Success

Some college senior talks about things that helped him be successful.

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Matching for the Dietetic Internships (DI) is wrapped up.  For many juniors in the program, this is a scary time.  There might be a lot of time now, but it will go by fast.  For sophomores and freshmen (maybe even the juniors or seniors too) in nutrition programs, you have a bit more time.  I have some words of encouragement for you.

  1. Find something that scares the shit out of you and do it.  You can talk about this during the DI application, how you started off scared of something (e.g. public speaking), and how you improved.
  2. Be bold.  You really want to stand out in some way.  There are a lot of ways you can do this.  Oftentimes, hobbies or lifestyle choices can benefit you if you spin it in a certain way.  For example, playing on a sports team shows dedication and the ability to be part of a team.  Being involved in student organizations shows potential leadership experience.  Hell, if you really want to, starting a blog is pretty easy.  I mean, lookit this guy.
  3. Be good at what you do.  One piece of advice I got from a professor was to pick a couple things you are good at, and flaunt them to whoever will want to see them.  For me, I tried to stay active on Twitter, WordPress, Facebook and others.  Eventually due to burnout, I stopped being so active on Twitter, and keep my Facebook for friends and family only.   I found it difficult to keep up with everything, and this was only a small smattering of social media.  However, I have also started to take up fiction writing.  It can be intimidating trying to get everything done that dietetics classes recommend, so I will be the contrarian.  Find some hobbies you like, and do them well.
  4. Be yourself.  One would think that being a potty-mouthed metal-head shows me as less professional than many of the other students in the program.  However, when I have tried to “fit-in” with the crowd, I felt very artificial.  I despised giving more professional presentations too.  However, I have found ways to maintain my sense of self, while being appropriate for work, and maintaining a professional demeanor.  I still go into class with band-tee shirts, but when the time comes I try and put on professional face, while still maintaining the quirkiness I try and provide.
  5. Have fun.  I wish this was as easy as it sounds.  Studying can be a big pain, even if it’s something you’re interested in.  Sometimes you need a break to figure out what you need.  Sometimes having fun is doing something else, like watching a movie, playing video games, or even spending time with friends and family.  I am wrapping up my fifth year of college.  If it wasn’t for my hobbies, or friends and family I would have lost my sanity a long time ago.  Or at least, the last remaining bits of my sanity.

Success can be seen in many more ways than I listed.  Success is also loosely defined.  You can do all of these things, yet fail at what you do.  Just remember, that is not the end.  Not everyone’s path is the same, and it is up to you to determine if you succeeded or not.

Fake News: How to Navigate Information

There is a lot of trash on the internet. This is some of my advice on finding what is useful to you.

Wow, look at this!  Mr. Blogman is back at it again.  Maybe this term will be kinder to me by actually allowing me to have freetime.

Fake news is one of those terms that people throw around like crazy.  Something for your point is valid, whereas if something goes against it, it becomes the increasingly cliched term “fake news.”  However, within the realm of food and nutrition, there is a lot of fake news.  I jokingly tell many people in my dietetics cohort “anyone online who is writing about nutrition either knows jack-shit, or is a dietitian.”  While this is a hyperbolized statement, it highlights the fact that there are many blogs out there from people who have no idea what they are talking about.  This post (which may or may not be fake news) is going to help you navigate the confusion.

Who wrote the article?:  This can show a lot about how reliable the article is.  Moms are fantastic people.  In fact, one helped to make me the sarcastic asshole  intelligent young man I am today.  However, a good portion of them are not educated in nutrition or medicine.  A mommy blog arguing against vaccines and promoting homeopathy is not reliable, because they are going against the vast amounts of research done showing the contrary.  Same goes for scientists as well.  Science is attacked by everyone, including other scientists.  When I research a topic, I look where there are more voices, rather than the loudest.  If 99 published articles say something (like fruits and vegetables are healthy), and one opposes it (if they say that fruits and vegetables are actually going to give you cancer because of some compound in all plants), then we need to examine the one that’s against.  Sometimes, this is can find something new that we did not know yet, and warrants further education.  Other times, they are full of shit.

What do they have to gain from writing the article?:  Nobody does anything for nothing.  Hell, I write this blog because I want to get my nutritional foot in the door.  Most times, articles are written for money.  Most of the times, money comes from ads, and advertisers want view and engagement.  This means articles get trashy and worthless.  Sometimes these articles will use catchy titles to bait you into clicking on them (for example, THIS one Food in Your Kitchen is DEADLY, and You are EATING It.  The answer is water, because it can be dangerous when super heated, and can cause electrolyte imbalances if too much is drunk).  Emotional trickery, especially anger, can lead you to share the article with people, leading to more views.  Sometimes, health professionals and amateurs can be paid to sponsor a product.  This does not mean it’s a healthy product, but that someone paid someone to say something valuable about it.

How reputable is the source?:  Sometimes the platform can make or break a source.  Several media outlets have shown themselves to not be reputable with their reporting, and this is used against one side or another (be it politics, health, or current events).  I can assure you, whether you are for or against a topic, there are good and bad sources on either side.  On social media, I’ve seen so many image macros (or memes) about bashing one side or the other.  There are valid points to both sides, yet it gets lost with who you are talking to.  I can even praise homeopathy for a component that modern medicine lacks:  empathy.  Some sources have tarnished their credibility to Hell.

Happy fcuking birthday: My One Year Blog Anniversary

I hit a milestone of one-year of blogging!!

Well, it’s been one year (and one day, because classes prevent me from having too much fun!) since I started posting to this blog.  This started off as a project in one of my nutrition classes (I actually submitted the first post as an assignment!).  Since then, I have kind of built up my blog further.  It’s been interesting for me.  I never thought that I would ever get this kind of exposure!  I’ve had friends and family discussing and sharing my blog with others.

To celebrate, I am going to write up a summary of what I have learned during this year.  There were many changes for me, in all works of life.

Make Adversity into an Advantage:  The blog was done as part of an assignment in one of my nutrition classes.  However, during this time, I was facing some problems.  Because of several issues with class scheduling, I wound up being a year behind schedule.  Meaning I had to take another year, with most terms having too few credits for me to keep my funding.  Instead of bitching about it, I opted to take on a minor.  I enjoy writing (if that wasn’t evident enough), so I decided to take a few extra writing classes to boost my schedule.

Strive for Improvement:  I push for personal improvement in life.  I have a hard time really feeling satisfied with what I am doing.  On assignments, I usually get to the point of saying “fuckit” and turning in what I have done.  I know that I am going to consistently miss small details here and there, and with the stresses and time constraints.  I do take criticism with stride, though.  I try and take the feedback received by classmates and professors alike to improve my own work.  I also look at test scores as a sort of feedback.  If I am hot satisfied with a grade I got, I examine the habits I have and try to improve them to get the score I want.

Have fun:  Life is one of those interesting things.  Life can be incredibly fun and you can love everything that is going on.  But life also can be a huge drag and bore the hell out of you.  On top of this, it can change on a whim.  One moment, you can be having the time of your life, and then suddenly be bored or stressed or some other negative emotion.  So, what can be done about things?  Well, I try to maximize the amount of times I have fun.  I love learning (otherwise I would have not gone to college), and I love putting my knowledge to use.  I am finally at the point where classes are less knowledge cramming for tests, and applying the knowledge I learned.  Instead of viewing what I have to do for classes as chores, I view them as something fun.

This was one helluva year to say the least.  I am not going to get into too many personal details that are irrelevant, but I am glad I started working on this blog.  Here’s to another year of blogging!  I can’t wait to have more stories to share!

Stay Bullet: Why I Don’t Believe in Silver Bullet Miracle Foods

Why I don’t believe the media hype involving certain foods.

Recently, Time magazine posted an article about how the spice turmeric might not be a “miracle spice” after all.  A recent research article reported that there has not been a well-designed research trial done on the spice yet.  So, what gives?  Why is this even a big issue with food?  Can’t people just enjoy their food in peace without some asshole on the internet blogging about it?

To answer the lattermost question:  No, I blog about food, it’s what I do.  Secondly, the term “miracle food” or any derivative gets thrown out there like it’s no big deal.  Anything that might have some semblance of increasing metabolism or being incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals causes media to latch on and blow up its properties to hell.  Even Googling “miracle food” turns up results that things like chocolate are a miracle food.

The issue with proclaiming foods have mystical properties can have a variety of effects.  In the best situation, some foods can be found to be beneficial, in worst cases, it can have harmful effects.  For example, news media lists several health benefits of drinking beer.  A Huffington Post article lists some of these benefits as being high in some micronutrients, such as vitamin B, and healthier aging in women because it might play a role in improving blood circulation.

Now, I love me my local brews.  Being an Oregonian, I have access to several craft beers.  Not a hipster, though, as much as I can sound like one.  However, alcohol does have several downsides.  Alcohol can be addictive, which can lead to alcoholism.  Alcohol can also cause issues with the liver, which for those of you not familiar with human anatomy, the liver is a detoxifying organ.  Alcohol also inhibits a hormone in the body that helps regulate hydration, which means over consumption of this “healthy” beverage is detrimental.

I also hate the term “miracle food” or “silver bullet to combat _____.”  Might be because I am a hypercritical douche, but that’s beside the point.  To me, the terms imply that the food is a be-all-end-all to becoming healthy.  Imagine, a world in which all you need to do is eat turmeric (a spice in curry powder) and drink beer, and suddenly you become the pinnacle of human health!

What do you guys reading this think?  Am I off base here, or is “miracle food” an overused term that overemphasizes the benefits and downplays the negatives of certain foods?

What the F**k is Wrong with You?: The problem with Self-Diagnosing

How Googling symptoms can lead to unexpected problems

A lot of people often use online sources to find out what their problems are.  Hell, even I have done web searches to find out some illnesses I’ve had.  The problem with doing this is that you probably are not a doctor (unless you actually are a doctor of medicine, in which I shall shut the fuck up and let you do your job).  Using the symptom checkers can often lead to conclusions that are not quite logical for the situation.

For example, let’s say you ate a whole can of beans for some reason.  Hours later, you have a belly ache.  There is some pain in your abdomen, so you look up the symptoms.  It’s a sharp, moderately severe pain with a feeling of fullness.  Using the symptom checker, this person can have issues that are relatively severe, including diverticulitis (sacks that develop in the colon which then get filled with bacteria and poo), dermatomyositis (rare disease which causes muscle pain, weakness, and blotchy patches), or, quite simply, gas pains.

While it is important to monitor your health, sometimes a doctor is not needed.  If you are just farting a lot due to eating a whole lot of beans, there probably is not much a doctor can recommend, save for some anti-gas medications that you can get over the counter.  In more severe cases, like if you wound up having some blotchy patches in addition to the pain, then yeah, maybe see a doctor.

Looking up symptoms can also lead to hypochondriasis like conditions, and I know I have fallen into such trap.   An example is thinking the slight discomfort from eating the beans is a sign of severe gastrointestinal cancer.  Thinking the most severe situation after a short duration of time can lead to unnecessary doctor visits, which can add up financially when insurance gets involved.

Now, I am not saying to forgo going to the doctor for ailments, I am simply saying to be smart with it.  If the pain came from eating a whole can of beans, or if you have a sore, runny nose and it’s cold season, then it probably is not a severe gastrointestinal issue, or even nasal polyps.

So what do you guys think?  Has online symptom checkers helped find diseases you never knew you had, or did it lead to a trip to the doctor that was not needed?