The Girls Next Door

Former Sedona residents and founders of Sakara Life, Whitney Tingle (left) and Danielle Duboise.

Sedona Red Rock High School grads Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise have hit the big time. The two girls met at Big Park School and became instant BFFs. After graduating high school in 2004, they moved to New York and founded Sakara Life, an organic, plant-based meal delivery service that has garnered the attention of celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Lily Aldridge. But no matter how far they roam, Whitney and Danielle will always consider Sedona home sweet home.



Never underestimate the importance of a single act of kindness. It was the late ’90s, and Danielle DuBoise was sitting in front of Whitney Tingle in eighth-grade math at Big Park School in the Village of Oak Creek. She loaned Whitney a pencil, and from that moment on, the girls have been nearly inseparable. They both attended Sedona Red Rock High School and played volleyball; Danielle was captain of their varsity volleyball team. They served on student council together (Whitney would go on to act as student body vice president her senior year and valedictorian of her graduating class). Danielle worked at the now defunct Ravenheart Coffee where she quickly became a manager before she even had her driver’s license while Whitney worked at the also defunct Sedona Cultural Park. And there was another thing they had in common: “We thought Sedona was a slow town with nothing to do – typical teenage angst,” says Danielle, relaxing with a Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha in the lounge of Sedona Athletic Club a few weeks before Christmas. “We left Sedona the day after graduation.”

That was in 2004. Danielle headed to University of Nevada at Las Vegas on a scholarship. She says she wanted to be a healer of some sort, so she pursued a premed degree in biochemistry. Not a fan of the Vegas lifestyle, she quickly transferred to Hunter College in New York where she graduated with a degree in biochemistry and physical anthropology. Whitney went to University of Arizona on a Provost Scholarship, and she spent two years studying in Spain. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and business, and decided New York or Los Angeles had the best job prospects. “Danielle told me to come to New York – we’d share an apartment,” says Whitney. “So I headed for New York and took a job with Merrill Lynch in global wealth management working on Wall Street. It was a very different lifestyle. I was working 80 hours a week with 15 minutes for lunch. I gained 15 pounds right off the bat.”

It wasn’t just the weight gain she was battling. Whitney had developed cystic acne in high school, and her fast-paced lifestyle only made it worse. “Looking back, I must have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to fix my skin,” she says. “After my dermatologist wanted to put me on another round of Accutane – when it hadn’t worked the first time – a voice inside me told me not to do it. I realized I needed to find the root cause, so I went back to how I was raised: the power of food as medicine.”

Danielle was going through her own struggles. She was constantly dieting and unhappy with her body. “I had a poor relationship with myself and my body that started early in high school like it does for so many girls,” she says. “I was modeling and acting while I was in college, and that coupled with New York only exacerbated my issues.”

Danielle signed up for a 21-day course with a holistic physician in Patagonia, Arizona. The retreat included seven days of a water fast and two weeks of eating only raw foods. “I ended up in the hospital,” she says. “I signed up for the program to use it as a diet, and it wound up being my ah-ha moment. I was just about to graduate from college and was starting to apply to med schools. I realized that if I wanted to be a healer, first I had to heal myself.”

Danielle enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and abandoned the dieting. Whitney said no to another round of Accutane, and the girls began discussing their Sedona roots and the connection between mind, body and food. They spoke to functional-medicine practitioners including New York Times bestselling author and educator Dr. Mark Hyman. “We decided to create a meal program for each other and sort of be each other’s champions,” says Danielle. “We each had cook days where we would make food for both of us to take to work. It became our time to heal.”

It was during this time in 2011 that Danielle and Whitney developed what they call their “nutrition pillars” by blending cutting-edge science with ancient nutrition modalities. The pillars include no calorie counting and consuming plenty of plant protein, hydrating foods, greens, good fats, a variety of ingredients (a philosophy they refer to as “eat the rainbow”), nutrient-dense foods and sulfur-rich vegetables. The girls also worked to become more attuned to their bodies. “We started counting nutrients, not calories,” says Danielle. “Suddenly it became about eating enough, not making food the enemy. And it was about body intelligence. Your body will tell you what you need if you take time to listen.”

In their tiny SoHo apartment, Whitney and Danielle chopped, prepped and cooked, cooked, cooked. “It consumed us,” says Whitney. “But we were already consumed with counting calories and caring for our skin, which was affecting our careers, our relationships and our self-confidence. It was really painful.”

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