We spoke with Sam Abbott, a Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist, who helps individuals with PCOS to improve their hormones and reduce their symptoms without dieting. Sam has the private practice G&G Nutrition Co. in Charlotte, NC, and also offers virtual group coaching. Over the years Sam has transitioned from clinical, to private brick and mortar, to virtual private practice.
Let’s jump in and hear from Sam about making the move to start her own private practice.
— A Conversation with Sam —
You specialize in working with PCOS and follow an intuitive eating approach with your clients. What benefits have you seen in your practice as a result of this?
My clients typically see better health outcomes using an intuitive eating approach. So many people with PCOS are completely disconnected from their bodies because of years of the focus of their medical care primarily being on weight loss. This typically leads to restrictive dieting, which may be helpful for PCOS symptoms in the short-term but oftentimes leads to yo-yo dieting, binge eating, and anxiety around food in the long-term. An intuitive eating approach allows clients to learn how to listen to their bodies so that they can understand which nutrition and lifestyle habits can improve their symptoms. An intuitive eating approach teaches clients how to build long-term habits that are maintainable and enjoyable.
Your philosophy on helping clients with PCOS through intuitive eating differs from a lot of conventional approaches. How do you drown the noise from opposing opinions?
I’m mostly just focused on my clients’ journeys and helping them improve their symptoms and health. Dieting and focusing on weight loss has been ineffective long-term and has often led to harm – weight cycling, anxiety around food, depression, and avoidance of medical care. So many of my clients tell me that they feel a sense of relief and hope when they find my services. I don’t really focus on opposing opinions because my clients’ personal experiences are what matter most to me.
You made the switch this year from a brick-and-mortar practice to working virtually. How has Practice Better enabled you to maintain strong relationships with your clients, despite the shift to a virtual practice?
Telehealth has been a great tool to stay connected with clients after I closed my brick-and-mortar office due to the pandemic. I try to automate as much as possible so that all of my interactions with clients can be focused on their care rather than bookkeeping. Practice Better features like messaging, broadcasts, and the food and mood journal allows us to stay connected even though we’re not meeting in person.
Before starting your own private practice, you worked in a clinical setting. How did your experience in a clinical environment set you up for success in private practice?
I worked in a clinical setting for 6 years prior to starting my practice, and this experience solidified my feelings that I wanted to own my own business. I really enjoy being able to spend more time with clients in the private practice setting, and I feel like I’m using my skills and education in a more impactful way. I worked a lot of holidays, weekends and even missed my best friend’s wedding because I couldn’t get time off of work when I worked in the hospital. I really appreciate being able to make my own schedule with my private practice.
What advice would you give to other Registered Dietitians looking to work in private practice?
My advice would be to just get started and don’t let lack of business or clinical experience hold you back. You can learn as you go along. Instead of focusing on things like a website, branding, and handouts, focus on who you’re going to help and what problems you’re going to help them solve. As dietitians, we are often detail-oriented and perfectionists, and this can sometimes hold us back when it comes to trying new things. Focus on making progress instead of being perfect.
Where can Registered Dietitians acquire the skills required to succeed in private practice?
I strongly recommend hiring a business coach and getting supervision from another dietitian. Investing in yourself seems intimidating at first but it will save you so much time and money in the long run. Networking with other local business owners and private practice dietitians can also be invaluable. The Nutrition Entrepreneur DPG group has great resources, and I really enjoyed the book “Making Nutrition Your Business” when I was first starting out. There are so many great business books and podcasts out there that are not specific to dietitians as well.
Do you have anything coming up that you’d like to share with the PB community? Where can our community go to learn more about you?
I’m in the middle of rebranding and I have a new course launching in January! The best way to find me is on Instagram at @pcos.nutritionist.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Sam!
You can learn more about Sam by visiting her Instagram page.
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