I started Thoughtfully Fueled to inspire active women to break away from diet culture mentality and start living their best lives. However, there were a lot of steps between where I started and where I am today. I frequently get asked about my journey, or how I became a Registered Dietitian (RD), and thought this post would be a helpful resource.
The University of Iowa was an easy choice for me when picking colleges. I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field and with the university hospital and large course selection, it was a no-brainer. I started my freshman year as a Health and Human Physiology major and took classes with other students wanting to become doctors, nurses, and physical therapists.
For the first two years of undergrad I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. I shadowed at a small outpatient clinic, volunteered at the university hospital, and worked my butt off in school. But then junior year came along and everything changed.
Junior year I took a sports nutrition class (on a whim) with a new professor who happened to be a Registered Dietitian. I was also studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer at this time and had an internship set up for the following semester at the campus recreation center. I quickly fell in love with my sports nutrition class and started researching how to become an RD. This is when I realized that The University of Iowa did not offer the undergrad degree I needed. I started to panic because I was over halfway through my college career and thinking about transferring to a different school…!
I went to my sports nutrition professor for guidance and with her help realized that my dream of becoming an RD was still possible, I just had to go about it in a unique way. I switched my degree emphasis to exercise science, took every nutrition class offered, and starting volunteering at a local food pantry.
After graduation I got my Certificate in Nutrition and Dietetics from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. This made me eligible to apply for a dietetic internship. I was fortunate that Dominican University offered a Coordinated Program in Dietetics, meaning I did not have to go through the internship match process. After completing my 1,200-hour internship I was finally able to sit for the RD exam (which took over 2 months to study for)!
I then got my first job as a Registered Dietitian in a fitness facility where I was able to train and provide nutrition counseling for clients. I also went back to school and received my Masters in Sports Nutrition from Concordia University of Chicago. This program was all online, making it “easier” to do while working full time.
Now I understand that this is not the path that everyone takes to become an RD but it’s what worked for me. My hope is that sharing my story inspires someone to take the road less traveled and make your dream come true, no matter what. This was defiantly not an easy path (there were tears, long days, self-doubt, and ugly hairnets) but it was worth it in the end. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because it got me to where I am today.
Lisa you show great determination and success with your goals!