My Nutrition Journey: Ryan, Part 2

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I started at the University of Georgia (UGA) in 2004 and finally graduated, with two degrees, in 2012. I should have been mindful of “The Macho Man” Randy Savage’s words in an interview with Arsenio Hall, “there’s only one guarantee in life and that’s that there are no guarantees,” but I wasn’t. Even with those two degrees it still wasn’t enough to get me into a Dietetic Internship. I needed something more. Something to show that I wanted to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and, literally, was willing to work for it. As Susannah was preparing to move to Indiana, I decided to take the exam to become a Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR). After passing the exam I started the job search within two hours of where Susannah would be.

Leaving home

I had spent my entire life until that point living in one of two neighboring counties. A grand total of 304.3 square miles housed the first 28 years of my life. Then I got a job in Indianapolis and moved 600 miles to a state where the only person I knew was Susannah.

I worked as a DTR in three different hospitals: Methodist Hospital, Indiana University Hospital, and Riley Children’s Hospital. It was one of the most worthwhile working experiences I have ever had. I spent most of my time in Methodist, an adult hospital, or Riley and this only bolstered my desire to become an RDN. Helping adults and families better manage their nutrition overall and specifically for their diseases or a condition were the reasons why I went to school. I still wanted more and I knew I was close to getting there.

Wrestling With Nutrition

I like the allegory. I like it so much it was the title of my “personal statement” for each of the three times that I applied to get into the infamous Dietetic Internship. As I continued in wrestling and in nutrition it became more obvious that they were intrinsically tied together. Without wrestling, I would have never entered the nutrition and fitness world. Without nutrition and fitness, I would never have done anything worthwhile in wrestling. The definition of wrestling and in coordination with nutrition is very specific to my journey. This is how I read that statement, “grappling with [nutrition] and trying to throw or hold [it] down on the ground, typically according to [the] code of rules”.

Wrestlemania 29 occurred on April 7, 2013, and on that day, I didn’t get into an internship for the second time. Fast forward to Wrestlemania 30, April 6, 2014, also Dietetic Internship Match Day. There was a lot riding on this day. Would Brock Lesnar beat the Undertaker? Would one of my doppelgängers, Daniel Bryan, beat Triple H and make it into the main event? More importantly, would I finally get into a Dietetic Internship? How apropos.

From Goal to Goal

The length of most playing surfaces has a goal on either side. I had finally taken a step onto the proverbial field when one goal behind me and the other on the opposite side in front of me. In order to make it through the internship, I continued to work full time. I completed rotations on my days off from my full-time job. If at all possible, I highly recommend not doing that. While I was able to complete all of my rotations and the required course work it meant that it was going to be on a “part-time” basis which only extended the time that this would need to go on.

On top of going through the internship, Susannah and I got married in August of 2016. It was the greatest day and one day I might come back to talk about all of the nutrition and fitness things I did to get prepared for our wedding. I mean, since I had to stand next to her, I needed to try and look at least half as good, right?

I finally got approval to sit for the exam in February 2017 and passed the exam to become an RDN in May 2017. Years. Years of my life dedicated to a dream that at times seemed unachievable. I had finally made it. Now I needed to find a job.

New Status, New Job

We moved back to Georgia two weeks prior to getting married. We had been married for nearly a year before I became an RDN. The wonderful thing about being an RDN is there are so many avenues available that specifically use the credential. While there are many, many options for an RDN, my passion with nutrition lays in very few areas. I had the foundation in acute care, specifically with oncology patients, and sport performance. I began applying to every job I could find while crossing my fingers and hoping to land a job working with those patients.

And I did! I started working at a hospital in Atlanta that specializes in caring for patients with cancer. Nutrition is a constantly evolving science. Nutrition has really come under fire over the last several years thanks to propaganda films on streaming services. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of patients hear advice related to their conditions and the vast majority of it is wrong. A new food, food-based product, or a part of food seems to be vilified every day. This is usually where I encounter patients on their nutrition journey. I work them to get them back on track to using nutrition to support themselves through the cancer treatment and thrive long after it’s over.

Life Goals

Susannah and I had tried to move closer to our dream of living in the coastal region of North or South Carolina right as we were leaving Indiana. We even had a few interviews at some different places but none of them were viable at the time. After living in Atlanta for two years and as Susannah was pregnant, we began exploring that possibility again. Our son, Drexel, was born in December 2018 and we moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in April 2019.

I started working for an amazing hospital here in Wilmington and we’ve been building Food With Strength ever since. My passions for helping people live healthier with nutrition continue to grow. I see patients working through cancer treatment daily inside the hospital and get to help others survive and thrive outside of it. I also continue to help clients manage their weight and improve their sports performance. When you’re working at living your best life food can’t be your only focus. My goal with every patient and client is to help them find the system that fits their life while also meeting their nutrition needs.

Let’s work together and build the system that’s best for you. Sign up for your free meet-and-greet today and let’s get to know each other.

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