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Category: Grad School

Why Public Health?

Most of you probably know that I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree and doing all the coursework and hours to be eligible to sit for the RD exam. What you might not know is that my Master’s degree will be a Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition. Whenever people hear about this, I get lots of questions! My dad asks me about it at least once a month. 🙂 He’s always like, “Okay, so why public health? And does it help you get a certain type of job? And is this class for public health or nutrition?”

As part of the public health part of my degree, my classmates and I went to DC for a Nutrition Policy Seminar. It was a whirlwind, but I learned a lot and garnered a greater appreciation for policy work. As Grace and I drove home, she said that this trip really made her appreciate being in a public health program and I totally agreed. So I thought this was a great time to write this post!

So… why a public health program?

TBH I would have enrolled in UNC’s program if it was a Master’s in Science as well. UNC has the only coordinated dietetics program in the state, and I didn’t want to move. So, I kind of landed in public health by chance, but I was still excited about it! I’m sure even if you enroll in a program that isn’t in a school of public health, you could probably find some courses with a public health focus. Plus, I bet that some of the same concepts are brought up in other programs and weaved into curriculum.

So…what is public health. exactly?

From UNC’s website: “Our mission is to improve public health, promote individual well-being and eliminate health inequities across North Carolina and around the world.”

That can look like…

  • Laws that limit where you can smoke
  • Having sidewalks to walk on or bike lanes so you can ride safely
  • Research into new vaccines or treatment for diseases
  • Having clean water to drink
  • Promoting access to fruits and vegetables
  • Designing all kinds of programs to improve health
  • Promoting access to food in general! Whether that’s SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), WIC (where I spent most of my time last summer), etc.
  • Working hard to fight for equity and to reduce health disparities
  • Breastfeeding programs in hospitals
  • Asking a community what THEY want rather than prescribing a program that may not be a good fit
  • Laws that limit carbon emissions from manufacturers
  • Fighting for affordable access to health care (although we certainly have different ideas about how to get there!)
  • And so much more!

Basically if an issue relates to health in any way… it falls under the umbrella of public health.

So what does this have to do with becoming a dietitian?

Right. Dietitians just tell people what to eat, right!? (I hope you can hear my sarcasm.) In addition to courses like Medical Nutrition Therapy and all the biochemistry classes every student takes to become a dietitian, our program requires courses like epidemiology, biostatistics, health behavior, health policy and management, and environmental sciences. In addition, our first of three dietetic internship rotations was specifically focused on public health. Most of us spent the summer in health departments across the state, although a few of my classmates worked in other parts of public health.

We learn about amazing public health programs and new solutions to overcome some of the barriers that are in the way of pursuing health (and how that differs based on the population). Overall, I feel like taking these courses gives me a lot of context for thinking about nutrition and health. I can zoom out and see the big picture of where someone is coming from. As we know, nutrition is about so much more than just food. Your life experiences, job, salary, amount of leisure time, stress levels, the amount of discrimination you face and the amount of agency you have in your life… all of that impacts how we experience food and health.

Although I do not plan on working directly in a public health program or on policy, I think that this background will serve me well wherever I end up. It also makes me take a hard look at what I think I want to do eventually-private practice-and how I can also serve people who typically have less access to those services, as well as ways I can be involved in public health in my community.

I think sometimes public health gets a bad rap from the HAES/Intuitive Eating crowd (which I’m 100% a part of and can understand). Many public heath programs and research focus so much on weight loss and seem to pathologize certain body sizes. I totally get that and sometimes I grapple with being a public health student who promotes body acceptance and self-compassion. It is frustrating when certain courses or lectures kind of lump all of health into weight, when it is about so much more than just one number.

from the Gillings Instagram

When that happens, I squirm in my seat and think, “Ok if we are ‘worried about America’s weight’ why are we promoting diets, which are a predictor of weight gain and overall are associated with negative health outcomes?! We can absolutely pursue health outside of weight.” I’m not quite brave enough to speak up in that way. 🙂 However, I do have to give a hand clap to my school, because we actually have learned about things like weight stigma and even had exposure to things like Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size.

My instructors are very respectful and are great at putting things into context and treating our patients (made up ones lol) as a whole person. A person with a life, who is so much more than their BMI. Although not every class is like that (but in my opinion, most have been), I am immensely thankful for the exposure and the attention these important issues get at my school. Plus, I feel like we have a pretty well-rounded education on all different aspects of public health, from childbirth to older adult care, so I don’t feel like we are bogged down in weight talk all the time!

from the garden at the Health Department I interned at last summer!

So even though sometimes I grapple with being a huge proponent of intuitive eating and HAES while being a public health student, I’m actually don’t think those things are at odds. Health at Every Size is really about giving everyone the opportunity to pursue health as they wish. Intuitive Eating is a framework for nourishing your body in a way that feels good and is sustainable.

For me, it boils down to this: I believe in and support the right of every single person to pursue health to the degree they choose. I believe everyone should have access to nourishing foods. I think it is wrong to discriminate on any basis, including weight. I do wish we could change some of the focus in public health in general and move away from things like calorie labeling on menus and weight loss programs and shuttle that energy into more positive (and sustainable) ways to talk about food and bodies. As a whole, I think the tide is shifting and I’m excited about that. After all, there’s plenty of evidence to support this more positive approach! So that is encouraging. I’m really excited to see where public health goes during my career and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get started.

Another Semester Down!

Happy Wednesday!

I’ve been on Christmas break since 11am on Friday and I’m coming at you live from rainy western NC. I’m having a slow morning and sharing the couch with 3 sleepy dogs. Christmas music is blasting and coffee is flowing, so I figured it would be a great time to blog and share what I’ve been up to and reflect on this semester.

After my biochem exam on Friday, all the fun family times started. Chip drove up that afternoon and we went out to dinner to celebrate! Usually it takes a few days for it to sink in that the semester is over, but I felt immediate relief when I walked out of my last exam. I was beyond ready to be done!

We had a family Christmas gathering in the Raleigh area on Saturday, then we drove to Charlotte after that to stay with Sarah Beth and Cody (my sister + her husband). Sarah Beth’s birthday was on Sunday, so my parents came, too! We went out for pizza Saturday, then Cody cooked an epic brunch for us on her birthday.

After that, Chip and I went to the Panther’s game with one of his besties/groomsmen and his wife and had a great time. Monday morning I drove another hour west to my parents’ house and now I’m here for most of the next 3 weeks! I’m hoping to get some wedding planning, blogging, and reading done while I’m here.

I always like to reflect on the past semester and share about what becoming a Registered Dietitian is like. Time is flying and I enjoy reading back on these, too! I wrote this post after the spring semester, and it simultaneously feels like yesterday and five years ago that I wrote that.

3rd Semester Reflections

I thought last semester was hard, and it was, but this semester was on a whole other level. This semester we had our second biochemistry course and the final MNT (Medical Nutrition Therapy) course. Last semester’s biochem was a whirlwind of all things metabolism-macronutrients and micronutrients. This semester’s focus was on macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein) and next semester is on micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc).

So basically this semester was some of the same material, but wayyyyy more in depth. We learned a lot more about how metabolism of macronutrients in general, how this changes with certain disease states or diets, and even how nutrients influence the expression of certain genes. Although I found much of the information interesting, it was a lot and the course was very demanding. It was tough, but I do feel like I know a lot more about metabolism now.

I know I won’t remember every detail of the course forever, but that’s okay and would be impossible anyway. Before this semester I was like, “this is all so cool I want to remember it forever!” Then I took this course and was like lol that’s impossible. I don’t need to know how to draw the urea cycle to a T to be a good dietitian. During this program I’ve learned tons about digestion, absorption, and metabolism-things I’ll need to know wherever I end up and that I’ll keep learning about forever. Overall, I feel way more confident in nutrition myth-busting/explaining what actually goes on in the body, which is always useful. Continuing education will always be a part of my career, so I’m excited to seek out resources that relate to my interests and learn even more.

Other classes were MNT, a public health course, and a nutrition policy course. Last semester we had chronic disease MNT and this semester it was acute disease MNT. I feel more confident with my MNT skills now, but I haven’t actually practiced them. I know I’ll learn sooooo much more in clinical this summer. Our nutrition policy course is actually still ongoing, because we are going on a trip to DC in early January to attend seminars/meetings about current policy issues, health care, etc. Overall it was a challenging but interesting semester, and I’m happy to be onto the next.

What’s Next

After the DC trip, I’ll have one more semester of classes. I cannot believe this will be my last semester of class, ever! In May, classes will be over and I’ll start my clinical rotation. That goes until early August, and then we start our advanced placement! I already know my clinical placement, but we are just starting to plan for advanced, so I’m really excited to see how that pans out. Chip graduates in May, which is just crazy and so exciting! Longer term, we get married in October (woohoo!), I graduate in December, then will sit for the RD exam sometime early 2019. It’s going to be a whirlwind!

Throwback to Chip’s undergrad graduation in 2015

Cross your fingers for us that Chip gets a job in Charlotte, because the plan is to move there after next semester! He has been scouting out some options and will start looking more seriously in the next couple of months. Sarah Beth and Cody live in Charlotte now, and both of our families are just an hour west of there. My sister and I are super close, if ya didn’t notice, so I’m so excited to live near her. And Cody, of course! I can already see lots of double dates/nights in watching our dogs play in the future. One of my college besties and bridesmaids, Steph, lives there too and has since college, so I can’t wait to live in the same city again. 🙂

At their wedding-photo cred: Olivia Suriano @ Nancy Ray Photography

We always love visiting and think we will have a lot of fun starting married life in the city. Right now we both live in Durham, but not like in-the-middle-of-the-city-with-things-to-do, so it will be fun to live closer to restaurants, breweries, and just more things to do! Chip is obsessed with the Panthers and Hornets, so he has been #teamCharlotte for years. My clinical placement is within driving distance from Charlotte, so I’ll definitely be moving there in May. I’m hoping to find a great advanced placement nearby, too.

Although I’m so excited to be closer to family and explore a new city, it’s going to be so weird moving out. My roommate, Anna, and I have lived together for almost 4 years now. I’m going to miss her a lot! Good thing Charlotte isn’t too far. I know this next semester is going to fly by, and it’s so crazy I’ll be moving in just 5 months.

Whew, I think we are all caught up now! The next time I post a semester wrap-up I’ll be done with class foreverrrrr. I can’t wait. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. I’ll see you back here next week!

Friday Favorites #4

Hi everyone!

I was planning on writing a post tomorrow, but I’m at home with a cold today so I figured I would get on here and chat. I haven’t done a Friday Favorites in a while, so let’s dive in!

Intuitive Eating Workbook

It has been almost a year since I first read Intuitive Eating, and I truly believe it changed my life. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. I was already pretty sure I didn’t want to diet or help people diet as a RD, and this book strengthened my beliefs and showed me another way. I had already learned a lot about intuitive eating from podcasts and blogs, but reading the actual book was so valuable. It laid out an alternate to participating in diet culture and pursuing weight loss, and gave me the courage to learn how to treat myself well and work toward food and body peace.

Earlier this year the authors came out with a workbook to provide a way for readers to practice the 10 principles on their own. I finally ordered a copy last week and I love it so far! I’m only on principle 2 but I feel confident that the rest of it will be just as awesome. It has been a great way to brush up on the concepts and reignite my passion for this approach without reading the whole book again. I plan on doing that over the holidays, though, because I love it so much and feel like I’ll take something new away from it each time.

The Carbonaro Effect

Have y’all seen this show!? I hadn’t until last night, and then I watched about 3 hours of it. It comes on Tru TV and features Michael Carbonaro, an amazing magician and prankster. He pretends to be different regular people, like someone selling supplments or tea or a wildlife tour guide, and does crazy magic tricks to unsuspecting strangers. There are hidden cameras to capture their reaction and it is hilarious. It also makes me want to know HOW DOES HE DO IT!? I spent way too much time Googling “is the Carbonaro Effect show fake” last night, and have concluded it is pretty real.

Letting Sarah Beth Plan Our Wedding

I told y’all that my mom and sister visited last weekend because I got to try on my wedding dress! It was so much fun and I loved it even more than the first time I tried it on. Anyway, I was telling them how I am so slow at wedding planning and hate making decisions. Sarah Beth was like, “seriously, send me a list and I’ll get on it.” I am so excited to get married and for our wedding day but I don’t love communicating with vendors back and forth (I lose track of what’s going on) and most of all MAKING DECISIONS. I didn’t mind making choices about the venue, dress, and catering, because I care a lot about those things. Choosing our photographer was also easy, because we loved Sarah Beth and Cody’s so much we snagged her for our wedding, too! But when it comes to things like flowers and ceremony music, I have no idea where to start.

sneak peak from our engagement session with Olivia Suriano -she took this on her phone once we were done and I can’t wait to see them all!

For example, the florist asked me what I wanted the flowers to look like, and my answer was “I don’t know….pretty?” I have no clue. In contrast, Sarah Beth LOVES wedding planning and browsing vendors and has a total vision for how the day can look. Also, she just got married in case you forgot (which I doubt, I talked about it every day for forever), and her wedding was perfect. We have very similar taste—I told her that she could literally do everything and I would show up on wedding day and be thrilled! She does event planning at work and I know she would make a FAB wedding planner on her own one day.

I gave her a list to start with and said I would tackle what’s left over Christmas break, and I think she has made her way through most of it. It would have taken me 2 weeks to draft an email to a vendor and she did it in like 10 minutes this week. She’s awesome and I couldn’t be more thankful for her help. One thing I am excited about is our catering tasting next Wednesday! My mom and Chip’s mom are coming with us and it’s going to be fun and delicious.

New Spices

Ok this might be a weird one, but I’m really excited about these new spices I got last weekend. When mom and Sarah Beth were here, we met up with Cody and his mom to shop. I was not interested in the clothes stores, then Cody’s mom mentioned there was a Savory Spice nearby and I was like YES LET’S GO NOW.  I think mom and I smelled every spice in the store-don’t worry they had samples to smell lol.

I haven’t used the taco seasoning yet, but it smells amazing. We used the butcher’s rub on some chicken earlier this week and it elevated an otherwise boring chicken breast. I like chicken in other dishes, like pasta or curry or soup, but on it’s own it’s just ‘meh’ to me. This made it super yummy and I’m going to try to make a pot roast with it soon. Stay tuned!

My stomach is growling so I’m hitting publish then going to make a bowl of Ramen, which sounds perfect on this cold and sniffly day. Have a great weekend!

Hygge + Current Self Care Practices

Hi everyone!

I didn’t mean to go MIA on ya last week, but I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. More on that in a second! Fall break was last Thursday and Friday, and it was nice to have time away from classes. We took our engagement pictures on Thursday and we had a great time with our photographer! I’ll be sure to share some pictures once we have them back. Livi was in them, of course, and she did great. Here’s a sneak peak of her outfit–I die.

Anyway, onto today’s topic of self care! I have a handful of things I do for self care, but before I get to that, let’s take a short detour to talk about mental health and therapy. Lately I’m seeing how what I need for self care changes through different seasons of life.

Recently my anxiety has been giving me trouble after a lovely few years mostly apart. I’m so thankful to have a wonderful family and people in my life I can talk to when I’m struggling, but I realized I wasn’t feeling better as time passed like I hoped. Thanks to some encouragement from Chip (a future therapist himself) and my mom, I reached out and scheduled a counseling appointment and massage for last Friday.

Once I made the appointment, I felt like a weight lifted. Just knowing I had a session lined up made me feel better. I’m putting this out there because, 1-I like to be open, and 2-I want to do my part as a future healthcare practitioner/general human to reduce stigma around mental health. Mental health is such a huge part of overall health and wellbeing and it’s talked about way less than other components of health. I am very open about my anxiety with Chip, my family, and my friends, and I’ve been in counseling before, and it was still really hard for me to reach out for help! I remind myself it’s no different than seeking out medical attention when something hurts, but taking the step from “I’m not feeling so great” to “I need some extra support from a professional” is always scary for me. I know it would be a little easier if we, as a society, had open and vulnerable conversations about mental health and counseling.

I’m so, so thankful to have health insurance that covers most of the counseling and wish we lived in a country/world where everyone could access the care they need. During our session the therapist asked about my coping mechanisms and I told her all the things I do for self care. See, I told you this story would relate to the blog topic! She said I’m already doing a lot of things she would encourage clients to do, but I left asking myself what else I could add to my bucket of tools. (Obviously we talked about strategies for anxiety and some things to work on–I’m definitely not saying these ideas will treat symptoms!)

To me, self care isn’t just like, “today’s a self care day, I’m going to do all these things for myself!” I totally do that from time to time, but equally important is doing nice things for myself daily. I also don’t think self care has to be expensive-it’s usually not for me! It pained me to spend $ on the massage, but I think it had been years since my last one and I really needed it. Anyway, here are my current self care practices, including one new one I’m excited about.

(because this post would not be complete without a Parks and Rec treat yo self reference)

Therapy. Well I just told you about that, but I think it’s important for me to realize this will be an important part of self-care for me throughout different times in my life.

Light all. the. candles. I LOVE candles and I don’t care who knows it. I love putting on cozy pajamas, lighting a candle, and reading or watching TV in bed. Sometimes I light a candle in the morning while I study just to make myself happier.

Take Livi for a walk. Fresh air always does wonders for my mood! Even taking my Livi for a short 5 minute walk helps me clear my head and a little movement usually feels nice. If I’ve been studying for a while or I’m stuck on an assignment, this is my go-to move.

Adult coloring books. This is something new I added after my counseling session last week! I was trying to think of something that might be relaxing or allow me to be creative, and then I remembered adult coloring books are a thing. I went to Barnes & Noble and got one all about “hygge,” which I actually heard about on Kylie’s blog a while back. It’s a Danish and Norwegian word which translates to a quality of coziness and contentment.

If you ask Chip what my favorite thing to be is, he will tell you “cozy,” so obviously I am all about hygge. I feel like that’s is what self care is all about: making life joyful, cozy, and peaceful in big and small acts of kindness to yourself and being in tune with what you need. Anyway, here is a link to the coloring book if you are interested! It’s full of nice sayings and pictures of things like tea cups and sweaters. The other night I listened to a podcast while coloring with a candle burning and I was like “yasss queen of self care.”

Read a book. I don’t do this that often but sometimes putting away my electronics and turning the pages of a book is a nice way to relax. Right now I’m working on Body Kindness, but I am reading pretty slowly. Like, a few pages per week slowly. It’s a good book, but lately I’m turning to things that don’t require much brain power.

Cook a new recipeMost of the time, I love to cook. Trying a new recipe is always exciting, and if I’m feeling kind of wonky it’s a great way to help me feel more like myself.

Yoga videos. I’m still loving Yoga with Adriene videos from time to time, especially when I’m feeling the need to slow down. Even if the video has a faster pace, yoga is always a great opportunity for me to connect to my breath and my body and practice gratitude. (All aboard the cheesy train, I know, but it’s true!)

Watch a good TV show. Obviously everyone watches TV so it seems kind of stupid to list it as a “self care practice,” but whatever it’s my list I’ll do what I want! No but seriously, some nights my motivation to finish studying is so I can get in bed and watch TV. Lately I’ve been working my way through Veep so I need another funny TV show for when I’m done! I’ve watched The Office and Parks and Rec all the way through a million times and feel like nothing compares, so send me your recommendations 🙂

That’s all for me today-feel free to share your favorite self care activities!

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Whirlwind Week + Sometimes Food Isn’t Exciting

Hello hello!

Oh my goodness, it has been quite the week. Since we last had a chat, Sarah Beth and Cody got married and it was the best weekend ever! The weather was absolutely perfect and it was so fun to spend time with family and friends.  It’s hard to be sad that the weekend is over because they are so happy. I’m thrilled for them!

I returned to class on Monday even though all I could do was stare at pictures from the weekend. I mean, look!!

photo cred: Olivia Suriano via Nancy Ray Photography

They seriously belong in a magazine. Anyway, this week was slammed on the school front. I joked to Grace that getting through this week felt like trying to cross an ocean of peanut butter. I have no plans this weekend, so I’m glad I’ll have time to catch up all the things.

Last weekend I got an email that my HelloFresh box was on its way. I got a free box from mom a while back but decided not to get another one for a while. Well, I forgot to skip this week but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

I was happy to have three dinners planned and ready to go, and I was able to make it until Tuesday without needing to go get other groceries. Even though I didn’t want to spend that $ on a box, it was worth it. Since I forgot it was coming, I got the default meals for the week and they have been great. Below is the beef ragu spaghetti we had on Monday. Yumm. I’ve still got one more-quesadillas-that I’ll probably make tonight.

Other than those meals, food was not exciting to me most of this week. It was almost a nuisance to have to break from school work to eat. I didn’t spend time planning dinners or buying plenty of groceries. Several meals and snacks were just “meh.” This included a can of chili that I didn’t really want and an overpriced boring chicken wrap I bought at school on Wednesday. I was shadowing at the hospital that afternoon, so I just ate until I wasn’t hungry anymore, even though it wasn’t satisfying at all. I wanted to be able to focus on the experience, not my grumbling stomach!

The reason I’m sharing this is because I think it can be easy to think you’re doing intuitive eating “wrong” if you eat something you don’t really want or have a mediocre eating experience. (Reminder: intuitive eating is about learning to take care of yourself..you can’t fail!) I usually plan satisfying and tasty meals and have snacks on hand that I like, but sometimes I don’t have time or the mental energy to care. Sometimes I just gotta eat something so I can do the things I need to do. That’s really what food freedom is about, right!? To me, it’s about enjoying food and having it be a fun and delicious part of my life. But it’s just one part. I don’t want it to take up so much space that it steals my joy or adds more stress during a hectic week-or any week for that matter.

Now that things have calmed down, I’m looking forward to planning some meals I’ll look forward to for next week. I really want to break out the slow cooker to make soup and pretend like it’s not still in the 80s in NC. You know you’re getting old when a weekend of studying and making soup sounds really nice, huh!? Anyway, if you have any good fall soup recipes, please send them my way!

That concludes the most random blog post I’ve written in a while. Have a great weekend 🙂

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Book Review, Volume 1

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a good week. I have a biochemistry test on Monday, so I’ve been studying all week and that’s what I’m doing this weekend, too. It isn’t so bad because I have my sister’s wedding to look forward to NEXT WEEKEND! I can’t believe it’s almost here. I want it to be here already but also want time to slow down because I don’t want it to be over!

Anyway, I’m here to talk about some things I’ve read lately. (Intuitive Eating is just in there for the photo opp, but I discussed it here and here.) By lately, I mean this year. I am a super slow reader, and when school is in session, I barely read. And that’s not because I’m so into all my class readings. I actually do not do a good job at reading those (oops); I just have a hard time using my brain to read at night instead of watching Netflix. Please don’t be surprised if Volume 2 of my book review series doesn’t come until Christmas break… or until I graduate.

Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon

Description from the publisher: “Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “”thin” with “”healthy” is the problem. The solution? Health at Every Size. Tune in to your body’s expert guidance. Find the joy in movement. Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good. You too can feel great in your body right now— and Health at Every Size will show you how.”

Y’all. I started reading this book so long ago, sometime in the spring. Then I neglected it for a while and picked it back up this summer. I was already very familiar with the tenants of HAES and the science behind it. However, reading the book is important. It gave me a lot of background information and a LOT of research to digest (there are 437 sources!), and made me even more passionate about this approach.

I wish that everyone would read this book, especially before bashing Health at Every Size. Linda Bacon does a tremendous job of explaining why it is important to focus on health behaviors rather than weight. I’ve told you that the first time I heard about HAES I thought it was crazy, so I understand the pushback. It goes against everything we are taught, or at least much of what I’ve been taught as a future health professional. I thought, “there’s no way you can be healthy at every size,” and I know that’s a common critique. However, the book and practice is about pursuing health (whatever that looks like for each person) no matter what the scale says. Health is about so much more than size.

It’s not up to me or anyone else to decide at what size/weight a person is not healthy. No weight should be pathologized. Looking at someone’s size (large, small, or in between) just tells you what size they are. It doesn’t tell you anything else; you don’t know their story, what their life is like, or what habits they have. Everyone deserves to feel great in the body they have today and to pursue health in whatever way or to whatever extent they choose. Linda Bacon has many more books along the same theme, and I’m adding Body Respect to my “must read” list!

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

Excerpt from publisher’s description: “Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.”

I bought this book when we were at the beach in August and finished it in about a week. That’s a record for me. I loved this book and am already itching to read her newest one, Hunger. Roxane says that she is a bad feminist because she doesn’t want to be placed on the feminist pedestal. She says she makes mistakes often and wants to be up front about that. She isn’t trying to be a role model, she just wants to speak up about what she believes in- flaws and all. Gay talks about loving things that might seem at odds with being a feminist, like the color pink and rap music, but argues that it is important to embrace the feminist label and movement. I really just can’t do her writing justice at all, so see this article of hers if interested- it is a slightly edited version of the introduction.

The book is a compilation of essays, and the topics range from violence against women to how African Americans are depicted in movies to the song “Blurred Lines,” which she admits she finds catchy. Sometimes she discussed writings I am not familiar with, but it was worth chugging through those parts for everything else. I really liked how Roxane tackles complicated subjects but doesn’t give a nice and neat answer every time. This book was very thought provoking. It made me laugh, it made me angry, and it made me think about the ways I contribute to and consume the culture we live in.

Shrill by Lindy West

Part of the publisher’s description: “With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.”

I also bought this book when we were at the beach. I started reading it later, and finished it up a couple of weeks ago. This one was another winner for me! Lindy is very smart and covers everything from being harassed online (she writes for The Guardian and the New York Times) to her personal life. I laughed out loud a lot while reading and felt like I would love to just be in Lindy’s brain for a day. She has really funny things to say even when situations seem dire. My favorite chapter was “Hello, I Am Fat,” in which she eloquently dismantles a lot of the things people have to say about people in larger bodies and how it feels to live in our society when your body is discussed in shameful ways.

So there you have it. I basically read 3 books this year, so that’s about one every three months. I really enjoyed all 3 of these and would recommend them to anyone! Tell me, have you read anything good lately? What should I read next?

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Scenes from the Week

Good morning!

It feels weird popping in on a Sunday. I had all intentions of posting on Friday, but life happened. It was a stressful week packed with lots of visits to the vet, but the weekend has been much calmer. So I’m here to share some of it with you! For anyone in Florida or Texas, my thoughts and prayers are with you in wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Return of Dog Seizures

After going 4 months seizure free, Livi had two more seizures last Sunday night. The first one lasted about 3 minutes, and the second one was only about a minute or so. She stayed overnight at the emergency vet for monitoring and has been doing well since. Well, there was another day with a vomiting and shaking episode, but I snapped a short video of it and our vet did not think that was a seizure. We are so thankful that her seizures are considered mild at this point. Of course it is still terrifying and it’s an awful thing to witness, but she stays conscious and perks right up after. Even though Chip and I were scared, we felt more confident and calm this time around.

Over the past few months we have run all kinds of tests and as of now, we don’t know what is causing the seizures. Our vet does not they are linked to her liver issues, which seem pretty mild. The vet also discovered a heart murmur this week, but we did another test and found it out is benign as of now. Thank goodness! So yeah, it was a stressful and emotional (and expensive) week. It’s hard not knowing why she has seizures or when she will have another, or if they will get worse. If they do, we will start medications. I remind myself that out of her whole 2.5 years of life, only 6 minutes or so have been really bad and scary. She has a good and happy life, and I know she has many more years of being my sidekick.

We Bought Kayaks! Well, Chip Did.

Onto happier things! Chip and I are now kayak owners.

Last weekend, Chip and I discussed going kayaking but never did. He worked a lot of the weekend, so we planned to go this Friday instead. After all of Livi’s scares this week I was tempted to just hole up inside and stare at her, but I knew I needed to get out. I can’t life my life in fear, and I can’t be with her 24/7. On Thursday Chip called and asked if I wanted to go with him to pick out some kayaks. We had planned on renting them (that’s what we did when we went a couple of years ago) but he thought that it would be a good investment to buy our own if we start going more. I thought he was crazy and after asking, “Where will you store these? What about when we move next year” and getting satisfactory answers, I got on board.

We took them out on Jordan Lake on Friday and had a blast! Someone at work told him of a spot 10 minutes from my apartment where we could park and get in the lake. It was a very quiet area, and we had to carry the kayaks down a path to the beach. That was the hardest part, but at least the scenery was beautiful!

We were out there for a few hours and hung out on a cute little island. I brought the snacks and Chip brought the waterproof speaker for music. It was the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon! It also made me super thankful for our school schedules-it’s nice to be able to do random fun things during the week. I know, we are spoiled right now.

Free HelloFresh Box=Lifesaver

My mom sent me a free HelloFresh Box a few weeks ago, and I totally forgot it was coming this week! I was so excited to see it when I got home Wednesday night.

That night, I made one meal that had chicken, zucchini, and mashed potatoes. Last night I made burgers and zucchini fries. Let’s just say my pictures haven’t been quite as pretty as the ones on the recipe card, so just enjoy the cute tiny ketchup. Usually by the weekend I’m throwing together random pasta dishes or getting takeout to avoid getting more groceries, so it has been nice to cook actual meals this weekend! I’m making the final meal tonight-it’s a pork + kale salad. I actually hate kale and meant to change that on our order, but I’ll still make the pork and rice or something to go with it.

I do like HelloFresh because it helps me branch out in terms of cooking. Last night was my first time making burgers! It’s nice to follow a pre planned recipe and not have to think about what I’m making for dinner. However, I can’t see myself getting these boxes on a regular basis until I’m out of school and have a bigger budget. They’re about $60/week, and I spend about $70/week for all my groceries and household items. That covers all breakfasts, lunches, most dinners and random things like cleaning supplies and candles that I pick up while I’m at Target. Chip cooks some, too, and we could split the cost of the box, but for now I feel like we can make pretty yummy dinners for much cheaper. See: Budget Bytes, my favorite place to find recipes that won’t break the bank!

A Low Key Weekend

After kayaking on Friday, I went out to dinner with my roommate and another friend. Yesterday I did laundry, studied, and just relaxed at home.

Today I’m planning on going for a run, grocery shopping, and watching the Panthers game with Chip. Ok, he will watch it and I will be doing school work. Weekends lately have been pretty slow and sometimes I feel like a homebody, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m trying to be more intentional about planning to see friends or do something fun so I don’t just turn into a hermit, but I also enjoy having nowhere to be. I know there’s a season for everything, and sometimes life is loud and crazy and other times things are more calm. There will be plenty of go-go-go as my sister’s wedding gets closer- just 20 more days!!! I seriously can’t wait.

Thanks for letting me chat your ear off today-tell me about something from your week!

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First Week of School: Meals, Snacks, Movement

Hello and Happy Friday!

Classes resumed on Tuesday and I’m happy to see the week come to an end. Even though my class schedule is lighter in terms of hours at school, it’s hard to get back into the routine! Since I’m finally back into the swing of things I wanted to share some recent meals, snacks, and what I’ve been up to in the movement department. Please keep in mind that I never share what I eat or how I move as an example of what to do; I share to hopefully inspire joy and peace around both!

Dinners

When I first moved back, I was feeling pretty uninspired by food. My mom cooked most nights this summer and I often had leftovers for lunch, so I got out of the routine of planning/cooking dinner. By this week, I knew I had to get it together, or else I would blow all my money on takeout and/or have to make 5 trips to the grocery store during the week. So I made a loose meal plan.I still didn’t feel motivated to cook by a recipe, so I just went with things I could throw together easily. Of course I didn’t stick to it, but here it is.

I did make Sunday’s dinner as planned. I used a little butter and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning to cook the chicken. I roasted the potatoes and green beans in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. There were plenty of potatoes left over (not pictured-I ate all of those and then some!), so I had them for breakfast the next day with eggs and bacon. Yum!

On Monday, Chip made tacos and they were delicious. I didn’t get a good picture, but you can trust me.

On Tuesday, I decided Wednesday’s dinner sounded better, so I made that. Plus, I was dying to use some more basil from my plant! I made zucchini instead of the broccoli that I planned to make with this meal. I’ve had a lot of broccoli lately so I wanted something different.

To make the tomato sauce (which served 2), I sautéed about 1/2 TB butter and 1/2 tsp minced garlic. Then I added almost a whole can of tomato sauce, along with the chopped basil,  dried oregano, and some Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. I had my pasta with the rest of the chicken from Sunday’s dinner, and Chip had his with some meatballs from the Target freezer section. We both approved and also shared a plate of zucchini and a few straggler green beans leftover from Sunday. To make the zucchini, I diced 2 of them and sautéed it with olive oil and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.

I was planning on making the tilapia meal on Wednesday, but then fish didn’t sound appealing at all, so I had pasta again. I went to Trader Joe’s last weekend and got their pesto. It’s the best. So I mixed that with some pasta, sautéed some broccoli and that was that. Oh, and I had a few meatballs I heated up in the microwave. I knew I wouldn’t be full with just the small amount of protein in the pasta. I’ll spare you the pictures- it was one of the ugliest meals I’ve had in a while.

Last night, I went to Gonza in Raleigh with a friend! I got the pastor tacos, which have pork, pineapple, and cilantro. That’s what I always get there-I feel pretty confident that nothing could top it.

Tacos twice in one week=a pretty good week on the food front.

For lunch, I’ve pretty much been eating sandwiches every day. I’m not tired of them yet and cold sandwiches sound perfect since it’s still pretty warm out.

Snacks

Usually when I have class, I pack a KIND bar and an apple. Kinda boring, but it gets the job done. When I’m at home, I like to make snack plates with pretzels, cheese, veggies-whatever sounds good.

I go through phases with chips & salsa, and currently we are ON. This salsa below… it’s the best. This picture is from lunch one day recently, but it’s great at any time of day.

Ice cream is another favorite. I walk Livi most nights and it’s still pretty hot out, so I love coming inside, showering off, and getting a mug of ice cream. I think mugs make everything cozier and more delicous.

Movement

I’ve been having fun with all the equipment in my apartment gym lately! It’s not big or fancy, but it has fun things like TRX and different weight machines. Some days I do that, or a yoga video, or just take my dog for a walk. Or nothing at all!

Yesterday I actually ran! I hadn’t run a step since my last post on running. I was finally feeling the itch, and I was #blessed with a 72 degree morning yesterday. It wasn’t too hot, and I didn’t have to get up and go early! Win-win. It definitely wasn’t easy, but it felt good to run again. I’m looking forward to more runs as the weather cools off. Fall running is the best kind of running.

That’s it for me today! If you’ve had an awesome meal or snack lately, please share! I could use some recipe ideas for next week 🙂 

Summer Break + Thoughts on Starting Second Year

Hello there!

I’m coming at you from the beach, because I’m on (a brief) summer vacation! I wrapped up my internship yesterday with a half day, and then I headed to the beach with Chip and Livi.

I had such a wonderful experience in my public health rotation, and I was sad to leave all the awesome people I met there. School starts back August 22, so I have about two weeks off! I’m in denial about being back in school soon. Most people say that this next semester is the toughest in our program, so I need to get ready! So far I haven’t ordered any books and I definitely have not studied the biochem review sheet we were sent this week. Ah, I have time.

I’m at the beach until early next week, then it’s back to western NC to pack up all my things. Then I’ll move back to Durham, and a week from today I leave for my sister’s bachelorette trip! We are going to Charlottesville, VA, and a wine tour is on the agenda.

To say I’m excited is the understatement of the century. Once I get back from that, I have a whole week to get my life together before class. I really can’t believe it’s my last year of school.

Class will wrap up in May and that’s the last I’ll see of a classroom. Next summer I have a clinical rotation, then advanced placement is in the fall. Oh, we are also getting married next fall. Just a minor detail 🙂 Then I graduate in December! I’m doing my best to soak it all up. If this past year is any indication, this time is going to fly by. Pretty soon I’ll be out of school working in the real world. Although I know where my passions lie, I wonder what my career will end up looking like.

I really want to work with clients on Intuitive Eating and healing their relationship with body and food, but I also really like the science/biochemistry side of things. Our bodies are SO AWESOME and I love learning about all of the little reactions that go on all the time just to keep us functioning. I love learning about metabolism and how when we eat, a number of events occur so we can use that energy.

I don’t feel that this is information the general public needs in order to eat nutritiously. Many people who are at diet rock bottom know too much about nutrition and can’t get away from food rules! However, I can’t figure out if this is stuff I just like learning about in school or if I might want to have an avenue to use parts of it in my career.

I really love that the field of nutrition is so varied. I could potentially end up working part time in a private practice and part time in a clinical job. While I don’t think a hospital clinical job is for me, maybe I’ll find I like it next summer. Maybe I’ll find I like inpatient eating disorder work vs outpatient or private counseling, or maybe I’ll find out that’s actually not the field I want to work in. I’m open to wherever my experiences and education lead me.

What I do know is that I’m passionate about Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size, and the non-diet approach. My big picture dream is to have my own private practice or work in a group practice doing that type of work. But maybe I’ll discover there’s another aspect of nutrition I can’t let go of, and I’ll do work in that, too. One huge benefit of this program is getting to discover what I like, and what I don’t like. It’s really exciting, and I can’t wait to see where I end up! I’ll report back if I start to figure it out. 🙂

Ok, I think that’s enough rambling for the day! Unfortunately it’s looking like a rainy one here, so I’m hoping it clears up later for some beach time. I hope you have a great one!

Thursday Favorites

Hello hello!

I had all intentions of posting Friday Favorites last week, but then school got really crazy. Our Maymester class ended on Monday and it was such a blur. I really enjoyed the material (public health nutrition) but it was a lot packed into 2.5 weeks! Now I’m out of the classroom until August 21. Hallelujah! For the next two months, I’ll be in my first Dietetic Internship-public health rotation. I moved home on Tuesday and today’s my first day!

To get the day kicked off on a fun note, here are some things I’ve been doing and loving over the past couple weeks.

Celebrating Chip’s Birthday

Chip’s birthday was on Memorial Day, but we celebrated the next day since I was driving back to school. His ultimate favorite restaurant ever is Outback, but to my surprise he wanted to eat at Zinburger! I’ve shared about eating there before, I’m sure. We are pretty boring and tend to stick with the places we know we love. I’m trying to make us be more adventurous, but since we were both moving to our hometown for the summer we decided to hit up all our favorites that week.

Usually we both get the buffalo chicken sandwich, but I had just had that at another place two days before. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I wanted, so I ordered three things 🙂 I got a large wedge salad, then ordered two “sharables” although I certainly didn’t share much mac and cheese. It had this crunchy stuff on top and was so good. Am I a food critic yet?

what a cutie!
Shoutout to intuitive eating, though, because it is so nice to go to a restaurant, order whatever I want, eat how much I want, and enjoy every bite. In my body obsessed days I would have tried to figure out how many calories were in all of it, probably eat something unsatisfying then spend all night trying not to give into my hunger if it came up. Nowadays eating out is fun, not scary.

(Almost) Growing Red Bell Peppers

I might have mentioned this, but a few months ago school was giving out plants as part of some nutrition day celebration. I snagged a red bell pepper plant and then was like… wait I don’t have a yard why did I get this!? So I asked the Interwebs what I needed and then bought some plant supplies. Now I am SO close to having bell peppers! I think. There are 4 or 5 places where you can tell one is going to grow, so I’m just waiting for them to break through. I’ve never grown anything or kept any plant alive, so this is pretty exciting for me. If I’m successful, expect me to never shut up about it.

Yummy Green Beans

A couple weeks ago I found some green beans in my freezer. I made them and was very sad about how watery they were, so I bought some fresh ones and ended up making the best green beans ever. Ok, that’s a bold statement, but they are pretty good. I didn’t measure anything, and it depends on how much you are making and what you like, but here’s a general outline of how I make them.

I fill a pan with water to cover the bottom, then dump in enough green beans to cover the bottom of the pan. After they cook for 5-10 minutes, I drain the water and add butter and minced garlic and stir everything up. The best ones are the ones covered in garlic. I also add a few cranks of my favorite Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning grinder and some salt. I let that cook for 10-15 minutes and eat at least a handful while they cook 🙂 They are best right after cooking, but they heat up well too.

Moving Home for the Summer

Although I’m going to miss living in Durham for the next two months, hanging with my parents all summer is going to be really nice. They have two little pups, and Livi is happy to have some buddies. Plus I have lots of family and Chip’s family here, too, so extra time with them is always appreciated. My parents and I have already established that Friday evenings will be for drinking wine on the porch. They have been cooking with Hello Fresh three times a week, so I’m excited to try it out.

lunch outside with mom yesterday
And on that note, I’m signing off for the day! Have a great one.