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a doctor who’s as obsessed with finding answers as you are.

Motivated Medicine is a consultative practice dedicated to helping patients get to the root causes of their chronic conditions, so they can find a path to healing. We won’t give up until you feel better.

What is

Motivated Medicine

The Motivated Medicine ™ approach that Dr. Z has developed (and continues to evolve on a daily basis) is rooted in Translational Medicine. If you’re wondering, “What the heck is translational medicine?” Here’s how we explain it:

Translational Medicine bridges the gap between all the behind-the-scenes research from laboratories, thought leaders, and hospitals across the world and the direct care YOU are getting from your doctor.

It’s a style of practice that’s dedicated to ensuring that the newest research scientists are finding — we’re talking things the scientific and medical community discovered last week — is making its way to your bedside and into your treatment plan.

Our Approach

We’re the ones putting the puzzle together,
but you’re the one helping lay out all the pieces.

That’s why we listen to you. That’s why we see you as the genetically unique human and microbiome that you are. And that’s why we treat you as an equal partner in your own healing process. With your collaboration, data and time, we do everything in our power to get to the root of your health issues. 

Our approach looks different from your usual doctor or hospital visit, but we’re hoping it will one day be the standard. Instead of seeing 25-30 patients a day as allopathic doctors do, we see no more than 10. With more one-on-one time with a clinician looking at your environment, lifestyle and genetics, we can get a more comprehensive and holistic view of your health. Ultimately creating a treatment that’s made for your distinct biology.  

Above all, we believe that health is not simply the absence of disease, but living a life of passionate vitality. From your very first appointment, this is what we’re committed to bringing to you. 

“Dr. Z is absolutely wonderful. Her heart for helping is like no other. She is very professional and dives deep to find the root cause of what is going on and finds solutions that help. She is the first MD that actually truly understands Thyroid and Autoimmune. I am forever grateful!”

Danielle R.


Dr. Sarah J. Zielsdorf

Dr. Sarah J. Zielsdorf, MD, MS

Roxana Calafos Family Nurse Practitioner at Motivated Medicine in West Chicago

Roxana Calafos, Family Nurse Practitioner

“The progressive voice of functional medicine in Chicago”.

Jessica Flanigan, a leading autoimmune authority, author, and clinical nutritionist
Dr. Sarah J. Zielsdorf


Dr. Sarah J. Zielsdorf, MD, MS

You can call her Dr. Z.

As an internist and diagnostician with 20 years of experience as a microbiologist, Dr. Z helps chronically ill patients find the root causes of their health issues with passion and intensity (because she’s been where you are).

Dr. Z knows what it’s like to feel miserable and she understands first-hand what it’s like to feel invisible as a patient in our current healthcare system. 

Throughout undergrad, grad school, and residency, she experienced over 10 years of debilitating health issues that ultimately  left her bedridden. Not once did her doctors take an in-depth look at her health. If they had, they might have noticed that autoimmunity runs in her family, or that her thyroid ultrasound classically looked like an autoimmune-mediated issue. She might not have wasted precious years waiting for a doctor to actually pay attention.

Eventually, she was diagnosed with fibrosis of the liver and autoimmune thyroid disease. But the treatment plan she followed for years never worked. Knowing there must be another way, she began her healing journey by climbing a mountain in Nepal and learning Kung Fu. Wait – that was Batman. 

In all seriousness, as a student and doctor of medicine, Dr. Z decided to take her health into her own hands. 

Going beyond the standard

(And finding her true purpose on the other side)

Dr. Z devoured every bit of research she could find and educated herself in functional and integrative medicine. Working with several innovative clinicians in varying fields, she began to reverse these chronic diseases. 

She was told it was “impossible,” but the biggest proof of her healing is her two children.

Dr. Z’s transformation was incredible, and it became profoundly clear that so many people could feel better if only they had a doctor to really listen to them. Like Batman, this struggle changed the direction of her life and she found she could no longer be a cog in the machine. This knowledge and her innate drive and determination forged the core of her philosophy as a physician. This became her purpose as a physician — to help patients experience this healing for themselves. 

After several years in private practice, Dr. Z founded Motivated Medicine and alongside her small, but mighty team, has helped countless patients get back to their life. 

Patients and medical professionals alike refer to her and her specialty as many different things.

While many top physicians and institutions refer to her as a “renowned expert”, Dr. Z can’t help but bristle at the term because she knows there is so much more for her to learn — and as long as she’s able, she will never stop learning. 

Dr. Z values the transformative power of the patient-physician relationship. She will take the time to listen to your story to get to the root causes of your concerns in a patient-centered, personalized way. She understands that every individual is biochemically and genetically unique so there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution and rarely is anything black or white. She truly believes in the art of medicine and that keeps her relentlessly searching for the best answers to difficult questions, often those a patient may have asked at the top medical institutions before seeking Dr. Zielsdorf.  

Her Knowledge

Here’s where Dr. Z has studied
  • Loyola University Medical Center & Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital – Residency, Internal Medicine
  • Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine – Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • George Washington University – MS in Public Health, Microbiology, & Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Miami University – BA in Microbiology, minors in Molecular Biology, Jewish Studies, and a concentration in Oboe Performance

Her Vitals

Here’s where Dr. Z has served, and what she’s accomplished so far along her journey
  • Owner & Medical Director, Motivated Medicine
  • IFMCP (Institute For Functional Medicine) Certified Practitioner
  • ABIM Certified (American Board of Internal Medicine)
  • Medical & Research Advisor, Education Director to the LDN Research Trust
  • Speaker and presenter 2017 – Present LDN Conferences
  • Featured in Dr. Izabella Wentz’s documentary, The Thyroid Secret (2017)


Dr. Z recharges by being as un-doctor like as possible. This includes:
  • Playing the bass guitar
  • Listening to Smashing Pumpkins or RUSH
  • Sleeping (when she can)
  • Doing virtually any creative activity
  • Paleo cooking
  • Hiking with her high school sweetheart-turned husband
  • Rocking out and dancing with their two kids (one a little mini me with a smart mouth to match and the other is absolutely WILD!)
  • Being a long-suffering Cleveland sports fan (oh, the pain!)

“I am a patient of Dr. Sarah Zielsdorf and Roxana Calafos, who have both helped me immensely. I wish that I went to Dr. Z’s practice years ago when I first began having symptoms. Those that work there are extremely educated, and really take the time to listen to you. They are very thorough, and really incorporate teaching you about lifestyle changes (I’ve never had any other doctor ever address this!) I have heard many great things about Dr. Z, and they are all true!”

Alison S.

Roxana Calafos Family Nurse Practitioner at Motivated Medicine in West Chicago


Roxana Calafos

Family Nurse Practitioner

Roxana is a Family Nurse Practitioner with more than 20 years of nursing experience.  After attending Pensacola Christian College, she received her Master’s Degree in Science from Northern Illinois University with a specialization as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Since becoming a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner in 2015,  she has worked in an acute care setting seeing a wide range of patients for emergent, non-life-threatening illnesses and taken a special interest in functional medicine after realizing that most of the patients were living unhealthy lives, becoming ill frequently and relied heavily on antibiotics and symptom management. She joined Dr. Zielsdorf in her current role as a functional medicine Nurse Practitioner and has been working alongside her since 2017.

Roxana understands that her relationship with her patients is invaluable. She collaborates with them to look beyond symptomatic relief, searching for the cause of disease or dysfunction and identifying the underlying triggers that lead to poor health. With a detailed personal history, laboratory testing and functional assessments, she can tailor a treatment plan to individual needs.    

She is currently a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine and has completed AFMCP and advanced modules for hormones and pediatrics. She has also received training via The Gut Institute and has attended numerous ApexEnergetics seminars which have allowed her to broaden her knowledge of functional medicine and dig deeper to address her patients’ needs. Her special interests include thyroid disorders, adrenal dysfunction, hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases.

In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, traveling and spending time with her husband and two kids. She’s also a big fan of dark chocolate and coffee (the stronger the better).



Administrative Director

From office management, to accounting and HR, Christine is the glue that holds this tight ship together. She’s a former business owner, event planner, and designer with extensive experience in business operations and project management. Christine understands how to balance a well-run “back office” with an excellent patient experience. She’s also available to offer guidance on advanced testing protocols and resolve patient issues. As a thyroid patient herself, she has first-hand experience with complex medical challenges. Christine understands what it’s like to be in our patient’s shoes. 


Administrative Assistant

With a degree in psychology and a background in customer service, management and hospitality for over 20 years, Julie knows how to make patients feel at ease, prep them for appointments, and answer just about any question. She runs our front desk, handles patient calls and portal inquiries, tracks down all of our lab and test results, orders tests, and processes payments. If you have a question, Julie can probably find the answer.


Administrative Assistant

Mandy is typically the first person you’ll speak to from our office. As a first point of contact, she helps prospective patients determine if our practice is a good fit and matches them with the best clinician to meet their needs. She also schedules follow-up visits and assists with patient insurance issues. Since earning degrees in biology and chemistry, she has worked in the medical field — from call centers and billing management to software — making her a true wealth of knowledge. 

In addition to the team members listed above, we have few other friendly faces behind the scenes ready to support your journey toward wellness. We’re all working toward one goal: getting to the roots of your health issues, so you can achieve optimal health.

Dr. Sarah J. Zielsdorf is your partner in medicine.

Let’s be partners

Whether you’re getting a 2nd, 5th or 27th opinion, we’d love to take the first step with you, and hear your story. No stone will go unturned nor will any symptom go ignored. Together, we can put in the work to uncover answers, get to the roots of your health issues and transform your healing process.

Learn more about how it works

You’ve got questions.

We’ve got answers.

From what to expect during your first visit to common insurance questions, we’ve gathered up the most frequently asked patient questions and then some to help guide your journey.

Visit our Patient Resources and FAQs

Wondering if
Motivated Medicine
is right for you?

Explore our Approach