My career journey: From a Dietitian to Olympic Nutritionist

Published: October 9, 2021 at 6:49 am

Leading sports nutritionist Rohini Raman shares her career journey this week. She hopes it will inspire other women to not give up at any age and stage of their life.

About this series: We all appreciate the importance of a higher income but increasing our income is not easy. It requires time, effort, sacrifice, dedication and opportunities. In these articles, we showcase inspirational stories about people who have increased their income, their station in life via self-improvement, upskilling or side-hustles.

This idea started when I had asked members of Facebook, Asan Ideas for Wealth, to share real-life stories of how they or someone they knew increased their income by upskilling, self-growth (personal development), or side-hustles.

Many of the accounts were quite extraordinary. These are the stories published earlier:

We have similar stories lined in the coming weeks. If you have increased your income and changed your station in life, please share it with our community. It will inspire and motivate many. Contact us at freefincal {AT} Gmail {DOT} com with a short outline to take it forward. It can be published anonymously if you prefer.

I started my career at the age of 23, in 1995 when I had just completed my post-graduation in Food Science & Nutrition from Mumbai and returned to Hyderabad.

The route was to become a dietitian in a hospital. Dietetics hadn’t picked up then, and hardly anyone knew what a dietitian was”. I was offered around 1500/- to 2000/- as a monthly salary.

Nope, I couldn’t settle for that less for the kind of efforts that I had put into my studies. So I went on to join a Community nutrition program, a joint collaboration between the Govt of India and the US. I enjoyed travel to remote places and also working with the tribals all across India.

I had to leave after 3 years as my husband got an MD seat in CMC Vellore. Fortunately, CMC had a community nutrition wing and it added to my experience in a hospital known for its excellent patient care.

Again my husband had to relocate to Hyderabad and I had to tag along. At the crossroads of a career, I completed my maternity obligations for the next 6 years. Fortunately, I got a call from a pharmaceutical company in their technical department and went on to serve for the next few years, all the time running around with the pressures of handling home and the job. It was difficult for the husband to pitch in as he was just starting his career as a doctor and had to devote his 24 hrs to patient care.

After realizing that I was not able to handle this burden of home and a corporate career and family pressure, I took a break for almost 4 years. The wellness and fitness market was just picking up and was trending.

Meanwhile, I contemplated earning from home, I completed my registered Dietitian exam for practising dietitians. Unfortunately in India, it is not mandatory. It is a pretty difficult exam to get through as it requires hours of studying for a whole year and a special internship period and is looked upon prestigiously in our dietitians & nutritionist circles.

Due credit to my husband here as he was my source of knowledge. A gold medalist on his own merit,  more than sitting with books, I learnt tremendously from him on practical patient management sometimes involving tiring discussions on disorders and diseases.

Simultaneously, I completed my degree in Sports Nutrition from the International Olympic Committee and again involving long hours of study. I enrolled in a PhD program as well.

I can’t forget the days where I used to take up family responsibilities and children studies during the daytime and sit through the night and also working part-time in hospitals earning paltry amounts trying to learn learn and learn. Learning was fine but when do I earn?

That’s when the journey started. Besides the degrees, I started diet consultations on the side and slowly my clientele improved. From 2-3 clients a day to a day where I had to say no to a few clients because I was too full to give adequate attention.

In 2017, got an opportunity with Tata High-Performance Centre in Jamshedpur and Sports Authority of India as a Sports Nutritionist for the Elite athletes. Amidst snide remarks of why you have to relocate, why do you have to earn at a remote place, kids will be neglected, I took it up.

Working alone as a female in a largely male-dominated field of sports was not easy either. The remarks also indicated on “why should a woman earn, when a man is well settled and looking after you?”,  “Isn’t your current earning enough to manage your immediate needs? Why do you need more?”

Intriguing! Is money the only driving force? With the inspiration of my dad and my pillar at all stages of my life and a few extremely sensible and well-meaning friends, I took up the assignment.

Having worked for three years with the core team for the 2021 Olympics, and taking up consultations for elite athletes in private academies, I have now come to a stage where I have started freelancing.

So many wellness and fitness people jumping on the bandwagon. But it does not deter me. At 49, I have my hard-earned degrees & my experience in place and the confidence to start on my own.

Among the very few qualified and experienced sports nutritionists in India, today I am extremely proud of my achievements. And thanks to the Facebook group “Asan Ideas for Wealth”, I have filed IT returns on my own for the first time this year.

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18), Gamechanger, Chinchu Gets a Superpower! and seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations based on money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association, IIST Alumni Association. For speaking engagements, write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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