Meet Our New RD at the Yards: Courtney Puidk!
Courtney has been teaching at VIDA since June of 2014, so it wasn’t too difficult for her to transition into our nutrition department when the opportunity arose.
Growing up in Columbia, Missouri, Courtney was active and athletic her whole life. She swam, ran track and played soccer through high school and says her interest in nutrition began at age 17 when she made the decision to give up soda.
“I remember wondering – why is Mountain Dew yellow? I started paying attention to artificial ingredients and sweeteners. I dropped soda from my diet and lost 5 lbs! I was amazed at my increased energy and body transformation just by removing soda – that was kind of the lightbulb moment for me,” she says.
With her newfound curiosity about foods relationship with the body, Courtney decided to study Nutrition and Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
During this time, she learned tons about nutrients and health, and worked the front desk at the Lincoln Park Athletic Club in between classes. Working at the club provided the perfect tie-in to fitness with her studies, and sparked her decision to get certified.
“I loved taking the classes! I was taking Pilates regularly and spinning up to four times a week. I was encouraged to start teaching Pilates and did my STOTT training in Chicago, and decided to get certified in spin too since I love music,” says Courtney.
She started training with a group of friends from the gym, and competed in her first triathlon before graduating in 2010! She has since done two more and says there will definitely be more in the future.
After receiving her B.S., Courtney Puidk realized that she was interested in nutrition to help people become healthier in a preventative sense, not clinical nutrition which focuses more on single nutrients and numbers related to health conditions and treatment.
“I know that nutrients alone are not relatable to most people. I believe in a whole health approach to nutrition, focusing on fresh foods and basic cooking skills. I want to be able to address people’s barriers to cooking by helping them look at the whole spectrum of health and make it less intimidating,” she says.
This attitude inspired her to pursue a M.S. in Holistic Nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle – the only accredited program in the country with a holistic emphasis on nutrition! While working on her Masters she became certain that she wanted to work with people as part of the community, rather than in a hospital.
“I want to be in an environment that supports health and wellness, where people are voluntarily coming to you seeking advice because they care about their bodies. The gym atmosphere is perfect for that,” she says.
Her passion for food policy and advocacy eventually lead her to Washington DC, where she completed her 36 week nutrition residency program in 2013. During this time she worked as an intern at the Washington Hospital Center, the DC Central Kitchen, the Department of Health and the Office of State Superintendent of Education’s Healthy Schools Act division. She also holds a community chair on the DC Dietetic Association Public Policy Committee!
After moving from Tinleytown to H Street, Courtney discovered VIDA and was immediately drawn to our vibrant atmosphere, positive environment and health-focused corporate culture. Starting as a Pilates and Cycle instructor last year, she had no idea that she’d eventually be merging her two passions together.
“I remember meeting Cat for the first time and wondering if VIDA would ever expand their nutrition department. I loved teaching at the Yards location, so when I heard they were hiring an RD just for the Yards I knew I had to apply,” she says.
Courtney was officially brought on board in October, and says she’s had a great experience so far. Her goal is to empower people to take control of their health by creating sustainable lifestyle choices tailored to their needs, and to arm them with the knowledge needed about what foods to eat and when.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions out there and barriers people face when eating out. My number one piece of advice for takeaway is always that cooking your own food is the best thing you can do for yourself,” she says.
She also mentions that whether you’re trying to build muscle, lose weight or just maintain a healthy diet, proper nutrition is a key factor.
We’re excited to have Courtney on board, and encourage all of our Yards members to set up a Nutrition Fit with her if you haven’t yet by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!