To help you better understand my nutritional and wellness approach, I’d like to share a brief overview of my personal story and how this has positively affected my career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
I grew up in a home where both nutritious foods and treats were regularly available. Food was not something I obsessed about as a child and teenager; I ate when I felt I needed to eat or had a craving and pretty much ate anything ranging from carrots and apples to Nutty Bars and an occasional Whopper from Burger King. My childhood was active and I experimented in many different sports including soccer, swimming and basketball. When I started high school, I became enthusiastic about running and joined the Cross Country and Track teams. At this time, I started becoming more aware of the nutrition quality of the foods I ate because I wanted to be the best I could be at my newfound sport of choice.
College brought on the challenges of changing my major four times and transferring to three different universities. I eventually decided to specialize in nutrition and chose this to be my career path. Virginia Tech offered a degree in Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise, with a Dietetics concentration, so this what I pursued the last three years of my six-year bachelor’s degree journey. It was during this time I became more enthralled in endurance running and triathlons (swimming, biking and running) and my competitive nature kicked into high drive. Simultaneously, my perspective of food and my body image became distorted and I developed irrational eating patterns, thinking eating mostly fat-free foods would help me lose weight and become a more competitive athlete. I followed irrational, food-related rituals for over 3 years. During this time I never had a menstrual cycle and thought this meant I was becoming an “elite” athlete.
In April of my junior year at Virginia Tech, I competed at the USAT Duathlon National Championship race (run-bike-run) and somehow found myself in first place on the second loop of the bike portion. As I was taking a sharp, right-hand turn, my rear wheel fishtailed on the wet pavement and loose gravel and I crashed, fracturing my right hip. After spending several weeks in a wheelchair, I had a DEXA bone scan which revealed I had the beginning stages of osteoporosis in my lumbar spine and developed osteopenia in both hips at the age of 22! This greatly affected my outlook on nutrition, and it became my mission to figure out what I had to do to climb out of the hole I had dug for myself over the previous years. Instead of choosing foods based on the calorie count and fat grams, I started focusing more on nutrient quality and how to maximize my nutrient absorption for my nutrition game plan to be as effective as possible.
Over the following three years, I had several DEXA scans and I was encouraged that each subsequent test indicated my bone density was increasing – my nutrition game plan was actually working! Over this time span, my relationship with food also became healthier and I finally made peace with food and with my body image. Instead of being a slave to numbers, I shifted my mindset onto feeling healthy and living a more balanced life.
My life experiences have greatly benefitted me not only as a person, but also as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Because of my personal background, I have learned first-hand that creating an original strategy is often necessary to experience positive results. Each person’s nutrition needs are unique and I take every client’s entire situation into account when offering support on forming new healthy habits, including various aspects that affect food choices. Knowing what to eat is half the equation and understanding the reasons surrounding food choices is the other crucial aspect that traditional nutrition plans miss. My goal is to support all of my clients to establish a healthy relationship with food for long-term success with improved choices and positive body image!
If you'd like to read the full version of my story, you may do so here:
Part 1 - The Trap of Compulsive Exercise and Dieting
Part 2 - Surreal Surprises
Part 3 - Holding On In the Midst of the Storm
Part 4 - Hope Rising
Part 5 - Coming Full Circle