Saturday, April 28, 2012


Sunday, April 22, 2012

28th Annual Scan Symposium: Motivation for Education

This weekend I had an awesome opportunity to volunteer at the 28th annual SCAN Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland.  In exchange for volunteering as a student member of SCAN I was granted full admission to the symposium which I definitely took advantage of! I was lucky enough to attend the event with my bosses Rebecca Bitzer and kait Fortunato.

For those of you that do not know, SCAN stands for sports, cardiovascular, and wellness nutrition and is the largest dietetic practice group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Attending the symposium for me was like a 13 year old getting to go back stage at a Justin Bieber concert. I  had the amazing opportunity to walk around and interact with some of my greatest role models in sports nutrition including Nancy Clark, Nanna L. Meyer, and many more. As a nutrition student with a strong passion for sports and wellness the event gave me the to opportunity to network, learn about the history of SCAN, dine at an awards luncheon, and attend stimulating presentations on the hottest topics in sports, wellness, and cardiovascular nutrition.  I even learned a thing or two about social media and technology from the well-known media & self-care focused dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield.

Two of my favorite presentations I still haven’t stopped talking about include:

The Inactivity Physiology Revolution: The Story Behind the New Physical Activity Recommendations by Marc Hamilton, PhD

o   Marc Hamilton is a professor at Pennington Biomedical in Baton Rouge, LA where he runs a lab focused on researching the Physiology of Inactivity. I had heard a little about the inactivity revolution since the concept was presented in 2004 but did not pay much attention to the information. Dr. Hamilton's presentation convinced me the topic is worth paying attention to. The evidence of the harmful effects of sitting around on our butts too many hours in the day really hit home. As, a runner I always considered my hour or more of exercise a day a healthy bout of daily activity however, Dr. Hamilton made me realize that sitting around for too long despite my excise may have an unhealthy impact on my life. He presented the hypothesis that inactivity and too little exercise are two very different topics and speculated that part of the obesity epidemic is due to the cellular processes that occur during the 20 or so hours in a day when we are inactive despite how active we are in our  few hours of exercise and movement.

Exercise and Appetite the Double Edged Sword presented by Barry Braun, PhD

o   Barry Braun a professor from the University of Massachusetts gave my favorite presentation of the event discussing the regulatory mechanisms that link energy intake with energy expenditure.  In his presentation he stated there is so much we do not know and may never be able to know about the link between exercise, hormones, and appetite in determining  energy intake.  Dr Braun suggested that we many never be able to devise generalized rules and statements about exercise and appetite to manage weight. However he emphasized that Registered Dietitians and Health Professionals should play a critical role in making specific recommendations based on individual characteristics such as psychology, hormonal changes, and intake history.  I enjoyed this presentation so much because Dr. Braun was honest about how little we can infer on the subject of appetite, he had a great sense of humor in his presentation, and the way his presented the unknown mysteries relating to exercise and its impact on appetite made me really think about how exercise impacts one's eating habits! Additionally, he ended on a positive note including that some exercise is always better than none since being in-activity does not lead to eating fewer calories but does lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. It’s know wonder he received several awards for outstanding undergraduate teaching.

In addition to stimulating so many of my brain cells with dynamic presentations the SCAN Symposium provided me with great meals and snacks from exhibitors such as Chobani, Power bar, Gatorade, Kellogs, California Almonds, Sharkies, and many more! I even won a admission to a Tough Mudder event from the Sharkies table!

Overall, the SCAN Symposium was an amazing opportunity for me, as a student, to learn, network, and be inspired from leaders in the sports and nutrition field. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Life Long Commitment to physical Movement

A Life Long Commitment to Physical Movement

My favorite aspects of working at RBA is the environment. Every time I go into work I am surrounded by strong motivational professionals that devote themselves to helping others. The dietitians at my job continue to teach me through example that in order to truly help others you must first be helping yourself.

Shelley Alspaugh is a devoted registered dietitian who spends the majority of her day helping others improve the quality of their lives through nutrition. One of the most inspiring things about Shelley is that she truly believes in the healthy balanced lifestyle she encourages to her clients.

One morning Shelley came in to work lit up with a new energy and excitement. She confessed she just completed her first session of boot camp...yes boot camp! The fitness guru in me had to find out more. I set up an interview to learn all about Shelley's motivation for boot camp!

Shelley joined Mirror Image Fitness for a four week commitment run by two fitness twins that left the corporate world to pursue their passion in fitness and help others reach their fitness goals. Shelley says the twins are excellent coaches that provide the perfect balance of challenge without adding intimidating pressure to working out...not mention they play great music that makes the non-morning person in Shelley come alive with laughter!

When I asked her what her motivation for joining boot camp was she said her GOAL was to recommit to exercise and not just for the four weeks of boot camp but for life. Not only does Shelley wake up at 5 something in the morning to go to boot camp two days a week but she also has taken up yoga on the weekends and is training for both a 5 k and mini triathlon. She will be competing in the triathlon with her father and a client who have made engaging in physical activity less intimidating, social and more fun.

Shelley is pushing herself to get out of her comfort zone and seek new, fun, and challenging ways to reconnect with physical activity. In my interview with Shelley she said physical activity had been her missing puzzle piece. She had been walking and jogging for years but was having a hard time recommitting. She stressed that the key to regular physical activity is finding something that works for you, that you enjoy and overall gives you a sense of peace and accomplishment.

Shelley's new commitment to fitness is not always simple the number one challenge she is facing now is finding the time for sleep. Waking up at 5:00 am means Shelley needs to be in bed by 9:00pm to get the 8 hours she needs in a night. With a busy work and life schedule, fitting in physical activity can be tough but again it all comes back to her commitment to taking excellent care of herself.

The take home message: If your not having fun with your physical activity or its not fitting into your lifestyle then don't give up, look for something that works for you. Shelley is grateful for each day to accept herself and improve. She stated that she is always learning from her clients, fellow RDs and students.

Thank you Shelley for being an inspiration and embodying the lifestyle of self care you inspire in others.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Power of Music

I wanna be that feelin'
I wanna be that wind blowin' through your hair
When life was like your favorite song
And those summer days went on and on
And it felt like you could do no wrong
I wanna be that feelin'

Last night I was driving home on the high way when a new Bucky Covington song; “I Want to be That Feeling”, came on the radio. I turned up the volume , cracked the windows, and felt my mind drifting back to my freshmen year in college. For just a moment I was back in a more careless, crazy, but fun time in my life. Remembering my first college boyfriend,  southern tailgates in big trucks,  crazy nights, and my old friends brought a smile to my face.  It seems as soon as the song began it was over and I was back to the present time.

When the song ended I began to reflect on the power of music and its ability to allow you to escape to a different time and place. Melody, rhythm, and harmony can lift your mind and spirit and bring happiness in light of many situations.

This wasn’t the first time I reflected on the power of music, this past winter break when I was under a lot of stress filling out internship applications I remember using music as an escape from my worry and responsibilities.  Listening to “ I hope you Dance” by Lee Ann Womack  made me realize the exhausting process I was going through was temporary and “Super Woman” by Alicia Keys provided me with strength and confidence when I felt insecure. I decided that if music could help bring me happiness and motivation it could do the same for others. I took some of my favorite uplifting songs and made an Empowerment CD that could be as a tool for everyone when they just want to escape the mood they are in and find a happier, stronger moment in their mind.

The songs on the CD I made include:

1.     Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
2.     I Hope You Dance Lee Ann Womack
3.     Lovely by Sara Haze
4.     Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks
5.     Beautiful Flower by India Arie
6.     It Stops Today by Colbie Caillat
7.     A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans
8.     Fighter by Christina Aguilera
9.     Get It Together by India Arie
10.  Happy by Leona Lewis
11.  What Means the Most to Me by Collbie Caillat
12.  Why Georgia by John Mayer
13.  Life Ain’t Always Beautiful by Gary Allen
14.  Super Woman by Alicia Keys
15.  Reflection by Christina Aguilera
16.  Lessons Learned by Carrie Underwood
17.  Little Miss by Sugarland
18.  Learn to Live by Darius Rucker
19.  Hero by Mariah Carey

Turning on music seems like such a simple thing to do but sometimes in our darker moments we forget we have so many beautiful tools around us that can help give us strength and remind us the sadness and troubles are temporary pieces of in the  much larger beautiful puzzle of life J  

What are some of your favorite mood lifting songs?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Forks Over Knifes

Forks Over Knives: A Response

I was not sure what to expect with a documentary entitled “Forks over Knives”. Five minutes into watching the documentary in my Issues In Dietetics class it became evident to me that the title refers to the method in which you would eat plant based food compared to animal products (I guess you use a fork for plants and knife for meat?). Anyway, the documentary is an argument for a vegan lifestyle as a means to prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. 

The film begins with a fear tactic, showing the deadly statistics of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases of the western culture, blaming them on the western diet. Specifically targeting diary and meat products. The film compares the chronic diseases in America with nations that eat mainly plant-based diets showing an overwhelming larger amount of deaths from chronic diseases in America.

The documentary suggests that by eliminating all meat and diary products from the diet we can eliminate chronic diseases. The Dr.’s that star in the film believe that animal products activate cancer genes and plant products turn them off.

Plant-based Diet:

The documentary had a lot of evidence supporting the benefits of eating whole foods, plant-based diet and the evidence was hard to ignore. Of course if you only consume plant-based products you will drastically lower your cholesterol, most likely reduce your weight, and overall reduce your risk of chronic diseases. However, the film ignores that fact that those same benefits can be achieved by eating meat and dairy in moderation. The film also compares the western diet to other nations such as Japan in the 1950’s and suggests they eat a plant-based diet so it must be meat and milk making American’s sick. However, I believe that while our over consumption of meat and dairy in America may be a contributing factor to our decline in health other factors such as technology, work, stress, fast foods, and processed foods are all contributing factors to chronic diseases in America.

Overall, I think that adopting a plant-based diet may be a healthy solution for some looking to reduce their risk for chronic dieses but it is not the only solution. I believe the Dr’s used fear of disease to make their argument against meat and milk and down played the evidence from the previous American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics president that suggests lean meats and dairy can provide essential amino acids, minerals, and nutrients to the diet and need not be eliminated to lead a healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, I support the movement towards whole foods and eating a more plant-based diet but I also believe meat and diary can be a part of a healthy diet as well. 

...I guess you can say I'm not completely sold. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Alternative Milk Sources

I am a huge fan of milk, and always have been as a child it was a rule in my house to finish a full glass of milk before leaving the dinner table. I was always the first out to play after dinner because I had no problem drinking my full glass of milk! I am grateful for my love of milk because it is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin A, and a complete source of protein that sets the foundation for strong teeth and bones.

However, lately I find that I rarely have regular skim milk in my fridge at college mainly because I have a passion for trying new nutritious foods and since skim milk is readily available at many locations including, my house at home, in most coffee shops, and most places I go out to eat I like to purchase things like almond milk, and soy milk for my fridge at school. 

Alternative sources of milk are a great solution for people with lactose in tolerance or milk allergies as a means of adding vitamins and minerals to their diet and enjoying some of their favorite foods like cereals and smoothies that are livened up with a creamy source of liquid. However, there are increasingly more alternative sources of milk on the grocery store shelves and they all offer different nutritional benefits so it’s important to know the nutrient differences before replacing or swapping one milk source for another.

Here is a nutrition comparison of some of the alternative milk sources out there.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is made from soybeans, comes in various flavors, and has become a very popular alternative to milk. Soy milk contains nutritional benefits such as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, selenium and manganese. It is an excellent source of dietary protein because it contains a complete profile of essential amino acids. Soy contains isoflavins a compound that is supposed to act like estrogen in the body. According to a study done by the American College of Medicine soy has LDL cholesterol reducing effects. The study compared soy milk to diary milk consumption in a series of  4 week phases with a wash-out phase in-between  and found that when the participants drank soy milk for four weeks three times a day their LDL-cholesterol was modestly reduced compared to the phase in which they drank dairy milk three times a day for or a total of four weeks.

Almond Milk
 Almond milk is a creamy nutty flavored milk source that differs quite a bit on the taste scale from milk but is a great low calorie and low carbohydrate milk option that is great for weight management. Almond  milk ranges from 40-60 calories a cup and contains about 2-8 grams of carbohydrates per serving. However, unlike dairy and soy milk almond milk only contains one gram of protein per serving and it is not a complete source of protein.  Almond milk is also a great source of vitamin and calcium in fact almond milk has the same amount of calcium as diary milk meeting 30% of the daily requirement in one cup. Almond milk also happened to be low in both phosphorous and potassium making it a safer option for those struggling with kidney disease.

Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is extracted from the meat of coconuts, it has a strong creamy flavor (I personally LOVE) but it can be high in saturated fat and calories the full fat version can ring in 51 grams of saturated fat per serving! So it should be consumed in moderation or there are some reduced fat versions available in stores. On the positive side, coconut milk is high in fiber and protein containing 5 grams or each! It provides beneficial micronutrients including a good source defined as over 10% of the daily need for iron, manganese, and vitamin C.

Rice Milk
Rice milk is extracted from rice (shocker there), it is made by pushing rice through a mill stream usually, brown rice, and it tends to be lighter in flavor than some of the other milk alternatives.  It is a healthy alternative to milk but it is missing some of milk’s key ingredients including protein and calcium. Rice milk only contains one gram of protein compared to the 8 grams found in a glass of milk.  Rice milk averages around 120 calories per glass and is higher in carbohydrates than the other milk alternatives with around 23 grams per glass. Rice milk’s high carbohydrate content may make it less ideal for people with diabetes.

The take Home Message: Various milk alternative’s  including almond, coconut, rice, and soy milk provide nutritional benefits and can be incorporated into a healthy diet. However all of them have a different nutritional profile and none of them can fully replace all the benefits of dairy milk.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My New TO GO Protein Breakfast!

I was in the baking mood tonight and wanted to make something high in protein and specifically I wanted to make something I had all the ingredients to in my fridge. I also wanted something that would give more time in the mornings so I can maximize my run time. With these high protein whole grain muffins I can grab them on the go for a healthy start to my day.

 I came up with:

Apple Cinnamon Coconut Protein Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour 
3Tbsp vanilla protein powder
2 egg whites 
3 Tbsp flax seed 
1 Tbsp Cinnamon 
1/2 cup apple sauce 
3 Tbsp Craisins (just sounded good :) )  
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp baking powder 


Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and stir until combined. I added a table spoon water to add just a little more liquid. Sperate into 6 muffin containers and bake for 30 minutes. 

I ate my first on with peanut butter and a greek yogurt! YUM :) 

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 muffins
Amount per Serving: Calories 128, Calories from Fat 19.3
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2.15g 3%
Saturated Fat 1.43g 7%
Cholesterol 14.04mg 4%
Sodium 74.55mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 20.19g6%
Dietary Fiber 2.25g 8%
Sugars 3.28g
Protein 9.61g 19%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat 15%
Carbs 62%
Protein 29%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs.