Administrative

SaVannaShoemaker.com’s End-of-Year Wrap-up and New Year Goals

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I’m a sucker for new year’s resolutions. I love everything about the new year: the hopefulness, the optimism, the excitement, the chance to turn over a new leaf, and the excuse to pour yourself fully into your goals without seeming like a bizarrely enthusiastic weirdo. Because it’s a brand new year!

The bad thing is, I think I can count on one hand the number of new year’s resolutions I’ve actually kept.

All that hopefulness and optimism fades away so quickly… normally around mid-January, when the kid is sick and we drop a bunch of cash on doctor’s appointments, and then I get a flat tire or a check engine light on the way home from the pharmacy. Clearly, the circumstances of my life never quite get the memo that it’s a “new year, new me” and a sick kid and a flat tire are not part of the plan.

But, let me be cliche for a moment here… 2020 is going to be different. I feel like I’ve been living a life in transition for the past several years, never able to fully focus my goals and my personal growth because there’s always something else that takes priority: graduating from school, being a newlywed, working at a stressful job, a miscarriage, a pregnancy, a baby, a move, job changes, and on and on… but that is NOT going to be the case in the coming year!

I’m settled. I have a great full-time job, a growing writing business, a home we’re not planning to leave any time soon, a husband who supports my dreams, and a preschooler who (thankfully) thrives on routine. The time is now.

AND I’m turning 30 in 2020. The time is¬†definitely¬†now. Gulp.

So without further ado… my 2019 wrap-up and 2020 goals!

2019 Year in Review

2019 was an exciting year for me. In March I received the offer to start writing for Healthline Nutrition, and I jumped in headfirst. I’ve been writing at least one article a week (sometimes two) for NINE months now, and my writing skills have improved so much.

Fast forward to November and I was struck with the sudden inspiration to start my writing business. I’ve been obsessively listening to podcasts, researching, poring through Facebook groups, and building my website for the past 2 months, and I think it’s paying off. I’ve got big plans for my business in 2020!

I also got to go off-roading in Las Vegas with my husband and whitewater rafting in Denver with my best friend, and those were some adventures that I will never forget!

2020 Goals

So in 2020 I have 4 BIG goals that I really want to achieve (and some tinier goals, and sub-goals within my big goals, etc, etc… I started working on my new year’s resolutions at the beginning of Q4 2019 so I’ve been thinking about these for a while.)

1. Improve my health

I’ve always been, um… hefty, but I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant with my son and I haven’t lost a bit of it yet except for the same 10 pounds I keep losing and regaining over and over again. And that really hurts for me to say, because I’m a registered dietitian and “I should know better” (and yes, I have been told this by one of my own clients before).

Moment of vulnerability here: I hate being a fat dietitian. I know it deeply damages my credibility, and it even makes me nervous to put myself out there as a writer. In my mind I know my weight has absolutely nothing to do with my writing skills or my knowledge, but I still have a ton of shame around it. I do want to lose weight for health purposes as well. And to look better, obviously.

However, I’m going to try not to focus on my weight so much in the coming year because it makes me a neurotic mess (see above paragraph). Instead, I’m gonna focus on my behaviors and trust that my weight will follow. I want to eat better, even on the weekends or when I’ve had a really bad day or when I’m on my period and all I want is a solitude and a 5-lb Hershey bar. I want to stick to a workout routine, kick my diet soda habit/addiction for good, and focus on improving my health versus getting skinnier.

On that note, I’ll be using my Instagram to document my “health gain” journey, so feel free to follow me if you’d like to stay up-to-date or help me stay accountable. My handle is @savannashoemaker_rdn.

2. Grow my writing business

I also want to keep growing my business! I feel like it’s already grown so much in two months, and I’m so excited to see where I’ll be in December 2020. I’m hoping to land a few more regular writing clients and grow my blog into a trusted source for nutrition info.

I also have a personal goal to write every. single. day. in 2020. I love to write and I want to keep getting better at it, and writing for 366 days (leap year!) in a row sounds like a really good way to do that.

And although it probably won’t be in 2020… I want to write a book. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a weird middle schooler. Bucket list, baby!

3. Have a baby

It is PAST time for my 4-year-old to get a little sibling. He’s a little tyrant in the making, the golden boy of the family and the center of attention for his approximately 30 grandparents (he’s very loved). He NEEDS a little sibling to bring him down a few pegs. And I’m only mostly kidding about this.

But, we do want to grow our family in 2020. I know that’s not exactly something we can control, but it is something that we are hoping, planning, and preparing for!

4. Save and make more money

I made a pretty decent income from writing as a side hustle this year, and my goal for 2020 is to at least double it. I also want to make that extra money work for us by paying off my car, building up our emergency buffer, and replacing the carpets in our house with hardwood. In what world is white carpet a good idea??

I’m obsessed with optimizing our family finances and I have been since I got my first job at age 16 and started keeping a record of every single thing I spent money on in a little notebook in my purse (still do, tbh). Maybe I’ll even pursue some personal finance writing gigs… we’ll see.

So, those are my 2020 goals. 2019 was an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the coming year. I want to ROCK this new decade and ring in my 30’s as a healthier wife and mom, a better businesswoman, a more confident dietitian, and a stronger writer!

What are your new year’s resolutions??

wellness

6 Immune-Boosting Supplements to Help You Thrive This Winter

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My son just got over a nasty upper respiratory infection/ear infection double-whammy, his first of this winter season. So far my husband has had a couple of minor colds, and I’ve managed to avoid being sick completely. This is such a huge change from last year, when it felt like all 3 of us were sick all winter.

In fact, my son had such a horrible, nagging cough last winter that I took him to the doctor several times. We did X-rays, allergy tests, and asthma tests, but all the tests came back negative. The cough didn’t clear up until spring.

I was determined not to let that happen again! Armed with nothing but my will to keep my family well (and the entire internet), I set out to find the most effective, research-backed supplements to add to our routine over the winter. My whole family has been taking these supplements since August and I feel like they’ve made a huge difference.

So, today I just want to share a peek into our winter supplement routine and some of the reasons I chose to add these specific supplements. I’ll also drop a link to my preferred brand for my 4-year old (I buy vitamins for my husband and I based 50% on quality, 50% on sale price). Anyway, on to the good stuff:

1. Elderberry

Elderberry is an immune powerhouse.

In a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial of over 300 people, elderberry reduced the incidence of colds, along with their severity and duration when compared to a placebo group.

Another clinical trial of 40 people with the flu found that taking elderberry syrup reduced the severity and duration of the illness compared to a placebo.

While these are not huge studies, they were both double-blinded, randomized controlled trials, which – as many of y’all already know – are the “gold standard” for health research.

We use Nature’s Way Sambucus for Kids syrup, which my son really likes. My husband and I take elderberry capsules because the syrups have way too much sugar for me.

2. Echinacea

Echinacea is one of my favorite smells on earth. Seriously, it smells so good.

Unfortunately, the research is a real mixed bag in regards to its effectiveness for treating colds and upper respiratory infections.

However, I choose to include echinacea in our routine because it’s a powerful immune mediator, meaning it beefs up your immune system.

While it may not be effective at treating sickness, it can help your body to more efficiently ward off those germs and viruses the next time they come around, and can decrease your risk of getting sick by about 10-20% based on the data pulled from available studies.

My son gets echinacea in his elderberry syrup, and my husband and I take echinacea capsules.

3. Vitamin D

When I was a young, bright-eyed dietetic intern (way back in 2012), I had the opportunity to meet a pediatric endocrinologist who was intensely obsessed with vitamin D. I also cried when he read The Velveteen Rabbit to a group of kids at diabetes camp, but that’s another story for another day.
Long story short, I now share this doctor’s passion for the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is an outstanding immune mediator and anti-inflammatory agent. I could go on and on about it all day, so one of these days it will get its own blog post.

In the meantime, here are the highlights:

  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to autoimmune conditions like lupus, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Vitamin D promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and helps heal leaky gut (BTW, your digestive system plays a HUGE role in immune function)
  • Your immune cells (and many other cells in the body) have vitamin D receptors

In my personal experience, during the periods in my life where I am consistently supplementing with vitamin D, I do not get sick nearly as often. Full disclosure: it definitely worked better before I had a toddler (AKA, a walking germ factory) in daycare (AKA, a germ factory full of walking germ factories).

My son takes Vitacost InfantHealth Liquid Vitamin D Drops for Kids, and my husband and I take 5000 IU gelcaps. This is one that we take year round.

4. Vitamin C

So, vitamin C has a reputation that is not quite…. accurate. Tons of people reach for vitamin C when they feel a cold coming on, but unfortunately by that point it’s too late for the supplement to do any good.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it pretty much just passes right through you and you will pee out any excess your body doesn’t use. Unfortunately, taking too much can also cause diarrhea, so if you’re unclear on the use of vitamin C for sickness you could end up with a cold, and diarrhea, and a bunch of useless vitamin C in your urine!

Here’s the deal: there is some evidence to show that supplementing regularly with adequate levels of vitamin C can decrease your risk of catching a cold and may make your cold less severe and shorter. The catch is, you have to be supplementing with it regularly, because starting when you’re already sick won’t help!

My son gets vitamin C from his Lil’ Critters Immune C + Zinc and Vitamin D gummies.

5. Probiotics

I hinted at this above when discussing vitamin D, but your gut health plays a HUGE role in your immune function. It is so easy for us to think about all of these different systems as being totally compartmentalized, but that is not the truth. All of these moving pieces fit together very intricately and are 100% interconnected, and it all starts with your gut and the food you eat – which provide the very building blocks for every cell, tissue, and hormone in your body.

Having an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria can make you more susceptible to disease, while having a flourishing colony of healthy gut bacteria can strengthen your body’s defense against invaders.

Keeping your gut bugs healthy is key to keeping you healthy, which is why I’m including probiotics on this list of immune supplements.

My son takes NOW Supplements BerryDophilus Kids probiotic chewables.

6. Zinc

The last supplement I’m going to discuss in this post is zinc. Like vitamin C, the role of zinc in treating sickness is a bit misunderstood.

Supplementing with it can help decrease your risk of catching a cold.

But, several studies show that zinc has minimal or no effect on the length or severity of a cold. Some people recommend taking zinc within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms to possibly help decrease the length of the cold. Additionally, zinc lozenges may help you get over your cold faster as well.

The research is just too inconclusive to make any real claims about zinc, but I choose to include it because it does have a huge effect on the immune system. It helps to maintain the integrity of your mucous membranes, which can help prevent germs and viruses from weaseling their way in.

My son gets zinc in his Lil’ Critters immune gummies.

Bonus: Lifestyle

In conclusion, I want to add a brief list of other evidence-based things your family can do to help prevent the relentless onslaught of illness in your home this winter:

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Avoid highly processed foods and added sugars, which can disrupt your gut bacteria
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Get a flu shot
  • Manage stress

Additionally, you can get vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics from healthy foods like red meat (which is totally a health food), fatty fish, dark green leafy vegetables, and full-fat yogurt (sans sugar, preferably).

These six supplements seem to have really made a difference for my family. Have you found success with any immune supplements? Let me know in the comments!

nutrition

My Nutrition Philosophy

I think every dietitian has a nutrition philosophy that is shaped by their own experiences, relationship with food, and – of course – their education (which, for the record, is very thorough… new dietitians are now required to have a Master of Science degree, and many of us older dietitians got one just for kicks).

As someone who pursued a job in nutrition as a result of my own life-long struggles with my weight, I have thought and thought and thought about my own nutrition philosophy, and now I’m ready to share it.

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

If I had to write a Michael Pollan style food mantra, mine would be: “Eat real food. Not too much. And don’t stress out about it.”

As someone who was born over 10 pounds and who has pretty much been fat ever since, I have tried so many diets. I had some fleeting success with Weight Watchers back in high school, but gained all that weight back and then some in the years that followed. Calorie counting, paleo, vegetarian… all failures for me in the realm where it really mattered to me, my weight. It just seemed like I couldn’t trick my brain into being satisfied with a reasonable amount of “healthy” food… ever.

However, the one dietary framework that really seems to work for me is low-carb/keto, along with intermittent fasting. When I stick to it, the weight falls off, my skin clears up, my stomach flattens, and I have so much more energy. Of course, the hard part is sticking to it faithfully in a world that is filled with sugar.

BUT, I’m not so much of a zealot that I think everyone should be on keto. I understand, accept, and embrace the fact that different things work for different people. However, I think there are some low-carb concepts that would work wonders in improving the overall health of most people:

  • Eat fewer carbs. Most carbs are crap, and people are eating way too many of them.
  • Avoid seed oils. Vegetable oil is nasty, inflammatory, and just plain terrible for you. Stick to butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and other natural fats.
  • Drink more water. And definitely don’t drink your calories (because, let’s face it, drinking calories should more accurately be called drinking sugar).
  • Eat more produce. Veggies are delicious. Eat more of them. And fruit too, if your blood sugar is well-controlled.
  • Don’t fear the fat. Fat is good for you. Saturated fat is NOT bad for you. More calories per gram does not equal less healthy.
  • Stop salt-shaming. Your body needs salt. Salt sensitivity is a real thing, but affects a minority of people. There are many other factors that have a bigger effect on your blood pressure.
  • Limit snacks. Snacks don’t cure hangryness. They cause it.

In addition to the diet aspect, though, I have to discuss what I consider some of the biggest keys to wellness. These are just as important as diet… if not more so, in some instances.

  • Get enough sleep. 7-9 hours per night for adults. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
  • Decrease the amount of stress in your life. Work stress, family stress, relationship stress, financial stress, commute stress… all of it. Find ways to decrease the stress in your life. It’s terrible for you. This includes stressing out about your diet and/or weight.
  • Exercise. Focus on resistance training over steady-state cardio. Try to make it enjoyable. (This is my eternal struggle right here.)
  • Connect with others. We need each other.
  • Have fun. And sometimes you just need to drop everything and play with your kids for a little bit, or watch some Netflix, or even on rare occasion eat carbs. (Scandalous, I know).

So those are my basic thoughts on diet, nutrition, health, and wellness. I know they may not jive with everyone, and that’s okay.

I realize they might make me sound like some kind of wellness saint, but I am far from it. I still have weight to lose, I struggle with my sweet tooth, I hate exercise, and I love to stay up late when I know I have an early morning the next day.

But I believe I have found a set of food ideals that I can live with for the rest of my life, that focus on healthy foods without being authoritarian, along with focusing on the other huge lifestyle factors that play a key role in health.

How about you? What’s your nutrition philosophy?

Do you need help expressing it in an elegant, organized, and succinct way for your website, so your potential clients can get to know you better? I can help with that! Click here to contact me.