- Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
As a Medical Dietetics student I wanted to combine my interest in nutrition with my love of running. For my project I trained for and successfully completed my first half marathon. During my training I tracked my dietary intake and was able to see how my eating habits were during training and on race day.
- Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
This experience helped me get more involved with my major, was a major confidence booster, and strengthened my mentality that I can truly do anything I set mind to. The summer before my first year at Ohio State I started my first attempt at training for a half marathon. Almost a month into my training I was playing tennis with a friend when I slipped and twisted my knee. After that day I had to stop running and give my knee time to heal. After two months I tested my knee with a 5K during welcome week. My knee pain returned after this race. For the rest of my first year I suffered from on and off pain. The following summer I took it easy and refrained from exerting myself. When I returned to campus for my second year I started running again. I went on to run two 5K’s, a four miler, and a 15k during autumn semester. I completed all of these races without any pain. The next goal I had set for myself was to run a half marathon. To me the experience wasn’t just about crossing the finish line but more about the entire process and the journey I took to get there. And my experience did not stop there. I have already set new goals for myself. I have already signed up for my next half marathon. This time I am challenging myself yet again and doing a challenge race at the Rite Aid Cleveland marathon. I will be running an 8K on Saturday, May 14th and a half marathon the following day, May 15th. The training regimen is a different ballgame but I like the challenge and I know just like before that I will be able to rise to the occasion because there is nothing I can’t do when I set my mind to it.
- Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
I was able to become comfortable with a program that looks at caloric needs and compares that to daily intake and exercise. I tracked my caloric intake and expenditure in 24 hour time periods and was able to input these into the software to see if I was meeting my daily needs. This got me more comfortable with DRI’s and other terms that deal with my major. I was able to compare how I eat while training with how I ate the day of my race. I can use this data to make changes to my eating habits for my next half marathon. This experience provided me with firsthand experience at tracking and logging my caloric intake and my output of energy. This is something as a dietitian that I may request of my patients. Seeing firsthand how it’s a demanding task at times and for me not something I could do everyday makes more aware and understanding of the demand it will put on them. Going forward I will look at ways to improve the process and try to make adjustments or compromises if able.
What caught me off guard about my experience was how it affected the people around me. As I got further into my training I was making more and more health conscious decisions. What I never expected is that my lifestyle changes in prepping for a half marathon would motivate my parents to live healthier lifestyles.
My favorite part about the experience looking back is the fact that I got to share it with my parents. This past summer was most likely the last summer that I will be spending living with them. Over the course of the summer I was able to create some really great memories with both my mom and dad. My dad started running again and we were able to talk about our daily runs and bond over running stories. My mom, not a runner by any means, was one of my biggest supporters throughout the summer and accompanied me on all my 8+ mile runs. She would follow me on a bike on some of the hottest days of summer just to make sure I stayed safe on the trails and that I didn’t over exert myself in the heat. We would bond and have meaningful conversations while I ran. She also would watch my form and let me know when I started tensing my shoulders. It was a great experience getting to share this with my parents.
My race in June 2015 was a 5K and it became a family affair. My dad and I both ran the race and my mom waited at the finish line with the camera. My dad gave me a run for my money and was right on my tail the entire time. I ran my fastest 5K ever that day and my fastest mile during a race. My dad and I finished within 30 seconds of each other and have already decided we will be returning to this race this upcoming summer for a rematch. This experience brought my parents and I closer together and left us with lasting memories. Those memories I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life and are my favorite part of the entire journey.
- Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
Academically this experience opened my eyes to how much goes into food logging and tracking. I had never tried to do this for a 24 hour period prior and now I am aware of how much effort for some people it can be. I felt attached to my phone and other electrical devices while doing it. I also felt restrained while searching for some of the foods on the software. Sometimes they didn’t have exact foods especially when I went out to eat. Going into dietetics depending on the path I choose I may be asking my patients to do food logs. Going through the experience myself was eye opening and a great learning experience moving forward. It gives me a sense of understanding and gives me something to think about. Another thing I learned is that I am not as interested in sports nutrition as I initially thought. This experience opened me up to the fact that I don’t like mixing work with pleasure. When focusing a lot on what I was eating and making it my job to scrutinize my training it made me dread the process to a certain extent. Since the project ended in October I took a break for a bit and have started training again for my next half marathon. I still am conscious of what I eat and my training schedule. However, this time around I love the process a lot more. I believe this is because I’m not viewing it as something I have to do and I’m not so focused on the idea of having to write every little thing down. Instead I can just enjoy the process. I also have had the experience of working with athletes over the course of the few months of the program and witnessed firsthand that a lot were non compliant to what the dietitians were telling them to do. I would find this extremely frustrating. On the other hand I know people firsthand in a hospital setting who take what the dietitians say to heart because they want to get better and they want to leave the hospital. Sometimes it seems that the athlete mentality can hinder some when it comes to eating right. I am aware that this is not always the case and many patients in a clinical setting will also be non compliant but through this experience I have gained a special interest in the clinical side to dietetics and moving forward will be exploring my options on this path with greater interest. My personal and life goals have also been altered thanks to the STEP experience. Just two years ago I never thought I’d be able to overcome past knee issues. I thought it was a far off dream that would never come true when it came to running a half marathon. After I made this dream a reality looking forward I am looking for new ways to challenge myself. My next challenge is to run two races within 24 hours. In May I will be doing an 8K in Cleveland on a Saturday and the Sunday of that same weekend I will be running a half marathon. If all goes according to plan and these races go well I will be looking at training for my first full marathon. I know that I have more in me and while my body is still in shape I want to take advantage of what it can handle and continue to set and reach new goals. Someday I want to be able to say I am not just half crazy but full on crazy and ran 26.2 miles for fun.