Hi friends! I hope your day has been going swimmingly! I’ve been working away at a coffee shop all day writing up a storm and drinking some delicious tea, so all in all, not too shabby! If you read this Dear Cait post from a couple of weeks ago you’re probably aware that I have been reading a couple new books lately. Today I’m going to write a little review about Stefani Ruper’s new book Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Life-Long Sex Appeal and Soaring Confidence. First though I want to give a little background to my personal experience with Stefani and her amazing impact on the world of women’s natural health.
When I first got into this whole healthy eating thing I spent a lot of time on Mark’s Daily Apple, where I read about something called intermittent fasting. The gist is essentially that you compress your meals into specific eating windows in the belief that it helps with things like autophagy, cell regeneration, and overall longevity. I played around with IF for quite a few months by putting off my first meal of the day until after school finished at 2 pm. Though I did have some pretty stellar benefits, such as a 99% average in school, intense mental focus and clarity with energy to burn, I also stopped menstruating, which for me is the primary indicator that my hormones and body were completely out of whack. I was stumped though, because from what I had read IF was supposed to be a healthy way to manage your weight. One day I was stumbling about the interwebs before school and I came across this article by Stefani. Reading her take on IF was the slap in the face I needed to actually start listening to what my body was telling me. Her blog has utterly and completely changed my relationship to my body and how I treat myself. Turns out all that energy and focus I was experiencing was my body in starvation mode pumping out stress hormones to encourage me to forage for food. Crazy, huh? It was then that I realized I was relying on what other people said about nutrition to make decisions about my body and health instead of actively listening to, appreciating, and nourishing my own body.
I also owe Stefani a huge debt of gratitude because when I was diagnosed with PCOS a year and a half ago, which was likely not unconnected to my months of intermittent fasting and intense stress levels from school and work, the first thing I did was buy her book PCOS Unlocked. I gobbled the whole thing up in one night and started enacting the tips the very next day. And wouldn’t you know it, without going on birth control pills, which is what my doctor wanted me to do, I have been able to rebalance my hormones naturally. I will likely always have to keep a close eye on my body and hormonal balance just due to the amount of stress I’ve put myself through in the past and the toxic load I burdened my body with for years, but every day I feel a little better, I love my body a little more, and I’m a little more confident in my own skin. I owe Stefani an unbelievable debt of gratitude for being the catalyst that propelled me down the path to self-love and total nourishment.
So that’s my connection to Stefani and why I preordered her book as soon as I saw it was available online and I have to say, I have not regretted my decision for a second! Her whole book is founded on the Sexy by Nature Golden Rule:
Your body is a natural body, with natural needs, that, when loved properly, loves you right back.
And all her dietary and lifestyle recommendations are predicated on that assumption.
Her book is divided into 5 parts or steps to achieving radiantly sexy good health, all of which come together to create a beautiful and personalized diet and lifestyle.
Part 1, Trailblaze, is great and involves replacing seven previously held rules on what it takes to achieve a healthy and fit body with smart and achievable rules. These include Beauty Conformity vs. Celebratory Uniqueness, Restriction vs. Nourishment, Punishment vs. Love, Warfare vs. Harmony, Bandages vs. Healing, Unquestioning Ignorance vs. Investigation, and Sexism vs. Female Empowerment. I loved her analyses and deconstruction of the old rules and her reasoning behind incorporating these new, loving, and health-promoting rules into your life.
Part 2, Nourishment, covers the basics of nutrition, which are the foundation of the Sexy by Nature diet plan. Her recommendations are pretty standard fair in terms of what the ancestral health community recommends for dietary guidelines, though her emphasis on ensuring adequate carbohydrate consumption for thyroid health is something fairly specific to her focus on female hormonal health. She also focuses quite extensively on establishing a diet that specializes in female nutrition goals, which includes eating more regularly, higher carb intake (at least 100g/day), and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. This section is easily digestible (heh heh) and Stefani clearly and concisely explains her reasoning behind the inclusion or exclusion of specific foods.
Part 3, Live, goes into more detail about specific aspects of our lifestyle that go beyond food but that play a hugely important role in our overall health. She covers the effects of stress, sleep, standing, sprinting, strength, sex, sunlight, spirit, settling, and striving. I loved this section because sometimes people get so caught up in focusing on the food that they forget how many other wonderful things it takes to make up a truly fulfilled and healthy life. Here are a couple quick little gems from her section on settling:
True happiness comes from mindset, relationships, feeling comfortable in your world, and building a meaningful life. It does not come from the frenetic parts of Western existence—busyness, perfectionism, and the acquisition of stuff.
The word settle has a lot of important meanings here. It means to simplify your choices and your life. It means to prioritize appropriately. It means to be calm. It means to let the dust settle naturally and let life flow without trying maniacally to control outcomes or achieve goals. It means finding peace with your body, spirit, and life and accepting things as they are. It doesn’t mean giving up on dreams; it means pursuing those dreams mindfully. (197/8)
Part 4, Overcome, offers some fantastic suggestions for dietary and lifestyle interventions to help women manage issues such as weight gain, PMS, poor skin health, infertility, low libido, cramps, and low energy. She does a wonderful job of explaining the root causes of many of these issues and how diet and lifestyle impact the development or management of them. It’s super informative with enough science for us nerds but explained clearly enough that even without formal science or nutrition training you will walk away with tons of tips and tools to help you rebalance and nourish your body fully and completely.
Part 5, Strut, is all about self-love, confidence, inherent sexiness, and flaunting your fabulousness to the world. This angle of Stefani’s approach to women’s health is one of the major reasons I fell in love with her writing. She encourages us ladies to embrace our natural bodies exactly where they are and recognize that if we feel imbalanced or suffer from PMS or excess weight it’s not because our body is working against us, but because she is trying to do her very best to keep us alive with what she’s been given. Recognizing this fact is one of the first steps we need to take in order to achieve true and lasting healing and Stefani is a master at raising the battle cry for women everywhere to love themselves just as they are.
You are the one who determines how sexy you are. (296)
All in all I definitely recommend this book to practitioners and clients alike, as I think there is tons of fantastic information about female hormones and exercise, the dangers of perfectionism on body image, and self-love in addition to all the great stuff on diet and other lifestyle factors. You can pick up your copy on Amazon (it’s on sale!!!) and start eating your way back to your naturally sexy self! Have a wonderful week everyone!