Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer Bucket List

I have 2 months off in between my post-bacc dietetics program and the beginning of my dietetic internship at UCSF and I am trying to make the most of my so-called free time. I'm still working two jobs, but my life is far-less packed and crazy than it was a few months ago. And while I have a bit of studying to do (like, starting now) to prepare for my first week of my internship, I have been focusing on enjoying my Summer as much as possible. Specifically, I have been trying to take care of myself; the past two years were very stressful, and while the next year will be stressful too, I felt as though my body probably needed a little love, and now was the time to show it.

In the spirit of making the most of my Summer time off, here is what is on my Summer bucket list!

1. Prioritize my own nutrition + health + a little self-experimentation/learning: In progress
Two weeks ago, I visited with my favorite RD and mentor, Lisa. I made an appointment with her and it was so lovely to drive to Sebastopol and spend the afternoon with her. We talked a lot about my stress and the impact the past two years have likely had on my adrenal health. We formulated a realistic plan, involving food, lifestyle changes, and supplements to help me feel more restored. I am also trying to sleep and take days to really relax, knowing I will be very busy the next year. Slowing down is incredibly hard for me, but I know it is what my body needs. In regards to my long-term health, last week, I sent in my saliva sample to 23andme. I think nutrigenomics is fascinating and am very interested to receive my report back from 23and me - in probably a month and a half. Lisa and I will work together to review the information received, and I hope to be able to implement some nutrition tweaks from there. I think 23andme is a great option for people, but I do recommend going through the results with a healthcare professional, based on what you're interested in learning more about.

2. Plant a fire-escape garden: In progress
As soon as Brent and I got back from our vacation at the beginning of June, I headed out to a nursery in the inner richmond neighborhood to get some planting supplies. I haven't gardened since I was maybe ten years young or so, and was itching to try to grow some of my own food. The young man at Clement Nursery was extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and I now have two beautiful planters illegally placed on my fire escape. I love watering them - it's the little things! And, it's been nearly a month - my little kale plants have been turning yellow - does anyone know what is up with this? I plucked them off, cleaned the plant up, added some organic fertilizer, and am hoping that will help. Help me! I don't have a green thumb...

3. Train for and run the San Francisco Half Marathon: In progress
My best friend Kelsey and I, as well as Brent and some of his work team, are running the San Francisco half marathon at the end of July. It's been years since I have run a half marathon and although I feel in decent shape, I definitely need to work on my endurance. Kelsey has been my running buddy so we've been trying to do at least one long run together every week. I just ran ten miles last weekend, and plan to do at least another 10 miler and 12 miler before the race. Can't wait for that post-race endorphin high!

4. Catch up with friends + family: In progress
This was probably one of the most important things I have wanted to do this Summer. During the school year, I was always stressed about upcoming projects or exams. My volunteer and work schedule did not afford me a lot of free time, therefore, my social life definitely suffered. Luckily, my friends have all been so supportive, but I miss them! While I truly enjoy being alone, maybe a little too much, I am trying to get out of hermit-mode and see my wonderful friends during this free time.

5. Try some new recipes: Not yet started - help me please!
I am definitely in a dinner food rut. I make the same few recipes all the time. I know once my internship starts, I am going to want quick, easy meals that don't require a lot of prep - or I am going to have to start Sunday food prep. With that being said, anyone have any favorite go-to 30 minute meals? Please let me know!

6. Get rid of stuff: Done!
Our apartment is oh so tiny, so I have been trying clean out various areas of it to ease the clutter. I recently cleaned out my closet, sold some clothes for $80, and donated three huge bags of clothes to Goodwill. And now...I have no clothes (because I didn't shop for two years), so yeah. But, at least my closet is filled with only clothes which bring me joy. 

7. Pay it forward, a lot: In progress
Paying it forward has become my motto in life, after the past few years. Every day, I think of ways to be extra kind or thoughtful, and I think about how so many people have been so gracious to me over the past few years. So, I am focusing on paying it forward. I am trying to cover shifts for people who need help at the restaurant I work at, because lord knows so many people covered my shifts when I was studying for an exam! I am also trying to reach out to fellow students the year behind me, and give them information about the dietetic internship application process (one phrase describes it: not hard, but tedious). 

So, what is on your Summer bucket list?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Next Episode: What's Next After Finishing My 2 Year Dietetics Program

It's been about a month since I finished my two-year post-bacc dietetics program. It is hard for me to believe that two years ago, I was secretly plotting my career change and escape from my pharmaceutical advertising job, getting ready to become a full-time student working towards obtaining her license to be a Registered Dietitian. I knew this transition would be difficult, but holy moly, it has been a busy two years. During this post-bacc program, I quickly discovered, I was so much more than a full-time student. 

I was also a full-time girlfriend ---> turned fiancé. He put a ring on it last September and I'm keeping it and him forever. Thanks B!

I was a part-time server. 

I was a part-time volunteer at three different organizations in San Francisco. 

I was a full-time daughter, friend, sister, new godmother (the best), and struggling constantly to find balance in maintaining some sort of social life.

Everyone keeps saying, "I can't believe you're done." I can. I was pretty burned out at the end of these two years. Even though it was tough, I also can confidently say, I never looked back after taking the leap. 

When you finish your dietetics coursework, the next step toward becoming a Registered Dietitian is to land an accredited internship which can last anywhere from six months to a year. These internships are all over the country, at different institutions, and are highly competitive. In fact, only 50% of people who apply to dietetic internships get matched (it's a lovely match system, similar to medical residency). For example, 120 people may apply to one internship, which lets 6 people in. Ouch. Even worse, a majority are not free, rather, you pay for the internship. You pay to work for free (while of course, gaining invaluable experience). 

The internship application process, seemingly daunting, is more tedious than anything. It is essentially a big detailed job application, with letters of recommendation, a resume, tailored personal statements, and more. After numerous talks with my number one guy, I decided to apply to four internships, all of which were local to the bay area. I ranked them 1-4, putting my top choice, aka my reach school as number 1. 

In all honesty, I almost did not apply to my first choice internship. I didn't think I would get in because it is an especially competitive program. And though I had a 4.0 (I wasn't the only one), a well-written personal statement, and an interesting yet questionable background (Prior to school, I was a walking contradiction, marketing pharmaceutical drugs while studying holistic nutrition), I completely bombed (not intentionally) the GRE test required for this one internship. In fact, after receiving my scores this past February, I thought about not applying. I also was very candid in my personal statement about my desire to practice integrative, holistic nutrition, and I worried this would be off-putting to some programs; it was too important for me to not discuss my passion for holistic health to not write about it. I ended up applying; Brent told me to go for it, as did my advisors and mentors. 

On Sunday April 4th, it was D-day, known as match day. At 4pm PST, I logged onto the match website which was flooded with traffic of thousands of other dietetic students, to learn my fate for the next year or so.

Would I match or would I not match? If I matched, where did I match to? At this point, I was pretty confident I would match to my number two program, which accepted a lot of interns, was lower in cost, and would keep me in the city of San Francisco.I was coming off of being sick the previous week, and barely had a voice left from coughing. When I saw the results, well, shocked is a light term for how I felt. I was in disbelief as I saw I had been matched to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), my number one ranked choice; they accept ten interns and I was lucky to be one of them. Brent's reaction was my favorite. 

And in that moment, everything finally felt worth it. The two years of my life spent constantly revolving around exams and projects, studying, with my signature 'study bun' so fondly nicknamed, in place; two years of saying no to fun things to study 90% of the time, living frugally in this amazing but expensive city...it all clicked.

I am finally getting over the shock of my fate and have been feeling extremely grateful ever since. Quite honestly, though I am terrified to start my internship August 1st for fear of failure, I am trying my best to approach it with an open mind, desire to work hard, and succeed. I want to soak up every bit of this learning experience at this wonderful institution I am so lucky to have earned.

I think anyone who has gone through graduate school can identify with the notion that you truly do have to sacrifice a lot in order to persevere. And listen, I know my life is pretty damn good, but going from a steady career and paycheck to becoming a full-time student at 28 is definitely a transition. But if you're committed to the end goal, you make it work. The financial component of graduate school is no joke, and often left me feeling guilty for missing things, as well as embarrassed. It was and is all temporary though. And an important lesson, I learned, is to ask for help when you need it. A lesson I am still working on, is not feeling guilty for missing out; there have been a few friends, along with my big sister and Mom, who have been especially encouraging and understanding when it comes to this lesson, and I thank them every time they remind me I continue to be on the right path.

My fellow, favorite RDs to be outside of our classroom home for the 2015-2016 school year

And of course, I am so lucky to have had Brent by my side cheering me on and even throwing me a (total) surprise graduation party. I don't think either of us anticipated how much my schooling would change our lives, and he stuck by me the whole time and was so patient, supportive, loving, and generous. Can't wait to write my book, make millions, and move to Hawaii with you, B. 

As of August 1st, I will be a full-time dietetic intern at UCSF. There will be a steep learning curve, which I plan to embrace. And while, I know I will also be a full-time fiancé, daughter, sister, and friend, I also know I will be one step closer to becoming an RD.

For more posts about my journey to become an RD:
Journey to Become an RD: My First Week of School
Journey to Become an RD: The Second Semester
Journey to Become an RD: 7 Things I Learned in the First Year of My Dietetics Program

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Day In The Life: On a Tuesday...

Sometimes I am totally nosy! I love peeking into other people's lives to see what is going on day to day, so I figured I would document my own day in the life post...on a Tuesday. 

5:23am: Alarm goes off - I wake up. Think, "why did I sign up for 6am Barry's Bootcamp?" I roll out of bed, put workout clothes on, and head to the kitchen to make coffee. Priorities, people. By a quarter til I am in my car on my way to bootcamp. 

Coffee gives me life

6am - 7am: Barry's Bootcamp Butt and Legs class. I only go to 6am classes maybe once or twice a month, but I really wanted to get a workout in today because it is a busy day.  Those who know me well have heard me say this, but, Barrys Bootcamp has been a lifesaver throughout the past year. It is my absolute favorite workout, but more importantly, re-investing in my own health and wellness by regular workouts has helped me deal with the stress of my dietetics program. Butt and Legs day means lots of squats, lunges, and fast treadmill runs. After class, I shower in their swanky locker room, and get dressed in my not-as-swanky volunteer outfit.

7:35 am: Grab my smoothie, hop in my car, and head to the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Hospital. In my PB + J smoothie, peanut butter, unsweetened almond milk, berries, and vanilla rice protein powder. Yum. 

8 am: Arrive at the VA Hospital. Since January 2014, I have volunteered here weekly and right now, I come every Tuesday from 8 am to 11:30 am. It is great clinical dietetics experience, and has been an incredibly humbling to work with the veteran population. My responsibilities differ, but today I interviewed newly admitted patients to determine food preferences. 

11:45 am: I drive home from the Hospital. Normally, I would head straight to class, however, I have a midterm to take and my teacher decided to administer it online, which was completely unexpected. It is for a Human Resources Management class which I have to take for my program; nothing too exciting, unfortunately. 

12:15 to 2pm: I make myself a big lunch of leftover kale salad with raisins, pecans, and a lemon garlic vinaigrette, plus some rotisserie chicken. I. am. starving. And I failed to pack morning snacks, so get this salad needs to get in my belly! I take my online midterm, which honestly feels pretty rushed. I hate timed tests. 

2 pm: Begin laundry downstairs because per the embarrassing picture below (somewhere underneath that pile is a hamper), when two people living together are both active, laundry piles up real fast. Then, I walk to go pick up the dry cleaning. Correction, Brent's dry cleaning. He has upcoming travel and is running low on work shirts. I am a good fiancé. 

I can't even.

3 pm: I have a phone call with my financial advisor, which sounds fancier than it is. This only happens once to twice a year. I recently took on a second job as an independent contractor (because I am nuts) and wanted to discuss how to properly set aside money for taxes. 

Trail Mix (just for the chocolate pretty much) + La Croix - ride or die

3:30 pm - 5 pm: I use this time to multi-task and continue to do laundry while also working on homework for my Community Nutrition Class. My group partners and I are going to be teaching a nutrition education class to a group of seniors in April, so I work on a portion of our research paper for the project. As our audience will be low-income, our class will either focus on healthy, dentition-friendly breakfasts or food access.

5 pm - 7:15pm: I walk over to MD Weight Management, a clinic where I have been volunteering at since 2014. I help Karen, the RD on staff who counsels patients one on one about weight loss, weight maintenance, gastrointestinal disorders, and also leads weekly weight-loss support groups. Occasionally, like tonight, I observe her in action. Karen has been so supportive of my journey, and I love observing her with patients because she is great at integrating scientific research into her talks. Tonight, Karen talked with her group about a study that reiterated the importance of sleep on metabolic health. To summarize, not getting enough sleep means our body produces more endocannabinoids. This process peaks at 2pm in the afternoon and happens throughout the day. More endocannabinoids means more hunger. Think, cannibis and appetite stimulation. Moral of the story, try to stay well-rested (7 to 8 hours sleep) for optimal metabolic health.  

The view from the office where I volunteer. Not too shabby, SF March.

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Once I get home, I begin making dinner. I have been wanting to try out Juli Bauer's tortilla recipe (highly recommend all her recipes) from her cookbook I got for Christmas, so I give it a whirl. They turned out great, but I put too much garlic powder in (I didn't think this was possible). I make a quick stir-fry, top it with nutritional yeast, and serve it with my warm, crispy tortillas. It hits the spot and I set out to do some more schoolwork. 

 Mixing tortillas on the stove because our kitchen is that small

Chicken apple sausage, cauliflower rice, and broccoli stir-fry with 3 mini-tortillas

9:30pm - 10 pm: Brent is home, yay! I need his help for a nutrition lab homework assignment, so I perform a dietary recall with him which means I record everything he ate that day. Maybe not as fun for him as it is for me. Lucky for him, he went to Kokkari for dinner... 

10 pm - 11pm: As Brent falls asleep on the couch, I finally put my computer away and turn my brain off with some mindless TV. I am pretty exhausted, and around 11pm, I climb into bed. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cooking with Sun Basket + Fabulous Giveaway!

Sun Basket offered me a free box in exchange for a blog post review of their services. All opinions expressed here are my own.

So perhaps you made some goals or resolutions back in January. And maybe those involved food. Whether or not they involved food, I hope your 2016 has thus far been filled with lots of delicious meals. 

Back in December, I was asked to try out Sun Basket. It was perfect timing actually. As final exams approached, I had been spending way too much money at Whole Foods hot bar because I was too stressed to meal plan and cook. Enter Sun Basket! Sun Basket is a healthy meal kit service which delivers organic ingredients and easy recipes for cooking at home. Each week, Sun Basket's Chef develops a number of quick and nutritious recipes to choose from which can accommodate any dietary preferences, including Paleo, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free diets. The organic ingredients are sourced from West Coast farms, along with sustainable meat and seafood. They've thought about the details - the packaging is 100% recyclable.

I selected three gluten-free recipes to make: Rosemary Pork Loin with Roasted Winter Veggies, Senegalese Chicken in Peanut Sauce with Broken Rice, and Curried Shrimp and Japanese Sweet Potato Stir Fry (to die for).

I was so excited when my box of ingredients arrived, because the only boxes I have been receiving lately are boxes of textbooks!

Each recipe is clearly outlined and explained on a corresponding recipe card, which includes nutritional information, something this RD-to be certainly appreciates. The ingredients are all measured out for you already and all you have to do is further prepare them by following the recipe. When I made our first recipe, the Senegalese Chicken, I thought - there is no way this is going to be enough food for Brent and myself. However, we had at least two servings of leftovers...it was plenty.

Chopping for the Senegalese Chicken dish

Overall, I really enjoyed my Sun Basket experience. It helped me 'cook outside the box' and I am grateful for it getting me out of the Whole Foods hot bar funk I had been in. 

Rosemary Pork Loin with Roasted Winter Veggies

I think Sun Basket is a good option for people who want to try some different types of recipes, are trying to implement meal-planning and home-cooked meals into their life, and for people who enjoy cooking. I appreciated the high-quality ingredients and that each meal had plenty of vegetables; a few of my friends have tried other meal prep services and expressed disappointment over the lack of vegetables in each meal. Not only were Sun Basket's meals healthy, but they were tasty too.

I am so excited to share with you the following:
  • Sun Basket is giving SheEatsWell readers a $30 off code, click on the link to get $30 off your Sun Basket order: Try Sun Basket ----> then you'll redeem your offer, select your meals, and all that fun stuff.
  • You can also enter to win a free delivery of Sun Basket meals: 3 meals for 2 people, worth $68.94. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below! 
I'll announce the winner of the giveaway on Monday February 22, 2016.

Happy week to you all! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Current Favorites

What a glorious January it has been, thus far!

I've been on Winter break for nearly five weeks, one of the perks of the Semester system of RD school. Ask me if I like the semester system thirteen weeks in, and I'll tell you how I really feel. 

Though this month has been busy working on dietetic internship applications, working, and volunteering, it has also been a month of more free time, more workouts, more early morning sips of black coffee in our quiet apartment, and more time spent with family and friends. 

So, to keep the positivity going, here are some things I have been loving, most especially throughout the past few weeks. Sharing is caring, so I hope you discover something new, and please do tell me what you have been loving lately!

Oh She Glows: The Best Shredded Kale Salad
This is so predictable. A future dietitian recommending a kale salad. However, give me a chance to explain. I actually had to stop making this kale salad for a few days because I went through 4 bags of organic kale from Trader Joes in a week. I slightly alter her recipe as I prefer toasted pecan pieces and organic raisins. This dreamy, crunchy, lemon-y, sweet kale salad is a dream. It is midwestern-fiance approved, though I hope for his sake I get sick of it soon. It's not looking like that will happen though. The key is taking the time to chop your kale! Have I convinced you yet? #allthefiber #getyourgreens

Kale Salad with some soup, the dinner I made for my family one evening 

Making a Murderer via Netflix
We started watching this show New Years Day. By episode 2, I was completely addicted and spent the next week watching an episode or two each night, doing my best to prolong the show as much as possible. It's fascinating. And though, yes, you must take it with a grain of salt, knowing all evidence cannot be incorporated into the documentary, it's nonetheless thought-provoking and relevant, given the spotlight over the past year on law enforcement and corruption (hint: it's everywhere).

Shepards Pie: 
As part of the Whole30 I have been doing, I've tried a few new recipes, including a Shepards Pie, which didn't sound appetizing to make at first. However, one Friday evening, I resisted Whole Foods hot bar and followed the Whole 30 book's recipe for Shepards Pie. Since then, I have made this with both bison and turkey, and both are delicious. A savory base of quality meat, celery, carrots, onions, and thyme, along with a naturally sweetened sweet potato and coconut mixture on top is bound to make anyone's tastebuds happy. It's filling and healthy, and the perfect Winter comfort-food dish. I recommend the Whole 30 Cookbook for the recipe, but you can also try this recipe or this one.

Ancestral RDs podcast: All About Vitamin K2 with Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue
Whenever I drive down south to San Luis Obispo to visit family, I love to catch up on all my favorite podcasts. The Ancestral RDs, Kelsey and Laura, are by far my favorite podcast to listen to as a young health professional. I find them inspiring, real, and incredibly educational. One of their most recent podcasts featured Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a doctor of Naturopathic medicine, and an expert on Vitamin K2. She wrote the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Anyone taking a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D, calcium, or anyone simply interested, I encourage you to listen to the podcast. It's fascinating to learn about Vitamin K2's (an often misunderstood, forgotten Vitamin) role in calcium regulation. Let's just say, her book has been ordered. Thank you, Amazon Prime! 

So those are a few of my favorite bits right now. Next week, it is back to school for this RD to be. Though I am not looking forward to having class every day, I am certainly looking forward to finishing my program, and hopefully getting into a dietetic internship; fingers crossed. No matter what, I am staying positive, focusing on taking care of myself and my loved ones, and thinking 2016 will be a good year, indeed.