DDT: Could you give us a little background info on who Vanessa Burman is?
Vanessa: I’d love to, but first thank you guys for reaching out and asking to interview me! I’m a huge science nerd and avid weight lifter, so for years anything having to do with nutrition, anatomy/physiology, and performance has peaked my interest. I work as a Registered Dietitian at a Bay Area hospital and also a bit on my own on a more preventative health and wellness basis. I am a certified personal trainer, but not actively training clients at this time – I’d like to complete a more in depth strength and conditioning coaching certification before I come back to this. I work hard on bettering myself daily whether it’s in my personal or professional life – even if it’s the smallest thing I learn or fact that I pick up. I spend a lot of time reading and writing and working on “personal growth”, but I also try not to take things too seriously.. I’m a pretty sarcastic person and enjoy making people laugh or feel more comfortable by being real with them. I promote and preach balance in all areas of my life and encourage patients and clients to do the same.
DDT: What got you inspired and into the fitness-health industry?
Vanessa: I touched on this above, but I have to say again that I’m a science nerd, so I suppose science is the best answer! I’ve always been fascinated by the human body – my love for understanding how it functions definitely first came from my physiology class senior year of high school. To be honest, I sort of fell into majoring in nutrition in college because the coursework included classes like organic chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology. I’ve also always been pretty active – I played competitive soccer for 10 years and in college I ran a fair amount and “lifted weights”. About two and a half years ago I was inspired all over again by my body’s ability to gain strength when I followed a strength-based training program, thanks to a friend of mine who introduced me to powerlifting.
DDT: Can you tell us about your experience with your recent Powerlifting competitions and any tips for a first time competitor?
Vanessa: I’m still relatively new to the sport of powerlifting, but I have done three meets this year, one of them being USAPL Raw Nationals. Although at times I have felt “out of my league” I try to remind myself that this is how you get better – practice, experience, and pushing yourself to do something you might normally be afraid to do. I always thought I needed to be stronger and better before I stepped on a platform. If you are even considering competing, pick a meet, train, and just do it. It’s you vs you, so if you do better than you did at your previous meet, or even learned something new, it’s still an overall positive experience. I also don’t think it hurts to surround yourself with athletes that have more training/competition time under the bar. It helps you continue to learn new things and progress.
DDT: You are a Registered Dietitian. Can you tell our audience some of the ins and outs to becoming an RD and what to look for?
Vanessa: I have a B.S. in Food and Nutrition, and went through a didactic program in dietetics in order to be able to apply for an internship. I think it’s important for prospective RD’s to make sure they work closely, job shadow, or volunteer in the area of nutrition they think they are most interested in. Throughout school I was never really told and didn’t understand fully what a clinical RD would be doing on a day-to-day basis, so my expectations were slightly different. Ask questions and take a look at what the future of jobs looks like in the area you’re interested in!
DDT: What do you feel is the biggest downfall in the Health and Fitness Industry?
Vanessa: The best answer I can give for this question is our society’s fascination with fad diets and people’s willingness to take information from any source and not question it at all. I always say we need to get “back to basics” and stop complicating things so much. Fad diets often don’t last long because they aren’t sustainable and they don’t work long-term.
DDT: If you could change one thing in the Health and Fitness Industry, what would it be and why?
Vanessa: I think it’s unfortunate that anyone can write “nutrition and fitness coach” on their Instagram, list an email, post a few before and after pictures, and people will believe that they’re getting evidence-based nutrition information or programming. I’m by default an advocate for keeping up the integrity of the industry, so I have high standards for what I consider quality health information and coaching. If you’re looking for help with nutrition or need a strength/conditioning program – do your research before you pay someone. Make sure they’re credentialed in some way and have the experience to get you where you want to be. Anyone can be a “nutritionist” if they type it out on their profile.
DDT: At times life throws challenges at you to test your mental toughness and heart as a person. What has been your biggest challenge in life and how did you overcome it?
Vanessa: My mom battling cancer has been the most significant challenge for my family and me. I’ve also had tough relationships (who hasn’t) that challenged me as a person, but really pushed me to find my sense of self. Sometimes the most we can do is sit and face emotions instead of fighting them or pretending we are “ok”. It’s okay to be emotional and irrational at times. The thing that’s helped me the most is just simply reminding myself that humans are resilient, and no matter how bad you might feel at a certain time –things get better if you actively work on allowing them to.
DDT: What are your future plans with Powerlifting comps and other areas of interest?
Vanessa: I don’t have any meets picked out at this time but I plan to look for one this coming March or April. I wanted to give my body a chance to recover and adapt to training as a 63kg lifter. I have been playing around with some Olympic lifting and oh man… I have so much respect for Oly lifters. I’d love to work on this more.
DDT: What is your definition of Success and what kind of Legacy do you want to leave?
Vanessa: To me, success isn’t measured by number of accomplishments, a weight on the scale, and doesn’t have a monetary threshold that needs to be crossed. It’s not all black and white. Success to me is being happy, passionate about what I do, and continuously working on being the best version of myself while helping others find personal balance.
DDT: What is your favorite lift and why?
Vanessa: I’d have to say the squat. It looks so simple to an untrained eye, but it’s technical and there are numerous mental cues that go along with the set up. It’s the most exciting lift to accomplish because honestly it just feels awesome to move a significant of weight on my back. But… it also “stresses” me out the most, in a good-nervous kind of way.
DDT: What is your “Go To” Pre and Post workout meals?
Vanessa: Lately my pre workout meal has been greek yogurt and peanut butter toast with honey. Post – my all time favorite is egg whites mixed with sweet potatoes with cinnamon, but often it’s protein pancakes, some kind of veggie and meat stir-fry, or sushi. I literally could eat sashimi every day.
DDT: Your favorite controlled-indulgence meal is______?
Vanessa: I have a huge sweet tooth! People always think this is funny or ironic because I’m a dietitian. I’m still human and not immune to doughnuts or cupcakes! These are not “meals”, so if I had to pick something else, I’d go with In-n-Out or maybe some pizza 🙂
DDT: What does Vanessa like to do for fun? Please don’t hold back on us 😉
Vanessa: My idea of fun will probably make me sound like a grandma, haha. Aside from lifting – I enjoy writing, reading, and baking and find them all very therapeutic. I’m pretty introverted so spending time with close friends or family is at the top of my list. I’ve recently gotten into “making things” – I built my headboard (with a little help from my brother), and have plans for some pretty awesome vertical gardens made from recycled wood. What I really love is travelling – and will probably plan my next trip (somewhere in Europe) around May.
DDT: Where can our readers and supporters follow you and your work?
Email: [email protected]
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