meet sarah: using nutrition to change lives in milwaukee

Abundance is such an important theme for Sarah—she wanted it to be a constant reminder for her. So it became part of her business’ name!

Abundance is such an important theme for Sarah—she wanted it to be a constant reminder for her. So it became part of her business’ name!

A few weekends ago, one of my closest friends came up from Chicago for the day to share that she had broken up with her boyfriend. She was still settling into singleness (with the happiest smile, I must say) and evaluating her next steps while deciding to stay put for a bit—with her job, her apartment, herself. Time for a little bit of dedicated solo time. And friend time. And really simple, solid advice: “I realized that I was blaming my job for unhappiness and stress—but a lot of it had to do with my attitude.”

While I know I have a lot of blessings in my life—my faith, family and friends—she helped me remember that day-to-day happiness is a choice. It’s a choice to adjust my attitude to point toward the positive. It’s a choice to take a deep breath when I feel overwhelmed, make myself a piña colada, and just keep moving forward. (Real life. Last Monday.) And it’s a choice to stay out late singing Space Oddity on the karaoke stage rather than sleeping. (I’m in no way saying I always make good choices.)

Sarah Philipp, 32, was born with an entrepreneurial gene—check out her cousin!—and also reminds me how empowered I am to take charge of my own life and body. She is a Milwaukee nutritionist who created a beautiful little business, Abundelicious, where she uses food as a tool for wellness. She specializes in anxiety and digestive disorders, teaching her clients (and hopefully you now, too!) the power of nutrition as fuel for our lives, our minds and our happiness.

People with Panache: How did your professional path bring you here?

Sarah Philipp: I graduated with a double major in advertising and PR and media studies. I wanted to be this hotshot PR lady wearing heels and doing big-time stuff. But then I realized that my personality doesn’t fit—I was drawn to how much contact you get with people. After graduating, the recession hit, so I had to regroup and figure something else out. I had a very good friend who had started a company selling a cheese jerky product to convenience stores.

I was going to all these convenience store trade shows and getting really sick. I was 25 and felt like I was 95! So I started seeing this acupuncturist, and she looked at my food journal.

PWP: I wish both those things (acupuncture and food journals) were more typical habits than eating poorly and feeling worse—what’d your acupuncturist say?

SP: I was eating what I thought I was a good diet—barely any fat, a lot of low fat—but then I started eating more healthy fats, low gluten, and a more veggie-based diet. Real food, not fake, processed imitation food. And I started feeling so much better. Then I realized this is something I could make a living of.

I went back to school to get certified and started my company. That snack food company no longer exists—it was a blessing I was let go. I had nothing to lose so it made it easier to make my leap.

PWP: What exactly do you do as the woman behind Abundelicious?

SP: Abundelicious is a ton of different things. I’m contracted by different clinics to work with patients, I do individual consultations, I partner on events—I even cook for and go grocery shopping with people.

“I wish people would stop eating so much sugar and gluten,” Sarah says when asked about one thing she wishes more people would do—or not do. “I’m sure you’ll find studies saying this or that about gluten, but I’ve never known anyone to feel better eating it. So for my intents and purposes as a nutritionist, I’m not going to recommend that people eat it.”

“I wish people would stop eating so much sugar and gluten,” Sarah says when asked about one thing she wishes more people would do—or not do. “I’m sure you’ll find studies saying this or that about gluten, but I’ve never known anyone to feel better eating it. So for my intents and purposes as a nutritionist, I’m not going to recommend that people eat it.”

PWP: Oh my gosh, that sounds like a dream. I love grocery shopping! What happened on your way from the snack food company to your multi-faceted business?

SP: I started working at Slow Pokes Local Food in Grafton, Wis., for Kathleen McGlone. That’s her business. She does everything with so much integrity, she knows so much about food and nutrition, and every day I showed up I would learn so much. That’s where I found a lot of my first clients.

PWP: As you’ve built your business, does a moment stick out that makes you feel particularly successful?

SP: Every day. Every damn day. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel really grateful for this. Of course there are headaches and frustrations, but I almost can’t believe that I get to do this.

PWP: And among the consultations, events and all the work you do, what makes you feel the most grounded? The most stable?

SP: Trying to remember abundance, that there’s enough to go around. It’s so easy when you’re first starting out to get into a scarcity thought process: “If I don’t get that client, my business is going to go under,” or “There are too many nutritionists,” or something. The more I can have faith in abundance, it really helps. I’m not the right nutritionist for some people out there. It can be a very intense short-term relationship between a client and me!

PWP: Kind of like making a new friend—they share everything about themselves. And what have you learned? Is there something you wish everyone knew?

SP: Oh, it’s the ongoing lesson: Be patient with yourself, be patient with other people, and we’re all going to get there.

On the Unwind retreat, Sarah made us deliciousness like these cabbage cups for every breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite family-style meal had us using a boogie board as a table one evening!

On the Unwind retreat, Sarah made us deliciousness like these cabbage cups for every breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite family-style meal had us using a boogie board as a table one evening!

PWP: You mentioned Kathleen as a teacher who has helped you flourish. How have other mentors factored into your journey?

SP: It’s helpful to have teachers—you can’t always be top dog. You need someone to go to for observation, reflection.

Of course Kathleen McGlone, my boyfriend’s mom, Dr. Rose Kumar at The Ommani Center where I do nutritional consulting, and then my fellow sisters—women I can be inspired by, share experiences with, women who are making their passions a big part of their professions. It’s been a collaborative effort.

PWP: And there’s more to being supported than just cheering people on. There’s thought, there’s questioning, there’s working through situations with people. What makes someone a good supporter?

SP: When someone acknowledges the fear you might have—and doesn’t trivialize it—it really helps you thoughtfully move through it. My mom did that. I had this big idea in my head: I wanted so badly to go back to school for nutrition. I was unemployed at the time, and it just seemed too big. I thought, there is no way she’s going to go for this, but she listened, acknowledged my fear, and supported me through the process of working through it. “We’re going to make this happen.”

PWP: That’s something I need, too—someone to work through things with me…

SP: …not someone who’s saying you shouldn’t be afraid, or don’t be afraid—but instead, we’re going to figure out how to make this work.

PWP: How do you envision Abundelicious growing?

SP: I want to do more remote consultation. I have clients now in New York, LA, and I want to do more of that—it’s totally possible and sometimes even more beneficial. This client gets to have the consultation in the comfort of their own home—they can even show me the supplements they’re taking, what they’re eating—it’s flexible with their schedule, and I really enjoy that. And I want to continue to meet people where they are, even cooking for them in their own homes.

PWP: Taking charge of your health doesn’t have to be out of reach—if you’re going to prioritize how you spend your money, why not on your health?

SP: A lot of people associate nutritionists with weight loss. My specialty is mental health and digestive disorders!

What I tell my clients: The best way to learn about nutrition is to learn about business. Very few big businesses have our health and well-being at heart. Who has the marketing departments? What’s being mass produced? Kale doesn’t have a marketing department. Turnips don’t have a marketing department.

Sarah used to ask clients about their childhood eating habits during consultations. She found that people revert back to their childhood habits so much that she just stopped asking. Setting a good example and instilling good habits never seemed so important! Here she is with a lovely lavender smoothie of blueberries, banana, avocado and more at Beerline Cafe, where we met for a little lunch.

Sarah used to ask clients about their childhood eating habits during consultations. She found that people revert back to their childhood habits so much that she just stopped asking. Setting a good example and instilling good habits never seemed so important! Here she is with a lovely lavender smoothie of blueberries, banana, avocado and more at Beerline Cafe, where we met for a little lunch.

PWP: You’re the only person watching out for you at the end of the day.

SP: It’s very empowering. I’ve never known anyone to start eating food that serves them well and regretted it: “My complexion’s better, I sleep better, my energy level is higher—it’s the worst!”

PWP: “I hate feeling good in the afternoon!” Haha. Sarah, in all of this, what do you find most fulfilling?

SP: Overcoming a fear obstacle and moving through it. And with my clients, helping them feel empowered to confront their fears.

I’m forever grateful I got to spend a week with Sarah (and another supremely inspiring Sara) in Costa Rica on an acroyoga wellness retreat just about a year ago. Read about their most recent retreat here and watch for the next—maybe even in Panama!

Meanwhile, coming up in Wisconsin: Farm to Fork Wellness Weekend on June 25-26. Meet me there? In the meantime, Sarah’s meal plans are the next thing on my nutritional bucket list.

You can visit Sarah at MKE MindBody Wellness and The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine.

What’s the next thing you will commit to doing for your health and happiness?

[Photos by Alysse.]

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