Back to Basics

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For about a week now I have been waking up earlier every morning to walk the trails at River Walk in Tuscaloosa. As most of you know, I am not a morning person and I require an adequate amount of coffee in the mornings before I am able to function like a normal person. Thankfully, my work and school schedule right now begins a little later in the day, so I still don’t have to wake up super early to fit in this walking routine. Walking was the form of exercise I got involved in when I first started my weight loss journey with Weight Watchers. Every afternoon after my mom got off work, we would hit the road for a 30 minute walk. The more I exercised and ate healthily, the more I was able to increase the intensity of my workouts. Eventually, I was able to add bouts of jogging in with my walking routine. This really helped me push through the plateaus I experienced about halfway through my weight loss.

It has now been over 4 years since I started with Weight Watchers and I was able to lose a total of 66 pounds on the program and learned many valuable lessons about healthy eating and exercise that will stay with me for the rest of my life. But even though I know what to do when it comes to losing and maintaining my weight, it’s still something I battle and have to monitor every single day. Since I’ve lost all that weight, there have been several big changes in my life. They have all been changes for the better, but with those changes came a few setbacks as far as my health goes. Healthy eating became harder to consistently stick with and working out eventually got pushed aside all together. This is why I’m so excited to be back into a walking routine once again.

Sometimes it’s good to reflect and remember what worked for you in the first place. Walking is something I enjoyed doing when I started Weight Watchers and as I have discovered once again, it’s an activity I still really enjoy participating in. Every morning this week that I have gotten myself out of bed to go outside and walk, no matter how hot and humid the Alabama weather is, the better I feel. I never would’ve thought that I would actually look forward each and every morning to getting a workout in before I started my day. But with all the beautiful scenery I get to surround myself with on these walks, it doesn’t even feel like a workout. This routine I’ve gotten into has now become the best part of my day and this particular trail has become one of my favorite places to be. Not only am I doing something that’s good for me physically, but these walks give me time to myself to think and reflect on life. It provides inspiration and motivation for the day and I also have this sense of accomplishment once I’ve completed my walk. I’m all around in a better, more positive and optimistic mood when I’ve had my morning walk in for the day. I’ve also found that it’s much easier to make healthier choices the rest of the day when I start my day off with a little outdoor activity. One part of my walk that I really enjoy is seeing these two really cute older men that are always out walking on this trail at the same time I’m out most mornings. Their huge grins, waves, and good morning messages they send out to everyone they pass by make my day that much brighter. Also on Saturday mornings, the farmer’s market is set up along the trail and what better way of ending your workout than stopping by and picking out some fresh fruits and vegetables.

I know there are articles posted everywhere about the latest and greatest diet and fitness routines, the ones that will promise you quick weight loss for a substantial amount of money. But I’m saying you don’t have to give in to all that. Don’t get so caught up in the most popular diet and workout trend. The chances of you sticking with those for the duration of the program are slim because of how complicated and unrealistic the plans are. Keep it simple. Very simple. What’s simpler than just walking? And the trail I use is totally and completely free! Plus, you get the added benefit of a friendly atmosphere and incredible views of God’s creation that never get old. Sometimes we have to be reminded that it’s the little things, the simple things in life that keep us on the right path and helps you remember what’s really important.

 

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.

 

 

 

Practicing What I Preach

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I first off want to say, I’m sorry. I apologize for not being the best role model when it comes to nutrition and living a more healthy life. As a food and nutrition college student working towards becoming a registered dietitian, it is my job to help everyone make better and healthier food choices to improve their overall lifestyle. The topic of nutrition is a passion of mine. I absolutely love to read articles on different ways to improve your eating habits and also the ways in which nutrition and fitness go hand in hand with one another. It has been my personal experience that with a healthful balanced diet combined with regular physical activity, is the best and ultimate way to achieve long-lasting weight loss and overall improve your well-being. While it’s not the easiest or quickest routine to follow, which is why so many people turn to fad diets that guarantee quick results, it is the only way to really change your lifestyle and more times than not, will be much easier to follow in the long run. I stand by this belief. It’s what I’ve been taught and it’s also what I’ve experienced personally.

I want to apologize though for not standing by what I preach as strongly as I should be. I will soon become a dietitian. A health professional that will coach and teach my clients on the basis of proper nutrition and leading them down a healthier path. I want to be a dietitian that actually does what she teaches her clients. Not one that just does what my professors, textbooks, and other resources say I should do and tell them. Don’t you think my clients will be more likely to listen to me if I am also doing what I am supposed to? For example, would you really listen to someone lecture on how harmful smoking is to your health when they themselves have been smoking for years and continue to do so? I didn’t think so.

My diet is not perfect. No one’s is. But I can always improve it and make it better. I mess up, I splurge, and my weight fluctuates, just the same as everyone else’s. I still struggle with temptation. My worst ones being chocolate and red velvet cake. Sometimes I splurge too much and I feel bad afterwards.  I know I should be encouraging others to make better choices to resist the temptation, but sometimes I find myself taking the lead to go for that second round or another piece of dessert. Me! The future dietitian! But it’s so much easier when you’re not the only one going back for that next slice or that second scoop, which is also another reason why so many people have a hard time sticking with a healthy eating plan. They don’t have the encouragement and support from the ones they are around all the time from the ones they are closest to and trust the most.

The same goes with my Christian walk. I go to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night like I’m supposed to. I attend the Tuesday night devotionals held on our college campus and I participate in church events and activities. But just because I do attend services and events does not mean that I live mistake-free when it comes to my Godly life. Again, I am not perfect. I’ve never claimed to be. I’ve had ups and downs in my spiritual life. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of and know I should not have done. I’ve listened to sermon after sermon about treating others the way you want to be treated and have read over and over again the commandment given to us in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. But how many times have I read that verse, listened to these sermons, discussed this topic with others, and then turn around and start talking discouragingly about others or taking revenge on someone who has done me wrong instead of leaving it in God’s hands? More times than I care to admit unfortunately. The same principle applies here. I should be practicing what I preach. It’s no wonder that so many fall away from the church and never come back. When they don’t see Christians behaving outside of church the way they do in church and the way that God has told them to behave, then what are they supposed to think? What are they supposed to believe?

Today and from here on out, I want to be the best role model and the best example I can be. Whether that is with nutrition and fitness or my spiritual life, I want to be the best that I can be. I want to be the encourager, not the discourager. I want to be a leader and not just a follower. I want to be someone who practices what she preaches in all aspects of her life.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. ‘Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. ‘But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’” (Matthew 23:1-12)

Leaving My Comfort Zone

I actually made a blog last summer hoping to share weight loss and nutrition facts and articles with anyone willing to read. It didn’t last long and other things came up and it basically failed. With several in my college group at church starting their own blog, it has inspired me to try again. Hopefully this time it will actually last and maybe someone will get something out of it.

My first blog was to just share health news because that’s what I find interesting and it’s also my college major. What most of you don’t know about me is that 2 ½ years ago, I joined Weight Watchers online and reached my goal weight last April and lost a total of 66 pounds. I’ve been able to keep it off for the most part for about a year now, but it’s something I still have to watch carefully and make sure I keep under control. I was a completely different person back then and I have come a long way since then too.  As you can imagine, this is a HUGE reason why I decided to be a nutrition major and become a dietitian. I want to help people, like me, reach their own weight loss goals or maintain their current weight and live healthier lives. I feel that I can reach out to more people because I struggled with my own weight most of my life and I can personally relate to the patients I’ll be working with. I feel they will be more likely to work with me and go through the whole process knowing that someone has experienced some of the same things they have been going through.

To be honest, that story was something I had not planned on sharing with anyone when I made the move to Tuscaloosa. I was excited to start over and be around people who didn’t know that about me. I was embarrassed and thought that I would be judged because of it. But recently, my sister was looking through old pictures to use for her senior slideshow which will be shown before our fellowship meal at church this Sunday to honor the high school graduates. I look completely different now compared to how I look in those pictures and part of me still didn’t want anyone to see those old pictures of me. My sister said something I will never forget that has made me want to now share this story with others. She said that no one even remembers me that way anymore; they only see the person I’ve become. She said I shouldn’t look at the past with regret, but see it as a reminder of how far I have come.

My hopes for this blog are to be more than just about health and nutrition, but encouraging others and being an inspiration to those who really need it. I’ve often thought about how I could relate my future career to our spiritual life, but I’ve never been sure how I could relate the two. What I can do is compare the person I used to be to the person I am today using biblical examples that helped change my way of thinking, because I didn’t just change physically after losing weight, but my whole perspective on myself changed as well. Hopefully this will turn out better than my previous blog and help someone else’s life. There is a verse I would like to share to close this first post out and that ties this all together, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).