Picture this-- It’s 7 PM, you’re waiting for the train to head home. You’re starving, cranky and far too close to the person standing next to you. You just want to get back home so you can eat, but you remember there’s nothing in the fridge. Your solution? Grabbing a snack from the stand in the subway. Your options are salted nuts or some sort of energy bar, high in sugar. You choose one, just because you think it’s better to put something in your system. Sound familiar?
Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise experienced this on the daily. After months of snacking on the go, they realized how horrible they felt—they were sluggish, bloated and had bad skin. Driven by their desire to find whole-foods on-the-go, they created Sakara Life in 2011.
Their solution aimed towards getting back to whole foods but in a way that was accessible to busy New Yorkers, which landed them on shifting into a delivery service.
Sakara Life has caught on and over the past 4 years has expanded to the whole Northeast (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, Rhode Island), Washington D.C., Phiadelphia and most recently, Southern California. And all for good reason-- the meals they provide focus on hydration, greens, good fats, plant proteins and most importantly, how the body feels!
We got the inside scoop about the philosophy behind SL and more about the Sakara Life ladies:
How did you get the idea for starting Sakara Life?
Sakara was the answer to a problem. Once we moved to NYC we both were fighting individual battles with our health. It wasn’t just that balancing a healthy diet with a NYC life felt impossible, but we totally forgot how to eat for our bodies. Our “solution” was any trendy quick fix we could get our hands on: juice cleanses, master cleanses, raw, paleo, etc., but none of it worked! This issue was that none of these “solutions” were sustainable: none of it reminded us how to eat, and none of it helped heal the health battles we were fighting, so we set out to create a food system that would accomplish all of these things (and more!). Once we finally found it, we realized how impossible it was to sustain in NYC! It’s hard to find high quality produce that we know we can trust, then lugging it up 6 floors of stairs into a closet-sized kitchen just to cook for one person – it wasn’t feasible. We knew if we were having this problem, there were thousands of other people experiencing the same thing. We want to feed those people, and remind them what it feels like to feel GOOD in their bodies, so that they can truly live their dream lives!
Why did you come up with a delivery service as opposed to a brick and mortar restaurant? A huge part of the problem we were facing had to do with not having time, and a brick and mortar didn’t solve this problem. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to eat in a way that fueled their best selves. And although we do offer lunchboxes and dinner-boxes programs, the Sakara Life is a nutritionally designed program – those long sought after results come from sticking to the program and this isn’t something that you can easily accomplish popping by a store and picking up a salad. We don’t want to be a one off experience--we want to change lives! Plus, a delivery program means our healing food can get in more bodies in more places!
What impact has being based in NYC had on your business? Experiencing the intensity of New York was definitely one of the things that led us to starting Sakara. It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos, and we wanted to help people ground, get back to their roots, and remind them that they have the right to feel GOOD each day. We get to feed some of the most inspiring people in the world, and that keeps us inspired on a daily basis. NYC has also allowed us to grow and connect with other like-minded businesses, helping us create a larger impact. Our program is intended to change and help people. We want them to feel their best--and we know that Sakara is the golden ticket.
What was the biggest challenge that you faced? Shedding the attachments people have to food both in their preconceived notions and in their relationships to food! Most people come to a meal with an idea of whether or not they like it and what it’s going to do to their body (mostly waistline). We don’t provide calories for our meal program because that number has nothing to do with how each meal is going to repair and revitalize your body – and that scares people! Your body is so intelligent, and when you are feeding it clean, whole foods, it is equipped with the best tools out there to run optimally. We want to change the way people see food (look at colors, water content, nutrients rather than calories!) and learn to listen to their bodies. This form of consciousness and trust is the key to changing your body for good, and that's something we work on with our clients on a daily basis.
What made you decide to be plant based? Was it because you were both vegan? Personally, we are plant-based. The vast majority of our diets are comprised of plants. But this also means we drink coffee, eat organic, grass-fed meat, and enjoy wine – we just balance it all out with the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to continue to run optimally. When a plant-based diet is your baseline, you can grab for those French fries and order that chocolate cake every now and then (and we most certainly do!), and your body can handle it.
It’s easy to find meat in the city, but it’s HARD to find clean, organic, high quality plants and superfoods. We provide that clean baseline for clients, so that they can go out into the world and get dirty on their own time! ;)
Have you both always been healthy? Or was there a defining point in your lives that made you change your ways for a wellness-based life? We grew up in Sedona, which is a pretty hippie town in Arizona, so eating whole, nutritious foods straight from the earth was always a part of our lifestyle growing up. We learned the importance of meditation, spending time in nature, and eating healing foods prepared by loving hands very early on. It was when we moved to NYC that we lost touch with our food and our bodies. We relied on things like mixed nuts, bars, and Ezekiel bread with almond butter. All of these foods are great and super nutrient-rich, don’t get us wrong, but they are missing all of the hydrating, fueling, healing life energy that plants flood your body with! The result of this diet was that we both felt awful in our bodies. Whitney was gaining weight and battling cystic acne and Danielle was struggling with her image of her body, villanizing food in the process. This journey is what helped us create the program that has already changed the bodies – and lives - of thousands of people in NYC today!
How does food play into the conversation of wellness? It all comes down to food. Fitness, meditation, relationships, water, supplements, etc. are all such important parts of a healthy lifestyle, but none of it works without the food. Food is literally the building blocks of your body and everything you put in your mouth sends information and fuel to your body that either hurts it or helps it. Pair a balanced fitness routine with a nourishing breath work practice, loving relationships, and healing foods and you will literally become unstoppable.
What other wellness companies are exciting you right now? Taryn Toomey (The Class), Pursoma, Mara Hoffman, Stone Fox Bride, Ballet Beautiful, Elena Brower, Live The Process, Gabby Bernstein, the entire team at the Ash center…There are so many (women-led!!!) wellness warriors out there.
What’s next for Sakara Life? We are expanding rapidly- we will be coming to LA in June and nationwide shortly after! We’re also opening up what we’re offering, both in respects to e-commerce products and meal delivery programs--more Sakara in more bodies in more places.
What does Health Beauty Fit mean to you? For us, the concept of health beauty fit is all about finding, accepting, and sharing your unique, authentic beauty. Doing the movements that inspire you, eating the foods that fuel your health, and being loving towards yourself – body, mind, and soul.