This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Liz Wolfe. Liz is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, the founder of the wildly popular blog Cave Girl Eats, the co-host of the Balanced Bites podcast, and is here to help us take a step back and take a smarter approach to self-love.
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Welcome to the Smarter Science of Slim, the scientifically-proven program where you eat more and exercise less to burn fat and boost health.
Carrie: Eat smarter, exercise smarter, live better. I am so ready for that.
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Jonathan: Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. I’m really looking forward to today’s show. We’ve got a lot of spirit and even some sass – total positivity sass, but we have got an awesome guest for you today. We’ve got the nutritional therapy practitioner, the proprietor of CaveGirlEats.com, and the provider of the Skintervention Guide, a way to help your skin, hair and nails look better from the inside out through nutrition rather than a bunch of chemicals – which I’m all about. Liz Wolfe, welcome to the show.
Liz: Hello, hello. Thank you for having me.
Jonathan: Liz, it’s absolutely my pleasure. I want to get started because you have a cool story that got you to where you are today. Can you just dig into that? Tell us about little Liz Wolfe and how she became the adult Liz Wolfe that she is today.
Liz: Well, little Liz Wolfe was a cutie, let me tell you that. Some things never change. It’s kind of been a long road and I think I probably need to write down my spiel – my ‘About Me’ type of thing – because I feel like every time I think about it, something different kind of stands out – something else becomes more important to me to talk about. Long story short – as a kid, I always struggled with eczema; as I got a little bit older, I dealt with acne; and some different skin concerns that were really, really frustrating. To be 100 percent honest, and I think a lot of folks probably have this same mentality, we all kind of think we’ve got whatever our thing is – my thing was skin problems and other people’s thing was allergies and other people’s thing was stubborn weight that won’t come off.
We all kind of think that we’re stuck with one thing or another and we’re not 100 percent sure that we can overcome that. That’s kind of the way I felt about it and it wasn’t until I adopted a more clean eating program, just focusing on really whole foods and honestly some stress relief – better sleep and self acceptance – that I started to travel down this road of learning more about how food works in the body and what food can actually do for us. I know a lot of us are probably told, especially when it comes to skin care, that food makes absolutely no difference in how our skin looks and feels. As I started to study for my nutritional therapy certification – I’m now working on my master’s degree in public health – it became clearer and clearer to me that food matters, not just for skin care. We know food matters in weight loss – and that’s pretty standard – but food also matters – and I’m going to pitch a couple of my favorite non-profits now, if you don’t mind.
Jonathan: No. Go ahead.
Liz: Food also matters to mental health and to the health of our community. That’s when I started to get involved with a couple of non-profits. The first is Steve’s Club National Program, which is a non-profit dedicated to bringing fitness and good nutrition, resources, and actually good food to at-risk kids. It’s a fantastic program and I work with them on nutritional programming. I also work with The First Twenty, which is an organization dedicated to improving the health parameters of firefighters across the nation. It really just kind of permeates all areas of my life.
As you said, I recently wrote the Skintervention Guide because I was enjoying helping folks with their skincare issues and getting healthy from the inside-out and the outside-in. I wrote it all down because I couldn’t help people one-on-one as much as I wanted to anymore because so many folks were wanting to learn what I was talking about, so I put them in one place – the book. Yes, that’s me in a nutshell, I guess. A large nutshell.
Jonathan: I love it. It’s certainly a nutrient-dense nutshell for sure. Liz, the thing that I know with skin that is so critical is skin is obviously one of the largest organs on the body and a lot of people regard skin as an outward sign of internal health. When one takes that sort of a mindset, the role of nutrition obviously becomes critical because nutrition, we know, matters a lot for our internal health and then manifesting itself on the external side. Why do you think – it seems, maybe just because we’ve all crossed over – you, me, and everyone listening to this podcast – but how could people think that what you put in your body does not affect your skin, nails, and hair? Am I missing something?
Liz: It’s still such a mystery to me. I have to say, we’re so advanced, medicine is so advanced, and we know so many things. I have a friend who, recently their baby was diagnosed with a genetic defect, and absolutely modern medicine knew so much, knew exactly what to do, how to test for it, and saved this little girl’s life. What’s funny is we sometimes forget how much we don’t know and how much we haven’t bothered to look at yet. I think it’s just one of those things that maybe will become more clear over time, why we thought that food didn’t matter, and maybe it was because we all thought we were eating the right things and however our skin looked or however our bodies functioned with those ‘right things’, which I think we now understand are not the right things, we just kind of accepted that that was how things worked.
Jonathan: Liz, I’m going to give kudos to somebody that I generally don’t give kudos to here, so one of the few things – I try to stay positive; this is awkward – that I liked about the book, The China Study, is T. Colin Campbell does make good points around reductionist views of food. He’s not the first person who did. Actually, Michael Pollan is probably one of the best people out there talking about the myth of nutritionism and thinking that we can deconstruct the components of health and then just apply them like you would apply seasonings to a dish and that doesn’t work. “If you have a skin problem, you can just apply this chemical” or “you can just take vitamin E” or “you can just do these one little things” rather than looking for the wisdom that has evolved over literally millions of years of a relationship between whole natural foods and the body. I can imagine being first in this area. How do you combat that ‘just apply this cream’ or ‘just take this one supplement’ or ‘just take a broken system and just apply this one magical thing to it and now it will work’ – this deconstructionist view – how do you combat that?
Liz: Oh, this is such a good topic. I want to touch on your point about this long history of proof that we have, looking at the synergy between nutrients that occur naturally in food versus that reductionist point of view where we’re saying, “Oh, vitamin E is really important” and “This just in – vitamin whatever does X, Y, Z. So we’re going to isolate that vitamin and we’re going to put it in a cream and you’re going to put it on your skin and voila. Your problems are going to be fixed. Or not.”
It’s just that we have to look at ourselves. Chemistry is an amazing thing and it’s so cool that we can look at these individual components to what makes us who we are. That’s an amazing brilliant thing. When we get lost in the minutiae, we forget that we are these phenomenal living, breathing, biological organisms. There’s a symphony going on inside of our bodies all the time and every piece of that symphony is dependent on another piece. That’s the brilliant thing about real food versus a supplement that you put on the inside or a cream that you put on the outside. It all occurs together in one place.
I like to talk when I get a little bit nerdy about this type of thing, I like to talk about nutrient synergy – things like vitamin D, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but it also needs to occur with vitamin A and vitamin K. A lot of people don’t know about vitamin K or vitamin K2, but those nutrients and calcium – all of those things – actually work together synergistically to help the other work properly. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. It’s just food. That’s the cool thing about it. From the outside – the creams, the unnecessary chemicals that we put on our bodies – sometimes they are there for the right reasons, sometimes they’re there to preserve the other things that we think need to be there for the right reasons, and it’s all just kind of trying to beat nature. It just doesn’t always work.
Jonathan: Liz, the description you just gave is so spot-on and inspired me. This is just a thought bubble – a thought baby I’m hoping would mature in here – but tell me what you think about this. I’m trying to come up with an analogy of the complicated nature and the complimentary nature of the whole biochemistry that takes place in the body and when you put things in your body, how that interacts. I’m trying to think about it like human interaction. For example, just the words. When you’re communicating with a person, you could say, “What did you say?” That’s one component and in fact, research has shown pretty clearly that actually 10, maybe 20 percent of what’s communicated is through your words. There’s all this other stuff that’s below the surface like body language and intonation and rapport and whether or not you’re making eye contact and your rate of speech. There’s all these other things that come together in the package of human interaction that actually determine whether or not the message you want to communicate gets across to the other person. It’s not just about the words.
When we talk about food, it’s not just about just the calories or just the vitamins or just the minerals or just this, that, and the other thing; there is a package and a wholism there that is what dictates the actual communication between the food to your body to either communicate ‘heal me’ or, frankly, ‘kill me’.
Liz: I am blown away by that analogy and I’m pretty sure you had that prepared before we started here today. There is no way…
Jonathan: No, I promise you I just wrote ‘human interaction’ down in my notes.
Liz: That is phenomenal. I love that. To kind of follow that out a little bit more, when you talk to somebody via Skype or you talk to somebody via text and maybe they misinterpret what you’re saying because they can’t get that intonation or the body language. You imagine them standing there with their hands on their hips and they’re angry – which I’m actually doing right now in my office – or with them kind of having a more softer body language and a softer tone. These things can get interpreted, I think, amongst people as much as they could be misinterpreted within the body. I think that’s a great point.
Jonathan: Liz, the other thing, the thing that really inspired me. There is a profound complexity to human interaction. There’s also a profound complexity, as you mentioned, to nutrition, but there’s also, in some ways, a simplicity to it. Barack Obama is a good example of this. I’m not talking about his political position, I’m talking about his ability to communicate and inspire people effectively. Bill Clinton is another example. Regardless of what you thought about their politics, anyone who met Bill Clinton in person was just like, within an instant, it was just like there was a connection between you and that man. There are plenty of people that just exude charisma and it’s natural.
It’s complicated to try to engineer that, but if you can just be a true, genuine human, it’s a bit like you bypass all of that complexity and all that engineering and just say get back to being a person and to loving other people and you will be surprised how easy it is to communicate effectively. Forget about all of this complexity for two seconds in the nutrition arena. If you just get back to doing what humans have done for hundreds of thousands of years, you could bypass a lot of that complexity.
Liz: Absolutely. I love that. I do have kind of a personal website. People like to get to know me a little bit more on a personal level versus business consult level and I call it Cave Girl Eats. I’m not beholden to any dogma about the Caveman Diet or whatever it is, but when I was first putting that website together – and I was writing pretty consistently what I noticed was that I wasn’t as interested in those little bits and pieces of chemically engineering foods. I used to think it would be really cool to be a food scientist but now I just think that sounds crazy to me. I’d be a neat scientist. I was writing about ancestral wisdom and that’s what you’re talking about. I was writing about what my grandma knew instinctively was nutritious; nothing processed, nothing highly refined, nothing the food scientist had to create and a marketing team has to stand behind to push to the masses. It was about that.
Then I started looking a little further back to cultures that just knew what to eat. For example, they had specific fertility foods or they had specific diets that they would encourage their newlyweds to eat and it was because they knew that those particular foods were nutrient-dense and would help that young couple get a good start in life or be able to start their family. There’s all of this really cool information in historical records – ancestral wisdom, where people knew what types of foods would keep them healthy instinctively because it was something they had always done. Somehow in the last 30 or 40 years, we’ve gotten away from that and kind of handed over that knowledge and that control to other people – companies and whatnot. Getting back to just eating real food – it’s really that simple.
Jonathan: It is profound simplicity. I’m going to keep going with our metaphysical analogy here, Liz. I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey and this is the gentleman who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the related works. He talks about how a hundred or two hundred years ago, self-help or human effectiveness was always talked about – I think he calls it the character ethic, meaning that if you’re just a good person and you value these things that cross cultures throughout time – like, it’s bad to kill people, it’s good to be honest – those kinds of things. If you are principle-centered, you don’t need what we now focus on, which is being all these techniques and tricks and ways to manipulate and Top Ten lists. He’s just like no, just be principle-centered and you will bypass all of that.
When people say Paleo or primal or ancestral, to me, it’s really just saying, “What are the principles that helped people to avoid all of the problems we are experiencing today? There has already been a proven way of doing this. It’s been done. Let’s just get back to those principles.”
Liz: Absolutely. It’s fun. Isn’t it fun?
Jonathan: Absolutely. You’re not fearing food anymore. It’s not only healing your body, but healing your relationship with food and enjoying eating again.
Liz: That was huge for me, too. I mentioned at the very beginning, coming into some self acceptance of this whole struggle that I felt like I was having. It really all actually started not with when I was learning about food or how food works in the body, it really did start with – I was just sick of not being happy and being confused about food and analyzing every bite I ate and then the next day, going and not thinking about a single thing that I was eating and going absolutely crazy. Of course, there’s some physiology behind that – what I was eating and how it was impacting my metabolism and food cravings and all of that – but really the most powerful thing I did was to say, “I’m just going to stop buying into all the crazy. I’m just going to listen to my own intuition – what sounds right to me.” That’s really what opened the door to this whole ‘eat real food, eat like our ancestors ate’, that type of thing. It’s really cool and that’s really where it started – with that metaphysical switch.
Jonathan: What I hear you saying, Liz and I could not agree with more is it shouldn’t be so hard. It can’t be so hard – even the idea that you need to count calories. Just a second. Nobody knew what a calorie was, let alone counted them. How could that possibly be required to achieve health? That’s like saying you need to count your interactions with another person. No. People know how to interact. There is an innate wisdom. Animals don’t count calories. We’re not more stupid than animals. If we just get back to almost a more simplistic approach, which is just eat food. Maybe it works. Maybe if you count calories and all you eat is 100-calorie snack packs and you consciously carry a calculator around with you and you never exceed 1200 calories per day and you spend two hours on the treadmill – yes, maybe you’re a size 2, but who cares? Your life is terrible.
Liz: I’ve done that. Let me tell you – funny that you should talk about Bill Clinton and Obama a little earlier, in my early days I actually worked in politics in Washington D.C. and at the time, that’s what everybody was doing. There was a real culture of ‘What do I look like?’ and I was doing 1200 calories a day. I found the other day – it’s sad – I made charts for myself for every single macronutrient. I never cared about vitamins and minerals. I wasn’t worried about the micronutrients – the actual nutrition but I made charts of carb, protein, fat, calories, and how many hours I spent that day on the treadmill. I remember it vividly. You know what? I lost weight and I looked probably the way I wanted to look at the time, but I was not happy.
I was devoting my entire life to that and of course, a couple of months later, when it came time for me to move, it was like snapping a rubber band. I went all the way back in the opposite direction and it was Chinese take-out, Italian take-out. Long term, that stuff just doesn’t work unless you have really extraordinary willpower and that still wouldn’t guarantee your happiness.
Jonathan: Liz, I want to drill into something. I hope this doesn’t get too personal here – we can edit this out if it does, so don’t worry. You said something there. This is actually probably, aside from the focus on exercise quality and food quality, which of course I respect and admire vastly in the Paleo and CrossFit movement. The things that I like best about the Paleo and CrossFit movement, aside from the focus on quality over quantity, is helping to counterbalance. You made a point of – and I love how you phrased this – you said, “When I was doing the 1200 calories and exercising excessively, I looked the way I wanted to look.” You didn’t say ‘I looked good’, you didn’t say ‘I looked healthy’, you said, “I looked the way I wanted to look.”
What I think is one of the single most incredible and helpful means that the Paleo movement, the ancestral movement, and the CrossFit movement have brought back to our culture is the celebration of the beauty of strong women because as a millennial man, I have yet to ever meet a guy who is like, “I can see the ribs on that girl. That is so hot.”, “I love the fact that her back and her butt look like one continuous thing because she has no muscle.” No. I promise you. Millennial men – and hopefully a lot of other men – love the idea of the strong and vibrant and healthy and the 1200 calories and chronic cardio will never ever get you there.
Liz: No, definitely not. That’s a great call-out. That was very intentional for me to say ‘I looked the way I wanted to look’ because if I were to say ‘I looked good’, to me, that’s just not right. I don’t want to ascribe some kind of socially ingrained concept of perfection or looking good or whatever because health and beauty, number one, as we said at the beginning, that’s something that radiates from the inside, from your nutrient sufficiency and how good you feel and how well you’re nourishing your body.
If I may pitch my print book – I have a print book coming out later this year – it’s called Modern Cave Girl. When I first set out to write it, I thought, “Okay, well, I have to write a diet book because that’s what sells.” Then I realized I could not do that because that wasn’t me, it was nothing that I believed, and one of the first lines that hit me to write down was ‘A healthy woman looks like a well-nourished you.’ Whoever my reader is, whoever that person thinks they are now and whoever they feel like they should be, ‘well-nourished’ that’s beauty, that’s health. Nourishment is exercise that makes you a more capable person. My old coach from Kansas City way back in the day would say, “I want you to be able to pick up that bag of cat litter when you’re 80 years old and for all intents and purposes, clean and jerk it and put it up on a shelf.” You want to be capable, you want to have some physical aptitudes and emotional aptitude, you want to be happy, you want to be healthy, you want to be just – It’s just that unquantifiable thing; it’s not about how you look.
Jonathan: Well, two things I just wrote down that you inspired me to think through, Liz, is the phrase of ‘health looks good’ and that ‘serenity is sexy’. Let me just dig into those a little bit here because if you actually study the science of attraction, it’s about a lot more. There are things about how people walk and how your skin looks and how your eyes look that determine –again, we live in a Photoshop culture, so when you just see two-dimensional things on paper, that is not comparable to when you’re actually interacting with a person. If you’re interacting with a person whose eyes look tired and whose skin looks brittle and who is constantly second-guessing themselves about what they’re eating and da-da-da, they might look good when airbrushed in 2D, but they are not attractive in person and they are not sexy to people they interact with because those things are about a lot more than the 2D you that can be Photoshoped.
Liz: Absolutely. I 100 percent agree. We do live in a Photoshop culture and, like you were saying just a second ago, when you focus first on those components of giving yourself that gift of a quality life and quality food and exercise that enhances your ability to do things and doesn’t just shave layer after layer of muscle off of your body – we’re kind of eating away muscle – but that enables you to be your most attractive self because you’re happy and you’re healthy and that looks good.
Jonathan: I love how you said ‘shaving off muscle’. Liz, I’m going to take it even one step deeper. I’m going to say ‘shaving off layers of you as a person’ globally because what’s that about? It’s about shrinking you. It’s about making you smaller. Certainly we don’t want to have a 50-foot person knocking down buildings, but we’re talking about manifesting and growing the spirit that is you as a person and to do that, you need to eat and you need to empower the body, not to strip things away from the body.
Liz: Totally agree. That is really beautiful. Nobody is well-served by becoming small. We don’t want small people. We want people who are owning their power and standing in their power, just throwing off those heavy coats of the mainstream and what we’re told that we’re supposed to be. We want people who are just really embracing that beautiful synergistic nutrition and who they are and none of us are served by anybody shrinking.
Jonathan: Folks, I cannot say that any better than Liz just did. She is certainly an inspirational woman who lives this message as well as preaching it. You can learn more about her at the wildly popular blog, CaveGirlEats.com, and please also do give a look to her Skintervention Guide and that’s of the same name website – SkinterventionGuide.com. Liz, you mentioned you’ve got a book coming out. When can we expect the book?
Liz: Oh, goodness. This has been quite a work-in-progress. I’m going to say, I’m hoping for this summer. It will be out this year. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon – Modern Cave Girl by Liz Wolfe – and you can also click over to it from my blog.
Jonathan: Liz, I so appreciate you sharing your insights and so much inspiration in today’s show and certainly would love to have you back when the book comes out to hear a bit more about that.
Liz: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on.
Jonathan: Thank you, Liz. Listeners, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did. Remember, we’re not about shrinking ourselves; we’re about eating more and exercising less as long as we do that smarter. Talk with you soon.
Jonathan: Wait, wait. Don’t stop listening yet.
Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at CarrieBrown.com.
Jonathan: And don’t forget, your 100 percent free Eating and Exercise Quick Start Program as well as free fun daily tips delivered right into your inbox at BailorGroup.com.
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