Dietitian Talk

My Experience with the RD exam

So, after years of schooling…and an internship that consists of over 1000 hours of supervised practice in long term care, acute care, management, and intervention rotations, it all comes down to passing or failing the 125-145 question exam.  Now of course I’m not going to go and tell you whats on the exam, because everyone’s is different. Before I took my exam, I went online to look up “how to breathe during the exam” and “how not to puke while taking the RD exam” because in my opinion, it’s a really HUGE deal. Yes, you totally can take it again. and again… but the $$  you spend taking it plus the time you spend studying…let’s just say it’s better to pass it come the first time around.

So I’m just going to give a brief perspective of my experience taking it and how I prepared for it myself!

My class graduated from the internship on Wednesday May 25th and I took my exam Tuesday July 19th. That gave me about eight weeks to prepare, but realistically I didn’t start preparing until say 3-4 weeks out. I enjoyed my Memorial Day weekend (Shawn left for basic that weekend so I was glued to HIM, not so much my notes), and I did take a spontaneous trip to Florida with Christyna for a week, in which I didn’t study at all for the exam. Originally I scheduled my exam for August 9th, but when June 15th hit I was like okay Tabitha, let’s start studying and move your date closer. By making my date sooner it really got me to studying and actually not procrastinating.



How I studied:

  • I am SUCH a visual learner; listening/audio never helped me. I was lucky enough to go to one of Jean Inman’s 2 day course in  Pittsburgh and be given her book of information regarding what to study and know for the exam (essentially a bible for any person who is taking the RD). If you can go to, her course OR simply purchase the jean inman book (pricey I know, you will be happy you did so.
  • I went through Jean’s book and everything she told us to note or highlight I put on flashchards. I had over 500 flashcards! Writing the notes on the flashcards helped me remember it better than simply reading the book over and over.



  • After all my flashcards were made I had about 1.5 weeks until my exam…so I really had to kick it in full gear. I spent 5 days doing the 1000 practice questions and reviewing the answers from the Jean Inman book she had given us. I circled the ones I got wrong and went back to see why I had gotten them wrong.
  • The last 4 days before my exam I spent reading each of the four domains out of that book of hers. Each day I read 1 domain each and made sure I understood the concepts. Reading outloud to myself was very helpful.
  • The morning of I had to drive 1 hour to my closest testing center and my heart was just beating the whole time. I arrived 45 minutes early (they recommend 30 minutes early) and I was able to sign in and wait outside the door. The room I would be using consisted of several people, yet I was the only one sitting for the CDR exam. Everyone else were waiting to take their 7 hour surgery board exams (thank god my exam was only 2.5 hours!!)
  • I had to lock up all my stuff, turn my phone off, have my finger prints and palms scanned and then she let me begin my exam at 8am. She provided me with headphones and ear plugs, which ever I preferred use. The headphones worked so well.
  • During the entire exam I was just clicking the next button and wanting to cry because I felt like each answer was wrong. 80% of me thought I failed, and the 20% was just hopeful I passed. As I finished the exam within the hour, I clicked finish and had to take a short survey at the end regarding my exam and man…although It was “short”, it felt like FOREVER since I couldn’t get my results until the end of the exam.
  • I got my results saying pass and I just sat there in shock, and rose my hand to be dismissed. She came in and asked “all done?” and I just looked at her and said “….I passed……” still in disbelief!!
  • She printed out my results and I called my mom right away crying as I walked to my car. I sat in my car for about ten minutes because my hands were still shaking from the fact that my ten year goal of becoming an RD was accomplished!!


What’s on the list for the next goal I need to accomplish?? Hopefully this helps anyone considering the exam!


My Biggest Fear: Spontaneity

20160131_112647912_iOSSpontaneity: something I don’t really do too well. I’m that nit picky super planner that needs to know EVERYTHING down to the time, date, central location, what we’re all wearing type of girl, and I personally have found that to be an unattractive quality. A bad quality? Not so much, but it can really get in my way (and I’m speaking from personal experience, not as a fact for everyone) of having fun. I tend to turn down last minute invites to the bar, or to a get together, or just a coffee date because it wasn’t “in my schedule”. But yesterday wasn’t the case. Usually my 8.5 hour shifts turn into 5 hour shifts because of the lack of work…but I could not keep up with yesterdays orders! From veggie tray call ins, to fruit platters, to BOGO on mixed  fruit, I was going crazy! Plus it didn’t help that my bosses asked for other silly things of me that THEY could have done. Luckily I have one co worker who is always offering to help me: shout out to you Ashlee!!

Anyways as 2pm hit I received a message from an old friend who I haven’t spoke to in months with the following question: are you free for an adventure? Immediately I went into panic mode.

Tabitha you have to go to the gym at 3pm, that was your plan. (it was my off day but I wanted to run). You’re free after so go do it after, you’re fine.

I said I was free.

He said: 3:15pm ?

I could have made it for 3:15, and that would have made my anxiety rise a little by having to shift my gym schedule around, but I was willing to make it work.

Done deal.


As 3:30 rolled around I hopped in the car in my gym clothes (because that’s what my PLAN was…) and we drove an hour out to pittburgh to run some errands. Would you consider errands an adventure? Maybe not. Would I? Definitely. Especially with this guy and how he knows my personality and uneasiness to spontaneous adventures. He was even surprised I said yes. The car ride filled with discussion about anxiety, perfectionism, societal views on fitness and health, and other  in-depth topics. It’s always great to have someone that you can talk to about more than those “shallow” topics.

After our “quick” errand turned into a  five hour adventure, he dropped me at my car at 9:00PM and I went home; tired, fatigued, and gymless. And I felt entirely okay. I think it was the fact that I really and truly needed that rest day along with a conversation with someone who is willing to talk about more than just protein powder and hair. Off days scare me. I never take a day off, and that is SO critical to training. My off days consist of cardio, which I think is entirely healthy due to the fact that I’m walking, jogging and incorporating some low endurance activity. But there comes a day each week where it really is important to just take a day off: from working out, from dealing with people and relationships, from working, from everything.


Being “okay” with allowing plans to change is something I am working on, and I think it’s a lifelong battle. My friend told me: I’ve learned to be okay with traffic, and waiting in lines. Those are things I can’t control and have to learn to accept.

And the control issue is something I personally struggle with. When I can’t control it, I fixate on the things I can control: how long I run for, the time I run for, the amount I eat, etc.

It’s a battle, but accepting what you can’t control is key to recovery.


Does anyone else fear something that isn’t tangible?


Gym Sessions & Snowed in Saturdays

20160120_132102000_iOSAm I the only one who gets anxiety ridden on days they do not or can not make it to the gym? I feel as though all of my progress just disappears after a skipped day (even if it is a scheduled rest day!!), or if all I do is run and not lift, orrrr if it was a sh*tty workout. Yesterday was just that. My friend Anthony is up for the weekend visiting and trying to balance eating on my diet and exercising all while trying to amuse someone in this snow storm is a tough job! Not to mention getting to the gym in this Western PA Blizzard is pretty rough as well (come on, has anyone ever heard of a PLOW before).


I slept in yesterday until about 7:30 and Anthony and I made breakfast, did some shopping and relaxed all morning/evening. I decided that it would be my designated “rest” day, but my anxiety of not working out kept building and building until I was getting super cranky and agitated. Luckily  Anthony caught on and was like, just go.  Me being the nice girl I am only chose to stay for an hour, and I could not accomplish all I needed to within an hour’s span. So essentially my workout of 15 minutes of cardio + 45 minutes of shoulders wasn’t the best of the best, and it makes me feel as if I wasted my time there not accomplishing anything.  I followed my diet exactly, so it’s not that I messed up on the nutrition aspect, but the fear of not hitting the gym hard enough is’s growing.

Now that it’s 6AM and blizzarding,  I have to find a way to get to work Sad smile Wish me luck!!


Does anyone else feel this way about exercise? How have you conquered this fear?


Podcasts and Mood Changes


This morning I spent my time listening to The Nutrition Diva’s podcasts, such as how carbohydrates correlated with weight gain and how food affects mood. Like I’ve been stating lately, my moods have been leaning towards to more unhappy side, and I can’t put my finger on exactly why.  Looking forward to a beautiful walk later while listening to the nutrition diva discuss her latest information regarding and health. I’ve been eating well, getting exercise, and socializing although all I want to do is lay in bed with the blankets over my head. Any advice on what you all do to get your mood back on track?

I can’t believe I just started listening to podcasts! There are SO many different topics being discussed…and it makes time FLY by. So if you’re biking, walking, or even going for a run, I definitely recommend looking up some podcasts that interest you and seeing what you can find. I think being on a podcast would be awesome. No one can see what you look like and what weird facial expressions your making, so I would be so much more comfortable versus being on screen.


Talking about mood and after listening to Monica’s podcasts, I’ve compiled some research/interesting food facts that may actually help people who are trying to boost their mood. There isn’t enough research to prescribe certain foods/supplements to those with mood disorders (anxiety, depression, etc) but there is some valid information that is worth checking out:

  1. carbohydrates may actually boost your “feel good hormone” (also known as serotonin), but this is a temporary fix! A cookie or two may make you feel better mentally, but you will inevitably crash again. Refined carbohydrates can increase your insulin levels as well, which is a mechanism for fat storage.
  2. Exercise is a great way to boost your mood! Lately, I have been dreading the gym and once I get there I IMMEDIATELY want to leave. But who says you have to be cooped up in a gym? Go for a walk ( a great fat burning exercise), go for a run, play frisbee with some friends, or go hike! It’s summertime so the possibilities of outside exercise are endless!
  3. Linking to #3 and the benefits of being outside, sun exposure is important! Ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder? Usually this type of depressions hits during wintertime and can be treated with the exposure to UV light, and that’s what you all should be receiving in the summer to boost your mood. Get outside for roughly 20 minutes and absorb some vitamin D.
  4. Probiotics/prebiotics—what?? This is another piece of information that is still being researched, but including foods that are varied in different types of pre/probiotics could potentially help your stress levels.
  5. Skip the energy drinks and caffeine—again, you might get that temporary fix…but your crash will really kill you in the end.


What do you all eat when you’re in a lousy mood??