More About Alissa Rumsey
Alissa is a New York City based dietitian and the owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, a weight-inclusive virtual private practice that specializes in helping people cultivate a healthy and peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.
She is also passionate about empowering dietitian entrepreneurs to confidently start, grow, and scale their businesses.
In 2017 she founded the Dietitian Entrepreneur Mastermind Retreat, a workshop that brings together dietitians from around the country to spend a weekend learning, connecting, and collaborating on your businesses.
She most recently launched the Dietitian Entrepreneur Foundation Course, a self-paced online course that walks you through the exact steps on how to set up and confidently launch your business.
Connect with Alissa
- Alissa's new book: Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life (affiliate link)
- Dietitian Entrepreneur Foundation Course (28 CEUs)
- Free downloads and favorite entrepreneur resources
Episode Show Notes
- Check out my FREE Facebook group – The Unconventional RD Community
- SEO Made Simple Waitlist
- FREE Start a Website Tutorial
Please note that I am an affiliate for some of the following products. If you click my affiliate link and make a purchase, I may earn a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Links from the episode
- Caroline Dooner's The F*ck It diet
- Fiona Sutherland's blog post about discerning troll from teacher
- Christine Dyan's Cultural Diversity Book Club
Read the transcript
Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire.
What to expect from this episode
Do you get anxious when posting online? Are you uncertain about saying the right thing, quote, unquote, or potential backlash or criticism that you may receive? Does this anxiety hold you back from getting visible online and growing a meaningful following?
Well, in today's episode, I'm chatting with dietitian Alissa Rumsey, weight inclusive dietitian and coach to future RD entrepreneurs. And if I must say, an all-around badass. Alissa has been working in the online space for quite some time, and she is someone I look up to as a role model for having a clear and effective voice online.
In this conversation, we discuss what it means to have a voice online, how to tell whether or not you are actively expressing your voice right now, and tips for finding and refining your voice. We also talk about why speaking up can feel so hard sometimes how to protect your energy when you spend so much time online, but why it's totally worth the effort to do this work and start becoming more vocal online.
I had such a great time chatting with Alissa. So let's dive into the conversation.
Alissa's Background in Dietetics
Erica: Today we're talking about finding your voice on social media, which I think is something you really excel at, Alissa. So before we dive into this specific topic, can you tell our listeners more about yourself and your background in dietetics?
Alissa: Sure. Happy to. So I've been a dietitian for 12 years now and my interest in nutrition actually started in high school. It started around sports nutrition and I double majored in nutrition and exercise science thinking like I was going to be a sports team dietitian. That was the initial plan.
And then I actually fell in love with clinical nutrition, specifically ICU and critical care during my internship. And so I ended up working the first six and a half years of my career at a large teaching hospital in New York City, mostly in the ICU during that time. And then also worked in management for my last year and a half there and then learned so much.
I got my start in social media at the hospital, got my start in writing, got my start in media, like so many things while I was there, and then took the leap to leave there and start my own business. Now it's been about five and a half years.
And you know, as you talk about, and as a lot of other people find, it has shape-shifted and changed a lot over that time. But where I am now is I have basically three prongs my business.
The 3 Prongs of Alissa's Business
The two main ones are:
1. Virtual private practice.
I have a virtual private practice. That's a weight inclusive private practice and I do one on one counseling and online programming for women, mainly women who are moving away from dieting and really want to improve their relationship with food, be more comfortable with their bodies, and just really kind of deindoctrinate themselves from everything that society has taught them about what they “should be” or “should do” or “should eat” or “should” look like. So I do that.
2. Dietitian Mastermind Retreats
And then I also work a lot with dietitians and a lot with entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. I started a dietitian entrepreneur mastermind retreat three years ago. Now that had been an in-person workshop, as we are recording this, everything is virtual now. And the workshop is now virtual as well. And yeah, I really, I work mostly with dietitians who are either trying to get into entrepreneurship and start their businesses and kind of like how to do all that.
Cause as you know, we don't learn any of that. And also with dietitians kind of in that first couple of years of business and just, okay, now that you've got some clients, how do you now like grow this, and brand, and do it more consistently.
3. Media Spokesperson
And then the third prong of my business, which is a smaller piece, but I still do some of it, is media spokesperson work. So I partner generally with just a handful of brands a year to do some of that.
Erica: And what does that mean, really?
Alissa: Good question. So for me, I think that can look different for a lot of people. You know, certainly now a lot of brands and companies are interested in social media and specifically, Instagram is really big at the moment.
My favorite part of it, I do a little bit of social media, like, influencer style stuff, but I really like to do more media related. So TV interviews on behalf of a brand, satellite media tours, written print interviews, occasionally doing some freelance writing or blogging for a brand.
It used to be a bigger part of my business. Now it's a smaller part, but I also ideally love to just work with like-minded companies and doing more like longer-term rather than just like little one-off stuff all the time. So generally it's something that is more like a six month or a year-long kind of contract.
Erica: Super interesting. I bet people listening are like, wow, I didn't even know that was a thing.
What does it mean to have a voice online?
Erica: One of the things I admire about you and your business, you have such a clear voice online. And I see you speak up about things that matter to you in a very confident, unapologetic way. And I admire that because that's definitely something that I personally am working on. Can we start with, what do you think it really means to “have a voice” online?
Alissa: Yeah. Great question. And thank you so much. I will say, I know we're going to get into this a little bit more, but I appreciate hearing that feedback because I think it took me many years to kind of understand what my voice was and what you're saying is what my goal is, so that's really helpful to hear, but in terms of, yeah, nitty-gritty, like what does that mean to have a voice online…
In my mind, it's kind of this idea of what does your brand “sound” like? Like what's sort of the personality of your business? I kind of think of it as like personality and authenticity. And so a lot of us in the nutrition space, we are our brands, right? Like I would say the vast majority of dietitians are at least part of their brand. It might not be all you, but it's part of you.
So the voice is kind of like if you're thinking of talking to a person, what are the adjectives you would use to describe that person? So if we're thinking of your business personality, your business voice, what is the language that you use? Is it simple? Is it complex? Are you using scientific jargon? Are you funny? Are you serious? Are you using swear words or not?
Also the tone. So are you direct or honest or are you kind of like scientific and more clinical? Is it more of a professional tone or is it more of like a personal friend kind of tone? And yeah, just thinking about some kind of adjectives that you describe a person with, like their personality, it's sort of the same thing. So friendly, authentic, funny, inspiring, down to earth, professional, or authoritative?
So it's really kind of thinking a bit like this is the business's personality. And then I think it also is about being authentic and being consistent.
So I always think of it as like, okay, every time I read something, I can immediately tell, okay, this is this brand. Like this makes sense. And if a different person wrote for that brand, I would also be able to tell. I'll be like, Ooh, this does not sound like them.
Erica: Yeah. Like Ben and Jerry's voice is different from, well actually I can't think of another ice cream that even has a voice, but they have a very clear voice and others are maybe not so much.
How can you tell if you are actively expressing your voice?
Erica: So how can someone tell whether or not they're actively expressing their voice right now in their business?
Alissa: The voice is kind of like wherever you're showing up online, right? So social media, blogging, email marketing, or email newsletters, you know, kind of anywhere that you're showing up online, showing up on videos or Instagram stories or all of this type of stuff.
So to me, I think like, does this feel authentic to you? Does this feel natural or does it feel like a struggle to sit down and write? And I think a great way to think about this is, if your online voice is aligned with you and your business, you get excited to post about certain topics and you might feel like energized about it, versus if you're not really expressing your voice or you haven't really gotten it, you might be kind of like dragging your feet. Procrastinating, putting it off, maybe you have that like kind of gut instinct that you're kind of not listening to.
So I think that's the main thing I think of – does this feel natural? Does this feel authentic? And if you are your brand and your business, are these things that you'd actually say in a conversation?
So for example, when I first started, and I do think that the reason a lot of dietitians specifically struggle with this is because our training is so scientific and very like, “you're the nutrition expert” and research-heavy. And a lot of us have worked in clinical where it's very red tape and very serious.
And then you get into trying to write for social media and trying to write for a consumer audience. And it took me so long to figure out at the beginning what I was doing because I didn't know what my voice was. I was imitating others. So there's this dietitian who is hilarious and like just has the funniest personality. And that comes through in her writing and her social media content.
And I started to try to do that cause I'm like, Ooh, I love her voice. Let me try to write like that. And it totally fell flat because I am not naturally funny. Like I am not one of those people that just naturally says comedic things. So it fell flat because that's not how I speak. So is this how you speak? And also I think that dietitians struggle with, and again, just based on a lot of our training, being too corporate or just too kind of removed, like not getting that human connection.
I know we'll talk in a little bit about my voice and how I've come around to that. But I get the most feedback when people are like, Oh my gosh, I love that. Like you just say it like it is.
I had someone message me yesterday after an Instagram post and was like, I feel like we could be friends in real life because I'm just talking like I would. And this is again, this is MY voice. And what I've come up with is like, I don't want to be this removed dietitian that's the “expert”. I want to be on your level. But no matter what, the connection is so big.
Erica: Yeah. When they're first starting out, so many dietitians in social media posts might be like, Oh, a new study, N=30, shows a significant difference between blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know? And no one is going to connect with that.
Alissa: I always use the example of blueberries. Like Blueberries are high in vitamin whatever. And I'm like, people don't care about that. That might be true, but that is not what people like. That is not getting people to connect.
Tips for finding or refining your voice
Erica: So what if someone's listening to this and they're like, Oh no…. that's me. I don't know my voice. I don't think I have a voice. What tips do you have for helping people find or refine their voice?
Alissa: Yeah. So, well, first of all, if you're listening And you're like, Oh my gosh, I just posted about blueberries the other day. Or I just posted about this study. Don't worry.
We've all been there. We've all done that. I'm really big on, like, you have to just get yourself out there and start because if you keep waiting until like, okay, my voice is ready, I know what I'm doing, you're never going to learn your voice. You have to just get out there. So don't let this stop you.
1. Define your values
Alissa: But here are a couple of things I think, and it goes back to, again, whether or not you are your brand's voice, like as the business owner, but most of us are. But even if you're not, I think baseline, people need to know their values, like getting super clear on not just business values, those are important, but also your life values and like, who are you?
Where do you want to go? What do you want out of life? What do you want out of business? What is important to you? What are your non-negotiables? And there's a lot of different exercises online that you can find to do like some value-based work.
And when you are super clear on this, it gives you direction and it gives you clarity and helps kind of set the foundation for your life, but then also your business. Cause I think most of us start a business because we want to live our lives in a certain way. And we want to get something more out of the work that we're doing.
So for example, someone's values might be authenticity or they might be empathy or they might be equity or they might be fun or they might be adventure. And you can already kind of see of like, okay, depending on what my values are, this is going to inform how I'm speaking and what my voice is and what it sounds like.
So that's number one, doing some value-based work. I think this is important for everybody, whether or not you have a business. I've been getting really into this at the recommendation of several of my mentors and supervisors. And I just think it's helped me feel so much more grounded in, like you said at the beginning, being sort of unapologetic in what it is I'm saying.
And I think this is because I'm feeling so much more grounded now and like, this is who I am, and it makes me feel just more confident with speaking out values.
2. Make a list of words that reflect your brand
Alissa: The second thing I would say is to make a list of words and phrases that to you, describe your brand and your business. Make a list of words that describe it and also make a list of words that describe what it's not.
So for example, what does your business stand for? What makes you unique? How do you want people to feel when they're consuming your content? So having a list of words, both of what you don't want to be like and also what you do want to be like, or what you want to come across as is really helpful.
And when you're doing this, you want to think of a couple of things:
You wanna think about who your audience is, because obviously if your audience is in their twenties, the words that they use and like how you're going to come across, it's probably going to be very different than if your audience is in their sixties.
So knowing who your audience is, knowing what their interests are. This is where we always talk about stuff like, okay, who else does your ideal client or your audience follow? Like, what other stuff do they read? How do they speak? So really thinking about your audience when you're making this list of words.
And then also thinking about, like I talked about before, what kind of language do you use? Do you want to be more kind of lighthearted? Do you want to be kind of like joking or like sassy? Like there are some great dietitians out there who just have the best like sassy voice. And again, that is not me. I love that, but I'm like, that's not me. That would totally fall flat. Are you going to swear or not?
I mean, I think like Caroline Dooner comes to mind of like the F-It Diet. Like that is literally the name of her business and her brand. So clearly people know what they're getting into.
And then think about your tone as well, your language, your tone, how you want people to feel. Do you want to be approachable? Do you want to be educational and informative? Or do you want to be engaging? Do you want people to start to think more about certain things?
3. Ask people how they would describe your brand
And once you've done this baseline, some of these things I just talked about, then what you want to do is like, or if you're already putting content out on social, a hundred percent, what everyone needs to do is go find at least five people and ask them to review it and say like, okay, when you look at my Instagram or when you look at my website or whatever it is, what words come to mind? And get their feedback.
I actually do this with every dietetic intern. They have a whole bunch of pre-rotation stuff I have them do. One of them is this. And honestly I started this years ago when I hadn't done any of this baseline work and didn't really know what my voice was. And it was really helpful and hearing their feedback and then over time being like, Oh, I'm getting the same words over and over again, this is good. Like I'm being consistent.
Erica: I've never heard that tip before, but I love it.
Alissa: Yeah. I think it's really great. And you can also do it with like friends and family. If you have clients, I would ask your clients, if you have good relationships with some of your clients and you know that there'll be open honest with you, like asking them for their feedback. They love to be involved and be able to kind of tell you. And especially if it's people who know you and then they can look online and be like, okay, is this translating the way I want? Or are they coming up with words that you're like, okay, no, this is not like who I am or what I want my voice to be.
Erica: Yeah. That's exactly what I was just about to say. Like, you could use it both ways, to either confirm that what you're doing is working or to realize that you might not be translating in the way that you want it to come across. And then you just pivot. No big deal, you know? Like you said, it's better to just do it and then get the feedback than to never do it.
Why is it so hard to be vocal and consistent online?
Erica: So along those same lines, why do you think it can be hard for people to speak up online or be consistent?
Alissa: I mean, I think such a big theme is perfectionism. I think perfectionism, people pleasing, being afraid of what others will say, not wanting to ruffle feathers. And again, I think it's so important that we separate this. This is not a personal failing or a personal shame.
Our culture stresses individuality, it stresses perfectionism, and stresses binary thinking. And even getting down to like, okay, in a capitalist society, they need productivity and they need output. So perfectionism is rewarded. And I certainly consider myself a recovering perfectionist, but anyone who has any kind of perfectionism in them will probably say like, yeah, it's been rewarded.
So when we see the best getting rewarded and appreciated, the focus becomes just on like, Oh my God, I have to do this perfectly. I can't screw up again. We're groomed to feel personally responsible if we screw up and fail. And so making a mistake becomes this shameful thing, rather than something to learn and grow from.
So again, if you identify with perfectionism, it's not your fault. I think it's knowing that this is how our culture is set up. But what happens is when you develop this perfectionistic tendency, it breeds this kind of inner critic voice to sort of keep you in line and to make sure that you're doing good enough. So then if we mess up or if we ruffle feathers, or if we get “bad” feedback, we take it super personally. And we're like, Oh my God, and this mistake becomes like, Oh, I'm a bad person. You know? I did this bad thing. I'm a bad person.
So I think that's why it just gets in the way of being authentic and being real. Cause we're so caught up in like, well, I don't want to say the wrong thing or I don't want people to think this way about me.
And I think certainly in nutrition we are primarily a woman-dominated field, and this is cultural expectations, but women tend to get the brunt of that and tend to internalize a lot of this. So I think it's really having these people-pleasing tendencies and sort of being afraid. And I totally identify with all of this stuff by the way.
And I've had to work through that and realize that that might've been what I've learned and was probably rewarded for and was probably a protective mechanism at some point in my life, is not anymore. Now it's getting in the way.
Erica: Can we dive into that a little deeper? How did you get through that or work through that?
Alissa: Oh, good question. Therapy. Putting a plug in for therapy. I think everybody could benefit from therapy.
I mean, I think the first step is recognizing, right? Like I used to like be like, Oh, I'm such a perfectionist. I'm so Type A. And I'd claim this as a badge of honor. And again, that is normal because that is what our culture demands of us and teaches us. And this grind culture and hustle culture and all this crap, right? Like that is all that we've internalized.
So I think once I started realizing like, Oh wait, this is something that was put on me, this wasn't something that I was born with. And not only that, but it was something that was harming me and kind of holding me back.
And this is getting deeper than business, but it was holding me back from a lot of stuff in life. And connection was the main thing. I kind of realized with this perfectionism, I was all up in my head. Like I was always thinking what I was going to say in my head before I ever said it. And I honestly did not realize this until like a couple of years ago. Didn't notice. And then once I realized it, I was like, Oh my God, no wonder I'm not connecting more deeply to people.
And then obviously this plays into your business too and your voice online, right? If you're in your head, worried about what people are thinking, then you can't just be authentic and be yourself. So I had to recognize it first.
I would say awareness is the first thing and then just kind of start challenging that. And you know, for me, it came just with talking this through with therapists, but also good friends, close friends, and having a partner who is open and could talk about this.
And then honestly you have to challenge the behavior. Like do this behavior that feels really scary. And then you do it and you're like, Oh, okay. And if it's authentic, it feels super frickin scary to like, write this thing or say this thing, but then you do it.
And the reaction. So like, I'll use an example if we're getting really real here. So probably about a year ago, I had a vibrator company reach out to me about doing an Instagram post. And I was like, okay…. like my first thought was like, Oh my God, I'm a dietitian, like, I can't, like vibrator, what??
But then I was like, wait a second. And it was around the same time I had been doing a lot of training that year in body image and embodiment and all this stuff. And I was like, this relates. Pleasure relates and the ability to connect to your body. And there's all sorts of research around this, with like orgasms and masturbation and how women who are more disconnected from their bodies and more worried about what they look like don't orgasm as much. And so there's all this research.
And I was like, actually, you know what, this does make a lot of sense. And the specific company, I was really impressed with them. They're trying to break the stigma around women's sexual pleasure and sexual health, which is totally what I try to do with body image and food and all that. So I was like, okay, this relates.
But I was still so terrified. Like, I cannot believe I'm about to post a vibrator on my Instagram feed. And the response was insane. Like within a day it was my most engaged post ever. Within a day. I got so many DMs. Just the reactions were so amazing.
And it was like, okay. I said my truth. I was like, this is what I believe in. And people got it. They got it. So I think that's the thing. You kind of have to challenge that voice of fear or that perfectionist voice. And then once you start doing that more often, it just gets easier and easier.
Erica: What I'm hearing is, first you need to get clarity on who you are and what you stand for and ground yourself. And then you can stand in that grounding and more confidently share your message. It's like you have roots in the ground. Like you can't be toppled over by one person's mean comments, you know?
Alissa: Exactly. Yeah. And I do think that just takes some time and experience.
Does being vocal ever get any easier?
Erica: And like, does it get any easier? I know mean or combative comments can really throw some people off and kinda sends them for a loop for the day, or maybe multiple days. Does that improve as you consciously try to work on this?
Alissa: Yeah. Well, I love the way that you framed that. And it totally is like roots in the ground. I literally asked this exact question of one of my supervisors, like a year ago. I was talking about something business-related, but she was like, you need to know your personal values. And she used the same words you just did, like once you're grounded in that, yes, it might still hurt or you might see them all and be like, Oh wow. But it doesn't cause as much turmoil and you're able to get through it quicker.
I think too, it's also knowing the people you can turn to who will be like, okay, no, you're fine. And just to be like, Oh my God, this is what happened. And it definitely gets easier. And that's not to say that it doesn't hurt when people say things, but you're just kind of able to let it roll off a little easier.
Erica: Yeah. My husband's really into learning about the ego and stuff like that. So he's always talking about like, yeah, if you can remove your ego from it and just more objectively look at what someone's saying to you, maybe it's not a dig at you necessarily. Maybe someone just doesn't agree with you and that's fine. Like, no one's ever going to always agree with you. And you can decide if you want to maybe continue that conversation without being so emotionally wounded and taking it so personally and coming back very bitingly.
Alissa: Yeah. Fiona Sutherland is one of my supervisors and she has this amazing blog post about discerning troll from teacher and how to figure out, if there is negative feedback or somebody doesn't agree with you, is this something I can learn from and grow from? Or is this just someone trying to get a reaction from me?
Because for me, whenever I feel that defensiveness kick in, that is always a sign of like, Ooh, I think there might be something I can learn here. So I always consider that defensiveness signal now as a sign of like, okay, I'm feeling defensive, I'm getting emotionally involved, but this might be a sign that I can do better and that I've messed up.
Fiona's blog is super helpful because she says a teacher is going to be someone who is maybe not being like over the top friendly but is being direct and saying like, Hey, I want to give you feedback and is like inviting you to do better. And that's kind of what we consider like a call in. So helping you understand how something you might've said or done might be problematic and then how you can do better next time.
So it's again, being able to separate yourself and be like, okay, I'm not a bad person. This is just a learning opportunity. And yeah, sometimes those comments don't come off as nice. And that's okay. But I think once you're grounded in yourself, and you can see that sign of defensiveness as a chance to pause and be a little uncomfortable and see if there's a learning moment there.
But yeah, to your point, like, people are not always going to agree with you or like you, and that's fine. But I do think providing yourself some space to be like, okay, is this just someone who has a different opinion or is this someone who I'm like, Oh, okay. I can do better, this is a learning opportunity.
Erica: That tip about noticing when you get defensive…. I don't know why, but this has been coming up in my life a lot in the last month or so, in other contexts and conversations too. I'm in Christine Dyan's Cultural Diversity Book Club right now. And we talked about something similar.
If somebody says something really mean or calls you a name or a slur or something, sometimes it's just so ridiculous and you just know, like, Oh, this doesn't bother me cause it's not constructive criticism. Like, you know what I mean? And you already know that that's not you, so it just kind of rolls off.
But it's those moments when someone says something where you're like, “Is that me?”, that that's the moment to be like, Hmm… maybe I could work on something there.
Alissa: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. I mean, I'm thinking back to the Instagram post I was sharing about. I had a lot of amazing positive reaction. I also had like a couple hundred people unfollow me, but the people who I was hearing from were the ones that were like, I'm so happy you're talking about this. But I did get like one or two. I thought I would get more. And this again, speaks to my privilege as a thin young white person that I did not get more negative feedback, but I got like one or two people who were like, you know, this is something a dietitian should not be doing. This was a dietitian who was commenting, by the way, who I do not know, but they said something about like, this is very unprofessional that you're posting this, and that I was able to just let roll right off.
Cause I was like, Nope. Like I had thought about this. Like, this is me, you know? This is what I want to talk about. So that was something that I could kind of let that roll off. But yeah, it is just discerning that, and that's where a therapist or supervisor or someone who's a mentor can be really helpful.
Cause there's certainly been times when I'm like, I don't know. I can't tell. And that's where you can go to someone who knows you. And they're like either, yes, this is a learning moment or no, this is their own stuff.
How to protect your energy when you spend time online
Erica: Really great advice. Do you have any tips in general about protecting your energy when you spend so much time online? I've thought about this a lot, becoming more visible and becoming more of a public figure. And maybe this is just me, because I'm more of an introvert, but it does feel like it takes a lot of my energy. Like you're opening yourself up in a vulnerable way for feedback from thousands of people, potentially. So how do you manage that in your life?
Alissa: Yeah. Yeah. It can be such an energy suck. And it's funny, I've just learned in the last few years, I'm way more of an introvert than I thought. And introvert in the sense of, I get my energy from like quiet and alone time and needing my own space. And I think, again, that's personal growth. Like this is important to know about yourself.
So I would say the two big things for me are boundaries and self care.
Boundaries around lots of stuff. When my therapist said to me a couple of years ago,I think we were talking about a relationship I was in at the time, she's like, well, have you talked to him about your boundaries? I was literally like, what are boundaries? I don't even know what that means.
So boundaries are these lines we put up, either for ourselves or with other people, to protect our time and energy. So I put a lot of boundaries around social media and around just online work in general. And I think that's important whether or not you have a business, but certainly if you're running your own business, because I mean, as you know, you can just do this 24-7. There's not an end of a workd ay. And now that everything's virtual, that's even more the case.
So I try to take at least one to two days away from social media completely every week. For me, that's generally the weekend.
I also, this took so much time cause I used to numb with social media and be like, Oh, I just need a few minutes. I just need a break and then I'd open up Instagram and then I'd feel like crap 15 or 20 minutes later when I've gone down this rabbit hole.
And so I've finally gotten to a point where I still will do it sometimes, but most of the time I'm like, Nope, that's not gonna make me feel better right now. So I'm aware of my tendency to numb with social media and try not to do it. So I try to really only be on it for certain times of the day and then taking a couple of days of literally not on it at all.
2. Self Care
So I think having those boundaries around your time and then having self-care. Self-care is important for everything. But certainly when you are, like you said, opening yourself up. You're inviting people in when you are being vulnerable and open.
So for me, that is, like I mentioned, therapy, supervision, friends who I know I can call and be like, Oh my God, I can't believe I did this. And they can talk me off the ledge, and just doing things for myself. Setting those boundaries and then doing things for myself that are offline related.
Erica: Really good reminders, especially in the environment that we're in right now, where everything is online. You're so right. I've been noticing that I'm probably online more now than I have been ever.
I've also seen some people, if they, for example, run a Facebook group where they get a lot of DMs, they'll even hire assistants to manage that for them so it's not taking up as much of their time, but also so they're only focusing on the queries or the messages or whatever that are actually requiring their response.
Alissa: Yeah. Yeah, totally. I do that. I have a Facebook group, a consumer based Facebook group, and I do have a dietitian who helps me moderate cause yeah. I went through a period of big growth and I was like, okay, I cannot stay on top of all of this stuff. Yes. Whether it's like a virtual assistant or someone who can help with that. Definitely agree.
How having a voice has impacted Alissa's career
Erica: So I know we talked about that one example Of posting about the vibrator. Do you have any other examples Kind of finding and embracing your voice improved or changed your career?
Alissa: Yeah, well I think this was a combination of getting super clear on who I wanted to talk to and what I wanted to help and support them with and also getting more confident in my own voice, but I found that's when my social media engagement and following went way up. Like website views went up, I started getting way more DMs.
This can be a sign that you are standing in your voice and being authentic when you're getting this kind of engagement from the people that you want to get it from. That's a great sign that it's landing the way that you want it to. So yeah.
I mean, certainly it's helped in that way. And I think really, it just helped me connect so much more with people. And that, for me, like I said, a couple of years ago when I realized that I was really missing out on a lot of connection because of perfectionism and being in my head and all this stuff. And it's like the posts where I am the most vulnerable and the most off the cuff that I get the most feedback on.
So while certainly I understand how planned content can be really helpful for a social media strategy, for me, I've just learned that while I might occasionally do that, it's the stuff where I'm like, Oh, I'm going to write about this, that ends up getting the most feedback.
So for example, last night was the perfect example, I ended up, and this is again, like, I can't believe we're talking about all this stuff on your podcast, but this is where my voice has gone in the past couple of years. But my boyfriend had taken a photo of me and we were outside eating and he was like, I want to post this, but you don't have a bra on and you can kind of see through your shirt. Do you care? You're going to see like, the outline, through the shirt. And I was like, no, I don't care if you don't care.
And then I was like, this would actually be a really great thin, just around the idea of, again, talking about how we've been socialized and this stuff that's been put on us, and the fact that you can't show a women's nipples on Instagram, or women won't leave the house without a bra because of that, but for men, that's not a big deal.
And like shaving your legs! I just had this conversation with my boyfriend a few days before about shaving legs and so I put this in a caption. I posted it in like five minutes and, crap, I've got so many responses and so many women commenting and men and so many DMS. And so that's the stuff where this was just like off the cuff.
And again, like I've done work around trying to figure out your voice. Cause for me, when my practice started to shift and I was getting more into inclusive practice, and intuitive eating was really big for me for a long time, and it was about a year ago that I was like, okay, yes, I still believe in food freedom and killing your relationship with food, but the stuff that was getting me excited in client sessions was so much more than that.
But I was like, okay, how do I translate this to an online audience who's following me as a dietitian? And so over the last year I've been really trying to follow it. So someone might be like, okay, why is a dietitian posting about nipples in photos and shaved legs? And it's, again, going back to so much of our stuff with food. And our issues, especially women, that we have with food and our bodies go back to what our culture has put on us and how we've been socialized and when you start to question everything, generally it will start with food. Like, okay, why do I believe this thing about food?
Or like, why do I believe that this is bad and this is good? Or whatever it is. It then just gets bigger and bigger over time. And I can't remember if I told you, but I actually just finished writing a book. And that is the whole thing with my book. It's how healing your relationship with food can lead to so much personal growth,
Outside of just being able to be comfortable around food and not be thinking about food all the time. Like it's so much bigger. And so I feel like me finding my voice in that way has helped me. I feel like so much more excited to post about something that I did last night versus like, eat the burger because you're allowed to have a burger. Like yes, you are, but I was just like, Oh look, I don't want to do that. You know, that's a sign. And so I just feel like I've now found my people and am growing this community and that's been so great.
Erica: That was a great story. So many great examples, but I like how you're talking about listening to what feels good and also what gets responses from your audience. And I think the overarching theme was, the things that were really happening in your life, in real time, you were sharing them and people were resonating. Cause it's probably happening in their life too.
Versus everything being so buttoned up and preplanned, like, this is what I'm talking about on this day. Like, yeah, that has its place, but that shouldn't be everything. You need that connection, the realness, too.
Top 3 recommendations for dietitians who want to become more vocal online
Erica: To wrap it up, what would you say are your top three recommendations for dietitians who want to start becoming more vocal online?
1. Let go of perfectionism
Alissa: Well, I would say first letting go of the perfectionism and the people-pleasing and the shame. And if you're having some shame, you know, we all have shame stories and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, start to do some personal work on that.
And again, it feels unrelated, but it really is not at all. So that's the first one, letting go. If you have these perfectionist tendencies, being aware of how they're harming you and then starting to challenge those and try to let go of them.
2. Get clear on your values
Spending some time really brainstorming and getting thoughts out about your voice and about what you want people to take from it.
I'm huge on taking action and just getting started and all of that, but I also think that we need to spend time thinking about how we are coming across online and how we want to come across. So I think setting aside some time to do some more thoughtful brainstorming and planning and thinking about that.
3. Notice when you're getting defensive
And then the third thing is what we talked about, having that mindfulness and being able to, when you feel uncomfortable or feel defensive, being able to be like, Oh, that's a red flag. Let me pause. Let me consider, is there an opportunity to learn?
4. Find your support people
And then I guess number four, I'll throw in a fourth one is having those people that you can get that feedback from of like, okay, am I getting defensive? Is there a place to learn or is this just someone with a different opinion than mine.
Erica: I've been seeing going around on social media, that quote that's like, “Normalize learning new information and changing your opinion.” I hope that people understand, no one's going to get it right every time. It's not IF there's going to be a moment where an uncomfortable situation happens online, it's WHEN.
I think all of these tips are so helpful for somebody who sees someone like yourself who seems so confident and comfortable online and they're like, Oh, I wish I could be like that. You know? And to hear how you became like that, and how that wasn't necessarily how you were out the gate, that's inspirational.
How to connect with Alissa
Erica: So where can people go if they want to connect with you further?
Alissa: Well, the two best places are my website, which is AlissaRumsey.com. And I do have a specific page for dietitians there as well with different free downloads and resources there.
And then Instagram is definitely the social media platform, as you've heard me say today, which is Alissa Rumsey RD.
Erica: Awesome. And I will put the links to your website, your social media handles, and all that in the show notes. And also the article that you mentioned, I think people might be interested in that. So either you can send it to me or I'll go find it.
I'm sure I can find it. And if anyone listening wants to find the link to that, just go to the unconventional rd.com/episode zero four zero. And you can find all the links there at the top.
So thank you again for being here.
Alissa: Yeah. Thank you. That was really great.
Erica: Yay. What a great episode, right? I hope it inspired you to get clear on your values and move forward with that framework in mind when developing your brand voice.
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Other than that, I will see you next week.
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