Episode 09: Staying Present and Learning to Fail

Krystal Merrells RD has combined her love of theatre with her love of science to create a unique niche teaching and practicing Improv with health care in mind.  Krystal originally planned to attend university studying theater, but her love of science won out.  While at university she discovered her love of science centered around food and biochemistry, so she completed a degree in nutrition and now has a practice as a Registered Dietician.  At around the age of 30, she went through a small life crisis and realized she was missing theatre. She began taking theatre classes, the first of which was an improv class and she has not looked back.  Currently she is involved in long form improv, which has no real rules, and includes longer scenes which could be considered one act plays.  As she began to teach improv classes, she recognized that it was impacting peoples’ lives as much as her nutrition practice was.  Although it was not her original purpose, she started having students coming forward indicating her class was helping them deal with such things as anxiety, PTSD and trauma.  How did it apply?  She noticed improv for herself was helping her become a better listener, she was collaborating with others better and she was handling stressful situations with more ease.  When she did a literature review, she also found that improv was being used in the medical community to help doctors and pharmacists become better communicators.

In this podcast Krystal shares that we all do improv every day.  Improv is what we do in life, speaking and acting unscripted.  However, as we practice improv, we hone those skills and can present a more authentic version of ourselves.  The number one skill you practice with improv is becoming a better listener.  Listening to understand is not just about the words being said but about body position and facial expression.  As you practice improv, you’re learning to become a more authentic communicator versus just waiting to say what you want to say. 

Krystal also discusses in this episode how improv helps you learn to deal with failure in a safe environment.  As you practice improv, you are experimenting with taking off some of your filters. You are learning to focus on communication, increasing your risk and becoming comfortable with that increased risk.  The very nature of improv means there will be failures as there are so many variables involved, including audience input, potential hecklers, what the other person will say or how they react etc.  With improv you need to practice how to deal with your mistakes and failing. In fact, the mistakes are part of the fun and comedy of improv.  This equates to the world of sport, where an athlete needs to recognize that they will fail and lose to grow, learn and adapt.  Learning to fail, grow, learn and adapt in turn fosters better athletes.

The goal in improv cannot be to have a perfect set because that’s impossible.  She notes when her goal is to have fun and enjoy what she is doing in the moment that’s when she has her best performances.  If she stops listening and engaging in the moment and starts thinking ahead that is when the set will fail.  Improv is like a team sport where practicing skills, visualizing and getting to know the team better helps the actors be in the moment during a performance.  Once again, these skills transfer to the life of the athlete, where if skills have been practiced and honed and the athlete is prepared, they can find their flow in the present.   

Krystal concludes by saying a lot of the fun of improv is in the surprise and that going to an improv workshop is a lot more fun than a communications class, even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone. 

Contact Krystal:


 Website- www.kjmnutirition.com

Instagram- @brain.mind.nutrition

Join us for our webinar on Oct 27, 2019 at 1:00pm MST

Sport Nutrition for the Young Athlete


Sugar? Carbs? Vegetarian? Vegan? Protein? Fat?

As a parent or coach, you worry your young athlete isn’t getting enough of or the right types of food. You struggle to find the best foods & snacks for hectic training & competition schedules. You hear about alternative diets and wonder if these are right for your athlete.

As sport dietitians, we see injuries & mental health problems as a result of misguided nutrition. Performance suffers and young athletes grow up wandering down an unhealthy path. We have a better way to look at diet in sport that focuses on including instead of excluding foods.

* How do you know your competitive youth is properly fuelling both body & mind?
* Do you have conversations with your athlete about sport nutrition & health choices?
* Do you want sport nutrition for your team, but don’t have the funds to hire an expert?


From this webinar, you will get:

– A guide to feeding the young athlete for practices & competition with grocery tips plus meal & snack recipes for families short on time.
– A tool to help you identify nutrition problems and what to do to support better performance & health.
– Information on alternative diets & sport, and how to decide what is right for your athlete.
– Tips to raise young athletes into pros who have skills and positive attitudes around food, to stay on the healthy path into adulthood.


This webinar is offered by two sport dietitians driven to improve health for body & mind.

See you on Oct 27th!

Save your spot today!


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