This week the Spotlight is on Sarah Koszyk, former fashion-preneur gone dietitian, author, social media manager and blogger.
First Sarah, give us a little background on how you got where you are today.
I originally graduated from college and started my own fashion company with my partner while also doing project management on the side. The jobs were great financially (I like to call them the “golden handcuffs”), but I wasn’t happy. I really wanted to do a career where I could make a positive difference in people’s lives.
After a lot of soul searching and research, I went back to school for a 3rd bachelor’s degree in dietetics, applied for an internship at San Francisco State University and became an RDN. During my undergrad, I met my mentor online through the Nutrition Entrepreneur’s DPG electronic mailing list where I put out a post asking if anyone knew a private practice RDN in San Francisco. Manuel Villacorta’s name popped up. I reached out to him, we met, instantly bonded and I started working as his admin/office manager. After completing my internship, I became his associate at the private practice, MV Nutrition. I also coach for the online program, Eating Free.
I love meeting new people and just by networking, I met Stacey Dunn-Emke, owner of NutritionJobs.com and I started writing articles for her websites. Over time, I became her social media manager, too. I’m wearing a lot of hats and having fun doing it.
Since my writing has taken off, I started my own blog: Family. Food. Fiesta. where I provide health tips for families in addition to kid cooking videos and scrumptious, low-fat, comfort food recipes. Manuel and I just wrote our first book together, Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss, which will be published in January 2015! So I’m excited to now be an official “author.”
Wow, that’s impressive! With everything you’ve got going on, I’d love to know what a typical “day in the life” is like for you
Working for myself has allowed me the freedom to make my own schedule. Sunday’s and Monday’s are my weekend and play days. Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, and Friday’s I’m coaching adults and pediatrics for weight management and sports nutrition at MV Nutrition/Eating Free. Wednesday’s are my creative days where I write articles and blogs for my own website: Family. Food. Fiesta., magazines such as UltraRunning, and other websites such as NutritionJobs. I also do a lot of marketing on Wednesday. Saturday’s I tend to do a lot of presentations for local sports teams, gyms, and groups such as Team in Training or marathon groups. The variety in the days allows me to continuously stay on my toes and be engaged in my activities.
What got you interested in nutrition in the first place?
My passion for food and seeing how many people struggle with knowing what to eat and how to eat. I was blessed by being raised on eating a home-cooked family meal almost every night of the week. My mom was very earthy and made everything from scratch so I just learned as I grew up what healthy meant. I was surprised that not everyone had this knowledge and luxury due to lack of education or experience. I want to help people see how easy it is to make a delicious meal while working full time and having a busy family life.
What’s the most challenging part of being a nutrition entrepreneur?
Marketing is the most challenging part of the job because it’s never ending. You can have a great product or service, but if no one knows about it, it won’t go anywhere. Each week I spend a couple of hours on my marketing plans for the private practice and blog in order to continue to get our name out there and maintain relationships with all our referral sources.
Now the question everyone wants to ask a dietitian: do you follow any certain diet?
I eat a lot of whole foods most of the time and try to limit packaged products as much as possible. I do my best to support local farms/food companies. Living in San Francisco, we have an abundance of amazing food choices, so I take advantage of that daily. I love going to the little market 2 doors down from my house to buy fresh bread baked that morning. (The kind of bread that goes stale the next day). Or going to the fish market on the corner of my street to buy fish caught early in the morning from the bay. It’s pretty awesome. Nothing beats same-day salmon.
Do you take any supplements?
A daily multi-vitamin.
Is there any food that you won’t eat?
I have tried many things during my travels (I’m addicted to traveling and do my best to visit different countries multiple times a year). And I’ve consumed a lot of really weird stuff such as bat, blood sausage, and some other crazy things. Some of which I may not eat again…but at least I tried it once.
Bat… that had to be interesting. It sounds like you’ve had a lot of memorable meals! What was your most memorable?
I actually wrote a blog about this: Food to Live For. It describes my top 5 favorite foods. And my most memorable meal was at Michael Minna in San Francisco where I had a lobster pot pie that was incredible – literally life-changing to my taste buds.
What’s your belief in calories in vs. calories out? Is that the key for weight loss or is there a bigger picture?
There’s always a bigger picture and life isn’t so black and white. I’ve seen clients eat less (with poor food/drink choices) so that their calories out exceeded their calories in and they still didn’t lose weight. Since so many factors affect weight loss, calories in vs. calories out is a big part of it, but not the whole entire picture.
What are your thoughts on genetically-modified foods? Do you feel strongly one way or another?
I’m not a fan of GMOs. It’s a very complicated topic and a huge problem is lack of education and knowledge. The health risks pertaining to people are inconclusive and controversial to this date regarding GMOs. On the contrary, the environmental risks show more of a negative impact. Regardless, I do my best to buy organic in order to eat a GMO-free diet as much as possible. However, I still go out to eat and I don’t always know where that food comes from. If I can help it, I’d prefer not to eat GMO.
What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city?
I love being a tourist in my city and going on adventures as much as possible (even to the tourist traps). It’s amazing what you can still discover after living somewhere for 17 years just by walking around. I walk along the Embarcadero and the beach a lot. Being near the water always calls my heart.
What would you like to accomplish (can be career or non-career related) in the next 5 years?
Sail a boat around Micronesia for 6 months while scuba diving and blogging about cuisine.
That sounds amazing, just let me know when you’re leaving and I’ll clear my schedule.
There’s been talk that becoming an RD may require a masters degree in the future. Do you think an MS should be required?
I hope not just an MS because I have an MA in Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics from San Francisco State University. I do agree with higher education, though. For now, with the internships being so impacted and challenging to get into, I don’t think it’s necessary to have a Master’s, yet. The requirements to become an RDN are pretty intense and they set us apart as it is from people who just have a nutrition certificate. I’d like for the Academy to focus more on promoting RDNs as the real nutrition experts so that all the schooling we’ve had to do is justified.
Looking back now, do you feel like you made the right decision getting out of the fashion industry and into dietetics?
Yes – I’ve never looked back! I wake up every day excited for the new adventure to come. Each day I learn so much from my clients and my colleagues and I’m surrounded by people who continue to inspire me. Being a dietitian is a great field to be in because there are so many opportunities and so much diversity. I’m grow each day and enjoy every moment of it.
Do you have any advice for those out there that are thinking about getting into a nutrition-related field?
Find a mentor! Do some research and look at current people in the nutrition field who you admire. Reach out to them and offer to volunteer your services so you can learn what they do while gaining valuable experience. Everyone needs a nutrition idol that they can grow from and become the super star they were meant to be.
Thank you Sarah for being part of the Dietitian Spotlight Series, sharing your expertise and giving us a glimpse into life as a nutrition entrepreneur. It’s great to see you pursuing your passion and succeeding!
Be sure to connect with Sarah: