This is Carter. She’s a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist and founder of The Wellnss Practice. Carter shares what it’s like being a mom, her transformative wellness journey and the importance of getting in touch with your inner self.
Hi Carter! We’re super excited to have you as our July muse—let’s start with an icebreaker for our community. If you had to pick three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Total goofball, loving and curious.
This past year has been tough on all of us in different ways. But tough times can help us grow — what’s been one of the toughest adjustments you had to make? How did you find growth through it?
I would say this year, we had two really big adjustments. So, one was a career switch. I made the transition from working a nine to five to be an entrepreneur. It was such a great learning opportunity, especially during this time. Another [change] was moving homes, which was a major adjustment, but ended up being the best thing to happen to us. In any other type of setting, you kind of ease into things, and it's a little slower of a transition, but in this setting, it was hard and fast. I feel like everything was so extreme. Circumstances were extreme, which make decisions extreme too, and the results that come from those decisions. There were so many adjustments that had to be made and in a really serious way because everything was so uncertain.
[But] it was really beautiful. I can honestly say that I made these decisions because I wanted to come into myself more holistically. I wanted to show up for myself in an honest and authentic way. That was the reason why I decided to build a career in an area that was such a passion and things that I find so much love in. I learned so many lessons about who I am and how I approach things and what I want in life. I think when you're honest with yourself, and you show up, there's going to be a plethora of issues or roadblocks. But that is the path to fully developing yourself. That's what life is about, you know, moving through the dark parts of life and coming up to the other end. You can only really do that when you show up for yourself in an honest way.
When did you first get into nutrition and wellness?
I started becoming interested in wellness when I was around 17 or 18. The year after high school, I really dove into it. I was in performing arts, [and] I was a dancer for many, many years. I was [also] suffering from an eating disorder for a couple of years. I became obsessed with food in a very unhealthy way. But then, coming back to a place of balance and a place of health within my own body, I made the connection, that what we eat really does affect how we feel. I became obsessed with what nutrients are good for this, and what vitamin helps me with that. I love to research, and I love to read and I love to learn, so at that time, I was researching different foods and what they do and how to enhance your focus, and what vitamins help you. That's where it started with just being so fascinated with nutrients and wanting to find out how to enhance our bodies and our minds with something natural. This was over 10 years ago and wellness wasn't what it is now.
[When] I was 19, I was a server at a restaurant in Toronto. I worked with a woman who went to school for holistic nutrition. She told me about her school, and I researched it and was enrolled a few months later. It was the best experience. I can't even picture my life not going on that wellness journey. Even just going to school for holistic nutrition and learning about a different way of life was such a game-changer for me with how I live and how I raised my son. I had a natural birth because of it and everything that I learned had a huge impact on both of us. [My wellness journey] started from a passion. After I rehabilitated myself from an eating disorder and mental health issues, I came back and found this as something to grab on to and pull me over to the other side. I've been living this way for a very long time. [But] I've been practicing with The Wellnss Practice for a little over a year now. That's the journey so far.
Let’s talk about your son. For almost a decade, you’ve been a mom to your beautiful boy, Salem. How has his life impacted yours? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
When I had Salem, I was really young, and it wasn't planned. It was a bit of a disrupter in the family, and [affected] the trajectory that I had for my life at the time. But I can confidently say that I have no idea where I would be if I didn't have Salem. I feel like a completely different woman. I've blossomed into this human that is so dynamic. I've learned so many lessons. I chose to approach motherhood from a very connected way where we are learning and growing together. This is another life that I have created and brought into the world. It's like a blank canvas. It's a really big responsibility when you look at it like that. When you think of bringing another human into the world, it's like, Okay, what do you want this to mean? How do you want them to act? What do you want them to emulate and attract? For me, it was [about] understanding that he is his own individual. At the same time, we're both learning from each other. I'm learning about myself—he teaches me things every single day about myself. It's hard to put into words, but it's so incredibly special.
His life has impacted mine by just allowing me to grow in so many beautiful ways. I think that young mom or not, learning is lifelong. I mean, the final destination is death. So, you're always in a state of learning. I think the beautiful thing about being a mom and having kids is that it's an opportunity to expand yourself even further. Your child [can] have an impact on the world based on how you raise them, and how you help them unfold themselves. For me, I'm hoping will Salem unfold himself as much as he possibly can and have an impact on the people that he interacts with and meets—it's a really beautiful process.
How does your motherhood intersect with your work?
I think the work that you do is a reflection of who you are, and what you've learned. At the end of the day, I believe that we're here to learn. The work you do is so unique and so specific to what you've been through. What you have to offer the world through your work is a direct result of not only your experiences, but how you've perceived your experiences—what you've taken from them, what you've learned, and how you parlay that out to the world. As a woman, having a child is one of the most dynamic experiences you can have. Our bodies were meant to create life. Having that experience develops you. Bringing that experience and what that does to you from an emotional standpoint, from an intellectual standpoint, from a physical standpoint and how that helps you grow and the experiences that it offers you, definitely affects what you're able to offer others. As an example, the level of compassion that I have for people that I interact with and deal with on a day-to-day basis has changed substantially from pre-mother to post-mother. We're all emotional beings [and] we all mean something to somebody. The way that you interact with people, the conversations you have, the types of relationships you build—you come at it from a different angle.
Along with being a mom, you’re also the founder of The Wellnss Practise. How do you describe it to others?
It's a private practice, so I see clients for holistic nutrition, all things health and wellness. But within that, I focus specifically on optimizing digestion, detoxification, and the main thing is nutrition for mental health. Mental health is huge. Everybody suffers from mental health to some degree, and it's a topic that is still a little taboo, so I think normalizing mental health, but then also making the connection [between your brain and your body.] There's so much to be said there, and there's a lot to learn with that connection. They go hand in hand— nutrition and how we treat our bodies, what we put in our bodies [and] the nutrients that our body and our brain need to maintain a healthy balance when it comes to mental health. I don't think that people understand that connection, so that's what I'm hoping to help people with [at The Wellnss Practise]. When I learned about the connection when I was doing my research, I was blown away, and I was like people need to know that this exists.
I help people with digestion because that also connects to the brain in such a huge way, which people are beginning to know now—they say the gut is like the second brain. It's an emerging branch of health, I would say, and I'm just hoping to bring that a little bit more to the forefront in the wellness community. I think it would have such a huge impact, especially for women. I know with my practice specifically; I help women or women-identifying humans. I think it's for women specifically, there's a huge conversation there—supporting women's mental health is so important. Coming at it from a nutritional aspect is approachable and actionable for [women].
I feel like there’s a lot of misconceptions around the wellness industry. How does your work aim to demystify that skepticism or confusion?
I've seen the wellness space develop over the last decade. It's interesting watching the collective go through that as they learn in this really interesting, unconventional way through social media. One of the things that [I’ve noticed] is this idea that one size fits all. I think people are becoming more aware of that everybody is different. You really have to go about it from that perspective, because there isn't a one size fits all approach. It's hard because we're all learning about wellness on social media now, which can be confusing for people that don't already have a foundation of wellness knowledge or nutritional knowledge. It can be confusing because you have all these different parties advocating for their way or a [certain] way. It's easy when you don't know as much [to] latch onto something and expect that to work for you or expect that to be an answer for you.
I think it's probably more beneficial to go at it from understanding your body first. Not looking externally, but looking internally, and then seeking the solutions, after knowing yourself or after a connection that you have with yourself first. I think that is missed a lot of the time. It's really important to establish that connection with yourself. As counterintuitive as it sounds, we all have the answers first—our inner self knows exactly what we're looking for [and] knows exactly the solution. It's always a balance between ego and inner self—that's how we navigate the world. For people that don't know anything about wellness, I encourage them to establish a connection with themselves first—understanding who you are, understanding what your process looks like, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and seeking the answer from there.
You’re one of the few women-of-colour in Canada that I’ve seen working in the healthy living and wellness space. How do you want to use your voice?
I have definitely noticed that. Even going to school, I can remember the two or three people of colour that I ran into during my whole two years at that school. It's a reflection of our society, not necessarily a reflection of that particular school. I think on a grander scale, it's a reflection of where we're at, which is an eye-opener. I think the best thing that we can do is to make wellness accessible, [through] the sharing of information. It's easier said than done, but I hope to do more of this in the future. At the end of the day, the reason why I'm so passionate about wellness, and I'm so passionate about living my life in a certain way, is because I had this education, and not everybody has access to this education— knowledge is power. Once people are educated, and once people understand the bigger picture, and not just a narrow, linear viewpoint, that's when you see change. People are going to want to change their lives, people are going to want to make different decisions in their everyday life if they know more information.
Feeling burnout is, unfortunately, a common issue in today’s society. How do you ensure you’re living your best and healthiest life? What do you do when you need time to rest or reset?
The biggest thing is listening to yourself. There are all these roadmaps out there [about] how you should approach burnout or hustle culture. I think it's easier to get further and further away from yourself when you listen to what others have to say about what you should be doing. [But] doing that is moving away from what your body needs, or what your mind needs. As an independent parent and owning my own business and juggling those two things and my passions and personal projects—burnout does happen.
I think that we need to normalize [burnout]. People struggle all the time with life and that's normal. I [try to] connect with myself, I realize what I need, I give myself what I need, and I try not to judge myself and feel bad for it. Like recently, for instance, I felt burnt out. I took nearly two weeks off, and it's what I needed. I firmly believe everybody has a different process with how they move through life, and everyone has their unique process. It's taken me years to come to this because I've been going against the grain and trying to do it a different way, because [of] my ego. But now I understand who I am, I understand what my process is. My process is I'm on for a period of time, and then I need a long period of time to just be off and to rest, and that's how I operate best. Right now, I think it's really important for people to understand their unique process and how they best move through life, and then practice that and own that. We all can be successful, but we're not going to be successful in our own authenticity if we're trying to follow this mold of what we see [other people doing.]
I think it's important, especially as an entrepreneur, to make sure that you're finding what your process looks like, and you're connecting with yourself and really asking yourself what you need, and then being okay to give that to yourself. Once I did that, I felt a lot better. I think what we have to offer is contingent upon how well we feel, and we can't burn ourselves out—we can't empty our cup to the point where we have nothing else to use to fill the cups of others. So, it's so important to do the things that you need to do to fill your cup so you can actually perform in the world.
At this point in your life, what do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is Salem. That's a contribution that I've made to the world that will top any other thing that I can do. You put out this human and then you do the work every day to help them become the best versions of themselves, and then they go out in the world, and they do their own thing. I can't think of anything else that tops that.
When do you feel the most empowered?
When I listen to my body and I follow my own process. That's a level of honesty and authenticity that fosters self-empowerment. When you're in that flow, you are completely yourself and what you have to offer the world and what you have to offer the people in your circles and your sphere of influence is to the maximum. [It is] really empowering when you feel totally yourself and you're having an impact on the people around you.
Which physical attributes do you love the most?
I've actually never thought of that. Can I say my brain? I think everybody has a unique perspective on how they see the world, how they process information and how they parlay that information to those around them. I'm at a place now where I feel confident about myself in that way and what I have to offer.
Which personality traits do you love the most about yourself?
I love really deeply and really care. Everything that I do, I just do it with all of me. The people that I meet and the relationships that I foster, I just give everything. And, you know, I think that's a good thing.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity from audio to text.