Have you ever talked about doing something for a long time, I mean like 5 years, and then finally taken the leap? If so, you know how intimidating, nerve racking, stress invoking, and most of all, liberating, that process can be.
This year I finally did something that I had set a goal to do almost 6 years ago when I graduated from the University of Missouri’s dietetic program. I committed to studying for and taking the certified specialist in sports dietetics exam (CSSD) offered through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)
I know what you are probably thinking “blah, blah, blah…. What does this even mean and why is it important?” The CSSD certification gives dietitians with extensive experience in sports dietetics the opportunity to be recognized as an expert in their specialty area. A dietitian must practice for a minimum of two years before applying for the CSSD certification. They also must complete 1500 hours of specialty sports nutrition consultation and pass the exam offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The CSSD is the first and only sports nutrition certification program to be accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
I made the commitment to taking the exam shortly after our wedding day at the end of September 2015. Patrick and I had taken a short “honeymoon” to the Black Hills the weekend after our wedding and had plenty of time to discuss our personal and professional goals during the 20+ hour drive to and from western South Dakota. (We had no idea it would take that long. We also weren’t expecting it to rain the entire time we were there.) Patrick had committed to beginning his journey to becoming a licensed architect (a series of 7 pretty intense exams), so I figured there was no better time to jump on the study train.
At first it was difficult to find the groove as a “self-guided student.” Without self induced benchmarks and goals it would have been rather challenging to arrive on test day feeling any sort of confidence. Ironically enough, study guides are practically non-existent once you enter the real world. It was hard to wrap my head around the extensive content that would be covered on the exam. After identifying a solid list of resources that would help prepare me for the exam, I made the first of many stops at Zanzibar for a pound of fresh roasted coffee beans and got to work.
I’ll spare you the boring details of the study period:: very consistent early mornings, numerous cups of Chemex brewed coffee, 4 holidays, a birthday, and a beautiful week spent on our “real honeymoon” … and skip to the part when I finally got to take the exam. Then I waited 6 weeks to receive the results…
I started scouring every piece of daily mail we received entirely too soon and was disappointed day after day when the results did not come. Finally, a short 6 weeks and 2 days after I took the exam, it finally arrived. I was home for a quick “laundry switch” before I headed off to meet with an athlete I have been working with. I opened it, searching frantically for some indication of whether or not the constant nagging in the back of my head for the past 6 weeks and 2 days had been worth it.
“Congratulations, you have PASSED” was all I needed. At that moment my eyes filled with tears of joy, pride, and relief. The rest of the words were blurry, which at that point did not matter. At a time in my life when I was in need of a boost, it came, on a white 8 1/2 x 11” piece of paper. Sometimes it is the simplest things that can make the most impact.
I wiped my tears, jumped in my car, called my husband, and then my mom (who had been asking me every time I talked to her, “Have you heard anything?!”) I thought to myself, “It’s go time…time to dig in.”