Melissa Rifkin NYC

Meet Melissa Rifkin | Registered Dietitian

Melissa Rifkin is a registered dietitian living and working in NYC and has an amazing perspective and background with helping people. She's an educator and she practices what she preaches. We'd like to introduce you to....

Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, CSO

On Lifestyle:

MPOF: How do you start your day?
Melissa Rifkin:  Wake up at 4:30am every morning and start my day off with a cup of coffee. After coffee I head straight to the gym. I set my clothes out every night for the gym, so I know I have to go.

MPOF:  What’s one thing you can’t live without? Why?
Melissa Rifkin:  I can’t live without exercise, whether it’s inside or outside. Running is a big thing of mine… without running, I feel like I couldn’t clear my head.

The second thing would have to be music.

And if it’s food related, popcorn. Haha. SkinnyPop! It’s high in fiber and low in calories. You can eat a lot and not feel guilty.

MPOF:  Do you follow any specific diets/plans? 
Melissa Rifkin:  I try to follow a low carb and low sugar diet, because I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I feel like a low carb diet is the best way to go... because a lot of my clients are overweight and I find that sugar is the culprit of all the weight gain.

MPOF: Do you differentiate between different types of sugars? For example, processed sugars vs. natural sugars, like oranges.
Melissa Rifkin: I believe that all fruits are created equal, I just feel like the portion sizes are completely skewed. If it’s a small portion size, it’s fine. Eating one orange vs. drinking orange juice is a big difference too. There is going to be less calories in an orange, more fiber, and they take longer to peel. Versus drinking orange juice where it takes 10-15 oranges to squeeze all that juice out.

A sugar is a sugar. Not all are created equal….but when they enter your body, your body doesn’t say Snickers bars to the right and oranges to the left. It just says, hello sugar. To me, a sugar is a sugar.

BEWARE of the labels that say, “No Added Sugar.” For example, Naked Juices, their label says “no added sugar,” but in an actual bottle itself, there might be 4-5 blended fruits that are going to give you 50 grams of sugar. So it might not be added, but it’s a lot of sugar in one sitting.

MPOF: What is your favorite music to listen to?
Melissa Rifkin:  Really, I don’t discriminate between any variety of really depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Cooking for me is very cathartic, Sunday is my meal prep day...that’s more of a classical. If I’m running or at the gym, I like techno or something very fast and upbeat. If it's on my way to work, I’m listen to Lithium on Sirius XM. When I’m at work I like to listen to Reggae. but you’ll probably never catch me listening to country.

On Fitness:

MPOF:  What do you do to stay active every week?
Melissa Rifkin:  I work out every day (5-6 times per week) for an hour and a half. And at work, I started a walking group with a few of the girls. It’s a great way to get away from the computer and cool off, walk, chat, then go back to the grind.

MPOF:   For people who say working out is too hard, what do you tell them?
Melissa Rifkin: To make it fun. Little things can make it exciting and fun… like buying a new pair of sneakers, or a new pair of leggings, changing your music, finding a good show to watch.

A lot of people don’t like class settings… which is totally fine. When I’m working out, I have a lot of things going on. I’m reading a book, I have music in, and the TV is on. The minute I don’t have something that’s exciting me, I want to get off too.

Another thing is the commitment that people owe to themselves. Exercise, eating right, and mental wellbeing is something we owe to ourselves to have a rich lifestyle.

MPOF:  What is your favorite exercise?
Melissa Rifkin:  I actually love to run. On a treadmill… I don’t lift weights or any hardcore things like that. I do a lot of body weight and yoga.

MPOF:  What is your least favorite exercise?
Melissa Rifkin:  Zumba! I feel like I’m too much of a “white girls can’t dance.”

Believe it or not, sometimes I can’t do coordinated exercises.

On Food:

MPOF:  On a scale from 1 to 10 - How important is food to your lifestyle? Why?
Melissa Rifkin:  10! Absolutely. Because you are what you eat. You ultimately feed the disease or you cure the disease with your food.

MPOF:  What's one piece of advice for some just starting to eat better?
Melissa Rifkin: Incorporate one new healthy food into your life every week. Only take on one or two changes at a time otherwise, it’s going to feel like it’s not real.

MPOF:  Do you recommend meal prepping to your clients?
Melissa Rifkin:  Every single one of them. Once they finally start doing it, they realize they are saving time, money, and calories and never felt so good.

My clients that meal prep are the most successful. I have one client that has lost 70 lbs with me and she is 10lbs away from her goal weight.

MPOF: What are some of your favorite meal prep combos?
Melissa Rifkin:  One of my favorites is Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower, snap peas, zucchini, garlic, onions, and peppers. Then I’ll add either organic chicken sausage or turkey sausage. That is my favorite go-to meal prep.

MPOF: Don’t you get bored eating the same thing every week?
Melissa Rifkin: I try to make 7-8 vegetables, 3-4 different proteins, and a couple different carbohydrates, so I’m not bored. I mix and match all week.

MPOF: What are some of your favorite ingredients?
Melissa Rifkin:  Zoodles! If you’ve seen my Instagram page, they’re in like every picture. Haha

Have you seen the KitchenAid Spiralizer??

MPOF: What meal prep tools can't you live without. Why?
Melissa Rifkin:  The KitchenAid Stand Mixer and Spiralizer attachment

MPOF: Where do you get meal prep recipes/inspo?
Melissa Rifkin:  Instagram and Pinterest

Also, I’ve been trying to do a Paleo diet, so I also follow:

  1. PaleoRunningMama
  2. AmandaFitLife
  3. TheToastedPineNut

MPOF: How much do you spend weekly/monthly on food?
Melissa Rifkin:  To be honest, I don't really know.

MPOF:  How do you eat on the weekends vs during the week?
Melissa Rifkin:  Not very much… because I do have IBS, and because when I do eat so clean then I go off, I feel sick.

Tips / Motivation:

MPOF:  You seem really confident in your body—what advice do you have for women (or men) who want that for themselves?
Melissa Rifkin: In order to be confident in yourself, it needs to start with self love. I think that if you’re nourishing your body with unhealthy foods, and you're not exercising, and you're not taking the means to better yourself, then it’s hard to love yourself.

So, it starts with eating properly, exercising, taking care of your mental well-being. Then you’ll start loving yourself.

MPOF:  When you think about success, who is the first person that comes to mind? Why?
Melissa Rifkin: My father. My dad is 70 years old and eats better than I do, if that's even possible. He used to do Crossfit 5 times a week, but then he got bored so now he’s spinning. I’ve never seen a 70 year old with a six pack… it’s super inspiring. That’s where I get my inspiration from.

MPOF:  What inspires you? Why?
Melissa Rifkin: My work inspires me. I like to be an example to my patients and clients. If I can’t do it, why would I ask someone else to do it. So, I practice what I preach.

No one wants to go to an overweight dietitian. I want to be that example and I strive to do that every day.

Other resources mentioned in the interview:

Your body is a sanctuary and what you put into it matters. You either fuel the disease or you prevent it, through nutrition. I think that reaching out to people on Instagram and social media who can support you are great to tap into. Everyone needs support…
If you want to connect with Melissa, make sure to check her out on Instagram.

And if you’re in a place where you’d like to get your nutrition on track and a mentor to support you through your journey, check out these coaching sessions from Melissa.

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