The Journey to Memphis Nutrition Group

December 2, 2015 started out a normal day. I was in the office seeing clients and looking forward to meeting with Leslie and Brigid later that afternoon. Leslie mentioned coming into the office a little early before our meeting, but I was a little surprised when she popped in and quickly said, “Come sit down. I have news.” I responded asking, “Good news or bad news?” Leslie replied, “Good news and challenging news.” My heart started beating a little faster as a million questions raced through my mind.

The next thing I knew, she was sharing that her husband got an incredible position at UNLV and that she would be moving to Las Vegas. Now, I’ve had special training in counseling skills, and I think Leslie took my seemingly calm reaction as having a good “therapy nod.” On the inside, I was in shock. In a fraction of a second, I’d asked myself…What would happen to the practice she’d built over the last 9 years? What would happen to our clients? What would happen to Brigid’s and my job? There were many different routes we could’ve taken, but in that moment, I knew without a doubt the business had to continue.

Here’s why…

Schilling Nutrition Therapy was never really a business to me. It was a passion that developed from my own recovery journey. Leslie and I met many years ago (before she even started Schilling Nutrition Therapy) when I hit rock bottom in my relationship with food and my body. At that time, she became my Nutrition Therapist. Leslie counseled me through my entire recovery, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be today or what in the world I’d be doing if it weren’t for her guidance out of disordered eating and into Intuitive Eating…which now just feels like eating. While I was still seeing Leslie, she began Schilling Nutrition Therapy all on her own.

It was also during the time I was meeting with Leslie that I decided to take a leap of faith and change my major to Dietetics & Nutrition. Believe it or not, I started college as an art major and stuck with it through the end of my sophomore year of college. The thing that was holding me back was not just the idea of losing my scholarship…it was tackling a ton of Chemistry. I finally decided that if I was truly becoming passionate about nutrition, I shouldn’t let a few years of chemistry hold me back.

I got to a point in my recovery that I didn’t need regular nutrition therapy appointments, but Leslie frequently checked-in with me to see how things were going with school and in life. I’d run into her from time to time at professional meetings and church, and I remember getting coffee with her shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my son. She shared with me that she’d hired another dietitian named Brigid Kay who had been working with her for a while by that point. She’d also had a child of her own. (It was later I’d find out that Leslie’s husband had already been offered a position at UNLV which he’d turned down because Leslie was on bed rest, and the timing just didn’t seem right for their family or the business.). At that time, a friendship began to form between the two of us.

Side Note: I had shared many times with my husband, Bret, that my dream would be to work with Leslie and eventually own a private practice. Though Bret believed in me, I never thought Leslie would consider hiring me, one of her previous clients. I also knew I’d never want to compete with her, so we’d probably have to move if I wanted to start my own business (because I just knew Leslie would never move).

Shortly after having my son, I went back to work full time. I was surprised to discover what a difficult adjustment this would be for me. I began to re-evaluate many aspects of my life, including my career. It was at that time, I received a Facebook message that changed my life forever…

Message_From_Leslie_Schilling_to_Blair_Mize

That’s right…I immediately took a screen shot (pictured above), sent it to my husband, and asked Leslie how soon we could meet. I began working with Leslie and Brigid at Schilling Nutrition Therapy very soon after and haven’t looked back. I began to see God’s plan for my life and the reason for the struggles I had faced begin to unfold. (Disclaimer: Leslie worked with professional supervisors in making her decision to hire me. Though a somewhat controversial scenario, Leslie felt confident in her decision. I’m so thankful she believed in me.)

Fast forward again to 2016…

By now, you likely have a better understanding of why I felt so certain we had to continue. I’ll spare you the details of the last 4 months (though they’ve likely been the most challenging (as Leslie predicted), bittersweet months of my life, and get to the big announcement…

Schilling Nutrition Therapy is now Memphis Nutrition Group!

Memphis Nutrition Group Logo

I am so excited and so full of gratitude that Brigid and I were given the opportunity to continue serving our clients and our community as owners of Memphis Nutrition Group! I see God’s hand so intricately weaving all of this together as it never could’ve happened without a very specific series of events in each of our lives. For me to come full circle from a client to co-owner of the very practice that probably saved my life is such an incredible testament not just to Leslie but ultimately to God.

I couldn’t ask for a better, wiser partner than Brigid in this journey moving forward. A huge dream of mine has come true though Memphis will miss Leslie dearly (not to mention how much Brigid and I will miss her). We feel honored to carry the practice forward, and I, personally, have been claiming this verse:

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

Thank you

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all who have supported us through each part of our lives and journeys toward this moment! We hope you will continue to support us as we embark on a new portion of the journey yet with the same philosophy and the same dedication to service to our clients and community as always. Your kind words, referrals, visits to our social media pages and website mean the world to us, and we’re thrilled to finally share our big news with all of you!


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Food Trends and FNCE Highlights: Top 5 Food Trends


Welcome back! Yesterday, I shared a recap of the Academy of Nutrition and DieteticsFood and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). You saw all of that hard work I was doing (wink, wink!), so the time has come for me to share with you some of the trends I spotted and products I loved at FNCE 2015…

Focus on REAL FOOD

Real Food at FNCEEverywhere I turned, there were booths promoting REAL FOOD! It was nice to see simple and creative snack ideas that encourage people to get back to basics when it comes to eating. What do I mean when I say “real food?” In our office, we define real food as “anything that can be grown or killed.” I’m talking foods like eggs, tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries, beans, whole grains, avocados, nuts, fish, meat, honey, etc. Check out these snack ideas:

  • Hardboiled eggs on a stick…protein-packed, portable, and no need to touch the egg itself!
  • Grapes become a sweet treat when frozen.
  • Pre-portioned oatmeal cups…just add milk or water.
  • Harvest Snaps
  • Avocados can be mashed and stirred into a slaw or tuna salad instead of mayo.

Probiotics, Probiotics, Probiotics

Remember how I wrote about the importance of the gut microbiome yesterday? It’s probably no coincidence that probiotics are EVERYWHERE these days…in yogurt, kefir, your favorite beverage or smoothie, flavored powder, and pills and FOR EVERYONE…adults and kids.

So what is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is the collection of microbes or microorganisms that inhabit your GI tract, creating a “mini-ecosystem”. Our gut microbiota contains trillions of microorganisms. Your gut microbiota is specific to you…like your own personal identity card.

Why probiotics?

Research on the gut microbiome and probiotics is in its infancy, but so far probiotics…

  • ProbioticsFacilitate digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • May have benefits in people with non-digestive issues like eczema or other skin conditions.
  • Can serve as a complementary treatment for digestive diseases like IBS and Crohn’s disease.
  • Optimize the body’s immune system by increasing good bacteria in the gut (especially following a round of antibiotics which kills good and bad bacteria).
  • Keeps you “going” regularly (if you know what I mean 😉 … )

The Year of Pulses

PulsesHave you heard of pulses? Here’s a hint…you probably already have some of them hanging out in your pantry! They include dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Pulses are packed with nutrients, giving you a big nutritional bang for your buck. For this reason and the fact that they feed much of the world’s population, they are being called the “superfoods of the future.” Pulses contain protein, fiber, antioxidants, iron, folate and other nutrients.

Sharing the Truth about Food

With all of the propaganda, documentaries, and unofficial/unscientific studies out there about various foods, my clients come to me with lots of questions about where food comes from, how animals are cared for, and how the food on their table was grown and produced. Leslie Schilling, Rebecca Scritchfield, and I spent quite a bit of time at the “Ask a Farmer Anything” booth. You’ve probably heard a lot about “Farm to Table” and sustainability lately, and my clients have the same questions. What better way to learn than by talking to farmers themselves and visiting their farms?

Boning Up on Bone Health

Bone health isn’t just about drinking your milk to get enough Calcium and Vitamin D and getting plenty sunlight for
vitamin D production these days (although there seemed to be a focus on dairy at FNCE this year, too). Beyond milk and sunlight, you and your kids can do more to promote bone health…

Did You Know?Bone Health

  • Potassium, Magnesium, and Vitamin K play a role in bone health…and prunes contain all of these nutrients!
  • Some mushrooms now contain Vitamin D.
  • Exercises that involve jumping are most effective for building healthy bones.
  • Eating leafy greens can promote healthy bones.

FNCE is a great place for trend-spotting, but so is your local grocery store! What trends with food and nutrition have you noticed lately? I’d love to hear from you!

Practicing Weight Neutrality in a Weight-Biased Healthcare System

PracticingWeightNeutrality

In recent years, our society has become more open and understanding regarding peoples’ differences, but it seems weight is one area in which our culture has miserably failed to become more accepting. When it comes to size and weight, people continue to be judged against unrealistic and arbitrary ideals. Where is weight neutrality in this picture?

Too often, larger people are criticized, shamed, and misunderstood because of their weight. Furthermore, the perception of many healthcare providers remains that “if people would just lose weight, they could be healthy.”

Where’s the weight neutrality?

How ridiculous it is to think we can begin our lives with entirely different sets of genetics and end up looking the same or staying healthy at unnatural weights for our bodies!

Non-diet dietitians are already like fish swimming upstream in a river of 61-billion dollars-worth of diets, and the current becomes even stronger when practicing weight neutrality, especially when serving as the only weight neutral provider on an interdisciplinary team.

For several months, I worked with a woman (we’ll call her Beth) whose goal was to manage her diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. She wanted to be healthy and to live longer, and she initially assumed the way to do so was through dieting. Our first sessions were spent reviewing and discussing research about diets versus intuitive eating, and Beth emphatically vowed, “I’m definitely not going back to dieting EVER!!!” stating she loved the newfound freedom she had with eating.

Eating intuitively, moving mindfully

In the meantime, through learning to eat intuitively and incorporate movement mindfully, Beth managed to cut her triglycerides in half and bring her cholesterol down to a normal range. She gained incredible insight into her relationship with food and recognized how satisfied she felt when she ate healthy AND tasty foods.

Giving up the scale

But there was one major challenge she continued to face: giving up the scale. After much discussion, Beth recognized how the scale was blinding her to the progress she was making toward health. She reluctantly agreed to put the scale in the attic for a while and contact me if she felt the urge to weigh herself.

Changing the view of progress

Beth acknowledged her need to change her view of progress. She began to accept the possibility (which was becoming a reality) of being healthy in a larger body and to recognize that her size did not change her worth and value in life.

She moved away from… She moved toward…
·  Focusing on a number on the scale that she could not directly control ·  Focusing on behaviors that lead to health
·  Focusing on weight first and foremost ·  Concentrating on actions she could control
·  Asking: “How many pounds did I lose?” ·  Noticing her increased trust in herself with food
·  Questioning: “How do I look?” ·  Questioning: “How do I feel?”
·  Priding herself on having good willpower or self-control ·  Priding herself on recognizing inner body cues

(Adapted from Intuitive EatingEvelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch, 2003/2012)

At her next check-up with her primary care physician, the first topic addressed related to weight loss. The physician praised Beth, exclaiming, ”You’ve lost 9 pounds!” Immediately, her mind wandered back to the number she originally had in mind that might make her “healthy” again.

Already feeling ashamed and discouraged, Beth hesitantly told her doctor, “I’ve been feeling exhausted lately.” Her physician responded by stating, “You’re still carrying around lots of extra weight. Imagine carrying around your 10-year-old son all day. You’d feel exhausted, wouldn’t you? That extra weight is keeping you tired!”

Validate the patient’s concerns

In one conversation, Beth’s physician not only fueled her recent fantasy of weight loss as a magic bullet to solve her health problems, she also failed to validate her patient’s concerns. Rather than taking inventory of the lifestyle, psychological, or medical conditions that could be causing her fatigue and offering a plan of care to reach the root of the problem, she gave the simplistic answer: “Lose weight.”

Make evidence-based recommendations

According to the research, 97 percent of diets fail, and most people regain their lost weight in 1-5 years (Puhl, 2008). Combine dieting and weight cycling, and you have a recipe for a physical and emotional health disaster.

Leslie Schilling, MA, RDN, CSSD, LDN puts it this way: “If you were prescribed a drug with such a high failure rate, would you fill the prescription?”

People trust their providers to administer quality, evidence-based care; however, when they receive different messages from different providers, how do they know whom to trust?

It’s time all health professionals learn that the number on the scale does not define a person’s health, worth, or value. Our patients are human beings, not human bodies, and they deserve evidence-based guidance, rather than judgment, shame, or “easy answers.”

Equip people to advocate for themselves

Perhaps as you read about Beth’s experience, you felt anger, sadness, and frustration bubbling up. It is my hope that the feelings you experience throughout Weight Stigma Awareness Week will be used as fuel to begin to educate other providers and equip those with whom you come in contact to advocate for themselves.

Ignoring weight bias does not increase awareness or lead to change, but here are some practices that can:

  • Derail “fat talk” or weight-biased conversations and deflect them using research to support your case.
  • Engage in body activism and encourage body acceptance.
  • Focus on functionality versus appearance in your practice.
  • Listen to your patients and seek to validate their concerns.

And remember to start with yourself. Examine yourself, looking for weight bias in your own life. Though the previous case study only addressed weight bias from a physician, I think we’ve all been taught or heard ideas that perpetuate weight stigma in our training. I know I have.

Practice weight neutrality

As providers, let’s stop believing that differences in weight and size define a patient’s health or worthiness of quality care. Let’s practice weight neutrality. Continue to remove weight stigma and bias in the provider community by changing the view of progress, validating the patient’s concerns, making evidence-based recommendations, and equipping professionals with knowledge and people to advocate for themselves.


It was an honor to contribute this post to Binge Eating Disorder Association’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2015. See the original blog post here.

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