So…You Want to Be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

Happy National Nutrition Month! MARCH! Can it feel like Spring, already? To commence National Nutrition Month, I’m sharing some things about a profession I’m pretty stoked about: nutrition! Scroll down for more.

H O W

How to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN)? What is an RDN?

An RDN is a food and nutrition expert who has successfully completed:
– a bachelor’s degree
– prerequisite coursework for a DPD or CP
– 1200 hours of supervised practice (dietetic internship)
– a national credentialing exam

There are a number of routes to becoming an RDN, but here’s the route I took/ am currently taking:
bachelor’s degree: check! B.A. in Sociology- note: the bachelor’s does NOT have to be in the field of nutrition, because beginning in 2024, a master’s will be required to sit for the credentialing exam.
– I worked full-time and took the prerequisites simultaneously, because I could not afford to up and quit my job. I took biochemistry, organic chemistry, chemistry 2 with the lab component, and nutrition through the lifespan one.semester.at.a.time. It took 5-ever, but I am told that it will be worth it. Plus, I didn’t accumulate additional debt from paying on a course or two at a time. Bonus: If you work for a hospital, a lot of them will pay for the prerequisites!  Look into their tuition-reimbursement programs and see!
-I enrolled in a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). A DPD is ONLY the coursework component to become a dietitian- not the internship. Think of the DPD as step 2 in the process after completion of prerequisites. I FULLY planned on working and going to school simultaneously like I had been doing, and then I was planning to apply for a dietetic internship (DI) later. Thankfully, I moved to a town with a Coordinated Program (CP) that combines the internship with the classwork.
-I’m currently completing the CP, and when it’s all done, I’ll have all my supervised practice AND some graduate degrees under my belt. Once I graduate, then I am eligible to sit for the CDR credentialing exam. Some states require additional licensure to be a licensed dietitian to practice (LD).

I wanted to be credentialed- that was important to me, because in order to work for the World Health Organization, hospitals, and community programs like WIC, even NASA…they require that RDN credential. Without the credential, the future seemed uncertain and volatile to me. If credentialing isn’t important, I suggest checking out programs in integrative nutrition. However, I don’t know if “nutritionist” will always be an option without pursuing the credential. Many people are advocating for the “nutritionist” title to be protected through the RDN credential, which can only be attained via the steps I listed at the top of this post. What I’m saying is, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians…make sense?

What does an RDN do?
Where are they?

Glad you asked! They work anywhere and everywhere! In gyms, hospitals, schools, corporate wellness, for NFL, the NHL, MLB teams, the Olympics, collegiate sports teams, community programs, in education/academia, for the NIH, the WHO, for THEMSELVES in private practice, in the media, and beyond. RDNs provide individualized, evidence-based nutritional counseling and medical nutrition therapy (MNT). RDNs take a scientific approach to health maintenance and prevention. RDNs can even join practice groups (DPG) and gain field-specific knowledge in areas like pediatrics, diabetes, integrative and functional medicine, culinary arts, and environmental hunger. Dietitians can even become board certified in sports nutrition, pediatrics, clinical nutrition, oncology, diabetes, and more!

^Texas Medical Center in Houston

What excites me about the field of nutrition?

I think there’s room for entrepreneurship and growth in the nutrition field. People are more interested in nutrition and disease prevention than ever, and the job growth for this field is exciting. I like the idea of piece-mealing a career that’s rooted in science, helpful for others in areas like counseling and education, and practical. There’s constantly new research being published to keep up with, and the science nerd in me loves that. I like that the field doesn’t have to be rigidly structured and black and white- there’s room for flexibility in nutrition…and I’m excited to see what that looks like in my own life as a professional.


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Feelin’ Myself on a Monday Morning

I keep reading books written by entrepreneurs, listening to podcasts by the greats like Oprah, and they all talk about taking control of your morning.

I’m not going to lie. There are some days that I don’t have a handle on things. I’ve been fighting through and sitting with depression and anxiety, and I’m not quite out of the hole and done healing just yet. On the bad days I am giving myself permission and grace to just have a bad day, pure and simple, free from guilt, and if that means that I need to sleep through the morning, or spend all day watching “How I Met Your Mother” re-runs, so be it.

But when I’m on my A-game and feelin’ like myself…I love the mornings. The whole world feels like it’s mine in the morning- unbothered by busy traffic, lines at coffee shops, or the sound of my phone going off. I love the gold light tones of the morning sun, the sound of the birds, and I wake up pretty damn chipper most days.

I have realized that it doesn’t take much to make me feel centered, but I understand what the greats are talking about…having control of my morning makes me feel empowered, fierce, beyonce-like, and ready to conquer the day.

What makes me feel centered and 100% myself? Oh- glad you asked.
music in the morning. Good stuff, like Creedence, Frank Sinatra, or lately I’ve been into Bob Seager (old soul here)
coffee– just a cup, maybe 12 oz if I’m feelin’ like I need a divine intervention. Pretty sure my resting heart-rate is something similar to a hummingbird’s, so I don’t over-do it.
movement. I’m a movement in the morning kind of person- but I understand that not everyone is like that. When I say “movement” I don’t mean crossfit- that’s not true to me, and I get stressed when people are yelling at me to move. I mean walking my dog, doing yoga on the back porch, hitting up a quick barre class, or going for a solo run.
stillness. Headspace app- thank you, Jesus.
creating. I need to write in the mornings. I need to journal, or blog, or hand-letter the shit out of something motivational, but I must create to feel 100%. If I have nothing to give, then I need to read something positive and fueling to my brain.
food. colorful and flavorful, sometimes in the form of a smoothie.

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Pictured above is my vision board in my home office/home gym/ bathroom. It’s a multi-purpose room, but I still set some real, attainable intention. I wrote affirmations that force me to look at them daily, and I printed out photos that remind me of who I am/want to be more of, goals, reminders, etc. If I don’t have visual aids to remind me to set intention and live my fullest freakin’ life, then I’m not sure if I’d remember to do it, and this helps me.

I also realized that I hate fake plants, but I’m keeping the guy anyway for now, because I’m not quite at a place in life where I can nurture a real plant hanging on my wall.

How do you set intention? What brings you back to feeling like yourself?


Weekend 5K & Being an Imperfect Intuitive Eater

Hi, Friends!

Coming at ‘cha from the hospital break room at work today. If my photos are unusually ugly and my grammar is especially nightmarish, we are gonna still be friends, okay? Good. Real life:


Hope your weekend was restful and left you feeling rejuvenated! I went to (surprise, surprise) Dallas…again.


Our cousin, Chance, came into town, and we ran a 5K- his first ever race! He’s mostly a weight-lifter, but has recently been adding running to his workouts and is pumped about the mental clarity and energy it has given him (his words, not mine!). No matter the reason, I’m so stoked to have a new running partner!!

This was a FUN race at Fair Park, home of the State Fair of Texas and the Red River Rivalry between The University of Texas (hook ‘Em!) and OU.


I actually lost Chance before we even made it to the starting line (FAIL)…so we didn’t run the race together at all. I did find him on the course though, and I was able to wave from afar!


Just a cool course! Highly recommend both the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas 5K AND Half-Marathon. I’ve done them both, and they’re some of my very favorite courses.

We grabbed some post-run salsa-filled, Tex-Mex breakfast skillets at our new favorite- Victor Hugo’s on the patio and then headed out for more adventure at White Rock Lake.


Sophie is basically a famous little Dallas dog with the sweetest personality. We made frequent stops around the lake for Sophie to greet random admirers.


We had dinner at Saint Rocco’s Italian outside on the patio, and we loved the atmosphere, complete with delicious merlot and spicy shrimp scampi…but the small portion sizes left us feeling bummed. I do recommend for a fun date spot with a view of the city, though!

We ended the night watching Amazon’s “Sneaky Pete” and sharing cheesecakes from Eatzi’s. All around, a perfect weekend!


I’ve been learning more about Intuitive Eating (read the book awhile ago, and I wasn’t at a place in life to be receptive). Basically, I’ve been focusing on eating without stressing about food…because it’s just food at the end of the day, and food is nourishing. Letting go of the diet mentality has been challenging (e.g. not beating myself up over delicious cheesecake, but rather ENJOYING the mess out of it, savoring each bite, because I don’t eat dessert or dairy often, and it just tastes good regardless of any justification).

Part of intuitive eating and letting go of the diet mentality is realizing that diets DO NOT work for long-term weight loss (disclaimer: I have not YET had a class on weight loss in my nutrition education, nor have I personally ever dieted for weight loss, so I do not feel that I can confidently comment on dieting specifically for weight loss goals, but I will say: if dieting gives you structure, and you feel healthy mentally, and you’re feeling nourished and strong- GO FOR IT. But choose a diet that is sustainable and inclusive of fruits, veggies, and all the macronutrients that keep our bodies the capable, strong beings that they are!).

If I’m being honest- I struggle with the negative stigma surrounding diet mentality. Actually-I can’t subscribe to the “diets are bad” mentality, and here’s why: my personal experience(s) with doing the Whole30.

I did the Whole30 to eliminate foods that could cause inflammation, and since I have an inflammatory disease, I was looking only for non-scale victories: more energy, less frequent poop attacks (explicit version included-you’re welcome), and more painless, restful nights. Did I accomplish this in 30 days? Heck yes I did. However-I did NOT weigh myself before, during, or after the program (fun fact: I do not own a scale). After the re-introductory phase, I did not stay on Whole30 for life because that’s NOT how it is intended, and I refused to give binary labels to food such as “legumes are bad” because THEY ARE NOT, and if you walked away from the Whole30 with that mentality, you missed the point.

As an IBD patient who is chronically trying to navigate this chronic, autoimmune disease (ulcerative colitis)- I try to include as much variety in my diet as possible. Including- I drink alcohol on celebratory occasions. Hell, I even have cheesecake (even though there are rough consequences for dairy desserts for me), but I DO NOT feel bad/guilty/sad about any of it, because I really do feel like I have learned how to enjoy food for being food. However, I do not appreciate the damning of diets- simply because diets DO work for some people, and certain populations REALLY need diets (e.g. the Mediterranean diet has documented successes on heart health; ketogenic in treatment of epilepsy; renal diets for kidney failure patients; avoidance/inclusion of certain foods for IBD patients; gluten avoidance for Celiac patients, and the list goes on).

I’m just a girl trying to work her way though nutrition school, healing my gut intuitively, sometimes with a little help from the Whole30, or low FODMAPs, or another science-based elimination DIETS to figure out what THE HELL to feed my stubborn gut to make it heal. There are situations when intuition isn’t enough, and maybe that’s because Crohn’s/ulcerative colitis patients aren’t part of the general population.  We are just a little bit extra. 

Does all this make me an intuitive eater failure? Hey- I’m a work in progress.
I’m educated AF, and I’m here to learn, even if I’m not perfect; This bite of cheesecake sure is.


Peanutbuttah Cinnamon Granola Time

I love being awake early in the mornings on the weekends. I feel like the day is mine; like I’ve discovered a world without lines at the coffee shop, trafficless streets, and running routes free from swarms of people. Mine.

This morning I woke up and it felt fall-ish, so I thought I’d bake some quick granola in the spirit of the changing seasons. For all you runners and fitness freaks, this is an excellent source of complex carbs, fats, and fiber, giving you energy and keeping you fuller longer.  Note that this stuff is pretty caloric, so proceed with caution before you eat it by the handful  faceful.

Peanutbutter-Cinammon Granola

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What you’ll need:
-3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats (here’s the kind I buy in bulk, but use whatever makes you happy!)
-1 cup mixture of unsalted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sliced almonds
-a splash of cinnamon (or a hefty shake. If I’m being honest, I never measure cinnamon, and I know this will drive some people nuts. Live a little, you rule-abiding, recipe-following friends- I promise you won’t regret it in this recipe.)
-3 tsp honey (optional- tastes great without it!)
-4 tbsp vanilla extract
-1 cup peanut buttah- stick it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften
-1/2 cup coconut oil- also needs to be softened justttt a bit
-an oven, preferably one larger than my miniature oven, set to 350.

*The secret to this stuff is to mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately before combining them*
-Spread mixture over a non-stick pan and stick in the oven for 5 minutes
-STIR and fluff with fork at the end of the 5 minutes- this will prevent the stuff from sticking to the pan and burning
-Stick it back in the oven for another 6 minutes
D O N E

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Serve over yogurt, in a smoothie bowl, or in your hands. Enjoy!
Store in an air-tight container. Today I chose door number two pictured above, and I added raw cacao nibs for additional fun and excitement.

Hope you all have a great Saturday :). Mine is full of organic chemistry, a 5k, and a wedding. SO MUCH LIFE, and life is good.


Let Them Eat Carbs!

I read something infuriating today.

It was one of those “Daily Mail” articles from SnapChat- I know, it’s basically tabloids a la social media; not my proudest moment. This article was about how Kim Kardashian has been sweating her way to redemption from those thong bikini pictures. (disclaimer: I don’t even know the difference between the Kardashians, so I had to google “Which one is Kim?”)

The article angered me, nonetheless- “unflattering” bikini photos? Were the photos so bad that Kim needed to dedicate her life after vacation to living the photos down and THEN we needed to publish an article about it? I mean, c’mon, people. We have got to get away from the body-shaming rhetoric. Make. it. stop. Could we not have written about her confidence in her bikini? How she was proud of her body while on vacation? How she was spending time with people she loved? Nope.

But what really got my blood boiling was that the article quoted that she is eating “absolutely no carbs.” And I hear so often from people around me about how they’ve “cut out carbs” and I just need to lay some truth.

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YOU NEED CARBS.
Normal recommendations are about 3-5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (or 45-55% of your diet). If you’re active, make that 8-10 grams/kilogram, or 55-65% of your diet. Runners especially need carbohydrates, because the muscles are fueled primarily through carbohydrates during endurance exercise.

WHY do we need carbs? 
Because carbs give us energy! Glucose is your body’s main source of energy, and it comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates. Your brain and central nervous system need glucose to function, and so does your metabolism! If your body has enough carbohydrates in the body, it will carry out protein and fat metabolism without using the protein that’s being used to build muscle.

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What kind of carbs can our body use? There are three: starch, sugahh, and fiber.

1.Starch-peas, beans, potatoes, or grains (note: whole grains contain all parts of the grain and thus have more nutrients than a refined grain)

2.Sugar– you may have heard of “simple” or “fast acting” carbs. This is because the insulin is quickly released into your blood stream, causing a decrease in your blood sugar and a suppressed release of fatty acids from fat stores. There are two types of sugar carbs: Those in milk or fruit, which are naturally occurring, and those in sweets and sodas, which are added in a process.

3.Fiber– carbs are non-digestible and come from plants, like spinach, kale, lettuce, beans, legumes, nuts, oatmeal, fruits and veggies (especially those with edible skin and seeds). Try to consume 20-30g/day for optimal benefits. Fibrous foods will help with the feeling of fullness, or satiety.

“BUT I WANNA LOSE WEIGHT, STACEY.”
I get it- it’s true that if you have TOO MUCH glucose, it’s going to get stored as fat. So cut the carbs that release insulin into your blood stream too quickly (these are those simple or fast acting sugars). These carbs, like breads, pastas, cakes, and sodas, will slow down the release of stored fat. We want to burn fat when we exercise, so we need it to be released! The goal is to use the fuel that is consumed; not to store it as fat, so you’ll want to eat food that slowly moves glucose into the blood stream and provides longer-lasting energy, like whole foods and fibers (think brown rice, berries, oatmeal, or bananas!).  Fuel well! But don’t cut ALL your carbs, dear people- I beg of you. Your brain and your body will thank you.

[Please note: A cool thing about being human is that everyone is unique; some people may require less carbs and more fat than others, etc. It’s important to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian before any medical adjustments or dietary changes.] 🙂

After a few days of practice over the last couple of weeks, I finally feel like I can *almost* jump rope without tripping over my own two feet. This was yesterday after ten minutes of hopping around. I’ve been trying to make working out less regimented and more fun- highly recommend the jump rope 🙂

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Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey

—–

What do you think of low-carb diets? Have you ever tried one?
Any recommendations for weighted jump ropes that aren’t made for giant humans? Having a hard time finding one! 

 

References: In case you’d like to read some of the articles that I used for this blog post: 🙂
http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/carbohydrates-part-of-a-healthful-diabetes-diet

Fuel Sources During Exercise


http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/types-of-carbohydrates.html

 


Slow-cooker chicken breast recipe (low FODMAP friendly)

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-1.5-2lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast (mine was frozen, and that was fine!)

-2 large Idaho potatoes OR 4 new potatoes, diced with skin on (I used Idaho potatoes because it’s what was in the pantry, but I think new potatoes would be even better)

-2 tbsp of garlic-infused olive oil

-2 large lemons, juiced

-1/2 tbsp rosemary

-1/2 tbsp oregano

-dash of black pepper

Mix olive oil, fresh lemon juice (NOTE: don’t use the lemon juice that comes in the crappy plastic lemon and expect this to taste just as good), rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. Pour about 3/4 over chicken in slow-cooker, and pour the rest over the diced potatoes layered on top of the chicken. Close slow-cooker and set to high for four hours, or low for 6-8 hours.

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If you want to make this and you’re not following low FODMAP, feel free to add minced garlic and some diced onion to this recipe! Very aromatic, and you’ll come home from work feelin’ 50 shades of accomplished!

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This could also be layered with green beans and be delicious. I steamed some broccoli separately, and it made for an easy meal.

I intend to make some chicken salad with the leftover chicken. mmm.

Let me know if you try this recipe! Feel free to tweak it! Confession: I have a *hard* time measuring ingredients. I’m more of a pinch and pour kind of cook, so if you feel like it needs more or less of something, make it your own! It’s YOUR kitchen! Go crazy.

Hope you have a great Wednesday 🙂

-Stacey


Weekend Recap + GF & Low FODMAP PB Granola Recipe

Hi, Friends!

It’s been a minute. Last week was spent juggling phone calls with insurance companies and doctors in between naps. I’ve been flaring hard, running to the bathroom 16 times a day or so and fighting to stay hydrated, so I was begging for the insurance companies to comply and get me infused. One phone call, the representative asked if I had tried a “generic” brand of medication, one that was “less expensive and less of a hassle than an infusion.” I’m not sure who gave insurance company reps a license to practice medicine, but GAH THEY SUCK. Rant over.

Finally, on Friday.

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Four years on this medication, and it’s losing its efficacy, but I’ll go for an appointment next week to brainstorm more solutions. But I am still SO thankful that symptoms have slowed down a bit since. PRAISE!

My parents came for the day on Saturday, and we took them to Torchy’s Tacos. If you live in Texas, Colorado, or Oklahoma and you’ve never been to Torchy’s, you should re-prioritize your life to include Torchy’s. My dad was pretty stoked about it. Then, they kindly took a “family photo” of us with our little house before they left.

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After my parents left, we drove to the lake and watched the sun set. Perfect ending to a day.

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Jaxon was thrilled to do some exploring. The little deaf dog is doing better at obeying sign language.

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On Sunday, I made homemade granola while we watched a healthy dose of Netflix.

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The very best part about this recipe is that it’s Low FODMAP AND gluten free (AND delicious). Recipe at the end of this post :).

Sunday was capped off with a four mile walk/run. Isn’t campus beautiful? I went to UT Austin, so this is a very genuine compliment coming from a rival school, where football is blood and life (even though we have been strugglin’). Really though. Such a pretty place for a run.

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The first two miles were rough. Getting back into it felt like my lungs forgot how to give me enough oxygenated blood, and I literally saw stars from being dizzy once I made it to the top of some hills. I fully believe that the first couple miles are the worst part of running. I decided to walk/jog the two miles home. My body is still working to heal from this flare. It felt so good to be out on the pavement again, though. My happy place.

As promised…

PB granola recipe:

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If eaten in a quantity equal to or less than 1/4 C, it’s low FODMAP.
-2 tbsp coconut
-2 C gluten free old fashioned oats
-2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
-1 tbsp chia seeds

-1 tbsp pure maple syrup
-2 tbsp melted coconut oil
-1/2 C softened PB

mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then mix them together. Put them in the oven on aluminum foil for 30 minutes on 350, tossing occasionally. Ta-dahh! Granola. My personal favorite way of getting carbs in the early morning

Hope you are having a great Monday, or at least find comfort in the thought of tomorrow being Tuesday 🙂

Keep moving forward

-Stacey

 

 


This is The Remix to Remission

Hi, friends! Hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

I’ve been seeing a lot of encouraging posts from my friends on Instagram along the lines of, “Keep persevering! The good stuff is right around the corner.” And “I hated the first hard four miles of my run today, but I kept enduring, and by mile five I felt rejuvenated.” These have been especially uplifting to me, because sometimes I feel like I’m aimlessly floundering, but I think I really needed to hear, “Keep it up.” It’s so easy to feel uninspired or beaten down by our own critical thoughts, but these “atta girls” really helped put a pep in my step. I’m not even sure what “pep in my step” means, but they made me feel good. Okay. Moving on.

Recently…

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…we made friends with the neighbors. Meet Kitty (aka “Minnie the Moocher”). We think she was abandoned. I took her to the vet to ensure she wasn’t microchipped (she wasn’t), and I called every shelter in town to see if an orange pretty kitty had been reported missing (she hadn’t), and then I harassed all my friends and family to see if they’d keep her (they wouldn’t), so I got really sad, and Zack and I took her to a [NO-KILL] shelter today.

She is incredibly friendly and always wants us to bring her inside (we never caved). She follows us from room to room by sitting on our outdoor window sills. But tonight we have a blast of below freezing temps headed our way, so we hope we are giving her the promise of a better life by taking her to a shelter. I’m sad that we aren’t allowed to have animals with our lease (other than Jaxon, who only won his way into the lease by me labeling him as a “deaf, furry goldfish”).

I’m so thankful to have met Kitty, though. We didn’t think we were cat people. Now we have labeled ourselves as “Animal People”. I hope she finds a loving home!

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Jaxon is ready for the cold front.

In other news I started a low FODMAPs elimination diet recommended by my GI doc.

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Shoutout to grill master Zack who grilled these sweet potato fries and venison “burgers”. They were good.

About two years after my diagnosis I began researching and learning about which foods trigger my symptoms and add to inflammation, and incorporating more fibrous foods, fruits rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants (e.g. blueberries), and healthy fats (e.g. avocado and salmon) in my diet. Somewhere along my journey I lost focus a bit, and I’ve been eating “whatever” lately because I don’t understand my changing triggers and symptoms, and to be honest, I just got tired.

But I have an inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s). I can’t keep eating foods (e.g. sugar, salt) that trigger inflammation –> symptoms. About 80% of the immune system is IN your gut (large and small intestines), so try to eat well, even it you are completely healthy! So here I am, fueling well again.

My ultimate goals for this year: Remission and increase in energy levels.

Even if I don’t reach remission, I don’t want it to be my fault. I don’t want it to be my own lack of discipline and giving into my own cravings that prevents me from remission. I’m going to fight for it again. Today, that looks like low FODMAPs. In six weeks, I hope to know which grains and sugars are specific triggers.

I should also add that I DO NOT believe in dieting to lose weight. Hopping on a trend, and then catapulting off into unhealthy eating habits doesn’t make sense to me. Learning is critical to incorporate healthy, lifelong habits, indulging when it’s okay (without beating yourself up), and then making conscious efforts to maintain a balanced diet most of the time. I think dieting messes with one’s psyche and cultivates an unhealthy relationship with food, which can even lead to metabolism problems later in life if you’re calorie restricting without supervision from a dietitian or doctor. Okay, jumping off my soapbox now.

I think the lesson for me that is to be learned today is that it’s okay that I got frustrated (and at times even let Crohn’s get the best of me), because I’m persevering. I’m sticking to my list of foods from the doc, and I’m not compromising (no matter how loud Nestle Tollhouse chocolate lovers cookie dough calls my name that time of the month). I’m learning through this challenge, and I know I’ll come out stronger…and hopefully smarter.

Keep moving forward. 🙂

-Stacey

Are you a dog or a cat person? An animal person? Any low FODMAPs advice?


How to Start Running in 4 Easy Steps

Have you ever thought, “I’d really like to run, but there’s no way I can run __ miles.” OR “I used to run all the time! But I haven’t in forever.”?

Fear not, I’m here for ya. Solidarity.

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When I started running my longest distance was a 5k obstacle race that I basically walked with my kind, patient runner roommate back in college, and that was a good four years before I decided to lace up with effort. In high school, I was a baton twirler who avoided running like the plague, so you get my drift. Not. A. Runner. SO from a non-runner turned runner, the BEST advice I can give to someone who wants to start running for fun, for distance, for whatever your motivation is:

1. Start running, and run outside. Find a little neighborhood that you wish was yours if you’re like me and you live in the scary as shit inner city. Find a park, run around the street, go to an old high school track and run bleachers. Wherever makes you a happy, go there and put one foot in front of the other, but DO NOT run on a treadmill if you hate treadmills. Get outside, friend.

2. Set attainable goals, especially with running. Don’t lace up and expect to be the next Usain Bolt, and don’t lace up on your very first run thinking, “Five miles, baby. No stopping.”
NO, SILLY!
Setting distance goals are AMBITIOUS AND WONDERFUL, but start small and work from there. Don’t hurt yourself-that will NOT help you learn to love running! If you’re running and you find yourself struggling to keep moving, set an even smaller, realistic goal like “I’m going to make it to the sign by that tree, and then I’ll walk for one minute.” Next time you run that route, I’ll bet you make it past the sign by the tree.

3. Probably most importantly, FIND GOOD RUNNING SHOES (and socks when you go longer). When I started running, I knew nothing. TMI, but my toenails soon turned black and were threatening to fall off, because apparently my hot pink Asics were too small. Oops. Evidently it’s not good to run in the same size shoe you normally wear for fashion. Go to a running specialty shop and ask to be fitted; you won’t regret it. (Favorites in Texas: Luke’s Locker)

4. Be kind to yourself, and be patient for results. Some runs are going to suck, and others you’ll feel the full effects of the “runner’s high”. Sometimes you’ll probably hate running, but I promise if you stick with it, you will learn to appreciate what your body can do with just a little bit of time and consistency.

P.S. If you can find a community or friends to run with, it is SO.MUCH.EASIER. to not give up. If not, invite your friends to support you at the finish line after your training has paid off 🙂

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^ View from my run on Sunday’s “fall” Houston weather. No Garmin, no gadgets, and no headphones for this one. Just me, my two feet, and a beautiful afternoon = bliss.

Keep moving forward!

-Stacey