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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

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 … Continue reading

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…

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Mac-n-cheese is the antidote to Manic Monday

Even though I’m on winter break from school, it’s not all Lifetime Movie Marathons and Christmas cookie baking around here. No sireee. The last semester (my first in University of North Florida’s Nutrition Program)  moved at a blinding speed and left me with a mile long “to do list” once finals were finished. Combine that with the fact that this is the busiest time of year for the restaurant I work in, and the whole eating-bon-bons-in-my-pajamas-all-day fantasy is shot. Yesterday, for example, I spent a couple of hours at the DMV with a less than jolly receptionist and then had to do some haggling at the financial aid department of the university. Then my phone broke and I had to take a trip to the Apple Store. All that followed with a shift at work made for a long day.

The highlight of my day was my lunch. I stumbled across a little place called Village Bread Cafe near the tag agency on San Jose Boulevard. It turns out they have 4 locations total, including Phillips Highway and the Jacksonville Landing. It’s somewhat similar to Panera, but this place was just a little more homey. Their menu is mostly soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as some gorgeous looking pastries. I was pleasantly surprised the cashier brought me some chunks of rustic bread with olive oil and herbs for dipping while I waited on my lunch. The customer service there was just really topnotch. Lots of smiling and “have a nice days”. The manager even came and checked on me while I enjoyed my meal. I had a lovely Tuscan Salad with grilled salmon, and some comforting macaroni and cheese as a side. Between the salmon, the olive oil, and the shaved almonds on my salad, I met my quota for heart healthy omega three  fatty acids, and the greens provides some great health benefits as well, including blood clotting aid vitamin K, and vitamins A, C, and other great phytochemicals. For me, eating well helps me keep my spirits and my energy levels up during times of stress, such as the holidays. And creamy bread crumb topped mac-n-cheese was just plain ole yummy. The side portion is the perfect size for people who want to enjoy the foods they crave in moderation. So, if you  are looking for a great place to have lunch this week, check Village Bread Cafe out. They bake all of their goods at a bakery here in Jacksonville and also offer catering and bulk baked goods at wholesale.

My yummy Tuscan Salad salad (minus the salmon)

My yummy Tuscan Salad salad (minus the salmon)

Happy birthday, Peaceful Parsnip!

Happy Birthday Peaceful Parsnip!

Happy Birthday Peaceful Parsnip!

A wise woman once told me the hardest part about a blog is starting it. I don’t know yet if that’s true, but I can say it has involved a lot of second guessing for me so far. What to name it? What should it be about? Will people think it’s dumb? Do I even have time for a blog?  But then I remembered that I wanted to write this purely for my own pleasure and I let all that negative juju go. So here it is: a public cyber journal for me to post about food, nutrition, massage, health, running, and whatever other cool stuff I come across.

Welcome to the world, my little blog!