If I knew then… Tips for becoming a good massage therapist

Well, it has been quite a long time since I’ve written here on my little Dietitian-in-Training- slash- whatever I feel like writing about- blog project, but not due to lack of material. Since I last posted, I finished the spring semester of my junior year in nutrition studies, married the love of my life, enjoyed a fabulous honeymoon in lovely Puerto Rico (stay here, you won’t regret it!), said goodbye my dear grandfather, and started an exciting new job as a Diet Tech at Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville, Florida. Oh, and I’m taking summer classes and still working at the restaurant AND still keeping up with a select few of my massage clients. Whew! No wonder I haven’t had the time made the time to blog about it all! Every time I feel inspired to write about something really cool, I think, “I really SHOULD write that paper.” Or, “I really HAVE to take a nap, or else I might collapse.” Not that anything is different today. I still have a pile of homework and laundry and need to exercise and call my mother and so on. But I was inspired this morning by a young aspiring massage therapist and decided to share with all of you lovely people.

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“Raquel” is a talented young lady about halfway through her massage therapist training at a local massage school. This particular school is able to keep massage tuition low by charging a small fee for student massages, (although, of course, the students aren’t paid, because that would be illegal.) This generates revenue for the school, gives practice to the students, and allows young broke newlyweds like me the opportunity to get a little TLC. I used to disagree with the school making money off the students’ hard work, but once I saw that these students pay less than half what I paid for massage school, I realized it is a genius plan. Aaaand, the massage was actually pretty good! It reminded me of when I was first starting out as a LMT.

I had landed a job at one of the nicest spas in the area and I was soooo green. And one coworker in particular let me know she didn’t think I deserved to be there. Rather than taking me under her wing and trying to make me a better therapist (which would have ultimately served the team and the spa better in the end), she mocked me, spoke bad about me, and tattled on me every chance she got whether I did or didn’t actually make the mistake in question. Needless to say, it was tough. Incidentally, she also predicted that my relationship with my then-boyfriend would never work out because of some inherent relational deficit she felt I had. (See above, where I just married said boyfriend-turned-love-of-my-life-hubby.) And, as you might guess, I grew into my own as a massage therapist as well.

But, back to Raquel. I remembered what it felt like to be new at something and unsure of myself, and so I offered her the following tips after my lovely massage.

1. People cool off, temperature-wise, as the massage goes on, so keep them covered as much as possible (unless they are pregnant, those ladies are always trying to get cooler!) Obviously, check in with the client and read the cues that might say otherwise (sweating, clammy, fidgety, etc). But most people like to feel snug as a bug and not “hanging all out there” with all the limbs exposed at once.

2. Don’t be afraid to move and stretch the arms and legs and neck a bit. Just be careful for indication of injuries and so forth.

3. What you tell them you are GOING to do and what you JUST DID are sometimes just as important as what you actually DO on the table. For example, “It sounds like you could use some extra pressure around your right shoulder and that I should avoid your feet, is that right?” Or, “I found your shoulders were elevated, so I worked to create some space there, and it worked beautifully. You should feel a lot better now.” It reinforces what they are feeling in their body and assures them you know what you are talking about and that you have a plan. The most common question I get as a LMT from clients is, “Do you feel that big knot back there?” Yes I feel it and yes I am going to fix it for you. Now you can relax.

4. Use a real cloth face cradle cover. No one likes to life their head up after a massage and still have a paper towel stuck to their face. No bueno.

5. Don’t have the music too loud or the light too bright. It took me a long time to realize that the music can be so distracting, no matter how soothing you think it is. One of my favorite clients would always have ask me to turn it down all the time before I finally got the drift. It takes me a while sometimes, I guess.

6. And, not from today, but reminiscing on a particularly bad massage experience from a while ago, gospel sermons are never, never, never appropriate as pre-massage “music”. Do not project your beliefs onto your clients. On that note, always stay neutral; don’t discuss religion, politics, or sex. It never works out well.

7. And last of all, steer clear of haters. I kind of despise the word haters as it’s thrown around all willy-nilly, but when you are starting out at something new, it’s natural to feel a little intimidated and some people will try to take advantage of that. Be confident. Learn everything you can, so you can become better. And one day, you will have more clients than you know what to do with! 

Well, that’s it. I’m sure there is lots more I could have said to young Raquel, but I was feeling too good to go into it anymore. Plus, I still have to write that paper.

Please feel free to comment below: what’s YOUR biggest pet peeve when getting a massage?

Stopping to smell the roses… and the honey cake

As you would expect of an aspiring dietitian, I have a thing for farmer’s markets. When people ask me about my hobbies, I usually tell them I like to go to markets and grocery stores for fun. Probably not as common among dietetic students is my adoration of European bakeries. A bit of self reflection tells me I keep searching out local Jacksonville bakeries because I am pining for my friends Agi and Aaron Groff and their charming little 4 Seasons Bakery near St. Louis, Missouri. Or it could be that I really love yummy pastries. But at any rate, today I took a break from all the studying and paper writing for my classes, working at my jobs, and wedding planning (just 50 days, y’all!)  and visited the bustling Riverside Arts Market to get a little fresh air. I bought the usual suspects: a big bunch of kale and some tomatoes from Black Hog Farms and some really sweet and creamy white radishes from Down to Earth Farm. As I strolled toward the river in search of a snack, I spotted a sign that said “European Bakery” and immediately thought of my Midwestern friends. The tent belonged to Mina’s Bakery,(with a brick and mortar location at 9965 San Jose Blvd. in Jacksonville) and there were lots of great-looking confections available. I chose a slice of medovik because it looked like heaven: 10 layers of a light colored cake with some creamy looking icing between each layer. Almost as an afterthought, I remembered to ask, “What is it?” The kind gentleman informed me it was a Russian honey cake and that it would be quite lovely with some coffee. And Oh! Was he ever right! Heavenly layers of honeyed cake with a delicious cream cheese icing in between. Just a couple of bites and I was so satisfied!

Mina’s Mister and their pretty pastries

So, content with my yummy treat and the fresh air, I headed back home. Because Spring Break is still a week away and I have a bazillion things due before then. Which can be overwhelming until I remember that this is a journey, and an incredibly fun and fulfilling one at that. And as long as I remember there is always time for a little cake in my life, I’ll be just fine.

Aside
Talking Dirt

Yummy oregano and my garden “helpers”

As an aspiring future dietitian, and as someone who just likes to eat healthy, I find it important to know a thing or two about growing vegetables at home. This is my second year using raised beds. The two previous years I lived in an apartment and relied exclusively on container gardening. The container, or patio garden, kept me in tomatoes, bell peppers and herbs quite nicely, despite the fact I was dealing with a shorter growing season since at the time, my sweetheart and I were living in St. Louis, Missouri. But once we moved back to the Sunshine State, my gardening ambitions escalated. One of the things about gardening is that you always want more, more, more! Thankfully my fiance was the voice of reason last spring, and mandated we just start with two raised beds, promising we could always add more later on. I occasionally bite off more than I can chew when it comes to projects (I just get so darn excited!), so that was a good call on his part. Last year’s beds worked out nicely. One of the 4 foot by 8 foot beds was filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, and  squash. I underestimated the amount of room squash needs to grow, and ended up just pulling it out when it became to cramped. Tomatoes and cucumbers will ALWAYS win out in our garden, as they are our absolute favorites. The other 4X8 bed was somewhat experimental, with out of season beets and carrots, garlic that floundered, and a “gourmet” lettuce blend that had the texture of wet tissue paper. Blech. I continued to grow my kale in the pots I brought from St. Louis, and I grew a plethora of herbs in my window boxes.

This spring, we plan to add a third raised bed, once of which will be exclusively tomatoes and cucumbers. I am also adding arugula, swiss chard, and more kale, lavender, and chamomile  I’m trying some beets again, since we are getting an earlier start and I just love beets so much. Wish me luck.

Smothering the "cover crop"

Smothering the “cover crop”

Before I plant my seeds, I am having to prep the soil. I followed the advice of Greg Seaman over at eartheasy.com. He suggested laying down black plastic sheeting to kill the out of control weeds cover crop. I’ll leave the sheeting down for about 3 weeks, then check the pH of the soil, add lime if necessary, then add in some of the good compost my worms have been making all winter in my vermi-compost bin.

La Casa de Worms

La Casa de Worms

The bin was a birthday gift from my sweetie last year and it’s been a great way to get rid of veggie scraps in the kitchen. What doesn’t go in the bin, I give to my chickens. For more information on worm composting, I have found Mary Appelhof’s book “Worms Eat My Garbage” to be invaluable. I also get all the free horse manure I want from an aunt of mine. It keeps me from having to use Miracle-Gro or some other synthetic fertilizers. Once my soil is set, I’ll be able to start planting those seeds! I can’t wait!

Do you have a home garden? What do you grow? What has been your biggest challenge? Do you actually eat all the produce you grow? I’d love to hear from you!

My Foodie Reading Wish List Just Got a Whole Lot Longer

Usually they are arranged by height and topic, but I'm off my game it seems

Usually they are arranged by height and topic, but I’m off my game it seems

My classes at UNF resumed again last week for the Spring semester and I’m pretty stoked about them. Classes titled such names as “Community Nutrition” and “Food Science” make me swoon with pleasure just thinking of all the cool stuff I am going to learn (nutrition nerd alert). Another class I am really enjoying is “Food, Health, and Society” which, according to the syllabus, is described as “an analysis of how social, psychological, cultural, historical, political, and ecological factors impact food, nutrition, and society.” I mean, really. How cool does that sound?! We are talking about such topics as: “Why do people eat bugs?”, “Why do people eat people?”, and “Who invented the fortune cookie anyway?”The answer is usually found within a culture’s traditions or norms – except in the case of this harrowing tale (more on that later). I also enjoy the class because the professor is one of my favorites, eternally cheerful and even occasionally chuckling at her own jokes, which I find absolutely endearing. Oh, and she has real life dietitian experience out the wazoo, plus she’s organized and on the ball. An organized professor is one of the many quirky things that just make my little Virgo heart oh-so-happy.

I only wish I would have received her syllabus a long time ago, because in it, she put a list of 32 recommended books relevant to the class which are authored by the likes of Michael Pollan (already read those), Marion Nestle (read that one too), and Wendell Berry (yup). But there are SO many other authors there that I don’t recognize and it feels good to have these books recommended by an actual professor/ RD who I know. It can be so overwhelming going to the foodie section at the bookstore because you don’t know if the one you spend your precious book money (I don’t have a shoe or purse fund; I have a book fund) on is going to be a bunch of malarkey or not. Now I can systematically work down this list (Virgo) and by the end, I will really know my stuff! And you can too, because I’m going to share it with you! You’re welcome!

Recommended Reading List for Food, Health, and Society, Spring 2013, Nutrition and Dietetics Program at UNF

(Compiled by Dr. Judy Perkin, RD)

Beardsworth, A. and Keil, T. Sociology on the Menu: An Invitation to the Study of Food and SocietyLondon, UK and New York, New York: Routledge, 1997

 Belasco, W. Meals to Come-A History of the Future of Food. Berkley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press, 2006.

 Bendiner, K. Food in Painting- From the Renaissance to the Present. London: Reaktion Books, Ltd., 2004.

 Berry, W. Bringing It To the Table- On Farming and Food. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009.

 Bower. A ( Editor). Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, and Histories. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

 Cary, N. Hunger and Thirst: Food Literature. San Diego: City Works Press, 2008.

 Chapman, P. Bananas- How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World. Edinburgh, New York, and Melbourne, 2007.

 DeGregori, T.R. Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment. Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute, 2002.

 Fagone, J. Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream. New York, New York:  Random House, Inc., 2007.

 Fisher, C. The American Cookbook: A History. Jefferson, North Carolina:  Mc Farland and Company, Inc., 2006.

 Goody CM, Drago L. Cultural Food Practices.  Chicago, Illinois: American Dietetic Association, 2010.

 Haber, B. From hardtack to home fries: an uncommon history of American cooks and meals. New York, New York: Free Press, 2002.

 Jacobson. M.F. Six Arguments for a Greener Diet. Washington, D.C.: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

 Kittler, P.G. and Sucher, K.P. Food and Culture. Fourth Edition. Belmont, California: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004.

 Koeppel, D. Banana-The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World.  New York, New York : Penguin Group, 2008.

 Manring, M.M. Slave in A Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima. Charlottesville and LondonUniversity of Virginia Press, 1998.

 Meiselman, H. L. Dimensions of the meal: the science, culture, business, and art of eating.  Gaithersburg, Maryland: Aspen Publishers, 2000.

 Nestle, Marion.  Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.  Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2002,2007.

 Neuhaus, J. Manly Meals and Mom’s Home Cooking: Cookbooks and Gender in Modern America. Baltimore, Md. And London, UK.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

 Petrini, C. Slow Food: The Case for Taste. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

 Pollan, M. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 2006.

 Pollan, M. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 2008.

  Reichel, R. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up At the Table. New York: Broadway Books, 1998.

 Robin, M-M.  The World According to Monsanto- Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of Our Food Supply.  New York: The New Press, 2008.

Schenone, L. A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Rembrances. New York/London: W.W. Norton and Company, 2003.

 Schofield, M.A. ( Editor) Cooking By the Book: Food in Literature and Culture.  Bowling Green: Bowling Green University Press, 2008.

 Schlosser, E. Fast Food Nation: the dark side of the all- American meal. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Theophano, J. Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives through the Cookbooks They Wrote. New York, New York: Palgrave, 2002.

 Toussant-Samat, M. History of Food. New York, New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1987/1992.

 Wenger, S.K. and Jensen, J.K. The Book Lover’s Cookbook- Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages that Feature Them.  New York: Ballantine Books, 2003.

 Wilk, R. Home Cooking in the Global Village: Caribbean Food From Bucaneers to Ecotourists.  Oxford, UK and New York, New York, 2006.

 Zimmerman, S. Food in the Movies.  Second Edition.  Jefferson, N.C.: Mc Farland and Company, Inc. , 2010.

If you’re a new mom or just in to reading a witty little blog about being home with a baby, you’ll love Mama-Come-Lately. This cheater chai recipe is just one of her little pearls of wisdom.

Mama-Come-Lately

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A while back, in another lifetime, I posted a chai recipe. More recently, I came across a $4 packet of chai masala at an Asian grocery (Jay International, to be precise). I suppose I could mix up my own batch of ground black pepper, cardamom, clove and ginger, but why should I bother when experts have already done it for me?

Here’s what to do once you get your mitts on some of this lovely stuff.

1. Put 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of the spice mix in a mug.
2. Add a heaping teaspoon of sugar and a tea bag.
3. Fill 2/3 of the way up with cold water.
4. Microwave for however long you usually zap your tea. Or add boiling water in step 3.
5. Add milk, stir, let sit a bit, remove teabag, and enjoy.

Note: The spice mix will mostly settle to the bottom…

View original post 23 more words

My Brainy Obsession and the New Year

I tend to analyze myself constantly. Am I smart enough? Am I focused enough? Am I too emotional? All of those self worth questions invariably lead me to think about the brain: how it works and what can I do/eat/read to make it work better. Part of my brain self education came through a book suggested to my by my fabulous yoga instructor, Cindi Bersinger, over at Power Yoga San Marco. Pretty much everything she says is filled with wisdom, so last summer when she told the class she was reading Buddha’s Brain by  Dr. Richard Mendius, I (and I’m sure a few others) ran out to get it. And it was fabulous! It really changed the way I think about thinking, if that makes any sense. It’s all about how you can physically change the connections in your brain just by thinking! It uses scientifically proven neuroscience for working toward better relationships, healthier self-esteem, greater emotional well-being, more effective actions, and deepened spiritual understanding.

Then one day, I was watching TED talks on TV, and happened to see Jill Bolte Taylor’s amazing talk about what it was like to experience a stroke as a neuroanatomist. I’ve watched her video “A Stroke of Insight” several times since and am looking forward to reading the book that has stemmed from it. She explains our dual personas which are divided by the right and left brains and the Nirvana she reached when she temporarily lost one side during a stroke. It was really a mesmerizing story. You can watch the 20 minute video here:

Fantastic stuff, right? A group called Symphony of Science used part of her talk to create an awesome song called, “Ode to the Brain”, which I have also watched many times. Good luck trying to get the chorus out of your head, though!

Anyway, imagine my joy last week when I spotted National Geographic’s new “The Brain: 100 Things You Never Knew/ A User’s Guide” on the magazine rack:

National Geographic's Awesome Brain Issue

You better believe I brought it home and almost forgot to put the groceries away in my hurry to dive in. (See what I mean about lack of focus?) It’s FULL of great information on the learning brain, the perceptive brain, the unconscious brain, the emotional brain, and the aging brain. There are also some brain puzzles and really great photos included. (Time Magazine also made a similar issue in 2007, but I haven’t read it.)

So, what have I discovered in all my brainy obsession? I’ve discovered that the brain is a complex, fragile, get surprisingly resilient masterpiece that can be damaged by over consumption of alcohol,  drugs, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and negative thinking.  The bright side is that it hums like a well oiled machine on good food, plenty of sleep, full hydration, and exercise (both brain and body – think soduku AND the elliptical machine).

Cheers!

Cheers!

I’m writing about this now because it is New Year’s Eve and I know many of you will stay out late, drink too much, and grab a Krystal burger or two on the way home before falling asleep in your little black dress on the couch. (Not that I’ve ever done that.) But I’m saying just take a moment to be thankful for your amazing brain and try to give it a little consideration tonight. Maybe alternate champagne with bottled water, take a multivitamin, skip the liquor shots, eat some walnuts, berries, salmon, broccoli, whole grains, and/or chocolate tonight, and snuggle up with the one you love shortly after the ball drops so that you can wake up in 2013 rested, hydrated, and hangover-free. Maybe schedule in some meditation time and a little cardio when you wake up tomorrow to start the year off right.  Carpe diem! Seize the new day and the New Year . I wish all of you a happy, content, prosperous, peaceful new year full of joy, love, and good health.

 

This is where the parsnips come in

Some of the yummy winter goodness I roasted yesterday

Some of the yummy winter goodness I roasted yesterday

…And the winter squash, carrots, rutabagas, and turnips. Yesterday, I roasted a big batch of winter vegetables to take to the birthday party of my good friend Krissy, of Krissy’s Kreations Florist in Vilano Beach. She shares my love of healthy food, so I thought it would be a good bet to bring to the party.

And oh, what a fabulous party it was. Her sweet hubby prepared most of the food; including black bean hummus, tabbouleh, swedish meatballs, fresh veggie spring rolls (with homemade peanut sauce!), a  big warm pot of vegetable soup, a couple of pumpkin pies, among other things. She brought in a guy from St. Augustine’s Wednesday Market to play the steel drums for entertainment (think tropical-I’m-on-vacation-vibe-music), and they built a nice little bonfire in the fire pit outside. All of that, combined with lovely people and conversation made for a really good time.

Whenever I am invited to bring a dish to a party, I always like to bring something with a healthy vibe. I’m quite aware it may not be the most popular item on the buffet, but if just a few people learn what a parsnip is or what butternut squash is, AND decide they actually kind of like it, well, I consider that a win for us nutrition minded folk across the board. Also, roasted vegetables in general are one of the easiest things you can make. I simply chopped up a mixture of peeled parsnips, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, acorn and butternut squash, and some onion, then tossed them all in a little canola oil and sprinkled with my favorite Indian seasoning blend – garam masala. The blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, bay, caraway, and mace goes perfectly with the caramelized sweetness of the root vegetables. I baked for 30 minutes at 435 degrees in the oven and the result was fabulous. If you try to make this yourself, remember to chop the vegetables in similar sized chunks and to try to keep the vegetables in a single layer so they will brown and crisp a little, rather than get mushy.

And if you are wondering what a parsnip even is,  I’ll be happy to give you a little tutorial:

Where/ when are parsnips grown?

Those white carrots in the produce section are not albino carrots, but actually a cousin of the carrot, called the parsnip. They are considered winter vegetables, and they need low soil temperatures to develop their flavor. They are a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons, and are usually harvested after the first hard freeze.  These root vegetables need sandy or loamy soil to grow, since rocky or clay soil causes stunted, split, or odd shaped roots.

Price?

Conventional parsnips range from $1.75 to $3.00 per pound, according to a report by University of Vermont done last year. Organic parsnips can be found with similar or slightly higher prices, especially since they are in season right now.

Is it on the clean 15 or Dirty Dozen?

Not on either list, but best to peel before eating if you buy conventional.

What are some common preparation techniques?

Cook like you would a carrot or potato. There are lots of possibilities: roasted boiled sautéed, steamed, mashed. You can also use as a thickener in soups and casseroles. Or you can just scrub or peel, and enjoy them raw!

Detailed nutrition information:

The parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. A 100-g parsnip contains just 75 calories. And parsnips contain a really amazing phytochemical called falcarinol, which, according to this study is a powerful anti-cancer agent. Carrots have falcarinol as well, but parsnips have more!

  • Interesting facts about parsnips:

They used to be very popular before they were replaced by the potato. Their name is a combination between parsley  and turnip, since both plants grow roots similar to parsnips.

A tip for conserving phytonutrient in cooking parsnips: cook the (organic) parnsips BEFORE peeling to prevent falcarinol from leaching out into the cooking water. Always cook vegetables for as little time possible and in as little water possible to conserve nutrients.

Also, if you were considering inviting me to your party, but are worried I will only ever bring vegetables, know this: I also took a few boxes of miniature cream puffs and miniature chocolate eclairs to Krissy’s birthday bash, which all the kids really loved. Just because I enjoy eating healthy doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little junk food with the best of them. I fully believe in eating the foods you WANT to eat, as long as they are eaten in moderation.

What are some of your favorite foods to bring to a party?

 

 

References:

http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/PriceReports/ProducePrices2011-10-10.pdf

http://www.organicauthority.com/vegetables/parsnips.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsnip