In February 2018, I self-published my first book, Run My World: How I Empowered Myself Through Fitness. It would not have been possible without the support of incredible friends, mentors, and role models, and now I’m highlighting some of the amazing people in my life that run their worlds.
Empowered (wo)men empower (wo)men, so now I’m raising a glass to some of the best people I know. I’m so grateful to share their stories — I promise you’ll be even more inspired to run your world!
Mary’s note: I met Alexis at a mutual friend’s birthday dinner a few years ago. Like many of my friends, we stayed in touch via social media and had that “did we just become best friends???” moment when we realized how many passions we share. Alexis is full of love and life, and she is the queen of body positivity and intuitive eating. She truly has a soul that sparkles. Eating disorder recovery is an ongoing journey, and having friends like Alexis reminds me to love myself wholeheartedly and to keep progressing forward. Her journey has only begun, and I can’t wait to cheer her on the entire way.
Name: Alexis Blandine
Hometown: Margate, NJ
Current City: Atlantic City, NJ
Occupation: Clinical Dietitian working a mix of inpatient (hospital), outpatient counseling, and pediatric rehab
In one sentence, what does it mean for you to run your world?
Do no harm, but take no shit.
A little kindness goes a long way. I try to speak out positive attributes and accomplishments I see in others. It can really lift someone up with such little effort! However, don’t put up with anyone’s bullsh*t either. That goes for anything; work, friends, family, relationships, etc.
You are the one who sets boundaries on what you’re allowing in your life, which subconsciously dictates what behaviors you accept and what you don’t in others and how they treat you. If someone or something is trying to belittle your worth, find a way to put distance between you and whatever that is. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself at the expense of making someone ELSE feel uncomfortable, because you should be your first priority.
Acknowledge Your Past: What’s one lesson from your past that has really influenced your life?
My first job out of graduate school was seemingly my dream job, working as a pediatric dietitian in a large hospital system with tons of opportunities for growth. I overlooked the area I was moving to — a small, quiet, and local southern town — because I was so excited by the job opportunity. After a few months the allure wore off, and I realized I wasn’t happy. It was my first big girl job and my first time living without roommates, and it was extremely lonely and depressing. There were definitely nights where I called my mom crying; many of them actually.
I began to resent my job. I was flying back to see my mom and boyfriend every month, which made coming more and more dreadful each time. I realized that this pity party of one was not going to get much better with the outlook that I had. I switched my mindset: “How am I going to use this situation to my advantage and get me to where I need to be?” I eventually found another job closer to my family.
I’m now able to look back and realize how strong I was through that whole experience — mentally strong. I’ve always been an extrovert that is energized by other people, and I had never before been in a position where my socialization was limited.
It makes me appreciate being in my own company more, and while I always called myself independent, it morphed into a new type of independence. Once, I got a flat tire and had no one to call within 500 miles — shoutout to the one Firestone that was open in the south on a Sunday… and YouTube! I also learned to appreciate the small things, like being able to go for a walk down to the beach or sit at a coffee shop with a warm cappuccino. It sounds silly, but I appreciate it much more now.
Find Your Fit: What are your favorite ways to move and exercise? How did you find your fit?
I grew up on the chubbier side of life. My mom used to call it my “puppy weight” that I would one day grow out. She kept me involved in all different types of exercise: kickboxing, hip hop, ballet, competitive cheerleading, swimming, rowing, and horseback riding. I’m so glad she did!
I received a scholarship to row at a Division I university. After my rowing career ended, I craved an exercise routine, so I began training for a half marathon. My routine made me feel like I “had” to work out, and looking back it probably wasn’t always the most positive relationship I had with exercise.
My movement has changed reflecting what’s going on in my life, and I think that’s forced me to slow down more and really listen to what my body needs. For example, a puppy means walking A LOT. I still love the feeling I get after lifting, the endorphin high from a spin class, the calmness from doing yoga, and the confidence I feel from dancing. I love it all!
Fuel Your Body:
Favorite meal to fuel my body? My go-to breakfast/anytime meal is two slices of really good multigrain or sourdough bread: one with avocado, some fresh pico, hot sauce, and a fried egg and another with nut butter, bananas, honey, and hemp seeds. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory for my indecisive palate.
Favorite meal to fuel my soul? Some bomb a** seafood tacos, lime tortilla chips with house guacamole paired with a *fresh* margarita.
Have you had any struggles with your relationship with food? How do you try to fight/challenge the cultural standards around dieting and disordered eating?
Definitely. I think everyone (especially women) have. I started to notice this after I stopped rowing in college. I was exercising 2-4 hours a day, with multiple workouts that were HIGH intensity. Once I stopped rowing, I had a hard time figuring out how to eat to support my difference in activity level along with the late night eating/drinking that college and my newly flexible schedule brought with it.
My body changed in so many ways, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the changes, and my rational thinking was definitely compromised. I vividly remember going on a “17 day diet” with my friend that we found on Pinterest, and that lasted four days (thank goodness). We laugh about it now, but the sad thing is that this process is fairly normal for college girls to find some extreme adjustment in our diets to “lose weight” or “look better in the crop top.” I think it was after learning more in school about the ways that these diets affect our bodies made me realize how harmful this is.
Fast forward to me working as a clinical dietitian in both pediatric and adult nutrition, I see how diet culture affects people of all ages. From the comments of “oh, I can’t eat that” or “oh, you’re a dietitian you probably don’t eat [insert some random food that is being demonized that week].”
People love to put labels on things, from food to lifestyle choices to relationships and beyond. I think it helps people compartmentalize things because we don’t like gray areas, which is why foods became labeled “good” and “bad.” I remember being worried about posting a pumpkin bread recipe recently because it didn’t somehow “swap” the sugar and butter for something “healthier,” and people look to my page for “healthy recipes.” It sounds silly, but it touches everyone.
I make a conscious effort to compliment people who I notice have lost weight on something OTHER than the weight. For example, I say you’re glowing, you look so happy, you seem so energetic, etc. Commenting on weight subconsciously makes someone feel like they were a lesser person prior to losing that weight. As far as in my practice, a lot of people come to me saying they want to get to “x weight” to which I ask, “and then what? Why that weight?” My reason is to try to discuss that reaching that weight on the scale will not bring them happiness on their own, and then I try to define success in a different way in what it means to them. For some, it’s going up the steps without getting winded or getting off of a medication they’re currently needing. For others, it’s feeling more confident in their clothes.
I don’t have an issue with people wanting to lose weight, I have an issue with their WHY when it’s rooted in diet culture. Part of my goal in my work as a dietitian is helping people re-define their why to live their best life and help them adopt some better habits.
Practice Mindfulness: Do you meditate? If so, how? How do you try to be mindful on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
I try to do yoga when I can remember or when I really feel like I need to slow down. For a while, I felt like I needed to be at a yoga studio to be able to flow, but it’s actually more convenient for me to practice at home. I found a woman on YouTube, Lesley Fightmaster, who has some of the best guided yoga sessions I could ask for, and it has changed the way I practice yoga entirely.
However, if I really need to be with my thoughts and tune out, I cook. It’s also something I got from my mom. By the end, I’m usually much more relaxed and ready to eat.
HIIT vs. LISS: Tell us about your work-life “balance.” How do you manage planning/productivity while being a straight-up hustler?
I try to remember what my goal is because everything I am doing I’m doing for a reason. I think of my choices as one big resume, what have I learned from this and how am I using this opportunity (whether I am loving it or not) to get to the “next level” (sound familiar?). I have a planner that I always have the best intentions on using, but ultimately notes/my phone calendar hold all of my to-dos.
When I was in grad school, I would straight up write out a list when school was really hectic and estimate how long it would take to do it all. Apparently, it’s called time blocking now. I still sometimes do this when I know I have a TON to do, so it gives me a game plan and helps me map out the day in my head to “get it all done.”
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: What have you done in 2018 that is most out of your comfort zone? What is something you really want in 2018 that you’re a little scared to do? Tell us a travel experience that pushed you out of your comfort zone.
I decided to start my blog/business a few months back and that was a big step for me. On top of taking the plunge, telling people the “unconventional” career path I have and putting my ideas out there into the world was and still is something that makes me uncomfortable, but I’m learning to just kind of embrace it because if I say it enough it’ll happen. I would like to continue to grow my business, but I also have another dream I’m putting energy into making a reality related to dancing, which is scary because it’s something I know SIGNIFICANTLY less about than nutrition.
I probably have a few travel experiences but one that pushed me out of my comfort zone was when I went to visit my roommate from college in Kailua, HI. We had planned a bunch of hikes, one of which was the “Olomana trails.” The morning of our hike, her dad jokingly said, “See that mountain? You’re hiking to the tippy top.” My eyes went wide and my friend reassured me, “No, we won’t be going ALL the way to the top, it’s like a 40-minute hike up and back.”
Cue to an hour and a half later where I was climbing rocks with a rope I had to hope the person before me tied tight enough, and I’m pretty sure I blacked out at the top of this mountain. The only recognition that I actually made it was the picture she took of me. I had never been on a hike with such a blunt drop-off, but looking back I’m glad I didn’t pass out and made it back down. To this day, it’s one of the things we still joke about every time we catch up.
Shine On: What accomplishment makes you most proud? What’s a big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG) that you’ve been contemplating and want to speak into existence?
Becoming a dietitian — the schooling and exams are no cake walk. I’m also proud to juggle different jobs, partly because I know it makes my mom proud and she’s my person.
My goal for 2019 is to expand my own business. With that, I want to create a low-cost dance class for young adults in my area to create confidence, offer a source of FUN exercise, and provide a sense of community and inspiration for people (especially teenagers) to keep their focus on themselves and hustling for their dreams.
Website + Blog: ATB Nutrition