From Cowgirl to Crusader, Part 2

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When I was 15-17 years old I took some foods and nutrition classes at Amarillo High School, like nutrition through the life cycle. Mrs. Parkey, my teacher, took me under her wing and became my role model and best supporter. She was fair, encouraging and made nutrition come alive for me. When she showed us the pinch-an-inch method of body fat determination, I was surprised I couldn’t even pinch a millimeter of skin. (I attribute that to riding my bike, throwing newspapers, and playing football with the neighbor kids hours a day). She taught us the healthy way to weight control and health.

I studied and read everything she advised. At the end of my senior year, I was chosen #1 Nutrition Student of the Year and won great prizes, like a sterling silver place setting and a trip to Austin. What a shock. All this led to my decision to become a registered dietitian to help people improve their eating and health habits as a career. I was so excited! How many 15 year olds know what they want to do with their lives? When did you know? Are you still searching?

I continued my studies at Texas Tech and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical at Dallas and became the dietitian I had always wanted to be! More mentors encouraged me to follow my path. I was lucky, though I believe these words by French chemist Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” My philosophy is lifelong learning; I’m like a sponge in that regard. It’s unusual for the majority of college graduates to actually remain in the field in which they studied.

Later I got my Masters at Amber University in Dallas and became a psychotherapist. Dr. Ken Bateman, one of my favorite professors there, was a true hero for me with his wit, insight and compassion. Yes, I wanted to be a therapist and educator like him who helped others heal and grow. I combined nutrition with therapy. Later, in my own private practice, I was chosen to be a national spokesperson where I championed good eating and a healthy lifestyle. I’ve trained and studied all my life to be the expert in weight management, eating disorders, anxiety, trauma and family nutrition that I am today.

Guess I am an exception to the rule. Why? I must say that I have always been driven to help others in a big way! I love food, nutrition, healthy eating, balancing meals and life with wholesome activities. What made me different is that I had exceptional mentors in my parents. We were raised without deprivation and restriction. We had no good foods or bad foods mentality. Mom and Dad showed us how to balance all foods in our week and play outdoors most of the time. I want to share that gift with others.

Role models and mentors, whether parents, teachers, speakers, dietitians or therapists can show us a better way to live. We get better by investing in lifelong learning. Beware of someone who says they don’t need to take any more courses or learn anymore! They often prove to be the most inflexible. Life is constantly changing and we must be prepared to keep up or be left behind. What do you choose?

Tune in to Blog #3 FROM COWGIRL TO CRUSADER, Part 3.


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