Carrie Keyes

Carrie Keyes

Even as an adolescent I remember having arm envy of women with clearly defined muscles and wondering why my genetics hadn’t gifted me with such a fantastic physique. Throughout those years, I viewed exercise and diet as a means of changing that which was wrong, instead of improving upon that which was great. I struggled to accept my physical self and needed to find a way to reverse my mental fixations to allow for personal and physical growth. I credit my days in Middle Eastern dance to a big part of my mental shift. It was through dancing that I finally learned to begin loving myself and in turn began to change my perspective on my body. I began seeing it for what it could do, rather than how it looked and that made me feel proud of what I had. I confidently stepped on stages displaying my body and everything that had once embarrassed me and realized that this body of mine is pretty great! Even with a newfound confidence in my body, when I hit my highest weight of all time and I still felt like I needed to make a change; however, I was finally doing it as a step for health and self-improvement, instead of hating what I was.

I joined the gym that I currently attend four years ago when I hit my (formerly before weight training!) all time highest weight. Shortly after joining I found a trainer and worked with a small group of women once a week. When I went to the gym on my own I think I ventured only far enough into the weight room to get a sip of water from the fountain. Within the next year I lost about 15 pounds and felt better, but also recognized that if I wanted to really challenge and change myself I was going to have to go out of my comfort zone. At that point I had been to a couple of bodybuilding competitions and ogled the physiques on stage, but had mentally categorized them as unattainable. Fortunately for me, a close friend recognized that there was something I wasn’t saying when it came to my goals and provided me with a contact in the industry. I sent an e-mail within the hour, met with my now coaching team within the week, and changed my whole outlook on fitness immediately. I call that the turning point for me. Since then, I have made incredible physical changes that make me feel incredibly proud and there are so many changes that you can't see: My mental and emotional growth, my confidence and strength of mind, building trust, and loving myself in any physical state.

I began my bodybuilding journey in March 2013 and have since competed in two NPC competitions in Colorado. I began in the bikini division and transitioned into figure after seeing my muscle building potential and embracing the process. I am now in my off-season working to build an even bigger physique with my eyes set on my third competition in Figure in 2015.

I found the Lady Lifters group in February 2014, after my first competition. Since attending my first meeting at a Denver photography studio for a day of glamour and laughter, I knew that I had found a community of women who truly shared my passion and understood the powerful feelings of determination and focus necessary for the sport. The energy of the group was that of support, encouragement, and positivity. What a difference being a part of this group made from my first completion experience to my second. At my most recent show I was never without a friendly smiling face back stage or a high-five walking through the vender booths. Knowing and having the support of so many incredible women made the experience so much more enjoyable! To experience the thrill of showcasing your hard work on stage is exhilarating, to share that experience with your friends and sisters is priceless.

This transformation has and will continue to be one of the most stressful and taxing things that I will ever experience AND the most rewarding and incredible experiences of my life. There is a reason people who adopt this lifestyle keep going: I feel incredible, I love what I do, and I wouldn’t change a thing about how I choose to live my life! My biggest lesson that I have learned throughout my journey has been one of love and acceptance for myself in any stage of the process. I want to share my motivation and inspire those around me to think positively, embrace their beauty every day, and speak only kind words about themselves. Beauty comes from inside and it is up to us, as women, to share our own kind of beautiful and not want what someone else has. We should allow others to motivate and inspire us to become the best versions of ourselves.

Be You: love yourself, be kind to yourself, and remember you are beautiful!

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