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.

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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.

 

 

 

“You Will Never Know the True Value of a Moment Until it Becomes a Memory”

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Yesterday marked 1 year since I have made the big move to Tuscaloosa from Robertsdale, Alabama, a little over 4 hours away from home. This would be my 3rd college to attend since I graduated high school. I began my freshman year of college at Faulkner University, but came back home after my first semester and transferred immediately to the University of South Alabama. I was a x-ray technician major at the time, but then eventually changed to a nursing major. Once I started Weight Watchers and my obsession with nutrition took over, I decided to become a dietitian. Come to find out, USA doesn’t have a nutrition program, but I found out UA did. After a year of online classes through UA, I decided it was time for me to move up here and finish out my schooling on campus. What I didn’t know at the time was that my decision to move here would be one of the best decisions I have ever made and one that I truly believe was part of God’s plan for me.

When my mom and I began looking for apartments last January, we visited the Cottondale church of Christ to check out the college group. I was so overwhelmed by how welcoming and friendly everyone was and how many people I was introduced to. Heading back home that afternoon after church I told my mom that I was kind of sad to leave already. I also knew I had found my future church home in just one visit.

As I look back now on my first official service at Cottondale after I moved, my first impressions of the college group, the CLIC, come to mind. One in particular was with Lauren and Jeremy. Lauren was introducing herself to me and we were carrying on a conversation (I can’t exactly remember what it was about) and we realized we had something in common. Anyways, she asked me if she could give me a hug and I’m like, ummm….okay. At that time, Jeremy came up to introduce himself and asked if we knew each other. I said, “No, I just met her”. My point of telling about that encounter was just to show a very tiny glimpse of what the CLIC is all about. I have never been part of group quite like it and I can’t picture myself anywhere else. I felt immediately a part of everything and I had so many that were encouraging me and helping me out along the way get introduced and involved right off. The CLIC has helped me so much in my spiritual walk and have always been there to support me and encourage me.

It’s hard to believe I’ve already lived here a year now. So much has changed and happened in that time. I’ve made some awesome friends that will probably never know how much they mean to me. The memories I have from this year alone are countless and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. From my first football game in the student section and tailgating to discovering my new catch phrase of “Whoomp There it Is”, Pilates classes, Girl’s devos, Monday night devos, numerous spur of the moment movie nights, sing-a-longs, service projects, retreats, Week of Welcome, Pitch Perfect (and other random movie quotes), the coldest spring break I’ve ever experienced at the beach, craft projects, cross-stitching, blog-making, swimming (almost every day this summer), staying up LATE just to hang out or watch a movie, Summer Snow, the meals we’ve shared together, gymnastics meets, I mean the list goes on and on. I know there’s a lot I left out.

As the new school year is approaching, there will be several new people coming in and hopefully staying and being a part of this amazing group. I want all of them to have the same experience that I had and the same overwhelming feeling I had of finding a group like this. A group that truly cares for one another, wants to see each other succeed, and grow together spiritually, encouraging one another through all of life’s worries. I want to carry that over into this year and even step it up so everyone that comes by will be so taken aback by it all that they won’t need to look anywhere else. I’m already excited and looking forward to another year and the many more new memories to come.

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“One cannot change the past, but one can ruin the present by worrying over the future.”

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015c00ea5aa4ce77bab83efdcc781088It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog, mostly due to my busy schedule with school. This summer I made the mistake of signing up for 3 classes, 7 hours, online. One class also only lasted through the month of June (something I will NEVER do again if I can help it). This is the biggest load I have ever taken during the summer and I can definitely say it’s been one of the most stressful semesters as well. You see, one of my classes, the one that only lasted a month, is actually a retake for me. I took it this past spring term, but did not make the required B- I needed. Because I am applying to internships after I graduate, I must have verification statements from my teachers. In order to get these verification statements I must make at least a B- in ALL of my upper level courses. When I signed up for this course again this summer, I was not aware it was only going to last a month. But I thought I would be done quicker and I also just took the class, so one would think I could pull out a B- this time. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Again. I basically had an emotional breakdown about this situation because I was so stressed, so burnt out, and so worried about grades, about graduating, about whether I was even going for the right major. To be honest, I felt SO overwhelmed by everything and didn’t feel cut out for this kind of work. I’m also very tired of having graduation continually pushed back a semester because of classes I need to retake. As of right now, I should graduate a year and a half passed my 4 years, which puts me at December of 2014. And that’s with going through all the summers as well.

Once I got past my emotional breakdown, I realized that I shouldn’t be so worried about when I will actually graduate and how long it will take me to get there. I need to take it one semester at a time, focusing on the classes that are going on right now, right this moment. It does me no good to continually focus all my attention on graduation in the future, when I should be focused on what’s going on in the present moment. Instead of trying to cram everything in so I can graduate sooner, which usually backfires anyway, I need to pace myself. Take each semester slow and really put all my time and attention into doing my best with the current semester first, before focusing on anything else.

There are several scriptures in the Bible I try to remind myself of, especially when worry likes to creep into my mind. Luke 12:22-26 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Matthew 6:34 also states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I need to have more faith in God that everything will work out. Maybe not in my time, but definitely in His time. Maybe there’s a reason why I’ll be in school longer? Maybe I’m supposed to be in this place for a longer period of time? I no longer want to let my worries get in the way of everything going on right now. I want to live for the moment and take each day one day at a time, concentrating on what God has planned for me and what He want out of me.