts where I push my body and mind to their limits.  It’s great for me, but not for everyone.  If you can just walk quickly for 30 minutes a day, you can cut your risk of heart attack by a third.  Try to use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the dog around the block or try taking a brisk walk to the mail box instead of just driving there.

Find something that’s fun for you and make time in your life to do it.  For social interaction and good fun I like yoga, cycling and aerobics classes.  You get to exercise in a fun way and you can often make new friends.

Reduce your stress levels.  Be as calm as possible in your life and work toward reducing the stress in your life.  Having friends and family that support you and listen to your problems is a big help.  I have someone that makes me smile and laugh and this is great for reducing stress and maintaining a healthy heart. 

Small changes in your lifestyle can pay big divides in your overall health; so get out there, be active and have some fun!

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So Long, 2015! Miss International Elise Banks Bids Adieu to 2015

So Long, 2015!

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over. It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the New Year in Tampa with my family! I do not know if it’s just me, but I feel like the years go by faster as I get older!

I’ll be honest and say that I did not have many expectations as I started this year. Coming from the past few years of disappointment, loss and a big breakup, I knew things had to get better, but I had no idea what God had in store! As I look back over this year, all I can say is “Thank you, Lord!” He has given me such an amazing support system in my family & friends, who have carried me through the highs and lows of this year. He introduced me to so many wonderful people in the International system who have touched my life in many ways. He allowed me to represent the International system, both as Miss Texas and Miss International. This is something I could have only dreamed of! He gave me the passion to put into my platform of mental health to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. He gave me two incredible bosses who allow me to grow in my career, and also support my duties at Miss International. He has also trusted me with the responsibility of living my life in such a way that will bring honor and glory to Him.

As I close the book of 2015, and look ahead into the new year, my heart is full or gratitude and happiness. I end this year with so many more friends and relationships that I can’t imagine not having in my life now.

May God bless you and your family over the holidays!

God Bless,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Miss International Elise Banks talks about conquering fears

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If you were to tell me years ago that I would be doing all the public speaking that I have been doing as Miss International, I would have laughed in your face! You see, the whole reason why I started competing in pageants at the age of 15, was to break out of my shell as “Little Shy Elise”! Although I have accomplished that goal, I am still considered an introvert. I am entirely more comfortable in smaller settings than larger ones. So that is why I have actually surprised myself when I spoke at both the NAMI Gulf Coast and the NAMI Texas Professional Conferences last month. Not only was I speaking in front of hundreds of people, but I was also speaking to men and women who have been in the mental health field for decades. Talk about intimidating!

What helped me during the conferences, as well as other large social settings that I have been involved in is to first, know your audience. When you know the types of people who will be at the event, it helps you prepare for the conversations you could be having. Make sure to have a few “go-to” topics that you can talk about when you are conversing with people you don’t know. I typically discuss latest events in the news or my platform!

Secondly, be aware and mindful of how others may perceive you. When I was preparing for the presentations that I was going to give at the conferences, I knew very well that my older audience (doctors and therapists who are established in their careers) may not fully listen to someone who is still in their twenties! But I decided to use that as a motivator to make my presentation more interesting. I used new technological ways of presenting a PowerPoint, and I used an interactive approach to the presentation that plays to what my generation is known for. To my surprise, I received a lot of positive feedback from my presentations! If you know what your potential weaknesses are, you can spend time turning them into strengths!

Finally, make sure to reward yourself for the hard work you put into conquering your fear. Although I still have improvements to make, I still congratulated myself for taking a bold step in a very intimidating situation. Conquering a fear is never easy, but it must be done in order to fully be the person God made you to be!

Wishing you success as you conquer your fears!

All my Texas love,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

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Miss International Elise Banks Visits the Alzheimer’s Association

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I recently made at trip to the Alzheimer’s Association offices. Going into this appearance, I had mixed emotions as the subject of Alzheimer’s is not always easy for me to talk about since my Grandmother passed away from the dreadful disease when I was only 9 years old. However, knowing that I can have even a small impact on the research and awareness that is being done so that hopefully there will be a day where no one will have to go through the devastating times my family had to go through during the last few years of my Granny’s life.

While visiting the office, I was able to find out more about what services they provide for the community. The people who will benefit the best are those who are in the early stages of the disease. Support groups are provided for these individuals and their families/caretakers. They also provide different activities and events which allow opportunities for these individuals to work to keep the memories that they have left.

Being able to get involved with this organization has been such a blessing. Back in April of this year, I went to Austin to talk to our state representatives about the importance of the passing of the bill UAGPPJA (Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act). While at the offices, I found out that more of our elected officials are signing on to this bill which will be a huge step forward for the lives of families having to transport their loved one from state to state. I also can’t wait to join the organization in a few of their walks this year as this is always a huge fundraiser for the organization to be able to continue to fund the resources they provide and to continue the research that is being done!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Miss Texas International visits Family Service Center

As a part of my Healthy Mind-Successful Life platform, my goal is to provide insight on resources that are available to those who may be struggling. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet the staff and take a tour of the Family Service Center of Greater Houston. The experience was very informative to me, as I have always referred my patients there for counseling. However, I found out that they offer many other services that are beneficial for individuals and families. Here are a few that really stood out to me (although all of their programs are amazing!):
1. Caregiver Support Group: As I work with patients, and in the appearances I have been making as Miss Texas International, I recognize the amount of stress that caregivers are under. They are typically overlooked as the majority of the attention is turned to the identified patient. This group is a great resource for caregivers to learn coping strategies and support one another in the difficult work that they do every day.
2. Financial Stability Program: Wouldn’t it be great if money grew on trees? Well, it does not! Which is why it is so important to know what to do with the money you make. This program is for individuals and families of any income. Coaching is provided to learn how to budget, set financial goals and manage debt and stress. An increasing percentage of stress in families and couples is due to financial issues, so this is a great way to help eliminate the problem!
3. Co-Parenting & Family Life Classes: I think it is interesting that people are expected to know how to be a parent and yet instruction manuals are not given to parents when they have their baby at the hospital! These classes provide parents with the tools they need to know how to better communicate with their children, set boundaries and build strong relationships.
There are so many great programs that are offered at Family Services of Greater Houston including veteran services, substance abuse prevention, employment services and support groups. Many of these services are at no cost or are covered by insurance. For additional information, check out the organization’s website at www.familyhouston.org.
I personally want to thank all the staff the work at the different locations. To be able to provide people with their basic needs is truly a special, and Houston is blessed to be able to have such an amazing resource.
Stay healthy!
Elise Banks
Miss Texas International 2015
Thank you for all you do to help people achieve healthy minds and successful lives, Family Services!

Thank you for all you do to help people achieve healthy minds and successful lives, Family Services!

Miss Texas International Elise Banks Teaches How to Deal with Stress in Houston Woman Magazine

Is stress affecting your well-being? Miss Texas International Elise Banks, who in addition to being a beautiful queen, is also a licensed therapist, was recently profiled in Houston Woman magazine.  She offers tips for dealing with stress.

Houston Woman

Click here for the full article: http://www.houstonwomanmagazine.com/index.php/issues/1046-coming-back-from-the-edge-dealing-with-stress

Elise Banks Crowned Miss Texas International 2015

Elise Banks_1829-2Houston-area resident to represent Lone Star State at Miss International Pageant in July

Elise Banks of Spring brought home the crowning glory when she took the top state title of Miss Texas International 2015. She was crowned during the Texas International Pageant, held March 15 at the Granville Arts Center in Dallas.

Banks competed among accomplished young women from all over the state of Texas to win her title. Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, fun fashion and evening gown. The Miss Texas International system is the premier pageant competition for young women in Texas and emphasizes a woman’s ability to serve and lead her community, as well as inspire other women.

Banks completed her undergraduate degree from Baylor University and then graduated with honors from the University of Houston, where she obtained her master’s degree. She is a counseling therapist and is a resident of the Spring area.

As Miss Texas International, Banks will continue working with her platform, “Healthy Mind Successful Life,” to help others understand the power they have to create mental health and to help remove the stigma of asking for help. Banks works with middle- and high-school-aged students to give them tools for effectively coping with common teen stressors, and she regularly volunteers with Boys and Girls Clubs, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Talitha Koum Community Center to help further her goal of encouraging others to develop healthy lifestyles that contribute to mental health.

“Elise is a fantastic example of what the Texas International system is all about,” said Rachel Hedstrom, executive director of the Texas International Pageant System and Director of the Year for all Miss and Teen International Pageants worldwide. “She is a passionate advocate for her cause, putting her personal commitment together with her professional expertise to best serve others. She will wear her crown with that unique Lone Star pride that is a true symbol of service for those who need a voice.”

The International System was established more than 20 years ago to adhere to a higher standard than other systems.  Texas International seeks more than a pretty face: winners have beauty and depth, and are committed to their communities. Like all pageants in the International System, contestants compete in fitness wear rather than swimsuit. The emphasis is on healthy lifestyle choices in accordance with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, with which the pageant system holds a national alliance.

Banks will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with women from the other 49 states and countries around the world for the title of Miss International this summer in Jacksonville, FL.

Applications are now being accepted for Mrs. Texas International 2016, Miss Texas International 2016 and Miss Teen Texas International 2016, to be held at the Granville Arts Center in Dallas, TX, in the spring of 2016. For more information on how to become a local titleholder and begin making a difference, ladies should visit www.mrstexasinternational.com, www.misstexasinternational.com, or http://www.missteentexasinternational.com.

To schedule a speaking engagement or appearance from any Texas International titleholder, please contact Rachel Hedstrom at texasinternationalpageant@gmail.com.