Stepping Away From the Scale

I’m sure you guys have noticed a pattern with some of my blog posts over the past 6 months. I’m really, really trying to break the weight-obsessive attitude and stigma that can come with “healthy eating” and really focus on more general health and wellness. Disordered eating is something that I feel very passionate about, because I believe it effects more people that we generally realize. There are times when someone who doesn’t necessarily have an eating disorder show habits or signs of disordered eating. The concept of disordered eating is extremely gray. There isn’t one primary way to identify or manage it. It can surface some days and other days be the furthest thing from someones mind.

Image result for disordered eating


The graphic above gives a very broad depiction of where someone may fall within the eating disorder or disordered eating spectrum. Of course there are extremes such as development of an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, but preoccupation with weight or partaking in excessive or extreme exercise can fall into a more broad pattern of disordered eating.

So, my title is “Step Away From the Scale” and there is a reason for that.

I remember in when I was in college, I would go to our main fitness center called the RPAC at least 4-5 times per week in between classes or on the weekends. There were multiple scales throughout the gym which people could use as they please, myself included. Nothing abnormal about scales in a gym right? Its ones own choice whether or not to step on the scale, and athletes such as wrestlers or swimmers where weight may play a more prominent role may also need to use these more frequently.

I, of course, stepped on the scale each time I was there and thought nothing of it. I knew my weight would fluctuate between morning and later on in the day. Depending on what time of the month it was I might even see a greater fluctuation. That didn’t change the fact that any time I saw that number inch up, my stomach would churn a little bit and I would think, “what am I doing wrong?”.

I can especially remember when I was training for a race and seeing a consistent 102-105 lbs, I would think to myself “that sounds about right”. A few month later once training had ceased, that number slowly crept to 106-108. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. On a completely separate occasion, I went to the campus health clinic for something unrelated (I was sick or something) and was routinely weighed prior to going back into the room. The scale said 110 and I about had a heart attack.

This is what one simple number can do.

Did I look any different throughout this entire year? Not really. Is it abnormal for a woman to fluctuate 3-5lbs depending on the time of the month. No. Did that number have a negative impact on my day? 100%

Now…I didn’t change anything about the way I was eating; I didn’t restrict; I got over it in a few days and entered back into real life, but for others that number can cause a lifetime of damage. That number can mentally stick and haunt someone until they choose to enter into a world that is really, really difficult to get out of.

During my time at Ohio State, they ended up banning scales from the fitness center. At that time, I was baffled. Why in the world are they taking away something that goes hand in hand with fitness? I have a right to weigh myself, and they just took away that right? I look back on this now and applaud whoever made that decision. I don’t know if that is still the case, but I am happy that someone at least gave this a thought at that time. I think scales can be a useful, but also extremely dangerous tool.

I encourage you to step away from the scale and truly listen to your body unless there is a medical reason you need to weigh yourself. Learn about your body and pay attention to different areas, how your clothes fit, and you you feel on a daily basis. These things are so much more important than a silly number. I stopped using scales about 3 years ago prior to moving to Arizona, and only use them now on occasion. We use to have one in our bathroom, and now it sits wrapped up in our closet untouched for years.

I hope this post encourages you to recognize if preoccupation with weight has or does play a role in your life. Stepping away from the scale is one way to fight back against those preoccupations and have a more well-rounded and healthy view of your body.

I’m a dietitian, and I love vegetables, donuts, and ice cream.

Ok everyone, that National Nutrition Month post is finally here! Each year during NNM you hear me babble about some topic that I think will resonate with others. While this post might be a little different, I still hope it give incite to some of the myths and misconceptions that come with being a dietitian. I have read a few other bloggers discuss similar topics, or talk about the evolution and change that is occurring with “food talk” or talk of nutrition on social media and other outlets. I think it’s time I give my opinion and let you in on some of my biggest struggles when it comes to being a dietitian.

My NNM topic this year is going to be on, well…. myself in a way. I say myself, because I’m a Registered Dietitian, but I hope that some of my other dietitian friends read this and get a giggle or two out of it. While we all have different ways of working, promoting and using our knowledge to help others, or getting involved in different things outside of daily work, I think its important to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions about being a dietitian.

1. Because I’m a dietitian, all I want to talk about is fruits and vegetables. 

Yes, I love eating healthy. I love talking about food and creating healthy recipes; I love helping others, but food and nutrition does not rule my life. With that said, very rarely am I able to turn off the “dietitian” switch… and that isn’t by choice. We live in a world now where food and nutrition talk is everywhere. Flip through Pinterest, scroll through Facebook, or take a look at a few Snap or Instagram stories. Everyone is talking about what they are doing to get healthy, why they are qualified to talk about it, and what new diet they tried or want to try is. Recipes float through Facebook and Pinterest like water. Tips for weight loss can be found with one easy google search.

I can’t tell you how many times I get asked… “what do you think of this diet?” or “do you think this is healthy?”. While I appreciate the questions and am happy to help, I just wish sometimes I was able to have a conversation that was about something else…. really anything else. Imagine if you were an engineer and the second you got home and pulled up Facebook all you saw were blueprints for homes, articles about new lumber material, or design elements that people were trying on their own. It would be a little exhausting, don’t you think? Think about each time you went to a social gathering or party. What if as soon as you walked in the first conversation started with…”hey would you mind looking at this sketch I did, I’m thinking of designing a new shed for the backyard,” or “what do you think about that Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, I’m sure you saw it right?” With all the chatter about “being healthy” sometimes it doesn’t surprise me that there is an actual eating disorder designated to being obsessed with eating healthy called orthorexia nervosa. While I love to share my journey with eating healthy and love to create and post recipes, I hope that I do it in a way that is positive and uplifting. I hope I show off my credentials as a dietitian in a way that inspires other to not deprive, but to have a good balance of healthy and happy in their life.

Also, shout out to hub — he definitely keeps me grounded and fully supports my need for a good ice cream sundae every once in a while!

2. Because I’m a dietitian, I’m judging everyone on the food they eat.

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love ice cream. My mouth waters when I see a donut inside of a cute little bakery. I almost always pressure my husband into getting dessert after dinner at least 2-3 times per week. I have a huge sweet tooth, and some days there moments when I couldn’t care less how many cups of vegetables I had that day.

It is very rare that I actually pay attention to what other people are eating. If you point out to me that you are eating something “unhealthy,” well then yes, I’m going to notice. Typically, I don’t walk around with my food sensers on looking for chips, fast food, or candy. There are moments when I have felt uncomfortable because others make a situation uncomfortable, not because I care what everyone is eating. I love french fries, but when someone points out “oh boy the dietitian is eating french fries!!” they become a little less appetizing and I can immediately feel my face flush!

3. All dietitians do is talk about weight loss.

Dietitians can talk about weight loss, but they can also talk about so many other things. Nutrition is probably one of the most versatile subjects to study, making our job field have even more variety and opportunity. In one day, I can talk about type 1 diabetes and the relationships between carb-counting and blood sugar control, the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, how to lower blood pressure through a low-sodium diet, a high protein/high fat diet to help a child whom is failure to thrive, and yes, I can talk about weight loss. I have friends who work in bariatric surgery, friends who work in intensive care, friends who don’t work with patients or clients at all and talk about infant formulas all day. Dietitians do not only talk about weight loss, and while we may know a thing or two about it, some don’t like talking about it at all. Here’s a little extra tidbit of information — I actually do enjoy talking about weight loss, so ya’ll are in luck!


Now… I’m sure maybe at this point you are thinking, “someone took a grumpy pill this morning.” NO!!! I promise I didn’t, and I LOVE my job. I am so, so, SO proud to be a Registered Dietitian, and I absolutely love working with people and helping others connect the food choices they make with certain elements of their body or their health. What I don’t love is the way our society has morphed nutrition into a fad. I don’t love how healthy eating is something that you SHOULD talk about if you are doing it. If you had a salad at lunch, you better shout it from the roof tops because you just found the next best way to prevent heart disease by eating a bowl full of vegetables! Nutrition is something that I studied for 5+ years and am still studying, did 1,200 hours of supervised practice on, and took a nationally recognized exam for. Nutrition is so much more than eating salads, and health is so much more than looking fit and showing off your abs for the world to see.

I hope that when people look at me, they see so much more than someone who talks about food. I hope I wear my title well, because the last thing I want to do is contribute to others feeling poorly about themselves. I am constantly trying to combat what society has made “healthy” and what I know to actually be “healthy”. Normalcy in eating and food choices is something that varies from person to person and what works for one may not work for another. Healthy eating is not restrictive; its not obsessive; and its not all that I think about. I the words of Ellyn Satter,

“…normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food, and your feelings. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but it keeps its place as only one important area of your life.”

4 Signs You Actually May Not Be Eating ENOUGH

Trends in dieting and desire to lose weight can cause emotional struggles in even the most confident people. In my last post, I talked about why weight loss can be so grueling, but do you ever actually think about eating too little? Are you counting calories for general weight management or to lose weight? How did you come to your calorie count?

Often times, people shoot too low when they start counting calories. Weight loss aside, your body needs a certain amount of calories per day for basic functioning. There are many different way to figure out that exact number, but often times the most accurate ways are the most costly. I remember getting to try a few fancy machines when I was in college and learning my own BMR (basal metabolic rate). I was discourage to find that it was just over 1,200 calories per day, but with the high levels of physical activity that I try to maintain, this gives me some wiggle room. I also do light activity by moving around at work, walking up and down stairs, going for walks on my lunch break, and just trying to break up sedentary time in general. With activity, my needs increase to around 1600-1800 kcal/day. This number also varies depending on whether or not I am training for something or just doing my weekly workouts.

Side Note: I just used some words that I want to explain a little further. Sometimes I say the word “calorie” and just assume that it’s well know what a calorie is. Calories are the building blocks of food and your metabolism. The amount of calories in a food vary based on the ratio of macro-nutrients found in that food (macro-nutrients: carbs, protein, fat). Every person needs a certain amount of calories per day. This number can vary on a variety of things including sex, level of PA, percentage of lean body mass, height, weight, etc. This brings me to my next word to explain: BMR. BMR or basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories needed for ones body at complete rest. This means if I laid in bed all day and did not move once, my BMR would require me to eat ~1,250 calories per day to live. Many things can effect BMR as well such as age AND extreme dieting. When people cut huge amounts of calories from their diet, their BMR can eventually adjust, causing weight gain to come back in more extreme amounts once the dieting phase is over. Sometimes people do more harm than good when they decide to follow vey low-calorie diets.

So why do I bring this up at all? You’d be surprised how many people actually don’t eat enough calories, which causes some of their health goals to come to a halt. Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain a healthy body weight, train for an upcoming athletic event, or just work on “eating healthier,” it is just as important to not under eat as it is to not over eat.

Here are 4 signs that you may be falling into this low-calorie slump. Of course each person may have a different experience, especially when weight loss is your goal, but these are things that I commonly see or talk with my patient’s about when we discover that they are in fact under-eating.

1. You have hit the plateau. Do you ever hear people talk about doing so well with weight loss and then all the sudden the weight loss stops? Like mentioned earlier, your metabolism is an amazing thing and learns to adjust with changes in your eating habits or general calorie intake. If your body feels deprived, it will start to store energy and save it for when it’s really needed. Weight loss will come at first with calorie depletion, but expect your body to adjust to your new ways and for the loss come to a screeching halt. The bad part about this? Increasing calories may in fact cause your weight loss efforts to reverse and weight gain to re-occur. This is why dieting can be so discouraging for many people and why I always recommend talking with a dietitian or using a fairly accurate app to help estimate the appropriate amount of calories you need per day for safe weight loss.

2. Your workouts are SO hard. Not only are they hard, but the next day you wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck in your sleep. I have fallen guilty to under-eating when training, and I speak from experience when I say you feel like absolute crap. Even if you are eating well, choosing nutrient dense foods, and having balanced meals, your body may be at a time where your needs are heightened due to more physical activity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc. Do your muscles feel sore even on days when you didn’t work out? This is another common sign that you may need to re-adjust your meals and snacks to not only add in more calories, but a little extra protein as well.

3. You experience frequent headaches and exhaustion. So many people that I see complain of fatigue. This is such a vicious cycle because feeling tired causes many people to not exercise or make food choices that they normally wouldn’t make to give them a little boost. Have a snack with a little carb and protein combination (such as an apple with peanut butter, raw nuts with a few raisins, a few pieces orfdeli turkey with crackers) and not only will you give your body a healthy source of fuel, but you will notice those headaches begin to fade and clearer thoughts arrive. Don’t forget to also drink plenty of water!

4. Those stubborn areas will not go away!!! Is there an are of your body that you feel self conscious about? Everyone has that one stubborn area, such as their tummy or arms, where no matter what they’ve done they just cannot tone up! Remember my comment about your body preserving energy? Of course the foods you choose will highly influence areas such as the stomach when it comes to losing fat and building muscle, but your body also needs to have enough energy to actually use it during a work out!

If reading these things makes you think, “hm, I may actually fall into this category,” talk with your doctor about meeting with a Registered Dietitian or look into a free app that helps calculate our your calorie needs. MyFitnessPal is a great app that I used in the past to keep myself on track and is user friendly and free of cost. Keep in mind when putting in activity levels that many people do not fit into the top two categories, Active or Very Active. If you get up from your desk at work often or have a job where you are standing more than sitting, you are most likely in the Lightly Active category. If you have an active job and are also completing the recommended 150 minutes of moderately-intense physically activity per week, then you can probably put yourself in the Active category. As always, never hesitate to contact me as well with questions or concerns! Happy Monday everyone!

Focus on Feeling Fantastic…

Happy November 1st everyone! November is a busy month, and now even more busy that I have additional family! Today is actually my dad’s birthday, tomorrow is my husbands, mine comes around next Friday (the 6th… for those of you wanting to send some warm wishes my way!), and my mom finishes up the start of November with her birthday on the 13th. Actually, I shouldn’t say finish, because we also have other family members with November birthdays as well… talk about a month of celebrating!

I thought I’s start out this month with some positive thinking and putting the whole concept of “healthy eating” into perspective.

I hear it on a weekly basis… “Eating healthy is boring; I want to actually enjoy my food; Vegetables don’t have any flavor; I’m just not a fruit and vegetable person.” The list could actually go on much further, but I don’t want to waste a positive post with negative thoughts. The reason I point out these comments is because people tend to lose sight of why we should eat healthy in the first place. No, I don’t wake up every morning and think “Now how am I going to get in my vegetable servings today?” or  “I wonder how many artificial flavorings or colors are in this cereal….maybe I shouldn’t eat it.” I enjoy a greasy chicken wing or a big old scoop of full-fat ice cream just as much as the next person, but with my focus being “I want to feel the best I can each day,” the chicken wings and the ice cream tend to take a back seat more often than become the driver of my meals.

Focus on feeling fantastic.

Try this. One day, eat the way you know you should, and by that I simply mean: 1. Eat a fruit or a vegetable with each meal, heck… why not have both? 2. Drink mainly water. 3 Cook your own food; use as little processed food as necessary. 4. If it comes from the ground, give it a try! 5. Choose lean protein and maintain variety. See how you feel at the end of the day. My bet would be you feel: energized; awake; light but strong; happy.

The next day, go ahead and eat what you feel “tastes good” or what you desire the most. Whether that be a big old burger, a pizza from your favorite mom and pop shop, a bowl of chips and dip during the big game, or a soda to wash down your meal. Do the same observation at the end of the day. If all goes as it should, you should feel a difference and not a great one.

When we focus on feeling fantastic, the desire to eat foods that don’t contribute to this feeling lesson. Why taint a good mood, a good feeling, or the energy to do what you need to do with your best effort? It just doesn’t seem worth it. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and so much more that is like liquid gold to your body. Pair your plant-based food choices with lean, organic, or minimally processed protein choices and you’ve given your body a map to success.

Focus on feeling fantastic and focus on being your best you! That is healthy living.

Stressful Days, Stressful Eating

Hello! With starting a new job, moving across the country, and moving into a new home, I have realized just how simple and easy it is to do the one thing I always recommend people to try not to do…..stress eat. Whether it’s being overwhelmed in your personal life, starting a new project at work, looking for work, or just running a happy household, we can all think of times in our life where stress has caused us to reach for something we wouldn’t typically reach for, and to do this more often then we’d probably like.

What is my vice? I know it sounds so cliche’ but my vice has and always will be chocolate. Whether in ice cream, in cookies, or just popping in a piece of chocolate after lunch, I am a chocoholic. Recently, I’ve noticed myself reaching for the candy bag more often then not, and in all situations this is the first thing you must do to stop the stress eating… realize and admit that you are doing it. Once that has been done, then you can actually address the problem. It’s ok to have a treat every now and then, but when it starts to become a day to day thing, there may be an underlying reason why.

With the holidays coming up, stress seems to enter our lives more frequently and in greater doses. What is supposed to be the happiest time of the year (and still is, don’t get me wrong) can also be the time of the year that takes the greatest tole on our bodies. Money is spent more often, traveling becomes a regular thing, and the pressure to get everything done that you need to do in 24 hours seems nearly impossible.

So what is the solution?

Here are my top 4 recommendations to stop stress eating. They may not be the same for everyone, and some things may work better for you then others, but like I said in the beginning, acknowledging the problem is always step 1. Step 2 is finding what works best for you to stop it. Happy holidays!

Top 4 Tips to Stop Stress Eating:

1. Get more sleep. 

Seems simple right? You would be surprised just how much clearer your mind is when you get an extra hour or so of sleep at night. You make better decisions, think things through, and feel overall better and more energized throughout the day. If your stressful food choice is sweets (cookies, pastries, candy, chocolate, etc.), sleep deprivation may be your #1 problem. When our body is tired, it looks for anything it can to help give it some burst of energy to keep it going. Your bodies craving for energy, along with simple daily stressors can cause you to reach for that sugary treat. The sugar may make you feel better temporarily, but the sugar high will wear off soon my friend. Getting more sleep in the evening will help you think about that food choice and make a better decision. Try to get at least 1 extra hour of sleep/night if you think this may be your problem.

2. Divert your attention. 

Stress has many ways of showing itself, whether that be through eating, crying, feeling fatigued, or being short tempered, we all know when it’s about to peak through. When we feel stress seeping into our body, instead of grabbing for your go-to comfort food, divert your attention and give yourself at least 15 minutes to see if you are actually having hunger stomach growls or stress growls. How do we divert our attention? If you are at work, get up from your desk and take a walk around the office, go get a drink of water, talk to a co-worker about something non-work related, re-organize your desk, close your eyes and take 10 deeps breaths, bring a magazine or book and read a few pages. Sometimes our brain gets a little to much information to handle and when we start to feel overwhelmed, what is the easiest and most comfortable thing that we can often do? Eat.

3. Spend more time outside.

Have you ever heard the expression fresh air will do you wonders? I am a firm believer that this expression is more than true for most people. If you have a break in your day, whether thats when you are cleaning your home, out grocery shopping, baking for your next holiday party, or on your lunch break at work, head to the nearest door and go for a quick 15-20 minute walk. Don’t grab the spatula and watch the times pass buy as you lick excess cookie batter and wait anxiously for your timer to go off so you can put in your next batch of cookies. Don’t continue to sit at your desk and eat your lunch (always separate work space, from eating space). Don’t sit on a bench and analyze how much money your’ve spent so far on holiday gifts. Put all thoughts aside and walk. Breathe in fresh air, take notice of the beauty that is around you, and your mind will be 10 times clearer for your second half of the afternoon. You will be more likely to grab that salad from the take-out restaurant on your way home then go grab a burger, fries, and soda from the fast-food counter. Why? Because you will be more conscious of your thoughts and more in-tuned with your body. Why give your body crappy food when it isn’t feeling crappy?

4. Explore your interests.

The holidays are a perfect time to try new things. Instead of sitting inside watching the snow fall and sipping on hot chocolate and cookies or that carton of ice cream that’s been tempting you from the freezer, take advantage of all the activities that are available in the holiday season. Go ice-skating, go for a hike, visit one of the hundreds of light displays that pop-up during the Christmas Season, train for a 5k (there are always more charity sponsored events around the holidays!), head to a wine tasting, go to a holiday crafting class, join a church group, try a new sport (even if it’s mini golfing!). There are so many things offered both during and not-during the holiday season, why limit yourself to sitting at home. Go with a group of people and your not only getting to try something new, but you are also spending time with the people you love. You may think “I’m tired” or “I want to rest for tomorrow because there is so much to do” but giving yourself a break from sitting there and thinking about all there is to do (this is also diverting your attention) can actually help you feel less tired and keep your mind clear and refreshed!