Dana Sturtevant MS, RD
What does a day in the life of Dana Sturtevant look like?
The only thing that is pretty consistent about my days is how I start them – sitting on the floor. I like to take a moment to pause and be still in the morning – I might do some yoga, sit quietly and pet my cat, or meditate. Then I make a cup of tea and eat breakfast. After that, there is nothing regular about my days. I wear a minimum of three hats in my business – yoga teacher, dietitian, and trainer in Motivational Interviewing. I usually spend an hour or two a day in meetings or on conference calls. I will see three or four clients at some point in the day. I might teach a yoga class or facilitate a Body Trust Wellness group in the evening. And I spend two or three days a month training health care providers in Motivational Interviewing or giving talks on Health at Every Size® (HAESTM).
What would you consider to be the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is supporting people in making lasting changes to improve their overall health and wellbeing. It is extremely satisfying to provide a space for people who are looking for an alternative to the body hatred and self-loathing that motivates people to diet. And raising awareness of weight bias and stigma in this culture through public speaking and training other helping professionals to use HAES in their clinical practice means this important message is reaching even more people!
What books have shaped you and your practice the most?
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – I recommend this book to most of my clients. Written by two dietitians, it provides an effective framework to help people heal from the side effects of chronic dieting, weight cycling and disordered eating. “An intuitive eater is defined as a person who makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.”
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – After seeing the author’s amazing TED talk on shame and vulnerability, I read this book and loved it. She says “owning our own story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”
Women Food and God by Geneen Roth – Geneen has been writing about weight cycling and disordered eating for many years and this book is one of her best. I appreciate her writing style and she has a great sense of humor.
Yoga and the Quest of the True Self by Stephen Cope – Yoga has profoundly changed my life. Something that I’ve come to realize over the years is that yoga is practiced on and off the mat. The author of this book is a psychotherapist and senior Kripalu yoga teacher who writes about the relationship between contemporary psychology and the Eastern contemplative religions. I’ve practiced with this amazing teacher and I love this path to extraordinary living.
Appetites: Why Women Want by Carolyn Knapp – Every woman would benefit from reading this memoir, regardless of whether or not they’ve struggled with weight cycling or disordered eating. The author explores the question: “How does a woman know, and then honor, what it is she wants in a culture bent on shaping, defining, and controlling her desires?”
Risking Everything: 110 poems of Love and Revelation edited by Roger Housden – I’m always saving inspirational quotes and poems to read in my groups and yoga classes. I recently discovered this collection and refer to it often. One of my favorites is Love after Love by Derek Walcott:
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
What websites and journals do you refer to for your practice?
I tend to read articles that I receive through list serve messages and newsletters I receive. One of my favorite blogs is Association for Size Diversity and Health’s HAES blog.
Where can we find you on the web?
What is your favorite travel spot?
We just took a trip to Spain and spent most of our time in Barcelona, which was such a great city. The food is amazing and so is the architecture. Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia was so inspiring. It was truly an honor to experience the inside of this church. My eyes welled up in tears. It took my breath away! I hope to go back to see it when it is completed in about 40 years. One of my favorite vacations closer to home is heading to wine country for a long weekend. Walla Walla, Washington was especially fun.
What do you do to find balance in your life?
I’ve been practicing yoga for 15 years. I attend a few classes a week at the Bhaktishop and practice at home two or three days a week. As one of my teachers said, “I don’t do yoga to stretch, I do yoga to live.” I also enjoy walking with my dog Bosco most days. And my husband and I have taken ballroom dance classes on Friday nights for the last four years.
Tell us about an accomplishment you are proud of, personally or professionally.
I’m really proud that I took a risk and started my own business. I’m quite surprised that I did it. I’ve worked to build Be Nourished with my business partner and dear friend Hilary Kinavey. I feel that we have something really special and I look forward to seeing how the business grows with time.
How did you end up in Portland?
I moved here 12 years ago with my sister when she started her doctoral program at Oregon State University. I’d never been to Oregon but always felt drawn to it. I briefly lived in Corvallis and moved to Portland a few months later when I found full-time work. I’ve loved living here since the day I arrived. I don’t think I could live anywhere else in the United States.
What is the last book you read for fun?
I’m reading a novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage to Hadley Richardson called The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. While it is fiction, the author pulled a lot of real events into the story. Apparently Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley. I’m really enjoying the book, and it is making me want to read a Hemingway novel. I’ve never read one before. I’m not sure which would be the best one to start with.