The resident Nutritionist/Dietician, Ms. Bernadette Atencio of #iwantabschallenge gives her two-cents.
“Bern”, for most, says becoming a Nutritionist-Dietician for her is an answered prayer and a dream come true. It is a simple dream that started since she was a child. This is a dream of having a title after her name, of wearing the white coat, and of helping others— that dream of becoming a doctor. Although she has not become a doctor, God sometimes answers prayers in different ways. These humble intentions why she wanted to be a doctor eventually became the same motivations why she appreciate and value her profession.
After passing the licensure exam, Bern is trying to discern what specific discipline in nutrition and dietetics is she going to take. She considered food service, clinical and nutrition education. A week after passing the boards, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She opted to slow down and decided to attend to her mother’s medical and emotional needs, instead of pursuing her career right away. Taking care of her mom made her realise that cases of lifestyle diseases in our country (Philippines) is increasing. She felt that she has to do something about this as a health advocate. This is why she chose to work with a company that is concern with the health and fitness for the people.
Bern decided to take the first step for her fitness career in July 2012 when she joined Fitness First Philippines. It was never easy for her. It is her first job and she was also asked to undergo a Personal Training Programme. She has never been into sports or any physical activity before. But when she became a Trained Fitness Instructor and started fitness coaching online, the more she understood and loved health and fitness. As the in-house nutritionist in Fitness First, she fundamentally do counselling on how her clients will achieve their goals in the safest and proper way.
In November 2014, Bern made the most important decision so far with her career. She decided to become a freelance Nutritionist-Dietitian. She had nutrition clinics in Quezon City and Valenzuela City, became the in-house nutritionist dietitian of Acebedo General Hospital in Valenzuela City and at the same time, she also is the in-house nutritionist-dietitian of the four branches of St. John Biocare and Dialysis Center Foundation.
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On her perks…
As a Nutritionist-Dietitian, Bern is a health advocate. Having been trained as a Fitness Instructor is an advantage. She now has a broader idea on changing the lifestyle of an individual. Aside from this, being a freelancer is another plus. She has more time and more opportunities to make people aware on how to have a healthier lifestyle. She is so thankful that at this early age, she got the chance to counsel people, to be a speaker in school activities and companies, to write articles and to be interviewed by young adults who want to be healthy.
More than all of these, Bern’s experiences with her patients is the best part. She gets to talk to different people everyday. People who came from different walks of life. People who have different concerns in life. People who love and appreciate her for being part of their lives. It is indeed SO FULLFILLING!
Bern’s main challenge is walking the talk—the pressure to maintain a fit and healthy body.
all the eyes around you watch on what you eat. But since being healthy and fit is already a lifestyle to me, this lessens the pressure.
Another thing is being a “Not allowed” person. It’s not easy stepping in someone’s life then suddenly tell them that they should minimize eating this and that. Especially if these food are their favorite or comfort food. Most of the people would understand but still there are some who hate me for doing it.
Moreover, the heart of Bern’s profession is about helping other people. How she touch their lives in the most meaningful and simplest way she can. That’s where her fulfilment emanates from. If there’s someone who inspired her to love and serve other people, it would be her mom. Her mother who loves selflessly and unconditionally. She is her ultimate idol on how to be loving and generous in any way that she can.
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only when there is a light from within” –Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
On true fitness, Bern says that it is multifactorial. It can be affected by your emotions, genes, age and sex. Always remember that everyone has the modifiable factors that contributes to fitness. This is the lifestyle. Lifestyle that is mainly composed of diet and physical activity.
A person who eats a balance diet and is physically active is the most fit person for our nutritionist. That person should also have a normal BMI, body fat % and body age.
To achieve fitness,
70% diet, 30% exercise. That is my formula in achieving fitness.
Nonetheless, do not forget that we still have to consider the other factors like our emotional well-being.