Rachel Astleford, a Clinical Dietitian with Monument Health Lifestyle Medicine, was always involved with athletics growing up. When she went to college, she joined the track and field team, throwing the javelin and the shot put. After graduation she wanted to find a way to stay involved in athletic competitions. “I decided to try powerlifting when I was still new to Rapid City,” Rachel said. “I ended up just kind of signing up for this powerlifting meet on a whim probably about four months before it took place. That was in January 2021 and I just had an absolute blast.”
Since her first meet, Rachel has competed twice more, and in her most recent competition she broke two state records for her weight class. One was for the bench press, and the other was the total record, which is a sum of the weights lifted for the squat, deadlift and the bench press.
“It was a super fun day, and those were just kind of like the cherry on top of everything. It’s just fun to have your hard work pay off in that way,” Rachel said.
Rachel has always had a passion for food and an interest in the medical field, so becoming a Clinical Dietitian seemed like a natural career path for her. After graduating, Rachel interned at Monument Health and then found herself working in Missouri. When the opportunity arose in late 2021 to return to Rapid City to join the Lifestyle Medicine department, she was happy to accept.
“We see people for everything from weight management to Crohn’s and celiac disease to metabolic disorders. I also specialize in pediatric nutrition and sports nutrition, so I get referrals from orthopedics and sports medicine doctors, which is kind of interesting,” Rachel explained. “It’s a really good variety, and a lot of our role is just educating people if they have a new diagnosis, and helping people make lifestyle changes that are sustainable, and that are going to help with whatever their goals are going forward.”
Rachel finds her love of nutrition and athletic competition useful when it comes to helping her patients. She says, “I’m not a trainer or an exercise physiologist, but I know how much exercise has helped me, both mentally and physically.” Rachel encourages her patients to consider exercise or strength training if their physician recommends it. The most rewarding part of her job, however, is helping people change the way they see food and nutrition. “I love to help people heal their relationship with food and learn how to use food to benefit them and not run their lives.”
Lifestyle Medicine focuses on six areas to improve health — two of which are increase physical activity and healthful eating. Rachel embodies these in both her professional and personal life, as an athlete and as part of a team dedicated to helping patients achieve a happier, healthier life.