wellness theories

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Protein Shakes, Stress, and Getting Diet Advice From Paul Rudd

Jake Tapper. Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Jake Tapper is a busy guy. The CNN anchor hosts The Lead with Jake Tapper on weekdays and State of the Union on Sunday mornings, where he interviews guests like Kellyanne Conway and Paul Ryan. That six-days-a-week schedule may sound intense to the rest of us, but Tapper told the Cut that he’s been on a new diet and fitness regime (thanks to his friend Paul Rudd) that has helped him deal with the stress of it all. We recently chatted with Tapper about how he incorporates wellness into his busy life, his obsession with protein shakes, and how hanging out with his kids helps put things in perspective.

How I start my mornings: I am awakened sometime between 6:30 and 7 a.m. by one of my two children and one of my two dogs, depending on the morning and who is loudest. My wife and I get the kids breakfast and let the dogs out, feed the dogs. I’m on this new diet and fitness routine that I started near the beginning of the year, from an actor friend who got really in shape for a movie role and I was really impressed. Since he and I are roughly the same age and roughly the same ethnicity, I thought that was achievable. So I have a bowl of oatmeal and some sort of protein in addition to that — hard-boiled eggs or turkey bacon. Then I do 40 minutes of cardio. I do that either on the elliptical machine we have at our house or I go to the gym, and maybe three or four days a week in addition to that, I also work out with a trainer to do core and weights in the morning.

On becoming more health-conscious: Well, I’m 48, so I’m getting older. I don’t have the best back in the world, so having a better core and less weight to haul around helps. Also I think it’s fair to say this job has gotten a little bit more intense in the last year, and it’s good to be at the top of my game physically so that I can be at the top of my game intellectually.

Wellness, to me, is: A lot of things. There is certainly emotional wellness, which is the state of being content with one’s life, in terms of relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. There is physical wellness, which has to do with limiting the amount of toxins and poisons one puts in one’s body and exercising and being as physically possessed as possible. It’s not just about looking good in a bathing suit on the beach, but also about how you feel day-to-day walking around in your office. And then there is a spiritual wellness, which to me means attempting to understand and be at peace with larger existential questions that have very little to do with the day-to-day activities of jobs or disappointments or Twitter or trifles, and more to do with trying to be a good person, trying to do good for the community, and trying to improve the world however much one can.

How I deal with stress: The exercise and the diet, to be honest, really help with stress. I have friends who meditate. I am not there yet — I don’t know if I could ever clear my mind, but when I come home I try to turn off. I try to put the phone away, spend time with my family, not focus on the day-to-day machinations of the Trump White House or Congress, and instead on my family’s issues and their problems and what’s going on with them. You know, a 7-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl are not really interested in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that the rest of us might be really fired up about. They are focused on school, friends, and our dogs, and that’s where my focus is: with those two and my wife. So that really helps me decompress a lot. I’m also working on a novel, which believe it or not, is a huge stress-release as well because it takes place in 1954. So it’s focused on politics, but it’s an entirely different set of politics. And since it’s fictitious, I get to control it.

My skin-care routine: My wife every now and then will force me to get a facial, that’s about it. I wash my face and I have makeup artists here who think more about my skin than I do, but every now and then, my wife will say, “You’re going to such-and-such to get a facial,” and I obey.

On keeping up with wellness at work: I have a yoga mat in my office that I can use for stretching, and I drink a lot of water and have protein shakes — it’s part of this diet that I’m doing, where I have a protein shake late morning and a protein shake late afternoon, in addition to a salad and a protein for lunch and dinner. In terms of what we do around the office, in addition to focusing on news, we try to have a fun atmosphere where people laugh and make jokes. We have a 2 p.m. meeting where my senior producers and I go over all the segments for the 4 p.m. show. I would say that, in addition to discussions about how a segment could be better or how a discussion could be more pointed or what we want to focus on, I think — well, I hope — it’s a rather friendly atmosphere where we’re joking around and friends as well as colleagues. You’d have to interview my staff to find out whether that’s a delusion or not.

How I sleep: The diet and exercise have also been amazing for my sleep pattern. I go to bed, depending on the night, let’s say 10 or 11 p.m., and I’m always reading at least one or two books. I lay in bed and the lights are out, and I’m reading that on the Kindle. Right now I’m reading a book called Red Sparrow, which is about U.S. versus Russia espionage, so that’s not hugely a change of subject but it is fictitious. Not drinking as much alcohol and this new diet, which is much more about protein and vegetables and low sugar, low carbs, have really been great for my sleep pattern, and meant that it’s much easier to fall asleep and also much easier to wake up.

My best wellness advice: I have to say, this diet was the best advice I’ve received. My friend who’s the actor, we were just talking about fitness and I was talking about how I needed to lose weight and get in much better shape and all that, and he told me about his diet and his routine and how he got in shape for his role — it was Paul Rudd, and that was the exercise he did to get in shape for Ant-Man. If you look at pictures of Paul before when he did I Love You, Man and when you look at pictures of Paul when he did Ant-Man, he just completely transformed his health. He’s the one who gave me this … rundown and it’s changed my life. I feel better and I’ve lost about 12 pounds since January. That was a huge impact on me, and now I’m a bit crazy about it — when I’m in another city I’m always looking for a place where I can get a protein smoothie. I’m a little obsessed, but it’s okay to be obsessed with health.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Jake Tapper on Protein Shakes and How He Deals With Stress