Morning Reflection


I woke up thinking about my time at Miss America today. I came across a photo of a beach in Atlantic City and was immediately transported back to the morning on Revel beach when we saw the sun rise and filmed Miss America introductions. Then, I couldn’t help thinking of another early morning I had almost twelve months ago now – my first day as Miss South Dakota.

I remember getting back to my host home in Hot Springs around 2 am and reading messages of congratulations, looking at pictures, and soaking in the moment and my new “job” until around 3:30. It was the perfect time for reflection, the perfect time to give thanks, and the perfect time to reflect on how when you work your butt off for something and truly believe in your heart and soul you can (and will) achieve it, you’ll be rewarded.

I’ve been very nostalgic lately and probably for good reason. The last twelve months of my life have been unforgettable and irreplaceable. I haven’t loved every minute of it, that’s for sure. There have been days where I’ve cursed this crown and everything that comes with it. Days where I’ve wanted to stay in bed all day (and probably have) and not do anything at all. It’s a lonely year, one that causes you to do a lot of growing up and soul searching. It makes you realize what is important, who is important, and how to be brave. This past year has been a blessing for all of the reasons listed above. I’ve found a strength within myself I didn’t know I had and can’t believe how much I have changed for the better since this crazy journey began in 2011. 

To those of you who want to be a state titleholder and have watched all 53 of the Miss America Class of 2014’s years, you know the basics of it. Smile, pose for photos, get to as many appearances as you can. But it’s so much more than that…

Your job will be to inspire others on days that you can hardly inspire yourself. It will be to drive to small towns hours away you probably haven’t heard of to talk to an entire school that consists of just 40 students. Your job is to be a light in someone’s life every day, even if you don’t feel that especially bright. You will make a difference and it will be worth it. I promise.

Right after I won, someone said to me “Your life isn’t your own anymore”. It scared me. But it was probably the truest statement I’ve heard yet. Once that crown gets placed on your head, you’re representing your state, your formers, your peers, your generation, the Miss America organization, and everyone around you. It’s a lot of pressure to take on and hopefully you have a good group of people around you to support you. Many times, I felt like a baby bird pushed out of a nest who learned to fly on the way down. It was scary, yet exhilarating, to take my fate at Miss America and my year as Miss South Dakota into my own hands and figure it out along the way. The realization that I booked over 200 appearances on my own and created a successful and respected presence in the state as Miss South Dakota 2013 is something I’ll always be proud of.

To those of you competing: The job isn’t easy, but it is so, so worth it. Especially if you get to watch a beautiful sunrise on a perfect beach in Atlantic City come September! I truly hope your dreams can be achieved, just like mine were last June.


Tessa Dee

Miss South Dakota 2013

Oil Pulling

So today I tried something new – Oil Pulling! Yes, this is as bizarre as it sounds.

Summed up, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique of swishing oil in your mouth for 20 minutes to pull out the bacteria between your teeth that is making you sick, your breath smell bad, causing breakouts, etc. Basically, it takes out everything bad in your mouth that you didn’t even know you had and detoxifies your body!

I had been hearing about it for quite some time now. First on a local television channel, then on Dr. Oz, and today I read an article on the website StyleCaster about the technique.

It seemed like the obvious thing to do after reading all of the health benefits listed on StyleCaster (“strengthens your gums, teeth, and jaw, prevents cavities and gingivitis, gets rid of skin problems such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, detoxes your body, cures hangovers and migraines, helps with sleep issues, clears your sinuses, helps allergy sufferers, freshens your bad breath, helps with pain issues, and more”). StyleCaster also suggested using Coconut Oil because of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It just so happened that we had a brand new bottle of organic Coconut Oil ready to use! (I slather it on my face, body, hair, put it in smoothies, etc.)

After reading the article, my mom and I both decided to try it. We melted a tablespoon of coconut oil each, slurped it up, and got to swishing. During my twenty minutes swishing away, I took a shower and removed my finger nail polish. I found it was necessary to be doing something while swishing so I didn’t focus on how long twenty minutes really felt! During my mom’s twenty minutes, she watched a television show (and the clock). She said next time she will do it before she gets in the shower and gets ready for the day, cooks breakfast, or anything that doesn’t involve focusing on the oil pulling itself.

Once I spit it out (into a paper towel as to not clog the sink. Coconut oil hardens if not kept warm), I rinsed and brushed my teeth like normal. My mouth really does feel more clean than usual! The place I notice it the most is my gums. I brush my teeth multiple times per day and floss on a semi-regular basis but until now, I didn’t ever notice how clean my gums could feel!

Overall, it was a good experience and something I’m going to continue. I’ll check in a week from now to see if any positive changes have come from this so-called “miracle habit”!

Any input? Post below!

Dr. Oz Posting:


IHOP National Pancake Day 2014

Today I spent my morning at IHOP in Sioux Falls, SD to kickoff IHOP National Pancake Day! From 7am to 10pm, IHOP serves free short stacks (3 Buttermilk pancakes) in exchange for a donation to CMN. You are not obligated to leave a donation, but over the past six years IHOP has raised around $13 million dollars for local charities, including Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Locally, IHOP has raised close to $25,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

After waking up at 3am, getting dressed and ready to go, and filling up my coffee mug, I headed to Sioux Falls to appear on KSFY News. At 6am, I spoke with Bridget Bennett about the partnership between Miss America and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, my work I have done with CMN and our local branch, Sanford Children’s, and showed examples of equipment CMN Hospitals need for patients of all ages.


Much to my surprise after my interview, there was a pancake eating contest that was to be aired LIVE ON TELEVISION. I am proud to say that not only did I not get syrup on my face, but I placed second behind Doc from KTWB Radio! A proud moment for me and for the Miss South Dakota Organization as a whole, I’m sure… :) Simply taking advantage of Fat Tuesday!
After hanging out with the guys from KTWB Radio, I headed home for a much needed nap and a much needed workout. As I said earlier today, CMN is probably the only organization I would wake up at 3am with a smile on my face for! It was a wonderfully fun, wonderfully rewarding day and I’m so happy to have been a part of it.


How I’m Taking My Health Back

Hello, friends! I really can’t believe it’s December and time is passing by so quickly during my year as Miss South Dakota. I really have been terrible with my blog and video blog and it’s my early New Year’s Resolution to create better habits for the rest of my reign.

Today I want to talk about something that’s been frustrating me ever since September. 

Ever since Miss America, I have had an issue with my health. The problem was (and is) that I simply do not want to workout or eat healthy. For so long now I have been in the mentality of healthy eating and consistently working out due to the upcoming Miss South Dakota pageant and then, of course, Miss America. Once Miss America was over, I felt almost resentful of my healthy habits and made a 180 degree turn. I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t eating healthy, and I didn’t care. This entire fall season, I have been battling with myself about finally getting healthy and caring about my health again. Now that it’s December (HOW?!), I cannot wait any longer and procrastinate my good health.
Ever since May, I really felt great the majority of the time. I was finally confident with my body and mentally, felt wonderful because of the hard work that I put into myself day in and day out. After Miss America, I lost that zest and confidence I had about my body. I have been struggling with that ever since.

There’s this battle that I think many pageant girls, if not all, face. It’s a battle between when you’re at your peak fitness and aesthetically, your best, versus when you’re back in “normal-person mode”. It’s the battle between your pageant body and your regular body. Now, I’m not saying every pageant girl after her national or state pageant gives up and gains twenty pounds. I have basically stayed the same weight since Miss America but what has changed is my health and mentality. You can’t measure your health by a number on a scale but by how your body feels.

As of today, I’m taking my health back. I know my journey to learning quality, “non-pageant prep” habits won’t be perfect, but it will be a step in the right direction. It’s so important to remember your health goals during the holiday season and not make excuses just because a pie looks really, really good… :)

Join me in taking your health back this holiday season with my 5 easy steps!

How I’m Taking My Health Back:

1. Get my heart rate up for at least 30 minutes each day

                  – Elliptical, Treadmill, Walk outside, Dancing, Etc. Even walk in place while watching your favorite sitcom. 30 minutes is NOT that long in the big scheme of things. You can do it!

2. Lift weights 3x/Week.

                  – I credit weight lifting for my body transformation this year and know that it’s so good for my mind and body. Look up workout plans online/on pinterest/even on instagram. There are so many different combinations of lifts/body weight exercises out there that I know you can find something perfect for YOU!

3. Eat one salad OR green smoothie per day.

                  – I am NOT a big fan of vegetables, but know how good they make me feel from the inside out. I love green smoothies, such an easy way to get your greens and enjoy them. Easy recipe: As much spinach or kale as you can fit in your blender with a little water, blend, then add your favorite fruits. Mine are a banana, frozen pineapple, and frozen strawberries. Add protein powder if you would like!

4. Eat a breakfast that contains protein and a good carbohydrate for my body.

                  – I was feeling my best when I would eat a half cup of oatmeal with a banana AND two eggs for breakfast. So much energy and fuel for my day! Do whatever it takes to get a good breakfast in each day. You’ll thank me later! :)

5. TRY to drink a gallon of water each day.

                   – This is a tough one but so worth it. Trust me. A gallon seems like a lot (and a lot of trips to the restroom!) but once you get going, it becomes easier and easier.


Those are the 5 steps I’m incorporating into my life beginning today. I know that this will keep me well rounded, healthy, and fit. Nothing feels better than nourishing your body on the inside and working it out hard in the gym. Make a change now and you won’t regret it later.

Please leave a comment or message if you have any questions on my journey or my tips!

xo, Tessa

Miss America! A month later…

Hi everybody! Well, it has been a month since the final night of the Miss America pageant so I thought it was about time to write a post about my experiences in Atlantic City.

Overall, I loved it. I loved every single woman competing and felt so very blessed to be there! It wasn’t always easy, but I’m so happy that I did it.

I left on September 2nd for the journey of a lifetime. It was just my second time taking a trip all by myself (my first adventure alone had been to the Outstanding Teen pageant in Orlando in August!) so I felt like an old pro navigating the airports.


On the way to the airport in Sioux Falls! Just slightly freaking out…


Sure, this is all I brought to Miss America! Kidding…I also shipped three big trunks. Oops!

I made it allllllll the way to Minneapolis (45 minute flight, what what!) before my flight to Philadelphia was delayed. Thankfully, I just happened to be on the same flight as Miss North Dakota (Laura) and Miss Idaho (Sarah) so I was in great company in the airport and on the plane. Laura and I traded seats with other people so we could sit by each other! When we arrived in Philadelphia, we were picked up by our awesome security team on our own special Miss America Jitney. These are what we traveled in every single day from the hotel to Boardwalk Hall and to any event we went to.


Wee! Made it to Philly!


Pretending to be Kirsten Haglund outside of the Jitney

I had my own room that first night in Atlantic City since the “official” arrival was the next day. It was nice to get settled for a night before the craziness began. The next morning, we arrived at Boardwalk Hall bright at early at about 8:00 am for our fittings with the production staff. They checked through each one of our outfits that would potentially be shown on television and made sure they all looked up to Miss America standards. During this time, we began to notice the 20/20 cameras following us around in the dressing room. We had met some of the filming crew in Orlando when we were at the teen pageant and now they were back to film us basically each day leading up to the Miss America finals and the showing of the 20/20 special, Pageant Confidential.
I was a little surprised when they were in the dressing room with us and found myself getting filmed when I least expected (adjusting myself in dresses, getting zipped into outfits, etc.) it was pretty bizarre and something I was definitely not accustomed to. We all learned to be on our best behavior when the cameras were around because you didn’t want to get caught on film doing or saying something unfortunate that the entire nation would potentially see! Yikes!

Later that day we had the official Arrival Ceremony right in front of Boardwalk Hall on the boardwalk. Each of us introduced ourselves to Atlantic City and signed a giant map which Miss America (Nina!) will get. During the arrival ceremony they announced two different scholarship opportunities. The first scholarship was for women in STEM majors or careers. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and 30% of our class was majoring in a STEM related area. 5 finalists were chosen by a panel of 5 professionals and I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the five! It was an amazing and complete surprise as this wasn’t a scholarship that any of us had applied for. The other scholarship opportunity was the Quality of Life award which is based on platform work!

arrival map arrival sit

stem_finalist _graphic

After that first day, REHEARSALS began!

big rehearse

Our beautiful rehearsal theater. What a sight! This is also where we got to see our families each night after competition.

During our time in Atlantic City, we had schedules every day basically planned down to the minute. We woke up each day very early and were dressed and ready to get on the Jitney to Boardwalk Hall usually at 7-7:30am. When we got there, we would typically sit in the dressing room until around 8am when we would begin rehearsals. Rehearsals consisted mainly of learning the opening number and learning the dances that would make up the Parade of States montage at the top of the show. Our choreographers were the best of the best and were absolutely amazing. They could always tell when we needed to “take 5″ or needed some comic relief. We love you, Brian, Stacey, and Barry! Truly the best.

rehearsal 5

Not joking, I fell asleep sitting just like that shortly after this photo was taken in the middle of a dance. Talk about lack of sleep!

rehearsal 1

Rehearsal with my lovely SD state necklace from my mother! Unfortunately this got lost at Miss America :(

rehearsal 2 rehearsal 3 rehearsal 4
After rehearsals ended around 3-4pm depending on the day, we would get 30 minutes to change into our outfit that we brought that morning for the event that would take place that evening. The events were always amazing but we wouldn’t usually get back to the hotel until anywhere from 10pm to after 11pm every night which became harder and harder each day as the lack of sleep started to take its toll. Each night when I got home, I took off my makeup and took a jacuzzi bath to relax. Sometimes I didn’t get to bed until 1:30am but it was worth it to me to have this relaxation routine in place and to go to bed mentally prepared for the next day.

Some of my favorite events:

boogie nights

Dancing and afros at Boogie Nights with my girl Miss Hawaii!

liberty bell

First time visiting the Liberty Bell!


My first MLB game! Not too shabby!

pier shops

On my way to one of the best nights of my life! We had dinner at Buddakan and received over $800 worth of goodies! Yippee!

steel pier

Spent an evening at Steel Pier amusement park!

Saturday and Sunday of week 1 consisted of filming our Parade of States introduction that would air at the top of the telecast on September 15th. These days were very long as we would start with a 6:30am Jitney pick up (Meaning you had to be hair and makeup ready outside your door at 6:20am) and we would end around 9pm. Over the course of those two days, we filmed at 7 different locations and had a different dance routine and setup at each location. Let me just say, our Joseph Ribkoff outfits did not smell very nice when we were done! I washed my dress in my hotel sink :)

film beach

Filming on the beautiful beach right after sunrise. My favorite location!

film 2

Hey Mt. Rushmore! Make room for a new face — This one!

film 1

Filming at the Lighthouse!

Week Two Begins:

Week two brought the beginning of competition for all 53 contestants. Groups Mu and Alpha had their private interview with the judges on Monday and my group, Sigma, had interviews Tuesday morning. I felt prepared and confident going into my interview and I felt as if that came across to the judges. We touched on many different topics including my platform, healthcare, bullying, and gymnastics (and of course more that I can’t remember! :) ). Walking out of my interview, I felt happy and had a smile on my face. I felt that the interview had gone very well and was happy with what I brought into the room.


Right after interview!

Along with my interview, that Tuesday was the first night of preliminary competition. Since I was in the Sigma group, I competed in Lifestyle and Fitness (Swimsuit) and Evening Gown first. I felt that my presentations in these two areas were done well although of course being a perfectionist and a very competitive, I could have always done better :)

swim 1

In our final pose on the runway!

swim runway

Walking the runway in my Catalina swimsuit

evening gown

Walking in my evening gown! Love this dress!

Wednesday morning I had my interview for the STEM scholarship. This was with a panel of three people who had the original job of choosing the finalists. The interview was very casual and was very fun and lighthearted. I spoke about my desire to obtain a master’s degree in kinesiology and how I could use my STEM related background to not only further the STEM program, but to enhance my time as Miss America. Wednesday night also brought the talent competition to the Sigma group! I performed basically the same routine that I had performed at Miss South Dakota except with a new, flashier costume and of course more skills! I had a blast during my routine and was wound so tight beforehand that afterwards I completely lost it. I was very emotional that day (I credit this to a lack of sleep and, um, BEING AT MISS AMERICA) and after my routine, I felt very bad about myself. I didn’t think that I had performed to the best of my abilities but, to my surprise, my parents and friends watching said it was the best they thought I had ever performed. Phew! No sense in being hard on myself, I guess :)

STEM interview

After completing my STEM interview


Performing my talent on the Miss America stage! Wow!

On Thursday, I had On Stage Question. I wasn’t concerned about this portion of the competition at all because we all knew it would be a platform based question. I spoke about Project Bookworm and Build a Book and my efforts to get parents involved with their children’s literacy efforts. I felt good about what I said and was confident that I answered to the best of my abilities.


On Stage Question

After each day of preliminary competition, we had anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to spend with our families and friends from our state who had come to cheer us on. I had a lot of amazing people there for me! Thank you all so much for coming and being on “Team Tessa”! I love you guys!

team tessa

Friday was a day where we did a lot of camera blocking. This rehearsal and run through onstage wasn’t for us, it was for the camera and production crew. We practiced walking with the cameras and rehearsing with the different camera arrangements. To be honest I fell asleep on the stage that day and didn’t even realize I was sleeping until I looked at my watch and it was 45 minutes later! This was a long day!

Saturday was a day that we were all looking forward to – The SHOW YOUR SHOES PARADE!!!! Over a two-mile stretch, there were over 220,000 people there watching and cheering us on. It was an absolute blast and I had such a great time rocking my Sturgis inspired look! My legs were so tired Sunday morning from holding my legs up in my big, bedazzled boots!! Shout out to GK (aka Gramma Karen) for bedazzling these for me! They were quite a hit on the Boardwalk!
parade11234656_705267222820567_379473164_n Sunday morning we got to sleep in!!! What! It was amazing and unheard of so I really enjoyed my relaxing morning. It was required that we pack all of our things up before we left for Boardwalk Hall that day in the event that we won Miss America and all of our belongings had to be moved to a different room very quickly. After packing up my three suitcases and three trunks and having a lovely breakfast in bed, I was ready to go!

I felt confident that I would advance to the semi finals to be able to compete for Miss America that evening. When each of the 15 names was being called, I was convinced one would be mine. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. At first I was in a little bit of a daze. We were rushed backstage to change into our Non-Finalist Outfits (One I thought I would never wear) and went back onstage. Once I was onstage in my “I’m Popular in South Dakota” T-shirt and jeans watching my friends continue to compete, I was crushed. It was very hard to sit in the Non Finalist Lounge (Or NFL as we liked to call it) and watch all of the girls continue to compete for a dream that I thought I could accomplish. My time working and prepping and competing for the dream of Miss America had abruptly come to an end and I just could not wrap my head around it.

Don’t get me wrong, I was and am so grateful to be one of the 53 women competing for the title of Miss America. It is such an honor to think that I graced that stage with so many accomplished young women. To be able to keep company with this group of ladies and to know that I could call 52 women and know they would do anything for me is so amazing. I have met some of my best friends from this time in Atlantic City and am so grateful for that. I can’t believe how lucky we all are to have the class we have. I think we were a little unprecedented as we honestly ALL got along. How cool is that? Sometimes as a “Miss State” I think it’s easy to feel alone or a little lonely but it’s refreshing and reassuring to know that if I ever need to talk or need a shoulder to lean on, I have 52 other women supporting me!


Even though I was disappointed I didn’t make the top 15, didn’t win a preliminary award, and didn’t become Miss America, I absolutely loved my time in Atlantic City and wouldn’t change a thing. I learned a lot from my time there and appreciate everything that happened; good or bad.

Thank you all for supporting on my journey to Miss America!!! And for your continued support as I continue my journey as Miss South Dakota 2013. I love you all so much and your support and love means more than you could ever know!



PS. Make sure to check out my Facebook page to see what I’m doing this year and check out all my photos from Miss America!!! Miss South Dakota – Tessa Dee

Hello from Miss South Dakota!

One month ago today I was crowned the 67th Miss South Dakota! If you have followed my journey, you were able to see some of the hard work that happened to get me where I am today. I am so humbled to have become Miss South Dakota 2013 and am already on a wild ride!


I still can’t believe I heard my name called on June 29th on that stage in Hot Springs. It was an amazing experience and a moment I will never forget!
You dream about something for so long and work so hard that when it actually happens, you’re left in disbelief. I was, at least. It was bizarre to go from working and wishing for something everyday to actually living and breathing that goal.


It has been a complete whirlwind this past month. I have put about 3,000 miles on my new car (Thanks Hills Edge Auto!) and have hardly stopped moving.
I won’t lie, it has been stressful. I have cried more than once but have already become a stronger person because of this experience. I cannot believe I will be representing South Dakota on the Miss America stage when competition begins on September 10th in Atlantic City!
You can watch me compete for the Miss America crown live on ABC September 15th!


I will be posting more details about the Miss South Dakota pageant and my journey so far as this week continues.

Thank you for following my journey! I can’t wait to see where this year takes me.

Tessa Dee
Miss South Dakota 2013

Weekend Workouts


I am writing this post as I’m walking on the treadmill. It always surprises me when the gym is completely dead on the weekends. Personally, fitting a workout (even just 20 intense minutes) into my day makes my life feel more organized and together.
Don’t get me wrong, I have gone many weekends without working out! What I have realized, though, is by putting in a little effort every day, I feel more confident in myself and my journey towards my long term health and wellness goals.

I like to make my weekend workouts fun and something completely different than my workouts during the week. Today, I’m walking/jogging on the treadmill and am doing gymnastics and yoga later. I don’t usually incorporate yoga into my day to day routine so I’m excited to relax, stretch and work on muscle tone.

Get moving this weekend!!! No excuses, people!

Tell me your favorite weekend workouts in the comment section!