Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fake It 'til You Make It

I don't tend to write much when I am feeling down.  Like most people I prefer to hide away when things aren't going the best. I don't like to share that I am struggling or that I need help.  I prefer to keep it all in and try to deal with it myself.

Well, I try to deal with it mostly by myself.  Inevitably my mother, my fiancee and my closest friends hear about my big struggles, but I don't usually go write a blog about them.  Perhaps I should be more transparent, but to be honest, I don't really want to.

I have to say that in the last several months I have really struggled.  Among all the changes in my life in the past six months, I feel like I have been constantly faking excitedness, happiness and enthusiam.  I was excited to move to Minot and start a new life, but there so many different things going on, many days my excitement felt forced.  But I am happy to say that now more often than not I don't feel like I am faking it anymore. I feel like I might actually be making it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Snowing!

Every time it snows, I think of this scene in the movie "Hook".  It has been snowing all day today in Minot.  Not the kind of snow that sticks to the ground or anything, but the kind of snow that marks the beginning of winter and cold weather.

My mom said I should write down the date and the fact that it is snowing in Minot for the first time since I moved here.  I asked her why and she said "You'll forget so much of what happened in your first year living on your own."

She's probably right, she usually is.  And she got me thinking about all the things that have happened to my since I left Valpo in May.  The day to day life can sometimes a struggle, but overall things are looking pretty good.

I haven't posted much since moving here.  I've been pretty busy.  My work schedule can literally change by the hour, though usually I have at least a day of notice.  Usually.  I am still the only person in my office, there is also a surveyor based out of the Minot office, but he is very rarely actually in the office.  The company is hoping to hire some other people up here soon, just gotta find people who are willing to come to ND, and more specifically Minot.

I have made friends with my coworkers, and I fairly regularly go down to Bismarck to spend time with them on the weekend.  They are fun to be around (and they will be the first to tell you that they are awesome).  They have introduced me to some other people and we get along pretty well.  I don't wanna speak too soon, but I can see us being friend for a while.

It's taken a while, but I am finally starting to build a support base here in Minot.  I have been going to a UCC church here, I am not always crazy about the service, but the people are wonderful.  The 20-something population of this church has grown significantly since I started going in May.  That's been a pretty good place to meet people.

I also found the local running store and was able to volunteer to work a water station during the local half marathon.  While volunteering I met another former collegiate swimmer, (whose mother is an avid runner, sound familiar?) and now she and I both coach for one of the local club teams.

Those are just some of the things I have been up to in the past five months.  I will try to post more often in the coming months!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Summer Food Struggles (My foray into NSNG eating)

Since graduating college in May so many things in my life have changed.  One of the biggest changes has been moving to ND and actually living on my own... and cooking for myself.

I have a natural metabolism that lets me get curvy pretty quickly.  Every year between swim seasons I would gain 10-15 pounds, but then I would lose it again once I got back in the pool again so I never really worried about it too much.

This year was different.  I was done with college swimming and I know I will probably never work out that much again.  So something needed to change.

Now that I was truly living on my own I tried doing some cooking and eating pretty healthy but I was still gaining that usual weight.  I discussed my dilemma with a buddy and he suggested that I check out Vinnie Tortorich's podcast.

Vinnie preaches a No Sugar No Grains (NSNG) type of eating, a low carb high fat style of eating.  When my buddy first mentioned NSNG I thought, "No way.  I love bread and ice cream and everything grains and sugar!  No way I'd ever be able to do this!"  But I figured I'd give it a listen anyway, it couldn't hurt anything, right?

The first couple podcast were entertaining.  Anna Vocino (the podcast's cohost) did not live a NSNG lifestyle and she was just as skeptical about the whole thing as I was.  She asked a lot of questions that I had and she even experimented with NSNG and reported her results.

Vinnie was always throwing out actual studies and science to support what he was preaching.   According to him  NSNG is a maintainable change in eating style which would keep you at a healthy weight without too much exercise (too good to be true, right?).  He said that as you cut out grains and sugar your body starts to run on fat instead of glycogen (sugar).  Eat sugar get fat, eat fat get lean.  He had a lot of good information to back up what he was saying.

But it was really Anna's testimonial that convinced me.  I decided to try it.

I went cold turkey into NSNG.  To put it simply it didn't work the first time.  I got really nauseous and my body was not handling the change well.  I couldn't just sit around and wait the nausea out since I had to be moving for work.  I went back to a grain and sugar based diet.

But I kept listening to the podcasts.  What they were saying made sense to me and I really wanted to do it.  I wanted to be healthier and not worry as much about my weight.  As I listened to the podcasts I began to make small changes to my routine and diet.

I switched out 1% milk for full fat milk.  I began eating more eggs and bacon and less cereal for breakfast.  I started reading labels at the supermarket so I could avoid buying (and eating) grains and sugar.  Especially sugar.

Now I am about two weeks into almost complete NSNG.  I became fat adapted sometime last week.  I realized I was fat adapted when I wasn't too hungry at meal times and smaller amounts of food were keeping me sated.  I have actually lost a couple pounds since before I began experimenting with NSNG and I weigh less than I did at the end of high school.

I am still struggling with this style of eating.  I have to learn new recipes and make sure that I am getting enough fat in every day.  I feel like this is a maintainable style of eating.  And as an added bonus I feel great about my body.

I will definitely be continuing NSNG.  I will try to keep you posted on my progress.

In the meantime, you can go check out Vinnie and NSNG on iTunes or at vinnietortorich,com

Saturday, July 6, 2013

And I said Yes!!

This last week, my boyfriend has been here in North Dakota.  I spent the first half of the week abandoning him at my apartment while I went to work for approximately 12 hours a day. Thankfully this work week was a short one with the 4th of July holiday on Thursday.  I elected to take Friday off as well so that I could spend more time with him.

In the North Dakota Badlands

We decided to take a trip to the North Dakota Badlands to celebrate the 4th with the natural beauty of our great country.  When we got to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park we drove the 36 mile long scenic route.  Since he is a photographer, naturally we had to stop at every scenic overlook point and trail head for him to get some great pictures.

We stopped by the highest point in the park, Buck Hill, and decided that that location would make a good place to get
Just before he asked.  I was completely not expecting it.
pictures of the sunset later that night.

After a trip into town for dinner and a stop to set up our tent for the night we returned to Buck Hill to wait for the sunset.  Kevin set up his camera and started taking pictures, testing, getting his settings right.  I explored the hill a bit more then went and sat down on a rock near his camera to read.

A few minutes later he came over an sat next to me.  We just sat there for a bit watching the sun go down.  Then he
My beautiful ring.  It belonged to his grandma.
turned to me and said "Justine, Will you
marry me?" and pulled out a beautiful ring.

Just like that.  I was shocked.  Of course I wanted him to ask, but I didn't expect it that day.  I said "Yes!!", hugged him, kissed him and hugged him again.

I was so happy.  I am so happy.  He is my best friend, and now I get to be with him forever!

We have not set any dates yet. We have not picked a location.  It may be a couple years until we actually get married, but we are engaged now and I could not be happier.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why Not Minot?

I have now been in Minot for a bit more than 3.5 weeks and I feel like I am still in school with the amount I am learning.

For example: Did you know that North Dakota is the only state to have never experienced an earthquake?  How about the fact that North Dakota has almost a negative unemployment rate?

Yep, those are just a few things I am learning.

I also learned that North Dakota natives are not crazy about this oil rush.  The rush is bringing in all kinds of people, but at the same time, the money is not all staying here.  I heard a story about an oil truck driver who picked up a load in ND and drove to Iowa to drop it off.  He then picked up a load in IA and drove back to ND and made a profit.  Even with all those miles, he still made money.  That is just sad.

Prices here are so inflated.  I found out that the apartment that I currently have would have cost approximately a quarter of the price before the rush.  Wild.

On that note, I am extremely lucky to have found an apartment before I got here.  There was a major flood in Minot in 2011 and they are still recovering from it.  On top of the aquatic flood, there has now been a flood of people which has caused housing to be extremely scarce.

In my head I call North Dakota the New New York, the New Frontier, and the New Mixing Pot.  With the oil rush there are so many new people moving to ND, me included, that it feels like I am sure New York felt when everyone was immigrating.  The clash of cultures in western ND is pretty crazy.  From the man-camps way out west to all the new people here in Minot there is a lot of adjustment going on.

Well I am going to end my post here.  There is still so much more I to learn about ND and I have so much to tell you, but I will share it is small bits so that you are not as overwhelmed as I was at first.

Much Love,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Have a Wonderful Mother's Day

It is Mother's Day.  And I have a dilemma.  I started sending out text messages, the first one of course was to my very favorite Mother, my own.  Then I sent one to my aunt, my boyfriend's mother, both my grandmothers.  I wanted to keep sending them.  There are so many wonderful mother's who have been in my life.  It is hard to know where to stop and to keep make sure that I sent one to all the important mothers.  So I decided to make a post about all of them.

Me and my Momma at an open
water race
Obviously the most vital Mother in my life is the one who brought me into this world (and as she liked to remind me when I was in trouble, since she brought me into this world, she could take me out).  I had a wonderful childhood and was raised by a woman who loved me very much.  When she wasn't cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, she was listening to and helping me cope with all the hardships of my middle class suburban teenage life.

She even managed to become a pretty incredible athlete while my three siblings and I were growing up.  I have lost count of the number of marathons and half marathons that she has run.  She has never run to win the race, she runs for the love of the sport.  She passed on her love of sports to me and my siblings and now she passes it on to the entire community as her job is to train people (many who have never run before) to run half marathons.

My mother is an amazing woman and I am so glad to have her in my life.  I have been blessed to have so many other mothers and "mothers" in my life.

One of my grandmothers and some of my church mothers.

Unfortunately there are not a lot of pictures on the internet
from when I was growing up, so this is the best I could find to
picture as many as I could, it is not by any means all of them.
There were of course my relative mothers; my grandmothers and aunts, both natural and foster.  Each of these ladies played a part in my growing up at some point.  With some I went to museums and parks, with some I learned music,  some I would go to when I needed a different way to looks at things but with all of them I learned.  I love each of them in their own right and I know that I would not be where I am today without the influence of these ladies.

Then there were of those were the ladies from church and school and swimming.  The ones who had kids around my age.  From birth until now, these Mommas could solve problems, listen, or put the fear of god in me, or any of us, just as well as our own mothers.

Everyone knows that you cannot forget teachers.  From age 4 on, there was never a year in school when I did not have at least one woman teacher.  They may not all have been mothers in their own rights, but they gave my mother a break and cared for me for at least eight hours a day.
My other grandmother and I

At different points in my life I have had different women as sudo-mothers.  College was no different.  I have a woman here who I call my Valpo-momma.  To most of Valpo she is a force to be reckoned with, but for me she is someone who solves problems and listens and cares.  That makes her a mother to me.

She was not the only mother character I had in Valpo.  The lunch ladies, who I posted about earlier, could be counted as mothers too.  Most of them have children and grandchildren of their own and still they "adopt" everyone of us who goes through their lanes each day. 

Google defines a mother as being "A woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth."  I do not believe that is the whole definition.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and villages are usually made up of mothers and fathers.  So I say that a mother is any woman in your life who has helped you get where you are today.

I am sure that I have missed some of my mothers in this post.  And I know that there will still be more in my life to come.  But to all you who have helped me and supported me and cared for me through my growing up.  I thank you.  I love you all and I hope that you all have a

Wonderful Mother's Day!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

One Last Photography Project: Signs of Spring

Everything is "Lasts" right now.  A post about all the "lasts" may follow shortly.  But this post is for my last photo shoot for my digital photography class.

I went out to try and capture a scene entitled "Signs of Spring".  This follows in the form of a photo essay which is similar to the one I did a couple weeks ago.  You can see that one at this location: http://figmentsofanengineer.blogspot.com/2013/04/art-163-photo-essay-revisited.html

Here is my newest one.  I will let the story speak for itself.