Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, is a biophysicist and award-winning author who’s built a vast audience of health-hungry readers with ThePaleoMom.com, along with several books based on nutrition and lifestyle. Sarah’s hallmark has been taking hard science and making it understandable to a general audience, while balancing her own personal experiences with an autoimmune condition and raising a family at the same time.
Dr. Sarah sat down with us to discuss how she approaches her work and personal health, what she has planned for the next few years, why she doesn’t like making hard rules, and how her use of the Joovv has changed her health.
Can’t watch right now but ready for a quick read? These are the highlights of our conversation with Dr. Sarah Ballantyne:
The Mission of the Paleo Mom
There’s no quick answer when you ask Sarah the old question, “What do you do?” Many know her as The Paleo Mom, but Sarah’s mission is a lot bigger than that might suggest. She sees her work broadly defined as health education and outreach, made accessible to as many people as possible. Ultimately, Sarah is devoted to learning as much as she can about the optimal human lifestyle and sharing that science with the world.
Sarah says she’s motivated to empower people with research-supported information they can act on in their daily lives. She respects and relates to her audience because Sarah’s struggled with an autoimmune condition and knows how difficult it is to find reliable health and nutrition guidance.
Lesson: Sarah is a PhD, but comes at her work from the perspective of a patient as well. Combining hard science, with her personal experience, is one of the major reasons Sarah's writing is so popular.
Sarah didn’t start with an audience, but she found success combining her professional expertise with her personal experience and passions. Whatever the field, that’s a recipe for success and fulfillment if you’re good at what you do and put in the work.
Translating Science into Real-World Language
A major difference between Dr. Sarah and other health influencers is her scientific background and focus on clinical evidence. Sarah calls herself a “science translator” and tries to never make claims without hard evidence. But she also cautions against putting too much faith in science. To her, it’s just as important to know the boundaries of science while coming to grips with what we don’t fully understand.
Here’s an example of Sarah in action. We asked her about the potential benefits of walking barefoot more, sometimes called “grounding” or “earthing”. She said she enjoys being barefoot in her yard and that studies have found some general health benefits similar to those who spend more time in nature. But she made it clear that modern science didn’t have an explanation for those results yet.
Lesson: When you look for health and fitness information, consider whether the writer or speaker is backing their claims with evidence and science. If they are, go one further and ask yourself if they’re presenting scientific findings as absolute truth. Both are red flags.
Them’s the Rules!
You want to get healthier, so you set some rules for yourself. No chocolate or wine on weeknights. Stretch before bed. Cut back on social media use on your phone. That’ll put you on track, right? Then 3 days laterm it’s Wednesday night and you’re eating M&M’s in bed as you look at your friend’s vacation pics on Facebook instead of loosening up before bed. What happened?
Dr. Sarah tries to avoid hard rules like these because they just don’t work for most people. We think they will, we want them too, but as Sarah says, humans are creatures of reward and we tend to be rule-breakers when it comes to this topic. Sarah’s simple philosophy is, “try to make the better choice most of the time.”
Lesson: Following goals and establishing healthy habits is great, but if you focus too much on the restriction and not what it’s for, you can end up breaking the rules and stressing yourself out.
Joovvin’ & Improvin’ With Dr. Sarah
Dr. Sarah's success with light therapy is nothing short of amazing. After years of joint pain and inflammation from her autoimmune condition, she starting using the Joovv 20 minutes each morning after her Crossfit workout. For the first time in a long time, she hasn’t felt fibromyalgia pain in 6 months, a total life-changer. Sarah also says Joovvin’ 10 minutes each side of her body after workouts in the morning helps with muscle recovery, provides a nice energy boost, and generally makes her feel warm and good before the workday even starts.
Lesson: In-home light therapy is helping people like Sarah every day with their pain, inflammation, and energy. We couldn’t be happier for the good doctor...and her health!
Dr. Sarah Fans: Stay Tuned
If you love Dr. Sarah’s writing, you’re in luck. Her next few years are going to be huge. Check out the interview to hear Sarah’s thoughts on the books she wants to write, how she’s trying to reach a broader audience than just the “Paleo” community, and her desire to go deeper into public policy.
To do that, Sarah is starting to offer online video courses that align with her website and books with the goal of reaching more people and interacting with her audience in a more direct and personal way.
Lesson: Sarah isn’t slowing down. She feels good, loves sharing information with her audience, and hopes to do a lot more of it in the coming years.
Plus One: Watch the interview for Sarah’s run-down of her daily routine, featuring some morning Crossfit, some garden herbs, and why she rarely ever sits down (quite literally).
Plus One (with Some Laughs): Sometimes after a long day of researching and writing, Sarah likes to unwind with some live, improv comedy. She was kind enough to invite our team to her favorite improv spot. Watch the full video to see the magic unfold!