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Mental Health vs. Physical Health

Hello! Happy November, sorry for writing so sporadically, my goal sheet is pretty long these days, and unfortunately, this blog has been sitting on the back burner. However, now as I sit with a 15-page paper that needs writing, I decide it’s the perfect time to pop in and tell you what’s on my mind.

For those that do not know, I am currently getting my masters in social work so I can be a mental health expert as well as a nutrition expert. With these two worlds colliding, the paradox between mental health and physical health is something I wrestle with a lot.



What does that mean?

Often making a change to have a healthier body leads to a healthier mental state right? Losing weight can lead to more confidence, higher self-esteem, more energy, less stigma, and more self-efficacy to reach other goals in life. We feel more empowered and generally happier right? For some people, the stakes are even more significant, losing the next 10 pounds may mean reversing a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or lowering blood pressure. We think if we can just lose the next 5 pounds or if we can just get some more gains (trying to act like I’m up with the fitness world) we’ll be happier.

The answer is it depends. Your weight, muscle tone or body size is not what actually makes you happy. It’s not the results that make you feel good, but what those results symbolize in your journey. Maybe you’re happy because you worked hard to reach a goal, you have a new found control, you’re being a positive role model to loved ones, you have energy again, or you’re happier with the way your clothes fit. It can be a number of things, but I promise you the physical benefits alone are not your happiness. If you are striving to improve your body to numb other emotions or gain control in one area of your life because it’s deficient in another, you may be making yourself sick.

What I am learning floating between worlds is that mental health always comes first. Not necessarily in a chronological way, we don’t always have to be happy and in a good mental place to start exercising and eating healthier. Not at all, doing these things is part of the journey to self-love. What I mean is that mental health is the priority, always. There must be a balance between your mental health and physical health but when you find yourself on a tight rope and need to fall one way or the other, fall to the  side of your mental health. Choose getting enough sleep over getting an extra workout, choose a meal out with family and friends over strict diet rules, run to lose stress, not pounds, deal with your emotions and life struggles instead of eating or exercising them away, and pay attention to your thoughts. Make sure that when you think about your body and everything you put it through, your thoughts are of gratitude instead of shame.

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.” – Lisa M. Hayes




Thoughts on Change

Hello, sorry it’s been a little while! I have been busy living and adjusting to my new life as a social work graduate student at VCU. So much has changed in the last two months and I haven’t been able to sit down and put it on paper. Shaking up my life and my career was the best decision I have made in a long time.

grad friends

(bits and pieces from life lately)

I was in a job that did great work, but I never felt fulfilled. The environment wasn’t healthy for me and I felt like all my hard work in school wasn’t being used the way I wanted it to. It started to eat at my confidence and I never quite felt good enough. When I would mention my frustrations to people, they would say things like “welcome to the real world” or “a job will always be just that, a job” or “join the club”. Despite graduating from UMD with honors in nutrition science, matching the first round for a dietetic internship, passing my RD exam, and obtaining a respectable job with a good salary and benefits, I always felt inadequate. Many people just accept 8 hours of unhappiness in exchange for a decent salary and health benefits and I get it. That is the society that most of us find ourselves trapped in. Sometimes we have other goals or responsibilities beyond our career that make the sacrifice to change  a lot harder, all of us have different challenges, but all of us all have choices.

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” -Alan Cohen

I’ve always been passionate about food and nutrition and helping people create and restore healthy relationships with food and I am finally in a position where I get to do that. I am excited to go to my classes, to go to my internship, and when I get home, I find myself researching things still on my mind from my internship. Originally, I chose to get a graduate degree in social work because I wanted counseling skills and an in-depth knowledge of theories like cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. I wanted a license in clinical social work so that I could understand the behavior behind food choices. I still want those things, but what I didn’t anticipate getting was an in-depth knowledge of society and poverty and how environments disproportionately impact health and wellbeing. I didn’t anticipate being inspired in my classes and getting to turn right around and use that motivation for action the next day in my internship. It sounds cheesy, but I really feel that way. I’m working obese children many of which have never known what if feels like to go for a walk and not get out of breath, there are no grocery stores near their homes, and many can’t identify vegetables in their natural forms. They are teaching me to be a better person and clinician every day. Putting back on the intern hat and burying myself in debt is worth every step back I have to take before I can jump forward.

This time last year I sat up at night researching graduate programs, emailing people in psychology and social work fields and most importantly admitting to myself I was unhappy. Being unhappy is not something you have to accept and it’s not a normal symptom of grown-up life. There are people that will tell you to deal with it or try to normalize it, don’t listen to those people.

steve jobs great work


And if you haven’t listened to this speech you should…just saying…

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever, because believing they connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference.” 


Sorry, I’m done with my rant and Jobs obsession for the moment.I promise to make an effort to be more present in this space if you keep reading!

It’s Official, I’m Back In School!

Well, I’m officially a VCU graduate student. It’s crazy how quickly life can change in a couple of weeks. I can already tell this degree is going to challenge me in new but necessary ways. Listening to the VCU administration explain the program at orientation erased any doubt, I might have had, that I made the right choice in pursuing a Master’s in Social Work Degree. As a nutrition student and dietetic intern, I found that I had a lot of common interests and hobbies with my classmates. Most liked cooking;  loved fitness, and were passionate about leading healthy and balanced lifestyles. I got a feeling during my MSW orientation that the commonalities with my new classmates might run a little deeper. It’s too soon to tell, but I got this vibe that I was surrounded by people that have a common understanding of compassion and are driven by it in the same way that I am (I’m not saying most RD’s aren’t driven by compassion, they certainly are there was just a different vibe).

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2015 Fall Running Plan

Okay guys, I’ve made a plan. I researched it, wrote it out, put it in a colorful little table, and plan to place it  all over my new apartment. It’s a fall running plan— in case you’re wondering and it’s been a long time coming.

Fall Running Plan

I’m not really a planner when it comes to running, I say this with 3 marathon and 7 half marathons in my past. …

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Friday Link Love

Oh hello, happy Friday! It’s my last day in the Outer Banks (feeling sad).

sunrise 1 framed

One of the best things about spending a week at the beach is cramming in tons of reading. I don’t typically have make time for all the reading I wish I could do in my normal life. For me this means catching up on blogs, articles, audio books and novels. Since not much else is going on in my life this week, I figured I’d share my favorite reads from around the web througout this post.

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