A Queen and a Princess

With my mom a couple of months after being selected as SFVJACC Queen.

When I was a little girl, my mother told me that one of her dreams was for me to be in a Japanese American beauty pageant which was closely tied to a week-long festival in Los Angeles known as Nisei Week. The first Nisei Week celebration took place in 1934, and a year later, the queen pageant was added. With the exception of the years during which World War II took place, the Nisei Week Festival has taken place yearly. I knew how much my mother wanted me to participate in Nisei Week, but since I wasn’t that interested in vying for a queen title and being in a pageant, I tucked the idea of pursuing such a goal in the back of my mind and kind of forgot about it.

Shortly after I turned 18, I decided to contact the Japanese-American community center close to where I lived and inquired about the pageant, only to be told that the age requirements for queen candidates were changed to 19 to 25. The following year, I inquired again, but the area’s queen selection had already been made at that time. After that, I simply forgot about the Nisei Week queen selection. Then the year that I turned 25, I figured that I had one final chance to see if I could win a queen title and advance to the Nisei Week pageant. So I submitted my candidate profile and waited for the queen selection day to approach, while also keeping my plans completely hidden from my mom. I thought that if I wasn’t selected as the San Fernando Valley queen, I wouldn’t say anything to my mother, so as to spare her any disappointment.

While at the queen selection event, I noticed that I was up against only one other candidate, but that candidate had competed for the queen title for two consecutive years previously, and since she was also 25 years old, the event was her final chance at being selected as queen. I made an assumption that since the judges were familiar with the other candidate, she would most likely be chosen as their queen.

We were assessed on our physical appearance and poise, were asked impromptu questions while standing on a small stage, and were interviewed individually by every single judge. When it was time to announce the 1991 San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center Queen, who would then go on to compete at the Nisei Week pageant with 8 other regional queens, I prepared myself to hear the other candidate’s name, so it was a complete surprise when I heard my name called. Next thing I knew, the judges and guests were congratulating me, and the former queen placed a bouquet of tulips in my arms. When I arrived home, I called my mom to tell her the news, and she was incredibly proud and thrilled.

At Mayor Tom Bradley’s office with fellow Nisei Week Princess and WLAJACC Queen Alice Akahoshi

Over the next three months, I went to pageant practice 3 days per week, attended events with the rest of the court, and was primed and polished for business visitations and parades. It was like attending Japanese-American charm school, and I was grateful for the experience. I wore a tiara to many events, and also wore a sash whenever clad in kimono or in the matching outfits the court was expected to wear during events and visitations. We performed in front of 1,200 guests during the pageant, and though I didn’t win the Nisei Week Queen title, I was a Nisei Week Princess, still held the Queen title for my region, and became part of an incredible community.

The Great Gym Equipment Shortage of 2020

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Image ID : 35796318
Copyright : ramain

 

If you’re into fitness, then you probably have encountered elements of the exercise equipment shortage which emerged from the coronavirus lockdown.  People began scrambling to pick up all sorts of exercise equipment as soon as lockdown went into effect, and suddenly, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight benches, resistance bands, etc. became as scarce as a 12-pack of Charmin.  It turns out that weight training, as an e-commerce category, is the eighth-fastest growing category, even more in demand than toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer.  Interest in fitness gear is up over 500% this year.

Part of the shortage is due to the fact that a large percentage of the iron used for exercise equipment is forged in China.  In fact, every single piece of exercise equipment I have ordered online since March has been made in China.  Many factories in China have been shut down as a result of the pandemic, causing production to plummet, and forcing distributors to find other ways to manufacture items like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, multi gyms, and barbells.

Hence the shortage and the inflated prices we have been seeing all over the internet.  Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells have been selling on eBay for grossly inflated prices, jumping from as little as $200 for a pair last fall to as much as $1,500 during the peak of the equipment buying panic a couple of months ago.  I have had a Bowflex Selecttech 552 set with the stand for eleven years, and I am so grateful to have it.  Never once did I think about jumping on the opportunity to make a ridiculous amount of money by selling the set, because I was using the set every single day, and my fitness and sanity mean far more to me than making a quick buck.  Plus, they’re pretty awesome, enabling me to select any weight from 5 to 52.5 pounds, in increments of 2.5 pounds.

There were other purchases I made which were a test of my patience.  I ordered a hyperextension bench which took two months to arrive, and I went through so many sites and online searches and apps before I found items like the Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G Smith Multi Gym through OfferUp.  I also had to pay more than the original sticker price because the demand for such items is so high.  However, I swooped in on this item before prices went through the roof.  The current lowest price on Amazon for this multi gym is now $2,700.99 and arrives September 25th – October 13th!

 

If you happen to see a piece of equipment which you want, you had better snap it up immediately, since the demand will not abate any time soon.  Gyms have been shuttered, and there’s no telling how long it will be before they will reopen, so we all need to get comfortable with assembling the best home gyms possible.

Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G

I’m A Jasmin Influencer!

I am so thrilled to be a Jasmin Influencer!  I have been with them since early December, and I have a blast creating highlights for the site and posting every day.  Yes that’s right, every single day, even on holidays and weekends!

Please follow me at www.Jasmin.com/staceynaito  and check out my highlights and daily story elements!  You can also direct message me anytime through the site, and I also make myself available for Video Calls for a pocket of time every day.

Topics I cover include:

Dating

Relationship

Soul Mate

Fitness

Flirt Advice

Beauty

Lifestyle

Travel

Fashion

I haven’t posted anything on Dance, but who knows?  I may talk about my three year stint with salsa dancing on the Jasmin platform!

You can sign up for FREE and get 15 FREE CREDITS!

 

I am also always open to suggestions on topics which you would like to have me cover.  Want more nutrition tips?  Beauty hacks?  Travel deals? Relaxation techniques?  On the go workouts?  You tell me, I’m open!

Why Influencer Marketing Is Key In The Fitness Industry

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Influencer marketing has become an integral part of our modern culture, and is increasing in popularity as a way for businesses to capture new customers to purchase their products and services. Since the fitness industry is particularly visually centered, and also because it tends to sit on the cutting edge of brand marketing, many of my fitness friends and I have been able to forge long-standing relationships with brands as we bring awareness to their products, while also solidifying our relationships with our followers. It’s a wonderful symbiosis in which everyone wins – the brand has powerful advertising via social media portals, the influencer is able to garner the loyalty of fans by promoting respected items, and the followers are introduced to new and exciting products, usually with an associated discount as a thank you from the influencer and the company which is selling the product.

One critical component to success with influencer marketing, regardless of whether you are a company or an individual influencer, is to be willing and able to adjust to the changes which tend to occur across social media platforms. For example, Instagram and Facebook fairly recently implemented certain regulations on how a post should be tagged, and such regulations are always subject to change. It is vital to stay abreast of guideline changes as they come down the pike.

Another important aspect of influencer marketing is that influencers should be genuinely passionate about the brands they represent. A prime reason why social media marketing is so popular is that followers believe in the influencers they follow, and they want sound, honest advice on what merchandise or services they can purchase which will enable them to reach their fitness goals. Followers want to know what products an influencer has used to obtain his or her enviable physique, what fitness apparel is the most comfortable, functional and flattering, etc. The more honest an influencer is, the more the audience appreciates any recommendations made by that person.

Dr. Stacey Naito

In a similar vein, companies which turn to social media influencers to promote their products or services meet with the best success when they like the influencer’s overall vibe and messages, as well as the target audience which the influencer has built via social media. Fitness influencers of varying ages can also help to expand brand awareness for a company, as can influencers who have a unique perspective (moms, senior citizens, people with diabetes, etc.).

There are many athletes and fitness professionals who essentially fell into the world of brand influencership, partially because they were well-respected by their fitness peers, but mostly because they behaved with integrity and were transparent with their fans and followers about their experiences and struggles with training, diet, and performance. It makes a huge difference when an athlete speaks from the heart, and such candor helps to build up the brands he or she represents. From a personal perspective, I have never endorsed or promoted a brand or product which I did not wholeheartedly believe in, and I know my followers can tell that I am forthright and honest when I post YouTube reviews, blogposts, etc.

We certainly live in a very different age now, one in which people expect different options for their exercise regimens and meal plans. For example, fitness apps are incredibly popular, especially since most of them have tracking software built in so that a user can enter in goals and track progress. Other people specifically want at-home workouts because they either don’t want to join a gym, or don’t feel comfortable working out in a public environment. That’s where some popular fitness influencers can guide followers to workouts they can perform while they are in the comfort of their own homes.

If you are the owner of a fitness-minded company, and you haven’t explored the world of brand influencer marketing, doing so could take your brand to the next level. For aspiring fitness brand influencers, make sure the brands you post on your profile are congruent with what your followers want to see. As long as you are consistent and honest with your marketing, chances are your brand and your following will steadily grow.

Will You Ever See Your Abs? REPOST

real fat man

One of the most common questions I get from people is how to lose belly fat and get defined abs. Since a tight midsection is one of the most enviable and desirable body attributes, I am never surprised by these inquiries. I have noticed that there is a relatively common misconception that defined abs come solely from exercise, which is definitely not the case. While a certain amount of development in the abdominal muscles must be present for the washboard appearance which many people covet, an individual’s food choices often interfere with the quest for six-pack abs.

If you really want to see abdominal definition, you need to eliminate the following foods from your diet:

SUGAR
Processed foods (including crackers, luncheon meats, cheese, chips, breads)
Foods high in saturated fat (red meat, fast foods)
Salad dressing
Alcohol

Though it may be difficult at first to eliminate the foods listed, you will notice over time that your palate will adjust and that food cravings will subside. That’s because processed foods and sugar set up a vicious cycle in which you crave more bad foods when you consume them. Cut them out of your meal plan, and your cravings will subside. Another benefit of avoiding these foods is that you will avoid the rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which they trigger. Why is this important? Because sharp spikes in insulin release promote increased fat deposition in the midsection.

Another dramatic change which you need to make is to drink plenty of water daily. My general rule is to buy an attractive 1 liter bottle, fill it 3 times during the course of a day, and drink all the water you put in that container.

If your abdominal muscles haven’t seen a sit-up in years, you should also incorporate abdominal exercises into your regimen. Here are my three favorite abdominal exercises which work for everyone, from beginners to advanced athletes:

bicycle crunches
Katie-Bicycle-Crunches
ball crunches
basic-crunches-on-stability-ball
planks
Plank-1024x538

If you are consistent with making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise, chances are good that you will see a toned tummy if you are already at a normal weight. If you are overweight, the healthier food choices will help you to slim down and get rid of belly fat, putting you on course for a tighter midsection.

A Princess Dream Come True

Our court from 1991. I am second from left on the bottom row. This was taken about a month before our Nisei Week Pageant and Queen selection.

Over two decades ago, my first seemingly dreamy and unattainable goal was to be involved in a yearly Japanese-American festival in Los Angeles known as Nisei Week, which was established back in 1934.  Aside from a period of seven years between 1942 and 1948, during which World War II raged and carried a solid and jarring impact on the Japanese-American community, the Nisei Week festival has continued to run throughout the decades.

As a child, I remember seeing the Nisei Week Queen and court each year, and it became a dream of mine to be selected as a court member when I got older. However, I got sidetracked by life and didn’t bother to enter the  competition for the local queen selection until the year I turned 25.  I was stunned when I was chosen as the Queen of my community center (the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, or SFVJACC) for that year.

Once I was selected, I spent the next three months in regular meetings with the queens from the other eight participating communities, meetings in which we would practice all the routines for the beauty pageant which would mark the beginning of that year’s Nisei Week. We competed in that pageant for over 1,000 audience members in a 3 hour event, and though I didn’t win the Nisei Week Queen title, I was happy with being a Nisei Week Princess. We rode on floats, visited businesses, and fostered good will throughout the Japanese-American community.

August 16, 2015: Nisei Week Queen and Court on the float of Nisei Week Japanese Festival Parade at Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles.

When we were on stage, on parade floats, and on visitations, we would wear our sashes, a definite marker which identified us all as queen and court.  On some occasions, we would wear our crowns, and were either clad in matching dresses, or in kimono.

Queen?  Princess?  I guess so, at least in pageant terms!