Putting yourself out there

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It wasn’t until Monday morning that I realized I didn’t write a post last week letting y’all know about life and dropping some knowledge. I want to apologize for that, and let y’all know that I MISSED YOU!

My brain and body are still getting used to working again. I love my job (I get free coffee!), and I love what I do, it’s just the process of getting used to a new schedule. I push when I can, but there are days where I fall asleep on the couch (eerily like how my mom is dozing on hers when she gets home…) and other things fall to the wayside.

As time goes on, though, the energy is getting there.

I like being honest with you guys about mental health too since my interest is in being transparent and helping people help themselves. One of the ways to do that, as I learned reading Doctor’s Townstead and Cloud’s book How People Grow, is by helping them realize they’re not alone. That failure is normal.

While I’m all for positivity, sometimes (especially with ADHD) it feels like the spaces are filled to burst with positivity. That ADHD is a gift, a blessing, or whatever helps the person feel better in the moment. That’s all well and good sometimes, but I think that does a disservice to fellow ADHDers.

People see our positivity, that “Yaaay ADHD is fun!” and they think that we aren’t hindered by this disorder. It’s okay to be positive, but we also need to be honest.

Sometimes, ADHD sucks. I hate having mood swings, spacing out all the time, or having bad “brain days” where it feels like I just cannot get my brain to catch up with my body. And for a long time, I was worried about writing about these negatives until I realized that people without ADHD get these days too- so why should I be quiet about mine?

Probably because we push the positive of ADHD and stigmatize the idea that ADHD might be detrimental to people. We need resources, not just endless positivity. We can keep up, we just need a hand. And there’s no shame in that.

I feel this way with anxiety too. It wasn’t until recently that I started reaching out when my anxiety got bad. It’s really helped just to express what I was feeling, especially now that I started dating. Which has been an interesting exercise in seeing how my anxiety changes in different situations. I’m sure there’s natural anxiety that comes with dating and adding that on top of regular social anxiety can just make it a large, delicious, nervous wreck smoothie.

But damn, am I glad I started putting myself out there. Let me tell you why:

Because I can feel myself grow as a person.

I was so scared of dating before I started. For some reason, I was an immovable object when it came to putting myself out there. Yeah, I can do theatre, but that’s different than auditioning people to be a part of your life like that. Especially when you, too, are being “auditioned”.

But after the first “first date”, you slowly start to get used to it, and the anxiety gives way to excitement and confidence. Something I knew I needed but never worked on. Just like blogging, doing something new has helped me work on skills I didn’t realize need working on.

So go out and do a thing that scares you, you never know where it may lead, and know that your coping mechanisms will be waiting for you when you get home.

Validating emotions, the Fitbit Versa, and some Gary Vee

Validating emotions,

We had a bit of an upset this past week at our home when my younger sister was told she would not be competing in state this year for her sport, Tae Kwon Do, after she had thought she would be able to go. My sister and I are often on similar wavelengths when it comes to emotions and how we express them, so when she got home after hearing the news we were all on comfort mode.

And, of course, a little bit of familial anger- something I suspect you’re not a stranger to. You know, when someone in your family is wronged and you can’t help but feel a little angry?

My sister took it in stride though and did what we had been raised to do- bitched about it for a while, then set a plan in motion to fix it. And she did it without blaming her coach or team, she took responsibility and went with it. She just needed some time. 

I feel like we discredit the importance of “venting” and “bitching” nowadays because of the over abundance of memes about wanting “positive vibes only”.

In trying to create a positive culture out of the ones filled with jokes about suicide, as well as a world where death feels like it’s lurking everywhere, we forget that people sometimes just want to talk about sad things and get them out into the void and move on to fix the problem.

I’ve been neglecting this question lately, but it’s always good to gauge where someone’s venting is going. “Do you want advice or to vent?” is a nice way to understand where the person you’re talking to is taking the discussion.

This somehow ties into being a nutrition care professional, and I’m learning about that as I go.

Other cool things about this week:

Fitbit is my ride-or-die watch company since like 3 years ago. I currently have the Charge HR with athletic tape holding the strap together (hey, it works), but I’ve also been looking to upgrade since I got this replacement Charge HR.

I tweeted about this today, but Fitbit has a great policy for returns/replacements and that’s kind of what’s been keeping me there for so long. And the fact they found my tweet without me “@-ing” their company means they’re somehow watching me.

Fitbit just announced a new smartwatch, the Versa, that will include menstrual cycle tracking and phone-free music. I’ll be interested to see if I can just use spotify, but considering my sport involves throwing weights over my head, not having to worry about my phone will be nice. As far as the cycle tracking, I currently use Clue, but anything to dial down my phone apps would be nice.

Here’s the article about the Versa.

Next Friday I’m doing a comparison post on Fitbit’s calorie tracker and MyFitnessPal’s!

I’m almost done reading all of Gary Vee’s works. Libby Rothschild made me aware of him a couple weeks back and I flew through “#AskGaryVee” and “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!”. Currently reading “The Thank You Economy” and love it. I think it’s useful not just in an entrepreneur setting but everywhere- learning to listen carefully, build relationships, and put work into it.

Match day is coming fast. Two weeks from Sunday…fingers crossed for all my “RD2Bs” out there, and keep some fingers crossed for ya girl as well.

This is a much more laid back blog post so let me know what you think of these kinds of posts. The fun part about Center Stage Nutrition is that nothing is set in stone, and I’m here for you, so I want to hear what things you like and don’t like.

You can keep up with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. Bye!

Patience, jobs, and internships…oh my!

Today I want to talk about something I’ve been dealing with “behind the screen” for the past few months.

Patience, jobs, and internships- oh my!

While my first job is going fine, I discovered after graduation that there was a low enrollment number in the diabetes course I was supposed to teach. No one was at fault, and sometimes these things happen, but the hours I had weren’t enough to cover graduate school costs, a car, and groceries while living at home. So I set out in search of a second job to help supplement the one I have now.

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My fellow busybodies know that not having places to go can start to drive someone up the wall. I did my best to keep working in any way I could: I kept this blog up, which proved to be a benefit because there’s a lot of regular traffic here now- hi, daily visitor! I started learning everything I could about social media and how to market yourself to other people.

In the beginning it was difficult to know what I would be up against while I job searched in the “real world” vs my undergrad. I assumed that I would be frustrated, but in the end I would be fine- after all, I knew I’d have a job eventually, so why stress? I love working on this blog, writing, podcasting, creating stuff for you guys, so I thought that would help pass time.

(By the way, shameless plug, but have you listened to my podcast? They’re super short snippets of info that supplement the blog)

But it’s not that easy. After getting used to living on my own, buying my own groceries, and having an established routine at school, living at home was already an adjustment  and not having a regular paying job on top of that was stressful.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know what to expect emotionally.

For the first few weeks I felt normal, fine, and a little bit relieved to have some time to relax.

For the next few I started feeling anxious and antsy, a bit “cabin-fever-y”. Living in the Midwest in the middle of frigid January (oh, how I miss my undergrad’s tunnels…) didn’t help.

By the time we got to February I was constantly depressed, like there was a cloud following me everywhere. I was reminded constantly that I didn’t have places I needed to go, and I felt lonely. I love my dogs, but I missed my friends at school.

I had to realize it was okay that I was looking for a job. I’m one of the lucky ones where my parents were just as upset about my hours as I was, in a “man, that sucks that that happened to you” way rather than a “what do you mean you’re not working!” way. They were patient while I sorted through the feelings and applied everywhere I could.

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I also had to realize that the depression I was feeling was okay too. Accepting that I was sad because I wasn’t working was one of the hardest parts of these past few months.

After weeks of nothing I finally broke down to my mom, crying and wondering if I would ever achieve anything, and while in the moment all these feelings felt real and painful, I knew they would pass.  Still, for the week following, I wondered if I would get anywhere.

Remember way back, when this blog was a baby, when I talked about resiliency? (Am I at the blogging stage yet where I cringe at my old posts? Or is there a time frame I’m still in? Is there a blog honeymoon stage? …Did I take my meds today?)

I had to remember those lessons too.

Sometimes we slip back and regress in the face of stress and disappointment. It can feel like you take 10 steps forward, 9 back, and you start to doubt if you were ever strong in the first place.

You just have to keep going. It sounds easy when you say it out loud or think it when things are going well, but over the past couple years, I’ve learned that waking up and filling out more applications, or waking up and job searching, is all you can do.

If you just wake up and feel depressed, that’s okay too.

Just keep going. One day at a time.

I just got a job as a diet clerk at a hospital, so I’m really excited to start getting more clinical experience before I hear back on my internship. I’ve turned in all the pre-hire paperwork and now, luckily, the waiting game is hearing my start date.

One day at a time.

Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. Talk to you soon!

Em

Getting Salty

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Judging from the WordPress stats, you guys really like it when I write posts like Advice from a New Graduate and Observing Grief more than the more educational posts that I write.

It’s like you guys want me to be human…or something.

I decided after seeing the stats and reading some of my favorite blogs that I was doing you guys a disservice just writing dry informational posts (though I like to believe my writing has improved since I started this blog, thus making the topics dry but the writing witty- at least, my mom says so). I’ll be trying to update my blogs with more posts like Grief, Graduate, and this one so you get a sense of the ‘(wo)man behind the curtain’ so to speak.

My very first post-graduate “big girl presentation” is coming up a week from today and I’ve been hammering away at it since the first week of January. I knew that my first post-grad job (or lack thereof) would be a huge learning curve, since a lot of what I’m learning is currently on the job and without an RD around.

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Not to say that I can’t email my professors questions- of course I can- but it’s difficult to not have an RD mentor in person to ask questions in real time.

The presentation is on how to reduce sodium in your diet. It hits close to home.

My family has been watching our sodium since a health scare a little over the year ago. I want to be transparent with you guys but realize this isn’t my story to tell- at least not for now. One of the prescriptions was to lower sodium to 2,300mg or less my whole family has been sticking to it.

Since I have that experience, making this presentation has been a daily learning experience of taking what I know, putting it in an educational context, and then paring it down to what other people want to learn.

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It’s not that I’m preparing a huge biochemistry lecture for them, but there’s a lot of information out there about nutrition that it can be hard to sort through it all and just grab the Cliff Notes.

That’s something that often goes out the window when talking about nutrition. There’s always been this underlying assumption that studying nutrition is easy, because it’s just telling people what to eat, right?

Not really. There’s science behind the recommendations and formulas and treatment plans and and and…

It’s using the science we’ve learned and studied to turn them into the recommendations you see everywhere. In an effort to make them more accessible, messages can get lost in translation, but the idea of eating fruits, vegetables, fiber, and keeping up with your protein forms the pyramid that becomes nutrition. It’s the personal aspect that makes nutrition education so important.

Working on how to convey that is something  I’ll never stop learning about.

What’s something you feel like you’ll always be learning? Let me know and join the #centerstageensemble by telling me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Should my teen lose weight?

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No.

Phew! What a post. That’s all from me. See you guys next week for more funny anecdotes, stock photos, and hard-hitting research!

Seriously?

…Alright, there’s more to the story than just a ‘no’.

Diet culture is so invasive that we see messages everywhere about how to slim down, tone up, and look great while ignoring health and what it feels like to be as healthy as possible.

This media trick isn’t missed by your teens. According to this article, ½ of teen girls and ¼ of boys have tried to alter their body shape through dieting. You’ll notice that this article mentions that most of the girls who try to diet are already at a healthy weight.

What if my teen is overweight?

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In adolescence, your teen going through a massive developmental period that rivals when they were infants. It’s important to make sure your teen is getting the nutrients they need for a healthy puberty rather than focusing on their size.

Rather than worrying about their weight, I want to shift the focus to their habits and health instead. This is where my slogan, “putting health back in the spotlight”, comes into play. By encouraging healthy habits in adolescence, your child is more likely to have a healthy puberty and healthy adulthood.

Why shouldn’t they lose weight?

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In Dianne Neumark-Sztainer’s book, “I’m, like, SO fat!” she chronicles two long term studies regarding teens who diet: most of them gain it back, and were more likely to binge in adulthood. Meaning that in the end, these dieters gained weight rather than lost it.

That weight might be used for growth spurts later. If your child was designated female at birth, the weight gain from puberty is also seen as normal. In Sandra Susan Friedman’s book When Girls Feel Fat, Friedman touches on the fact that weight gain is normal. It’s just the pressure of society that stresses children out when their body gains weight to use for puberty.

What can cause a change in appetite in my teen?

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Lots of things! While it could be emotional eating (more on this in a second), it’s more than likely your teen is having a growth spurt.

This awesome blog by Jill Castle, RD explains how to spot a growth spurt. Notice how she mentions a huge uptick in your teens appetite.

My teen isn’t eating well. I don’t want them to develop unhealthy habits. Should I talk to them?

When it comes to your teen’s health, there are lots of ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your child.

Talking to them is a slippery slope, as they’re already at an age where they’re becoming more body conscious (both due to puberty and starting to take note of the sex they’re attracted to/an interest in dating), but there are ways you can talk to your teen about their health in a way that doesn’t make them feel self-conscious about their size.

If your teen is the one to bring up their size and mentions dieting, Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer recommends these tips (these tips and more can be seen in “I’m, like, SO Fat!”)

  • Figure out the reason your teen wants to diet. Go beyond the size and see what’s bothering them
  • Talk to your teen about what a diet means. Do they mean cutting back on fast food? Meat? Helping identify what that means to them helps you make sure they’re still getting a healthy balance of food.
  • Focus on behaviors that encompass a healthy lifestyle rather than dieting, and offer to help them adapt these behaviors into their life

Is there anything, besides talking to them that I can do?

Leading by example and showing your teen that you’re in their corner is an amazing step, one that you’ve already started by reading this post!

Other suggestions, again from Dr. Neumark-Sztainer and Jill Castle are:

  • Model healthy behavior

This means that you don’t diet and don’t talk down about yourself around them. For teens, hearing you say positive things about your body that aren’t weight related will help set their mindset that their body is an awesome powerhouse capable of a lot of things that don’t depend on size.

  • Create a supportive environment

Easier said than done- I know that I always buy bananas, thinking I’ll eat them, and then suddenly I have a bunch of brown bananas with nothing to do with them.

This is a great way to help your teen development independence and take charge of their health. Have them come grocery shopping with you and pick out some of their favorite health foods so they have it on hand for snacks and lunches.

Let them help figure out certain recipes they’d like to try and help them learn how to cook it with you.

Find ways to decrease screen time where possible- don’t make screens negative, but offer to go on a walk with your teen after dinner, or another active activity you both like to avoid too much time sitting down.

Have any questions? Suggestions for fun activities to do with your teen? Let me know and join the #centerstageensemble on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

 

 

Teens & Sleep: What you need to know

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Fighting the battle of Teen vs. Sleep is a tough hill to conquer. There are many kinds of brave tactics to use, and here were the ones my parents used on me:

Dad:

  • Open the door and let light flood into the room under the guise of letting the dogs out
  • Use sing-songy characters to embarrass us awake (surprisingly effective)

Mom:

  • Check on us once, twice, three times before we finally felt bad enough to wake up
  • Cook pancakes. Allow pancake smell to waft through house. Cue teenaged children zombie walking to kitchen.

You surely have a lot of techniques to get your kids out of bed. But what causes such a fuss when it comes time to get up?

The Melatonin Equation

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Melatonin is the hormone released by our brains when the sun starts to go down. I talked about this last week, about how it helps to have screen-dimming apps downloaded on your screens.

In puberty, the brain’s ability to release melatonin is pushed back by a couple of hours. While we’re able to wake up feeling great at 6am because our brain’s levels of melatonin have gone down, teens aren’t so lucky.

They’re still in the throes of high melatonin, making it difficult for them to feel anything but groggy. Coupled with early start times for high school and late nights studying or playing video games, sleep deprivation seems to be a common concern among teenagers.

This also explains why teens take longer to fall asleep. When your baby was a baby, they had enough melatonin to help them fall asleep immediately. Now in adolescence, with melatonin levels lower, they tend to take a while to fall asleep because of this change.

Well, that makes sense. How much sleep does my teen need?

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According to the CDC, the golden numbers are:

  • 9-12 hours for children aged 6-12
  • 8-10 hours for teens 13-18

What happens if my teen doesn’t get enough sleep?

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Clicking this photo leads you to the artist!

If it’s just one or two nights out of a week, or a couple days a month, it won’t harm your teen too much. Nights like that are just part of the equation of being a human.

However, chronic lack of sleep can have negative impacts on adolescent health.

In a study on anxiety and short sleep duration, there’s a link between the development of anxiety and chronic short sleep (characterized as less than six hours a night) . Other studies link psychological distress and sleep deprivation in athletes.

The CDC also talks about how chronic lack of sleep can put them at risk for diseases like diabetes, poor mental health, and injuries. Mental affects also include poor performance in school and shorter attention spans.

How can I make sure my teen gets enough sleep?

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There are a lot of studies talking about screen use and it’s effect on sleep , including how screen regulation can help athletes perform better on athletic tests.

The common denominator here is that reducing screen time, or the brightness of your teen’s screen, already goes a long way in making sure your teen gets to bed at a better time. Let them know about the benefits of sleep, which you can read more about on Fatigue Science’s post.

Have a conversation with your teen about their sleep. Ask them these questions:

  • How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?
  • What’s the hardest part of getting to bed at night?
  • How can we improve your room in a way that helps you fall asleep better?
  • Do you feel like you can’t sleep until you finish all your homework? Do we need to fix your schedule, so you have more time to study?

Go easy on your teens- if they tell you they have too many afterschool activities, they’re telling you the truth. Teaching your teen to advocate for themselves and know what they can and can’t handle helps them in college, where they can set their own schedule and study on their own time.

Other tips I really like from this article include:

  • Educate your teens on the affect light has on sleep
  • Let them decide what they want their bedtime to be- give them the info they need to make the decision, and then let them listen to their body to learn what kind of sleep your teens need
  • Like I said last week, keep them on a constant sleep/wake schedule to help their circadian rhythm smooth out

Any questions? Any tips you’d like to share? #jointheensemble on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and let me know your thoughts!