I receive a lot of questions about how I became a nutritionist. In June 2017, I graduated from a nutrition practitioner program which I'll share more of those details with you below. Whether you're interested in getting a nutrition degree or receiving nutrition counseling from me, this post is good for you to gain a better understanding. Why I got my degree, how and what I'm doing with it now.
Why I Got My Degree
After years struggling with my health and not being able to get answers from doctors, I felt isolated, frustrated and alone. As I wrote about my experiences on this blog about my stress fractures, low ferritin, iron deficieny, amenorrhea, crazy hormones, Hashimoto's disease, many women kept telling me they were going through the same thing and not getting answers. To this day, I believe I'm celiac given the symptoms I had.
The problem was no doctor was looking holistically at my body. They only looked at their bits and pieces. No one ever stopped and said, maybe what this woman has is nutrition related. One doctor accused me of not eating enough, but when I showed her my calorie app I was eating 2500-3000 calories a day and was somehow still losing weight she stopped. She said she didn't know what was wrong with me.
For two years, I went on this cycle of seeing doctors and felt like I was losing my mind because I felt so sick but I wasn't getting answers. In June 2015, I was in a car accident, broke my leg and that was the final straw. I couldn't take anymore. I started seeing an ND who immediately diagnosed me with Hashimoto's disease and removed gluten from my diet.
Within 3 months my antibodies drastically dropped, my iron and ferritin increased, and my other symptoms later resolved including my bone density. I was also able to gain weight again. That was when I decided to get a degree in nutrition. To help other women.
How I Got My Degree
I spent months talking to registered dietitians. I interviewed 10 women in the field, and after speaking with them I knew I wanted a degree in dietetics. The problem is there's a ton of people out there calling themselves nutritionists who have gotten a certificate from a ZERO science based program like Precision Nutrition. Many "nutritionist" programs are merely a 2 week or 30 day (or whatever) online program with no real science behind the nutrition. The definition of what a nutritionist is, is very loosely defined. I sympathize with RD's because it's a constant battle competing with people who are calling themselves nutritionists and don't have even close to the same level of schooling as them. Now I understand because I'm also competing with those people.
I didn't want to become one of those nutritionists, but I also knew the RD program wasn't a fit for me. An RD program requires an unpaid internship for a year and it's incredibly competitive to get into them. There are programs now that allow you to do the internship while in school, but there's only a few schools that do this. It would have been impossible for me to do this because I have a mortgage and needed to work part time to pay for health insurance. I needed a program that gave me flexibility while also offering the science based curriculum.
I'm not sure how, but somehow I stumbled upon SWIHA. After months of google searching, it finally showed up in my search results. I read their nutrition practitioner program, spoke to their admissions office (so many times) and knew immediately it was the right fit for me.
It was an 18 month nutrition practitioner program backed by NANP (national association of nutrition practitioners) which I'm now a member of. I did my concentration as a fitness nutrition educator so I also received two NASM certifications - Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Behavioral Change Specialist.
My classes included biochemistry, human anatomy, biology, multiple nutrition classes, counseling courses, vitamins and minerals, herbs and supplementation and more. My best friend who's an RD looked at my curriculum and said, this is the first nutritionist program I can actually get behind. I even had my ND look at the program, and she endorsed it as well.
The program was not cheap by any means. Mine cost over $13k which I did online, but they also offer it at the school here in Phoenix. In my opinion, it's a great option for those, like me, who are seeking a second degree but don't have the ability to do a dietetics program.
What I'm Doing Now
When I took the leap from corporate America to nutrition school, I was a wreck. Worried about how I would pay my mortgage, bills and my hip replacement. Somehow it worked out because once I started school, a friend emailed me about a freelance food photography job. My now editor contacted me and within two months of starting school, I had a job. I used my blog as my portfolio. Now, I freelance for several websites including a Paleo and Diabetes site. Word of mouth and the degree helped me land those jobs.
My main focus now is growing my nutrition practice and new business Skinny Fitalicious Meal Plans. The goal of these programs is to help women lose weight the right way by moving them off 1200 calorie diets and improving, hormone health by getting the right balance of macronutrients, stress reduction and self-care. It's a rewarding career!. Oh yeah, and I still manage this blog which I love doing!
I only have a few spots in custom meal plans and my nutrition practice open for this month, so if you've been thinking about it, sign up before they are filled. I would love to see you there! If you have questions, drop me an email or a comment below.