Monday, March 26, 2018

Expanding the Arena Initiative - April Edition

Next up in our Expanding the Arena interview series, we have the wonderful Rebecca McConville. Rebecca McConville MS, RD, LD, CSSD is a sports dietitian and eating disorder specialist. She is the owner of Rebecca McConville consulting where she works with individuals to meet their performance goals and also treat individuals with eating disorders. In her consulting role, she provides sports nutrition education to various colleges within her area and is co-creator of an eating disorder protocol at University of Missouri - Kansas City. She also co-hosts a podcast called “PHIT for a Queen”, devoted to female athletes trying to balance performance, health, intellect and taking time for self.

  1. What is your educational background and how long have you been an RD? Do you have any additional credentials relevant to your position?

I earned my Master’s degree from University of Kansas and have been a practicing dietitian for 11 years now. I also have my CSSD and have applied for my CEDRD as well.

  1. How did you achieve your position/ how did you get started with your current position?

As a prior college athlete, it felt like a natural fit to work with collegiate athletes along with my personal passion to bring awareness to relative energy deficit in sport (RED-S). Within my private practice, I joined an eating disorder practice where I was clinically supervised for over 2 years. I continue to receive peer consult, which I believe should be mandatory for anyone working with people who have eating disorders.

  1. What key areas of knowledge/experiences did you need to have before this job?

Being a former athlete, I understand the demands of training mentally & physically on a more personal level which allows me to relate to my clients. I believe you do need to understand how each sport differs in their training, competitive season, and the culture within the sport.
In regards to eating disorders, you need to understand the medical risks but also the therapeutic approaches as this is a psychological disorder.
  1. What are the highs and lows of your position?
I love truly helping people- whether it is texts about their PR or excitement as they finally started their period after years of disconnect with their body.
The lows are that it can be emotionally taxing at times, so I really try to practice what I preach with self-care. Also, in the world of sport it can be very competitive, and you must keep your eye on the prize and not take things personally.
  1. What is a typical day for you?

I usually get up between 4:30am-5:30am with coffee, daily scriptures and prayer first & foremost, and then go out for a run with my dog Mason (otherwise he gets quite angry). I then start my workday with scheduling, social media posts, and head to the office. Some days I see clients for 4 hours, and other days almost 10, but I really try to stay home on Fridays to wrap up charting/phone calls. This has allowed me freedom to spend time with my kiddos as they have a lot of Fridays off or early releases from school.
  1. What advice would you share with an RD (or RD2be) that is interested in a similar career path?
Don’t rush into private practice! I would not be who I am without my clinical experience and connections that I have made. I understand sports and eating disorders, but I have also seen most chronic disease through my clinical years.

  1. What is your greatest strength/weakness as a dietitian?
My greatest strength is that I believe my clients know that I am vested in them and care. I work hard to stay up to date with science by reading PubMed summaries each day and listening to at least 1 webinar or podcast each week.
My weakness is I am perpetually disorganized.

  1. What are some of your interests outside of work?
My family of course! With my daughter now in sports, it is fun to see the tables turn cheering her on and being her coach for her basketball team. I am also a country girl by roots, so I love being on my parent’s farm riding my horse, Denny, with my daughter & Mom. And like most dietitians, I am a foodie so I love trying all the Kansas City bucket list restaurants and culinary experiences.

  1. What aspect of sports nutrition (or any other area of dietetics) interested you to pursue it as a career?
Seeing firsthand the power of nutrition and how much better you feel & recover by what you are fueling yourself with drew me into nutrition. I also love how sports continue to be a common language we can all understand and appreciate globally.

  1. Why have you decided to work with athletes or similar groups?
With this population, there is never a dull moment! I think there is a thin line between trying to perform to the best of your abilities and crossing over to disorder. I want to help provide clarity and support to help them perform their best but be at their healthiest.

  1. How do you deal with the daily stresses presented to you in your career?
I am really working on work/life balance by setting a time I stop replying to emails/texts. I have amazing colleagues whom I do peer consults with and the occasional google chat or coffee with friends in the field.

  1. Prior to getting your credentials, did you have any experience in nutrition (i.e. food service, volunteering, etc.)?

I actually didn’t get into an internship the first time, which was a blessing in disguise. I took a dietary manager position where I learned a lot about food production, managing staff, and learning to never give up. Those months were tough watching my classmates start internships, but it left me with a drive that has taken me places I never thought I would go.
  1. What do you love about your career/job?
I love the variety and flexibility and that there is never a day without a challenge. Basically the sky's the limit when you own your own business.

  1. Is there a course you took in undergrad or grad school that has helped you in your current role?

I took a Sports Nutrition course in my Master’s program but honestly it was self-study using things like free webinars through SCAN/CPSDA, Gatorade Sports Science Institute, etc. that have helped most. Now with specializing in my two main practice areas, I attend conferences and supervision groups specifically around athletes & eating disorders.

  1. What are some of the unique nutritional considerations you must consider for the group(s) you work with?

With specializing in athletes with eating disorders you need an understanding of prevention, acute concerns, and chronic implications in regards to the athlete’s disordered eating. We are just now getting a better understanding of what happens to the body under prolonged energy deficit states.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Expanding the Arena Initiative

Expanding the Arena

In celebration of National Nutrition Month, SCAN is kicking off its initiative Expanding the Arena. We are going to hear from many dietitians within the Sports Nutrition field, who work in areas which aren’t typically considered when thinking of sports nutrition.
We first talked to Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN. Kelly is the owner of Kelly Jones Nutrition, LLC. She works as a speaker, consultant, and media spokesperson. She works in one-on-one counseling, runs an online sports nutrition course for females, and teaches at a local community college.

What is your educational background, and how long have you been an RD? Do you have any additional credentials relevant to your position?

My undergraduate degree is from the University of Connecticut in dietetics, but I also completed a minor in exercise science there. I completed my dietetic internship at the University at Buffalo, where I created their sports nutrition internship rotation as there were no sports nutrition resources in place on campus at the time for their division I athletes. I stayed to complete my Master’s in Nutrition there as well, though my research and coursework was focused in exercise physiology as well. I’ve been a dietitian since 2009 and obtained my CSSD credentials in 2014. While I wasn’t board certified until this point, I consider myself having been a sports RD for the entirety of my career

When was the first time, and how did you hear about sports dietitians?

I’ve wanted to work in sports nutrition since my sophomore year of high school. My mom had some health issues that seemed chronic, and she was recommended everything from a cocktail of medications to a hysterectomy. She decided to go another route and after nutrition changes became healthier than ever. While my mom always tried to provide us with a balance of healthy food, when my family started to eat in a more nourishing way, I noticed more energy and an improvement in my swimming. I knew I wanted to help others find these same benefits. I didn’t really know about the difference between “dietitians” and “nutritionists” until I got to college and was in a dietetics program, though.

Why have you decided to work with athletes or similar groups?

While I always knew I wanted to work with athletes, when I saw more eating disorders and disordered eating early in my career, I felt a desire to help prevent ED before it was a clinical problem. This is where I love working with active women who don’t consider themselves as athletes, because the physical demands they put on their body require a lot of the same nutrition support as athletes who are competing.

Prior to getting your credentials, did you have any experience in nutrition (ie. food service, volunteering, etc.)?

I worked at a local health food store in high school, but was in the body care department. While I learned a few things from the naturopathic physicians that worked there, their job is much more about supplements as medicine complimenting diet than it is about using food as medicine.

How did you achieve your position/ how did you get started with your current position?

I was lucky to have a great start in sports nutrition in my internship and was able to continue working with the athletes at UB when I became credentialed as a dietitian and was completing my master’s degree. From there, I accepted a professor position at Bucks County Community College, outside of Philadelphia. While I taught sports nutrition at the college level from my first year out of grad school, I also presented on nutrition to their sports teams right off the bat. Since academia at the community college level is so flexible, it allowed me to begin my private practice very early in my career. It began with speaking to local sports teams (high school, club, and college). When I created my recipe blog as a resource for my students and the teams I spoke to, I started to be contacted for 1-1 services and took on clients in that manner as well and by word of mouth my speaking and counseling business escalated.
Several years ago I was asked to create nutrition programming for a top 5 national health club of over 13,000 members. The fitness nutrition space is exciting as I can influence athletes young and old while also helping those with illness use both fitness and nutrition to improve their health. While I continue to speak to a large variety of sports teams, and have worked with athletes via an NFL agent, my credentials opened the door to be considered for a current media spokesperson role with USA swimming that I enjoy very much. USA Swimming has roughly 400,000 year round athletes who spent countless hours in the pool without proper knowledge of how to fuel for endurance exercise and as a former swimmer, the position means even more to me. Finally, I recently began working with a company to update sports nutrition continuing education articles 
and also work with the Philadelphia Phillies minor league affiliates, though that is a more traditional sports nutrition position.

What key areas of knowledge/experiences did you need to have before this job?

Being successful as a sports dietitian requires not only a passion for the field, but also staying up to date with the most well-respected research in the field. I am lucky to have had professors that are pioneers in the field such as Nancy Rodriguez at UConn to motivate me, but also have always had a high level of confidence in my knowledge due to the exercise physiology coursework I chose at the undergraduate and graduate level. I also know my level of knowledge would not be where it is today without taking advantage of SCAN’s resources and the SCAN Symposium since I was a student. I love learning, so it was easy to soak up so much knowledge in a field I am so passionate about. Having been a division I athlete myself, to this day what drives me is providing athletes with the knowledge I wish I’d had at the peak of my athletic career.

Do you have any other credential or certification that helped you outside of dietetics?

While I don’t currently have any credentials outside of dietetics, most of my graduate school coursework was in exercise physiology courses. I am also currently studying to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). I had the opportunity in grad school and was a bit overwhelmed with classes, work and research so I didn’t do it then. I wish I had though! I’m not obtaining it so much to actually work as a strength coach, but to do a better job with the exercise physiology continuing education. While dietitians should automatically be seen as the nutrition experts, and CSSD’s as the sports nutrition experts, that usually isn’t the case with fitness professionals and having a fitness certification can help enhance your credibility with the fitness community.

Is there a course you took in undergrad or grad school that has helped you in your current role?

My sports nutrition course with Nancy Rodriguez in undergrad was a turning point for me in how I looked at fueling for fitness. I also loved my exercise physiology course in undergrad and the advanced ones I took in grad school since they helped so much with being able to translate the purpose of nutrition recommendations to athletes.

What are the highs and lows of your position?

While I love seeing my 1-1 athletes enhance their performance and well-being through nutrition, I think it is most exciting knowing the volume of active individuals I reach with science-based information via my messaging with USA swimming, in TV segments, on my blog and social media, through fitness club programming, and teaching. While most are aware that athletes have a higher risk of eating disorders, I don’t feel there is enough light shed on the disordered eating that occurs to the active population, so I strive to create programs and develop messaging that is supported by science without promoting any one diet. The positive feedback I get from individuals who have gotten over disordered eating or have been motivated to quit dieting through my messaging really keeps me going. It is also exciting to have young RDs and dietetics students reach out saying they aspire to work in ways that I do.
In terms of the lows, I would say sometimes I wish that I could just shut down the computer at 5 and not have to work on the weekends, but in reality it’s the flexibility of my work that I love so much, too. Sometimes it is hard to set boundaries for the appropriate work-life integration, but as my career has progressed I’ve gotten better at it! Another low is knowing that you can’t help everyone who needs it. Having the knowledge I have, I want to help everyone to stop dieting and learn to nourish their active body’s in the right way, so biting my tongue if someone isn’t mentally ready for the right information is a challenge

What is a typical day for you?

Literally every day is different! While I try throughout the year to build a set weekly schedule so that one day is for blogging/video/recipe development and pitches, another day is for 1-1s, and the rest working on my contract and consulting work, the reality is it changes every week. Since I work on a variety of projects, some weeks I spend five full days reading research studies for working on continuing education articles, and other times of the year I may have 4 speaking engagements, a TV segment and consulting work to do. This is perfect for my personality since I can’t sit still doing the same thing for too long. I always say I could never survive a “normal” 9-5 job.

What advice would you share with an RD (or RD2be) that is interested in a similar career path?

I am a mentor via NEDPG and also have had a variety of students and young dietitians reach out for advice in the past. My advice varies person to person since everyone has a different background and reason for wanting to pursue a career in sports nutrition. I do think no matter what, though, it is important to have an extremely strong base knowledge of sports nutrition science. Even as dietitians we sometimes see information that came from an article where the research study was flawed or the research is the first of its kind. It’s crucial that we use caution before repeating any information we see to clients or our audience without getting the facts straight and seeing repeated studies. I always tell people to know the Academy position paper’s content well, and be sure they own the latest copy of the Sports Nutrition Handbook for Professionals (now in it’s 6th edition). It’s so much better to tell someone “I don’t know, let me look into that for you”, than to pretend you know the answer and give the wrong advice. Not only could it impact their health in an extreme way, but it also reflects on your knowledge as a professional and the entire dietetics community when incorrect information is put out there.

What is your greatest strength/weakness as a dietitian?

I would say that my passion for helping others is my biggest strength and my biggest weakness is saying yes too much! I am way better than I used to be, but sometimes it’s hard to turn down opportunities where you know you can make a difference in other’s lives. Midway through 2016 I was starting to feel pretty burnt out with everything on my plate and wasn’t able to spend as much time as I’d like on self-care and with family and friends. When I decided to back off from one large position and transition to a consulting vs. day to day role, it showed be I can still be an influence without spreading myself too thin. Since then, I think a lot more before accepting consulting work or clients and very often refer to others.

What are some of your interests outside of work?

I love spending time with friends and family, training for races, exercising outside, and traveling. I also love exploring high quality cuisine at new restaurants and am a big environmentalist.

How do you deal with the daily stresses presented to you in your career?

Since becoming less of a “yes” person, I’ve created a curfew on when I’ll stop responding to emails at night and am more committed to really taking time off on the weekends when I don’t have events, work travel or deadlines. I also actually write exercise into my schedule so I have the time for it since it helps me clear my head. Finally, working as a solopreneur, it’s helps to have found a great group of dietitian friends who have similar practices and interests; we give each other advice, hold each other accountable and are there for when someone needs to vent!

What are some of the unique nutritional considerations you must consider for the group(s) you work with?

It’s important that any dietitian working with athletes or active individuals is screening for disordered eating and eating disorders in their initial assessments. While there are many nutrient considerations for athletes, adequate micronutrient intake and appropriate phytochemical intake won’t be helpful without adequate energy and proper nutrient timing. Additionally, the active population is much more likely to be using supplements, so it’s up to the RD to educate on safety and effectiveness and the importance of using foods first for health and performance. Unless prescribed by a doctor or recommended by a dietitian who has a great knowledge of current and past medical history, I don’t believe athlete should be putting money and effort into taking a supplement for performance if they still have dietary adjustments that can be made.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Final Post and Updates on SCAN's Social Media

We would like to thank all of our members for their contributions to the SCAN Blog over the years and for their engagement.  We have decided to branch out and focus on our other social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  Below you will find the links to follow.

In each platform, you're welcome to engage and learn from other dietitians in the field whether it's recipes from Pinterest or the latest article on hydration from our Facebook page. 

Please follow us on these social media sites for the latest happening at SCAN!


Monday, October 9, 2017

Sports Nutrition Advanced Practice Workshop at FNCE

Please click the link here to view registration information for SCAN's afternoon workshop on October 21st!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sports Nutrition Care Manual Now Available

Order your copy of Sports Nutrition, A Handbook for Professionals now at the Academy's online store:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Meal Planning Resources for Hectic Fall Schedules

Fall was always a hard start date to get back into a route from the lazy days of summer.  This fall is no different from the rest for everyone.  If you’re struggling to find a new routine or consistency with kids’ schedules or your own activities consider these great links for meal planning ideas:
From The Lean Green Bean: