My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


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Dietitian Q & A – Offices, Marketing, & More

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! Things have been going well around here. I’ve gained quite a few new clients with the weather breaking and more people ready to get back into the swing of healthy eating. I have a walking group launching in April and I am so excited for it! I spent some of my downtime this past month re-evaluating my business and deciding what my next “move” will be. I like what I am currently doing; however, some of the parts I love are the in-home cooking sessions and personal training. I really want to work on promoting and building up that aspect of my business this year.

Today’s post is a bit of a Q&A based on the top 5 questions I get from fellow Dietitians who are just starting out in private practice. Let’s get started!

How Do You See Clients if You Don’t Have an Office Yet?
There are a couple of options for this one. You can do in-home counseling sessions (if insurance allows), which means you go directly to your client’s home. Some perks to this would be that it is more comfortable for the client, client’s can show you products they have in their home, and you may even end up with less cancellations. Some cons to this are that you will be doing more traveling so scheduling your clients geographical smart is key. You can read more about in-home counseling here. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, you could look at shared office space (cuts down on the cost). You could also check out co-working spaces where you can rent office space for an hour or two (way cheaper than a lease + more flexible). Another option is to join your local Chamber of Commerce as many of them will allow you to use office space as apart of your membership. Lastly, you can do virtual consultations, which is very convenient; however, if you take insurance, a lot of plans don’t cover this just yet.

How Do You Get Started with Marketing Your Business in Your Community?
The first place I started with was Google. Literally. I Googled every business in my area and made a list of those who aligned with my mission. I reached out to some through email and then followed up with a call. Other businesses I just showed up and dropped off promo materials (newsletters, business cards, flyers for events I was hosting, freebies, etc). Depending on the business, an email is more appropriate first since the person you may need to talk to may not actually be available for drop-ins. You can always schedule an in-person meeting once you make that first contact. You can read more on building partnerships here.

How Do You Advertise Your Business?
Outside of what I mentioned above, I would strongly suggest an online presence in the form of a website and at least one social media platform. I consistently use Facebook & Instagram. One big thing to keep in mind is where your ideal client is hanging around. Are they using YouTube? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? No matter what platform you use, remember to be consistent with your messaging and when you post (even if it is just once per week to start).

How Do You Figure Out Your Appointment Structure?
Honestly, getting your counseling flow can take a bit of practice and even with that, you are bound to have a client through you off. Most of my counseling sessions start off with me asking the client, “Are there any initial questions you have?” (initial) or “How have things been going?” (follow-up) or “What would you like to gain from today’s session?” (initial or follow-up). Usually, clients will jump into a story or a bunch of questions, which is great! Sometimes, I have clients who are a bit unsure of what to ask or even how this interaction should go, especially if they are new to seeing a Dietitian. From there, I take the reins and start with a 24-hour recall. We then talk about where they see possible areas of improvement or positive aspects of their diet already. That is usually the first 30 minutes right there. At this point, I stop and ask if they have any questions. Depending on the time, I talk about other things besides food like exercise, fluid, sleep habits, and even family expectations. If we don’t cover this in the first session, I always weave it into the first follow-up. I end all of my sessions with goal setting and acknowledgement of possible barriers (so we can make a plan around them). All of my clients get a physical recommendation sheet with their goals and action items so they can post it as a reminder to themselves.

How Do You Go About Taking Insurance?
First things first is you want to create an account on CAQH ProView. This is going to take you a while, but it is worth it! You basically put in all of your information as a Dietitian and business owner. Once you have that completed, you will use your ID number for individual insurance companies. What I mean by this is that every insurance has its own form for becoming a provider. I started by Googling “become a provider for ______ (insert insurance company name here).” Usually, the individual insurance forms are shorter since most of your information is in the CAQH. Once you submit the provider interest form or application for each insurance company, you will be contacted by the contracting department to do all the signing. Getting in network with insurance is a lengthy process, so I would highly suggest getting started sooner rather than later if you are going this route.

This surely wasn’t an exhaustive list of all Dietitian questions, so feel free to email me or schedule a Free Coaching call via my website for anything you are wondering about!

If you are new to private practice, check out my blog on The First 10 Steps to Getting Started, which covers professional liability insurance, deciding pricing and more.

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A Week in the Life of a Private Practice Dietitian

When I first started brainstorming my blog for the month, I was planning a “day in the life” post. I realized that this wouldn’t truly be representative of what I do as a private practice dietitian since every day is different. Here’s a little peek into what this past week looked like for me. I hope this is helpful for someone thinking about private practice and what that looks like (or if you are just plain curious).

Background
My weeks will vary based on client cancellations/reschedules or new partnerships/appointments. There also tends to be an eb and flow with private practice based on the seasons (i.e. more clients in Jan, Feb, April, May, Sept, and Oct). I also primarily see clients in-home with the occasional on-site appointment for employees of businesses that I work with. Mixed into that are various classes (cooking or virtual). My income isn’t solely based on insurance, which is a good thing and outside of what I mentioned before, I also sell hats on Etsy and lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Most days, I am up by either 6am (teaching days) or 7am. If I see morning clients, they are typically 10am or later. I spend the majority of my morning hours planning out my day, prepping last minute for an appointment, answering emails, and returning voicemails. I also don’t always note this below, but I do spend some time keeping up with social media for my business (Instagram on the day-to-day) and hanging with the BF. Besides having a private practice, I also teach part-time at a local community college. I am also the Community Liaison for the Greater Holmesburg Business Association, which means I am apart of event planning and managing their social media (i.e. Facebook).

Monday
The first couple hours of my Monday were spent on the phone with an insurance company that I had been battling with since last JULY. I had 8 claims denied due to an error in their system (saying I was out of network when I wasn’t). While on hold, I planned out my to-do list for the day, wrote an outline for a class I was running that night, scheduled a newsletter for my virtual class, and answered some emails. After an hour and a half on the phone, I finally had confirmation that they were paying out! I’m only partially celebrating until I get that check in my hand.

Mid-afternoon, I went to the gym with my Dad, which ended up being about an hour. Once home, I quickly ate and started getting myself together for a new client in-home fitness assessment. The assessment ended up being about an hour and a half, even though I only blocked off an hour. That was totally my fault since I am still working on my personal training flow and ultimately being more efficient. Once home, I grabbed a small snack before my 6pm virtual Healthy Habit Jump-Start class started. I had originally planned to do a virtual workout at 7pm; however, by the time I finished up my class and tried to log-in, it was past 7pm (and I hate showing up late, even if it is virtual). I spent another hour or so creating a landing page for my new walking group (created this after feedback from my class). Finished up the day by making dinner and knitting.

Tuesday
I teach an 8am face-to-face nutrition class on campus at my local community college on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This particular Tuesday was a faculty meeting, so I stayed after class and did some reading on the latest fitness research while I biked at the gym. Made it back home around 2pm, ate and then headed out for a night in-home session. Usually, my in-home sessions are always an hour. I try to do my charting and billing right after the appointment, so it is doesn’t pile up and seem so overwhelming. I had a little bit more time this night to cook, so I prepped for tofu and veggies for the next few days.

Wednesday
I was up at 7am this day and answered emails and returned calls. I also packed my lunch for Thursday and then headed out for an in-home appointment. After the session, I went straight to the grocery store to buy stuff for myself and also for the cooking demo I was running Thursday. Came back, charted, ate lunch and brainstormed my new walking group I am planning to launch in May. Then, I had a video call in the afternoon with a fellow Dietitian. We typically chat every month or so to catch up on our businesses and lives in general. This particular call was about an hour and a half. Went to the gym right after (again with my Dad). Once I got home, I spent a good 2 hours prepping for my cooking demo (muffins and chia jam). Ended the night with some dinner and of course, knitting.

Thursday
This was probably my busiest day for the week. I had class in the morning, followed by office hours (that no one ever comes to). I typically use my office hours to grade papers/quizzes and lesson plan for the following week. After office hours, I had an hour downtime before my cooking demo, so I worked on some business stuff (emails/calls + client check-ins). I started setting up for the demo at 12pm and finished cleaning up by 2pm. Once I was home, I unpacked everything, ate, wrote my demo event report, and then headed out for back-to-back in-home night sessions. I wasn’t home until after 7pm (2.5 hours for the two sessions) so I didn’t feel much like charting and billing then. Ate and just relaxed until I passed out on the couch.

Friday
Mostly my Fridays are spent cleaning and catching up on business-related stuff. I wasn’t really in the mood for social media planning, so I pushed that to do on Saturday. I returned voicemails mid-morning and scheduled a new client for March, so that meant I needed to create their profile in my EMR and send them the initial welcome email with paperwork. After that, I reviewed my end-of-month financials from February, assessed client appointments, did some cleaning/laundry and prepped for a mock personal training session with a fellow Dietitian/friend. I’m still fairly new to the personal training piece and am working on my “flow.” It really helps having some awesome friends that let you practice with them! Hit the gym mid-afternoon and then prepped for dinner that night. The rest of the night was spent doing my personal training session, eating, and just all-around good conversation.

Weekend
Usually, I try not to do too much “business-related” stuff on the weekend. This past Saturday morning, I planned out my social media calendar for March (Facebook posts, blogs, and videos). After hitting the gym and doing some food prep, I originally planned to visit family. That fell through due to someone having the stomach bug, so I spent the remainder of the night finishing up a personal training workout plan for a new client.  

Today (Sunday), outside of posting this blog, I plan to do some reading (research articles on fitness), vacuum, knit, and of course, go to the gym. I have a busy week coming up, so I’ll also plan to prep some food for the next few days!

Hope this gave you some insight into my life. I am curious to see what a week-in-the-life of other dietitians looks like, so drop and a comment (or send me a message) and let me know!

Click here to schedule a FREE phone consult. Click here to check out the Etsy store. Click here to visit my website for more information.


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Why You Should “Specialize” in a Niche

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! In last month’s blog, I talked about finding your ideal client and I had a lot of questions come up about whether you should identify a “niche.” I wanted to address that today since there seems to be a big debate on whether or not identifying a niche causes you to attract more clients or stifle creativity.

What is a Niche Really?
A niche is basically your business focus; something specific you specialize in. It could still be broad in the sense that you are focusing on one disease (Diabetes) but seeing all age groups (teens to adults) and types (type 1 and type 2). Another example could be focusing on plant-based diets (broad, but still a niche). You could be even more specific saying plant-based athletes, plant-based families, plant-based kids, etc. You can decide on how specific you want your niche to be.

Is it Bad to Have a Niche?
In short, I don’t think it is a bad idea to have a niche. Some websites I researched for this blog said that a niche stifles your business and limits creativity. I found just the opposite. It was easier to create content once I had a specific focus. It also opened my doors to more clientele that I wanted to work with and that needed my specific service.

Think about the comparison between a primary doctor, who has a broad knowledge base for diseases and illnesses and a gastroenterologist, who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract. If you go to your PCP with GI issues, they might run some labs and basic tests. If you continue to have issues, they would send you (hopefully) to the gastroenterologist; someone who has more knowledge and experience in this area to treat you more effectively.

If you are having GI pain and want to see a Dietitian, would you choose the one who specializes in GI and has content online specific to that (i.e. recipes, tips) or would you go to a Dietitian promoting general healthy eating (not a bad thing)? Chances are, you would resonate with the Dietitian who has the specialty because their content would speak to you and your pain points.

What About Multiple Specialties?
It does make me skeptical when I see a Dietitian claim on their website that they specialize in 8 different things. Without identifying the company, here is what Dietitian X says they specialize in on their website: weight loss management, sports nutrition and performance, nutrition during pregnancy, grocery store tours, eating disorder counseling, GI disorders and food allergies, and disease prevention and management. Here’s another list from Dietitian Y: weight management and behavior modification, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer/prevention, kidney disease, food allergies and intolerances, stomach issues, chronic fatigue. That’s a lot of “specialties” for one practitioner to maintain. Some Dietitians might work in a team where each Dietitian provides a certain specialty; however, this was not the case with Dietitians X and Y.

I find it completely acceptable for a Dietitian to assert that their company provides services in each of these practice areas; however, I don’t think it is fair or accurate to proclaim that the company ‘specializes’ in each of these areas. One thing to ask yourself is, “Can I keep up-to-date in all of these specialties and provide my client the best service possible?”

Let me clarify my assertion with an example. Say you specialize in diabetes. Chances are, you are still going to see clients with more than one chronic disease (like diabetes and cardiovascular disease). I am not saying you can’t see these clients because one is not your defined specialty. Also, both diseases can impact one another (and your client) so it would be important for you as a health professional to be competent in both. What I am questioning is if you see a client come in with diabetes and cardiovascular disease who now needs dialysis for renal failure, would you be doing a disservice to them by continuing to meet with them versus sending them to a renal dietitian who does this all day every day , i.e. specializes?

If you want to learn more about the stages of competence, check out this great article. 

I for one fell into this trap with a client who had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I had worked with clients with mild IBS before; however, I never worked with a client who was following a low FODMAP diet. Honestly, I didn’t even know all that this diet entailed. I thought at first I could just get resources for the client and wing-it, but after conducting a reasonable amount of research, I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer questions and truly help this client (even though I had provided IBS counseling before, and I really wanted to assist). Not going to lie, I did meet with the client for an appointment before I said to them that I needed to refer out. Clearly, I was not the best person to help since they needed an expert, an actual specialist, to work through all of their questions surrounding the low FODMAP diet and the only information I could provide was very basic (something they could have Googled on their own). I just hope that any health professional would understand the limits of their current knowledge and make the decision to refer clients with specialized needs to a specialist when appropriate.

Moving on…

Finding Your Niche
If you are a new Dietitian or just starting in private practice, you might not know the area you want to specialize in just yet, and that is okay! In the beginning years, I found it helpful to see a variety of clients in different settings and then assess whether I enjoyed working with these clients/situations. It took me four years into my practice to discover that my niche, and now my specialty, is in plant-based diets and strength training.

I am still working on transitioning content on my social media and website to align my messaging and marketing to consumers who need or want that specialized consulting. My Facebook is still general content for nutrition, my YouTube is general tips plus new recipe videos (vegan/gluten-free) and my Instagram has been focused on plant-based for a while. Over the next few months, I will be transitioning my Facebook content to more plant-based tips. YouTube will stay the same, just with more recipe content and better video and sound quality (thanks to my BF). Instagram posts on plant-based food will be more consistent and workout videos will be added to my stories and highlights.

Don’t be afraid to create a niche that isn’t quite there yet. I was having a hard time finding information on plant-based (vegan) diets and strength training for myself. A lot of information I found online was specific to endurance athletes. Since I wanted this information for myself, I pursued a Certified Personal Training credential (yes, I passed my exam) and I am learning all I can about combining the two for use in my business.

Remember, you don’t have to be a specialist in everything as this is the fastest way to burn-out! Be really good/unconsciously competent at a few (or just 1) things! Focus your energy on specific skills and building your knowledge base around the niche you want to pursue. Only then, will you really have the competence to provide specialist services to your clients as a Dietitian. 


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Feeling Stuck – Ideal Clients & Taking Action

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! Have you ever just said to yourself, “What am I even doing with my life?!” Maybe, feeling a bit stuck and unsure of what to do next?

That was me over the past few months (and part of why I was on a blog hiatus). I hit a point in my business where I just plateaued. I could live comfortably where I was; however, it was starting to become less fun and exciting. I wanted to re-find my passion and be challenged again.

I really started to think about my 5 year goals, short-term goals and how that did (more like didn’t) align with what I was currently doing in the business. I spent a lot of time re-evaluating my business and working ON it (instead of in it). I talked to a lot of other Dietitians and began to realize this was a pretty normal thing to go through in business and not to be too hard on myself. I have only been in business for 3 years (2 years full-time), so I really needed to first cut myself some slack and second start to plan.

One crucial thing I did this month was to figure out who my ideal client was and how my services aligned with them and their needs. I dug deep into their struggles, their barriers to change, what they needed to succeed, and most importantly, where they find nutrition information. I started to connect the dots between my ideal clients, services, and goals.

It became really clear to me that there were a lot of instances where my business offerings didn’t match my current target client. For example, I started a Weight Management Support Group in July as a beta-program. I had 12 participants. For the paid group in the Fall that dropped to 3. I ended up re-branding it as the Healthy Habit Jump-Start for 2019 (still in open enrollment). I just now realized that this online program doesn’t target my current clients and how they receive nutrition information. A lot of my face-to-face clients prefer the face-to-face, aren’t comfortable using online programs and are too busy to have a specific class time (as in they prefer a more self-guided program). There was so much disconnect that was stunting my business growth and I was completely overlooking it until now.

IDEAL

With all of that in mind, I took a few days to lay out the following in a chart (email me if you want a copy):
-My ideal client profile: demographics, struggles, barriers, needs
-My current (and planned) products/services
-How my products/services are beneficial to my client
-What changes I needed to make for that specific product/service
-How I was currently promoting the product/service
-What actions I needed to make
-What tools I would need to succeed

I took a look through this chart and asked myself, “What am I doing that I am no longer passionate about or no longer find fun?” I also thought about my current partnerships and how they fit into the mix. I stepped away from a few that were very one-sided (not in my favor) and others that were a complete time-suck with little to no benefit to my business. It is hard to let go of things (check out my blog on this). It’s like when you clean out your clothes closet and try to get rid of things you never wear. You play a mind game with yourself by saying, “I might wear this again.” They usually say if you haven’t worn it in the year, you probably won’t ever. I tried to apply this same line of thinking with certain clients/partnerships, “If it is not working well now (or you hate it), chances are it won’t get better (and it needs to end).”

Watermelon-adult-seeds-pompomAfter doing that, I created my urgent action goals, 1-month goals, and daily action items, which I scheduled in my calendar. A lot of my monthly goals are focused on social media content (blogs, Facebook posts, Instagram, YouTube videos, etc) and developing some of my newer products/services. Some of my new business ventures are fruit-themed knitted hats, fruit and vegetable songs (using my piano-playing skills finally), and a plant-based fitness component. I am hoping to pass my ACSM Personal Trainer Certification in the next month to be able to tie in my passion for a plant-based style of eating and fitness (specifically strength-training). I am doing a bit of test marketing and building of my online presence through Instagram for now, since that is where my ideal client is. Follow me @plantedinfitness!

watermelon-string-art.jpg

All-in-all, I am really happy with with what I have accomplished over the past few years and I am excited for 2019 now that I have a clear idea of my target clients, goals, and actions. If you are feeling stuck or if you are in the process of planning for 2019, remember to ask yourself this key question, “Is the thing that I am doing (or striving for) my passion?” If the answer is no, you might want to do some re-evaluating before launching or moving forward. Remember, I am always here if anyone wants to bounce ideas off of me. Shoot me an email or schedule a Free Coaching call via my website!


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5 Tips for Live Nutrition Videos

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! It has been an exciting month here! Just a quick recap to let you know what is new! I started a podcast (available on SoundCloud and GooglePlay), took on new home visit clients, took on new RD Business Coaching clients, landed a few corporate wellness event contracts, and finally, am studying to take the ACSM Personal Trainer Certification! I am also about a third of the way through my first paid virtual support group and definitely learning a lot about digital content creation along the way. Outside of my business, I am still teaching nutrition at Bucks County Community College part-time and getting back into the class routine. Whew!

Today, I wanted to talk about some things I have learned while doing Facebook Live videos. I have only been going live since May of this year, so I am by no means an expert! A lot of my clients (and target clients) are on Facebook, so I knew more engaging content creation on there would be beneficial. After going live consistently each week, I began to see an increase in my post engagement and finally broke 200 likes on the page!

If you have been wanting to expand your online/social media presence through video (specifically live videos), then read on for my top 5 tips!

5 Tips for Live Nutrition Videos

1 – Prepare the Basics
The absolute bare bones of what you need to go live are: good lighting and a camera of some sort. You could use a built in video cam/audio from a laptop/desktop or you could use your phone. I started off using my phone stacked up on books. Then, I moved on to using my phone with a tripod. The tripod I got broke twice (they sent an initial replacement), so I gave up and now just prop my phone up on a music stand. I do plan to transition to using my desktop computer since I have an external mic and camera; however, I still need to work out logistics with connecting to Facebook.

As for lighting, I have a bunch of lighting fixtures from when I did more consistent YouTube videos; however, I don’t usually pull those out for 5-10 minute videos. Instead, I shoot in my home office where there is a lot of natural light and also turn on an overhead ceiling light.

Something else to think about what setting up your video space is what is currently in frame around and behind you. Is it a pile of dirty laundry? Old nutrition textbooks? Think about what you want your viewers to see, especially since they will probably scan the background while listening to you talk.

FB live light

Experimenting with lighting and camera placement.

2 – Make an Outline
I would highly suggest writing out an outline and practicing a dry run with what you might want to say. If you are not someone who is comfortable with public speaking or talking on camera, do a few takes with just your phone camera (before going live). My outlines/videos follow the same format: short intro, disclaimer, lead in question, main content with tips, action goal, thank you, and next week’s topic. I am also going to add in a call-to-action for viewers to like and share.

3 – Roll With the Flubs
One of the things with going live instead of pre-recording is that you can’t just cut and restart when you mess up. If you say something incorrect or not how you would like, correct yourself later in the video or in the comments. Be okay with not being 100% perfect. I don’t know how many times my cat decided to jump up on the table while I was live and lick herself! It threw me off the first few times, but now, I just roll with it when she decides to join me. It will get easier and easier for you to be on camera (and comfortable) once you get into a consistent routine. Just be yourself.

FB Live flub

My cat silently judging me mid-way through cleaning/licking herself 🙂

4 – Re-watch the Video
After you go live, re-watch the video for yourself! How was your lighting? How was the quality of your content? Are there things you want to change? What did you like about this video? How many times did you say “um”? I am working on trying to decrease my “ums” by pausing instead of using a filler word. You will never be able to improve if you cannot give yourself constructive feedback.

5 – Get Into Post Production
One of the most important things you can do post live session is to share your content for the world to see. Get it out there! I didn’t mention this earlier, but I also do a teaser post on Facebook/Twitter to remind my followers I will be going live. I typically post the reminders the day before and the afternoon of. The day after the video, I also create a short post letting my followers know what they missed and how they can watch the video on replay.

If you are going live on Facebook, make sure to go back into your video and give it a title, description, and tags. I would also suggest changing the thumbnail if you would like. Usually, my automatic thumbnail pictures are of me with my eyes closed or mouth wide open. I also check out the “insights” for my videos a few days later to see my video performance (i.e. views, engagement, and top audience).

FBLive1

Video details from the video I did a few days ago.

Leave a comment and let me know if/when you are planning to go live. I will try to join you for fellow RD support! I go live at 5:00pm every Wednesday at PorrazzaNutrition so join me if you can!


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Sprucing Up Nutrition Counseling Sessions

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! With the end of Summer nearing, I have gotten a spike in new clients. It feels good to see my business pick-up after having a previous slump last month. I’m also excited for September since I am running my first paid virtual support group and working with a new company for some contract food demos. I initially had a heavier basis of individual clients; however, I am morphing my business into more online programs/classes. If you are looking to take your business to the next level, you can read my previous blog on that exact topic here.

Today, I wanted to talk about something a bit more personal, the counseling rut. Do you ever start to question your Dietitian-self in counseling skills? Wondering if you are really doing everything you can for your clients? Wondering how to make sessions more effective, especially with long-term clients?

Sometimes counseling can get stagnant. You might feel like you are telling your clients the same things over and over again. The client might not be asking you for much and honestly, they might not know what to even ask for. The flow of your counseling sessions could start to get choppy and even seem forced.

I always felt like the first few sessions with any new client were pretty “easy.” Most came in with a clear idea of what they wanted to get out of the session. The session just seemed to flow with me mainly giving education and answering initial nutrition questions. After a few sessions, the harder work comes in. I started to see a need for more motivational interviewing, as some clients were frustrated that they weren’t hitting their goals as quickly as they anticipated. A lot of my clients at this point “knew what to do;” however, they were just having a hard time “doing it” consistently.

If you hit this point throughout your Dietitian career, that is okay! Knowing how to handle ruts will improve your overall counseling skills and build trust with your clients (ultimately leading to their success).

3 Ways to Get out of a Counseling Rut and Spruce up Nutrition Sessions

1 – Re-Evaluate Their Reason Why
First things first, figure out if your client’s “reason why” has changed. If their “reason why” or motivation for getting healthy has changed, this could mean that their goals, actions, and ultimately feelings are not aligning. This disconnect can impede nutrition progression and cause your sessions to flop.

2 – Ask Open Ended Questions
There are 3 key questions I ask my clients that help to reestablish counseling flow or give talking points and really dig deep:

  • What are you currently struggling with? – Good to ask in the beginning of the session.
  • What do you hope to gain from today’s session? – Also good to ask in the beginning of the session since it give direction.
  • What can I do on my end either now or after our session to help you reach your goals? – Good to ask towards the end of the session. Some clients end up asking for email support or text message motivation. Usually, it ends up being some form of accountability.

3 – Spruce Up Your Handouts/Goal Setting Sheets
If you don’t have a goal setting sheet, now is the time to make one. I created a half-sheet of paper that lists my contact info, follow-up appointment date/time, product recommendations, goals, actions, and any nutrition prescription information (i.e. fiber, carbs). For each goal I set with a client, we determine their daily actions that help them reach their goal. Doing this helps them work through barriers during the session since we can actively brainstorm solutions. I find that a goal  sheet creates more inter-activeness during the session and heightens the likelihood that the client will succeed. I find a lot of clients like physically getting something from the appointment, and the goal sheet satisfies that.

Leave a comment and let me know how you are sprucing up your counseling sessions!


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7 Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! Have you been feeling lately that you need to take your business to the next level? Maybe, do something that will get you out of the business slump I talked about in my last blog?

The time will come in your business when you need to step it up. You will know when that time comes. I started my practice in 2014 and every year, I felt like I took it up a notch. I started accepting insurance in 2015. I re-launched my website in 2016. I built new partnerships and ended poor ones in 2017.

I describe it as an “itch” you need to scratch. A time when things feel too repetitive and you crave more. A time when clients might be even asking for more. This time came for me a few months ago when I decided to launch a free, beta, weight management support group. I knew my clients were looking for more support between appointments; however, they couldn’t all physically make it to a location every week. Cue the virtual class!

If you are scratching your head at where to start in stepping things up, read on for my “7 Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level.”

1 – Assess + Set Goals
Think about your business now and ask yourself these questions: What is working well? What is not working well? What do my clients want? What do I know my clients need? What part of my business really excites me?

In assessing my business, I realized I was inefficient in how I was scheduling and charting clients (cue the EMR platform). I also knew I wanted to have more of a “virtual” income, yet I wasn’t doing much about it (cue the virtual weight management support group).

2 – Find Your Niche (If You Haven’t Already)
If you don’t know what your niche is or who your ideal client is, ask yourself these questions: What are your passionate about? What do others say is a skill of yours? What is your vision? What are you good at? Finding your niche will help you create more (and better) content and will fuel your drive to do more in your business.

Identifying my niche was really hard for me since I felt like I had a lot of ways I wanted to go with my practice. I ended up narrowing down my ideal client to working adults who are struggling to eat healthy with a busy work-personal life. My ideal client is someone who has been on multiple diets in the past and is ready to make a lifestyle change and end the cycle of dieting. I am still fine-tuning my niche; however, this was a great starting point for me.

3 – Brand Yourself/Business
Something that is often skipped/overlooked when setting up a practice is the branding aspect. Do you have a website? Does all of your copy and content speak to YOUR business brand? What do you want your client to feel when they read your content or visit your website?

I knew I was at the point in my business where I needed a logo. I needed that branding, especially if I was going to create a stronger online presence. I also knew I needed to re-do my website since it was bleak and hard to navigate. If you are feeling stuck, reach out to you current clients or someone you work with professionally to get their input. From there, you can determine your next steps in branding.

4 – Enrich Your Offerings
What can you do to enrich what you offer your clients? What more are they looking for? What do they need to reach their goals?

In enriching my business/services, I added monthly coaching, meal plan templates (for use by RDs and clients) and more lessons to my TPT store. All of these add-ons were in line with my business goals of going more virtual. I also added in new client folders with recipes and handouts, which helped to enrich my clients’ face-to-face experience with me.

5 – Ramp Up Your Online Presence
I already mentioned refreshing your website if needed; however, think now about your overall online presence. What social media platforms do you use? What social media platforms do your clients use? How consistent are you with posting content? Can you team up with another health professional to do a guest blog/video?

I had been blogging and posting on social media consistently; however, I really wanted to expand into video content. I dabbled in YouTube in the past; however, video editing is not my cup of tea. A few months ago, I started doing Facebook Live videos and they became a hit with my clients. I love doing them and my clients refer to them quite frequently now!

6 – Invest in Yourself
I tell my clients all of the time to invest in themselves and their health. This could mean a financial investment (i.e. gym membership or more healthful foods) or even just time (i.e. going to the gym or cooking more). This point translates really well into business.

I invested in myself this year by attending the Today’s Dietitian conference (i.e. knowledge + business connections) and by purchasing sports nutrition materials to expand my knowledge in this area. I’m looking to study and get my PT certification by the end of the year. This is something I am passionate about for myself and know will help me better help my clients. What aspect of your business-self can you invest in?

7 – Take Care of Yourself
In taking your business to the next level, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The last thing you want is to get started only to burn out in a month.  Don’t let your personal life go or things that you enjoy doing. For me, I schedule in my gym time during the day to take a mental break and I knit at night to relax. How will you take care of yourself?

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Leave a comment below and let me know how you plan to take your business to the next level!