The summer before Carrie Boe started fourth grade wasn’t at all what she expected. Her mom had just been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. And as Carrie played in their backyard, running through the sprinkler, she slipped on the wet grass and broke her arm. Instead of carefree sunny days at the pool, she spent that time in the cool basement, watching reruns of “I Dream of Jeannie” and eating baloney sandwiches. She was bored and also worried about her mom—Carrie couldn’t bear the thought of losing anyone in her family. She’d stand in front of the open fridge wondering what to eat next, although she really wasn’t hungry.
That pattern continued as her mom got sicker. When it came time to shop for new school clothes, Carrie found herself in the “Pretty Plus” section at Sears. Both of her older sisters—13 and 16 years her senior and thin—were protective of her. Along with their doting came expectations about Carrie’s future and concern over what size she should be. Over the next few years, she became a people pleaser and was often more concerned about how others were feeling. When she was just 15, Carrie watched her mom slip away and her dad struggle with the loss by numbing himself with alcohol. Carrie also numbed, but with pizza deliveries and bike rides to local fast-food joints.
Carrie was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in her 20s. She dealt with it by increasing her insulin while still enjoying all the things she loved to eat. Even as she continued to face a variety of personal challenges, Carrie had a zest for life that made her appreciate everything she had—close friendships and relationships, a wonderful college experience, adventurous travel and a successful corporate career. And there was always food.
By her early 40s, Carrie had lost her parents and both sisters. Her entire immediate family was gone. She managed her grief the best way she knew how—by continuing to move forward. She went to work, kept social engagements, and tackled her to-do list. And she kept eating. Food offered the greatest comfort. She found herself weighing well over 350 pounds. This is when Carrie had a powerful realization: She wasn’t ready to die too.
She resolved to get healthy and connected with the first of many people who would help transform her life, a trainer named Kevin. Initially, she was skeptical about whether a young, fit guy could really make an impact. But after a brief chat, she realized he was smart, kind and direct. He guaranteed it wouldn’t be easy but promised to be in it for the long haul if she was willing to commit. Though she could barely walk on a treadmill for 10 minutes, Carrie bought a package of sessions. Kevin brought in a registered dietician, Debbie, to help with Carrie’s poor nutrition. Together, the small but mighty team got to work on changing—and saving—Carrie’s life.
Thanks to the crucial support, Carrie experienced a major shift. Instead of eating her way through life’s challenges and transitions, she discovered how to be present and deal with all of the highs and lows. She learned to love herself and feed her body to fuel it rather than to numb it. She walked away from her longtime corporate job and started to focus on healing herself. She lost the equivalent of an entire extra person and significantly increased her muscle mass. The insulin injections she once relied on became no longer necessary.
In 2014, Carrie honored her newfound passion for wellness, became a certified health coach and launched SuperStrongChick. She knows firsthand that learning to love yourself and transforming your body and your life is a unique process. It requires education but also significant support and empathy. This is exactly what she provides to her clients though one-on-one and group coaching, workshops and community events. Her goal is to connect with others who may relate to her experiences and to inspire those who are willing to put in the hard work. Her mission is to empower women who are experiencing obesity-related issues to love themselves while achieving better health and wellness and discovering their best life.
Ultimately, Coach Carrie demonstrates to clients that health is not just defined by fitness and nutrition. Nor does losing a significant amount of weight automatically “fix” everything. Relationships, spirituality, careers and self-care play a major role in overall wellness. And while it may be easier to soothe emotions with things like food, cocktails, sex and social media—embracing all of life’s transitions while establishing good daily habits is the path to genuine happiness, renewed health and true strength in mind, body and spirit.
To learn more about Carrie’s business, visit SuperStrongChick.com.
Photo: Kate Pearson Halyburton for My Founder Story
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