Were our childhood heroes, like He-Man and Captain Planet, jacked up on steroids?
We’re here with Noelle Tarr and Stefani Ruper, co-hosts of the Well-Fed Women Podcast and authors of the brand new book Coconuts and Kettlebells, to get to the bottom of all of this.
If you’ve ever suffered from body image issues, disordered eating or even exercising too much, this episode is definitely for you.
Noelle is a nutritional therapy practitioner, an NSCA certified personal trainer, and a new mom. And Stefani Ruper is a past guest of the show, creator of PaleoForWomen.com, and author of Sexy by Nature.
On this show with Noelle and Stefani, you’ll learn:
- Why wild animals don’t worry about dieting
- Problems with ketosis
- Why the Special K diet was a very bad idea
- The importance of eating cake
- The low-down on women and carbs
- And so much more!
Noelle Tar & Stefani Ruper: The Importance of Eating Cake Sometimes
Abel: Today we’re actually in three separate time zones, separated by oceans. It’s quite incredible that we can do this.
I’m psyched to have you both on the show.
Noelle: Yay! Thanks for having us.
Abel: Absolutely. There’s a lot to dig into.
Most health, diet, and fitness books, really focus on limiting things and giving you a minimum amount of foods that you can eat. Mostly making your life miserable.
You folks do the exact opposite. So, tell us a little bit about why that is.
Stefani: We have both been in the health and fitness space for several years now and have seen it go through these changes.
Low-fat diets, low-carb diets. First it was 1800 calories a day to diet, then it was 1500, then it was 1200.
And we’re like “how much lower can you go”?
Stefani: Especially when we’re talking about things like carbs and fats, we realized that everybody has a different particular need.
So instead of saying, “You just have to cut this out”, let’s all meet like a bare minimum of what we need. Get all of our specific macronutrients.
Your body physiologically can use some protein, it can use some carbs, it can use some fats. We can talk about ketosis in a minute.
Abel: Oh, we will.
Stefani: But we need these things, right? Let’s fill in everything else that we want, and stop thinking it’s so psychologically different to think about your diet in terms of, “I can’t eat more than this”, as opposed to, “I want to eat this much, I want to make sure I eat this much and then if I eat more, okay.”
It’s like we’re punishing ourselves for eating more.
But maybe we should be celebrating it, especially if it’s high quality, really nourishing stuff.
Noelle: I think this concept which Stefani originally came up with, which is what we’re coining is to meet your minimums.
It’s focusing on adding more nutrients to your diet.
In our society, it’s all about how little can you eat, how much weight can you lose, how much you can workout. And that’s what we base our worth off of.
A lot of women in our community are just eating too little and it actually causes a lot of physiological issues, because not only are you not getting enough calories, you’re also not getting enough nutrients.
We’re really trying to focus on having you meet these minimum requirements of fat, protein, and carbs, which we think is a great baseline to start with. And then you get to tweak things based on what works for you, your physiology, your conditions, your diseases, your hormonal issues.
So, you can add more carbs, or your can add more fat for a lower carb diet. And we teach people how to create a plan that works for them.
At the same time, people are like, “Well, how do I know if I’m eating in a way that works for me?”
So, that’s where we came up with the minimums, and helping people figure out if certain foods, like gluten and dairy, and refined oils are causing issues.
Abel: But you guys didn’t just make this stuff up. You’ve been through the ringer and have tried a ton of things, right?
Do you want to just share a couple tidbits for the people out there.
Noelle: Yes, we both come from a paleo background and have learned so much from that.
Stefani and I have been doing this since we were young teenagers. In junior high school, that’s when we started dieting.
I did have a lot of disordered eating issues and stuff like that. Again, trying to restrict and restrict. Eating really low calorie, low fat. That was the thing of the late 90s in the early 2000s.
I’m sure Stef has tried a lot of other things, too.
Stefani: I did the Special K diet. As in the breakfast cereal, not the street drug.
Abel: And now you’re going to be a doctor.
Stefani: Of Philosophy.
Abel: Even worse. 😉
Stefani: Yeah, I did that because Special K had a diet. It was the Special K cereal with red berries for women. There are all these women in their skinny jeans on the back cover.
You could have a bowl for breakfast, a bowl for lunch, and then at dinner you could basically have greens.
Abel: How was that different psychologically than how you both are eating now?
Stefani: So for me, it was a long road with a lot of patience for myself, and a lot of serious reckoning.
You know, learning exactly what I’m doing and why. Facing up to the demons we have in our culture, and that we’ve internalized for own personal circumstances.
It took me a while, but nowadays, it’s… I just had a piece of cake or two with my dinner. I live on the Oxford University campus and they make really nice cakes, and friends buy them, and then if you don’t eat them, you’re rude.
But I can do that, and then continue. I wouldn’t have done that in the past.
After you eat a piece of a lemon custard pudding, as they would say here in the UK, then you would feel terrible about it and that would make you either want to skip your next meal or go for a 10K run the next day.
There were all these behaviors that we would use to make up for and remediate the crushing guilt I would feel, and fear that I was going to gain weight and that nobody would love me or whatever.
Then you would do that thing, and you would get really hungry or be obsessing about the fact that you couldn’t eat, and then that would make you want to eat.
And then it just cycles into itself. It’s something that’s really widespread, and really unfortunate.
But if you learn to be comfortable with the idea of gaining weight, if you learn to be comfortable with the idea of trusting your body. I think everybody fears that if you don’t restrict, everything is going to go to pieces.
But if you learn to trust your body, and slowly take steps, then you learn like, “Oh yeah, I can eat cake and it’s fine. I’ll just eat again next time I’m hungry.”
And it’s so liberating and empowering.
You know how much of my energy in my life I wasted feeling bad about myself? I refuse to do that anymore, I don’t have time for that.
Abel: Yeah, and you’re not the only one.
Noelle, how’s it different for you, in terms of the different things you tried as a teenager, the way that you were eating or the way that we’re all kind of brainwashed into thinking about eating or not eating?
How is it different now that you’ve strategically arranged the way that you live, based on experience?
Noelle: I think the best way to put it is, food and fitness does not control my life anymore. It used to.
I can’t tell you how many compliments I used to get about how healthy I was and how healthy I looked and how lean I was.
“You’re so good. How are you always so good?”
It just fed that ego. And a lot of women, they feel like, “Oh gosh, this is where my worth is involved in how much I ran yesterday and how little I can eat.”
And so that honestly controlled my life. I found my power in this ability to hyper control my foods. And even when I eventually moved into eating Paleo, it was still very much a disordered relationship with both food and fitness.
Instead of seeing food as a way to nourish my body, I wanted to control everything. I perceived that if I could control my food and I could workout all the time, I would control my body.
I could control the way it looked, and I could therefore control what other people thought about me and they would think that I was super hot or lean, and they would think that I was better.
Breaking the Shame Cycle
As I got a little older and I met my husband and got married, it was kind of like a switch for me. I was able to pull back the curtain and see what was going on, and realized that most of my actions were driven by shame. And shame that was coming from media.
A lot of media is, “Get rid of that flabby back fat and get rid of your cellulite.”
And it’s really designed to make us feel terrible about ourselves.
Honestly, with the past of dieting as I was growing up, I just thought that’s what you needed to do. And that your worth as a human being was in your ability to control your food and your fitness and the way that you looked.
So, it was really empowering for me to be able to unpack all that stuff. When I looked around, I saw so many other people in this cycle, which we call the “shame cycle.”
You tell yourself, “I’m not eating hamburgers anymore because hamburgers aren’t whole 30 or paleo, or whatever.”
Or “I’m not going to eat bread anymore.” And then you restrict all bread and you don’t eat it.
But then, our mind works in incredible ways and it is designed to keep us alive and to keep us fed. When you start restricting a lot, not with the mentality of, “I’m doing this because I feel better doing this.”
For example, I completely avoid both gluten and dairy because I feel so much better doing that.
But if I were to say, “Well, I’m just going to avoid hamburgers because X, Y, Z diet says I shouldn’t do it.” You avoid, and you avoid, and you can’t stop thinking about what you’re trying to avoid.
And eventually that restriction, whether you’re trying to eat super low-calorie or no carbohydrates, you eventually get to a breaking point.
Most people do, where you fall off the wagon and you say, “I have to have the hamburger. I have to eat carbohydrates again.”
And you do, and then you feel like crap like Stefani was talking about, and you feel guilty. So you have to remedy that guilt.
As human beings, we hate guilt and we hate shame, and so we want to get rid of it. And the best way for people to get rid of it is, of course, to tighten the reins again and get back on that wagon and say, “This time, I’m not going to eat hamburgers or fries.”
And further the restriction or go out and workout for 2 hours the next day. And the whole cycle starts over again.
What are we doing?
We’re restricting, we’re over-exercising, we’re hyper-focused on food and fitness, and eventually, we’re going to fall off the wagon again.
That’s the shame cycle we’re trying to help people break free from.
We’re trying to say, “Look, there is no wagon. You’re not on or off.” Life is a journey.
So, if you end up eating a piece of cake, you can just go about your day and eat nourishing foods and not feel guilty or beat yourself up about it. Because that emotional turmoil is so detrimental to your overall health, and it causes chronic stress which can cause chronic health issues.
So, it’s all about combining physical health with mental and emotional health, and really seeing that as something we should be pursuing together, as opposed to just sacrificing our mental and emotional health to pursue physical health.
Abel: That was an excellent answer. It highlights a point that I’d like to make.
For the past year now, we’ve been living in Colorado in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by many more animals than people. We feed a lot of the birds suet or nuts, seeds, and whatever, and our dog oftentimes will eat the bird seed, and the deer and the elk sometimes come by. Even skunks come by.
But never have any of these animals thought about food like that. None of them have ever been a head case about food, or worried about eating too much.
They’ve worried about eating too little, that’s probably as much as they’ve ever thought about it. They’re just out there thinking, “This is a delicious peanut.”
But how far are humans from that psychologically, when our bodies are basically the same?
I think that’s q startling thing to admit about ourselves, but you have to admit a few things before you can make progress.
One of the biggest stepping stones you have to get over to really improve your life is admitting that maybe you didn’t have all the answers, right?
Stefani: Yah, that’s fascinating. And something that we talk about a lot, especially coming from the Paleo perspective. What is the body meant to eat? How is what we’re doing physically different from what humans used to do physically?
Who we are psychologically is different and I think you’re absolutely right, animals do things very naturally and they don’t have anxiety except for very specific reasons.
We are in this soup of all of these different concerns that we have to manage. Primarily, feeling good in our community, not dealing with shame and guilt, feeling like people will love us.
I know I said that about myself, but you just see that in women. You hear it in our communities all the time. Everybody is so desperate to be validated and affirmed. We’re the first people ever to think that starving yourself is the way to do that.
Like you said, people might have worried about not having enough, which is key to what we’re trying to help switch for people.
Abel: Especially for women. Just the idea of a three-year-old’s calorie intake being about 1200 calories a day, which I read in your book. And a lot of people are trying to eat less than that on a daily basis for extended periods of time.
And a lot of these people call themselves “healthier,” and are praised by their friends and family for “being so good.”
How do we get past that?
Noelle: I wish I had the answer. That’s essentially why Stef and I started the podcast. We wanted to bridge the gap between being realistic, and let’s also pursue health.
Let’s pursue health in a way that is about health, and not about how can we manipulate our bodies so that we can feel better or look good according to society’s standards.
And I really do think it starts with not wrapping morality into food, not seeing food as good or bad. Just seeing everything is okay and there are foods that are more nourishing and there are foods that aren’t.
And if you engage with foods that aren’t nourishing, do so intentionally. It’s not going to end your life.
I think Paleo and the Whole30 crowd and with all these diet concepts, we get really hung up on the small things. We get hung up on Carrageenan, and I get it. I understand that there are some things that are processed and synthetic and things that we generally want to avoid.
But long-term, I don’t think that Carrageenan in the coconut milk is going to be what we regret at the end of our life. It’s not like, we look back and think, “Gosh, I wish I would have just gotten cleaner coconut milk.”
And so it’s really about trying to have a more balanced approach, where we see our emotional and mental health as something to really pursue just as hard as we pursue nutrition, and what type of fitness we do.
In other words, making sure that your food and your fitness is enjoyable and that you love it and it’s something that’s a part of your life, not controlling it.
Abel: How has the idea of having an ideal body composition changed for you?
When most people get into health or fitness they have that in their minds. Of course, as the years go by and life circumstances change, so does your idea often of what your ideal body would be, your ideal health would be, so how has that changed for each of you?
Stefani: Oh, this is a really important and interesting question. We do a lot of work on morality and food, on self-love, on psychology of eating. But we’re also not against weight loss and we’re not against making changes to your body including your physical appearance.
That’s something that we can all do in a way that is psychologically healthy and I think it’s key to acknowledge that we believe in these things in part because they’re efficient.
It is important, but we’re not saying that self-love is necessarily the end of the road. It’s also really important for your physical health in the long run, if you choose to sustainably maintain a “healthier” or more normal weight.
And so, for me, I managed my weight throughout my life in a way that was very painful, very emotionally painful.
Nowadays it’s much easier. My body really likes more fat. I’m like a polar bear.
I’m looking over at the dresses in my closet right now, and nowadays I do have to be a little bit careful to just make sure that I keep fitting in my dresses and I’m happy.
I don’t want to contribute to the rat race, contribute to that competitive cycle of, “Oh, I have to be the leanest woman.”
Because also, like Noelle, women used to come up to me all the time and be like, “Wow, you look so intimidating. Wow. Look at your body.”
This guy’s like, “Wow. I can see the vein on your stomach. That’s so badass.”
But I was starving myself, and I don’t want to do that.
I want to be able to set an example where I don’t look emaciated. I don’t even necessarily want to look like I’m a fitness buff. I don’t want to fit into this “ideal,” precisely because I want to just exude comfort.
People who have young kids notice this, too. So for me, now the ideal is being committed to my work, passionate about helping people, and yes, taking care of my body and trusting it.
I do like to sit and feel comfortable and attractive enough. And then go out and be a good human.
Abel: You know, we’re all kind of brainwashed to some degree in terms of what is supposed to be that ideal when we’re growing up.
Not that the ideal is always Barbie, but it’s something like that. The proportions are like that.
For men, for me growing up, who were my heroes? Who do you see on TV?
Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was jacked on drugs. He-Man looks like he was jacked on drugs, too. Even Captain Planet looked like he was taking steroids or something.
So the idea that a dude would come up to you and be like, “that’s a cool vein on your stomach” is because we’re all brainwashed, too.
It’s like we have this ridiculous idea of what we should look like. That we should be strong.
And it’s almost like women are taught to starve themselves, and men are taught that if they don’t eat more than the guy next to them, they’re not as much of a man.
So there’s this weird thing where we all kind of have to grow out of it, but also admit to ourselves that maybe those aren’t the ideals that we want to pass onto the next generation.
So, I appreciate that there are examples now, especially people in the health field like you guys, who aren’t bringing that obsessive mentality to the whole thing.
Because especially when it comes to fitness, the idea that more is better—more starving yourself or more drugs to make your muscles bigger, or whatever ethically-challenged people might be thinking and taking advantage of when it comes to the brainwashed masses.
So anyway, I’d like to shift gears a little bit because there’s so much hype these days.
I think we started our blogs and podcasts around the same time, and the internet has changed, these communities have changed, these movements have evolved or devolved and there’s so much hype now. Especially around Keto.
I would love for you guys to riff a little bit on that because I have a lot of beef with it these days.
A lot of people are getting into it for the wrong reasons, doing it the wrong way, and marketers have really taken advantage of it.
Ranting About Keto
Noelle: Do you want to be angry first or shall I…
Stefani: I’ll let you.
Noelle: We thought we were over this. We did this already.
Ketosis was this thing like six years ago, and Paleo was like a very low-carb movement. Back then, it was low carb and then a couple of years into that we began to advocate for like, carbs aren’t the end of the world.
And then people are like, “Oh hmm. Maybe some people can do really well on carbs.”
And we’re like, “Okay cool, we’ve arrived at the Promised Land.” We make the Paleo Women Podcast, we’re just chilling out, we’re sipping our margaritas with lots of sugar in them and then it didn’t even come slowly. Ketosis is just like, “Dang, it was back.”
Abel: This time it was the Products Land. That was the difference for me,. The endless amount of coffee bombs, fat bombs and keto powders.
I mean, you guys probably get this, too, but I have so many things that are sent to our house, and they’re just garbage. Who would ever consume this? What is this?
I don’t want it. Anyway, that’s a mini rant right there.
Noelle: Thank you. Like you were saying, Abel, about the cream cheese diet.
There’s a difference between quality and controlling your macronutrients, and I fully believe that Ketosis can be a very healthy intervention for some people, especially if you’re working with brain chemistry issues.
For some people, if you’ve had a significantly higher body fat percentage for the majority of your life, yeah sure, try it if you want.
But why is controlling a specific macronutrient more healthy than making sure that your body has all the vitamin A, B, C, D, and minerals, and all of these things?
Carbohydrates are a very nice source of fuel, especially if you’re really active. We learned all of these things, and to reiterate we’re not saying everybody has to eat a lot of carbs.
Maybe Ketosis works for some people in your audience, but acknowledging that it’s not the thing that necessarily works for everybody.
Abel: Yah, like why do you have to pee on sticks every day? All your millimolar action, I mean seriously, it’s ridiculous.
It’s a very Western thing, where you’re defining what you’re doing by this tiny little piece of paper like “I’m Keto. I’m in ketosis”.
I tried peeing on sticks a couple of times. I’m like “I really don’t understand how people are doing this every day.”
A lot of people would give me crap because they’re like, “You’re fat-burning man, you can’t eat vegetables and starches.”
I’m like “What are you talking about?”
This is what we’ve been saying for 7 years now.
People love to think that these new fatty things are cool, but ketosis is not a fad. It’s a state of the body that we’re in sometimes.
And so people who are getting into it thinking that they’re keto because they’re buying more keto products, or because they’re eating more cream cheese or butter or what have you. It’s a big problem.
Like I was saying before, that skunk and those animals have never thought about any of this. They hardly ever put on weight. Some of the ground squirrels are putting on some weight because of those peanuts, but for the most part wild animals never have to think about it. It’s not a problem.
And we are nuts about it and so easily brainwashed into thinking that the next hype or the next big thing is going to solve all of our problems.
It’s going to be like you said, “the Promised Land,” when in fact the whole time we should have just been eating our vegetables like our parents told us way back in the day.
Noelle: Now it’s like every other person is a keto expert and they’re leading people into this way of life without really understanding the potential damage and pitfalls.
And so we have a lot of women who are like, “Yeah, I’m keto, but now I don’t have my period.” So, they lose their fertility.
They are suffering from chronic cortisol or they have thyroid issues, because they’re not eating enough calories and or they’re eating solo carbohydrate and it’s not right for their body.
It’s not right for my body. I just got all of my blood work done with my functional medicine practitioner and my metabolic numbers are fantastic and I eat a relatively higher carbohydrate diet.
Of course, it’s all quality carbohydrates, but there’s such a huge difference between high fructose corn syrup and sweet potatoes.
A lot of times people throw the science out. “Look at how unhealthy these high carbohydrate diets are.”
And it’s like, “What were they eating?” It’s a lot of crap.
If you really want to live healthy and sustainably, is this what you want in 10 years, 15 years down the road? Do you want to still be peeing on sticks? Do you still want to be eating bacon and butter for breakfast, is that cool?
If you do know and that works for you, and you feel really good doing that, great. But we think more about what’s sustainable. What do you going to want to be doing in 10 or 15 years. That has to work into it as well.
Abel: Yes, and how do you feel?
Being physically active is really tied into being a mentally healthy person in a lot of cases.
According to some studies, 30 minutes of exercise is basically the equivalent of taking pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs. And that physical activity is directly tied to fueling yourself.
So, what happens to you guys when you go too long without carbs, or you’ve not really hit the numbers that you need to hit?
Stefani: You know, I still suffer when I don’t eat enough. I have trouble sleeping at night, I wake up in the middle of the night if I haven’t eaten enough.
If I go 10 hours without eating during the day, being active during the day and sometimes I can have fat in there, and this still happens.
I get breakouts and I worked very, very hard to make my skin recover from what I did to it.
I went to Paleo(fx) one year and I went on stage and I was, “I eat 12 apples a day.” I wasn’t even lying.
Abel: I wasn’t there for that talk.
Stefani: No, you weren’t. And you know what? It was a part of my effort to eat more without gaining weight.
Abel: You have to find the edges before you find the sweet spot.
Stefani: Yes, it did take me awhile to find the sweet spot and I did. There are now no apples in my diet, but anyway.
Abel: Zero apples?
Stefani: I know, my life is tragic. No, now I have bananas and grapes which used to be on like Stef’s fat list, and now I eat them abundantly. Yeah, progress.
My metabolic numbers were great. Maybe some people need the help of something like ketosis, but it’s also important to bear in mind that long-term ketosis is not going to solve your insulin resistance problems.
Stefani: It can help you control them in the short run, it can help you keep your levels lower. But in the long run, what we need to do is reduce inflammation, heal your gut, and that will provide a basis for you to be able to eat carbs in the long run.
But if you just stop eating carbs, it’s not actually going to heal your body.
Abel: That’s a good point. And you don’t want to jump into any of these things without really knowing what it is. I think the vast majority of people who do that are trained by the media machine.
But, I mean, didn’t we learn from Atkins?
What’s the difference between Atkins and Keto? Has anyone even asked themselves that recently?
Because even if you look back in the history of it, the original Atkins didn’t even omit vegetables, according to those original books. So, it’s so easy to get carried away.
Bread Lover, or Butter Lover?
Abel: But one of the things I loved in particular about the approach to your book is the bread lover and butter lover thing.
Can you guys talk about that a little bit?
Stefani: Yes, we can. I love these phrases.
We did have a little bit of back and forth with our publisher about how we wanted to label whether you’re a bread or butter lover. And what we mean by this is either a carb lover or a fat lover.
I’m the carb lover, obviously—12 apples a day. And Noelle is the fat lover. And we cutely labeled them bread and butter.
Abel: It is cute.
Stefani: We do what we can.
And we help people figure out what works best for them. Maybe you’re not somebody who’s meant to be doing ketosis. I’m definitely not.
Noelle: There was a lot of back and forth about bread and butter, mostly, because bread and butter is not included in the program.
But the whole idea is to test foods out. And so we tell people, “Let’s pull out the big four”, which is gluten, dairy, vegetable oils, and refined sugars.
Those are really the big issues that we see causing the most physiological issues with people. So we remove those for four weeks and we have meal plans.
And this is the real genius behind what we do. We meet those minimums and then follow either the bread lover meal plan or the butter lover meal plan.
The butter lover meal plan is a higher fat approach and the meals are more fat-heavy and it’s just a lower carbohydrate approach.
And the bread lover plan is a higher carbohydrate approach.
And of course, we’ve talked about quality and what that means, but we give people the freedom to experiment with following a higher carbohydrate diet or a higher fat diet.
And here are some of those physiological conditions to adjust for each plan. It’s great to follow a higher carb diet if you are trying to get your fertility back or you are pregnant and/or nursing. You’re going to need a higher caloric and a higher carb diet.
You’re going to need more carbohydrates if you’re doing a ton of workouts, or you’re doing a lot of high intensity workouts.
And so we give people guidance. “Hey, this is when you want to eat a higher carb diet. This is when you want to maybe experiment with the higher fat diet”.
And then we give people the freedom to meet those minimum caloric requirements, which we say is around 2000 calories a day.
Of course, that can change based on the person, and based on activity levels. But let’s shoot for that and focus on healing and nourishing your body, and eating more fat or eating more carbohydrate based on how you feel, and what works for you in your physiological conditions.
So it’s just giving people the freedom to take back their power. Create the food, and also focus intuitively.
And I love that Steph focuses on this, but she’s like, “What makes you happy, what do you enjoy?” Because that has to be factored into it, too.
Abel: A lot of people are pretty quick to take on the identity of Paleo or Keto, to use those examples. But fewer people, it seems, really identify the things that they like.
Do I like the fattier more indulgent foods or do I really like getting my carbs on? That’s the question that I ask myself fairly often, depending on how I feel.
Sometimes I eat sourdough bread, which we’ve been making recently in a really old school way. Soaked oats sometimes, but not every day or even most of the time.
Steph, to use your example, it’s that slice of cake. You put that next to the 12 apples, and the 12 apples have way more sugar, way more calories.
But if you said “no” to that cake, you might feel like you’re being rude to the people around you in England and you’re also, like you said, depriving yourself of something that you really want.
So, don’t think about the white polar bear and all you think about is that polar bear or that cake.
So, it’s important to also see food as a kind of ritual offering to yourself, to your own psychology. What is going to make me a little bit happier? What’s going to make me feel good?
That can easily be taken advantage of, right? But it is important to save a little bit for yourself, for your own sanity.
Because back in the day, let’s see, let’s go back to the 1950s when most people did not have weight problems like we do today. It’s not like two-thirds of people were overweight or obese. It was a much smaller number and everyone was making pies and eating bread and having a bunch of flour and fried food and stuff like that.
We need to go a little bit deeper, more meta, more into the psychology of it, and the emotion of it, like you guys do.
So, a tip of the hat for the work that you are doing, not just the podcast, but all of it. I know how much work it is, and it’s very much needed no more than ever.
I do get a bit frustrated by the lack of progress sometimes. So it’s always great to get back in touch with people who are doing really great work.
Noelle: Can I tip my hat to you real quick? The first time that I ever heard Stefani Ruper was on your podcast, Abel.
Noelle: I was searching for podcasts that had women that were talking about Paleo. This is six years ago when I really only knew about Robb Wolf.
I found the Balanced Bites podcast and I found this woman named Stephanie Ruper and I listened to her and I was like, “I gotta talk to this girl. We’re on the same track.”
Stefani: And now she runs the show.
Noelle: I want to be working. I said, “We’ve got to do something together.”
Yeah, isn’t that cool? I was just thinking about that right before we started recording.
I’m like, “I’m pretty sure I found Stefani on Abel’s Podcast.”
So, hats off to you.
Abel: Wow, that’s nuts.
It’s different now, and we need good people to keep on keeping on, and I really appreciate what you’re doing.
How a Culture of Abundance Makes You Feel Deprived
Abel: So we’re coming up on time, but let’s see, there were so many things that I wanted to ask you guys.
Let’s talk for a second about cultural differences. Stefani, you can start this one off.
What are some of the cultural differences in eating or in body image between Europe and the U.S.?
Stefani: I think it varies between every country. The U.S. is really anxious about a lot of things that other people in the world just aren’t, or aren’t in the same way.
I think that’s because of the abundance there. There’s this culture with more and more and more, and then we have to say less, less, less, less to ourselves, right?
We’re being tempted with all these products and then we have to deny ourselves.
And that happens less in the places that I’ve lived and traveled to.
I remember living in Beijing for a bit, and then in Taiwan. And there you would get a sweet. And then I would come home to the States and I would have a candy and I would just clench up, because it’s so, so, so sweet.
And the culture of abundance is really not the same here in Europe. For example, I’m in a dining hall, and we all sit in and eat together, like every day. It’s like Harry Potter.
Abel: The ritual of eating is really sad in America.
When you go to other places and they literally pray before a single piece of rice lands on their tongue. It’s so fundamentally different.
But I would definitely encourage people to travel, especially to more exotic places, because you start to see the truth we’re all raised in. What we’re taught in America is not so much the truth in other places, it’s very much dependent.
It seems like Americans, more than ever, have been kind of uprooted from all of their traditions and it’s really encouraging to see them maintained in other places.
The idea that eating should be a cultural event, that you should be somewhat reverent when you’re eating, instead of thinking like, “Oh, this is going to make me fat.” Right?
That’s the first thing that most Americans think of, if they’re even thinking about what they’re eating, right?
It’s just like, “This is going to make me fat.”
And these are the healthy people.
So, let’s see if we can sneak in one more. Do you guys have any little rant that you want to get out? Noelle, I’m sure you must.
Stefani: I will keep my mouth shut because I’ve just talked a lot.
Abel: I know you both have good stuff to say.
Noelle: I can do a little rant. Gosh, I just had my daughter and she’s a year old now.
Abel: Oh, congratulations.
Noelle: This past year has been a totally life-changing experience.
I was really into fitness before, and to be brutally honest, I’ve had to pretty much take the whole year off just.
I used to find my identity in what I was lifting and how much I was working out. It’s really been eye-opening to rest and not get fat or lose my identity. I’m able to find my identity in other things.
I think our culture, especially this whole crossfit culture that I was apart of for years, it’s about going hard and doing more. And I just want to just give a little ode to rest days and taking your rest when you need it.
Sometimes, that means taking a month or a year off, depending on what health conditions you’re dealing with and if you had a baby.
In the presence of chronic stress, exercise can cause more stress. We have a whole chapter on fitness in our book which talks about how to create a routine that’s conducive to your life.
Not, “What’s that person saying that I should be doing?” And instead saying, “What’s going to work for me today?”
And some days it’s sleeping in, you know?
So, really, it’s a huge thing for me and I think it’s one of those things that I’m trying to push a little bit more, which is: It’s okay to have seasons off.
It’s okay to have seasons of rest. And we need it as human beings.
If we look back in our history, my grandmother wasn’t eating keto or doing crossfit, and my grandmother is still around in her 90s.
So, that’s not the secret. I think it’s actually more so in resting and getting full recovery from life.
Abel: Yes. sleep and get that rest. Absolutely.
I can vouch for that. I didn’t record a new episode of this show for almost a year and a half. This is the first week that I’m recording new episodes.
I didn’t post to Instagram for a year and a half. I didn’t post to almost anything for over six months. We didn’t have internet.
And that was so important. I do that every few years, it seems like. You just kind of take a break for your own sanity to revisit the things that you love.
Whether it’s exercise and eating a certain way, or cooking, or recording shows like this. It’s really important to honor your own mental health and your own emotional health.
Because if you’re not totally believing in it, if you’re not doing it for the right reasons, whether it’s dieting or something like this, then it’s not going to work out that well. It’s not going to do you any favors, or anyone else any favors. So, it’s really important.
Now we are out of time. But before we go, can you both tell us where we can find you and also about your new book Coconut and Kettlebells?
Where to Find Stefani and Noelle
Noelle: If you can’t already tell.
Stefani: Come listen if you want. No pressure. Go on.
Abel: And can you just explain a couple of the quick things that are in the book?
Noelle: We tried to make it a one-stop shop. So the first half of the book is about food quality, and about something we’ve being calling the four by four. Which is experimenting with foods, figuring out which ones work for you and which ones may be causing negative health consequences or symptoms.
And we talk about macronutrient minimums and how to create a food plan. Are you a bread lover or a butter lover?
And then the second half of the book is 75 really easy recipes. They’re all just really simple because that’s how I have to live my life. But they’re great and the whole family will love them.
Then the last chapter is a fitness plan to go along with it.
Stefani: Lots of photos of Noelle in that part.
Noelle: A lot of exercise demos. Yes.
Abel: Actually, I have the diagrams up right now.
You’ve got a kettlebell in your arm just like that. And you’ve got a wonderful smile on your face.
Noelle: Yep. Thank you.
Abel: Well, Noelle, Stefani, thank you so much for coming on the show. You are very charming. I’d love to have you back any time.
Noelle: Thank you so much for having us. We really appreciate it.
Before You Go…
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If you have any questions about the show or for me, Noelle, or Stefani, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!