Not Your Typical First Day of Classes…

Over winter break I got an email from my director inviting all of the interns (first and second years) to visit the National Agriculture Library (NAL) in College Park, Maryland for a regional collaboration with other interns for a day of “Nutrition, Communication and Information Management.” So, of course, I said YES! I spent the entire month of winter break out west, mostly in Colorado but also a week in New Mexico. I love traveling to new (and old!) places, so even though I did not get in to Morgantown until 2:00am on Saturday I was excited to travel again to Maryland on Sunday. College Park, Maryland is just over three hours from Morgantown. So, instead of heading to the office on Monday I was able to experience something new!

I had no idea what to expect when walking into the NAL that Monday morning. After talking with interns from the University of Maryland Medical Center who sat with us at our table I learned that once a month all the interns from Maryland (and other surrounding areas) gathered together and invite speakers to present on a general topic. Each internship takes a turn hosting the event so they are constantly engaging with others, sharing ideas and sharing stories of their struggles and successes. It was really great to be a part of this large event and I hope that we can build upon this relationship. Here is just a glimpse of some of the insightful information and programs I learned about during this event.

Opening Keynote – Communicating in the Digital Age: Workforce Collaboration

Tori K. Garten, Chief, New Media and Web Policy Branch, NIAID, NIH, DHHS

This was a very interesting speaker who told her story, struggles, and successes as working for the government and supporting social media and new technology. She made a good point that the government is very resilient to change and that all social media sites were banned until just recently. They have done away with print press jobs and publications and transformed those positions to work with social media, which involved a huge learning curve.  I liked this speaker because she explained the benefits of how working together in large corporation can make tax payers dollars stretch and not be used to create the same, repetitious, procedures in all departments. It really showed me how impactful social media and technology can be on a large scale.

Telehealth and Weight Management in the 21st Century

Sue A. James, MS, RD, LDN, TeleMove Coordinator

VA Maryland Health Care System

Telehealth is a program that works with veterans to improve their health through weight loss and exercise. This program is an innovative way to help veterans, who are primarily older, but are rapidly transition to include younger clientele, to become healthy using technology. This program was interesting to learn about because it shows where our future could be headed.

To learn more visit the Telehealth website.

 To learn more about TeleMove visit this website.


Luisa F. Soaterna-Castaneda, MPH Multicultural Outreach Coordinator

National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

This is an innovative program that uses a text message for healthy tips, emergency alerts, and appointment reminders. The best part of this program is that it is totally free. In fact, users are not even deducted messages from their monthly total if they are not on an unlimited plan. This program is awesome for expecting mothers and those with infants. It also showed me that even in today’s society you can now use text messaging with a low-income (WIC) population. This was my personal favorite program that was introduced and I would definitely recommend it to future clients. It is incredibly easy to use and delivers very helpful tips!

To learn more or enroll in this free service you can visit their website.

To enroll in this service text “BABY” to 511-411 (or “BEBE” for Spanish!)


Erin Braunscheidel and Laryessa Worthington

Food Supplement Nutrition Education, University of Maryland Extension

This was an interesting program with a focus on text messaging parents in the local schools with deals on groceries, physical activity class, and useful resources, as well as things their kids did at school regarding health. This is a great program and it was interesting to learn about the struggles they had and how they made it successful. This program is currently only in the state of Maryland but hopefully it will become successful and similar programs will some day be available in all areas!

To learn more about this program visit their website by clicking here.


New Year, New Diet? – Not Again!

With the New Year well under way, fad diets and weight loss pills are hot items! Millions of people are making New Year’s resolutions from everything to losing weight, saving money, spending more time with family and everything in between.



With large Thanksgiving meals, leftovers, holiday desserts and cookies for Santa, it should not be surprising to find that the last months of the year can lead to most weight gain all year. According to Yvonne Ortega, a registered dietitian and professor at Santa Monica College, Americans tend to gain anywhere between nine and 12 pounds during the holiday season! Holiday meals can account for 3,000 – 5,000 calories not including those leftovers we savor the following week. (Check out my previous post to see how to eliminate some of the calories without sacrificing any of the necessities!)


So, what is the best way to combat the extra pounds that continue to accumulate after all these years? Is it the latest weight-loss pill that claims to “clinically proven” or the newest “cleansing” diet? The answer is NO! As humans, we naturally look for the quickest and easiest way to lose weight. The truth is that there is no overnight solution. The weight took time to accumulate and it will take time to get rid of.


Those weight loss pills on TV are not even regulated by the FDA and cannot be proven safe or even effective! The ever-popular cleansing diets that involve only drinking lemon juice, vinegar, or even smoothies are really just starvation diets in disguise. Do you even really know what you are trying to cleanse? Those diets eliminate entire food groups and not sustainable. As soon as the “cleanse” ends the pounds will return and you will lucky if you don’t end up gaining more than you lost in the first place.


With so much of today’s society’s social events being centered around food and alcohol, losing weight can be a challenge. The secret to weight loss that no one wants to here is long-term, sustainable, healthy living. This involves making every day, healthy choices such as these:

  1. Choose grilled or boiled meats and vegetables instead of breaded and fried
  2. Limit portion sizes
  3. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal
  4. Reduce or eliminate your intake of sugary drinks like soda and juice and drink more water or unsweetened tea
  5. Limit intake of cream based sauces and soups and chose vegetable or broth based soups


Physical activity is also a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get to the gym or devote an entire hour directly to exercise everyday – there are other ways to increase your energy expenditure. The key to exercise is to find something that you actually enjoy doing. If you hate running you probably won’t last long if you force yourself and the excuses to not work out will be easy to find. Think outside the box. Have you tried Zumba, kickboxing, spinning class, taking walks, hiking, the opportunities are endless. If you aren’t used to exercising start by taking small steps like taking the stairs, not using the remote, walking the dogs, doing calf raises while doing the dishes. You may be surprised by how all the little things can add up!


So please, don’t fall for the latest fad diet and together let’s make it our New Year’s resolution to NOT diet but instead let’s work to make daily healthy choices that will lead to a sustainable, healthy, and enjoyable life.