Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm Re-Writing My Job Description

Today, in honor of my one-year anniversary working full-time as a Registered Dietitian, I'm reflecting on the professional and personal growth that I've experienced and the thankfulness that stems from having a job I love.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. 
~ William James


I think we all have an idea of what our "dream job" would look like. We go to school, get the education we need and then enter the workforce with hopes that we can be engaged in a manner that we're passionate about. You know, the whole "do what you love and never work a day in your life" thing. For me, since early college, that dream has been to be a dietitian.

Despite being a relatively reserved and shy individual, I found myself wanting a job that was built around interaction and not a desk. And as someone who struggled with their health throughout early college, I wanted to invest in a career that promoted health and wellness rather than the opposite. The combination has been wonderful and these days, I'm finding that I thrive off my daily interactions and the opportunity to share the "good news" that is health, nutrition and wellness.

A few weeks back, I participated in a corporate health and wellness fair. No big deal right? But after spending the morning interacting with a number of new individuals, engaging in uplifting conversation on small steps to making a healthier lifestyle less intimidating and more doable, I left grinning ear to ear, my heart full with a sense of purpose. On the long drive home, I reflected on how many people need to hear those words and have hope of making positive progress, that my role as a dietitian goes well beyond the food.

With that, I'd like to rewrite my job description to simply state:
Me at a recent wellness fair. I was incredibly stoked to spend a few hours in informal conversation, meeting new people and sending them in the right direction regarding heart health nutrition (area of focus for the day)
Yes, perhaps I am "tooting my own horn" with this one, but what I'm trying to get at is that I'm truly passionate about my role as a dietitian, that I do feel I can make a difference and that I want to live out my career with a purpose. In my eyes, there's much more to being dietitian than diet manipulation, nutrition education or being the "food police." Being a dietitian means promoting health, spreading hope that a better world does exist through cherishing and treating your body with respect, helping others to realize that eating healthy can be fun and a source of enjoyment rather than a daily frustration.

As a dietitian, my main goal is to enable people to take control over their nutritional quality of life. We all make daily decisions regarding food and I believe it's possible to make choices for chronic disease management, weight control and/or performance while also maintaining a high level of satisfaction. Food is a form of nourishment and life, not the enemy, and progress is about meeting people where they are now and instilling sustainable lifestyle changes rather than setting unrealistic expectations of attaining that non-existent "perfect" diet.

I like to think I look at the total package, taking one's overall lifestyle, emotions and relationship with food into context rather than simply stating "eat these foods and your world will be better." Because let's acknowledge reality: food is much more than just nutrition, it is a way of life. And if you're not enjoying what you eat, you're not truly living.
Whether it be blueberries or chocolate, it all "fits" in the big picture =)
As I mentioned, today marks my one-year anniversary at my first full-time job as the dietitian for Warm Hearth Village! I am blessed to say without a doubt that I love what I do and I love "my people." I have been entrusted with a role that goes way beyond the food in terms of building relationships with the residents, gaining their trust, earnestly listening to their needs and feedback and doing what I can to make their world a better place. Some days, a five minute conversation about life and a warm smile can be more beneficial than any dietary intervention I send their way.

The ability to make a difference is a gift we've all been entrusted with and it's with that very mindset that I am preparing for our medical mission trip to Haiti in January. While I hope to put my education and nutritional expertise to work for the greater good of the community down there, I know that my role in the mission and their daily struggles extend well beyond the food they eat.

Final thoughts, since November is all about thankfulness:

  • I am thankful for a wonderful family, to have a roof over my head, a kitchen to cook in and a source of daily nourishment.
  • I am thankful to be living out my dream job and that I can share my passion for food and nutrition while also spreading hope and happiness. 
  • I am thankful for the challenges and experiences that have given me such a deep appreciation for the gift that is health, and to understand the meaning of living life purposefully.
  • I am thankful for those whom I've had the opportunity to work with over the past year, that have made a difference in my life whether they realize it or not. 
  • And I am thankful for those who read this blog! I appreciate you listening to my random, happy musings about food, nutrition, wellness and whatever else I decide to write about =)


For me, this is just the beginning of a lifelong journey that is building a career and I can't wait to see where the years take me!


In Health,

6 comments:

  1. Awesome post Kristen! I always enjoy reading what you have to say whether it is about racing, nutrition. or inspiring athletes!

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    1. Thank you Brett! I'm glad you find I have something to offer.

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  2. How cool! It's so good that you enjoy helping people like that. And it does make a huge difference.

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  3. Kristen! Good stuff...as usual. You are an ambassador...thanks for helping us all!

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    1. Gladly Anne. You too are an ambassador!

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