Posted 2 years ago

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: My Story

When I was 14 years old I began dieting and exercising for the purpose to lose weight. I was not overweight. In fact, I was already at the bottom percentile of what a girl my height and build should weigh. Being skinny and modeling after the bodies I saw in magazines wasn’t the only reason for my behavior. Eating and exercising was something I found I could control….until it wasn’t. I had become obsessed with my weight and how my body looked. I rarely looked in the mirror and found my body acceptable and I rarely went into the bathroom without weighing myself. A year hadn’t gone by before my parents saw me in my swimsuit at the lakes and became alarmed at how unhealthily thin I had become. My mom pulled me aside one day and expressed her concerns. She and my dad discussed getting me professional help. I reassured them that nothing was wrong and I had full control over my life. I told them I was not trying to lose weight. I had lied. Secretly, I was happy they had noticed how skinny I was and I was proud of myself for making such a drastic change. Why would I be proud of something that was harming my mind and body? That is the scary thing when you develop an eating disorder. You don’t know and or you don’t care. 

 

Hiding my obsession became much more difficult now that my parents had caught on. My anorexic tendencies morphed into bulimic tendencies.  In the years to come I would exercise for unreasonable lengths of time. My senior year of high school I would even call myself in sick, park my car two blocks from the gym so my parents couldn’t find me, and spend the whole day exercising. I would fast for days. I would take laxatives in my closet and turn off the light so my parents couldn’t see. I had laxatives and diet pills under my clothes in drawers, under my bed, and in my desk.  I was sure that once I got to my “goal weight” I could regain a normal lifestyle and everything would be perfect.  Nothing was perfect. My life was spinning out of control and I knew it. I had thought I, as an always independent and hardworking person, could help myself. I was positive I could stop the vicious cycle I was in with nobody else’s help…but I was not getting better. I fell into a deep depression that brought about days of me crying in my bed. I wouldn’t leave the house, wouldn’t go out with friends, and I lost interest in things I had once loved. I barely had the will to live anymore. My parents went from just concerned to angry and frustrated with me. They forced me into an eating disorder clinic. I was diagnosed with a form of bulimia. 

By bringing me to an eating disorder clinic, my parents were doing what any loving parent would do. They were getting me help the best way they knew how. They couldn’t exactly understand what I was going through and were given no tools to learn how to best help me. I hated going to treatment. After two months of sessions with two doctors and a dietician, I hadn’t felt like I had made any headway. Every time I came, they told me the same things I already knew. That fact of the matter was, I was a smart girl and in trying to go the “self-help” route for over a year, I had already learned what they were telling me and asking me to do. If they had shown me one more food pyramid I would have burst. Because a pet rock seemed more helpful than the current treatment I was receiving, I stopped going. I felt even further hopeless than before. If professional treatment couldn’t make me better and I couldn’t make me better, how was I ever going to be happy again? I had made the mistake that many patients with eating disorders make. I had assumed that all treatment for what I was going through was the same and didn’t give finding another professional with another method a second thought. 

 

I have and probably always will be very persistent (my daddy calls it stubborn). I was too unhappy to just allow my life to continue on that path it was on. Again, I tried to do it all myself with little or no success. It was my freshman year of college in an abnormal psychology class on a day we were discussing eating disorders and depression. I could answer almost every question. Yes, I had studied this subject for years. I was a subject in both matters respectively. That day my professor’s information saved my life, because at the end she stated many facts, but one especially hit home.  My professor had done much of her work specializing in eating disorders and depression. She explained to the auditorium of students that without professional help odds were people with eating disorders and depression would never get better, or if they did “get better”, it would come back later in life again and again, many times worse than before. I don’t know if anyone else in the lecture hall that day was going through what I was going through. I don’t know if any other person was changed that day….but I was changed. I knew I did not want to live unhappy, unhealthy, and hopeless the rest of my life. I needed to find professional help. I needed to reopen my mind to treatment. 

 

I remember the day I met the psychologist that helped me recover from my eating disorder like it was yesterday. I had gone into the counseling center where she worked in tears. I couldn’t control my crying and I’m sure I was terribly hard to understand through my staggered breathing and sobbing. I was a sight for sore eyes. I was directed to a person named Amber. They said she specialized in eating disorder and depression patients. She was warm. She was inviting. Amber could sense what I was going through and during our sessions together it was almost like she could read my mind. Treatment with Amber focused more on the psychological factors that were contributing to my mental illness. She never lectured me on any of the things the eating disorder clinic I had been to before had. The help I got with Amber was a much better fit for me and I trusted her. I even began to look forward to meeting with her.  I was surprised how fast I began to recover. I became happy again and for once, food and exercise were not things I thought of all day long. 

 

It took a while after my full recovery that I began to be comfortable talking about details of my previous struggle with other people besides my immediate family and best friends. It was after I became involved in pageantry that I realized I wanted to share my story and help others going through what I had gone through. I’m happy to say that I’ve been healthy and happy for 4 years now and am blessed to be working as a mentor to multiple eating disorder patients across the state. I’d like to thank the National Eating Disorders Association for being such a great resource and giving me me the tools to further assist those affected. I have been able to personally meet with those affected and have connected many to treatment programs best suiting their needs. In the future I hope to work directly in schools with students, guidance counselors, faculty, and parent groups bringing eating disorder prevention and education to the forefront of discussion along with ways to maintain a healthy body, mind, and soul. 

Never never never give up <3    -Miss North Dakota USA 2012

Posted 2 years ago

The essence of my family is always captured in “the bloopers” :)They’re the pictures we’ll never put on a Christmas card, but the ones I love the most. 

We love practical jokes and laughing with each other. I actually don’t think I realized how funny my family really was until I got much older. When your born into being prey to your parents’ over the top April Fools Day pranks you think it’s probably just normal. 

Beyond their ability to make me laugh, my family members are each supportive in different ways. They keep my grounded, give me a push when i need it, defend me, comfort me, encourage me, go out of their ways to help me, and they LOVE me so very much. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel it.  I am so blessed.  Like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.   

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”
- Anthony Brandt

Posted 2 years ago
If you&#8217;re reading this, you&#8217;re probably really stinkin&#8217; rich. That sounds crazy right?!&#8230; and you&#8217;re probably refuting the first statement. But did you know that if you have to choose which pair of shoes you&#8217;ll wear today (you have more than one) or you have so much food that you sometimes have to throw away things that &#8220;go bad&#8221;, you&#8217;re rich. Weird to think about huh? Just by having a roof over your head, food in your fridge, &amp; clothes on your back, you are among the richest 8% of the world&#8217;s population, (but I bet you&#8217;re even higher).
Many times people think these facts are tactics that are advertised to make them feel guilty, but that&#8217;s not my intention at all! I think it&#8217;s an opportunity to be grateful. Even though we are all rich, (still weird to say?), most of us don&#8217;t know how to BE rich. We strive to have more and more to attain happiness. We equate busyness with significance. Most people, when asked, think that if they earned approximately double their current income, they&#8217;d finally be happy and wouldn&#8217;t have any more monitory struggles to worry about&#8230;they&#8217;d be &#8220;ok&#8221; then. No matter how much we have, we think we need more to attain satisfaction.
Here&#8217;s the truth; &#8220;rich&#8221; is a moving target. We are not what we have. 
I&#8217;m challenging you to embrace the fact that you are rich. Unfortunately, you can be rich in possessions but poor in generosity&#8230; rich in busyness and so bankrupt in good deeds. 
I truly believe that we don&#8217;t have to feel guilty for what we have. But for all of the blessings we receive, I believe it&#8217;s important to give back. We all have extra time. We all have extra money.&#8212;-we just don&#8217;t margin it right.You must pre-decide to give your time and service, or it won&#8217;t happen. 
Be rich in good deeds. Be generous and willing to share. It will come back ten fold and you will profit in your heart. 
So say it with me: &#8220;God has blessed me with more than I need&#8230;. I am rich. Since I have more, I should do more and I should give more.&#8221;

If you’re reading this, you’re probably really stinkin’ rich. 

That sounds crazy right?!… and you’re probably refuting the first statement.
But did you know that if you have to choose which pair of shoes you’ll wear today (you have more than one) or you have so much food that you sometimes have to throw away things that “go bad”, you’re rich. Weird to think about huh? Just by having a roof over your head, food in your fridge, & clothes on your back, you are among the richest 8% of the world’s population, (but I bet you’re even higher).

Many times people think these facts are tactics that are advertised to make them feel guilty, but that’s not my intention at all! I think it’s an opportunity to be grateful. Even though we are all rich, (still weird to say?), most of us don’t know how to BE rich. We strive to have more and more to attain happiness. We equate busyness with significance. Most people, when asked, think that if they earned approximately double their current income, they’d finally be happy and wouldn’t have any more monitory struggles to worry about…they’d be “ok” then. No matter how much we have, we think we need more to attain satisfaction.

Here’s the truth; “rich” is a moving target. We are not what we have. 

I’m challenging you to embrace the fact that you are rich. 
Unfortunately, you can be rich in possessions but poor in generosity… rich in busyness and so bankrupt in good deeds. 

I truly believe that we don’t have to feel guilty for what we have. But for all of the blessings we receive, I believe it’s important to give back. We all have extra time. We all have extra money.—-we just don’t margin it right.You must pre-decide to give your time and service, or it won’t happen. 

Be rich in good deeds. Be generous and willing to share. It will come back ten fold and you will profit in your heart. 

So say it with me: “God has blessed me with more than I need…. I am rich. Since I have more, I should do more and I should give more.”

Posted 2 years ago

It’s Monday night and I’m still not quite caught up on everything from being gone, but so many people have been asking me for an update 

So here’s a recap of Pageant Power Week in Minneapolis

Day 1: My boyfriend & I picked my mom up from her night shift at the NICU around 7:30 am….given we left the house just minutes before 6 am. Although I was tired & had been up until 2 am packing the night before, I drove the whole way so that my mom could get some sleep & my boyfriend could sleep before his flight back home to Nashville. They both went with me to my hair appointment with our official hair sponsor, Andrew Schmitz.— (my blonde locks needed some serious TLC) What I love about Andrew is that he will never send you out the door without making sure your hair looks perfect….unless you karate kick him and run away in the middle of your shampoo. Anyway, I didn’t karate kick him and I left with smile & my hands running through my hair.  The rest of the day was kind of a bummer. I had to drop Adam off at the airport, and I hate saying goodbye. Then after taking a quick nap at the hotel I woke up to my underarm hurting. Weird huh? I quickly determined the source to be an abscess cyst under my arm… one I’d had before and made me really sick SO my mom & I made a trip to urgent care, where two sweet nurses and a doctor punctured it with a huge 18 gauge needle, gave me ibuprofen, a prescription for medicine, & sent me home with lots of gauze and medical tape in my armpit. Cute right?! After a stop at Walgreens to pick up my prescription, a heating pad, & more gauze, I went back to my hotel, met Miss Wisconsin USA (who, ps, looks ah-mazing even late at night when she just got off a flight), worked on paperwork until 4 am, then went to bed

Day 2: I woke up really excited for the day!  Yes I was a bit sleepy & my underarm ached…but when you’re working toward being Miss USA, those things don’t matter. (This is the last time i’ll talk about my arm…it’s still healing now, but there’s no crying is baseball…and there’s no whining when you’re writing a blog about your fantastic week.) First, I had my Assessment—which basically went over everything from my hair color to my medical history. Insert an hour in hair & makeup, and I was in front of the camera for my official photoshoot with Solberg Photography *those guys are a goofy, talented bunch. One of those pictures will appear on my official autograph cards & another will be displayed on the Miss North Dakota USA website. That evening, all of the Future Production titleholders went bowling. I ate 3 cheeseburger sliders, got two strikes & a spare, and we all took a picture with a boy from junior high who was embarrassed that his mom made him do it, but we all know he was secretly happy ;) After we got back to the hotel, before bed, we held a candy bar pageant. Twix won. That’s all I’m going to tell you. 

Day 3: I woke up and went to my appointment with our dental sponsor, Smiles by Design. Dr. Holger Meiser always tells me my smile is beautiful…even on days when I don’t brush my teeth perfectly. He’s so nice :) They say if your eyes are the windows to your face, your smile is the front door. Dr. Meiser is a dental genius and I know I don’t have to worry about my smile looking top notch this year, with his help. From the dentist, I applied eyelashes in car and zipped on over to photographer, Paula Preston’s. Something about Paula makes you smile the minute you walk in the door. You just enjoy shooting with her and you’re sad that you can’t do lunch with her afterwards because she has to keep working. Darn. I’ve already had the chance to look through some of my proofs and it’s definitely going to be hard to narrow down the ones I like. That night, we (titleholders) went to a Timberwolves game….we were on the jumbo-tron a lot. Note for future reference, and if anyone can tell me, I’d appreciate it…Where are you supposed to look when your face is on the jumbo-tron? Do you smile and wave or do you look focused on the game? Do you dance? What do you do when the camera lingers too long? Because, I encountered all of these dilemmas and I need some answers. Timberwolves almost won. It was really close. However, because the Grizzlies are from TN and my boyfriend is from TN, I wasn’t as devastated as I could have been ;)

Day 4: We discussed social media as a group. To sum that up, please follow me on twitter @JaciStofferahn or @RealMissNDusa & facebook (Miss North Dakota USA), xoxo, Jaci. We had a guest speaker, Tammy Nerby, who has worked as a comedian, actress, and speaker, etc in the entertainment industry for years. She told us to have guts and stop being such pansies about pursuing our dreams. ;) I, then, had a photoshoot with Dan Davis. Out of 14 Miss USA and Teen USA girls working with him, not one of our photos looked alike (not because we were different women, but because he was so great at coming up with new and exciting concepts). He also has a really cute and playful dog named George.  2:30- 4:00 I was trying on evening gowns with our gown sponsor The Pageant Shop. I don’t think I’ve ever tried on so many beautiful gowns (easily over 50) in one place at one time in my life.  But you know what? I found my Miss USA gown…and it’s perfect! Sherri Hill is one amazing lady. — I truly mean that. She is so gracious and warm and I’m so proud to be wearing one of her gowns at Miss USA this year. I. Can’t. Wait.  In the evening we had mock interviews & a small group seminar with Don Baker. 

Day 5: BUSY DAY; Makeup consult with Brenda Torre, fitness with At Dunn, speech with Morgan O’Murray, charity research, handbook lunch, finalizing evening gown with Sherri Hill :), personal communications meeting with Don Baker, etiquette dinner *wipes sweat from brow*

Day 6: I picked out my interview outfit and appearance outfits for Miss USA with wardrobe sponsor, Pinque Unique Fashions, discussed mental preparation with Miss USA 2005, Chelsea Cooley Altman, and settled in for a full day of the Beauty is Power convention held by Future Production. Speakers included Fadil Berisha, Liz Bishop, Dr. Kellee Stanton, Hollie Mae Shultz, Dorothy Benham, Holly Hoffman, Tami Alexander, Tracy Larson, Chelsea Cooley Altman, Don Baker, Dr. AT Dunn, Danny Mackey, and Blair Griffith. The FP titleholders were also able to participate in gown and wardrobe fashions shows. 

Day 7: Last day was so bittersweet. I love being busy and being surrounded by such interesting and amazing accomplished people. I did not want to leave. We kicked the morning off with journaling and a Future Productions meeting/recap. Brittany Lee Thelemann, Miss Minnesota USA 2011, taught us a bit of the opening number dance they learned at Miss USA 2011 and guest speakers Judy Eckerle and Sarah Basie (sp?). I then packed my things up in my hotel room, hauled them out to the car, and got ready for my photoshoot with Fadil Berisha—-one of the best photographers I will ever work with. period. It was amazing and I am on pins and needles to get my proofs back. 7:30 pm, we started our 4 hour journey back home. I got back around 11:30 and crawled in my own bed.     
PS it was Miss Wisconsin USA’s birthday :) Happy Birthday Em!  

Today I sifted through 217 emails, 22 facebook messages, and laundry. I sent out a few thank you notes and am in the process of writing more.

I’m ready and determined to prepare for Miss USA. Let’s do this. 

Posted 2 years ago

We’re on the countdown to a New Year. 2012. I know for some, bringing in the new year isn’t a big deal…you may not make new years resolutions, you may not have a new year’s kiss, countdown until the ball drops, celebrate with champagne or be dressed to the nines, BUT the new year does affect all of us. I mean, at the minimum we all have to adjust to writing 12’ instead of 11’ when we date papers & checks. ;) For many others, the new year means much more; a fresh start unspoiled by problems or shortcomings, a benchmark for progress, a time to set new goals, a future of hope and excitement.

You guys…… I am SO EXCITED for TWO THOUSAND TWELVE! Here’s why… I have set a lot of goals. For example, I want to maintain a better sleep schedule,  procrastinate less on cleaning my room and attacking the pile of laundry that endlessly sits in the corner of my bedroom. I’m going to finish my business marketing degree this year. I’m going brush my dog’s teeth more so that his breath doesn’t smell like a dirty fish house……..AND I’M GOING TO DO A KICK BUTT JOB AT REPRESENTING MY STATE AS MISS NORTH DAKOTA USA 2012!!!!!! This year holds a lot of opportunity for me…and you know what? It does for you too. I truly believe so much of life is what you choose to make it. I know pitfalls and road blocks will come, that’s reality. But I have faith that we can embrace the positives, hurdle the obstacles, and encourage one another. 

My wish for you is that you are looking forward to 2012 with optimism… that your world is and will be what you want it to be. 

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Posted 2 years ago

As promised, here is the sneak peak that a bystander posted to youtube of the Sherri Hill Flash Mob in Times Square with the USA ladies :) I’m in the front left.

Posted 2 years ago

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS!

It is not looking like a ‘White Christmas’ in Fargo, which is super out of character for my good ol’ North Dakota. I seriously can’t remember a Christmas being brown here. SO WEIRD!

BACK TO BUSINESS— a couple weeks ago I was able to read Christmas stories with kids & mingle with families at ‘Christmas on the Prairie’ at Bonanzaville in West Fargo. It was probably one of the chilliest days of the winter thus far, but those lovely people bundled up and came out to see santa, decorate cookies, go on hay rides, drink hot cider, & hang with me! 

I watched the crowning of the new ND International titleholders with Audra Mari- Miss ND Teen USA 2011 (1st RU to Miss Teen USA 2011) & Taylor Kearns- Miss North Dakota USA 2010. 

AND Tiffany Fletschock, Miss ND Teen USA, and I went to NYC a week & a half ago to work with Sherri Hill & meet a bunch of other contestants vying for the title of Miss USA & Miss Teen USA! —It’s pretty exciting to already have friends going into the competition :) Loved meeting them. I really enjoyed Fadil Berisha’s Christmas party…that & the Sherri Hill flash mob in Times Square were the highlights of the trip. Yes. A flash mob in Times Square. In Sherri Hill dresses & heels. I’ve attached a few pictures of the last few weeks & will try to post a sneak peak of the flash mob. 

Funniest memorable moment in New York— Tiff & I had some cab complications & ended up having to walk about 30 NYC blocks in 6” stilettos to get back to Sherri Hill’s show room to return the dresses we were wearing. In the process we walked through thick crowds gathering to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree & we walked past the Empire State Building. Our feet hurt something fierce but we’ll never forget it. —-and we got a couple big slices of pizza afterward :) 
BIG THANKS TO JODI & JORDAN REGAN for letting Tiffany & I stay with them in Chelsea! 

Most recently, I grabbed coffee with Brandi Schoenberg- Miss ND USA 2011, and we were able to discuss my reign thus far what to expect in the upcoming year. She had a lot of great advice & we had a great catch up session. 

In a couple days my family will be flooding into my parents’ house for holiday celebrations & I will be helping cook this year. Wish me luck…or maybe wish my family luck as they have to eat my cooking. ;)  

Posted 2 years ago

BLOG UPDATE! Ok, so I know I should have done this days ago, but in the 11 days since I became MISS NORTH DAKOTA USA 2012 (AHHHH!!), life has been a whirlwind believe it or not!

Of course, the first few days were filled with getting a bit of initial information to my directors and responding to hundreds, (i’m not kidding. hundreds.), of AWESOME congratulations texts, voicemails, emails, facebook posts/messages, tweets…you name it! I am one blessed girl to have so many phenomenal and caring people in my life that have been cheering me on from the very beginning! So, THANK YOU for all of your sweet notes of encouragement before & after competition! I appreciated each and every one of them more than you know. 

Then came Thanksgiving, and obviously I had a lot to be thankful for. I was surrounded by family & friends for 4 days straight & I wouldn’t have had it any other way. :)

Right after Thanksgiving festivities were over, I jetted (i actually drove… i don’t have a private jet as much as i’d love one) to Minneapolis to attend & help with the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. There I met a few of my Future Productions USA “sisters”, Colorado & South Dakota—and almost all of the FP Teen titleholders! 
Best part of the night? Getting to watch the crowning of Nitaya, the new Miss MN USA! She could not be a bigger sweetheart…plus she’s beautiful :)
Before I left I had a photoshoot with official ND USA photographer, Tessie Jones, & a couple meetings with our official sponsors! Busy busy!

Since then, I’ve been back home, working on planning events for the coming months and filling out paperwork for Miss USA! This Saturday I’ll be reading Christmas stories for the kiddos at “Christmas on the Prairie” -Bonanazaville & afterward attending the Miss North Dakota International pageant (i’ll be watching a few of my pageant buddies compete for the title). Monday afternoon, Miss Teen North Dakota USA 2012 & I have an interview with KCJB Minot…so if you’re in the listening area around 1:30, be sure to tune in! I think that’s all for now folks!

Happy December 1st! 

Posted 2 years ago

About a month ago, I went to see the movie The Help with two great friends. Among the great lessons this movie taught; (reminding us of the harsh realities of racism, the significance of going against the grain and standing up for what you believe in, as well as true friendship), I fell in love with Aibileen Clark’s quote: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” 
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think we tell each other these things enough. All of us are living in a world filled with pressure and insecurities. Maybe what I like about this quote the most is that it doesn’t focus on outward appearance. I find those words so much more meaningful than someone saying “You are pretty, you have great style, you have a great body”….but that, plus money, is what our culture seems to value so much, and it becomes easy to forget to say the actually important things to people. Value the qualities that matter.

Love people. Never stop learning. Believe in yourself. 

Posted 3 years ago
EMAIL FROM PAGEANT PLANET THAT REALLY PUTS THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVEDevelop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. ~ Dale Carnegie I was listening to some pageant coaches talk the other day about a former state titleholder and one of them said, &#8220;The worst thing that happened to her is that she won too soon.&#8221;
Now, that got my attention so I asked the obvious, &#8220;What do you mean&#8221; question.
He went on to explain that this girl won a state title too young but that she had all of the makings to become a Miss America however, she needed a few more failures under her belt to fine tune some of the weaknesses that presented themselves in the national competition. Losing sucks&#8230;I know, I have lost everything I owned twice in the game of business but the additional determination and fine tuning that is developed in failure can help take your pageant career to a much larger stage. Here&#8217;s too success after failure, (HERE&#8217;S TO MY PAST MULTIPLE RUNNER UP STREAK) Steven Roddy

EMAIL FROM PAGEANT PLANET THAT REALLY PUTS THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE
Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. ~ Dale Carnegie I was listening to some pageant coaches talk the other day about a former state titleholder and one of them said, “The worst thing that happened to her is that she won too soon.” Now, that got my attention so I asked the obvious, “What do you mean” question.

He went on to explain that this girl won a state title too young but that she had all of the makings to become a Miss America however, she needed a few more failures under her belt to fine tune some of the weaknesses that presented themselves in the national competition. Losing sucks…I know, I have lost everything I owned twice in the game of business but the additional determination and fine tuning that is developed in failure can help take your pageant career to a much larger stage. Here’s too success after failure, (HERE’S TO MY PAST MULTIPLE RUNNER UP STREAK) Steven Roddy