Unleash Your Inner Badass
Unleash Your Inner Badass
an interview with Steph Gaudreau
Steph Gaudreau helps women unleash their inner badass so they can change the world. Her true love is providing the most inspirational strategies for building a stronger body, mind, and spirit. On her popular blog Stupid Easy Paleo, this “nerdy” former science teacher shares her unabashed love of tasty Paleo food. Between her blog, podcast, and bestselling books, she has lots to share about business, food, and life.
- Tell us about your business – what’s your mission; your soul’s purpose and why you created your wellness business or service?
My purpose is to help women unleash their inner badass and change the world. I created Stupid Easy Paleo because I always loved cooking and I wanted a way to share all the ways that changing my diet absolutely improved my life physically, mentally, and emotionally.
At first, it was pretty much about recipes, but as I shared, people started asking me more questions about how they could change the way they were eating and make it easy on top of that. I realized that my love of teaching and science and food could all come together in helping people improve their health and live better lives. Stupid Easy Paleo has since expanded to include my Harder to Kill philosophy (building badass, unbreakable humans through my 4 Pillar approach) and it’s evolved to be far more than just food.
- Tell us about your journey and your story….what got you to this point today?
How long is this column?! Seriously, I grew up as one of four kids and was always kind of nerdy and into science. And when I was about 10, I started to get sick a lot…the doctors didn’t really know why. My body felt rotten, I had weird digestive problems, debilitating menstrual issues, insane cravings, low energy, and catastrophically bad moods. Despite all that, I loved sports and played several throughout my school days. That love of movement and physical expression has always carried through.
I graduated college with a degree in Biology/Human Physiology and soon after became a high school science teacher. I found mountain biking and moved out west and continued to have low-level health issues despite trying vegetarianism, Weight Watchers, and just drastically cutting calories. I was always trying to lose weight (to be faster on my bike), and I became obsessed with the idea of getting smaller. I weighed myself daily and was forever unhappy with how I looked.
In 2009, mountain biking friends of mine told me about something called the paleo diet, and I decided to try it. I started in January 2010 and haven’t looked back. I started to feel better than I had in years – better than I even thought was possible. Coincidentally, a couple years after going paleo, I found out that I have endometriosis. That explained a lot of the pain I was in each month, but as it turns out, an anti-inflammatory diet plus other lifestyle factors like better sleep has helped me manage it without medication.
As I got more into this way of eating, I started blogging recipes on my mountain biking blog (wish that was still around!). In September 2011, a friend said, “You should start a food blog,” so I did. I had no idea what I was doing! Right around this time, I started to feel really lost and frustrated with my teaching job. I knew it wasn’t where I was meant to be, but I already had 10 years in the system, and no other career prospects. (My blog was basically a newborn so it wasn’t even an option).
I continued working on the blog on the weekends and vacations and after about a year, it was taking off. I started wondering if I could actually run a website for a living. It took many more months of planning and preparation (and being scared and freaking out) but in June 2013 I took a 1-year leave of absence from the classroom to make Stupid Easy Paleo my business. I never went back!
- How are you changing the face of healthcare and/or the wellness industry? How do you create, innovate or break the rules in healthcare?
I’m so tired of women being told that we have to look a certain way to be desirable, that we can’t be strong, that we have to be careful and quiet and small and excessively well-behaved. I want women to know that if they want to get strong, they have every right. If they’re not a size 0, that’s fine. I break the rules when I tell women to lift heavy and to eff calories and to throw away their bathroom scales. That definitely puts me in the rule-breaker’s club.
- What personal and professional legacy or impact do you want to leave on the world?
In my mind, the most incredible legacy would be a young woman 20 years from now growing up self-assured and confident in her body and knowing how to nourish herself because her mom learned something from me. If what I’m doing now has an impact great enough that not only can it shift someone’s life right now but have the potential to impact their children and grandchildren for the better, then I would be honored beyond comprehension.
- In your opinion, what is the most significant factor in healing or overall wellness?
Emotional resilience. I think everyone expects me to say something like a 300-pound back squat or eating the perfect diet for you, but it’s so much broader than that. Strength of spirit, being able to get back up when you’ve been knocked down – or to realize it’s time to walk away from whatever the fight is – is absolutely huge.
- What do you wish people realized when it comes to their health or about the wellness industry?
The wellness industry can be a confusing place with highly-conflicting ideas and recommendations. I really want people to always get clear about what it is that they do (or don’t) want and why. If they have that clearly in their minds, it’ll be a lot easier to evaluate the newest trend to see if it’s right for them.
- How long did it take you to reach important milestones in your wellness business?
And what has really helped you move the needle in making your vision a reality?
Progress has been pretty steady to be honest, but at times that steadiness has seemed slow. But when I step back and look at what I’ve accomplished in just over 4 years, it gives me perspective. Less than a year after I quit my teaching job, I self-published my first book and secured a contract with a publisher to write my second. I knew I had a year to sink or swim and it was all up to me, so I worked really hard.
I’d say the biggest thing that’s helped me move that needle was a commitment I made last year to infuse more of my personality and my purpose into what I do…to not be afraid to teach and give a little tough love. When I started to let more of myself come through, it felt like everything started to shift and align.
- Tell us about the start-up scares: Was there a moment where you ever seriously contemplated giving up?
Oh my gosh, about a million. I think the biggest shock I had in my first year of running my business was when the January rush died down and February became March and traffic died. I don’t think I’ve ever seriously wanted to give up – I love what I do far too much – but it hasn’t been without tech nightmares, website crashes, product flops, impossible copy, cash flow worries, and more.
- Did you ever fail or make a substantial mistake in business or organization? Any serious challenges? How did you overcome and resolve it?
I’ve definitely made digital products and sales pages that were absolute flops, but I’d say that my biggest mistake was trying to bootstrap and solopreneur my way through this business for too long. In 2016, it felt like I was on a treadmill and someone was gradually upping the speed. What was a walk became a jog and that became an all-out sprint. I was in danger of falling off. When I started my business, transitioning from a blog to a website and working on it full-time, I had no income at all and was living off savings. I think I carried that bootstrap mentality for far too long because I was afraid to invest in areas that would help my business grow. Luckily I realized the folly of my ways and slowly started to hire support people (and coaches) that could help me scale my business up.
- What action has the most impact that you’ve taken to reach your goal/s?
Hiring a business coach. I got to a point in my business where it felt like I was just running on a hamster wheel. I had no systems. I was getting by on grit and grind but I didn’t have a plan, and as things grew, I didn’t have the time or energy to do it all. I’ve had to start delegating and hiring people to help.
- What would you tell your younger/earlier self about following your dreams?
Follow your heart and your passions even though other people might not understand. When I was about to leave my 12-year teaching career, I was so paralyzed with fear about what other people would say or think about me. I wish I had stressed about that way less because as it turns out, the most important people in my life rooted for me. I wish I’d told her that you’re never going to make everyone happy and to embrace my Stephness sooner.
- What’s the best piece of business or personal advice YOU’VE ever received?
Stop thinking so much. Seriously. I tend to over-analyze things and think myself into a spiral of confusion. The last few years I’ve really started listening to my intuition and my gut a lot more. It’s taken a lot of anxiety out of so many things for me. Instead of worrying if I’m making the “right” decision, I just make “a” decision…and then deal with whatever comes my way.
- What’s the #1 piece of advice you would give a new Wellness professional who really wants to make an impact in healthcare and people’s lives?
Play the long game. I see so many people who start a blog or get into the online space and expect things to immediately blow up for them. Sure, networking can help, but the majority of successful professionals I know have been at it for years and put in consistent effort. I always say it’s better to be like an oak tree – slower growing but strong – than a weed.
- What does a typical work day look like for you?
Since I’m on the West Coast, I get to work pretty soon after waking up (about 6 am). My best creative time is in the morning so I try to make the most of it. I’ll have a coffee while working, then take a break around 8 am to eat breakfast. Then I’ll work for a few more and head to the gym (three times a week). After the gym, I come home, eat lunch, and then do another couple hours of work, do errands, tidy up the house, etc. I’ll have dinner around 6 or 7, maybe watch something on Netflix, and head to bed for lights out by 10 pm.
- Stevie Wonder or The Beatles? (this, I personally must know.) 🙂
The Beatles, 100%.
Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. On her blog Stupid Easy Paleo, she shares recipes, workouts, motivation, and inspiration. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.