Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Degrees" of Health, Nutrition and Training

This weekend I watched as my 'baby' sister, (she's 9 years younger and about 6 inches taller than me...), graduated from college with her Bachelor's degree.  From here she is heading off to grad school in order to continue her education with the goal of completing her Master's degree.  You are probably wondering what all of this has to do with the health, nutrition, and training.  Well, the whole 'graduation' theme got me thinking about how these lifestyle components are constantly evolving and changing.  It takes time and effort to complete years of formal education and we truly never stop learning as we move along in our careers.  Our health, nutrition and training needs are also in constant transition and evolution.

Let me explain...  Take diet for example - specifically in the context of making the switch to Paleo.  The first step requires gathering information, learning the basics and completing the 'labs' and 'homework'.  It's like fulfilling the 'prerequisites' prior to actually applying the information in a real setting.  Getting started is often the hardest part. There are so many questions and it's hard to say if the answers are 'a', 'b', 'c', or 'd - all of the above' - and the thought of writing an essay is nauseating.  There are many times 'dropping the class', 'dropping out' or 'changing your major' seem like the best options.  But, you are already invested so you crack open the text book, ask questions, continue learning and keep experimenting.  As time goes on you start to 'get it' and concepts that at one time seemed impossible to grasp now are part of your everyday thought process.  An example of this is the concept of "eat real food".  At first you may not have known what was meant by 'real food'.  But as you 'did your homework' you learned that 'real food' is unprocessed meat, vegetables, good fats and some fruit.  It's not the food that lives in a package on a shelf.  It's the stuff that "lives, rots, grows, and dies."

Once you start 'getting it' you find yourself wanting to learn more and find out the 'why' behind the 'what'.  You have in a sense 'graduated' to the next level.  This learning, growing, continuing education process should not stop here, just as in life - we never stop expanding our knowledge.  Whether it's through education, experience or our mistakes it is a never ending process.  Our level of competency and understanding grow and we get wiser every day.  We learn what we really 'need to know' and what is less important and can be 'looked up' or implemented if the situation requires (for example - weighing and measuring, or the intricate details of the Krebs and Malonyl CoA Cycles, or even just "sweating the small stuff").  We learn what works best in our situation in the areas of diet, training and health.  Our needs and the information we have is ever changing and evolving making the learning process vital to success and survival.

The path to optimal health, solid diet and smart training program can be looked at as a series of 'graduations' and 'degrees'.  It is with continuing education that we secure a long, healthy life.  It is when we become stagnant or even revert to what used to be that we run into trouble and have to 'repeat classes' never actually completing a 'degree' (think fad diets, quick-fix programs, etc.).

So you made it through a 30-day Paleo challenge or an "On-Ramp" training program - that's great!  But... that's just high school.  Don't stop - pick your major and head to 'college' - take it all the way and NEVER stop learning.  Become as expert in the field of YOUR health, diet, training and life.

Are you ready for next semester??



  1. This is a great post. I reached a certain point in life where I realized I wanted to work in food and Nutrition. Years after a bunch of transferable credits from another University, I went back to school for Nutrition. I found that my local Community College had an CADE approved dietetics program. Only 2 years of study and 450 hours of clinical work! I can handle 2 more years of school, and after that I'll be able to call myself a D.T.R (Dietetic Technician Registered)!

    I did do it. Graduated my program with a very shiny GPA and 4 scholarships. I built great clinical and community education connections during my clinical time. I learned a ton about how the American nutritional system works, and more importantly, why it -doesn't- work as well as it could.

    I originally intended to parlay my degree to another University to go on to become an R.D. Then I could call myself a Dietitian! Only 2 more years (at much higher tuition), and then another 900 hours of Clincal (about 6 months).

    Well, I never even took the test to become a D.T.R. I might pay the $150 one day and do it, yet it's not a priority for me. I have found other avenues of teaching nutrition in the field and have chosen to pursue them instead.

    Maybe one day I'll go back to formal school, but I have so much left to learn, and it's all right here, hiding behind a google search and my daily practices with a client.

  2. this post is spot on! It is a learning process and also a slow giving up process. Some jump in with both feet but some like to wade in the shallow water close to the shore for a bit.

    For me personally what I find most interesting is how I'm willing to let go of foods now that 15 months ago (when I started Paleo) I wasn't willing to give up. Coffee being one of them. Complete dairy as well (hung onto heavy cream for a long bit).

    I could not have done it with our your expertise, coaching, listening (your a good listener), mentoring, encouragement, and professionalism.

    How do you thank someone for saving your life?!

    :) Heidi