Finding The Calm

This post is not directly connected with nutrition, but I felt like I needed to write up something on this topic of anxiety. I think this topic of mental health is not talked about enough and I feel like taking the time to make sure that you are well cared for is important.

I am not sure if you have ever struggled with anxiety. The crazy thing about emotions is that they feel so different for each one of us. The same is true with anxiety. We can all feel anxious or worry about things in different ways. Those concerns can manifest in different ways. Even for the same person, those anxious tendencies can show up in different ways depending on the stressor. I think the key is becoming familiar with yourself and understanding how your body handles stress.

For me, when I feel anxious my entire body reacts to that stress. I get butterflies and my stomach starts to feel nervous. I become nauseated and then from there my body tenses up and my body starts to ache. I normally lose my appetite and can’t eat anything. I have a dry mouth and can’t really consume much besides water. If these feelings persist for an extended period of time then I normally end up getting sick. Thankfully these episodes don’t happen super frequently, but when they do they totally wipe me out for at least a day. The crazy thing is some times I have no idea what the trigger is. For example, I could wake up at that 4am with a queasy stomach and have no idea my I am feel nervous. My body is just obviously stressed and starting to get worked up.

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Over the years, I have learned how my own personal anxiety cycle works and that has been helpful in managing it. I can probably count on two hands over the last 20 years the number of times these episodes have happened, but they are never fun and definitely frustrating. Maybe you have similar tendencies when it comes to being anxious or maybe your feelings manifest in a totally different way. The key to managing this stress response is to be embrace it and not to be scare of it.

Managing Those Anxious Feelings

  • Deep, calming breathing. This has been the most helpful at night when I find myself worked up about something. Long, deep breathes in and out (just like in yoga) are helpful to help remind your body to calm down and snap out of that “fight or flight” response.

  • Don’t fear the symptoms. I hate throwing up and that is one of the symptoms with my anxiety that I experience if I get really worked up. I keep having to work to not fear that symptom and just embrace it and then move on.

  • Focus on other things. Often taking that focus away from myself and looking to care for others helps. Those anxious feelings are centered on you and your responses and so when you pull yourself away from that focus and turn that outwards it can help break that anxiety cycle.

  • Pray. This has been very helpful for me. I am religious and believe in God and praying for help, support and calming has been very helpful to be over the years. Believing in someone bigger than myself, looking after me, is very reassuring.

  • Understand and love yourself. Even if you dislike and are frustrated by how you handle your anxiety, you have to learn to love yourself. Even those parts of yourself that you wish were different. Embracing and loving yourself is key to helping to overcome your worries and concerns.

  • Have your support system. Have those people around you who can love you, hug you and remind you that it is ok. You are not alone and these worries shall pass. Those people who you can be honest with and tell them that you are struggling and they can help support you when you need that love.

In the end, no matter what you are amazing and if you struggle with anxiety that is fine. Embrace that part of you, learn how those feelings manifest in your life and work to better control your responses to stress. So much of life you can’t control and the only person we have control over, is ourselves. We all have good days and bad days. In the end, the goal is that those good days far extend the number of bad days.

I wanted to share this to let you know that none of us are perfect. We all have our struggles and you aren’t alone. Whether you work to control your anxiety on your own, if you see a therapist, if you take medication, all these tools can help you be the best version of yourself. If you ever need to reach out and a person to talk to … let me know.

Self Goals

What goals do you have for yourself? When was the last time that you took a moment and ask yourself that question? These goals can be personal goals, career goals, fitness goals, etc. I am a firm believer in always learning and moving towards a goal. We are on this earth for a short amount of time and I really believe strongly in leaving things better than before we found them. So that is what prompts me to ask you … what goals do you have for yourself.

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For the last two years I have done a Year End Review here on my blog and you can see the 2018 Year End Review and then the 2017 Summary. I tried to put together a year end review looking at what I had done over the last 12 months. I think that is great and the start to another year is the perfect time to think ahead and reflect on the year past. But here at the end of May, start of June and the beginning of the summer … why not take a moment and look at yourself and see what goals you want to accomplish and what things have you maybe already done! I have decided to go through and make some sections and then list out things that I have been working on and things that I have accomplished already in 2019. Take the time to think through what categories you have and what goals you want to accomplish for yourself.

Personal Goals

  • Read a book. I know this sounds super simple, but I have such limited free time that I haven’t read many books for fun. I did take the time during my maternity to read the Rachel Hollis book, Girl Wash Your Face and it was fantastic. I really enjoy reading and loved take the time to read that book.

  • I would like to read another book for fun in 2019 … if you have any good suggestions, send them my way.

Career Goals

  • Present at FNCE in Philadelphia. This is happening and I have to admit this was such a crazy journey to make this presentation pitch and I am still over the moon that our proposal was chosen and I can’t wait to speak at FNCE!

  • Complete the Certified Lactation Counselor course. This training is happening in November and I am planning on attending that conference and taking that lactation exam so I can work more with mothers who are breast feeding and/or pumping.

  • Grow Mini Minds Nutrition Counseling. i have been working hard to try to grow some clients for Mini Minds and provide more outpatient nutrition counseling. I have worked with three families now and taught two classes. I would love to continue to do more so if you know anyone who would benefit from nutrition counseling, send them my way!

Fitness Goals

  • Run in at least one race in 2019. My sister is planning to come into town in August and we are going to run a race together! It is a 10K and so not super long, but that is fine, because training takes time and I seem to have limited hours in the day. I would love to commit to a half marathon, but I am not sure that realistic for 2019. I will see how getting back into running is going and maybe by spring of 2020 I will be ready to race 13.1 miles again.

  • See a Women’s Health PT. I need to schedule to see a women’s health PT and work on abs after having Samuel and then my pelvic floor strength again. I did this after William and it was worth all the time and money.

This isn’t a crazy long list of goals, but just somethings I have been thinking about and taking them time to write out these goals helps to increase your odds of accomplishing them. So take a moment and think about what you would like to accomplish for yourself, write down those goals and then set out to accomplish them!

Spring Into A Healthier Version of You

I am excited for spring! It is officially spring now and that means that warmer weather is just around the corner. I wanted to take a moment about take this time to do some spring cleaning when it comes to your diet and taking care of yourself. I have to admit part of this is selfishly motivated, because after having a baby, being home on maternity leave and breast feeding I have been eating ALL the sweets and I need work to clean up my own diet and refocus.

It is about 3-4 months after the New Year and how are those resolutions going? This is often the time when those promises we made ourselves are thrown by the wayside and we have fallen back into old habits. What bad habits have you not shaken yet? What things do you want to focus on this spring?

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Tips to Clean Up Your Diet

  • Load up on veggies! Spring means time to plant a garden and hit up the Farmer’s Market. There will be a variety of cooler weather produce that is going to start to be available. Start working more vegetables into your diet to help give you more vitamins and minerals. This will help your body function better and help you feel better. Aim to work vegetables into lunch and dinner and if you are able even breakfast (this could be spinach in with your eggs, kale in your smoothie, tomatoes on your breakfast sandwich).

  • Plan out your meals. Taking time to write out a plan for meals for the week will help you to be healthier and stick with those healthier choices. Planning out your meals will save you money overall as well. It is also hard to binge eat on unhealthy food items, when you don’t purchase them. That is another benefit to planning your meals ahead of time and only purchasing what you have on your list. You will be forced to eat whatever you have in your pantry and hopefully those are healthier options.

  • Try some new recipes. We can all get stuck in our routine when it comes to cooking at home. The same food items over and over again. Take the time to find some new recipes and mix things up. You can take this opportunity to try new foods, prepare foods in a new way and get you excited to cook again. Of course, find a new recipe that is healthy and is something that adds variety to your diet as well.

  • Hold yourself accountable. When you share with someone your goals, you are more likely to actually stick with/accomplish that goal. If a friend or even people on social media to help keep you on track and help call you out if you are struggling and need some tough love. Having that support system is critical when it comes to cleaning up your dietary habits.

  • Take time for some self-care/love. This idea of self-care/self-love applies to your food you eat as well. Taking the time to put healthy foods into your mouth will make you feel better about yourself in the long run. Yes, there is instant gratification from that chocolate bar, but then you end up with more negative feelings and even a lack of confidence. The goal in the end is to love yourself more and give yourself some grace if things don’t go quite as planned in terms of your eating habits of exercise routine.

  • Load up on the water. It is always humorous to me when I read about “detox” diets, because your body doesn’t actually need any help detoxing, you have a liver that does that for you. But I think focusing on staying hydrated and consuming enough water will help your body to function to the best of its ability. Your body is 60% water and that means your cells and muscles will be able to function better when you are hydrated appropriately. So if you are concerned about “detoxing” your body … just take the time to drink plenty of water.

So if you, like me have been struggling with your healthy eating and exercise habits, then use this spring to jump back into some healthy routines. Take the time to look at what you are struggling with and write down 1-2 ways that you can feel better about yourself and prioritize your health/wellness.


Jump In and Go For It!

I feel like this is becoming a common theme in my life. I have been blessed with amazing opportunities growing up through 4-H, opportunities to visit other countries on mission trips, the chance to learn an instrument, attend an amazing college, serve on various boards/committees throughout college, land an amazing first job, move into a specialty area and get another amazing job, etc. All of these opportunities have been blessings. I strongly believe that, but I also believe that I have “jumped in and taken a chance” when opportunities presented themselves. I very easily could have just avoided the opportunity and not applied for a board position or a chance to do something that pushed my comfort zone.

When it comes to advice, I am a strong believer in “jumping in and going for it.” Whatever that opportunity is! If you see a chance to take a leap, push yourself, advance your career, learn a new skill … then take that leap! This made me think of the Purdue 150th Anniversary Celebration. As you know, I am a proud Purdue Alum, but I love the theme for this year and this celebration - “Take Giant Leaps.” I think this fits perfectly into my mantra for life … “Go for it!” In order to continue to learn and became better and whatever you decide to do, you have push yourself and take risks at times.

The whole reason I decided to make a blog post on this topic was, because I had an opportunity that presented itself this last week. I was sent an email encouraging me to pursue an application for a national board position within the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Is it a long shot that my application would even get chosen and then if I would even get elected to that position …. yes! It is a huge long shot. Did that stop me from throwing my hat in the ring? No! I was asked by a colleague what made me want to apply? I said, “because I can.” I didn’t need another reason. I had an opportunity come my way. I had a chance to take a leap and try something I have never done before. I decided to try to make that dream a reality and I am going for it. Who knows what will happen. Probably nothing. I gave it a go, but I am not afraid of failing and not being chosen. It is fine. I am busy with lots of things and if this opportunity doesn’t work out this time, that is fine. I can always apply again in the future and see where that door leads.

Basically I wanted to share these thoughts with you to encourage you to push yourself, take those giant leaps and don’t be afraid to say “yes” to an opportunity that comes your way. Putting yourself out there is the best way to move forward and to learn! So jump in and go for it!

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Saving Money and Sticking To A Budget

So this post is late. Normally I post on Mondays and I get that up in the morning or at least by the end of day. Well Monday came and went and I wasn't feel super inspired to write a post. There wasn't anything rolling around in my brain that I thought was super exciting to share with you. 

Well inspiration finally struck today. I figured I wanted to share some honest struggles with you about sticking with a budget and saving money. That is the most exciting things that I have been trying to work on recently. 

Our family has both myself and husband working full time. We make an "ok" salary between the two of us (especially compared to people in other countries we are very blessed). We also have our far share of loans. Between my husband's car and then his school loans we also have a decent chunk of our income going to pay for those things. When it comes to money we have save for retirement, but we needed to do a better job at saving our the rest of our income. The retirement is easy, because it gets deducted from your paycheck and you never see that money, but the money that you actually bring home is tougher to save. I try really hard to cook meals at home, but we do eat out occasionally. But I never thought we spent tons of money, but after some serious self-reflection we are working hard to try to change some habits and actually save more money. 

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I have to admit, working at saving money is probably one of the most changing things I have done. I have done lots of hard things, but this has to be the slowest, and the hardest to stick with. We have really ambitious goals for our much money we want to save and to get there we needed to make some adjustments. We have cut out all extra spending. So we will still purchase things if they are needed, but nothing else extra. For example, on Amazon Prime Day we ended purchasing a bowel for William to learn how to use, dog treats for Einstein and a bike rake for Chas' bike so he can bike to work. Nothing extra, nothing that wasn't something we would already plan to purchase. 

Things I have learned ... 

  • It is hard. When you try so hard to save and then you don't see that much more money in your account it is depressing. 
  • You realize all the little things add up. That cup of coffee, plus that bottle wine or that time you went out to eat can easily add up to $50 without you noticing. 
  • You have more free time. When you spend less money, you spend less time at stores and you have more free time. That is always a win. 
  • Trying to find things to do that we can do for "free." We have memberships to a couple of museums and we can totally go enjoy those activities because they are already paid for. That is a great way to do something fun, but not spending more money. 
  • Hang out with other people who are saving money. That always helps. There is nothing worse than hearing about someone's trip somewhere and you realizing you can't take a trip right now because you are trying to save money. So find some like minded friends and spend time with them! 
  • Find ways to make enjoying at home fun. I have been trying to find cheap, healthy ways to prepare food at home and not miss eating out as much. For example, we made homemade Udon soup last weekend and it was amazing and way cheaper than eating out. 

Hopefully this post helps encourage you that if you are interested in working to set a goal, saving money or something else .... that you stick with that goal and moving toward that end goal. It is small steps that hopefully add up over time to big changes. But until then ... we will be hanging out at home, eating popcorn on our couch and watching Netflix and trying not to spend extra money. 

Summer Time Weight Loss Strategies

I was asked to be on WTHR and talk about Summer Time Weight Loss Strategies. I know I had already posted on some of my experiences about this topic the other week. I thought since I took the time to put together some information for that TV segment I would share those tips and tricks with you all. 

Summer time is a great opportunity to work on losing some extra weight. The days are long, the weather is warmer and people often have some time off of work. If weight loss has been one of your goals during this year and you haven't hit those goals then take a moment and read through some of these strategies that I am going to share with you. 

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Weight Loss Strategies

  • Get outside. One of the best things about summer is the longer days and the warmer weather. You can often find lots of different types of activities that get you moving outside. Any type of activity that you can do outside can count towards burning calories. Everything from mowing the lawn, washing the car, playing with your kids at the park and even walking your dog. Most of us sit at our jobs and we don’t get in that goal of 10,000 steps per day. If you are able to walk to the library or the grocery store near you, take advantage of that opportunity to get in more steps. If you want to do something more demanding take your family with you on a bike ride or on a run. There are also lots of summer activities like swimming and hiking that you can do outdoors and that is physically challenging.
  • Drink wisely. During the summer, we enjoy nice cold beverages. It is important to be aware of what is in your favorite cool drink. If you drink alcohol there are calories in that beer (154 calories/can) or wine (125 calories/5oz) and if you prefer a mixed, sugary drink there are quite a few calories hidden in there as well (455 calories/8oz for a margarita). Work to minimize the number of calories you are getting from your drinks. Make sure that you are getting enough water. Your body is made up of 60% of water and staying hydrated during the summer time is extremely important. Carry a water bottle with you or have a container of water with you at your desk throughout the day.

  • Pick fresh foods. The summer time is when most fruits/vegetables are in season. That means that you can purchase fresh produce at a much cheaper price compared with in the winter time. Stock up on these nutritiously dense fruits and vegetables throughout the summer. These produce items are also low in calories and high in vitamins/minerals which helps keep your body functioning well. You can get these fresh items from your local grocery store or Farmer’s Market. You can even grow them in your backyard. That is a great way to incorporate exercise, saving money and learning where your food comes from! If you purchase or grow extra of these produce items you can freeze or can them for the winter.

  • Get plenty of rest. With the longer days during the summer time we often want to do more things and end up getting less sleep. Sleeping is the one time your body gets to relax, rebuild and recharge for the next day. Don’t short yourself the amount of time you sleep. Try to get to bed at a decent time and aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night. When it comes to weight loss, getting adequate rest will help your body lose weight.

  • Avoid late night snacks. If you are getting adequate sleep and going to bed earlier you are often able to avoid late night snacking. This is such a stumbling block for people and often people end up eating empty calories. If you want to decrease your calorie intake to lose weight, you have to stop eating by 8pm at night. That cut off will help empower you to avoid eating unhealthy things late at night. Often people have cravings for unhealthy food items and over eat during this late night time. If you work hard to go to bed earlier, that will often help to eliminate this temptation.

Losing weight this summer is something that you can totally do! There are so many ways that you can make a healthy lifestyle change. Aim for making small changes and stick with those changes to help ensure that you are successful. 

Always Say "Yes!"

Over the last 7 years of being a dietitian and then really for as long as I can remember, I have worked to be say "yes" to all the opportunities that come my way. I have my parents to thank for this life lesson. They were always encouraging me to try new things and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. 

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Not long ago, I was talking with a dietetic intern about interviewing for a job. We were discussing potential interview questions and then also about different types of jobs. I was passing along some words of wisdom and the take away from the conversation was "say yes to every opportunity that comes your way." As I reflect on that statement, I think that is SO true. 

Over the years I have had some amazing opportunities. I have been a clinical dietitian for the last 7 years, meaning that I work in a hospital, but I have worked hard to do other community-based nutrition projects as well. I have felt that need to serve as a nutrition expert for my community as well as the babies that I see on a daily basis. In both of my jobs, I have worked with the media and done TV/Radio/Newspaper interviews about various nutrition topics. Obviously, since you are reading this on my blog, you have probably clicked over to my Media Portfolio page and see those videos. I have really enjoyed doing media work and incorporating that into my clinical dietetics job. Every nutrition media spot opportunity that comes my way ... I always say yes. I have had to turn down 1 interview in the last 7 years, because I was not in the office and there was no way I could get there. I was out of town, but otherwise I work so hard to be available and take advantage of those opportunities. 

I have had some other neat opportunities come my way including being involved in writing test questions for a national board exam. The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics has specialty exams for RDs to take and there is a new one that will be available in September of 2018 for PICU and NICU RDs. I applied and was chosen to be on the committee that wrote those test questions. It was such a neat process and honestly such a fun learning experience. I totally applied on a whim and I am so glad that I took that chance and said "yes" to that opportunity. 

I wanted to share these comments with you to help encourage you to work on "always saying yes!" There are so many things in life that can make us nervous, apprehensive or hesitant. Often times the one thing in life that is really holding us back is ourselves. If you have a neat opportunity come your way and you are torn on whether or not to take it ... think about it, but I encourage you to say "yes!" You can figure out how to make it work in your life and I have never said "yes" to an opportunity and then regretted it. It has always been a positive experience and one that helped me become a better person and help others. 

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! 

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!  

 

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. 

It Takes A Village

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you look at your schedule and you aren't quite sure how everything gets done? Or maybe you look at your schedule and you realize that some things definitely didn't get done? That is how my life feels all the time since becoming a mother. I felt like prior to William's arrival (about 10 1/2 months ago) I was fairly on top of things. I could get to meetings/appointments early, I was able to get all my grocery shopping done on one day, I could run errands to like 5 different stores, I was able to exercise every day, the list could keep going. Since becoming a mother, my life has really changed. Being responsible for another human, like completely responsible, takes a lot of time and brain power. As a working, full time Mom, I know that I wouldn't be able to do what I do on a daily basis without my village. I always heard that "it takes a village to raise a child," but I never really understood what that means until I had my own child. I am so thankful for all those people in my life who have helped me to do my job, and help us with William.

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http://tinyurl.com/yco35fxc

Say Thank You! When I think about all of the people that help and support us with our jobs and family I think saying "thank you" more often is important. Taking a moment to pause and thank those people on a regular basis helps to keep those relationships strong. 

It's Not All About Me. With the craziness of life I feel like I am always count up in what is happening to me and my little family. I sometimes don't the best job about stopping and thinking about other people. To stop and ask them how they are doing. Then remembering to not bring up my own stuff, but to focus on them and really listen to how their day is going. Slowly down, asking and listening are important steps that I need to keep practicing. 

Helping Others. I feel that I end up getting help with my people around me and I like to remember to try to help others when I can. At this stage of life I know that I am limited in what I can do, but when I see a chance to help others, that is something that I always need to do. I have tried to make sure that I take the time to help co-workers who have feeding related questions, support charities through financial contributions or giving of my limited time. We packed shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child and that is a fun yearly tradition. 

So for all of you who are reading this ... you have been helpful and supportive to myself and my family. Thank you for taking the time to read and follow my blog. I have loved being able to provide nutrition/wellness advice via RDAnna. Thank you for all your support with William as well. He is such a great kid and I am so lucky to be his mama. 

Personal Goals

It is that time of year for annual self evaluations at my work. That is not my favorite thing to fill out, but it got me thinking about personal goals. I am a strong believer in always having goals for yourself. No matter the area of your life, having a goal and working towards something is important. I like to have personal goals for my job, for my finances at home, for my fitness and for my marriage. If you can't tell, I really like having a list of goals and then accomplishing them. 

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http://tinyurl.com/ydgvaj3j

I wanted to focus on personal job goals. I have had some conversations with students (in college) and colleagues at work about setting out goals for your job each year. What do you want to accomplish through your work and how do you plan on pushing yourself. 

This year I started off the year with some goals and now I am noticing that those goals are shifting/changing. For example, I have been working towards becoming a IBCLC (lactation consultant) and I wanted to try to get my exam scheduled by the end of 2017. Well we are now just about at the end of 2017 and I am still needing to log 45 education hours before I can sit for that test. Life happened throughout this year and that kept pushing back my ability to do self-study materials to log those 45 hours. There have been several new projects/opportunities that have come up and I needed to focus on. 

Goals for 2017 

  • Nominating Chair for the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAND).  
  • Work on self study materials for IBCLC Exam. 
  • Schedule IBCLC Exam. 
  • Re-launch NICU Nutrition Committee.  

When you write down goals for yourself, then you can go back and see how those goals need to change. Being flexible is so important. Life never goes as you think it will, but the beauty for setting goals is having the power to change and adjust them. That is what I have had to do here in the last month. I have had several new opportunities come my way and I have had to change my goals for myself to allow me to work towards those new goals. 

Updated Goals for 2017

  • Continue to serve as the Nominating Chair for IAND. 
  • Scheduled Neonatal Nutrition Committee and put together agenda in our NICU. 
  • Started to work on a nutrition communication book through Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) as a co-author. 
  • Chosen to work on a committee with AND for creating a pediatric critical care board exam. 
  • Re-designing our formula room to use breastmilk scanners in our NICU. 
  • Look at continuing education for IBCLC Exam.

I really believe that creating a list of goals for the year is so important. I always work towards doing my "daily work" and then working on side projects. I enjoy being a NICU RD, but all of the charting get a little old so adding in additional projects makes my daily routine more fun and engaging. Again, I wanted to share my personal work goals with you, but I believe that as a professional you should have your own goals. What do those look like for you? What do you want to accomplish in the next year, professionally? Are there things you have always wanted to do? Author a book? Create questions for a national board exam? Teach a class? Whatever goals you have for yourself, write them down and then work towards accomplishing them! 

http://tinyurl.com/ycop5dkc

http://tinyurl.com/ycop5dkc

Motivational Monday

Some times I feel like I am just treading water in life. Between work and then things at home and trying to fit in time to exercise and prepare lunches for the next day ... my day is over and I am left getting some sleep before starting the cycle all over again. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Motivational Posters to help gear you up for a great week. 

What do you do during your week to help you be successful? I have learned that everything for the next day needs to be packed and ready to go the night before. With the diaper/bottle bag for the baby, lunch boxes for Chas and myself and then my pump bag along with my work bag ... there is SO much stuff to keep track of. Staying organized is so important to making sure that everyone has everything they need for the day. Lots of nights I would rather just go lay on the sofa, but I know that getting things ready for the next day will make the morning routine go so much smoother. Being a working Mom makes your life crazy, but it is worth the hassle. That is what I keep telling myself ... especially on Mondays. 

 

Gearing up to Move

Just wanted to update you all that my family and I are moving. We are staying in Indiana, but we will be moving into Indianapolis from the suburbs. It is exciting, but will be a slight headache over the next 2 weeks. Just wanted to let you know in case I ended up missing one of my Monday blog posts. 

With all this extra stress in life it definitely makes eating healthy and exercising tough. When life gets crazy it is so easy to use that as excuse to throw health out the window. It is way easier to stress eat and then grab fast, unhealthy foods compared with trying to reach for a healthier alternative. Honestly with moving, it is tough, because you are packing up your kitchen equipment and that means preparing food at home is challenging. Whether you are gearing up for a move and another stressful life change, work on handling that stress in a positive way.

Ways to stay healthy while stressed: 

  1. Plan and stay organized. I think this is such a challenge in the midst of moving or a stressful time in life. These are the times when you feel like you don't have time for lists, but it turns out to be the time when you need them the most. Coming up with a goal for your time and list of things that you need to accomplish. I know I have put together a list of places to contact to let them know of our change of address. I have been working my way through that list the past couple of weeks and I have been adding to it when I think of another place I need to contact. I  am going to make a list of what is left to pack/organize in each room this week as well. For example, I am going to get all the pictures off the walls by the end of Tuesday. Then I am going to make sure that everything is pulled out from under the bed and packed by the end of the week. Set small goals for yourself and then stick with your list you have made. Being organized and having a plan will go a long way in decreasing your stress levels. 
  2. What you eat matters. I am not sure if you have noticed this, but stress eating is a thing and then when you have over-indulged, you feel terrible. At least, I do. I literally feel like crap. Stress eating isn't going to help solve any of your problems. In fact, it might lead to more stress. So set yourself up for success, try to have healthy options around you and avoid the urge to purchase something you don't need. If you have to indulge. Try to have that food item in moderation. Really enjoy your small cup of ice cream and remind yourself when that craving comes up again that you already had that treat and you will have to wait. I have been using dried fruit as a trick for my sweet tooth. I have been trying to eat less sweet things and so I portion out a small baggie of dried fruit each day to take to work and that is my "sweet snack." 
  3. Make time to rest/sleep. Your body needs to rest and needs to unwind. Taking time to sleep is so important in your overall health and well being. I know that with the stress of moving, when 10pm rolls around, stop what I am doing and get ready for bed. All of the boxes and stuff will be there in the morning and I can deal with it another day. This holds true with anything. Work on your task as hard as you can for a set period of time and then take a break, walk away and get some rest. This will help ensure that you are ready for the next day and you can continue to work hard tomorrow.

Hopefully these tips will help you as you head into whatever challenge you are facing. I will definitely be sharing some pictures and moving progress on Instagram so make sure to check that out. It can be exciting to face a new challenge and at same time difficult. Embrace the change and remember to stay organized, make smart food choices and take some to rest. 

Working Moms

I have a new round respect for working mothers. I didn't realize how crazy life is being a working mom. It is a totally different experience than what I ever imagined. I have learned so much about myself and realized what I am/am not couple of over these last 5 months of being a mother. 

Things I have learned, as a working mother ... 

  1. You can survived on little sleep. In fact, you can do better than survive you can go into work, do your job for 8hrs, come home, do tasks around the house and you can accomplish all of this while waking up 4 times during the night. 
  2. You can multi-task and do at least 12 things at once. It is amazing how my multi-tasking skills have improved over the last 5 months. I can think of at least 3 things I need to do while completely another task and then start in on working on those 3 things I was just thinking of. 
  3. Must plan ahead. So the next day to do smoothly, everything has to be ready and put together the night before. That is only way this entire operation functions smoothly. So each night there is whole routine that must get accomplished - the lunches get packed, bottles get labeled, diapers get rinsed, and the bags get all packed for the next day. 
  4. If it outside of the normal routine ... it won't happen. The things that I have forgot/messed up have been changes to my routine. If there is something that I have to do outside my normal rhythm of things, then chances are that I am going to goof it up and something is going to get over looked. 
  5. My personal time has decreased quite a bit. That means that my time end up being at the when I drive to work, when I have time to take a shower and when I finally lay down in bed for the night. The entire rest of my day is filled with taking care of things at work and coming home and taking care of my family. 
  6. I do laundry ALL the time. I have a love/hate relationship with my washer/dryer. I love putting all the dirty clothes and diapers into the washer and and getting them out of the dirty clothes hamper. It is such a great feeling, but then when the laundry is done in the dryer I have to fold it and put it away and that is part that I don't enjoy. 
  7. My exercise time has to happen during the day or in the evening with William. My time to exercise isn't have flexible has it use to be. This means in the evenings that if I work it, it is normally with William and we go running. If I want to go to the gym or do yoga I have to take time during my lunch break to fit that in. 
  8. Cooking dinner can be tough. Have the time/energy to prepare dinner is challenging. Learning how to balance grocery shopping and then food prep with a baby is tough. I think that I have a nice rhythm down .... finally. I go to the grocery on the weekend and get items for the upcoming week. Then I make sure that whatever I am cooking can be done in about 30 minutes. That is the only way we end up with a warm, nutritious dinner is if I have something already in the refrigerator I can prepare and it takes no longer than 30 minutes. 
  9. I love my job. I really do love what I do every day. I enjoy the challenging and using my brain in a different way than I use it the rest of the time. Some times I wish that I could be hanging out with William or puppy, but I also work to really value my time away from work. In the evenings, I try to be present and spend as much time with William before bed time. I really value that time with him. 
  10. Some times I need to step away. It is so easy to get caught up in the all the things with work, extra activities and then hectic-ness of running a house. Sometimes I have to disengage with all the extra things and just relax. This weekend I had that chance. I took a nap with William on Saturday and on Sunday ... gasp! I know! I can't remember the last time I actually took a nap. It had been too long and let me tell you it was glorious. 

Life is crazy and being a working mom is even harder, but I love it. I am so thankful for my amazing job, great co-workers, and my wonderful family. I am glad to have a flexible job and the chance to do what I enjoy. I am still working hard to keep all of this in balance and some days go better than others. To all my working mothers out there ... keep it up. If you work outside or inside the home ... it all counts and it is all a challenge. 

Breaking the Sugar Habit

I have a confession. I have been obsessed with sugar and I have been eating WAY too much of it since becoming a mom. Yes, I am blaming my over consumption on my child, because I use to have more time to sleep better, eat better and exercise more prior to my child entering our family. Since his arrival, I sleep WAY less than I would like, I have WAY less free time do anything and then I have been eating more sugar, because I am starving and it sounds good. 

It has gotten so bad that my husband even noticed. He made a comment to me about eating most of a cake that I made and a blueberry buckle coffee cake. So it is time to break this cycle of too much sugar. My husband, Chas, is going to do this with me and we are working to eliminate unnecessary sugar sources in our diets. We are cutting out soda (don't need it and really should be drinking more water instead, even though it was diet), no more candy or other sweet treats (except for special occasions) and less sugary breakfast cereals. I am going to try to get up earlier again, go to bed earlier and then make breakfast in the morning (toast with an egg). I tend to eat better throughout the rest of the day if I have some protein in the morning. Breakfast cereal just doesn't stick with me that long. 

It is tough to break a habit. Eating too much sugar is a habit that I have fallen into over the last 4 months and it is something that I need to work to change. I really would like to lose the last 5lbs of baby weight and get my abs back. I need to focus on building back up my abdominal strength so that those muscles can help support my back and in my activities of daily living. Being able to make some small changes and break some of these bad habits will be helpful in living that "health lifestyle." 

I wanted to share this with you to help hold me accountable. I believe that sharing the good things in life and the struggles are important. We all struggle with things and have bad habits that we want to change. What is holding you back? What is keeping you in those bad habits? Once you have taken a moment to pin that down, then you can start creating a plan to make some healthier changes. Well so far I have made it all morning without needless sugar snacking ... I will keep you posted on how things are going!

Motivational Monday

I wanted to write a blog post about motivation and try to encourage you to get up, get moving and meet your goals. What do you want to accomplish this week? How are you going to meet those goals you have set for yourself? 

  1. Put together a list of the things you need to get done this week. Each week I make out a list of the things I need to get done at work and in my personal life. These things are items that I need to get done and it serves as a reminder to me of what my priorities are. It is so easy to get off track and lose focus. My husband had to remind me to this last week and encourage me to stay on task and get my work done quickly and well so when I come home I am not stressing about work.
  2. Re-evaluate that list on Wednesday. Taking some time to look at how you are doing on your task list part way through the week can be helpful. You might find that you ahead of schedule or behind. Then after your re-evaluate your progress you can decide if you need to buckle down or maybe you do something fun and take a break for a moment to reward yourself.
  3. Once you have accomplished the tasks on your list, celebrate! At the end of week, take a look at how well you did with your task list. Is everything done? Did you meet your goals for the week? If so, then great! Do something special for yourself. Last week after charting on ALL of my patients by Friday, I took the time to leave work a little early and I stopped by Target on my way home. It is a nice treat to do something fun as a reward for all the long hours I had put in earlier in the week. If you haven't met all the goals on your list then take a moment and see what needs to get done right away and maybe some of those things can get push to next week. 

Experience with Interviewing

I have spent the last week doing interviews for a formula room technician position at our hospital. As one of these RDs at our hospital, we help to oversee that formula room area and help with the hiring process. This has been a great opportunity to get some management experience. I also think that using formula technicians/diet technicians is a must for that job and helps bring the skill level in that area up to par. I believe that the chance to interview for a job is a great opportunity to practice how you introduce yourself, communicate with people you don't know and to answer questions in a polished way. I think that even if you are interviewing for a position is a great opportunity to get practice with first impressions. Being good in an interview takes practice! 

I thought that I would share some tips that I think might help people when it comes to interviewing well. Obviously, these opinions are all my own and would apply to my area of practice, dietetics in a hospital setting. 

  1. Arrive on time. Make sure that you know exactly where you are going and give yourself plenty of time. It is better to sit in the car or lobby for a few moments before the interview, rather than rushing and arrive late. Plus it shows the people you are interviewing with, that you will be a reliable employee. 
  2. Dress professionally. Also dress to impress! Make sure that you are wearing business professional clothes, closed toed shoes and tights/hose with a dress. There is nothing worse than being too casual. It is always better to be over dressed and make an impression that you are serious about this job than under dress, which can come off negatively. 
  3. Shake hands and smile. When you enter and leave the interview space, thank the people that are interviewing you and shake their hands. Make this a firm, confident hand shake. Also remember not to be seated until the person that has brought you into the room sits or gestures for you to sit down.
  4. Ask questions. Stay engaged with the interview. Think of questions to ask ahead of time and this shows a level of interest/engagement with the interviewer. This also allows the interview team to get to know you. It is hard to some one to make a decision about you if you don't speak up and least carry on a conversation. 
  5. Be proud of who you are and what you want to accomplish. Take yourself seriously and be proud of what you have accomplished. This is different than bragging or boasting. Play up your skills and really sell yourself, because this interview team will make a decision based on ~30 minutes of time with you. 
  6. Send a thank you note. Follow up with whomever you interview and send a thank you note. It is amazing how many people don't take the time to do this! An email would work, but ideally a hand written note goes a long way! Out of 5 interviews we did last week we got 1 thank you via email. That one person that took the time to say thank you will be remembered.

Good luck with your next interview and take the time to enjoy it. This is a great learning opportunity and hopefully things will work out and you will land that job.