EAT REAL LIVE WELL
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Why did you become a RD?
When I was 13 years old my mom had symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and doctors prescribed her medications and recommended a hysterectomy. An elimination diet identified trigger foods and by improving her diet she got her health back on track. Seeing that, I wanted other people to understand the power of food! I began to notice how diet impacted my athletic performance as a swimmer and have been driven to maximize athlete’s potential ever since.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
Higher education, sports nutrition, and wellness.
How would you explain what you do?
I am a professor and teach primarily students in the nursing and exercise science programs. I co-created the latter with a colleague and still advise many students for nutrition and exercise science too.
My private practice is focused on sports nutrition and over the last year I began working in corporate wellness. In sports nutrition, I present to teams and athletic groups on a variety of topics from pre-and-post workout fueling, to hydration and nutrition for travel. When working one-on-one, I evaluate their schedules (training/school/work) and diet so we can individually optimize their energy and recovery. I present in corporate settings in person or via webinar on a wide variety of topics, some not quite as nutrition focused, such as ergonomics. I also oversee nutrition programs at a nationally known athletic club, and am working on their café offerings.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
No week is ever the same! This fall at the college I am teaching on Tuesday and Thursday. I also run a 13 week wellness program at the athletic club for two hours one evening each week and spend a few hours there a couple of other days. Speaking engagements, one-on-one coaching, menu development, recipe testing and blogging fill in the rest of my schedule. I am also the social media coordinator for the SCAN DPG (Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group) so, I approve and schedule posts that volunteers send me and interact on their twitter account. I have a couple of hours dedicated to my tasks for the Nutrition Entrepreneurs DPG (Dietetic Practice Group) nominating committee too.
What has been your career path?
After my dietetic internship, where I was able to create the sports nutrition internship rotation at the University at Buffalo, I stayed to complete my Master’s Degree. As a teaching assistant I realized how much I loved speaking and educating. I had always assumed I would work for a college athletic department or sports team but, realized I could reach many more people by teaching, speaking, and being in the community versus in a closed system. I then turned down a handful of clinical jobs after I completed my degree hoping the right opportunity would arise. I had to then choose between a job as a supermarket RD or as a professor. I clearly chose the latter. Two years later, I decided it was time to get back to my sports nutrition roots and share my passion to fuel the body with real food. I started my blog eatreallivewell.com, began networking with local teams, and my business has continued to expand since.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have a Master’s Degree in Exercise Nutrition and also am a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
The public would stop falling for diet and supplement scams and realize how valuable a dietitian is in weight loss and health. Physicians would always refer to RD’s for prevention and treatment. Our food system would be more sustainable, making healthy food more available to our clients. Finally, RD’s would be less competitive with one another!
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
RDs don’t eat lettuce all day long and we aren’t judging everything on your plate! I may have become an RD to spread knowledge of health and improve other’s performance and well-being but, I love food. That includes oats, Brussel sprouts, broccoli raab and apples but also pizza, pasta, chocolate, and frosting every once in a while! RDs want everyone to be flexible in their eating without feeling guilty about it.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
RDs are invested in not just your physical health but also your mental and emotional health. We aren’t here to prescribe you a diet or meal plan but help you to build an understanding of and better relationship with food so that you can confidently choose what to eat. This often means discussing a lot of details of your life that you don’t think relate to your diet but actually do.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
People not understanding the value of our services. The Nutrition Entrepreneurs DPG has really helped me to stand firm on my worth and not settle for poor pay because someone doesn’t understand what I went through to obtain the knowledge I have. It is intimidating in the beginning but, we need to be confident in our background to convey the value of our services and walk away when someone isn’t willing to pay what we are worth. While I do provide a set number of pro-bono talks each year, they are for non-profits, community-based programs, and media only.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
Optimally fueling people’s body and mind! I love when someone changes their diet and quickly understands how much it plays a role in not only their physical energy levels but also in their productivity, mood, and relationships.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
Our educational backgrounds and passion for what we do.
What is your favourite meal?
I am so indecisive and love so many foods so this is a terribly hard question. I would say oatmeal with banana, blueberries, chocolate chips and hemp seeds. Or a broccoli and garlic omelet with Ezekiel avocado toast. Really, I could eat breakfast for every meal.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
There is no perfect time to do what you want in your life or your career so, just take the plunge now.
Being a yes person is okay to get your career started but, I was a yes person a little too long. Saying no to certain projects is what can build your confidence, decrease your stress, and give you time to do what you want to do in your career. Be a yes person when it comes to the things that will take you down the career path you want.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – reach out to other RDs (including me!). I still have to remind myself that it is okay to ask other RD’s or entrepreneurs for help and I am always so happy when I do!
More about Kelly:
Blog: Eat Real Live Well
Facebook: Kelly Jones Performance Nutrition
Linked In: Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD