Health Profile: Nick Dawson

I’ve known Nick for a number of years and we both share similar interests. We met through the now-defunct social network Pownce, but over the years we’ve had phone conversations and even met in person (Nick is taking graduate classes through the University of Minnesota) a time or two. Here’s his bio off his own website:

Nick Dawson bridges the gap between healthcare operations and strategic vision. With more than 13 years experience in hospital operations, he understands what makes healthcare tick. As the champion of an innovation success story, Nick is the Director Community Engagement at Bon Secours Virginia Health System. Previously he was a Director of Revenue Cycle for the 14 hospital Bon Secours system. In the past, he has worked for other multi-hospital systems and been a consultant on staff for a major health IT and strategy vendor.

Today, Nick works with senior leaders within the Bon Secours system on innovation projects including the exploration of an accountable care organization and affiliate physician and community health strategies. He is passionate about the patient experience as a driving force in healthcare.

Nick is currently pursuing an executive Masters of Hospital Administration from the University of Minnesota. He is a past member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and can frequently be found posting about healthcare and cooking on his blog, twitter and Flickr. He speaks nationally and has been published on the topics of innovation, community engagement, revenue cycle and healthcare communications. On many Sunday evenings Nick participates in the #HCSM Twitter Chat.

Nick and his wife Susan live in Richmond, Virginia where they enjoy extreme skiing, camping and vintage Land Rover restoration.

When I found out that Nick went vegan for a short amount of time, I was intrigued. As you’ve read my own journey to going vegetarian, seeing that Nick and his wife doing the same thing at the same time was amazing. Especially since my nickname for Nick is “Mr. Bacon Man!”

The idea came up to interview Nick for Health Kitten about his own journey. Here is his story!

Click for Nick’s story

Meat Detox

Kusmi Tea: Detox

Over the weekend, Tim and I had a “cheat” night where we went out for our favorite tacos at our local Mexican restaurant. We normally get the “tacos de carne asada” which is simply marinated, grilled and finely diced skirt steak on three corn tortillas with pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa on the side. There’s also a side of refried beans, but I usually skip eating those.

In the grand scheme of Mexican food, these are pretty healthy: no cheese, no sour cream, no guacamole (although guac would be amazing!) and no flour tortillas.

But the next day and partially into Monday, we both felt blah. Lethargic. Bloated. Gross.

It’s amazing that it’s been a few weeks since we started focusing on eating less meat and one week of not eating any meat at all. Yet, our bodies have seemed to have adapted rapidly to this new diet and now any meat seems to make us feel lousy.

However, it’s quite possible that we always felt like that when we ate meat, but it’s only now that we’re noticing the effects!

It was also a long weekend of wine. Which has gotten me on the topic and research about detoxing.

Now I’m not talking about a detox in the sense that I’m going to drink cayenne lemon water for 5 days, I’m talking about just eliminating certain things from my diet and adding other things that will be of some benefit.

Leanne over at Healthful Pursuit has been posting on Facebook foods that help fight candida. Now being curious, I started reading up on what candida even was!


As a skeptic, I read everything I found with a grain of salt. However, if there is something to it, then it fits a lot of my symptoms of late. I’ve been having some digestive, joint, and “girl” issues and my normal remedies to alleviate these issues haven’t been working.

In the interests of science, I’m going to do a small experiment and eliminate or drastically reduce things that contribute to candida growth. I’m also going to eat yogurt for breakfast and take an acidophilus supplement – both with probiotic cultures which are combatants of candida. If I see results, then I might be onto something!

I’m also going to switch from coffee to green tea. I know I’ve tried to do it before, but I don’t think I was in the right place mentally to make the switch. I mean, if you would’ve asked me 6 months ago that I would be switching to a vegetarian diet, I would’ve called you crazy and taken another bite of my burger. Same thing with coffee. But, I just feel like it doesn’t have a place in my diet anymore, at least not on a daily basis. Drinking 3-4 large cups of coffee every day can’t be good for anyone, right?

But, that might be the least of my worries!

Turkey, A Perfect RecipeMy family has Thanksgiving this weekend, so this will be the first big test of our new vegetarian “not-a-diet.”

The turkey, the sausage dressing, the turkey gravy, meat trays, and so on. I come from a meat-eating family, heck, a meat-LOVING family, so there’s always a lot of it around! I’m always in charge of the crudites, so I’m going to ensure I have plenty of carrots, celery, cauliflower and cucumbers to munch on, along with the normal pickles and olives. I also need to come up with an alternative to the dressing, so I think I’ll pick up a package of Trader Joe’s cornbread stuffing and make it along with the other sides and also bring a big salad. More veggies!

What are your plans on keeping on your own personal health track this holiday season?

* * * * *

In a shocking turn of events, I’m done Xmas shopping for Tim! Shocking because I typically don’t START shopping until the 2nd week of December! 🙂

The Paleo Diet

CBQ (28 of 46)Now before I get started, let me note that I am NOT a dietitian nor am I a doctor. This post is strictly opinion.

* * * * *

I was reading an article on the NPR blogs today about the paleo diet. In a nutshell, now that the population of the planet will tick over to 7 billion in a few days there are some that think that more people should follow this paleo diet because that’s what our ancestors did back in the Paleolithic Era and they were healthy, right?

To quote from Wikipedia, “[c]entered on commonly available modern foods, the ‘contemporary’ Paleolithic diet consists mainly of grass-fed pasture raised meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.”

Ok, getting rid of processed foods is a good thing. But I have a few issues with the diet, some rational and a few irrational:

Issues? Me? Read on, dear friends…

Weekend Recap

Finish Line

Health Kitten is now on Facebook! Please go “like” it and you’ll make me one happy kitten! 😀

As you know from my brief weekend post, I survived the 10k! In fact, I far exceeded my expectations on my time. It was a beautiful – but COLD – morning and there was a lot of awesome people lining the route cheering us on. At least that’s what it looked like while Lady Gaga was singing in my ears! 😉

I only had a few tiny twinges of pain in the problem area during the run – in which I immediately walked for 15-30 seconds then ran again – and after, my only sore spots have been my quads! So encouraging!!

I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow, but I think I’ll go for the “stress-reducing” kind instead of the “fix my injuries” kind. I think I earned it!

After a weekend of what I’m calling “Sausage Fest 2011,” there was little to no hope of a loss this week and in fact I was fearing a gain. Lucky for me, I’m sticking constant at 168.


To get off this constant, I’m going to need to make a change.

Phase one of my “Not-A-Diet” is going to revolve around upping my vegetable and fruit intake and reducing cheese. I’m going to try to get as many vegetarian meals in as I can and since apple season is still going strong, I’ll have no problem getting those fruits in!

I’m also going to restart the wine boycott as the week I tried cutting back turned out to be one of the most social, “let’s go out for cocktails” weeks in a long time! Now that this week is shaping up to be a quiet one, I’ll have better luck at sticking to it.

Here’s hoping it’s less stressful too!

Ten Bad Habits

Bad habits. We all got ’em. Yes, even you in the back there – stop denying it!

I read an article today that listed “Slim Solutions for the Worst Fat Habits” and I wanted to chime in with my own two cents on the subject.

1. Overdoing “diet” foods and products like sugar substitutes.
This one is a big one for me. I have an allergy to artificial sweeteners (makes my joints stiff and achy), so not consuming those products is crucial. But for those of you who don’t have a medical reason to give these things up, it gets a little more difficult. I know women who are addicted to Diet Coke, and the thought of cutting out the soda is inconceivable*. But there’s no telling what the long-term effect these chemicals – yes, these substitutes are nothing but chemicals – have on your body.

The way I look at it, I’ll take raw sugar over an artificial sweetener any day regardless of my allergy. Natural is always better than chemical.

2. Using food “rewards” for exercising.
I’m so guilty of this, I can’t even begin to tell you. The whole “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” thing. Yeah.

8 more bad habits – and a delicious picture – after the jump!

Monday Weigh In


1.5 pounds!

That’s my weight loss over the past week! Feeling pretty good about that, considering I wasn’t being too stringent about my caloric intake. I was making more thoughtful choices about what I was eating despite not figuring out everything in the Weight Watchers Points+ plan. I did calculate some recipes that I made using the Points+ system, and I was happy to see that they were good things to eat under the plan, which means it’s good under my “not a diet.”

Last night for supper (and my lunch!) I threw together some pita pizzas. Using Damascus Bakery’s 10 net carb whole wheat pita, Trader Joe’s jarred pizza sauce, sautéed baby bella mushrooms, fresh spinach and a sprinkling of TJ’s Quatro Fromaggio on top. Baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, these little guys clocked in around 200 calories per pita (we each had two!). Delicious and easy!

It’s also a great way to use up pita bread. If you’re like us, we buy a package every time we go to the grocery store because we *think* we need some, and it turns out that we already have 2 unopened packages in the fridge!


Now this brings me to the question I want to ask you today: when I’m preparing recipes, how essential is it to have step by step photos, or is a single, finished product shot enough?

I think starting out I’m going to take one finished product shot. I have cooked awesome things I want to share with you, but I end up being 3/4 of the way done before I think “dammit, I should be been taking pictures of this stuff!” I’m lucky I’m writing the recipes down! 🙂

So tonight, I’m going to make those pita pizzas for supper and will take a “finished product” shot and post the recipe for you tomorrow! Hope that will work!

Happy Monday!

Post-Vacation Blues

The view from our rental home on Upper Gull Lake

Today’s the first day back from work since we had a 4-day vacation to northern Minnesota. Five other couples plus Tim and I rented this HUGE house on the lake and had the most wonderful time.

And now begins the vacation hangover! Too much food (oh god, the food!) and too much drink makes Carolyn weigh more than she did before the vacation. I can only imagine how much more it would’ve been had I not gone running and kayaking every day! 🙂

After much deliberation, I rejoined Weight Watchers because of their new PointsPlus plan since now they emphasize REAL food instead of fake food full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners.

What I need most from an eating change (a.k.a. “not a diet”) is to eat better foods in better portions. Yes, I know deep down what I need to do, I just need a jump start to moving in the right direction to tell me what I should eat and what I shouldn’t. Having that information in an easy to digest format that I can reference – rather than obsess over food all day – will help me reset my eating habits. I figure if I stick with it until I get halfway to my goal weight, I should be good.

I’m also going to push to a goal of 30 minutes of exercise a day by the end of the month; that could be running, PT, walking, and so on. I think I can do it! I also need to re-embrace the treadmill, since the weather is going downhill towards winter. There’s also that pesky 10k the end of October that I need to deal with!

* * * * *

I’m working on a post for tomorrow that will lay out the plan I have for the food and cooking part of the blog. Can’t wait for you to read it!