Kyira: “I am so excited to be here with you Carrie. Tell me why did you fight through the nerves and show up today?”

Carrie: “Um, body image has always been a stumbling block for me. I don’t want to say problem, but I just have never really felt good about my body. And that’s from little on. I mean, I remember just knowing as a small child that I was big, I was heavy, I was overweight. And then that kind of morphed into the teenage years. And I grew up in the ‘80s, so it was like Guess jeans were the thing, and I did not have the build or the body to wear certain things. And just, you know, I remember watching – this is probably going to sound corny – I remember watching “Saved by the Bell” and I wanted to be those girls. I just wanted to look like that.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Carrie: “And there were no images of anybody that looked like me, muscular, very athletic. You know, I don’t have tiny muscles. My muscles are wide, they’re large, you know, I have big leg muscles. There’s just never images like that. Um, so I’ve struggled with my weight a lot of my life. About six years ago, I lost a lot of weight and I hit the elusive goal weight and it didn’t fix what I felt about my body. I still was upset about it and picking at it and I needed to lose more and tighten and tone up here and do this and do that. And it just, it didn’t fix the things I thought it was going to fix. So that started a whole other journey about learning how to feel good in my own skin, developing self-confidence. And as I, then started to, um, I decided I was going to take on personal training, being a health and fitness coach, like, ‘I’ve gotta come to terms with this.’ Because I learned some really interesting lessons about my weight as it pertains to my self-esteem that didn’t work out the way I thought they were gonna. And I think that’s pretty common with women. And I want to help women get out of that.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Carrie: “So I would say that’s where I really started with the body-image things. … So, um, I started my own blog, which is what I interviewed you for. And what I really don’t like in the fitness industry is this ‘before-after transformation Tuesday.’ So it just perpetuates the idea that you start like all downtrodden and horrible-feeling and over-weighty and ‘I doubt this.’ But, ‘Look, I lost weight and now I’m fantastic! And I’m sexy and beautiful and I’m so much happier now.’”

Kyira: “’All my problems went away!’”

Carrie: “Yeah. And it is not that. So really what I’m doing with my stuff is, um, portraying health – what happens, what’s the real transformation when you change your health, start digging into your self-esteem, when you start learning to feel comfortable with who you are. And I think that’s really what a lot of body image is, it’s learning to look at the whole person and see yourself just outside of what your body is.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Carrie: “So, I want to show my clients my body’s not perfect. Um, and this was uncomfortable for me. But not to a degree where I feel like I didn’t want to do it. I want to step on and I want to get past really caring. Cuz we all have a whole shit-ton of stuff we can be focused on than our body. (Laughing.)”

Kyira: “Right! Well, I had a client say to me, we were talking about what recovery looks like from eating disorders, and I had a client say, ‘It’s so hard to be healthy in such a sick society.’ And I’ve like carried that with me. So I feel like a lot of what you’re talking about when you think of like ‘Transformation Tuesday’ as sort of the pivotal point of we have these expectations on like a broad societal level that this equates to this and this equates to this. And so we’re all doing our part to try to change that and shift the momentum. We’re also like trying to push ourselves uphill with like 16 boulders pushing us back down. And how hard that can be when we’re all fighting but against something so much greater. And so I think it says something too for you to be somebody in the fitness industry where there is this belief of, you know, ‘If my trainer doesn’t look like this, then they’re not this, this and this. And they’re not as good at their job. Or they can’t do this and this.’ Whatever the case may be. But there’s expectations on you in the profession. There’s expectations on you as a woman. You know, so all of these layers and to stand against it and say, ‘And as shitty and as hard as this is, I’m still going to keep pushing to find a different alternative.’ Cuz just cuz we’ve accepted that it is this way doesn’t mean that this is fun for us or fulfilling in any way.”

Carrie: “Yeah. Yeah, and you hit on something that I told Ashley, too, which is that I’m very much of an anomaly, I feel like, in the industry in which I decided to work. And it’s, it’s really hard some days because on, there’s the professional side of it, because I kind of work so far outside of what’s very typical, um, you know my message doesn’t kind of, I don’t know how to say it, but I mean it’s not really – I don’t want to say accepted – but people aren’t ready for it in a lot of regards.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Carrie: “Um, so that’s hard. But in a personal sense, when I decided to take on being a trainer and then a health coach, it messed with my own head for a long time. I had to get past a lot of just what you said, which is looking the part, um, yeah, and when I first started I was 15 pounds lighter than I am now. And I was like, ‘I have to look this way. I have to pound hard. I have to dut, dut dut, dut.’ And it was just, I really fed into that ‘looking the part’ thing and felt an enormous amount of pressure from I don’t know who, cuz nobody said that to me. But it carried with me somewhere along the line. So, yeah, I had to do a lot of introspective work to come to terms with what I really felt like and be strong enough to just keep plowing ahead anyway.”

Kyira: “And how do you think that translates to, so you have this professional title and you’re also a mom. How does some of that translate to the way that you, you know, parent and the ideals and the conversations you have in your household? Because you’ve gone through these journeys and you want to help, you know, extend those conversations.”

Carrie: “Um, well, a lot of what I do with my two girls is we talk about healthy eating. So it’s not like, um, good food-bad food. It’s not cheat days, cheat meals, which is a thing in the industry. So we talk about healthy eating, we’re gonna fill up on healthy food and then we can have some treats. You know, we don’t, I don’t live the life like you might see online with all our food is prepped and, you know, we eat from Tupperware. That’s not it at all. We, you know, we eat Girl Scout cookies. We go out to eat at Culver’s. And I really want them to see the up and down of that, that there’s a way to eat very healthfully and fuel your body up so you feel good and you can do the things that you wanna do. Like my older daughter is a swimmer, I want her to know there’s a way to eat that can help propel your goals with that. But there’s also like have some candy and cupcakes, too.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Carrie: “I didn’t know that growing up. Really, as a young kid, grade-schooler, I was a binger. I know that now, I didn’t know that then. Um, but also as far as like the physical attributes, you know, it’s really, it’s hard as a mom because you see your kids and you think that they’re beautiful and I want them to feel beautiful. But I also don’t want to talk about just that, you know.”

Kyira: “Right.”

Carrie: “So we talk about being smart and being strong and being kind. Um, and even when they dress up, like my younger girl in particular, she loves like the princess, the Disney princess dress-ups. And when she wears those, it’s not, ‘Oh, you’re beautiful.’ It’s, ‘Wow, you’re very fancy and glamorous when you put those on.’ You know, I’m trying to attach different descriptors to them than just, you know, ‘When you do these things then you’re beautiful.’”

Kyira: “Which is exactly what you’re doing in your profession. Cuz it’s not, you’re saying, ‘When you do these things, you’re this.’ And what you’ve gone through in your journey of ‘I thought when I do these things, I’ll feel this, I’ll be this.’ And you didn’t. And so using what you’ve learned, and not only your personal experience but your education, your knowledge, all of the things that, you know, you’ve gleaned throughout the years and now turning them towards other people and giving them that same opportunity to look at that and realize that, you know, ‘X’ doesn’t always lead to ‘Y’ and we want to build a more robust picture in a lot of ways.”

Carrie: “Right.”

Kyira: “So how do you nurture that now when you think about, you know, the days that you do wake up and you don’t feel as good? Or you, you know, get some pressure in some avenue wherever it comes from, how do you nurture that like growth that you’ve been able to obtain?”

Carrie: “A lot of it, I think, started – two things: Paying attention to when I eat or don’t eat or do or don’t do certain things and how it results in certain things in my body. A good example would be sleep. When I don’t get good sleep, I crave rotten food. And just being able to draw a cause and effect took away a lot of that judgment, like, ‘Why do I always crave food? What’s wrong with me that I crave food?’ Where, I call it with my clients, getting ‘investigative.’ Like when you can draw a reason why, all of a sudden it’s not just like this personal shortfall.”

Kyira: “Right. You aren’t failing, it’s something that’s happening.”

Carrie: “Exactly. There’s reasons for it. So a lot of times when I find my self-talk kind of getting into that yucky space again, it’s usually something like I’m lacking sleep, I’m feeling very overwhelmed. Um, so things like that, drawing those parallels, I guess, or finding the cause and effect.”

Kyira: “Right.”

Carrie: “Another thing that I did, really focused on it in 2016, was finding personal, my personal core values, and living in alignment with those. So I don’t think I knew for a long time what exactly was important to me. Or maybe I did and I kind of lost sight of that.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Carrie: “So, just living very authentically, very in line with how I want to be has helped boost my self-esteem. And things don’t kind of affect me or bother me the way that they used to. Like, one I always go back to when I talk to my clients is, it’s really important to me to be friendly and kind. So I found myself, because I kind of didn’t feel good about who I was, like I would put my head down and not greet people. Or I would go out in my community and, even if it was women who I’d seen a number of times like at my kids’ functions, I didn’t always say, ‘Hello.’ And I think that’s kind of what women sometimes do anyway, we have a funny dynamic that way. But I just decided it’s important to me to be kind and friendly. So I’m going to do it whether I receive a response back or not.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Carrie: “So it’s just small things, like living in alignment, has helped get away from that hyper-focus on my body, cuz I feel better about who I am.”

Kyira: “Right. And I think, you know, so much then becomes about the – what you said with your core values – but thinking, you know, even then for people that are pursuing certain physical stuff like weight loss or, you know, anything. When you have clients coming in, being able to ask that question like, ‘OK, so you have these goals, how does that align with your core values? How does that get you to something that’s there?’ Because as you said, it’s so much more than that and so much beyond just a number or some, you know, other thing that they can conquer or do.”

Carrie: “Yep.”

Kyira: “Are there questions I didn’t ask that you really feel like it would be something you would want to, you know, tie to this specific next step in your journey?”

Carrie: “I don’t think so. I think the part that you really hit on, because I’m coming from the health and fitness side, which is, I have my personal demons to slay, so to speak, but I also am like pushing these boulders uphill in the industry, too. It’s really, there’s a lot of us, I think, out there trying to really shift the whole idea of feeling good about who you are versus getting so focused on our bodies and we lose so much time and energy there.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Carrie: “Um, so yeah, I’m really, really grateful on a professional level to have finally connected with, like yourself and Meg and Katherine to all kind of push the conversation to talk about something different. Cuz we don’t need anymore pressure about our bodies.”

Kyira: “Right.”

Carrie: “We’ve done that and it didn’t work! (Laughing.)”

Kyira: “Right! Tried and not true! (Laughing.)”

Carrie: “Yes!”

Kyira: “And so, let’s find another direction. And it is helpful when you find people to pave that with you because otherwise it can feel a little bit like if you go at it alone, those personal demons can start to come back a little bit stronger. And when we all do it together, it’s a little bit easier to sort of knock them off your shoulder a little bit.”

Carrie: “Yeah.”