After earning her bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from The Ohio State University, Katie Spada went on to complete her dietetic internship through Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Upon completion of her education, Katie became eligible to sit for the national dietetics registration board exam.
Shortly after passing and obtaining her RD credential and licensure, she started her career as a clinical dietitian at University Medical Center. In her current role in the hospital, she works mostly with the pediatric and neonatal populations. Additionally, she is a graduate student through Northeastern University working towards her Masters in Nutrition with a concentration in Sports Nutrition. Outside of her role as a clinical dietitian, Katie is the founder of Spada Strong Nutrition LLC, a nutrition coaching business focused on helping former athletes with their nutrition in life after sport.
Additionally, Spada Strong Nutrition LLC offers customisable programs geared towards coaching staffs and teams to educate them on proper fueling for athletes before, during, and after practice, as well as how to tailor nutrition and body image-related language to focus on performance outcomes overlooks. Katie competed as a synchronized swimmer for 11 years, earning spots on 3 USA National Teams, as well a scholarship position at The Ohio State University. During her time at Ohio State, Katie was fortunate enough to be a part of 2 National Title Teams, and serve as team captain during her Junior and Senior Seasons. Katie has a passion for helping others learn the fundamentals of nutrition, heal their relationship with food, and be able to fuel themselves for success, guilt-free!
Welcome Katie, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, can you introduce yourself to us?
My name is Katie Spada. I am 26 years old and reside in Las Vegas, NV, USA. I have been a registered dietitian for almost 3 years and absolutely love what I do. Prior to the start of my professional career, I competed as an elite level synchronised swimmer on three USA national teams, as well as continued my career at the collegiate level for The Ohio State University, before retiring from the competition when I graduated from college. I am the biggest Buckeye fan and proud OSU alum, and love college football season! In addition to my career as a dietitian, I recently started teaching Barre classes for Trufusion, and absolutely love it. Trufusion is a gym that offers group workout classes for several different types of modalities (such as pilates, TRX, boxing, yoga, barre, etc). Working out in the group setting gives me that sense of team again, from when I competed as an athlete.
My time as an athlete taught me resilience, perseverance, how tough I really am, and how fortunate and blessed I am to have such an amazing support system. My mom, dad, and brother have stood by me during the worst of times and the best of times. It is undeniable that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for their unconditional love and support. I know how incredibly lucky I am, and I am thankful every day to have loved ones who support me in all I do.
Can you give us a little back story on how you are where you are today as a registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder of Spada Strong Nutrition LLC?
I started my professional career as a clinical dietitian in the hospital setting, where I still work full time as a paediatric dietitian. The first few years as a retired athlete proved difficult for me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I struggled with letting go of my identity as an athlete and struggled even more so with eating, nutrition, workouts, and body image. I saw former teammates struggle with similar issues, and knew there had to be a solution. I stumbled upon intuitive eating, and it truly revolutionised my views on food and nutrition, not only in my own life but also as a practitioner. After seeing how much adopting these practices into my own life helped me with my food and nutrition struggles, I knew I wanted to share it with everyone else that was struggling!
That’s how Spada Strong Nutrition LLC came into being. Earlier this year in February, I officially founded Spada Strong Nutrition LLC nutrition coaching aimed at helping former athletes with their nutrition in life after sport. The foundation of my nutrition coaching is based on these mindful and intuitive eating principles. The focus is to help former athletes heal their relationship with food, know what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and do it all guilt-free!
What educational courses or study work do you have to go through and do you plan to further your education within the nutritional field?
In order to become a dietitian in the US, I had to first earn my bachelor’s of science in human nutrition. Once I had earned my degree, I next needed to complete an accredited 1200-hour internship, which allowed me to be eligible to then sit for a national registration exam, as well as obtain state licensure. I am currently working on my master’s degree in sports nutrition, and plan to pursue additional speciality certifications in the future.
What was the setup process like for setting up Spada Strong Nutrition LLC?
Fortunately, the state of Nevada does not require a laborious setup process for starting your own business! I started by submitting my business license request to the state and it was approved a few weeks later, making my business official. In terms of working out the details for the processes and procedures for how I would run my business, I hired a business coach, who is a dietitian herself and specialises in helping fellow RDs get their businesses up and running. She helped me walk through the process from the ground up and laid the foundations necessary to be able to start taking clients and continues to guide me as my business grows.
How are you guiding your clients through the nutritional transition in life after sport?
I am very passionate about this topic because I lived it firsthand. With that being said, I am able to bring personal understanding to our sessions because I have been right where most of the clients are and have dealt with what many of them struggle with. I utilise the 10 principles of intuitive eating as my foundation for coaching sessions. When working with clients one on one, we first identify what their main struggles are. Most of these have manifested from falsehoods they believed while athletes:
- “I’m not thin enough.”
- “I don’t have enough muscle.”
- “Carbs will make me fat.”
- “Eat less, workout more, weigh less.”
These are just a few examples of some of the thoughts we breakdown and bust through to help reach food freedom in life after sport. It is imperative to identify what it is they believe. Often times, our sessions are mostly focused on mindset, over the food itself when first starting out!
What 3 ways are you teaching us to fuel our body the right way whilst maintaining consistency in doing so?
- Let go of restriction. Many of my clients over restrict the foods they eat, usually leading to the vicious restrict-binge-guilt-repeat cycle. We start by getting rid of this restrictive mentality. All foods fit is my stance. By letting go of restriction, and allowing yourself the freedom to know you can eat the foods you want, the intense food cravings and binge episodes usually decrease in frequency, and clients find themselves no longer feeling the need to eat the entire sleeve of Oreos.
- Honour your hunger cues. In my coaching program, we focus a lot on identifying and honouring hunger and fullness cues. If this is something you aren’t used to doing already, it can be difficult to identify when you’re at the point of hunger where it’s time to eat, versus at the point of fullness where it’s time to stop, and still be comfortable. Everyone has different hunger and fullness cues. I often ask my clients to keep a journal of how they feel before and after they eat to better tune into their unique cues and feelings.
- Choose nourishing and satisfying foods. There is no denying some foods are more nutrient-dense than others. It’s important to consume a variety of both nutrient-dense, filling foods, and satisfying foods. This is where the nutrition composition of foods comes into play! One thing I usually encourage my clients to do is to eat their carbs with a protein or fat. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but proteins and fats are digested slower and help to keep you fuller for longer really maximising the energy from the carbs you consumed. We dive deep into know how to choose foods that do both: nourish and satisfy.
One hard lesson in business you have learned so far?
You will fail, people will say no, and that’s okay! As a recovering perfectionist, it’s hard to accept anything less than perfect. But that’s just not how it works in business. I have had to get comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable) with failures, or what I like to call learning opportunities. Every time something does not go how I had hoped, I take the time to evaluate what I did well, what I could have done better, and what I would do differently next time. It’s really not a “failure” if you learn and grow from it.
What are your preferred marketing methods for promoting your Gold, Silver and Bronze programme packages at Spada Strong Nutrition LLC?
Right now, I focus on marketing through Instagram and my website! Most of my clients have found me through Instagram, and I am so thankful for the platform social media has provided. I also network within the local community here in Las Vegas and have partnered with local gyms as well to provide nutrition coaching to their members.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
I’ll be the first to admit I never in a million years dreamed I would one day call myself an entrepreneur and own my own nutrition coaching business. I was too fixated on “the plan”: graduate college, get a job, get married, have kids. But that’s not always what life has in store for you.
To me, #BEYOUROWN means allowing your true self to shine despite what society may say you should or should not do. #BEYOUROWN means confidence in yourself, and knowing your worth. It’s sharing your unique talents with the world, and not being afraid to be proud of them. It took me too long to be proud of what I have accomplished. I was so quick to shrug off compliments or dismiss praise. But it’s okay to celebrate the amazing person you are, and to strive to create the life you desire for yourself! And doing it all ‘YOUROWN’ way. That is what it means to #BEYOUROWN to me. It means freedom to live the life you want, and permission, from yourself, to do so.
What have you got planned throughout the rest of 2019?
The rest of 2019 is filled with travel, business growth and development, and an extra focus on cherishing time with loved ones. I am excited to be able to return to The Ohio State University this year for alumni weekend and share with the current team my story. At the end of October, I will be heading to Philadelphia, PA to attend FNCE, the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.
This will be my first business trip for my own business. I look forward to networking, learning, and expanding my knowledge and resources as a dietitian and business owner. The last part of 2019 is reserved for planning 2020, it’s only going to be bigger and better.
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