All Good Things Must Come to an End

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Today is my very last day of my internship with UAB Weight Loss Medicine. It feels as if I have just started this job, but the time has flown by so quickly, I really can’t believe I am already finished. This has been one of the most amazing and wonderful opportunities and experiences I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. Looking back on my first day, first week or so even, I was very unsure and nervous about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if I had the knowledge or confidence needed in myself to be thrown into this field and most of that was due to this being my first rotation and not knowing what to expect. Now that I have completed a full month working alongside registered dietitians, physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants, I can proudly say that the nervousness and lack of confidence I had in the beginning, is not there anymore. I have grown so much and have learned so much more than I ever have in my college courses. I don’t mean that to sound bad towards my professors or anything, but there are just some things you cannot learn behind a desk. There are numerous things you learn when you are actually thrust into the work environment and are experiencing every little thing first hand.

I was truly blessed to be able to complete my internship at UAB and be surrounded by such a fun and awesome group of people to work with every single day. I was paired with the best preceptor to work under in my opinion. She really pushed me to go beyond my limits and really see all that I could accomplish when I took more initiative in my work and accepted more leadership roles. She gave me projects to work on throughout my time here that helped expand my knowledge and learning not only about the services and programs UAB offered, but also about nutrition and healthy living in general. My preceptor had so much confidence in me and was always very encouraging about the time and effort I put into completing each and every project thrown at me and I truly believe that helped me build the confidence in myself I needed. Remember when I said that she had asked me at one point to go in with a patient and collect their dietary recall all by myself, but didn’t do it? Well, I can now say that I have gone in with a patient and talked with them and collected information about their typical eating schedule all by myself. Not only that, but I have also conducted a resting metabolic rate test on a patient without assistance. On both occasions, everything went perfectly fine. The ones that were there to supervise me only gave me positive feedback and thought that I asked all the right questions and collected all the accurate information I was supposed to receive from the patients. I have seen so many different people go in and out through the various programs offered, I have participated in the weekly group nutrition educational classes, staffed a health fair table a couple of times, created meal plans that will be used as examples during the dietitian meetings with the patients, and conducted a presentation on sports nutrition. I have done so much more than I ever thought I would do in my short time here, but I am thankful for each and every one of those learning experiences because they’ve instilled in me the confidence I have about this field and my future career.

While I can’t say that I am sad to not be doing the hour drive to Birmingham from Tuscaloosa every day or dealing with the crazy Birmingham traffic, I am sad to be leaving everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I am also sad that I will not continue to see these patients progress through their weight loss program. Each patient I have seen and observed all have different stories and backgrounds and it has been so interesting and rewarding to be a part of the journey with them. I hope they all continue to do well and will reach their weight loss goals. This job by no means has been a boring one. Yes, I have had a lot of down time, but I am only an intern and there’s still a very limited amount of work I am allowed to do. But like I said, each patient is very different and the plan we present to one patient will certainly not be the same for the next one, even if we put them on the same calorie level plan. Each patient has their own struggles to deal with that we have to work with and work around to make sure they will be as successful as possible on the program. Now that my internship is complete, I cannot wait to be doing this fulltime as my career. Only two semesters stand between me and making that happen and I feel more ready than ever.

Stress Management

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It is so easy today to get wrapped up in ourselves and other people’s lives instead of focusing on what really, truly matters. We spend more and more time shopping, watching TV, sleeping, gossiping, and absorbing our minds with our phones that we neglect the importance of time spent with God. He gets pushed further and further down our list when He should be number one, always. How do you think He feels coming in second to Facebook or your next Netflix marathon? Why do we find it so hard to make time for God in our busy lives? When we think about our schedule for the day, we put work, school, friends, and family all into place, and then we think, “Oh yeah! And maybe I can squeeze in a short prayer at bedtime if I’m not too tired from the day”. We have started to plan God around our day when actually, our day should be planned around Him. I understand life gets busy and sometimes unplanned situations arise, but when you make time for God everything else seems to fall into place.

I know for me, I do my best to have my quiet time with God every day. I have a devotional reading and I write in my prayer journal. It is an awesome stress reliever for me and the days that I do this in the mornings, I find that my day is off to a better start. There have been days where I don’t have this time and I can, without a doubt, tell a difference in how I feel that day. There are some days I find myself continually putting it off because I’m too tired or I just don’t feel like it today. I usually regret not having that time though when I make all these excuses. When I set aside time each day to talk to God one-on-one, I notice that I’m more focused not just spiritually, but in other ways too. I’ve found that I am more at peace with myself. My emotions are under control and I deal with stressful situations more calmly and rationally. I am also a happier, more pleasant person when I redirect my focus to God instead of on life’s constant problems.

I know it is tough these days to find time for anything other than work or school. We spend the majority of our time at the office or with our nose in our books that we find very little time for anything else. It is so very easy for life to get in the way of what’s really important. First, our relationships with other people begin to fade away. We begin to become more distant because work has piled up and we’ve buried ourselves under a massive mound of papers and deadlines. Next, goes the most important relationship. The one we have with God. We spend less and less time at church events, worship services, and Bible studies so we start to fall away. Have you noticed that when this happens, life in general becomes so much more difficult? Stress levels increase, emotions are running high, and tempers are out of control. We’ve lost our support system and we suddenly feel as if we have to tackle everything all on our own.

As a college student on her last year of school, my anxiety level is running pretty high. I’m worried about making the grades I need to graduate with at least a decent looking GPA, I’m nervous about finding a job after I graduate, and where I’m going to end up once I do. But I know I can’t let that get in the way. I know I can’t let those worries and fears get the best of me. So I spend continuous amounts of time in prayer asking God for strength, for wisdom, for confidence, comfort, and peace. It makes a HUGE difference when I give it all over to Him and the heavy burdens are lifted right off my shoulders. I’ve realized I can’t face this world alone. But I can conquer any and every situation when I’ve got God on my side carrying me every step of the way.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

Proverbs 16:3

Impact

“My theory is about moments. Moments of impact. My theory is that these moments of impact, these flashes of high intensity that completely turn our lives upside down actually end up defining who we are. The thing is, each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced, with all the people we’ve ever known, and it’s these moments that become our history. Like our own personal greatest hits of memories that we play and replay in our minds over and over again. A moment of impact. A moment of impact whose potential for change has ripple effects far beyond what we can predict. Sending some particles crashing together, making them closer than before. While sending others, spinning off into great ventures, landing where you never thought you’d find them. You see, that’s the thing about moments like these, you can’t, no matter how hard you try, control how they’re going to affect you. You’ve just got to let the colliding particles land where they may, and wait, until the next collision.” –The Vow

Life has a way of changing right before our very eyes. Sometimes we can become distracted and miss these changes, but sometimes they can happen in an instant and nothing is the same again. All of a sudden you’re wondering how in the world you ended up here. Confusion and frustration set in. What do I do now? Where do I go from here? Everything was just perfect, why did it have to be this way? What did I do to deserve this?

In this moment, all seems to have fallen apart. You may feel that way for days, weeks, even months. But eventually, you’ll pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and realize everything is going to be okay. How do I know this? Because it’s happened. Because I’ve experienced “moments of impact”. I remember feeling lost and confused, not knowing which way to turn. But I got over it. I moved on. I am thankful now for those moments. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for them. They have shaped and molded me into a better, stronger person, and the best part about it was I didn’t have to face it alone. I had the support of family, friends, and most importantly, I leaned on God for strength. My eyes were opened to this new chapter of my life that He had written for me. I didn’t understand at the time why what I thought was His great and wonderful plan, really wasn’t the one for me. The plan I was on made sense. I had that set in my mind for a really long time. To me, it was the perfect plan. The perfect set up. Turns out, that was not the best thing for me. I know that now. It took some time. It took a lot of prayer. I started to see how little my faith and trust actually was in God. I was trying to have more control than He was over my own life. And now, that I’ve started on a new path presented to me by Him, I couldn’t think of anything better. He knows what’s best for me and He knows what’s best for you. The past few months have been a period of spiritual growth for me. I started to see things differently and everything suddenly became clear why it didn’t work out like I wanted. And I am good with that. I really am. Because I would’ve missed out on this new and exciting journey I’m on right this very moment. I would’ve missed the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to be a part of something brighter. From now on I’m letting God take the lead in this dance of life. Everything turns out much better, goes over more smoothly when He is in control. I challenge you to do the same. When all appears to have fallen apart, lean on God. He knows what He’s doing.

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:4-5

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The Start of Something New

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As most of you know, I recently began an internship at the UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. During my stay here, I am working alongside registered dietitians, physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants to help patients who are struggling with their weight. My major is in food and nutrition, and weight loss and weight maintenance is an area I want to focus in on, which is why I chose to complete my internship with the UAB EatRight facility. Going into this internship I was nervous and skeptical about what I would encounter and what the staff would expect from me concerning my nutrition knowledge. To be honest, I was very doubtful about my abilities coming into this new experience. You see, I am no longer on the track to becoming a registered dietitian. That was the original plan ever since I chose this major, but because of various happenings it has made it very difficult for me to become one now. I will still graduate with a bachelor’s in food and nutrition and will be able to work in a nutrition related field, but the job opportunities are fewer and I would be working under the direction of a registered dietitian as opposed to actually being one myself. The decision to make that change was one of the hardest choices I have ever had to make, but so far I believe it has worked out for the best.

Because I have struggled in my nutrition classes, which ultimately led to the decision to not become a registered dietitian, I didn’t have a lot of belief in myself that I could do this internship, let alone work in this career field. I have been in this internship for about a week now, and for the most part, all of the information that the dietitians are sharing with the patients concerning their diet histories, weight loss goals, and meal plans are really not all that foreign to me. I’ve noticed that the information they provide the patients with is information I already know and the reasons behind them as well. I had very low expectations for myself completing this internship but so far, I have exceeded them. Right before I chose this major and was beginning a weight loss program of my own, I became obsessed with learning more and more about nutrition and how it could help me live a better life. In my spare time, I would read article after article, magazine after magazine pertaining to weight loss, fitness, and overall nutrition. I absolutely loved it. I could easily spend hours just reading over new material and learning new ways to shop for food, eat out, and cook my meals. I have tried all kinds of products and all different types of foods that I would read about in these articles. Apparently, this obsession has paid off for me and I have so much more confidence now in my own knowledge of this field. In fact, yesterday one of the dietitians that I have been working closely with asked me if I would want to go in and take a 24 hour dietary recall from a patient…all by myself! That scared the mess out of me. I didn’t know if I was prepared to do something like that without any type of supervision. I’m only an intern! I don’t even have my degree yet! Although I did decline the offer this time, something I do kind of regret, I felt honored that after only a week here, they trusted me and had enough belief in me, more than I had in myself, to do something like that on my own. You better believe the next time I get asked that question that I will jump on that opportunity and see what I can do.

Since I have started my internship last week, I have seen SO many different patients and have been able to see first-hand a typical day for a dietitian. My first few days here have been such an amazing confirmation to me that I am finally in the right career field. As I’ve mentioned before, I have changed my major about three times since I started college a little over five years ago. It was so refreshing to job shadow a dietitian and actually have the feeling that I cannot wait to get out of school and actually be doing this as my full-time career. I have job shadowed every career I chose, but this is the first one that has left me feeling this way. What makes it even better is that this job is not boring. Each patient is totally and completely different and each one has a meal plan that is tailored to fit them and their health needs. There is so much variety to this job and so much learning that goes on every day that it keeps me interested and wanting to learn more. I find myself practically begging the dietitians to take me back with them when they see a patient. If I’m off in another room working on something else and they ask if I want to see a patient with them, I literally leap out of my chair, no matter what I’m doing, so I can see and hear about this patient. It really has been so encouraging and uplifting to me to hear their stories of their weight struggles and what led them to finally reach out for help. If you’ve read my previous blog, “Leaving My Comfort Zone”, you will see that I can easily relate to a lot of the patients I see here. Yes, all of our stories are very different, but I have noticed a lot of commonalities when it comes to their weight struggles. Their stories inspire me to take better care of myself so I can be the best example I can be, not only to my patients, but everyone I come in contact with.

Probably my favorite part about this internship is that I get to hear first-hand each patient’s stories about why they chose to seek out help for weight loss and I also have had the privilege to learn about the patient’s personality and their hobbies. One of the patients that stuck out to me was overweight and only 19 years old. She had been struggling with her since she was only 10. But when I went in to see and meet her with the physician I was so amazed at what this young girl has accomplished despite her weight struggles. She had only finished her first year of college, yet already had numerous internships at different law firms. She is a political science major and has law school as a goal for her education. She also attends school in Atlanta, which is roughly two hours away from the UAB location. But, despite the distance, she was determined to make the drive every week while on the new weight loss program provided for her. It’s this motivation and determination that she already possesses that I truly believe will help her reach her weight loss goals. I am positive this girl can successfully complete her chosen weight loss program. She was a very inspiring patient and one that I’ll always remember. Another patient that stuck out to me was a man in a wheelchair who had also brought his wife and young son in with him. After talking to the man and his wife, I noticed something very rare, but refreshing. The dietitian and I were in the room to put the man, the patient, on a meal plan. The wife does all the cooking and food preparation at the home so she also provided a good bit of input into the discussion as well. What was so good to hear was that she was determined to go on the exact same meal plan her husband would be on. In fact, her exact words were, “If he’s going to do this, then so am I.” I thought that was absolutely amazing to hear. I have seen several patients where the family is not supportive, or maybe they will support the new changes but are not willing to make any changes themselves so it is still a struggle for the patient to continue on their weight loss program when they are the only ones at home making any changes to their lifestyle. That’s why it was such a relief to hear that this woman was going to stick right by her husband and they were going to tackle this plan together. I’m telling you, it is so much easier and so much more manageable when you have a support system that is helping you change your life for the better. This not only goes for weight loss, but in every area you decide to make a change. These are only just a couple of the numerous patients I have seen in just a short amount of time. I cannot wait to see and hear even more uplifting stories during the next several weeks.