BABE #203: KELSEY BECKMANN — Sports Dietitian/Owner, Meteor Nutrition
Kelsey is a registered dietitian, competitive athlete and business owner who is currently working toward the Olympic trials. With a rigorous marathon training routine in addition to the demands of her own private practice, she works 12+ hour days to maintain a rigid schedule that only a true BWH could. Kelsey’s in-depth knowledge of the importance that wellness, nutrition and mindfulness play in our lives is a humbling reminder that we can, in fact, achieve both health and hustle simultaneously. #goals
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Current city: Jacksonville, Florida
Alma mater: University of North Florida; Campbell University
Degree: Nutrition and Dietetics
Very first job: Sales associate, Soccer Stop (RIP)
Hustle: Registered Sports Dietitian/Owner, Meteor Nutrition; Elite Distance Runner
Babe you admire and why?
I admire my sister, Kayla Beckmann Barnhart, because she is fearless and knows how to leverage her strengths to maximize results. She is a huge advocate of other babes.
How do you spend your ‘free’ time?
Favorite fictional female character?
Charlotte, from “Charlotte’s Web,” because she was my first memory of a novel that portrayed a woman as having strength, compassion, love and courage at the same time.
Current power anthem?
What would you eat for your very last meal?
My mom’s famous shrimp and grits with an underbaked cookie.
What’s something you want to learn or master?
Culinary skills. When you can cook for others you provide not only physical nourishment but genuine connection.
What’s something not many people know about you?
I love cookies more than I love running.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Matt Hensley (run coach/lives across country). He has the ability to make you feel like you can conquer the world, regardless of your challenges. That with caffeine is a dangerously awesome combination.
Tell us about your hustle.
I’m a Registered Dietitian and owner of my private practice, Meteor Nutrition, as well as an Elite distance runner. As an RD, it’s my job to get evidence-based knowledge into the hands of my clients, and work with them to create a plan based on their very specific needs. I work with various levels of athletes, and everyone requires something different. In my other day job, as an elite distance runner, I basically just have to put one foot in front of the other, preferably really quickly. With both of these jobs, every day presents it’s own challenges and triumphs. Both myself and my clients are trying to be the best version of ourselves. What I do at Meteor ties into my running, and my running ties into what I do at Meteor.
What does your typical workday look like?
It starts at 5:00 a.m., when depending on my training schedule, I run anywhere from five to 12 miles, followed by coaching high school cross country. By 9:00 a.m., I'm at my computer ready for my first priority tasks. Around 1, I take a 45-minute lunch and stretch break, which usually includes a short walk and guided meditation. Most of the time, I wrap up by 6 p.m. and make a priority list for the following day. On more rare occasions, I'll speak at night events or take later client appointments. Sometimes, I'll make a three to five early evening run before cooking dinner and posting to social media, etc.
Which came first for you: sports or nutrition?
From a very young age, I loved to compete. Therefore, sports came first. My sister and I competed in everything we did (trampoline backflip contests, races around coffee tables, front yard rollerblade hockey games). After suffering a common, yet devastating, soccer injury during peak time for college recruiting, I committed to doing everything I could to get back to playing as quickly as possible, thanks to the help of a new ACL. I came across an article that discussed the role of nutrition in injury healing and quickly became a sponge. Through my own experiences, I began to notice the role of nutrition on sports performance and overall health. I became a division I college soccer player, where I gained firsthand experience of the demands of a college athlete at the top level. Not only did I experiment with my own nutrition (found as many things that did not work as I found that did), I began noticing other teammate’s diets and how it was tied to their performance. This passion followed me as retired from soccer and transitioned into being a distance runner. Running is one of the most physically demanding sports that has very high nutrient needs. Therefore, nutrition gets put under the microscope. I finished my degree in nutrition and dietetics from UNF, and earned my registered dietitian license to be able to put my passion and knowledge into practice.
What does your marathon training and schedule look like?
Each time I have marathon-trained, my training program has looked differently, mostly because each time I’m a more experienced runner with more physical capacity. Soon I will be gearing up for the California International Marathon on December 2. In the last few weeks I have averaged about 65 miles per week, and also factor in all of the little things, such as stretching and strength exercises, to keep me healthy and strong. I estimate about 12 hours a week dedicated to running (which averages to just short of two hours per day). As this training cycle gets closer to my race, I could potentially get up to 90 to 95 miles per week, which will require more time actually running and more time spent on recovery. Typically, I run in the morning or late evening around business hours and try to schedule training sessions around work events that are outside of business hours.
What has your journey toward the Olympic trials looked like?
To keep it simple, my journey has looked similar to the journeys of the runners I really admire. Running can make you feel on top of the world one day, then come crashing down the very next. 2015 was the last time I went for it (while in middle of dietetic internship) and I failed after being on pace to qualify for 19/26.2 miles. Since then, I've run personal records, but I've have been heartbroken from underperforming — a million different things can go wrong in a race. I think the thing about running, especially with a marathon, is that you really have to trust the process and be willing to to lay it all out, yet may not get the result you hope for. One of my favorite things my coach sometimes reminds me before races is that I am free to fail. It gives me the confidence to race courageously and not fear failure.
What traits do you think all great athletes need to be successful?
Great athletes are mindful and have great coping mechanisms. They listen to their bodies and are able to roll with the punches that go along with competing. This is something I have been working on in the past year. While I do not think I will actually ever be labeled as “mindful,” I know that I can become more mindful. Sports psychology is an evolving field that allows athletes to further develop their mental game and self-talk as they compete.
What is your background and education in nutrition like?
There is a lot of confusion coming from nutrition influences across the globe. A lot of people do not realize that anybody is able to call themselves a “nutritionist” without any formal training. The most trusted, nationally regulated and extensively trained nutrition licensure is a registered dietitian/nutritionist license. As of 2016, I became a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN). To become an RDN, one must complete rigorous coursework in nutrition and dietetics. Then, you apply for a competitive internship in a supervised practice that includes clinical, food service management, public health and communication rotations. Then, we must pass a board-certified exam to become certified and follow up with continuing education to maintain licensure. I like to advocate that while there are general healthy guidelines, there are actually no set rules when it comes to good nutrition for the individual, nor is there a one-size-fits-all diet. I have a variety of client types that include or exclude certain foods for several reasons that are specific to the individual. Food preferences, genetics, health, activity levels, allergies, ethics/morals, access to food and financial status are all factors that influence why a person chooses the food they do. Because that differs from person to person, so do diets. I encourage my clients to find a balance that supports their physical and emotional health.
What makes Meteor Nutrition different from other nutrition-focused brands?
Meteor Nutrition delivers evidence-based knowledge via services that are progressive and easy to digest (no pun intended) for the client. I do my best to find what it is that motivates a client (and why), then develop strategies tailored to them that will best get them to their desired result.
How have your past academic and professional experiences prepared you for the work you do today? How have they not prepared you?
I received very thorough training in terms of becoming a dietitian. As I mentioned before, the internship really does require you to obtain a variety of experiences to make you a well-rounded dietitian. During my 10-month internship I worked in a 600-bed acute care hospital, alongside the Orlando Magic/UCF athletics dietitian, at Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital, at a WIC (Women Infant and Children) facility, and in assisted living facility. My training made me a great dietitian. What it did not teach me is how to operate a business. I think this is an area all dietitians who go into private practice can agree upon. Therefore, owning Meteor means a lot of self-educating, asking for mentorship (especially from babes) and learning as I go.
How do you see the gender ratio changing in the nutrition industry?
Nutrition and dietetics is a female-dominated field at this time. There are some wonderful male dietitians out there and I really do enjoy how they influence our field. However, female sports dietitians as a part of a sports performance team are getting more recognition. Within the last decade, other disciplines that may be more male-dominated have been more open-minded to how nutrition is impacting an athlete’s health and performance.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
In sports and healthcare, other professionals do not always understand the role of a dietitian. In the beginning of my career, I was a small female in my early twenties with a quiet voice. I quickly learned that when delivering information about how an athlete’s or patient’s nutritional care should be conducted, you must communicate confidently and directly, or you will actually get run over.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Make connections and always put forth your best work. People remember your name and are willing to help you if you have a history of positive influence.
What’s next for you?
Obtaining my CSSD license (Certified Specialist in Sports Dietitian) that I’m eligible to sit for in November while continuing to develop Meteor Nutrition.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Keep showing up, even when it gets tough.
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