Behind the Scenes of fANNEtastic food

Hi friends! I thought I would mix it up today and do a little virtual coffee date of sorts via a “Behind the Scenes” Q&A series that has been going around the blog world. I’ve been getting a TON of emails lately asking follow up questions on whether going back to school/becoming an RD was worth it – things like how I like what I do, what I’ve been working on/business updates, etc., so I thought some of you would enjoy this!

So, pull up a chair and a cup of coffee (or take a very chilly stroll, like the one I enjoyed yesterday morning with my friend Karen post-CorePower Yoga) and let’s chat.

Who nominated me?

I was nominated by Robyn Coale of The Real Life RD (back in mid-November – whoops!). I love her blog – wonderful posts about eating intuitively and being kind to yourself and your body.

What am I working on?

This question gets a different answer depending on what day, month, etc. you ask me! Right now, my main focus is finishing up the Nutrition for Runners e-book that I’m co-authoring with Jason of Strength Running. Jason first reached out to me last spring about collaborating (I remember exactly when because it was actually my last day of teaching at George Washington University – I met him right after class and we brainstormed over coffee), and we’ve been steadily working on the e-book together ever since via a series of massive, ever-growing Google documents. It’s been a long process, and it’s definitely been hard to make time for it because it’s one of those things that has to come after many other things on my daily to-do lists (e.g. client work, getting a blog post up, emails, etc.), but I’m really proud of how it has turned out. We are doing some final edits now and sending it to a designer to put together next week. I can’t wait to share it with all of you! I think many of you will find it extremely helpful as you train for spring races – or just for life. The book takes the intuitive eating approach that I preach here on the blog and to my clients, but through the lens of running and training. In addition to extensive discussion of our approach, our top nutrition principles for runners, and a large fueling for running section, we’ll also be including running training plans from Jason (for speed and for weight loss) and a big meal guide and recipe section from me.

The other big thing I’m working on right now is starting to get organized for the Shape Up (<—that’s last year’s) that I co-host with my friend, personal trainer/fitness blogger Gina, twice a year. We share a month’s worth of free video workouts (from her) and meal plans (from me), plus a private Facebook group for motivation. Excited for the launch on January 26!

On the AnneTheRD client front, I have a lighter load right now because I wanted to make sure I had time to finish up the e-book, host the Winter Shape Up, and wrap up some freelance writing I’m doing this month. Last spring/summer, I reached a point where I had over 40 active, ongoing clients, which was wonderful but I realized that between that and all the other work I was doing (teaching nutrition at GW, blogging, working with the Endurance Athlete Center, starting to work on the e-book, etc.) I was stretching myself way too thin. It was one of those times where you are overly stressed, have a mini-meltdown, and then stop and suddenly realize: this is dumb – I can fix this by taking control over my own life. So I decided not to teach again in the fall, I left the Endurance Athlete Center so I could focus solely on AnneTheRD, and I set up a waiting list for clients so I could control the volume and make sure that I was giving all my clients the time and attention they deserved. I definitely thrive on being busy and doing a lot of different things, but it’s important to know your limits, too. I definitely reached mine last year, and want to focus more on self care and slowing down (still keeping busy, but in a more sustainable way) this year.

That said, I absolutely love working with clients – it’s so rewarding to help others to make positive changes in their lives – and I’m looking forward to ramping up client work again once I get the e-book out the door.

I feel so lucky to be able to work for myself full time – it can be lonely to work alone most of the time (hence starting to work at UberOffices occasionally), but I love the variety and being able to make my own decisions and have control of my own work life and schedule. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! The nearly 4 years of graduate school, working full time for free (internships – actually, I paid THEM to let me work for free…), and studying for/taking the RD exam was so worth it to be where I am now. I remember walking into day one of Chemistry 1 and studying for the GRE in the summer of 2009 and feeling like I might never get here. But guess what? I did. And that’s pretty awesome.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One of the things I love most about being a dietitian is that it opens so many different doors – all of my friends from grad school and I are doing completely different jobs and using our degrees in a variety ways, which is awesome. I love that I can do a mix of freelance writing and blogging, one on one client work, corporate wellness work (giving nutrition lunch and learns/presentations or working booths at health fairs), and more. I’m someone that thrives on variety and I think I would be bored doing just one thing, so I love the option to mix things up on a regular basis.

My workdays are filled with a mix of computer work (blogging, emails, client work, freelance writing, etc.), client meetings (either in person at a local coffee shop or via skype/phone), blog-related phone calls (for partnerships, etc.), and occasional nutrition presentations. I generally work about 8 or 9 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m. with a break for lunch, but sometimes I take longer breaks during the day and make it up at night, or on another day, instead. It’s really nice to be flexible, and I know how lucky I am that I can have that flexibility. I try to take the weekends fully off from work (although sometimes I get so busy that isn’t an option); I don’t meet with clients on the weekends and I no longer blog on the weekends (I used to for the first couple years I had this blog). When you work for yourself, it’s easy to be CONSTANTLY working – especially when you usually work from home. I’ve been trying to do a better job of turning it off/separating work and life. It’s a learning process. 🙂

Why do I write/create/do what I do?

When I started my private practice in February of 2013, I worked with all sorts of clients, but over the years, I’ve discovered that where I shine is working with clients on intuitive eating and overcoming emotional eating. As a result, I’ve shared more of that messaging here on the blog, as well. (One recent post: How to Eat Intuitively / A Guide to Mindful Eating). It makes me so happy to hear from clients that they are enjoying food again instead of fearing it, or listening to their hunger cues instead of denying them.

On the blogging front, I aim to show others that eating healthy and being active doesn’t have to be hard or complicated – and it can even be fun. 🙂 (See also: How to Love Exercise – or at least not hate it.)

How does my writing/creative process work?

It’s so important to do what works for you and your personality vs. what others are doing/you think you “should” do. I know some bloggers do great with a very set structure of posts, and write and schedule out posts weeks (or even months) in advance, but if I tried to do that I would get so overwhelmed I would quit. While I do schedule out some posts (but don’t generally write them ahead of time, unless I’ll be traveling) by necessity (e.g. sponsored posts – to make sure they are spaced out/timing makes sense), for the most part my blogging approach is to fly by the seat of my pants. It makes it easier that most of my posts involve my life – so I write based on what I’ve been up to, sharing that morning’s run or workout or a good dinner or lunch I made earlier that week. Topic-based posts – like this one – come when I’m in the right mood for them, or when I’ve had an idea spark from an interesting conversation with a client or friend.

One thing I have been working on lately is to stop multitasking. I find that multitasking leaves me feeling scattered and disorganized, and overwhelmed by how much there is to do. So I’ve been working on tackling one thing at a time – and removing all other distractions while I do it. For example, when I sat down to write this blog post, I closed my email, Twitter, etc., and I don’t give in to the temptation to check them until I’m done. I’m writing a freelance article on probiotics this afternoon, and I’ll be taking the same approach when I write that. Focus! One thing at a time. It will all get done. Right? 🙂

Thanks for reading! Instead of nominating other bloggers specifically to answer these questions, I’m going to nominate all of you! I’d love if you guys picked a question or two to answer in the comments section. It’s always so interesting to see how people work behind the scenes. 🙂

Stay warm out there, friends! I had a 20 minute walk to meet a client this morning and seriously considered taking an Uber. It’s SO COLD out.

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