Nutrition Articles

'A Registered Dietitian Changed My Life'

How She Changed the Way I Viewed Food--and Everything Else

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As a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor and fitness writer, I know a lot about exercise and quite a bit about nutrition. I know what it takes to lose weight, be healthy and fuel my body properly. But for years I didn't practice what I preached.

I spent years in college and shortly thereafter working out way too much, succumbing to the pressures of fitting in and trying to excel in a career where what you look like determines your skill and professionalism in the eyes of many. And all of the extreme exercise sessions (teaching multiple group fitness classes every day of the week, usually in addition to my own workouts) plus some major life changes, spiraled negatively into my eating as well. I was desperately trying to avoid the "freshman (and sophomore, junior and senior) 15" that so many warn of, and was religiously counting my calories. I was strict about keeping my caloric intake very low, even though I was easily burning thousands of calories a day by exercising.

It was a dangerous cycle. The workouts would leave me ravenous. And while I could ignore the hunger or control it for awhile, over the course of a few days, it became too strong to withstand. The hunger consumed me, and before I knew it, I was gorging on healthy and unhealthy foods alike—in unhealthy proportions: half a big bag of trail mix while writing a paper, two Pop Tarts after I was already stuffed from eating an oversized salad at lunch, a fried chicken sandwich and fries scarfed down in secret. The hunger from the extreme workouts plus the severe food restrictions pushed me to binge on foods like I never had before. Sure, I'd overeaten from time to time, but I quickly became obsessed with food and working out, and soon started using food as a way to deal with boredom, stress and sadness.

The worst part, is that I knew how bad this was for me. I was so ashamed that I was doing it, and I knew better. I would never in a million years sit back and watch as a client or friend exercised too much, ate too little, and binged uncontrollably. It wasn't until just months before my wedding, that I said enough was enough: I knew that I could no longer continue living this way. I started meditating and journaling (which helped some) and then I took one of the best steps of my life: I found a registered dietitian (RD) who specialized in disordered eating.

I had long known about RDs and how they help people with all kinds of needs—from helping people with diabetes manage their insulin levels through dietary changes, to showing clients how to fuel their workouts or eat for weight loss, to purely educating people on what foods are healthy. As a fitness professional, I had always touted the benefits of meeting with an RD; funny though that I had never been myself.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

    Thank you for this article and all of the information within it. You described so much of my behavior, I won't go into it but I am going to look for a RD. I want you to know that with just what you wrote about the "exercises" you were given to relearn "full" and "hungry" would go a long way to help me. Thank you again. - 3/30/2016 7:00:35 PM
  • DOROTHY5445
    I've been thinking about seeing a registered RD. If I have to pay for this is it very expensive? - 1/4/2015 5:14:14 PM
  • I have gone to see an RD a couple of times because I have celiac disease. I was amazed at the quality teaching tactics she used to help me think about food and my choices. I also highly recommend going to see an RD. - 2/1/2014 8:07:07 AM
  • Thank you so much for this. I read this and said "Oh goodness, this is me!" This has really helped me into thinking I should make an appointment with a RD. - 9/4/2013 4:49:25 PM
  • Loved the article. - 8/14/2013 3:50:10 PM
  • I have Neuropathy & was told that if I lost weight maybe it would go away. Therefore, my Neuropathy Specialist referred me to a dietician. I have been seeing her for awhile now. I go about every 3 months & get weighed in & we talk. I have learned so much from her - things I have never even thought of before! She is wonderful! I agree that if you've never seen a dietician I would highly recommend it if you are someone who is trying to lose weight & want to learn more about the process & yourself! - 6/14/2013 9:50:56 AM
    Thank you for sharing your story Jenn. RDs can help with many issues indeed, but especially with disordered eating. - 6/12/2013 2:27:46 PM
  • Great points in this article! I explored the idea of becoming an RD but the schooling just won't work for me so I'm going to school to be a Health Coach. I will not have as much schooling as an RD in the science background, but will still be able to help people become healthier using coaching techniques and helping them figure out their own way. - 1/6/2013 7:01:50 PM
    Great article! I may need to find a registered dietician. Hopefully one as good as yours! - 8/1/2012 5:22:20 PM
  • I really enjoyed this article. - 8/1/2012 8:53:18 AM
  • I've been fortunate to have been surrounded by a number of really smart people in my weigh loss journey, but I have used so many of the tips and skills from my RD. She is a saint!! - 7/30/2012 9:29:59 AM
    how do you know if a certain RD wont actually make your condition worse? That is what I am worried about. - 5/9/2012 8:05:47 PM
  • I wish I had known this when I went to see a dietician. I went along and was very discouraged to be talking with an excessively thin and disapproving person who made no attempt to help me, her approach was to tell me stuff I already knew, not to help me to incorporate new ways of thinking and acting around food. If I had known I might find a dietitian such as you describe, I would have persisted. - 8/17/2011 4:20:21 PM
    Excellent advise - when I think of all the hours I have spent beating myself up over food - my weight is not the most important thing any more. Balance and being happy and content - is. - 7/16/2011 2:16:51 PM
  • Very interesting article. I did meet with an RD after I started SP and she was so impressed with the way our Nutrition Trackers work, she took info from me so she could recommend SP to her clients. She just told me to keep up the good work. - 5/20/2011 10:01:01 PM

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