December 04, 2017 04:11 PM

Miss Colombia Laura González may have been the runner up at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, but in her early youth, ironically, she faced bullying for her looks: “When I was little I wasn’t the prettiest girl in my class,” she said. “In fact, kids made fun of me many times for one thing or another: my weight, my height, my hair, my clothes.” She spoke with PEOPLE CHICA about how she transformed herself into a paragon of beauty and shared the fitness and health tips she used to become beauty pageant beautiful.

Her workout routine focused on cardiovascular exercise and functional training. “I combined toning workouts with cardio,” she said. “I am very muscular. As a Latina, I have big curves, so I didn’t lift heavy weights. I limited weight-lifting to five pounds with many repetitions.” She’s also always sure to keep her routine fun: “I love Zumba and taking dance classes,” she said. “I’d put on my headphones and go jogging outside to enjoy nature.”

While dieting for the event, González said her breakfast consisted of protein (scrambled eggs or grilled chicken) with a carbohydrate, like wheat toast. She also imbibed almond milk and fruit cocktails that included pineapple, papaya, watermelon, strawberries and cranberries. Three hours later, she’d have a snack such as a green apple or a cup of strawberries and cranberries.

Her lunch consisted of white meat (fish or chicken) and lots of vegetables (cooked or raw) and grains (beans, lentils or chickpeas). Three hours later, she’d snack on almonds. For dinner, she’d have a lean white meat with salad again. Her last meal was at 7 p.m., she said, no exceptions! She prevented liquid-retention by eating a low salt diet.

Other essential beauty tips: “Resting! Sleeping at least eight years a night,” she added — and always taking off your makeup before bed.

“I did my homework,” she said. “I did the diet and training I had to do. I would work out for two hours a day, six days a week. I ate six times a day or every three hours. That was sacred for me.” González says her goal was not to be skinny, but to have a fit and healthy body. “I didn’t suffer,” she said of her Miss Universe training. “I adopted healthy lifestyle habits that I will keep my entire life. I feel great and my health has really improved.”

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