Q&A: Cari Pierce, holistic health coach, on the importance of self-care

Cari Pierce, owner of Flip Yours Fitness & Wellness in Westminster, recently opened her Change Space Meditation Room & Wellness Lifestyle Supply — and has offered some advice for Carroll County residents looking for ways to fulfill New Year’s resolutions centered on wellness.
Cari Pierce, owner of Flip Yours Fitness & Wellness in Westminster, recently opened her Change Space Meditation Room & Wellness Lifestyle Supply — and has offered some advice for Carroll County residents looking for ways to fulfill New Year’s resolutions centered on wellness. (Contributed)

Cari Pierce, 46, owner of Flip Yours Fitness & Wellness in Westminster, is a holistic health coach and personal trainer, certified as a functional strength coach and corrective exercise specialist.

She opened her original studio off Pennsylvania Avenue about four years ago, and relocated to the current 19 Liberty St. location in May of last year. Change Space Meditation Room & Wellness Lifestyle Supply just opened in November 2018.


The Carroll County Long Term Advisory Council health cluster recommends collaboration, infrastructure and environmental studies as key things to think about ahead of 2047.

Pierce has offered some advice for Carroll County residents looking for ways to fulfill New Year’s resolutions centered on wellness.

Q: People are talking about New Year’s resolutions, with #mindfulness and #selfcare on the mind. How do you define that, and what are a couple simple ways people can take action on that for themselves in 2019?


A: Self-care is about prioritizing ourselves. When flight attendants go through the safety briefing before a plane takes off, they remind us that in the event of emergency we should put our own oxygen masks on before helping others with theirs. That makes so much sense. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessity. We’re not in the best position to help others if we’re not investing in our own spirit, mind and body first.

Mindfulness is practice of self-care. Meditation is one of the most powerful and research-supported forms of mindfulness. It can be done sitting in a lovely room (like at Change Space) or you can meditate standing in the line at the post office. Simply, mindfulness is taking a moment to be in the moment. Really be there. We spend a lot of time and angst rehashing past events, analyzing them, doubting them, wishing we could redo them, but knowing we can’t change them. Likewise, we invest a lot of our energy in anticipation of what’s to come. We run through scenarios, analyze them, doubt them, wonder, worry. Yet we can’t actually control any of that either. So right now is a very powerful place — an empowered place — to be. Right now, in this moment, we can connect to ourselves, have a true sense of control, relax in a comfortable calmness. In this moment, we hear the sounds around us. The smells. We feel the breath coming into our body. And leaving it. Sure, the brain goes a little squirrelly, but we come back to the breath. In that breath, we are alive … now.

Every day, it’s vital to invest in ourselves in a meaningful way. That can be a few moments spent writing or reading for pleasure, engaging in a hobby, soaking in the bathtub, getting a massage. It doesn’t have to be a grand activity. Just as long as it’s something just for ourselves, that makes us happy, that feels good physically, mentally and/or spiritually to us. Certainly, meditation is a simply awesome self-care investment and, thankfully, it’s becoming more mainstream, less misunderstood. Commit to a beginning practice of five minutes for five days. Maybe then 10 minutes for 10 days after that. Then 15 minutes for 15 more days. After those 30 days, you will know the difference meditation can make in your life.

Q: I read your manifesto on your website. There are so many points you make in it — including the importance of a positive attitude, one’s mentality, and a mind-body connection. What are the most important points to you?

A: That manifesto was cathartic to write many years ago and all holds true to me today. At Flip Yours, our motto is “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Actions, Change Your Life.” Sounds simple. Except it’s not. A lot of getting real with ourselves and with others has to happen for us to truly start to change our habits. Getting real means to stop telling ourselves lies, giving ourselves excuses, allowing us to let ourselves down. No one likes to be let down by someone else, yet we’re quick to disappoint ourselves.

Three truths to just go ahead and accept in this life:

1) It’s always something. Always. Usually multiple somethings. We should all expect unexpected things. Those things cannot be why we don’t get to the gym, don’t eat enough vegetables, don’t get the amount of sleep we need, don’t practice self-care, etc. We don’t find time; we must make time amidst the “always somethings.” Excuses are not reasons.

2) Change takes consistent effort over time. Many people don’t give enough weight to the two components of this “change equation” together. We start strong (like most New Year’s resolutions) but we peter out quickly because we don’t see the immediate change we think we should or we tried to change too much too quickly. Others give some effort for an extended time, but it’s not consistent enough so we don’t achieve much progress. If we keep showing up for ourselves and give time time, we reach every goal.

3) It’s up to you. It’s up to me. Regularly, I bid my clients goodbye saying, “make it a great day.” I don’t say “have a great day.” It’s up to each of us to find the joy, take the action, invest in the goal. What we want doesn’t just happen. We create and tend to the path that brings us to what we want. Or we build obstacles across that path and block ourselves from achieving the things we said we want. We’re more empowered in our destiny — momentarily, daily or long-term —than we’re willing to admit to ourselves.

Q: Is there a story behind one of the items in your manifesto that led to a paradigm shift in your life or changed the way you think?

A: In my younger years, I was shy on self-love and abundant with self-doubt. I wrapped myself in addiction and destructive behaviors. I had an unhealthy relationship with food. With others. With myself. It’s no surprise, then, that also I had numerous and mounting physical ailments. I wasn’t well and I wasn’t happy. In hindsight, I see that I was blinded by my belief that my feelings, my circumstances, and anything else I was uncomfortable with was of someone else’s doing, another’s fault, outside of my control.

In moments of deciding that life was worth living, I began challenging those faulty beliefs. I began working on the things I could control. My thoughts. My actions. My body. Even my environment, to a degree. In addiction recovery, related to establishing clean living, it’s suggested to change people, places and things. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting. So, if we don’t like the job, body, house, relationship, etc. that we’re in, we need to do something different. In my own story, that meant working to learn about and change my nutrition, to begin writing the owner’s manual to my body, to exercise more and differently, to stop relying on symptom-based medical care, opting instead to heal the underlying causes of my physical issues. I finally got it … I am the only person who is going to prioritize me.


Working with my clients, I offer the analogy of each of us having an adult self and an infant self. The infant self is the very essence of us. It’s our core. Our vitality. Our hope. If that infant self, so reliant on the adult, was sitting in a highchair, hungry, screaming, obviously miserable, would your adult self just ignore the infant? Or even further cause the infant distress? How we treat ourselves, how we care for ourselves, is absolutely a first priority. We can’t ignore the baby in the highchair! Yet so many people do, day after day.

Q: What services do you offer for people looking to make positive changes in their life in 2019?


A: The studio offers semi-private fitness training in a boutique studio setting. Members work individual programming within the shared training environment. It’s a model that champions autonomy yet is underpinned by additional guidance and in-depth support, as needed. Members schedule their sessions so we know when to expect them and can help hold them accountable to their training commitments.


Next door to the studio is our meditation room and wellness store. The store offers an eclectic and forward-thinking perspective on creating a home environment that supports our total health. Visitors can browse meditation supplies, home care items, nutritional supplements, food and beverage items, as well as gifts for yourself and others. The general public is invited to use the meditation space, free, no purchase necessary. And when you catch me in the store, you can always ask a lot of questions about health and products and nutrition and more. As well, in the store and in the studio, I schedule fee-based health coaching conversations for anyone wanting to establish a stronger footing on their path to total wellness.

The intent of both environments is for everyone who comes in the door to feel a sense of belonging, of ease, of finally being in a place where they can let go of their struggle and start feeling more in control, happier, supported. At the studio, we achieve that through on-going communication and education of what I call the pillars of total health, which we drill down into with habit change as clients are ready to dig in and do the work of changing.

We are meant to be real. To be vulnerable. To be challenged and to achieve. Alone, though, we’re not meant for that.

Q: Your work encompasses many things, including the name “Flip Your Dog.” Where did you start and how did you get to where you are now?

A: In yoga, from the Three-Legged Dog pose, you can roll over into a backbend position called Wild Thing. That transitional move is called flipping your dog. It requires some concentration. Balance, certainly. You also end up in a posture that is considered a heart-opener, exposing the chest and neck in a vulnerable position. That’s fitting. To achieve change, we need to put in our concentrated effort. We need to seek better balance. We need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, real. Open.

I’ve changed my thinking. I’ve changed my actions. And, as a result, I have changed my life. Almost 30 years ago, I was 30 pounds overweight, smoking, drinking, doing drugs and miserable. And 20 years ago, I was malnourished, super skinny, very sick and on a bunch of serious pharmaceutical prescriptions. My steady journey to health started about 15 years ago, with an accelerated drive over the past seven years as I made my transition into this world of wellness professionally.

I’m incredibly grateful that people allow me to support and serve them. I do everything that I do because of them. I’m driven by them. I want to help. I’m meant to help. I’ve walked my twisted path of struggle and joy and change and acceptance because I was meant to be where I am now to offer a hand to someone else. It’s always worth it to share the moments of recognition and celebration with a client when they achieve the little successes … which mount into the big ones. It’s equally rewarding to be a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen when a client is challenged on the cusp of a big change breakthrough.

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