Dietetic Career Spotlight on Loriann Leonard North, Firefighter turned DTR
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on OCTOBER 22, 2015
Meet Loriann Leonard North, BA, NDTR, DSS, NC, who was a volunteer firefighter, turned 911 ambulance operator, and now a dietetic technician registered. She has used her passion for helping people and her passion for food to educate the general public. Her social media savvy skills allow her to reach the masses with her voice and her mission. Read on to learn her career path. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I have always felt passionate about health and nutrition. I was a collegiate athlete and was always exploring new ways to nourish my body naturally for completion. I am admittedly a “foodie”, so of course I wanted to learn about how to make eating healthy tastier. After 10 years working on an ambulance and seeing people develop chronic conditions that could easily been avoided by proper nutrition, I knew I had to follow my passion and switch paths. The combination of all of these things led me to the realization that I wanted to teach people how to improve the quality of their lives, through nutrition and fitness.
Your Job Title?
Owner & Nutrition Consultant/Health Educator
Company you are with now?
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Well, I spend about an hour every morning working on my social media marketing and maintenance. I try to post recipes, tips, and other useful blurbs on all my media platforms several times a day because I want to make sure people find my sites interesting and helpful, and I do my best to keep information fresh and up to date. Once a week I also write a blog about nutrition for the real person (loriannleonard.blogspot.com). I will usually check my emails and review upcoming client consults or speaking events to double check everything is prepared.
If I have a health education lesson to do that day, I will make sure all my educational handouts about MyPlate and portion control are in order and my food models are packed up. I recently did a lesson at the local firehouse that was a hoot. I showed up and gave a lesson on how to create a well balance and properly portioned meal. The firefighters were a ton of fun and really got a kick out of my mini individual nutritional assessments.
If I still have time in the afternoon I will check in with my clients to offer support, tips, motivation, and answer any questions that they have. Finally I usually finish up my workday doing meal planning and creating shopping lists.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I’m sure this is going to be over kill, but here is the long story. I was raised to be an advocate of fitness and nutrition and I have strived to make healthy living a priority in my life. A collegiate athlete, an avid runner, I dedicate a great deal of my free time to the cultivation of my backyard garden and delight in teaching my son the joys of growing his own food. It was my son and his birth, which changed the world for me, made me look at it differently. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he was the one who brought me into the nutrition industry. It is even deeper than that for me, however.
I was a volunteer firefighter in Healdsburg and I spent 5 years working the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente Hospital. Since then I have worked on a 911 ambulance here in Sonoma County, with more than a decade of service to the community. The most important thing this taught me was: to really solve a problem you should take care of it in the beginning; prevention not cure is the best solution. So I went back to school.
I spent several years exploring techniques that integrate nutrition into preventative healthcare. Now, I am a nationally Registered Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, and Nutrition Consultant. I maintain my current certifications as an Emergency Medical Technician and Phlebotomy Technician. I have additional education and background that includes a degree in Psychology, Behavioral and Social sciences, and I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at Boston University in Health Communication and Nutrition.
When I finished my nutrition degree, none of the jobs offered to me felt like quite the right fit. So, I started Nutrition Evolution, a health education and nutrition consultation business as a way to support people on their journey towards a healthier self. The future of healthcare is evolving from treating chronic medical conditions to preventing them through proper nutrition and health education. My goal is to help clients in achieving and maintaining healthy habits. I do not believe in promoting behaviors that lead to feelings of depravation or guilt. My focus is on making progress through small steps towards the larger goal of healthy lifestyle changes. Attaining health, fitness, and wellness is a process that can be affected by many different factors and I felt like my diverse education and background had given me a unique skill set to help people reach their personal health goals. Besides my nutrition and fitness training, understanding the psychology of eating has allowed me to develop new strategies and a unique understanding of what it takes to reach and maintain results. So there you have it.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I think I was born as a leader with determined nature. I was born with creativity, compassion, and a desire to help others. Besides all of the usual health, wellness, and nutrition stuff of course, I think the most important thing I have had to learn along the way was patience. I have had to learn patience with others, but mostly patience with myself because everything is a learning process, and it takes time to get where you are going. I have also had to learn accountability and adaptability, because no client or situation is ever the same and I strive to excel above people’s expectations whenever possible.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
I would tell anyone who wanted to be truly happy in life to follow his or her heart and do what makes you happy. Yes, the road to success can be long and slow, but following your passion is the most rewarding thing you can possibly do. People are naturally drawn to an individual who speaks with passion about a subject and truly believes in what they are doing. Stay focused and don’t give up on yourself when it gets hard. Like that old proverb from Confucius that goes something like “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Well I’m not sure that I am quite they yet, but I feel good about what I am doing when I lay my head down at night, so I’ll take it.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
This is a fantastic question! If I didn’t have bills to pay, I would love to work on the barter system, or honestly just get paid in delicious food lol.