Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 26 - Katie Hake - EAT TO LIVE - Part 1 of 3

And so that's what I do now as a dietitian. I've kind of evolved and started my own private practice with kind of that base, and we'll talk about it, my philosophy like you said a little bit more. But for me, I just found that oh my gosh, there's got to be another way than this one size fits all, cookie-cutter meal plan.

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“And so that's what I do now as a dietitian. I've kind of evolved and started my own private practice with kind of that base, and we'll talk about it, my philosophy like you said a little bit more. But for me, I just found that oh my gosh, there's got to be another way than this one size fits all, cookie-cutter meal plan. There's a lot of research out there. We know that 75% of all diets are-- Sorry, 95% of all diets fail, right. And I think it's because we go against our intuition and what we feel is right.” This episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast is brought to you by Solpri, Skincare for Athletes. Whether you're in the gym, on the mats, on the road or in the pool, we protect your skin so you're more comfortable in your own body. To learn more, go to

JESSE: Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I'm your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today is the host of the Fit Friends Happy Hour Podcast. So, you've got plenty of content to listen to her after this episode. She's a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist which I'm going to ask about clarification on what that is here in a second. And she's a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. Welcome to the show, Katie Hake.

KATIE: Good morning, good afternoon, whatever time we decided it is. Thanks for having me.

JESSE: Yeah. Cross in time zones it's always like what time is it for everybody? Do you have people on your podcast very-- I listened to one episode you had a guest on but it seems like a lot of episodes are by you. Do you have people on very often?

KATIE: Yeah, we do. We do a combination of both. So, I typically bring on experts and both nutrition, fitness, a little bit of lifestyle kind of a combination of things.

JESSE: What's the biggest timezone gap you've had to deal with so far?

KATIE: Probably Pacific, Pacific Time. I work with a lot of people over in California. So, that can get like, for example, this evening, I have a call at 9pm. Like, it's so late for me. But that's the end of the workday for a lot of people on the west coast.

JESSE: Yeah, that's not too bad. I've had a few people in Europe. So, we've had like eight or nine hours between us. So, I'm getting up and recording it, I don't know, six, seven in the morning, and then it's like, five, six o'clock for them. We're just trying to figure out the best way to make it happen. So, a couple of Europeans and then also one lady who just happened to be in Europe for the summer and it’s kind of interesting-- I'll call it a profession, but it's kind of an interesting hobby-profession, when you're trying to schedule with people around the globe.

KATIE: Right. Most areas have to deal with that.

JESSE: Yeah, yeah. Unless you're like really high, like business, international business or something. So, I do want to ask about your credentials and clarification on this. I know what a Registered Dietitian is and I've met nutritionists, what is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist? I don't think I've seen that all put together before.

KATIE: Yeah. So, everybody pretty much anybody can call them-- you can call yourself a nutritionist, right? Anybody can take a course online or read a couple books and declare themselves as a nutritionist. So, every dietitian is a nutritionist, but every nutritionist is not a dietitian. So, the biggest difference is that in order to become a registered dietician, you have to attend an undergraduate program at an accredited school across the country or across the world that specializes in kind of these different areas of nutrition. And then after that, you're able to apply for an internship program.

So, it's a matching program almost like how doctors apply to med school, it’s kind of the same idea. You get accepted into this program where you complete typically around 1,200 hours in all these different areas of nutrition. So, community nutrition, clinical nutrition in hospital type setting. Sometimes you're working in food service, like in schools or restaurants, and then kind of an area of expertise that you are passionate about or you care about. So, after you complete all that, you do all your coursework, then you're eligible to sit for the national exam. So, it's by the CDR, I always mess up. The Commission of Dietetic Registrations, so kind of this big, overarching organization. Then you're able to actually apply and sit your exam to become a Registered Dietitian.

Now, in addition to that, a lot of different states kind of have their own rules. So, I'm also considered a licensed dietitian. So, for at least in the State of Indiana, in order to practice and prescribed nutrition, almost like medical management, right? So, I work with a lot of people who have two feedings or another area I work in is with children and adults who have these kind of inborn errors of metabolism and can only have to follow very specific diets or they could die. That’s extreme but-- So, then you have to take or kind of get licensed in the state that you're in. So, there's a lot more steps and kind of continuing education and things like that to be to be a Registered Dietitian compared to just a nutritionist. So, that was a long winded answer of the difference between--

JESSE: No. That's okay. So, here's my kind of point of clarification, I guess, is that can anybody who's a Registered Dietitian can they use the label, dietitian nutritionist?

KATIE: Correct. That is something that's a little bit newer in our field and Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, the two kind of get used hand in hand. Because we found that in the industry, there's so many people using nutritionists. So, we kind of have the option to add that on the end to kind of clarify to the public, hey, I'm a nutritionist, but I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, right, if that makes sense.

JESSE: Yeah. So, it's more, I’ll call it a more of a marketing thing that's not in like a superfluous sense, but like a clarification sense of like, hey, this is what I do, so people aren't confused about what your job actually is.

KATIE: Absolutely.

JESSE: Okay. Okay. That's why I was like, I didn't know if there was a subspecialty within being a dietitian that somehow added that label. That's kind of what I was after. I was just like, I don’t know, if you were like, oh, yeah, I specialized in such and such and then just like, and I don't know, I'm gonna butcher this but there's various degrees of nurses, kind of base nurse and there's the nurse anesthetist, and there's all these different sub-specialties of nursing. I didn't know if it was like that.

KATIE: Yeah, there are different areas of specialties and kind of additional certifications that you can get as a dietitian, but that term, yeah, RD or RDN; those two are used interchangeably.

JESSE: Okay. Okay. So, I kind of want to get a little bit more background on you. I listened to a few of your podcasts and went through some of your blog posts to try to get a little bit better feel for who you are and a little bit of your background. And we're going to get into your philosophy here in a minute because I like that. But can you tell us a little bit about kind of your history and exercising? I know you mentioned at some point and something I listened to about having a history of where you kind of also prescribed like the over exercising, possibly under eating kind of mentality. Can you give us a background on how you got to that point and then your journey from there forward?

KATIE: Yeah, absolutely. So, for me when I went and did my undergrad in both diabetics and nutrition, fitness and health because at the time in high school, they always ask, what do you want to do for the rest of your life? What are you good at?

JESSE: Which is a dumb question for high schoolers and 18-year-olds.

KATIE: Right. So, for me, all I knew, I knew that okay, well, I really like to exercise. I guess I consider myself good at exercise if that's even a thing, but I also like food. Well, I guess if I'm going to be, in my mind, I was just gonna be a personal trainer. And I thought, well, if I want to do that, I should probably know a little bit about this food piece because the two really go hand in hand. And I think looking back if I knew how much chemistry was involved in nutrition, I probably would have backed out sooner, but luckily, I stuck with it.

So, for me, my story, I guess, really began in my undergraduate. I was Personal Training and teaching group fitness in college and at the same time taking these nutrition courses. And I spent a semester actually studying abroad in Australia. And during that time I had this-- I was eating out all the time, I just turned 21, found alcohol, and out partying, and still finding myself like oh my gosh, I'm eating so much and I was trying to compensate by exercising once, twice, multiple times during the day, really conscious.

And this kind of, I think, came back with me when I came back from Australia because then I kind of realized. Oh, gosh, I’m back to real life. I've gained all this weight, oh my gosh, I must have to just keep punishing myself by eating less and exercising more. And I got to this point where I was just feeling really burnt out right teaching multiple group fitness classes a week, spending so much time in the gym, counting calories, all these different things and I just got exhausted and was like I don't have time for this. There's got to be another way. I don't have time, I don’t have enough energy, I don't feel good.

And so I kind of on my own just through listening to podcasts and just getting more in tune with my body and just taking what I've learned from these nutrition courses and asking myself, what feels good, what feels right to me in regards to both exercise and nutrition. I kind of did what we now call intuitive eating, and at the time, I didn't really realize that's what it was. But now looking back, I can identify wow, I was definitely addicted to exercise, using exercise as a punishment, saying no to social settings or going out; making these decisions around food and exercise not from a healthy space.

And so that's what I do now as a dietitian. I've kind of evolved and started my own private practice with kind of that base, and we'll talk about it, my philosophy like you said a little bit more. But for me, I just found that oh my gosh, there's got to be another way than this one size fits all, cookie-cutter meal plan. There's a lot of research out there. We know that 75% of all diets are-- Sorry, 95% of all diets fail, right. And I think it's because we go against our intuition and what we feel is right.

JESSE: Yeah sharing about over exercising, kind of being addicted to exercise and sometimes, I know, especially-- So, I come from an insurance background. I was a runner and then transitioned to triathlon post college. And it's a very like hours intensive sport. Which I think not always and I don't even know about often, but can certainly hide the people that do want to over exercise like are exercising way more than they need for their particular fitness level. So, I'm kind of, I'm curious if you have insights and in how you would identify somebody like that both externally. So, say I'm looking at a crowd people of how do I identify it? And then internally, what are some kind of like self checks somebody might have to figure out if they fall into that group.

KATIE: Yeah, that's a great question. And I can definitely identify that as well with kind of when I was in that I guess you could say peak almost of that exercise addiction was I was training for multiple half marathons and ran a full marathon. But I think it comes back to not so much the hours that you spend in the gym or training because completing triathlon or an endurance event, that's an awesome feat, right. And yes, it does require hours of training. So, I think it really comes down to, for the internal what's your motivation? What is your why behind doing what you're doing? Are you training for this event because you want to challenge yourself physically you want to challenge yourself mentally? Or is it because, well, I'm just going to do this as a, almost like you said, a cover up because I really want to lose weight or I really want to block out whatever it else it is that is kind of motivating that drive.

From an external perspective, I think about this all the time when I have people in my group fitness classes things to kind of look out for is somebody who's taking multiple classes in a day? Are they, you know, I think, talking about eating disorders that could be a whole nother topic, but geez, what is this person-- You definitely cannot judge an eating disorder from the outside. I think body type is not just the only sign of an eating disorder, but is this person in the gym multiple times a day? I remember many times working in my gyms in undergrad, we would almost have to look out for certain students because students are in a high stress environment. And they're kind of, I guess could be at higher risk of we'd have girls who'd be on the elliptical for two hours a day in the morning and then come back in the evening for two hours in the night, right.

So, externally is this person always getting injured or they-- You can just tell just by talking to them. What's the language that they're using? Are they saying I've got to exercise because of what I ate or because of a certain body type if that makes sense.

JESSE: So, it becomes more of like a determination and motivation. I know often when I speak to kind of high level athletes, both amateurs and professional, often the thread that runs through them is I do this because it's fun. And then kind of one of the most enlightening thoughts I had with a gentleman I spoke to early on in the podcast, name is Chris Douglas I think it's episode six. He said, telling me the story about when he raced so hard he basically passed out from heat exhaustion a mile from the finish and almost died. I kinda learned from that lesson, I do it because I have fun and I get to decide how hard or easy I go each day.

So, that seems like an okay mentality. But I can certainly understand there's also the mentality, especially in the insurance community that more is better, which isn't necessarily the case. And I think that can lead you kind of down that rabbit hole or coincide with that unhealthy idea about you know, exercises punishment, and I need to do it because I'm not good or I need to look thinner or whatever kind of like toxic mentality is going on.

KATIE: Another great question someone could ask themselves is, if something happened if something came up let's say a friend asked me to help them out or be with them in a tough moment. If something happened that interrupted my exercise routine, how would that make me feel, would I be able to brush it off and pick back up the next day and not worry about it? Or I do I get consumed by-- do I feel anxious, do I feel this almost like internal negative like you said toxic mentality or dialogue in my head about oh no, I'm going to gain weight or blah, blah, blah this is going to happen if I don't get my exercise in.

Because that was something that was for me if I couldn't get in a full 60 minutes or if I couldn't get in this-- burn this many calories that would really mess with my mind. And I would think about that right. And so I think that's another sign of you're probably not in the right brain space with exercise.

JESSE: Yeah. Well, this is something that I kind of when I spoke to, I don't know if you're familiar with her I spoke with Nancy Clark last week who--

KATIE: She's a god in the sports nutrition industry.

JESSE: Yeah. So, I spoke with her last week, we talked a lot about her book. And--

KATIE: I have it right on my desk over here.

JESSE: Yeah, I still got it on my desk. My desk is an absolute mess here, that's how my brain space is. I have just piles of things. But I asked her did you expect to need like a psychology degree when you went into this profession? And that really seems to be kind of what's going on. So, I guess I'll ask you the same thing, did you expect so much to deal with people's mentalities going into it?

KATIE: No, I didn’t. Because in my undergrad we're learning a lot of science and just these are the facts about nutrition. And it's as simple as that. And it really wasn't until I actually took a course. It is now required in the program that I completed, but at the time, I just took it as an elective. I just had extra room in my schedule, it was a nutrition counseling course.

And I think for me, that was really a light bulb moment of, we're dealing with people and humans and relationships, and it's so much more complex. For many people, at least the population that I work with, it's not just as simple as eat this, not that. There's a lot that goes on around food. It's something that we do every single day, whether we want to or not, it's something we all have to deal with in order to live. And I think as humans, there's just so much more complexity behind it that influences the choices that we make or do not make.

JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. I think there's a quote I pulled off of your website. So, it kind of leads into your philosophy I think it-- correct me if it's not a quote, I put it in quotations. “Stop chasing the numbers and do what feels good for you not because you have to find joy and movement and learn why all foods fit.” I think that kind of summarizes your philosophy. So, can you share a little bit about how your approach to diet, even though that's a loaded term, I feel like nowadays, diet eating, how that varies from kind of more traditional view.

KATIE: Yeah, it's kind of ironic. I'm a diet diet or diet is in my title dietitian, but I almost consider myself a non diet dietitian. So, whenever I'm working with clients, I get a lot of people who reach out to me with weight loss as a goal. And I kind of give them a disclaimer right up front is that I'm not just going to give you a meal plan and say good luck goodbye. Because from my experience that you're smart, most of the people who contact me, I shouldn't say most all of them are smart. We all have the internet now, right? So, we can go online and we can find a 1,200 calorie program or whatever it is, and this little cookie-cutter plans, but that doesn't address the bigger issue, right?

And so I work with a lot of people more so on how do we fix the relationship with food? How do we fix the way you talk to yourself around food and how is that influencing the choices that you make, whether it's the types of foods, the amounts of foods. I'm really a firm believer that at the end of the day, you or the individual knows their body best.

And yes, I can guide you and help you answer questions and facts about nutrition but you are going to know your body best. And so I really help people to tune in to that internal wisdom that they have about what their body needs. And I think that especially with athletes, that can get so distorted with all the messaging that we hear, but also just there's a lot going on. How do I fuel my body in a way that feels best when I've got all these different things to train for and this crazy schedule and how do I make that all fit?

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