My RD Journey

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


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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.

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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.

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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).

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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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5 Tips for Running a Nutrition Support Group

Have you ever sat through a meeting, group discussion, or any class for that matter and thought, “I really wish ___ would stop talking and give someone else a chance?” This is one of the exact situations you want to avoid in leading group discussions within a support group (or class).

After running multiple weight management support groups and nutrition classes, I found the most effective sessions were those that had a designated topic and were gently guided. Below are 5 of the key tips that will help you run an effective support group style class!

1 – Come Prepared
Having a topic for your group discussion is absolutely key! This gives the class direction and focus. I would also suggest creating an outline with estimated time frames and talking points. I also had “extra” notes on my outline in case the class was smaller and/or a bit more quiet. Think also about 1 relevant topic handout you could provide and a recipe or two.

2 – Set Ground Rules
In the beginning of the first couple of classes, I laid out the ground rules for all of the participants. I made it a point to say that everyone is in a different place in their health journey and to be respectful of others’ viewpoints and struggles. You would be surprised how many times I had to remind adults of this. I also outlined the flow of the class (see below), noted the time constraint, and asked all phones to be put on silent or turned off.  

3 – Be Aware of Group Dynamics
During the first class or two, you will start to see different personalities emerge. I usually had a small group of participants who were the most engaged (i.e. always giving feedback/input), a handful of really chatty ones (who I often needed to cut off), a few silent listeners (some of which preferred to ask questions after the session finished), and maybe one (if any) aggressive or very negative participant. While you don’t want to put anyone in a “box” necessarily, being aware of the dynamic will help you facilitate more effective discussions and know when you might need to intervene. There are a ton of resources online that can help you in managing certain group dynamics if you feel stuck.

4 – Take Charge of the Discussion
After leading quite a few group classes, I began to realize that the most positive feedback I received was in regards to how I kept “in control.” Taking control of the class means allowing meaningful discussion, yet redirecting when needed. This also means (politely) cutting someone off who is chatting too much. This also means spinning negative comments into positive and actionable ones. If you feel like the class got a bit off track, don’t be afraid to redirect the discussion. Often I would say things like, “Suzie, you make a great point about exercise being a struggle. I will make note of your comments so we can focus on them when we get to that topic.” Avoid getting too far off track during every session since many of your participants could be really looking forward to the topic originally planned and may feel upset that it didn’t receive adequate time/attention.

5 – Create Actionable Goals
At the end of every group session, I would take about 5 minutes to have all participants write down an action goal for the week. I would give everyone the opportunity to share their goals and provide encouragement and support for others. I felt like this tied the discussion topic together and gave participants something positive to work towards (other than just weight).

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Sample Class Flow (1-hour)
I have run 45 and 60-minute support groups before. I always did the weigh-ins prior to the class (optional) and avoided talking about weight during the class discussion in an effort to keep things positive for all.
-Optional weigh-ins prior to class
-Introduction to myself (2 min)
-Ground rules/reminders (3 min)
-Discussion of last week’s topic/goals – what worked, what didn’t, questions (10 min)
-Topic introduction from Dietitian – why this topic is important, what I want to discuss (2 min)
-Main topic – Dietitian has talking points, ask class about struggles (8 min)
-Class input on topic – strategies that worked well for them (10 min)
-Additional questions/Dietitian recap (5 min)
-Goal setting + sharing (10 min)

Sample Support Group Topic Ideas
Be specific when choosing a support group topic. I tried to avoid broad topics (like weight-loss) and instead focus on particular habits or health attributes.
-Healthy snacks – components, samples
-Reading labels – what to look for, samples
-Eating on-the-go – can be broken into eating-on-the run and eating out
-Mindful eating – what is it and how to incorporate
-Tips for incorporating more fruits/veggies
-Incorporating exercise into a busy schedule
-What is meal balance – i.e. what should be on your plate
-Strategies for eating well: on vacation, over the holidays, at BBQs, etc


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Pros and Cons of In-Home Counseling Services

When I first started my practice, I thought I NEEDED to get office space. After a few months of searching, I realized I was either going to be paying the same amount I do for renting a duplex or have to travel a distance for something more feasible. Instead, I decided to try my hand at in-home counseling sessions. It would cut down on costs (as in overhead) and allow me to build a client basis without the added stress of paying monthly rent.

I found a lot of my clients were more comfortable being in their own home versus a formal office. It also allowed them to show me products in their cabinets and give me a visual for their environment. I could also set up sessions for cooking and meal prep, since so many tell me that making healthy food is difficult for them. I find my home-session clients are less likely to reschedule and rarely cancel since weather, running behind, etc is less of an issue.

Most of the insurance plans I take in my practice cover in-home counseling, which was make or break for me when my only option was in-home counseling. Some insurance companies in your area may have different regulations for nutritional counseling, as in only an office setting. I would suggest checking the provider resource center for each individual insurance company or calling your network coordinator to find out what applies to your service.

While home-counseling sessions are definitely a great option, there are also some heavy downsides. One of the biggest downsides to home counseling is the travel. Home-visits really cut down the amount of clients I can see in one day. I really try to chunk my client areas so I am not going all over the place; however, some days this works better than others. Ultimately, you are still paying for gas and wear-and-tear on your car, but, you won’t have the looming monthly rent payment due. This could be great for someone just starting out. I make sure to track all of my mileage and tolls to use for tax purposes.  

To be honest, you never REALLY know what you might walk into with a client appointment, let alone one in the home. I always do a phone consult first to get an idea of the client. A lot of my clients are from referrals from companies or business relations, so I feel comfortable entering the home. I also make it a point to recommend a quiet space in the home (usually the kitchen or living room). Some things you might want to ask before entering a client’s home is if they have a private space available in the home to speak and whether or not they have pets (especially if you are allergic or fear them).

While most of my clients are in-home and on-site (as in worksite wellness), I do have a few clients who would prefer an office-based setting. In that case, I utilize office space at my local Chamber of Commerce since I am a member there. I have met clients at coffee shops; however, this is not a very private setting and is not covered by insurance.

One last thing to keep in mind with home-visits or traveling appointments overall is what you will take with you. I always have with me a notepad, handouts, new client folder, business cards, paper portion models, and a plate picture or model for reference. I almost never bring a scale with me (unless specifically requested) since most clients have one at home. I also don’t like to focus on weight and instead healthy habits.

All-in-all, I wouldn’t change how I started my business; however, for the future, I am starting to move away from a lot of the face-to-face and building more of the virtual end. A lot of my clients want online support, books, programs, etc. The face-to-face component will always be apart of my business, but the amount of time will definitely be changing. I hope my pros and cons will help you in deciding where to take your business!

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Private Practice – 1 Year in Review

I can’t believe I am saying this, but, I have officially been in full-time private practice for 1-year! I have had my practice since 2014; however, December 5th of 2016 was when I left my safe, full-time 9 to 5 job to grow my business.

So much has changed in just one year. I now have a full client load, in which I am scheduling about 6-weeks out for appointments. I am comfortable and competent with billing and calling insurance companies for claims. I eliminated aspects of my business that were just a poor avenue of income or a drain on my emotional well-being. I built and maintained partnerships with companies to bring wellness to them. I started teaching at the college level for the first time and am able to continue doing so with my practice in 2018. There are just so many wins I have had with my business and I am grateful to all of my friends/family who have given me guidance and encouragement along the way.

For today’s post, I wanted to share with you just some of my tips/insights from being PorrazzaNutrition for a full year.

Diversify 
I have had many partnerships change over just a few months. Some, I ended due to lack of professionalism. Some, were a steady source of referrals until they hit a business slump, which caused my client intake to decline too. All-in-all, make sure you reach out and connect with a variety of businesses to get your name out there. Don’t just rely on one company/partnership to make or break your business. Having a diverse number of partnerships will also put you in a better bargaining position, should that time come.

Find Your Passion and Motivation 
What motivates you to be in private practice? Is it the flexibility? Is it the freedom of designing your own path? Is it being able to help a greater network of clientele? Find out what motivates you! If I get overwhelmed or stressed, I stop and think about WHY I am here in the first place. This can really help me to get over the negativity I am feeling and push me to do more.

Always Make Use of Your Time
Being an entrepreneur means that you ride the roller coaster of financial and emotional ups and downs. If you find your business in a bit of a slump, maybe around the holidays, do something productive. Can you work on social media posts, blog topics, website design, or new programs? During my free time, I like to divide my days into “business” and “personal.” I make a list of things I want to accomplish when I don’t have clients to be able to grow my business. On the other side of things, I brainstorm what personal items I want or need to get done. I try to stick to the hours or days I determined I would work on my business to keep a personal boundary for myself.

Create a Positive Support System
The support I have gotten from my boyfriend, family, and friends has really lessened some of my bad days. Find at least one person that can be a sounding board for you. Someone who can tell you that you can do it. Someone who can push you to do more than you think is possible. Someone who can tell you when something is a terrible idea (it has happened to me on a few occasions). If you don’t have anyone personally you can count on for the moment, look to online groups. I am in a few different ones on Facebook and also within email threads. It’s nice to see you are not alone in your efforts and that many have been in your same shoes. It’s also a really awesome feeling to be able to support someone else in their private practice journey.

Take Time to Assess 
I have been keeping a business journal since the first day I started my business full-time. This has been a really useful tool for me. I write about positive and negative things I encounter in my practice, brainstorm new ideas, or just vent when I need to. Over the months, I can go back and see how far I have come in business and also reflect on some of my successes. I feel like keeping a journal has been a very grounding experience and also a way for me to just write and move on from something I may be overthinking.

Take the Chances
You never know what you might become or what you might do in the next month or year. So, don’t limit yourself by saying, “I can’t.” Take the opportunities when they arise, and not just for financial reasons, but for experience and growth. Network with others, keep your business connections, and stay open to new possibilities.
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Business Planning for 2018

The holidays are fast approaching and that means 2017 is coming to a close! I feel like this year flew by for me. This was my first year as a full-time business owner and I have loved every minute of it (even the stressful ones). Over the past few months, I found myself working IN my business versus ON it. I realized with overbooking myself, I was stunting my business growth. While the income was great, I was just going through the motions daily without creating anything new or challenging myself.

With that, I decided to start working on my business goals and strategy for 2018. I wanted to have a plan in place so I can start taking action steps for the many ideas that I have. Below are some of the questions I asked myself when thinking about my 2018 plan.

Questions to Ask Yourself
1. What is your ultimate vision for the end of 2018?
-Think of what you want your business to look like by Dec 2018. What does your day-to-day include? What is your schedule like? What types of clients are you seeing? This can help you to identify goals and action steps to take monthly and daily.

2. What are your large goals for the year?
-This could be launching a practice or starting a new program. Think about larger goals being more long-term (i.e. to accomplish in 6-8 months).

3. What are your smaller goals for this year?
-This could include working on marketing to local businesses or incorporating more social media posts. Think about smaller goals as being more short-term (i.e. weekly or monthly).

4. Why is all of this important?
-Think about the importance of each of your goals. This will help with driving your motivation and also developing a targeted strategy for building and marketing.

5. What pitfalls do you want to avoid?
-Think about the hangups you had this year in business. Did you tend to overbook yourself? Are you doing too much on your own? Are you lacking personal time? Are you saying yes too much? Be aware of the things you want to work on and build them into your goals and ultimately your schedule. Write out monthly reminders to yourself to help avoid these pitfalls throughout the year.

After I asked myself the questions above (doesn’t have to be in this order), I brainstormed all of the steps I needed to take for each of my ideas and goals. I actually did this over a few days while on the train and waiting for appointments. After I had a comprehensive list, I organized the steps into a logical order and began to map them out on my calendar as due dates.

I also planned out the dates I wanted to schedule clients and when I would be working ON my business. One of my main goals for this year is to not overbook myself and instead stick to the boundaries I set. Although this will include my having to say “no” sometimes, I know this will be really important for my business and my sanity!

I hope this post helps you to plan out a successful 2018! Happy holidays!

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