Back On My Fitness Pal

It is time to get back on My Fitness Pal. I used My Fitness Pal throughout my pregnancy with William, because I didn't want to gain too much weight. It helped to hold me accountable to what I put in my mouth. I also used it regularly before getting pregnant to help lose weight that I had gained after graduating college and sitting at my job. Well it is time to get back on that band wagon of tracking what I put in my mouth to help prevent future weight gain. 

I wanted to share this with you all, because I think it is important to talk about what makes you feel good for your own weight. Often we have some idea of what our ideal, personal body image looks like. Some times that is realistic an some times it is idealistic, but I think we all have a goal for ourselves. We also have a feeling at a certain weight where we feel comfortable. I had just mentioned to Chas last week that I just felt "fat." I know that I am not that big compared to others, but I just notice that it is harder to run fast, I want to do more sit ups to help with strengthening my core and I just need to work on toning up. Sure enough when I stepped on the scale I say that number that I knew would be my current weight, but I had been denying. 

I had lost the baby weight from being pregnant with William. I got up to 150-155lbs when pregnant with him, which was perfect. That is right where I needed to be. Then with breast feeding and taking care of a baby I got down to 130lbs. My normal body weight is 135-140lbs. The weight where I feel the most comfortable is 135lbs. So when I stepped on the scale this week and it read 140lbs I knew I had to make some changes. I know 5lbs doesn't seem like much, but my pants are tighter when I weigh 140lbs compared with 135lbs. So for my own self-esteem and feeling comfortable in my clothes I prefer to be closer to that 135lb mark. I think we all have that weight that feel more comfortable at. It might be our goal weight, but it is a weight that we are content with. That is what I hope you take away from this discussion, figuring out where you feel most content with yourself. 

I don't mean to throw out these numbers and have you judge if you think 140lbs is too skinny or too fat. That is not the point of this post. This is the share with you that we all have that goal for ourselves. Well my upper limit is 140lbs. So I have some work to do. I have been running and working on training for a half marathon. I do think that some of that weight gain has been leg muscle strength, but some has been more flab in the abdominal region. After having a baby, getting that abdominal strength back is so important and hard to do. So my goal is to track what I am choosing to put in my mouth, try to do more strength training, continue to run and hopefully start some yoga classes. 

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I have shared in previous posts that it is important to set specific goals so you can measure if you have accomplished them. That is what I am going to do, put together 3 goals and then try to follow up in a month and see how it went meeting those goals. 

My 3 Weight Loss Goals 

  1. Do sit ups/planks before going to bed (spend 5 minutes doing a little core strengthening before crawling into bed). I want to do this during the week (Monday through Friday). 
  2. Track what food I put in my mouth using My Fitness Pal. I want to track my intakes every day for the next month. I want to see trends in how I am eating during the week and the weekend and see where I can make some changes. 
  3. Start some new strength training. I have some credit to go to a yoga class. I want to start my attending a yoga class at this new studio and try to go 2 times in the next month. I also would like to lift some weights at the gym. Goal is work out at the gym and lift weights 4 times in the next month (that could be once a week over the next 4 weeks).

There you have it ... those are my goals for the next month and hopefully I will be able to accomplish those goals. I think they are realistic and totally achievable. I will check back in the next month with a follow up to how this weight loss trek is going. 

Mother's Day

First of all I want to wish a very Happy Mother's Day to ALL the moms out there. Even if you aren't a Mom, you deserve some love as well, because I am sure you are also a daughter, maybe a sister or an aunt. I am thankful for all the amazing women in my life from my mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends. There are so many amazing women I have gotten to meet and learn from. Thank you for being amazing mentors and a support system to one another. 

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I have had to opportunity to celebrate Mother's Day three times now in my life. The very first time was when I was in my first trimester of being pregnant. Needless to say, I was not feeling up for celebrating Mother's Day. I was also struggling with the idea of being pregnant. It was still so over-whelming with accepting that we were all of sudden pregnant. That was my first Mother's Day. The next year, William was 4 months old. He of course was adorable and I was so happy to get to be his Mom. This year is fun as well, because now William is 16 months old. It is so neat to get to be a Mom and have such a wonderful son.  

I just wanted to share this little bonus, Mother's Day post and just get to say that I am thankful for all of you and hope that you enjoy your day and time with all the women in your life that mean so much to you! 

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Geist Half Marathon Recap

I wanted to do a blog post about the first half marathon that I have post baby. I know I waited longer than I thought I would to get back to competitively running, but being a Mom is tiring. It took me awhile to find a groove and balance my schedule with training runs. I wanted to have fun and enjoy running so I am glad that I didn't rush back to sign up for a long distance race. 

So this time around, training for a half marathon was way different. It is a lot harder to get in the mileage when you bring your little one with you on runs. Just because it is physically harder. Pushing a stroller, while running, is not a joke. That is some serious upper body strength. Honestly, I enjoy it most of the time, but as William has gotten bigger, it is not getting easier. 

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Thankfully I continued with my Planet Fitness membership so that allows me a chance to fit in a baby-free run right after work for about 30 minutes. I was able to do that when the weather wasn't as nice outside or if I didn't have time to fit in a long run that day. It is not my favorite thing, but I was glad for the option. That is a worthwhile $10 per month. 

I didn't do as much strength training this time around either. That is so hard to fit in. I was doing good to get in a run throughout the week. I was averaging 20 miles a week or less. There were several weeks where I was about 30 miles. So not intense training, but still enjoyable. 

I have thought about training for another marathon, but I don't know if I can set aside the amount of time to train. That is such a big commitment and I don't know if now is the right time. I would love to do another marathon and try to do it well and possibly qualify for Boston. That would be a stretch, but totally worth the effort. That is on my bucket list for some day! I will eventually race and qualify for Boston. 

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Race Recap 

  • Up until the morning of the race, I was positive that it was going to rain. There was a 50-80% chance of rain all day on Saturday. It wasn't until the morning of, at 5am when I got up that I saw there was 0% chance until 11am. That was a huge relief for me. I have never raced in the pouring rain before. I was quite nervous and I reached out to a couple of seasoned running friends who passed along some great words of wisdom. There was also a article shared on Very Well Fit's website that was fantastic about running in the rain. I was totally prepared - I had extra shoes, socks, trash bags, a hat, light clothes, a jacket, and lots of Vaseline to prevent chaffing. Thankfully I didn't have use any of those items and I was so thankful. 
  • The race route itself was quite hilly. I knew that it would be, but I was also nervous about my limited training area not having any hills. I have been running on the Monon trail which is super flat. But I did train while pushing a stroller, so I think that helped prepare me for working hard to get up and down all the hills. 
  • The race day itself turned out to be overcast, cool and it was a little humid. It made for very good running weather. I was thoughtful for limited sunshine so that it was super hot outside. 
  • I listened to music while running all 13 miles and thankfully the playlist I made lasted right up to the finish line. I was thankful I didn't have to mess with my phone while running. 
  • I carried my water with me along with some salt stick and Huma gels. I ended up just taking 1 Huma gel and 1 salt stick. I was moving quick enough that I took both around the 40-45 minute mark or about 6-7 miles. That was good enough to get me through to the end of the race. 
  • My pre-race breakfast included cereal and a banana. I drank lots of water ahead of time and I even got in my bathroom stop prior to the race. I really like to be able to have a bowel movement before running. To help make this possible I eat a salad the night before. I know some runners think that is crazy, but it works for me. I am use to eating lots of vegetables and normally it is just want I need to help get me going in the morning. I also ran from the parking lot, a 1/2 mile to the start line. That helped to get things moving as well. 
  • Overall I felt great running. I really loved racing again. I had miss that feeling and challenge that you feel competing. I wasn't trying to win, but I just wanted to run my best race. I ended up placing 2nd in my age division (the 25-30 year old group). I finish in 1hr and 47 minutes. I felt good about my pace ~8 minute/mile. For my first race back post baby, I thought this went really well. 
  • The only thing that I didn't love about the route for this course was the fact that course looped back over the same roads on the way out and back. That was the only bad thing. I understand why they had to do that because of the reservoir and limited roads crossing the water. I really enjoy races where you don't double-back over the course you have already run, but that was fine. It was fun to see the huge houses and there were some people along the route cheering us on. If you want to run in a small-ish race with some hills, this is the course for you! 
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From Farm To Table

I had the chance to go to the soft opening for a new restaurant in Indianapolis, The Next Door Eatery. This farm to table restaurant was created by Kimbal Musk. His philosophy is to bring healthy, fresh food from local farmers to you the customer. This restaurant opened up on 46th and College not far from where I live. I was super excited when I heard about this restaurant, because it was going into an old building and on a corner that needed some love. I think that with this restaurant the rest of that block is going to get a face lift and will be a popular destination in Broad Ripple.

I had the opportunity to hear Kimbal Musk speak at the Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Chicago this last October. I was very excited to get to hear about Kimbal's journey with food and what his goals are for his restaurants. Fun fact, Kimbal's mother is a Dietitian. That is pretty neat in my opinion. He was a great speaker and has been helping to fund some really need food/farming ventures. 

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So if you were wondering what makes this restaurant unique ... I pulled some information from their website that I just had to share. This is a quote from their website - "Next Door is an urban casual American eatery serving real food sourced from American farmers. Here at Next Door we're committed to serving real food and dedicated to environmentally-friendly practices such as composting, wind power, eco-friendly packaging, and recycling. " Besides trying to provide food to customers from local growers, this restaurant also works to help provide nutrition education in schools. This is another quote from their website - "Next Door strives to be an integral part of the community and that starts with schools. Next Door partners with The Kitchen Community, a non-profit organization that builds outdoor Learning Gardens classrooms in schools across America. Thank you for eating at Next Door to help build Learning Gardens in your local schools."  

We ate at Next Door for lunch last week and it was delicious. We had a ton of fun trying lots of things on the menu. My son loved the appetizer portion of beets. My parents and I ordered all different dishes and we tried some tacos, the fried fish and a chicken bowl. It was all amazing and the restaurant had such a good atmosphere. There is outdoor patio space and it is kid friendly as well. I am excited to walk over there and enjoy some amazing food and delicious drinks all year long.

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30 Things I Have Learned Over 30 years

So it is official I turned 30 years old on Friday. That is crazy! I remember turning 21 years old and thinking, "wow, 30 is so long from now!" I also had crazy ideas about what I would be doing when I was 30 years old. I have to say that I am happy with how things have turned out, but it is crazy to hit that big milestone. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of things that I have learned over the last 30 years. With age comes wisdom, right?! So here are some of my thoughts about turning 30! 

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30 Things I Have Learned Over 30 Years

  1. My faith. This is important. I feel like this walk with the Lord has gone through ups/downs, but His continual love for me has continued to teach me how to work to love those around me. 
  2. Have a person. My husband, Chas, has been my rock over the last 11 years. It is amazing how much having that support person in your life helps get through the ups and downs of life. Whether it is a spouse, significant other or just a best friend .... find that person and never let them go.
  3. Age is just a number. I don't feel any older than when I was in my early 20s. I totally agree that age is just a number and I don't feel any older today, than yesterday.
  4. My confidence has grown. I feel like now I am finally confident in myself. It has taken awhile, but I know who I am, what I want out of life and that is a nice feeling.
  5. Care less about what other people think. I have worked hard to not worry about what people think of me. It can be hard, but I think that is a good goal to have - gain more confidence and worry less about other people's opinion of you. 
  6. I can do really hard things. I had a baby (without medication), I have run a marathon, I have supported my husband through graduate school and I have worked hard to excel at my job. 
  7. Stress relief matters. I use to think that I had a crazy life that was stressful. Little did I know that life just keeps getting more complicated and stressful. Finding ways to minimize that stress is so important. 
  8. Be thankful for the laundry and dishes. I have tried to be happy about the work around the house, because it means I have wonderful people there, living and messing things up. That is worth all the laundry! 
  9. I am still me. As the years tick by, I am still me. I am the same person, with hopes and dreams, those dreams have changed and matured, but I am still me. 
  10. I love dogs. I always knew I enjoyed having a dog around, but since Einstein has come into our lives ... I really love dogs. He is such a joy and I couldn't imagine life without him. 
  11. Love/hate relationship with cooking. I use to say I loved cooking, but as the years have gone by, it sometimes feels like a chore. I still work hard to prepare meals at home, but it is honestly not always my favorite thing to do. 
  12. I enjoy reading. I don't always find time to read books myself, but I am always making time to read to William and that is such a fun thing to do. 
  13. I love critical care nutrition. This is something that I never thought I would say, but the longer I spend in the NICU the more I like that challenge of critical care nutrition. 
  14. Thankful for friends. It is hard as you get older to maintain friendships, because those people are spread across the country or even if they are in the same state it is hard to make time to get together. I am thankful for those friends who work to stay in touch. That is something I want to continue to work on. 
  15. Enjoy the quiet moments. Our house isn't always quiet and so enjoying those still, quiet moments is so nice. 
  16. Take time to play. I have worked hard to try to be present with William and put down my phone, not worry about the dishes and just play with him in the evenings when we are home together. 
  17. Listen. I some times get caught up in the craziness with life and I don't slow down and listen. I have been trying to work hard at this and focus when Chas is talking to me and really hear what he is saying. 
  18. Say "Yes" to Experiences. I have always worked to always say "yes" to valuable experiences that come my way. I have been able to do lots of really neat things because I have been willing to say "yes." 
  19. Prioritize the battles. I have had a stressful year at my job. I have some difference of opinions with those around me and I have been working hard to prioritize what things are really important. It is easy to complain about everything, but focusing on the things you can actually change/influence has helped to keep me sane. 
  20. Time period dramas. I really love a good BBC show and that is one thing that I will do when I am cleaning the kitchen/packing lunches ... watch a good TV show. 
  21. Do everything during nap time. It is amazing how much you can accomplish when you use your time wisely during nap time. I am just saying it is some times surprising. 
  22. Find new hobbies. This has been a struggle since becoming a mom. It has been hard to discover new things I want to do as hobbies. I think being exhausted has a way of taking over any “hobby” or fun thing you want to do. I am really trying to work on getting some new hobbies. 
  23. Never stop learning. This is a life lesson I have learned over and over again. You will never learn everything, but still work towards expanding your knowledge and be open to new ideas.
  24. Savor the moments. My Mom once told me that the hours might feel long, but the days go by quickly. That is true, just about life. I have been trying to savor and remember all of the moments and appreciate them.
  25. Always have coffee. You can never have too much coffee and it totally helps get ALL the things done. 
  26. Make a list. I am totally a list person. I make grocery list, lists at work for what I am doing that day and even what I want to accomplish on my days off. Having a plan helps in so many of life’s situations. Some times all the times get done on the list and sometimes they don’t, but that is ok. 
  27. I can’t control everything. I would love to say that over the last 30 years I have aquired that skill “to control things,” but that would not be true. Being able to know when to relinquish control is important. I am working on that skill and some days I do better than others.
  28. Must do ALL the dishes. I know this sounds silly, but I am totally like Monica from Friends ... I hate having a messy kitchen with dishes left in the sink. I really like to have things cleaned and organized for me to be able to relax. I am working on trying to let do of some of this OCD-ness, but I have embraced that part of me.
  29. Take time for others. I am not always the best at this, but I try to make time for friends and family ... even if it takes time away from my plans. People matter more than anything else and those relationships are so important.
  30. Have fun. My husband, Chas, had helped me really learn to let go and just have fun. He makes me laugh and has totally helped me to loosen up over the years. 

Well there ya go ... 30 things that I have learned over the last 30 years. It has been a crazy ride and I am so excited to see what this new decade has in store for me and my family. I have so much to be thankful for and I am so excited for all of the adventures that we will have. Thank you for being part of RD Anna and reading my blogs! I have really enjoyed being able to share my life with you all! 

AND National Preceptor Month

Here in April the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating all of the preceptors that help dietetic interns during their year long rotation. You may not know, but to become a Registered Dietitian you have to complete a year long, accredited internship. This process involves an application and matching process. So not all of the applicants who apply will get matched to an internship rotation site. It is a competitive process. During that internship year, you participate in different rotation sites and gain a variety of different experiences working with a variety of dietitians. All those people who help to teach future dietitians are an amazing group of preceptors. I have been impacted by such great preceptors during my internship back in 2010. I am still friends with some of those dietitians and I am so thankful that they were willing to take the time to teach me. 

Most professions now that internships or other similar programs where professionals work to students to help teach them. I think this is such a great way to learn. As a professional, in any career area, I encourage you to volunteer and take a student. Work with them and encourage them as they go through schooling. Your work and time teaching these students help to create great employees in the future. 

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I included this graph above of the supply and demand of dietetic internships since 1993 until 2015. The yellow line on top is the dietetic students that are graduating from college. The blue line is the number of dietetic internship applicants. The green line is the number of dietetic internship applicants who are actually matched. I thought it was helpful to see that there are lots of students graduating with nutrition degrees, but a far less number actually become Registered Dietitian. In terms of the job market and preventing over-saturating the market, I am ok with this, but I think it is that much more important to work with these students and help create the best dietitians in our work force. 

I have enjoyed working with the Coordinated Program in Dietetics through Purdue since I completed my internship back in 2011. I have been a preceptor for the last 7 years. I have also gotten to work with some IUPUI students and Ball State students over the years. It is rewarding to get to see these students learn and gain confidence. It is also exciting to be able to teach them about my passion for nutrition. I also love seeing these students apply and land their first jobs. It is neat to get to be part of that process and stay in touch with those students. 

If you work in an area where you can serve as a preceptor and help teach students, take advantage of those opportunities. Thank you to all those Registered Dietitians who have served as preceptors over the years and for those who helped me get to where I am today as well. You all are amazing! 

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Can You Really Have It All?

So disclaimer, this post isn't one about nutrition advice or exercise recommendations. This one is for women out there who have felt that tug between their work/career and their family. For me this is about being a mother, wanting to have kids and continuing in my career. I know I have heard that you can't have it all and I believe that in life we make compromises. We give up things in order to do other things. I wanted to take the time and write up my struggle and feelings. I feel like as women, it is different for us compared to men. We are different beings and that should be celebrated. Lots of times though I feel a sense of guilt about struggling with this choice between a family and work. 

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I, like lots of my peers, finished my 4 year college degree and got a job. I have been a Registered Dietitian for 7 years and I now moved through being a novice in my field into more of an expert. I don't know everything, but after passing that 5 year milestone, I feel like I know some things, but of course have way more I want to learn. I would say that I have a career. I have a specialty area where I work that I love. I am good at it and I enjoy the challenges. I have learned some new things about myself as well - my desire to write and possibly run my own business in the future. I enjoy educating people about my specialty area. I have learned those things about myself over the last 7 years and I have worked hard to be good at what I do. 

I am also a mother and have a child. A 15 month old little one, who I love and enjoy spending time with. Now I have this desire to spend time with him and I have thought about do I want to keep working? Being a mother starts bringing all these questions into your mind that never had been there before. I start wondering if that is something I would want to do? If I didn't have a child, I never would be asking these questions. But now, I feel like I am being asked to choose; between being a Mom or continuing with my career. What I find frustrating is this idea that I HAVE to choose. That some how my desire to continue with my career shows a lack of desire to be the best mother I can be. I know not everyone thinks that, but that is the mindset that society puts on us. 

I believe that as a woman, you have to choose what is best for your family. What do you want from life? What do you want to do? That is what Chas kept asking me the other night. Not what would I would be willing to do for my family. Not what I think I could see myself doing if I had to. The simple question ... where do I see myself in 5 years? Right now, what do I see myself doing? 

As I look into my crystal ball, I see myself working and continuing in my specialty area of dietetics. I would love to have another child, but I understand that additional strain that would put on me as a working mother. I can't help, but want to have it all. I have worked too hard for my career to just step away from that, but at the same time I want to be the best mother I can to my son and hopefully future children. 

I don't have an easy answer to that questions ... where do you see yourself in 5 years? I have hopes and dreams. As a woman, I just want to celebrate other woman out there in that pursuit of "having it all." We give up time with our children to pursue our career and we hope that teaches our children how to be successful later in life. We are mothers, but we are also more than just that vocation. We are still the women that went to college to pursue our dreams and in the end, when our children move out, we will still be those women with our aspirations. Is you choose to stay home with your babies or go to work and snuggle your little ones at night ... doing what is best for you and your family is always the right choice!  

 

Asparagus and That Stinky Smell

One of my favorite vegetables is asparagus. I love it because it is easy to cook and tastes delicious. It looks fun and can even serve as a "fancy" side dish for a nice dinner. It is a pretty green color and contains lots of vitamins and minerals that are good for your body. But what happens after you enjoy your asparagus with dinner? Have you ever noticed that terrible smell when you urinate? It is terrible! It is almost stinky enough that it might make you reconsider enjoying asparagus, as a vegetable at your next meal. 

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So why does that happen? How does it work? I have asked this of myself every time I cook, eat and urinate after consuming asparagus.There is a compound that is only found in asparagus and they have called it asparagusic acid. This is a sulfur containing compound (mercaptan), which explains that terrible odor that occurs in your urine after eating asparagus. Mercaptan is also found in rotten eggs, onions and garlic. It is thought about 22-50% of people are able to smell this compound.

This asparagusic acid compound is "volatile." That does not mean it will explode, but it means that the compound is easily airborne and floats up to your nose very quickly. This means that you can perceive this odor within 15 minutes of eating asparagus spears.

This has prompted the debt about if some people's body produce asparagusic acid compared with the idea that maybe your nose can not smell this compound. After some studies in the 1980s in France and Israel, found that the difference is in the perception of the this asparagusic odor compared with production on this compound. So it is thought that everyone produces this compound, but not all of us came smell it. So some people might not have the olfactory sensors to perceive this sulfur-like smell. They have some genetic mutation that prevents them from smelling this odor. A study was done, by a researcher at Harvard, that included 7,000 participated and out of that group 40% could smell that "stinky odor" after eating asparagus. That left 4,161 who were unable to smell that asparagusic acid. They contribute that inability to smell that compound to some combination of a possible 871 gene variations affecting that sensitivity in the nose. 

So in the end there isn't a clear reason why people can or can't perceive that terrible stink after eating asparagus. There is even doubt on the exact type of compound that makes that distinct odor. In the end, they main take away is ... don't be surprised if you enjoy your asparagus and then have a stinky pee afterwards. You are not weird, that is normal, for ~40% of people. 

Sources: 

  1. Why Asparagus Makes Your Urine Smell. 
  2. Why Your Pee Smells Funny After Eating Asparagus.
  3. Why Asparagus Makes Urine Smell. 
  4. We Unravel The Science Mysteries of Asparagus Pee.
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Finding Balance with Easter Goodies

Easter came early this year! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter yesterday. Often this holiday is filled with candy and sweet treats, just like Valentine's Day. It is so easy to pick up a bag of candy for those Easter eggs and find yourself eating all of those bite size goodies. Two weeks before Easter, I picked up a bag of bite size candies and totally found myself snacking on them at night. Terrible, I know! It was just so easy to pop one in my mouth. Honestly, I didn't need to buy a bag of candy 2 weeks before Easter, because really, did it make it to Easter? Nope! Sure didn't! 

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I am sure that you all had some delicious goodies leading up to Easter and now that the day has come and gone, you probably have some of those candies sitting on your counter or in your cabinet. How do you find balance with those goodies and making healthy choices? 

I am a dietitian who does believe that all foods can fit in a healthy diet. Now I don't recommend you purchase candy, when you don't need it, like I did two weeks ago. I would tell you to enjoy a piece or two of candy for the holiday, but don't bring it into your house if it is going to be a stumbling block for you. If you have little ones in your house, then you might think you have to purchase candy to fill up those Easter eggs with, but I am here to tell you that you don't have to put candy in those eggs. We  put Goldfish crackers, grapes and some other little food items in our eggs for William. Instead of having him find candy (which he doesn't need) we decided to try some healthier alternatives. You might think goldfish aren't exciting or fruit is lame, but this kid loves both so I think he will be excited. 

The two take aways from this post are 1) Those extra treats from Easter, come up with a game plan. Definitely enjoy them, in moderation and then if you have to, throw the rest away. Don't feel guilty about that. If it is going to be a stumbling block for you. Get get of rid it and get rid of that temptation.  2) Your kids goodies don't have to be candy. There are lots of things that you can give your child for Easter that isn't just candy. Don't feel like you are depriving your child anything. I think teaching kids to celebrate with items that aren't food is an important lesson as they grow up. 

Hopefully you all had a wonderful Easter and enjoyed the day! I have included some pictures below from our time with family over the weekend! 

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Stretching Your Dollar at the Grocery

Being able to save money when grocery shopping has been a goal for our family in 2018. I love food and I can easily spend lots of money on food. I have been working really hard this year to try to cut down on food purchasing. I wanted to talk about ways to cut down on your food budget and still have healthy and delicious food options available. 

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  • Cook more at home. When it comes to actually cutting down food costs, limiting your eating at restaurants will help. When you eat out, you spend a lot more money. If you are feeding a whole family that can easily add up. Then if you aren't spending a lot (going to a fast food restaurant, you are trading money for high sodium and low nutrient containing food items). Working hard to plan meals to be prepared and eaten at home will go such a long way in saving you money with your food budget. 
  • Plan meals out ahead of time. Being able to eat meals at home requires planning. You obviously can't cook food at home, if you don't have recipes already picked out and food purchased. Sitting down for even 30 minutes a week, picking out a few recipes and writing out what ingredients you need for those foods items will go such a long way in helping you stick with your budget. When you know what food you need to purchase to cook at home, that will help with the next recommendation - creating a list. 
  • Stick to the shopping list. To help you save money, write out your shopping list. When you have a list and you go to the grocery store, sticking with your list will help save money. Lots of time that extraneous spending happens when you decide you "need" things from the store, that aren't on your plan. That shopping is to serve as a guide when you head to the store. Stick with purchasing only what you need and that will help save lots of dollars. 
  • Shop the sales or cheaper stores. If you are able to look through ads and shop the sales, that is a great way to save money. If that takes too much time and you aren't able to run to multiple stores, then try to find the best deals on the store you shop at. I am a huge believer in Aldi. I really like that store and I get all of my staples from Aldi. I am able to spend <$100 most weeks on food because I purchase all my produce, milk, cheese, eggs and most meat items from Aldi. I don't have the time to shop sales at multiple stores. Find what works best for you and your schedule. 
  • Use left-overs. If you take time to cook a meal and you have left-overs, use those for another meal or to take with you to work. That is a huge cost saving measure. Most of the nights when my husband isn't able to come home for dinner, we eat left overs. I will also pack left overs for lunches the following day. That is an easy way to efficiently use that meal you spent money and time on to prepare. 

Half Marathon Training

It is that time of year again. The weather is warming up and the spring marathons and half marathons are starting. Before I had William I ran 1 marathon and then lots of half marathons. I really like the half marathon distance, because I could train, but it wasn't nearly as stressful or take up as much time as training for a marathon. That 13.1 miles is such a great distance. 

I haven't competed in a half marathon or even run 13.1 miles since before I was pregnant. That race as back in October of 2015. I then got pregnant and realized I was pregnant in spring of 2016. At that point in time, I did not feel well enough to run 13.1 miles for fun. It would have been torture. I didn't sign up to run any races in 2016. I continued to run and work out at the gym until the week William was born (December 23, 2016). I took 6 weeks off running completely after William was born. I started back running and even did some PT to help with my pelvic floor. Through out 2017 I didn't run competitively in any half marathon races. I did ran a couple 5Ks and other < 6 mile races at the end of 2017. Now in 2018, I made the goal to run 2 half marathons (one in the spring and one in the fall). I want to get back into competitively running, but at this point in time I don't have the time to train for a full marathon. So that half marathon distance seems like the perfect compromise. 

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Finding time to fit in long runs can be challenging. Thankful, William does really well in the running stroller. He has logged lots of miles in that stroller. He is a great running buddy. The timing of runs can be tough. Sometimes during the week, I just fit in 30 minutes on the treadmill at the gym before picking up William, because that is all the time I have to give to training. On the weekends is when I fit in long runs. I prefer doing my long runs outside. I will fit in a long run on either Saturday or Sunday and then try to pair a recovery run on the other day. That doesn't always happen though. 

I have been trying really hard not to push myself too much. I enjoy running and it is a stress reliever. It is easy though to get caught up in the mileage and if you can't hit that distance one day you can really beat yourself up over it. There is so much that goes into me getting out and running. I have to take William with me and keep him occupied and then of course run. But I also have to try to get my work done quickly that day to fit in that run. I have been trying not to over think it or stress too much about it. It is suppose to be fun and that is important. 

Training schedule - If you have run a half marathon before then you have probably tried to follow a training schedule. I really liked this article from Runner's World about training and fueling for a half marathon. I haven't followed a strict schedule to prepare for this half marathon. I have run 9 half marathons, 1 marathon and countless 5K-6 mile races. I know how often I need to run during the week (4 days a week is a magic number for me) and then I need to do at least one long run (> 6miles). Before the half marathon, I need to do at least one 10 mile run. I have also have to stretch out and try to do yoga at least 1 time per week. This all worked well prior to having a baby, so we will see how it goes post-baby. I have been running with a running stroller, so I feel like also includes some strength training in with those runs. 

Having a goal and working towards accomplishing it provides such satisfaction. I know that if I put in the miles (>20 miles per week) then I can get out there on race day and do well. I will keep you all posted on things go. My race is the Geist Half Marathon on May 19th. I have never ran on this course before, I know that there are lots of hills, so it will be a challenge. But I am looking forward to it! 

My Nutrition Journey

I thought that it might be fun to have today's post focus on my nutrition journey to where I am today. Most of the time I am writing about interesting nutrition topics (that are near and dear to my heart), but I thought I might give you a little back story about my own journey to becoming a NICU dietitian.

I initially was interested in OT/PT in high school, but after job shadowing several PTs and working in a nursing home once a week for a semester in high school, I decided that wasn't for me. It didn't really enjoy touching people that much. I kind of preferred keeping my distance from the patients that I was working with. My mother encouraged me to look into nutrition and specifically dietetics. She kept telling me that having a credential, like the letters RDN after my name, would open up lots of doors for me. She was right! I went to Purdue and double majored in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness & Health. I was most interested in sports nutrition and that is where I wanted to work. I wanted to help athletes optimize their nutrition to improve their performance. After completely 4 years at Purdue, I did my internship through the Purdue Coordinated Program and graduated in August of 2011. After the completion of my internship, I took the RD Exam and passes and started working at St Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette, IN. I originally wanted a job in sports nutrition, but quickly realized those positions were few and far between. Lots of them preferred a Master's degree as well. I decided that getting a job, starting to earn money and gaining work experience would be most worth my time. Unfortunately, a Master's in nutrition doesn't guarantee that you make significantly more money.

I started working at St Elizabeth hospital and covered the cardiac, pediatric and NICU units. I also worked in outpatient pediatrics. This is where my love for pediatric nutrition started to develop. I really enjoyed being able to make nutrition changes and see the changes within a few days. I really loved working in pediatric outpatient and developing a relationship with those patients. After almost 3 years, I took a new job in Indianapolis, IN at St Vincent Women's Hospital working in the NICU. This was a huge leap of faith for me, but it has proven to be such a blessing. I knew that I enjoyed the NICU, but I being able to work in pediatric critical care full time has been such an amazing experience. I love being able to work with these critically ill patients, provide them with the best nutrition and then watch them grow, over come the odds and thrive to go home with their families. 

 Photo taken by our pediatric surgeon (Evan Kokoska) for an album The People of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.

Photo taken by our pediatric surgeon (Evan Kokoska) for an album The People of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.

I have been able to do so many neat things over the years. I have been at St Vincent's Women's Hospital now for almost 4 years (as of April). I have had the opportunity work with lots of amazing people. I was able to give a talk at the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference (IAND) last year on NICU Nutrition and the role of the RD in the NICU. I have been able to serve on the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) Test Writing Committee for the new Certified Specialist in Pediatrics and Critical Care Exam (CSPCC). I had the opportunity to write a chapter in a Nutrition Communication book that will be published in the next year through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. I have been able to serve on the IAND State Board on the Nomination Committee and exited to be on the local CIAND Board this upcoming year. I have been able to mentor lots of interns and excited to see them pursue their dreams as RDs. I have worked with amazing people and I am so excited for what is ahead for my career. 

Looking back on it, I am so thankful to have parents who cared about my future. Who pushed me to pursue my interests, paid to put me through school and supported me as I took leaps of faith with job and opportunity that has come my way. I have been a Registered Dietitian for 6 1/2 years and it has been such a fun journey! 

National Nutrition Month

March is here! Can you believe it? I am so excited for spring and the start to hopefully some warmer weather. I love all the seasons, but it is always fun to be able to welcome spring in March and look forward to less snow and more sunshine. March also means that it is National Nutrition Month. I have posted about Nutrition on a weekly basis here on RD Anna, but this month is special because the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics focuses some key messages to spread about nutrition and wellness. Each year there is a theme. The theme for 2018 is "Go further with food." I think that is a great slogan for the year, because all eat and that is a necessary part of life, but what if we try to take that an extra step. What if we focused on making our diet or our habits just a little better. Take it that next step and push ourselves to make even better choices. 

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Key Messages For National Nutrition Month 

  • Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  • Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  • Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  • Continue to use good food safety practices.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  • Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

Recognizing Credible Information

Can I just say super fast that this is the second time I am writing this post, because somehow I accidentally deleted the whole thing the first time I wrote it. So let that be a lesson, always, always save what you are writing. 

I was so excited this week to have two people comment about my RD Anna Facebook page and the information that I have shared. They said that they had read some of the articles and really appreciated the great information that I was sharing. That is so exciting for me. First of all, that people were actually reading what I was writing and sharing. Secondly, it was wonderful that people were recognizing and appreciating having evidence-based information that is being shared. 

Our social media feeds are filled with misinformation and with the whole "fake news" phenomenon that has been occurring over the past couple of years, credible information is important. We need people to be sharing accurate information and not propagating misinformation. That is one reason why I share information on my Facebook page. I feel that as a health professional and nutrition expert, you should be getting your nutrition information from me, not some random person on the internet who calls them self a nutritionist. I also wanted to share an example with you that happened to me the other week. Someone at my work was telling me about how they had read information on Facebook about how infectious disease doctors were to blame for people dying from the flu this year. When I tried to clarify, what this person was saying her response was "the article named the specific flu strands, so therefore it has to be true." This is why as health professionals, we must share accurate, credible information and as people on social media, we need to identify misinformation.

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How do you identify credible information on social media? 

  • Look for credible sources in the article. When you are looking through an article shared on social media, take the time to see what sources are quoted or what citation they use. Where is the writer getting their statistics? Is this information from credible sources? If you are looking at medical or wellness information are the sources being used from places like JAMA, AAP, CDC, AND or another nationally recognized institution known for presenting evidence-based information? If you can't identify any sources for the information presented, that might be a red flag this article might not be credible. If the sources are not from nationally recognized institutions, that might be another red flag to take the information with a grain of salt. 
  • Who are the "experts" that are being quoted? Most likely whatever, you are reading, as some time of expert that is interviewed or quoted. What are the credentials for that individual? Are they an expert in the field that they are speaking about? If the question to that is no, then that is probably not a credible article to be getting information from. For example, you don't want a podiatrist to be talking about the terrible flu season. That is not his/her area of expertise. Also look at the credentials that the "expert" has. Is this person talking about nutrition, just someone who is classified as a nutritious or is this an actual Registered Dietitian Nutritionist? If your athletic trainer is talking about nutrition, that might not be the best nutrition expert to be getting that information from. Taking the time to identify who is the "expert" is and how they are being quoted is a key way to identify credible information online. 
  • If the information is "too good to be true" then it might not be true. If you are reading a news headline and you just can't believe what it is saying, that should be a red flag. Every writer wants to draw you in, get you to click on the link and open the article they have written. Often writers create crazy titles to get you to click on their article. If you are reading through this information and feel like this information is too good to be true, then pause, step back and realize that it might not be accurate information. This is especially true with weight loss recommendations. Everyone wants a quick fix, but that is just not how it really works. 

Hopefully this information is helpful as you try to weed through all the information on social media and identify what is actually accurate information. You might be wondering what my sources are for these recommendations, well check out some of the links below. 

 

Writing Exam Questions

I have had the opportunity to serve on the committee that is putting together a new board exam for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) for pediatric critical care. This was a brand new experience for me. There was an application process and 10 of us were picked to serve on this test writing committee. This new exam will be in addition to the Certified Specialist in Pediatrics (CSP) Exam. This will be a specialized certification for RDNs in the PICU and NICU. The test will be called Certified Specialist in Pediatrics in Critical Care (CSPCC). 

I had the chance to go to Chicago this past week to work more on the development of these test questions. It is such an interesting process to write exam questions for a national board exam. Like I mentioned earlier this is a brand new experience for me. I never realized the time that went into crafting the perfect test question and providing the best/most plausible incorrect answers.

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I share this with you all for two reasons: 1) To encourage you to apply for things that are outside your comfort zone. I had never done anything like this before, but being able to learn about this process and get to gain these skills has been such a neat adventure. I also got to network with some amazing RDNs from around the country. This isn't something that I imagined I would be doing, but I took a chance and went for it!  2) This additional certification is needed. Having this board exams for RDNs is important to help encourage and support specialty areas in nutrition. Being able to specialize in a certain population or disease state helps you, as a provider, to give the best care to your patients. I am very excited for this to come together and become another certification that RDNs can obtain. From my experience, RDNs are often under-utilized and I think this a great way to show how important nutritional management is for pediatric critical care.

If there is an experience or opportunity that comes up in your career area, then go for it! Don't be scared to apply or think that you aren't qualified enough. Take a chance and go for it! You never know what all you will be able to learn. I am excited to be able to be included in this test writing process and eager to see how this certification helps to build up the profession in pediatric critical care! 

Picking Out Heart Healthy Foods

I had the opportunity this week to speak with Ericka Flye, a reporter for RTV6 about heart healthy foods. I have worked closely with the American Heart Association here in Indianapolis and I was contacted by their media person to see if I could be interviewed. I of course said yes and we put together a fun grocery store tour segment where we walked about Kroger in Fishers and talked about heart healthy food options. 

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Most grocery stores are decided with the fresh foods around the parameter of the store and the processed/shelf stable food items at the center of the store. Try to stick with shopping around the parameter of the store. When you enter the grocery store you normally arrive at the produce section. This is a great place to start because all of these produce items are very heart healthy. They naturally do not contain any sodium or fat! That is a the goal with a heart healthy diet to limit your consumption of sodium (or salt) and fat. Try to pick a variety of colorful produce items. Also try to pick out some new foods that maybe you haven't tried before. If you don't know how to cook or prepare that new produce item, look it up on Google and you can quickly find a recipe or how to cut up that food item. 

From the produce section we worked out way over to the deli and cheese counter. There are lots of options over here that are filled with sodium and added fat. The key is moderation. Dairy items and even processed meats can fit into a heart healthy diet, but in limited amounts. The nice thing about some of the Kroger Marketplaces is they carry Boar's Head meats and cheeses and they have lower sodium options. Check out the deli counter and look for the American Heart Association label on their lower sodium deli options. 

After checking out the deli counter we walked to the meat section. There are tons of options of types of meat from fish to turkey and beef. The key to find a heart healthy meat item is to read the percentage of fat to meat comparison and aim for the higher meat percentage. For example, try to purchase the 90% meat and 10% fat ground meat option compared with the standard 80% meat and 20% fat option. This will be the more heart healthy choice. Lots of people think that just because they are choosing turkey or chicken it is automatically healthier, but not really. Beef can fit into a heart healthy diet as well if is ground sirloin and is a lean cut. 

From the meat section we walked to check out the milk and eggs. These are both an important part of a heart healthy diet. You can have a whole egg a day while still following the heart healthy recommendations. If you want more than one egg in scrambled eggs or an omelet you can take 1 whole egg and then mix in additional egg whites to make a healthier fluffy egg scramble. When picking out a milk option choose 1% or skim milk because that has the least amount of milk fat remaining. This is the more heart healthy option.

The last area that we visited was the frozen food section. This area is where you will find lots of high sodium and high calorie food items. They key is to watch your portion sizes and then to make sure that you are reading how much sodium is in each of the items that you are consuming. Try to limit your consumption of these pre-prepared food items. Always read the labels and know what is in the food items that you purchase. 

We had a great time walking about the grocery store and checking out what items you should put in your cart to make heart healthy choices. You will have to check out the segment that will air on RTV6 at the end of the month. Thanks to Ericka Flye for a great interview and the American Heart Association for reaching out to me to help with this nutrition segment! 

Work, Life Balance

I had someone mention to me the other day ... "I don't know how you do it all?" I am sure from the outside it can easily look like I have it all together. Social media has a way of only showing the highlights of life. None of us just post our boring weekday evenings, washing the dishes or folding laundry. It is easy to compare ourselves to one another. We look at other working Moms and wonder how they find time to take their kids on a walk and then also cook dinner that evening. Often I feel like working mothers feel this constant pull in so many different directions. I know that I will see stay at home moms on social media and I am often jealous that they don't have to fit a traditional work schedule into their routines. 

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This comparison is not healthy. Social media is just a quick snap shot into people's lives and never shows the whole picture. I thought it would be a good idea to just touch on work, life balance and maybe share some recommendations to help you. I do not claim to have everything in order and all of this figured out. I am just a working mom who is going through life, doing her thing and then using this blog platform to tell you about my experiences. 

Time Management 

I think any mother would tell you that time management is part of motherhood. As soon as you become responsible for another little human, you have to start managing your own time. To help with my own work, life balance I have accepted the fact that I do the same things over and over again. Each day I get up at 6am. I get ready before William wakes up. Then I load the car with the bags that I packed the night before. I go to work. Then after work I have about 30-45 minutes that I can fit in some physical activity before picking up William. Then the night time routine starts when we get home: make dinner, clean up after dinner, bath for William, put William down, pack lunches, and get myself ready for bed by 10-11pm. Then this cycle repeats each day. Managing my time each day is the only way that "everything" gets done. Taking the time to figure out what your schedule looks like and then account for each hour of each day will help you prioritize what needs to get done. If I have any tasks left undone and it is already 11pm then I just call it a day and head to bed. I need that 7-8 hours of sleep a night and that is a priority for me! 

Support System 

To maintain whatever schedule you create for yourself and your family, you need help! You need the support of your friends and family. There will be days that things don't go right and the schedule get totally messed up. There will be times you will be asked to help with something that you didn't anticipate. Being able to call on those friends and family members at those times will keep you sane. For example, there was a week day when I decided we needed to go see a family member. I had to make a few extra stops after work and I called up our amazing nanny. She helped me by assisting William with making a card. I didn't have the time to do that with him, but with her help and support we were able to get that done. Having those support people in your life to help you is so important. Even if it is someone you can complain to at the end of the day. Just having a shoulder to cry on is important. 

"Relax Days" 

Having a schedule and sticking to that routine throughout the week is great, but we all need some down time. When we can relax and just wear our pajamas all day and don't care. That is the weekend for me. I try to not set an alarm on Saturdays so that I can just sleep until William gets up. That is so liberating. After the hustle and bustle during the week, that quiet, care free start to the weekend is a must. It provides some time to help re-charge those batteries and gear up for the upcoming week. This past weekend, I came down with a cold. I let myself take a nap on Saturday and Sunday! When William slept I took a 2 hour nap with him. It was the best thing ever. I knew that I need to slow down and take that time for myself. Those "relax days" are an important part to the whole work, life balance dance. Without them, you can easily get burnt out and then be left feeling so overwhelmed. 

Taking Back Your Kitchen

The holidays are over and we are now well into 2018. In fact we are half way through the month of January. I am not sure what your resolutions were for the New Year, but odds are that you have already ditched those resolutions. I am not sure if "cooking more at home" was one of your resolutions, but I want to help encourage you to take back your kitchen. All of us are busy and we have so much competing for our time. Finding time to cook is often difficult. 

What are some obstacles that keep you from preparing meals in your kitchen? For me, it often involves lack of time and if I don't plan ahead, there is no way I will be able to make dinners at home. Identify whatever obstacles that are keeping you out of your kitchen. Then let's work on overcoming those challenges. 

Take Back Your Kitchen 

  • Meal Prep - Taking the time to make out a list of what you want to prepare at home for the week is a must. Think through what food items you love to cook or you have time to prepare and get those recipes. Make out your shopping list using those recipes. That will help ensure that you purchase only the food you need to cook those meals. Making out a list ahead of time can also help to save money when you go to the grocery store. Once you go to the store and purchase your food items, when you get home, take the time to prep some of those foods. Taking the time to cut and prepare your fruit and vegetables can be helpful during the week. Sometimes that cleaning and prep work takes too much time during the week. Doing it on the weekends can help ensure you are able to cook these meals at home. 
  • Realistic Recipes - When you pull recipes for the week, make sure that they are realistic. If a recipe will take you 2 hours to cook then that might not be a recipe to make during the week. If you work or have evening plans the sticking with 30 minute recipes will help ensure you are successful in cooking foods at home. Also during the week, make sure that ingredients are also easy to get. Some times if you forgot an ingredient and if you can't easily pick it up during the week, you might not prepare that recipe during the week.
  • Clean Up - Whenever you cook there is often a mess. Lots of dishes and clean up afterwards. Taking the time to tidy up your kitchen at the end of the day is helpful for the next day. I hate cooking in a dirty kitchen. Each night I try to take the time to clean up from dinner and from putting together lunches for the next day. I like walking into a clean kitchen in the morning and then preparing dinner the following night in a clean kitchen. Is that is something that is an obstacle for you cooking at home, find ways to remove that obstacle. If your spouse enjoys dishes or is able to help with one part of the cooking/cleaning that teamwork is great! 
  • Use the Left-overs - Don't throw out the food that you took the time to cook. You can save these left-overs and use them for lunch the next day. If you have enough left, you can even use it for another dinner that week. If you have taken all that time to prepare the meal, it would be a shame to throw out that food and some what wasteful. 

Think about what stands in your way from cooking in your kitchen. Do you want to take back your kitchen and start preparing more meals at home? Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help you be successful and accomplish this goal! 

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The End of a Pumping Journey

It has been a little while since I have written about my breast feeding experience with William. We have reached the year mark. That had always been my goal to breast feed William through his 1st birthday. That goal has been accomplished! Such a big milestone and I am so excited and proud of both of us. 

 Photo credit: Karre Ann Photography from William's 12 month photo session.

Photo credit: Karre Ann Photography from William's 12 month photo session.

I started pumping when my milk came in (so the first week of life with William). I know that my lactation consultant that I met with in the hospital said I didn't need to do that, but I was so uncomfortable. When my milk came it the only thing that helped was pumping. Then I would just pump randomly 1-2 times a day over maternity leave to comfort. I would freeze the milk and plan to use that for when I went back to work. 

I ended up having an over supply of breastmilk, but honestly, I was fine with that. I really wanted William to only have breastmilk so that was a "problem" that I was fine with. If you haven't read through my first breast feeding post - CLICK HERE and check it out. I wrote about breast feeding as being a choice and a gift that I wanted to give my child. I am not here to judge, you as a mother, if you breast feed or not. Each mother and child has to decide what will work for them. For myself and William, I wanted to breast feed and that meant also pumping. 

Lots of mothers that I have spoken with hate pumping. They loathe it and it is something they dislike. I tried really hard to look at it has a choice and again, something that I was doing for my child. I wanted to give my child that gift of my breastmilk and when going back to work I knew that meant having to pump. 

At the beginning, I went back to work when William was just turning 8 weeks old. I pumped 3 times during the work day. I also had a 45 minute drive to/from work. Then I would breast feed him throughout the night, in the morning before going to daycare, he would go with 3 bottles and then I would breast feeding twice before bed. William also would get up to eat throughout the night until 6-7 months of age. I was pumping/breastfeeding 8 times a day for about 6 months. Then I started pumping only 2 times at work and continued to do that until William was 12 months old. I wanted to make sure to keep up my supply. Again, I probably didn't have to do that, but I had more than enough milk and it was something I was happy to do. 

Well now I have reached the end of my pumping at work journey. This week I stopped pumping at work. I had decreased pumping at work to only once a day after William turned one. Then after talking with one of our MD/Lactation Consultants I understood that I needed to let that go. There was no NEED to keep pumping at work. I am still breast feeding William in the morning and at night before bed. He enjoys that and it works for us. 

This week I stopped carrying my pump to work. I have a beautiful Sarah Wells Pumping bag that I love and served me well for the last year. It is hard to believe that this part is finally over. I never loved pumping, but I didn't hate it. It was something that I knew I had to do and I made the best of it. Now that it is done, it is bittersweet. I love being able to wear clothes to where I don't have to think about being able to get to my boobs. Today I wore a cute dress and it was awesome. I haven't been able to do that in a year. But at the same time, this change means my baby is no longer a baby, but a toddler. 

I know that I will be able to continue to breast feed for as long as William is interested. That is a blessing and I am fine with that. I just wanted to share about my pumping/breast feeding journey. I know that lots of times you just hear the terrifying stories or people complaining. I wanted to share with you a positive story that came to a happy end. 

If you want any more information about breast feeding and why breastmilk is the best thing for your baby, check out this blog post on The Powers of Breastmilk that I put together earlier in 2017. If you have any other questions, feel free to message me and I would love to help you out or put you in touch with someone who can answer your question.

Being a NICU RD

Being a NICU Registered Dietitian is a very unique job. Lots of people don't fully understand what this job entails. Other RDs often have no idea what all goes into working in a NICU with preterm infants. As of 2013 there were 983 NICUs in the United States (reference). Out of those NICUs not all of them have Registered Dietitians. All Level IV NICUs are required to have a RD involved to help provide nutrition care for those infants. I wasn't able to find a number of Level IV NICUs in the United States, but there are not that many (maybe ~100). I spoken with multiple RDs across the country who are working in NICUs and not sure how to provide the best nutrition care to their units. Often, RDs are asked to step into this role with limited experience.  

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I just wanted to highlight what NICU RDs do and what they offer to the Multi-Disciplinary Team in the NICU. There is a misconception out there that just because babies in the NICU can't talk that somehow the care we provide as a RD is not as valuable or doesn't require communication skills?! Well that is just not the case. We work very closely with the neonatologists, the bedside nurses, the case managers, the social worker, the pharmacist, the therapists and the parents. Being able to communicate with everyone who is in involved in patient care is extremely important.

Job Tasks

  • Attend Multi-Disciplinary Rounds on a weekly basis to provide recommendations on nutrition changes for each patient. 
  • Sit up in the physician work room to serve as a resource for the MDs and the other NICU staff for nutrition recommendations. 
  • Weekly see all the NICU patients and assess growth and if nutrition plan is best meeting assessed nutrition needs. 
  • Keep track of complex GI patients to spreadsheets to monitor ostomy outputs and to micromanage those complicated patients. 
  • Put together discharge feedings plans for tube feeding and TPN home discharges. 
  • Fill out WIC scripts for families being discharged. 
  • Help to oversee and run the Formula Mixing room. Provide education staffing for those formula mixing technicians. We are working hard this year to start using a breastmilk scanning system called Timeless in our unit. Help with hiring staff and making sure they have the tools they need to do their job well. 
  • Sit on several committees and run a neonatal nutrition committee with various leaders of the multi-disciplinary team in the NICU.
  • Serve as a resource for other NICU RDs to help provide support and answer questions, because it can be a tough job and something you just need to run something past another RD. 

This is a great job because you get to work with such small patients who grow and change so quickly. I think that is one of my favorite parts of the NICU. When you make a change or adjust feedings you see changes right away.  It is a fast paced environment and things are always changing. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a little 24 week infant who is < 1000g grow, reach full term age and then get to be discharged home. That is an amazing journey to get to be a part of!