Balanced Bites Podcast #133: Special Guest Stefani Ruper, author of Sexy by Nature

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The Balanced Bites Podcast - Episode #133 | Special Guest Stefani Ruper Author of Sexy by NatureTopics:
1.  Updates [2:52]
2.  Our guest, Stefani Ruper [5:14]
3.  How Stefani changed while writing Sexy By Nature [11:29]
4.  Forgiveness, self-respect, and self-love [20:21]
5.  Everything is Ok [25:56]
6.  How Stefani “got there” [34:08]
7.  Final thoughts from Stefani [54:50]
Liz’s review of Sexy by Nature (video + outtakes!)
Upcoming events

Paleo For Women
Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Lifelong Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence
PCOS Unlocked
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Liz Wolfe: Hey everyone! Welcome to episode 133 of the Balanced Bites podcast. Liz here. Remember that my website is now; be sure to check that out. My new digs. Last week, it was just Diane. This week, it’s just me. Well, of course, me and an awesome guest who I will introduce momentarily. But first, a word or 50 about our sponsors. We’ve got Paleo Treats. You can find them at Look, I don’t know how much I need to sing the praises of the Mustang bar or the Bandito bar, but for the love of all that is holy, try them before the zombie apocalypse. Please. If you’ve already tried them, you know why we thing they’re so amazing. If you haven’t tried them yet, you’ll soon thank me. This is one of your last opportunities to get the special 15% off when you entered the code BALANCEDBITES at checkout. Again, that’s Of course, our next sponsor, Pete’s Paleo, bringing fine dining to your cave. Make your week nights a little easier with your frozen Pete’s Paleo meals that you can reheat in just minutes. Get a free pound of bacon with the purchase of any meal plan. The code at you’ll enter is BBLOVESBACON. And just a reminder that one penny will come off your order, that’s just how your code works, but they will know to throw your bacon in your order. I actually just posted a recipe for roasted carrot hash with sage cinnamon and Pete’s Paleo bacon. You’ll definitely want to check that out. And finally, Chameleon Cold-Brew, which is available at lots of grocery stores nationwide. You can check out their website for a store locator. Or, you can order online. They’ve got a host of old and new flavors, all organic, fair trade, smooth, and delicious. And for 20% off your order, enter BALANCEDBITES at
1. Updates [2:52]
Liz Wolfe: Some really, really quick updates before I get to our guest. I will, I will, I will be at PaleoFx for one day. One day only, one very special day. Diane was talking about this a bit last week. I do have a lot of things keeping me here; not just the homestead and farm animals, but also some military scheduling. Some folks may know, my husband is a military man, so that’s always my first priority, but I am going to make it for Friday, April 11th. I believe I will be signing books from 3:30-4, and wandering around in the interim. So, if you’re there, please do reach out and say hi. Give me a hug or a high five, or whatever. I may seem {laughs} confident on the airwaves, but I’m extremely awkward in person, and quite introverted, so it’s kind of hard for me to initiate conversations and introductions, so it always helps if people come up to me. Another event coming up on April 26th, in Denver, Colorado. Denver, the Sunshine State. Diane and I will be signing books. Find out details on that on under the events tab.
Liz Wolfe: Okie dokie. So, onto my guest. And let me apologize in advance, I’m actually recording this introduction to the interview after the fact, as I recorded with our guest a few weeks ago, but we had to shift things around a bit here in Balanced Bites podcast land. So, I want to apologize because I did not let her talk enough. I was talking way too much, but I’m just so excited and enthusiastic about the work she’s doing. I literally can’t shut up about. So, word of warning, it’s still one of my favorite interviews of all time with my favorite people in the paleo community, so please enjoy and let’s get onto the episode. I’m so excited to be here today with Stefani Ruper, who has been one of my favorite people forever. She exploded onto the paleo scene with her blog, Paleo for Women, which has been one of my favorites since day one. She’s written an extraordinary, intriguing, first of its kind book called Sexy by Nature: the Whole Food Solution to Radiant Health, Lifelong Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence. And this is just so right up my alley. So up my alley, and I’m so excited to talk to her today. So, hi Stefani!
2. Our guest, Stefani Ruper [5:14]
Stefani Ruper: Hey Liz. {laughs}
Liz Wolfe: I’m going to read some stuff that I just kind of selected from your blog about yourself, because you’re such a wordsmith, I just couldn’t phrase anything any better than you already do, I just kind of stole your words. So, I’ll introduce you to folks, and then you can further introduce yourself.
Stefani Ruper: Ok.
Liz Wolfe: Ok, so this is your concise bio. If somebody wants to know who you are in a nutshell, this is what you probably send over.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: But there’s far more to the story. Stefani Ruper is equally accomplished as an international go-go dancer, an Ivy League chemist, and a nationally renowned eating disorder counselor. She is the author of the paleo woman’s health manifesto Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Lifelong Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence, as well as the voice behind the Paleo for Women blog, the first ever body image and self love podcast Live. Love. Eat., and a self-love YouTube Channel. You can find her at any of those places, on Facebook, or on Twitter. And of course, we’ll give those notes in the blog post of this podcast. Stefani holds degrees from Dartmouth College and Boston University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy and dancing obsessively in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So that’s that. Do you want to add anything to your credentials before I jump into the fun part?
Stefani Ruper: I try really hard to be nice.
Liz Wolfe: {Laughs}
Stefani Ruper: I really want to be a good person.
Liz Wolfe: Yes!
Stefani Ruper: I think that’s probably the most important thing.
Liz Wolfe: And that’s what we’re going to get into next, because this is the substantive get to know, who are you, but who are you really? So this is, I can’t get enough of your words, I really can’t. Both in Sexy By Nature and the Paleo For Women blog, and your about page, your “Stefani” page, says this about you. I pulled a couple of paragraphs out of the part where you tell people what you want them to know and understand about you.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: And this is part of what you say. You’re talking about your paleo journey, and part of your journey as a whole. The thing is–the paleo diet became important to me. But because I was still stuck in social (and paleo!) norms about what a beautiful body was, I never accepted my natural form. I achieved 18 percent body fat, but at a great price. I was infertile; I had cystic acne; I had no sex drive; I never menstruated. I troubleshooted my health and tried a variety of both natural and pharmaceutical remedies for several years. Nothing worked. I didn’t give up… At that time, being pushed to the edge, I finally realized what an idiot I had been. For someone who spent the vast majority of her life saying ‘f-you’ to society in one way or another, I had certainly been happy bowing down, genuflecting, and wringing the life out of my body in order to win at one of society’s games. Not anymore. Over the course of one swift, terrifying, and liberating week, I kicked my need for social approval under the bus and never looked back. Since then I have listened to my body’s hunger signals, forgiven myself for eating at any time and in any amount I would have beforehand considered negative, gained ten pounds, cleared my skin, begun sleeping peacefully, and really embraced the philosophy I had always espoused to others but never been able to convince myself to believe. I had finally arrived. I loved my whole self, and I was never going to apologize for that again. Ok, so now. What else should we know about you, Stefani?
Stefani Ruper: Um, well, you should know. I don’t remember writing that. I’m like, yeah, that sounds pretty good.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs} It’s so good.
Stefani Ruper: B) I said, in one swift and terrifying week, right? I accepted myself. Which is funny, because as true as that may be, that week was awesome, I was like, yeah, I’m doing this!
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: And then it was another; when was it, that was in early 2012. And it was still, it’s still happening. Right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: It’s still happening, and I have those weeks all the time, and I have good days and bad days, and also I said 10 pounds, and since then it’s probably been more like 20. Because again I’ve been doing this process over and over. And, even at that point, I was working on learning how to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full. You know, I was working on accepting my body, but I really didn’t get… I want to say, I think I’m good at it now. I really didn’t get good at it for, I don’t know, another couple of years. You know, very close to this date. And I keep getting better. But I want to throw out there, this thing may have a certain starting point, but it doesn’t, so far as I can tell, have a certain ending point.
Liz Wolfe: I think that we, too often, expect to just kind of have that moment of enlightenment or that week of enlightenment, and then you’ve got it figured out and you can, you know, evangelize to other people or whatever. That’s just now how it works.
Stefani Ruper: Yeah, totally. And in the blogosphere, it’s very easy to run into these miracle stories.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And I am sure that all of them have genuine elements to them, and some more so than others, and mine definitely. I feel very proud of the things that I have done. But I also, in this last week, started writing about some physiological problems I’ve had in the recent past due to stress.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And it felt like coming out, in that way, and it’s scary, you know, to say I’m one of your health gurus, and I’m struggling right now.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: So, it’s definitely a process. And I think the best thing we can do for our readers is to be honest, right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Because they need, people need, we all need examples. We all need sources of knowledge and help. We also, very much need, to feel like we’re in this together.
Liz Wolfe: I love that. Gosh, that brings up something that I wanted to talk about at some point. So, I’ll come back around to that.
Stefani Ruper: Ok.
3. How Stefani changed while writing Sexy By Nature [11:29]
Liz Wolfe: But, I know this is probably a tough question, but having just come out of the vortex of writing a book myself, I want to hear from you, how did you change? What happened to you while writing this book? Because I know, it’s an education to write about things that you believe, and put those thoughts in words, and I want to hear about the experience.
Stefani Ruper: That’s an excellent question, Liz. I love when I’m on interviews, and I get questions I’ve never had before.
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: All day long, people can ask me what I think PCOS is, right?
Liz Wolfe: Right. Which, by the way, you literally wrote the book on, and we refer people to PCOS Unlocked quite frequently. But, go ahead.
Stefani Ruper: Thanks. So, the process. You know they say, and they’re right, that people who need help with things are the ones who teach others how to do them. Right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Just about every eating disorder counselor had some trouble in the past, and they can talk about how they’re healed all day long, but that thing is still in their brain, it still makes us who we are. Writing the book, but probably more so continuing to write on my blog, was an exercise in that. In an effort to…writing books is a lot about refining. Right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: The editing process is way harder than the initial writing process.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Yes.
Stefani Ruper: So, there’s definitely that process of teaching myself things. And of course, writing the book really clarified for me. It really helped me systematize my thoughts, right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: I had to be like, these are the 7 steps to how to be fearless. Which is the final chapter in the book. These are the 7 steps, ok. So it goes. I have to say that, I have to believe that. And so it takes a lot of soul searching to come up with those things. That being said, the most important thing that I learned writing this book did not have to do with the content at all. But rather, this could go super deep into my soul, so I’m trying to give you a little bit of a Cliff notes version. I really struggle with my work in the paleosphere. Because, I have another full time job.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And I like both of them a lot. And so the whole time I’m working on this, I’m being torn in different directions, and sometimes I’m working on my philosophy work, and I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t be working on the book. And usually, it went vice-versa. And, the great Ron Swanson comes to mind here.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: Because he tells Leslie Knope that “You don’t half-ass two things, you whole-ass one thing.”
Liz Wolfe: Yes! {laughs} I love that quote.
Stefani Ruper: Yeah! And so, for a couple of years there, I was probably three-quarter assing two things.
Liz Wolfe: Mmm.
Stefani Ruper: And the book was a big challenge for me, because it felt like this thing that I had to do, and I had to get through it. It was a burden in a lot of ways. Like, I needed to get through it. And the days that I felt it progressing and getting less heavy of a burden, I felt so good. But then, I didn’t plan for this to happen. I thought I was going to have more time. I normally a good time manager. In the fall semester of 2013, so this was just a couple of months ago, the end of both of these projects happened at the same time. And, I just {laughs} I didn’t know that the copy editing of the book was going to happen at a certain time, I didn’t know how long it was going to take. The thing about writing a book; when you write a paper for school, you can kind of finish and then say, “eh. I’m done. I’m going to turn it in.”
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: With a book, there is zero “eh.”
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: {Laughs} I was so terrified of writing something A) that would be hurtful to people, B) that would be embarrassing to me.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: You know, there were some words and phrases in there, I’m like, I don’t want people to think that I talk like that. So, anyway. I wrote, I copyedited the book, and I wrote from scratch 150-page philosophy thesis in 6 weeks, and I slept 4 hours a night, usually 3. One hour a day I spent eating. The other 19 hours of the day I spent writing. And, it just destroyed me. And I’ve been recovering from it for the last couple of months. But it took me 6 weeks after that to wake up in the morning and want to exercise.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: You know? And, even, I never wake up and feel awake now. Yesterday was the first day I woke up with my heart beating at a normal rate. Because normally I wake up after 4 hours with my heart racing, and I’m like, “What do I got to go do?” {laughs}
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: So, my process of writing was, you know there was a lot of really coming to love the book, because it was such a labor of love. I talk to women authors who are also parents, like Stacy Toth.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And she’s like, no, this is like a baby, but it’s harder in its own way, you know?
Liz Wolfe: Yeah.
Stefani Ruper: So, there’s that. There’s the thoughts, and there’s also what I learned about me and half assing and whole assing things, and adrenal fatigue. I also learned; I feel like I keep learning this lesson. It’s a very important one. That survival is inevitable.
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: It’s kind of a hard thought, but it’s also a really, really good one, because it makes me a little bit less terrified.
Liz Wolfe: Well, since you brought up Ron Swanson, I feel like I can bring up Finding Nemo,
Stefani Ruper: {laughing}
Liz Wolfe: But my mantra literally for a long time was, and it’s kind of, it relates to what you just said, it was “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
Stefani Ruper: Uh-huh.
Liz Wolfe: Like, we’re just going to keep swimming. And I want to bring up something you talk about quite a bit in the book, and that’s forgiveness, the past, the future, all of it, and also tying that into the idea that all of this, whatever we want “this” to be, it’s about patience and persistence and forgiveness, and just keeping swimming.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: And part of what I learned, and it sounds like we have this in common, is that you can really destroy yourself working on something that you care about.
Stefani Ruper: Yeah.
Liz Wolfe: And this idea of those who can, do; those who can’t, teach, or whatever.
Stefani Ruper: {laughing}
Liz Wolfe: So all of these things that we talk to people about; stress management, and alleviating stress in whatever way it comes, whether that’s physical stress or emotional stress, whatever. For all of us, there are times when we can’t do that. It’s just not a priority.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: And I’ve been interviewed a couple of times, in a couple of podcasts, and they say, well what have you done to keep yourself level. And I’m like, I haven’t done anything to keep myself level.
Stefani Ruper: {laughing}
Liz Wolfe: Like, I’ve been inside, hunched over a computer for two years. And that sucks, but that’s what it took to get it done. It’s cool. So, I feel like we have to forgive ourselves that, and also, the work that you’ve put out there, it is just beyond anything. I mean, I expected a hell of a lot from you, Stefani, because you always blow my mind. But this, on top of everything else you were doing, I can’t even…What you’ve put out there is so big, and it’s so all encompassing, and I just applaud you for it a thousand times. At the same time, I understand that you’re putting something out in the world, and you’re waiting for people to receive it, and that’s a very scary thing.
Stefani Ruper: That hits the philosopher in my, although I guess I think about everything with a highly inquisitive lens. But, even if you set up a human being who is forgiving and accepting, and being the human being that that’s who you want to be, who is not attached and all of those things, you’re still… my ideal human being is one who always forgives herself.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And one who’s cool with the fact that things aren’t perfect, and I really suck at doing that all of the time.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: So even if you set up this ideal, it’s like, even if you set up the “right ideal”, I’m using air quotes, but even if you set up the “right ideal”, you’re still a human being. Whatever. That’s how it is. {laughs}
4. Forgiveness, self-respect, and self-love [20:21]
Liz Wolfe: Let’s move this into the realm of physicality. Let’s talk about the ideas we have about what would make us “better”, or you know, the ideal body, whatever that is. Or the ideas that we impose upon ourselves for what we should be or what we should be doing. So I guess, I’d like you to talk about that in the context of forgiveness, and achieving a sense of self-respect and self-love that is kind of the core about what you write about in your book.
Stefani Ruper: Wow. Ok, so you don’t want me to talk about the way people ordinarily do it, which I do talk about in the book, but the way I want people to do it?
Liz Wolfe: You can talk about both if you want to do a little juxtaposing, you’re welcome to do that. {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: Right. I want to preface this {laughs}. I was on Abel’s show the other day, and we went the whole time talking about my definition of sexy without ever hitting on the point that the large majority of the book is about the physical way to do things, right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And it’s about female specific health issues, and diet, and lifestyle. So, all of that is in there, but it is bookended by this, I guess I could call it philosophy, approach to living that I think is actually more important. You’ve got to get the orientation and the mindset down before you can integrate all the other stuff into your life in a way that really makes you a whole and healthy human being. So, I try to do both things. I apologize in the epilogue for trying to do both things.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: In such a huge, heavy-handed way. Anyway. So, I do. I talk about it in the book. You know, people talk about the Standard American Diet, and I see the problem as so much more than that. I call it the Standard American Game. And I never refer to it as the SAG, but I always really wanted to.
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: Because we have these norms, and these ideals set up of ways to be. How much do we applaud exercise in our country? You know.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: In the paleo world, too. Rightfully so, it’s important, but it’s on this huge pedestal. And we equate being slim with being healthy.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Which is, so far as I can tell, factually false.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: That’s just how it is.
Liz Wolfe: Yup.
Stefani Ruper: I know that we probably don’t set this up as ideal, but we’re restrictive and we kind of glorify that. Like, somebody sees you eating a couple of leaves and a lean chicken breast at a restaurant, they’re like, “God, you’re so healthy.” No.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Boo, hiss.
Liz Wolfe: You have willpower.
Stefani Ruper: Yeah. Oh my goodness. And that’s kind of what it is. We celebrate willpower. And I don’t want to scare people off, but I do make some tiny asides about the puritans and monks and medieval religious practices, because I would, but that’s where these are the places out of which our morality these days comes from. In America, we love discipline, as much as we live in this culture of gorging ourselves on food and consumerism, we love discipline. We idolize it. So, what I set up and what I believe is that we should all be human beings who, how do I want to attack this? I’m going to leap ahead to the end, and then hopefully I’ll end back up there.
Liz Wolfe: Do it. This is your time, girl. {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: My time. I believe that everything every human being ever does, ever, is compelled out of fear or out of live. Which is the basis of part 5 in the book. Out of fear or out of love, and these are really our only motivators. Because we want to be loved. We have fear because we’re not going to be loved, we’re not going to be safe.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: We want to be loved, we want to be safe. And we’re scared we’re not going to have it. And so, what happens when we do that is we conform to social norms. We do what other people expect of us, we try to become this thing that other people are going to embrace. We get nervous around people, we get defensive. We don’t meet people’s eyes if we are not feeling good about ourselves because we’re afraid we’re going to be rejected. And so all of these different things, we’re wound up into fear. We’re wound up into being unattractive. We’re wound up into, {laughs} we’re wound up into thinking that looks are super important, which is funny, alright? I write books about being sexy, and I believe so strongly that every human being, whatever, on the planet has the right to feel sexy.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: But let’s also be clear that that’s definitely not the most important thing about us. Not by a long shot. So, we have all this fear, and I think the ideal that I set up is to be a human being who is highly aware of that fear and how it works in my life, and to respond to it with love. And I mean love for other people, but I mean, of course, love for myself. And the way to do that is to have everything be ok. Alright?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: There’s no reason for it not to be.
Liz Wolfe: Everything! You’re talking about everything.
Stefani Ruper: I’m talking about everything.
Liz Wolfe: Yeah.
Stefani Ruper: Specifically, we can narrow it down into our DNA and our history, and our health. And that’s what the book is about. But you’ve got to be ok with everything, because why not.
5. Everything is Ok [25:56]
Liz Wolfe: Yes! Wait, can we talk about that really quick? I want to call that out. You just put into words what I have been thinking about for months. And you do that about a million things in your book, which I just finally got a chance to start really delving into. And like you said, strut, part 5, that’s my favorite so far. Alright, so, everything is ok. It’s all ok. When we eat, how we eat. I mean, with knowledge. We have knowledge about what we’re eating and why, but it’s all ok. The choices that I made today are ok. Who am I, who I am down to my DNA, my ancestry, my choices, what I love and what I care about, all of it is ok.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: Are we on the same page with that?
Stefani Ruper: We are on the same page with that. Because, the way I see it is that there are things about ourselves that we would like to change or transform. And about the world, right? The world is a nasty place, and there are things about the world that are infuriating, and terrifying, and devastating.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Human beings are what they are. We are essentially inevitably imperfect. In a huge way. To say imperfect puts it way too close to perfect, I want to throw it back the other way.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: All of which is to say, yeah. Everything is ok. And you just chip away at it over time, and you have forgiveness for yourself and your body, and the key to all of this, I don’t make it as explicit in the book as I would like, I’ve been making it really explicit in my writing right now, is that you’re trying. And your body? You can’t hate your body for not being perfect, because it’s trying really hard to be healthy. And the only reason it hasn’t succeeded is that it’s been stymied by things like poor diet and lifestyle choices in the past, punitive exercise regimes, some sort of harm you’ve ever come to. So, you’re body is trying very hard. And you’re trying too. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. You’re getting there, you’re doing your best. So, you can’t be mad at something when it’s not it’s fault. And you can’t be mad at something when you’re just, at your basis human, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to say, I’m going to do my best. And that’s sort of the underlying premise of the whole book. Things are ok, I’m going to do my best.
Liz Wolfe: Coming around to a sound bite is the hardest thing in the entire world. But I really, really like that one.
Stefani Ruper: Thanks.
6. Stefani’s philosophy in the paleo community [28:12]
Liz Wolfe: That was fantastic. Well, I want to ask you about your philosophical self. Your philosophy studies and what you do there. How you’re bringing that to a place of value in the paleo community?
Stefani Ruper: Mm. Trying, Liz. I’m trying.
Liz Wolfe: you’re doing it, in my opinion.
Stefani Ruper: If you saw how many people come to my blog, and how many paleo leaders know who I am, you’d be like, oh yeah. She’s not really doing much of anything {laughing}
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: I mean, it’s astounding. Anyway, I’m doing my best. That’s all I can say. Liz, I’m so glad you asked. No one’s ever asked me that on a podcast before, it feels really good!
Liz Wolfe: Aww shucks.
Stefani Ruper: Yeah. I actually squeezed a reference into my philosophy advisor in the book, which {laughs} is pretty cool, so you can find him in the footnotes. And that’s because there’s a tiny little section, in the lifestyle section, after I talk about sleep and stress and weight lifting and sprinting and all these different things, I talk about some other things that I think are important for your lifestyle and I talk about striving, which is having some sort of purpose, and settling, which is about acceptance, and then I talk about spirit very briefly, so if you want to be spiritual, go ahead. I squeeze a reference to him in there. What I do, I am in a program, was in a program, am in a program. I’m in between right now.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: {laughs} I am not in school right now, but I got a degree in December. Titled religion in science; the philosophy of religion in science. And the reason I do this; I come from a background of science. When I was a very young girl, 4 or 5 years old, I started having panic attacks about dying when I was going to sleep at night. Which may have something to do with why I’m such, I mean, which has everything to do with why I’m still such a poor sleeper today. So I was always obsessed with these questions of why, and how, and where does this all mean, and where is it all going. But I grew up in an atheist environment, so I had no language to engage that in my young life. So I turned to the sciences, and I loved science like romantics. I was in love with Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And Einstein; people who talked about the cosmos in this really beautiful and profound way. I have a tattoo of the little dipper, and it looks like freckles, but it’s not. So if you ever see me and you think I have skin cancer, it’s actually a tattoo.
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: And then I pursued the sciences. When I went to Dartmouth, I wrote and studied about life on other planets. Because my idea was to talk about this, some profound question, but leaving school was feeling unsatisfied because it didn’t really get to the profundity I was looking for. Which is all the big hitter questions. You know?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: What is the universe actually made out of? What are human beings really? How do those things relate? So, coming into it now I realize that the people who talk about these things are religious people, and my whole life I had dismissed the religious and theological argument, and then I was like, well, I was dismissing it without giving it it’s fair due, so I read a couple of papers out of a theology journal. I was like, Stef, they’ve got a point. You better go learn!
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: So I enrolled in a seminary, actually, and I studied the philosophy of religion there. I took all my classes in the regular academy, I took all philosophy classes, but I was surrounded by profoundly religious people, and I came to really love the way religion can be done. There are ways that religion can be done that I think are very sad and horrible, but there are some ways that religion can be done that are just really phenomenal. So, today I study; again, the way that people try to understand the world. We use science and we use religion, and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on, and I try to figure out why we’re engaged in that quest, and how people end up coming at it from all these different angles, and what can I take from all of these different ways of navigating the world to sort of build a world view that feels good, that is scientifically coherent, that makes my heart flutter because it’s romantic about whatever is going on. So, that’s kind of what I do. I study people and how we might relate to the big questions, I guess is the best way to put it. I study the big questions. Maybe that’s way too broad, but that’s ok.
Liz Wolfe: No, I like it. But this is why this podcast could also be like 3 hours long, because I always love to hear what you have to say and just let it flow. But I guess we’re here to talk about your book. You say in my favorite section so far, you say in Strut.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: It’s the section entitled Strut. “The goal of this book is to empower you. It’s to light a fire deep in your spirit. It’s to give you the tools you need to nourish your body, make your body healthier, and come into a positive relationship with your body. My ultimate goal is to guide you into the thrill and excitement of being the woman inside it.” So, you got there.
Stefani Ruper: Yes.
6. How Stefani “got there” [34:08]
Liz Wolfe: How? It had to have been rewarding and amazing enough for you to write 300 pages plus about it.
Stefani Ruper: Yes. Great question. I did, I hated my body for a very long time. And sometimes, today, there are things about it that I still really hate. I forgive them, I still really hate it. You know, I’ve got these heart problems now because of the stress thing, but it’s not my body’s fault, right. And I’m heavier than I used to be, and I’m not the ideal body anymore, and it was easier to be the ideal body in our society, you know, and then I can still love myself, but all of a sudden I’m fighting against something. So how did I get here? I lost a bunch of weight in 2009. Fast. You know, 30 pounds in 3 months, which is a lot for somebody who’s 5 feet 2 inches tall. This was pre-paleo. And then I went paleo, and I was like, this is going to fix everything that just went wrong! Because that was when I stopped menstruating. And it didn’t. It didn’t do a thing. It maybe made it a little bit easier to starve myself, but {laughs}. And this was also when I had my fertility problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome, and acne, and I spent the next couple of years trying to figure out how I could fix those things and remain really fit. And it began to dawn on me that it was probably impossible, but I needed to try every avenue possible before I finally gave in and put on weight. You know, because I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to have clear skin, I wanted to have libido, I wanted to be this super fit, I can flip through a Victoria’s Secret magazine and see my abs better than I can see theirs, sort of thing.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: Which I did. I used to do. It felt really nice. So, that was where I was. I wanted it all, and that was {laughs} I said it a little bit before, I’ll say it again. Starving yourself to be thin is the easy way out. The hard way is to do the healthy thing and stand up for your body. Which is what I do now. And I started; maybe a good way to talk about this is that when I got thin, that sort of helped me eliminate some of my hatred of my body. I didn’t stare at my thighs and want to go all Nip/Tuck on them.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And I went traveling, and I got super flirtatious, and I’m a professional winker. That’s probably the thing I do best {laughs}
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: And I talk about that a little bit in the book, you know, flirting my way onto yachts in the Mediterranean sea. And stuff like that. So, it was a wild and a super fun time. This is also when I was a go-go dancer in Taiwan. I’ve been a dancer my whole life; that’s probably the most important thing that I do, actually, more than philosophy and writing. So I was a go-go dancer, and I got a lot of positive attention, but I was starting to suspect that it wasn’t because I was thin, it was because of the way I was acting because I was thin.
Liz Wolfe: Mmm.
Stefani Ruper: And that drove home the confidence lesson to me in a way that people telling me before had never really worked. Because I was all of a sudden walking the confidence walk, and I was like, this is awesome! You just put it out there and people respond. You know? And so that was a couple of a years ago, and I thought about it, have been thinking about it and working through it for a very long time since, and I would just say that it was another couple of years of really thinking and experiencing that and being this confident human being. My whole life, I’ve never been apologetic about who I am. Even in high school, one of our teachers had us pick an adjective to describe ourselves, and then he put spice at the end, for like the Spice Girls. And I was Proud Spice.
Liz Wolfe: I love that.
Stefani Ruper: I was a feisty little Randian, I don’t know if anyone here reads Ayn Rand, but I was all about her back then.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: She’s got some good things to say.
Liz Wolfe: Yes, of course.
Stefani Ruper: So I’ve never been apologetic about who I was, but I was about my body. And I hated it. So, it was pretty easy for me to learn how to transfer that to my body, relatively easy, I think compared to other people, because I really loved myself. Just not all of it. Also, in order to be unapologetic, you’ve kind of got to get forgiveness. At the very root. At the most genuine level. Because you have to forgive your “flaws” to stop apologizing for them. Flaws in air quotes.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: And I started gaining weight, and getting healthier, you know, getting my fertility back. But I really didn’t hit a consistent menstrual cycle until I gained weight, probably 6 months ago. Again, I gained some weight and got better, and then I gained it again, and that was when I was like, whoa! Alright. People see me differently now. I’m not even close to that skinny thing anymore. Liz, I went shopping this week, because I was fatting out of my fat pants.
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: And really not enjoying how hard it was to put them on, so I went shopping, and the pants I bought were size 6s, and for somebody who had been in double zeros, that was. Wow. That was eye opening. And the way that I managed to do that and really embrace that and love that today is to just hate {laughs} I think I cultivate this in the book a little bit, as well. You’ve got to really understand how oppressive and hard and hateful what our society is trying to do to you is. It is not your fault that you hate yourself. It’s because you grew up in this really heavily scrutinizing, objectifying, sexist whatever culture. It’s not your fault. And anger at that fuels my fire. Being around people who love me no matter what I look like fuels my fire. Knowing how good I feel; I have a really robust libido now, and I used to several years ago, and then it went down the drain, and having it back, I’m just, I am not giving that up again. No way. So, there are these elements that help me feel good. And I love my body first and foremost for what it does for me. I wouldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t have it, right? And only secondarily, tertiarily. Whoa.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: I’m surprised I got through that word I just made up. Tertiarily do I look at what it looks like specifically. And I would also say, as a final note, and then I’ll shut up because I’ve been talking for a long time, that I look different than I used to. Not better, not worse, but different. And I think that’s really important. I can’t beat myself up for the way I looked before. I can’t beat myself up for my infertility, and I can’t beat myself up for the way I look now. It’s both attractive, both equally worthy, but different. Before, I looked disciplined and toned, and that was the thing, kind of waify, very thin.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Very thin. And these days I’m a little bit sturdier. I’m super curvier. And it really is, it feels strange to be in a differently sized body. I feel like I look a little bit more like an adult, and that isn’t to say that people who are thin look like children. {laughs} But I think I kind of did, because it wasn’t my natural shape. And I think I look healthier. And when I put myself in my skin, and when I’m at home in my body and like a partner to my body, that’s what makes me excited to be in it. That’s the very first thing I say in the book. I try to define sexy, and I’m like, sexy is excited to be in the skin you’re in. It’s a feeling. It’s owning your skin and being excited to be there. When you love your body, and you forgive it, and you accept what you need to do to make yourself healthy and you try to get there, then you can look people in the eyes, and be like, “What?”
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: {laughs} What? This is me, and I’m not apologizing for that fact, because this is what’s best for me. And people love that. Once you start doing that. Once you start just leaping, the final step in every single step by step list I make is always, you’ve just got to go do it. Because that’s going to give you the data you need. It’s going to give you the experience you need to learn how positively people respond to confidence. And it’s not at all; it’s so, so, so little about how you look. Just the tinniest, tinniest little bit. And all about how you present yourself. I don’t care how big you are, I don’t care what’s going on with your skin or your hair. It is entirely about how good and confident you feel.
Liz Wolfe: I agree with that. I talk about loving yourself because you are amazing. Loving ones’ self because of the amazingness of that self. And I talk about doing that, loving yourself, not despite flaws or because one has “come to terms” with some perceived flaws. I talk a lot about making that process fun and just laughing and bringing joy to the process and just getting over all the stupid crap and realizing that it’s all ok.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: And being in your body, so one of the ways I’ve done that and talked about doing that is basically by dancing naked to Footloose by Kenny Loggins in front of the mirror. Or, not in front of the mirror, whatever.
Stefani Ruper: I knew I liked you for a reason.
Liz Wolfe: I’m telling you. And the fact, and you echo this I feel like in your book, that the only, you say this, actually, that the only person that determines sexy and what that means, is you.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: It’s not your partner, it’s not what somebody else thinks of you. Because until you own that joy, it’s not yours. And that’s not fun. It’s not fun to be chasing that all the time and realizing that owning that, and also being able to distribute it to other people.
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: You know, you want to show love to other people and to be able to distribute that. That’s the goal in the first place, so we have to stop chasing it. So part of my purpose, and what I’ve realized being in front of people and having a voice in this community, I’ve had to kind of isolate what I want to do and what I want people to take from my experience. I don’t want people to take from my experience that Liz has beaten and battered her body into submission to some social construct. Some socially reinforced ideal of perfect. I’m going to be who I am. I’m going to enjoy every moment. There’s absolutely nothing to apologize for in that. Whether or not it gets me to a place that people are comfortable with looking at a picture of me, right?
Stefani Ruper: Mm-hmm.
Liz Wolfe: So, I talk about redefining health, and I think this is part and parcel to that, and what matters to health is, am I feeling like I can start a family if I want to start one? How is my skin doing? Am I happy? And those are the 3 things that I was kind of chasing and that I hope to maybe… I think those are better markers of success than fitting some kind of socially reinforced ideal and they can certainly take some of the value away from arbitrary physical standards or personality standards, or whatever we are battling ourselves to try and be. But, in talking to you, I also see that, again, it’s all ok. Not being fertile, struggling with that, struggling with your skin, as I have in my life, not feeling happy, being in that in between. That’s ok too. I never want to make people feel bad, and I’m thinking about this now, about, well I’m not menstruating, or I’m not this or I’m not that. Whatever you are, it’s ok. And I think what your book has really put into my face thus far is, it’s the observing. The being an observer of what you’re thinking and doing and why. Being aware of your thoughts; specifically negative thoughts, which you talk about. And what we’re disseminating to others by virtue of that. Maybe what we’re representing or what we care to represent. I think it’s that real introspection that you talk about. And maybe that’s what will give us the most solid footing in becoming healthier.
Stefani Ruper: Absolutely. I don’t remember who I heard say this, or maybe it was in one of those, new year thing that happened in January, but somebody said, the next wave of the health revolution, and the one that’s going to stick, is all going to be psychological.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Because, and again, it’s in this book. We know how to do it physiologically now. More or less. Obviously, there are specific health issues we all have to troubleshoot, right? But I think we’re getting pretty close to figure out, in general, what we need to be healthy human beings.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: That’s why I eat a paleo diet.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: I have a hard time saying that. But it’s true. So, we know this. And I am willing to bet everything I own that most of the people who eat fast foods and processed foods know that that’s not the way to be healthy. I think most people in the world know that natural foods are the way to go, even if we all define natural differently. So we all kind of know that, but people still aren’t doing it. So, how do we help each other do it? That’s the next step. And this whole thing you’re talking about; we need to define health. We need to define sexy. We need to understand why we want to be healthy and why we want to be sexy, and I don’t want people to think that picking up this book is going to be some huge introspective or huge philosophical task, because I like to talk with big words. I would consider it more of an inspirational thing. It tells you how to do it. You don’t have to figure out how to do it on your own. So we have to, like you said, accept that thing and focus on health and focus on ourselves and focus on understanding ourselves, because what are you going to forgive if you don’t know what to forgive? And what are you going to accept and what are you going to focus on. There is a level of thinking that is required, I think, in order to be on a journey at all, of any sort.
Liz Wolfe: Yes. And here’s a really particular strength of your book, too. You’ve alluded to this a couple of times. You do give itemized strategies for really taking your level of self knowledge and understanding and forgiveness and all of this to the next level. This is a practical book as much as it is an inspiration, holy crap, a new light just burst into my brain type of book.
Stefani Ruper: {laughing}
Liz Wolfe: Because it’s everything. You give these itemized strategies. So people are like, alright, make it concrete. What do I need to do to actually do this. To stop talking about it and actually do it, like you were just saying. It’s in your book.
Stefani Ruper: It is. And again, you’re right, it’s kind of big, because that’s on top of, the biggest chapter of the book is all about troubleshooting your skin, troubleshooting your ovaries, overcoming PMS, losing weight, so there’s all these things. And all these things have itemized lists. These are some things you do to overcome these things. And so, you’ve got to do the rest and the other parts too. Whatever, you can skip whatever parts of the book you want.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Because some people I think will prefer the middle chapters where I talk about these specific things, and I think the specific health issues and whatnot, and I think other people will prefer chapters, parts 1 and 5, which are my favorite because they’re the ones that get all fiery.
Liz Wolfe: Yeah.
Stefani Ruper: I get on my soapbox; I live on a soapbox. And that soapbox, I attempt to speak inspirationally throughout the book, and with a loving voice, and in those chapters is when it really comes out and I provide the, here are some tips, here are some things you can do to help you love yourself. And I define different kinds of self-love, which I think is important to kind of understand. And I talk, like I said, there are 7 steps to fearlessness.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: Well, here are the 7steps, here we go. So, I do what I can. It’s big.
Liz Wolfe: You’ve done it phenomenally well. I did not expect anything less. I hope in some way I’ve done your work justice with this podcast. I think sometimes it’s more powerful to know the person, necessarily, than to hear the sales pitch for the book. And I really feel like you are so willing to do that, to give that out. I feel like perhaps it’s important to you that people understand who you are as much as the work that you want to put out there.
Stefani Ruper: If they want to, I welcome it. Again, I talk in the book, how many sentences do I say these days that start “in the book.”
Liz Wolfe: {laughing} I know!
Stefani Ruper: Right, you know. You know very well. I talk about fear and love and vulnerability and openness. And I don’t think any change will ever be made in our own hearts or in the world if we don’t start opening up and being vulnerable first.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Somebody’s got to do it, right?
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: You can’t lock eyes with somebody and have you both look away. One person’s got to say hi.
Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.
Stefani Ruper: Or one person’s got to step up and be like, these are my struggles! So, I am principally, 100% open human being. I’ll answer any question anybody ever asks me. And probably give it up voluntarily more often than people would care to hear.
Liz Wolfe: {laughs}
Stefani Ruper: {laughs} But I think it’s critical to be honest about what our very human selves are so that other people can; it sort of gives people permission to accept themselves as well and say, ah, she accepts herself even though she really sucks at X, Y, and Z and everything else about living.
Liz Wolfe: {laughing}
Stefani Ruper: And I think that being confident and feeling sexy and being sexy is the exact same way. And I write a lot on my blog. I’m like, my name is Stefani Ruper, and I am sexy damn it all to hell. Right?
Liz Wolfe: Yeah.
Stefani Ruper: And in doing such liberates other people, I think, to do the same. And it’s very important for me. Because I want people to be liberated and happy and free.
Liz Wolfe: This is a book that will move you.
Stefani Ruper: Liz!
Liz Wolfe: Truly. We can talk about the content all day long, but it’s what you feel when you close the book. What you feel like you’ve gotten from it. And that’s what this book is, and I think you’ve done a spectacular job. And we’re rounding out an hour, so tell me how you’d like to close this out. What did I not ask you that you wanted me to ask you? What would you like to say?
7. Final thoughts from Stefani [54:50]
Stefani Ruper: The final part, the final little section of the book, is called Something Revolutionary. And, I believe in this because I really desperately want to and think that we can radically overhaul the western woman. And it’s not an easy task. And like Reinhold Niebuhr says, anything worth accomplishing cannot be done in a lifetime. Therefore, we must be saved by hope, and faith, and love. I believe there’s a lot wrong, but when we do these things, like step up and own our own beauty, and our own power, and all of these different things, we have to do it together. The more you do it, the more people in your life will be able to do it. And isn’t that a beautiful thing? What kind of world do you want your daughter’s to grow up in? So much of this I do this for myself, but I do this because I think that we need it, and we’ve got to do it together. I think that’s a good way to round this out. Again, you can get all the tricky things about different supplements, and stuff. That’s in there. But this is going to come along with it too, and I think you might really like it.
Liz Wolfe: I must wholeheartedly agree. So this book is Sexy By Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Lifelong Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence by Stefani Ruper. It’s on sale now; pick it up, and be sure to visit Stefani’s blog, for more powerful insight. Thanks for listening.

Diane & Liz

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