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Julia Shappert | Official Blog

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May 2015

Reasons Why I’m Not Dating

The thought of dating makes me feel excited, nervous, and weird all at the same time. If God wills it, I will find Mr. Right one day. However, here are my three main reasons why I’m holding off dating in the meantime.

1.) I have really high expectations. I will not settle for just any guy in a relationship. When I date, I’ll be looking at the man in front of me as a potential husband. My criteria is important to me. I will not date for the sake of dating or to feel like I belong.

2.) My time is limited. With entering my junior year of college, an internship, babysitting, and extracurriculars all to look forward to, I definitely won’t have the energy to balance a relationship in the mix. I have other more important priorities to juggle at this stage of my life.

4.) I’m simply not ready. After I graduate and begin making a living for myself, I feel that I will have established a greater level of independence, sense of self, and maturity to seriously date. But until then, I will continue to study and prepare for the life ahead of me.

I don’t think that dating or marriage should be a hurried matter for anyone. Take your time, treasure the opportunities in front of you, and let God be your navigator. After all, he knows us better than we know ourselves. Take care.

Julia

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Oatmeal Banana Pancakes (Flourless and Sugar-Free!)

Pancakes are delicious but usually leave me feeling bloated and sluggish after polishing a small stack of them. After intensively researching alternative pancake recipes via YouTube, I stumbled across a flourless, sugarless pancake recipe with only 3 ingredients!  You might be questioning the validity of these pancakes. But, I promise you that they turn out sweet and moist every time!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 medium banana (chopped)
  • 2 egg whites
Top them off with Greek yogurts, the other half of your banana, and fresh berries!
Top them off with Greek yogurts, the other half of your banana, and fresh berries!

Grind oats in a Ninja Bullet or blender until floury consistency. Add chopped banana half and egg whites. Blend until smooth mixture. If the batter is too thick, add water to thin it out. Put your skillet on medium-high and grease with coconut oil (or butter). Flip them when they bubble in the center and crisp around the edges. One batch makes roughly 3-4 small pancakes. I added a layer of Greek yogurt between the cakes and more fruit. Healthy and low-calorie. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts for 1 Batch.

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With love,

Julia 

My Eating Disorder Roller Coaster

Family and friends who are reading this are probably confused. Wait, seriously? Julia has an eating disorder? Nooooo. Yes, it’s very real and the problem I’m dealing with constantly reminds me that I am far from perfection. It is a personal and relatively new situation of mine, but I feel compelled to share my story with anyone who might need to hear it. I’m in no way trying to gain attention or empathy out of this. I feel that by keeping this reality away from the people I love, I’m living a lie. So, here is my story.

I have tendencies of anorexia nervosa. Before last year, I never gave a second thought about my weight. I was perfectly content with my appearance and figure. Last June, I saw recently-captured family pictures of myself and realized that I had gained some excess weight during my freshman year of college – nothing abnormal. But, those photos made me feel icky and desire a change in my body. Thus, my main summer goal was to get back into shape and lose about 10 pounds. Nothing out of the ordinary. I am petite in stature and have a small frame, so I wasn’t planning on losing a lot.

Me during family photos, June 2014 – 123 pounds

My healthy weight range for my height should have been between roughly 105-110 pounds – not the 123.4 pounds I carried around. The summer I was home from school, I made it a habit to eat nutritious meals and implement daily aerobics into my life . By the end of August, I dropped down to 107 pounds! I was ecstatic! Finally, I was at my fittest and most confident that I had ever felt.

However, calorie counting and number-crunching on the scale became daily obsessions and stressed me out constantly. If I ever went over my calorific goal of 1200 calories per day, my anxiety levels would skyrocket. I just had this overbearing feeling that if I had “junk” food or ate too much of anything that I would instantly gain back the pounds.

Early October - 100 pounds
Early October – 100 pounds

Things got worse. Social outings were no longer fun because “bad” food would be there and tempt the living cravings out of me. I quickly got thinner, dizzier, and more out of breath. I became very sad and depressed. My skin became tighter and my smile was never sincere in pictures. I wanted so desperately to eat freely and enjoy life without all my internal restraints screaming at me. I felt so helpless and alone. I isolated myself from friends. Constantly, my mind was fixated on what I would eat each day and how I could lose more weight.

The blue shirt is actually a skirt that became too loose around my waist.

One day in late October of my sophomore year, I took off my clothes, inhaled deeply, and looked at myself in the mirror. There was my new thigh gap, rib cage, and collar bone – all very much defined….and I was miserable. I weighed 98.5 pounds and felt like crying. I was scared of myself. I knew that if I sunk any lower, I would end up in critical condition.

So, I starting eating hearty again. My dining hall served desserts galore on Halloween night. I consumed so much food (7,000 calories worth to be exact) that evening ….and, initially, it felt fantastic! I felt like I had meat on my bones again. At the same time, however,  the sugar cravings kicked in. Since then, sugary food has given me an incredulous high. I’ll eat exorbitant amount of food in a period of 1-2 hours until I feel sick. I feel numb and out of control when I eat. I sneak and eat food in secret because I don’t want to be judged by others. I gained back 20 pounds in a 2-month period. For the past 6 months, I’ve been struggling with binge eating.

It’s no surprise that my eating habits have landed me back to square one with my weight. But, I am going through counseling to help me get back on track. Food is a part of life but it shouldn’t be controlling one’s mind and body.

I’ve learned that be skinny doesn’t lead to happiness. In fact, I feel more energetic and happy on the heavier side than being too thin. I just want to feel fit and confident without food controlling my life again. It’s a long journey, but I’m willing to eventually conquer this trouble.

Julia

Berry Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Smoothies are refreshing and a great way to replenish the body of vital nutrients. This smoothie is fabulous for all the right reasons. It’s delicous, nutritious, refreshing, and you can’t even taste the spinach! Get ready to jumpstart your day full of energy with this tasty treat!

Berry Spinach Breakfast Smoothie

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

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  • 1 medium banana (split into two)
  • 2 Tbsp Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • Add banana, oats, milk, berries, and spinach into blender and blend until it’s evenly light purple. The color will vary from pink to purple depending on the ratio of raspberries and blueberries you use. The frozen raspberries give this recipe the frothy consistency and really makes a difference in the overall taste. You can find frozen mixed berries from the grocery store! Just make sure they thaw a little for easier blending.

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This recipes produces two generous 1 cup servings, but you can eat the whole thing! I calculated the nutritional information by using MyFitnessPal. Low-sodium, dairy-free, cholestorol-free goodness!

Nutrition Facts for Entire Recipe:

Calories: 256

Fat: 2.3 g

Sugar: 27 g

Carbs: 57.5 g

Protein: 5.1 g

Fiber: 11.3 g

Enjoy this awesome frozen treat!

 

 

Secrets to a Lasting Relationship and Marriage

Deep inside our hearts, we all have a yearning to be loved. Several of you might even be looking for that special someone to spend the rest of your life with. Whatever the case, love is something to be treasured and shared with others.

I’ve had a numbers of “crushes” growing up. There were a couple instances along the way that I even believed I might have found the one. I pictured myself getting married, raising a family, and thinking that I’ll definitely be happy once my prince charming proposes to me. Yes, I’ve thought it all several times.

This isn’t going to be your typical dating advice article. No way. In fact, I am currently no where near in a romantic relationship. That being said, I have had my share of heart aches and gained wisdom on what constitutes a happy relationship leading to a lasting marriage.

First, we need to get some points straight.

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The intention of dating is to find your spouse. It’s not about having someone to hook up with, gain fame or fortune, or satisfy an emotional need. If you reason for dating is for anything other than sincere love and marriage, you are dating for the wrong reasons.

Infatuation is temporary. The first couple months of have a boyfriend or girlfriend are filled with butterflies, flirting, hugging, kissing, giggling, and heightened emotions. I consider this the “infatuation” stage. Hormones seem to drive up the walls. Over time, the feelings and constant physical closeness will fade. That’s okay! Infatuation is a short-lived passion. Love is shown when a person puts a person’s needs before his or her own.

Before I go any further, let’s take a look at an accurate definition of love found in Scripture.  1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

Whether you are in a relationship now or are keeping an open mind for a future one, you should look at each of these characteristics and ask yourself: Is he/she patient? Kind? Jealous? Boastful? Immoral? Judgmental? Faithful? Hopeful? Will he/she endure with me through thick and thin?

Now, let’s quickly read sample wedding vows for a typical ceremony. “I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Bride/Groom), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

Notice that both the core definition of love as well as marriage vows have a focus on enduring tough times! Conclusion: Marriage is not always a walk in the park. Life isn’t going to be the picture perfect life we’ve imagined. Even if you are absolutely in love with your significant other, you are not immune to times of hardship that will put you to the test.

Now, I believe that the more similarities a couple has, the more likely the marriage will last and the easier it will be to overcome hardships. Even during the toughest times, you both at least have the same foundational values to cling to. That’s the key word: Foundation.  If a marriage is built with a solid foundation of core beliefs, ambitions, and goals, your bond will be strong. If you, however, base a relationship off of fleeting emotions and physical attraction (RED ALERT), a lasting marriage is out of the question. Similarities need to be set in stone between both partners to enduring a solid marriage.

Ask yourself: What is important to you? What are your goals and dreams in life? How do these translate to the ideal spouse? For me, my Catholic faith, music, good stewardship, and willingness to raise a family are all important to me. Your ideals might be different, and that is completely fine! Basically, you need to know and love yourself before you can know and love a future spouse. Otherwise, you might conform to your spouse’s every behavior, decision, and attitude…which might cause constant frustration and stress.

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Overall, marriage is a beautiful gift but not necessarily the answer to happily ever after. It takes two devoted people to make a relationship endure through tough times. Love is beautiful, God-given, and takes sacrifice. It is a sacred bond. Treat it with love and care.

I hope this article provides some insight on relationships and marriage. I definitely enjoyed writing it!

Take care,

Julia

The Best Cupcake Recipe Ever

Hello, friends! This weekend, my mom was looking around for different cupcake recipes to use for my sister’s upcoming graduation reception and stumbled upon probably one of the greatest cupcake recipes I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

So, naturally, I thought I should share this pure joy and deliciousness that my family and I have indulged in over the past couple days. The recipe’s original source is from Cake Central. Notice, I said “delicious”, which does not equate to “healthy”. But, these dainty desserts are so worth it. Trust me. It’s not every day that you have heaven in your mouth. The recipe gives instructions for a cake, but we chose vanilla cupcakes. They still turned out amazing.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cake Mix Box (Duncan Heines®, Betty Crocker®, Pillsbury® etc.)
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 generous dash of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Sour Cream (8 oz.)
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla If making a white cake, use clear vanilla so cake will not discolor
  • ** If making a chocolate cake:
  • 3 Mounded tablespoons of cocoa powder

Instructions

For this recipe you are only going to use the actual cake mix powder, do NOT also add the ingredients from directions on the cake mix box. Just ignore any other ingredients or directions listed on the cake mix packaging.

Preheat Oven to 330°
Mix flour, sugar, cake mix, **cocoa powder, and salt together with fork, set aside.
Into Mixer bowl put eggs, water, sour cream, butter, vanilla, and cream.
Add dry ingredients and mix well on (about 2 minutes on low speed)
Bake at 330° for 65 minutes for 9 in. cake pan.
Enjoy! Let me know what you think. 🙂
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Hope your day is cupcake sweet.
Julia

Introvert Insight

It is no lie. I am an introvert. I don’t think there is anyone I know who wouldn’t consider me quiet, reserve, and introspective. In many cases, this is true but definitely not all the time. Sometimes, I feel like introverts are viewed in a less-than-positive way from the more outgoing crowd. It is a shame that we (on behalf of introverts) are easily misinterpreted as shy, antisocial, and even snotty. But, hopefully this article shows our side of the story. 🙂

1.) We over think things…a lot. It’s almost like we are living in a separate world where all of our thoughts just explode and evolve into millions of deep scenarios, which can lead to anxiety. We might be silent on the outside but our brains don’t seem to relax.

2.) We speak up when necessary. If we are passionate about something, there is no stopping us voicing our beliefs. If we have something significant to share with others, we will do it….and others are intrigued by what we have to say.

3.) We withdraw ourselves from social events for a breather. Introverts get exhausted when socializing with lots of people for a given amount of time. This includes shopping “sprees”, parties, and dances. We really do enjoy you and your company, but we also get overstimulated and it wears us out quickly.

4.) Bedrooms are safe havens. Returning to my bedroom or dorm is my escape from the noise and busyness taking away my energy. Peace and quiet is glorious, especially after a full day of school and work. We’ve been surrounded by others all day, so any free moments to ourselves are like mini vacations to rest and recover.

5.) We only have a handful of really close friends. We are friendly to all but confine our complete trust and troubles to a select few. This can even include family members. We select our friends wisely. These are the people who are lucky enough to see our wild, silly side.

6.) We could watch Netflix all day by ourselves and be perfectly content. Let’s face it. We pride our alone time. Lots of extroverts find that this can be lonely. We don’t mind though. We actually really enjoy it.

7.) We love people. We really do. We care about you, want the best for you, and love spending time with you. We just need more breaks to ourselves than the average person so we don’t get overwhelmed.

8.) We have nothing against extroverts. Honestly, we need people like you to remind us to let loose, have fun, and take chances in life. AND, you might need us if you are searching for a peaceful escape from life’s demands. We love naps, Netflix, food, reading, journaling, and thinking among other things. You are welcome to join us.

Signing off,

Julia

Make Straight “A”s in School!

grade-32015385563_xlargeWho doesn’t like getting “A” grades in school? Academics has always been a priority to me and it’s a wonderful feeling when my grades reflect the hard work I’ve put into studying. I cannot suggest that every single one of these tips will guarantee straight “A”s. However, with a little patience, hard work, and smart studying, you’ll be on your way to more efficient learning and hopefully better grades.These are techniques I use on a daily basis.

  • Keep a clean desk. How are you going to study with a mess piled onto your studying space? Desk organizers and shelves are great ways to stash school supplies in easy-to-access places without cluttering your desk.
  • Don’t multitask between assignments.You’ll just give yourself a headache by bouncing between assignments. I’ve tried doing this all too often and end up finding myself on Facebook each time. Give your full attention to one assignment at a time.
  • Take periodic breaks. We can only work on something for so long before losing concentration and daydreaming. Step away from your studying every once in a while and take a breather…..but not for an hour.

ecosystem-life-notebooks

  • Take notes in class. Keep a separate notebook for each class and label the course name on the cover page so you don’t get confused. Write down vocabulary terms, quantitative problems, and important pages numbers to refer back to when reviewing for exams.
  • Sit in the front of the class. You get the best seat in the house! You can see and hear everything that is going on during the lecture without having to peep over people’s heads or deal with the rowdy bunch that talks to each other.

Social-Media-Distractions

  • Keep away from distractions. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, phone, TV, IPod, snacks, etc. You get the drift. Anything that doesn’t keep your full attention on the project at hand should be turned off and stashed out of sight. If your dorm room or bedroom is too distracting as it is, go to the library or some other quiet place that allows you to give full attention to homework.
  • Look at your syllabus and mark due dates somewhere visible. Know when assignments are due and write down these dates in a planner, Post-It note, or anywhere visible for you not to forget. The last thing you want to have happen is to start writing a 10-page paper the night before it’s due. Plus, knowing the dates ahead of time will give you a mental timeline on how long you have to work on a project.
  • Become friends with your professors. Ask them questions after class when you’re confused. Attend their office hours. Email them. You will make an impression by taking the initiative to do well in a course and you will feel 10x better grasping problems you once had trouble with. Plus, professors want to see you succeed. It’s truly not their goal to fail you.

professor-and-students

  • Study with other students. Unless it’s hard for you to separate socializing from studying, working with others can help you solve answers to questions you have and to teach others what you know about a topic. Working in groups can be productive if you find studious friends that are willing to meet up!
  • Create your own study guides or outlines. If you are preparing for an exam, look over all the chapters and important notes you’ve taken to compile a review sheet that you’d expect to cover most material on the test.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Yes, this one can be hard, but I recommend doing your least-favorite assignment(s) first. This way, the smaller, easier stuff feels less daunting and more manageable to complete. It’s like ripping off a bandage. It might be painful, but then it’s over.
  • Work on the hard, time-consuming assignments when you are most productive. Do you think best in the morning or evening? When do you usually accomplish most of your work? We all have a time of day when we feel most productive. Use this time to your advance. FYI, your most productive time does not include 3AM. You should be sleeping.
  • Get enough sleep. If you complete daily homework during your most productive time of the day, and don’t procrastinate on large assignments, you have absolutely no excuse for pulling an all nighter. College students should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night for better concentration and alertness the next day. Zzzz……

I know that was a mouthful of information, but I really hope these tips are useful! Take care.

Julia

Online Schooling was Right for Me

Unlike most students, my formal education growing up was not in a traditional brick-and-mortar school. That’s right! I didn’t experience school bus rides, study hall sessions, cafeteria lines, recess, or snow days. In fact, I never really encountered what most students went through growing up academically. Instead, I was traditionally homeschooled from preschool through 3rd grade. Then, my family enrolled me in an online public school called the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) for 10 years after that.

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Online education is definitely not for everyone, but it was the perfect fit for me and my family. I’ve had plenty of friends, family, and strangers who were solid advocates for traditional schooling methods question this alternative. Nevertheless, I still graduated with a cumulative 4.0 GPA and ranked 5th from my senior class of over 800 other virtually-educated students. There were (and still are) a number of lies I’ve faced about online schooling that I can disprove from my personal experience.

Lie #1: You are antisocial. I may be quiet at times, but I am far from antisocial. In OHVA, there were a number of face-to-face events (dances, picnics, bowling outings, etc.) that I could easily befriend other students. I formed a good circle of friends during my high school years that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. Don’t let my quite nature fool you. I am very approachable and personable. 🙂

Lie #2 : Online school is a joke. Actually, I learned and experienced more about independence, responsibility, integrity, and self motivation being virtually educated than I would have otherwise. I didn’t have my parents or teachers right by my side telling me to complete my work. So, if I wanted to make good grades, I had to read the material, reach out to teachers with questions via email or phone, and promptly turn in assignments electronically. Even at college, I still apply the study skills I’ve acquired through OHVA, which seem to be serving me well.

Lie #3: You are not well-rounded. Outside of my academics, I was involved with 4-H, choir, pageantry, youth group, ballet, jazz, swim lessons, and art classes. Within OHVA, I was in the National Honor Society, math club, student council, and the school newspaper*. You’d be surprised about how much you can do when you’re virtually educated!

Lie #4: You are not ready for the “real world”. The skills I’ve formed through my studies combined with my involvement in extracurricular activities has made me very well-rounded and enthusiastic about learning. When beginning freshman year of college, I made an effort to jump right into student life and meet other people. To this day, I have excelled academically, formed friendships that will last a lifetime, and continue to grow as a leader in several student organizations.

Really, online education is what you make of it. If you are going to be a couch potato, and not turn in assignments, the fault is yours. This is one reason online education is not for everyone because some people need the motivation and structure from traditional school systems to do well academically.

Signing off,

Julia

*DISCLAIMER: Not all online schools are as well-established as the Ohio Virtual Academy. I was fortunate to be enrolled through a school that provided extracurricular activities and honor societies, but I cannot guarantee those opportunities for all other virtual systems.

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