Interested in interviewing me for your blog, podcast, show, newspaper and magazine? Welcome to my press kit page! (a PDF of this can be found here)!
Would you like to book me to speak? YAY, awesome! You can contact me here, and feel free to check out the accolades page! I’m also happy to provide references upon request. Samples of my speaking in workshops and at events are coming soon!
Karen Petersen, AKA Smash Tank (that name comes from roller derby) is the author of 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds, and hosts the podcast of the same name. Her epic 100 pound weight loss journey started in March of 2012, when after 20 years of obesity, she had enough and was ready to change her life! Armed with her why – 100 reasons why – she sat in front of a camera, hit record, and stated, “my name is Karen, and I am 100 pounds overweight.” Over the course of two and a half years and with many challenges (like going through a break-up and breaking her leg during a roller derby accident, just to name a few), she documented her journey. In July of 2014, she reached her goal and has maintained a healthy lifestyle ever since! Karen’s book 100 Reason to Lose 100 Pounds is an encouraging chronicle as well as an action guide that provides activities, challenges, and questions to empower readers to embark on their own goals. She is originally from New York and currently resides in Bunnell, Florida. Karen has a colorful and diverse professional background, which enriches her candid and authentic writing and speaking. She also teaches group fitness and yoga at Blue Moon Yoga and Fitness in Ormond Beach, Florida, and leads several online communities and various challenges throughout the year.
Karen can be contacted at (386)631-6909, and at Karen@MindHeartSwole.com. The 100 Reasons project can be found at: http://mindheartswole.com/100reasonstolose100pounds/
Questions and answers
Q: What is your background?
A: I was nearly 300 pounds for about 20 years. A sustainable healthy lifestyle had always eluded me; I’ve tried all kinds of weird diets, dabbled with various work outs, and then I’d get frustrated when I’d mess up or get bored. I kept coming back to square one. Whenever I’d lose some weight, I’d fall off the wagon, gain it all back, and add on some more. When I finally embraced that this would require changing my habits in mind, body and spirit, I was able to take on little things, one at a time. Those little things added up.
For a very, very long time, I felt unworthy. That’s an exceptionally odd thing, because I’ve accomplished some huge things in my life – attended and graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, worked with NASA in microgravity research, worked for Southwest Airlines (my first month out of training was 9/11 – and I’m a New Yorker who had just graduated from an aeronautical university). I’ve always had highly competitive and rewarding careers, lost over 100 pounds, became a roller derby athlete, and I’m in recovery. These are very difficult things to achieve, and yet…well, we all have our demons.
Over time, with lots of experiences and making many mistakes, I’ve learned to take it easy on myself. Though I challenge myself to go way past my comfort zone, I also embrace that I will make mistakes whenever I try something. The strength is in finding the courage to get back up. I rise. Sometimes it takes a bit longer than others, but every time I fall, I get back up. That is essential to success.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I was finally less scared of change than I was in staying in a horrible situation. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually sick. I went through a break-up, moved, and was struggling with my career. Finally, I was ready. I knew goals would be key. So, I started writing my list.
I wrote 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds on the top of a sheet of paper and started writing reasons why I wanted to do it. It took a while to finish the list and get started. I began writing the list in January of 2012, and I started recording videos in March of 2012. I finished the list and began shooting the videos – one video per reason with the objective of shooting 100 videos, and to lose 100 pounds total. Gradually, I integrated healthier things into my life, like cutting down on how many sodas I was drinking per day – I went from 3-5 sodas to 1 per day, and then cut them out altogether over time. I made a lot of mistakes, and there were setbacks. It happened over time – it took me over two years to lose 100 pounds of excess fat.
In July of 2014, I hit my goal and shot the last video for the series. That day, I bought myself a present – a plane ticket to Las Vegas! My trip to Vegas was my reward for hitting my goal!
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: Once I finally found the “secret” formula – a full integration of healthy habits in mind, body and spirit – I knew it was my obligation to share what I learned to people who wanted what I now have. I hope the videos, podcast, and book are helpful to people who want to create lasting, positive habits in mind, body and spirit. That’s my why – to inspire people to live healthy lives in mind, body and spirit by practicing awareness, acceptance, and taking action. My mission is to encourage, empower and inspire people.
Speaking with lots of people, I kept getting the same questions. “What’s your secret?” “How did you do it?” “What advice can you give me/us?” “What keeps you going?” “Do you ever have a cheat day?” “Are you a wizard?”
These questions helped me understand what I need to write and speak about.
I also feel compelled to address the health crisis we’re facing in the United States and worldwide. Now that I’m living a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, it’s my job to spread my experience and my message of strength and hope. I want and need to inspire and empower people.
Q: What was the hardest part in your journey?
A: Getting started, forgiving myself for mistakes, and to get back up when I take steps back. Whether it was finishing my list, setting goals, getting up when my alarm goes off without hitting the snooze button, getting my gear on and lacing my roller skates or rolling out my yoga mat, the tricky part has always been getting started. It was also very painful to limit my time with certain people and to get away from other people. It’s not personal, but it’s essential for my ongoing success, my survival, and my cleantime.
Q: Did you learn anything from writing this book, and what was that?
A: Quality matters. Don’t rush the process. Trust and honor the feedback of others. Think from a reader’s perspective, honor their struggles, and speak to them instead of speak at them. Reach their hearts, be of service, and take feedback because it helps you relate to people on a deeper level. Also, hire a professional editor and graphic designer for the cover. Be VERY choosy about who you should work with. Act like the person you’re aspiring to be, and not like a desperate, broke, time-crunched crazy person!
Q: Who are your mentors, heroes, and sources of inspiration?
A: When making a decision, I have an imaginary roundtable comprised of Jesus Christ, my life coach Brenda O’Donnell, my sponsor, Gandhi, King Arthur, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and my friends Pat McAllister and Peg Wharton. These folks keep me honorable, level-headed, compassionate, accountable, humble, and honest. They all inspire me to be my best!
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: I absolutely love learning from folks that have risen above challenge and have shared from a place of authenticity and courage. There is an extensive list of highly influential books in the Mind section of my website MindHeartSwole.com.
Some of my favorites are Brene Brown, Mark Divine, Malcom Gladwell, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Simon Sinek, Stephen Covey, Brendon Burchard, JK Rowling, Paulo Coelho, and Suzanne Collins!
Q: What are some of your future projects/what are you working on?
A: I’m going on an epic voyage cross-country road trip book and speaking tour, and also planning to go to Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Speaking is a HUGE part of what I do and it is in total alignment with my purpose. Writing is also essential to my work. I’ve got a few more books already written and I’m working on a couple more.
There are a couple more podcasts underway – thank goodness I started a podcast network! Once the 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds podcast is wrapped up, I’ll get the next series up and running. It’s already started, and I’ve got a good foundation going there. I hope to continue to provide folks with information and resources that will inspire them to SMASH their goals!
Continuing with my why, I want to keep feeding the need and address awareness, acceptance, and inspire action. My upcoming work empowers taking action. Without giving too much away, I’ll share this – my next projects will be interactive, engaging, and impactful. Stay tuned!
Q: What has helped you find and maintain success?
A: Environment is priceless. Our friends, influences, mentors, the places we visit and who we let into our circles has tremendous impact on our results. I surround myself with warriors, brilliant people, inspiring, tremendously successful, insightful and spiritual people. Authentic, whole-hearted, honorable people with integrity inspire me to continue to live the same way. People who are kind yet firm remind me that it’s okay to make mistakes, but I’ve got to get up each time. I need to be around smart, kind, authentic, open-minded, clean, sober, no-B.S. people.
Reading, listening to podcasts, attending workshops, webinars, trainings, and going to meetings that are all in alignment with my mission continue to enrich my perspective and give me the right tools to keep growing.
A huge takeaway that I’ve gotten is we get bricks along the way, and when we reach our goal, they pave the way for future success. We never stop. There is no comfort zone. Mark Divine says, “the only easy day was yesterday.” I love that. It’s a hard truth, and once it’s truly and fully embraced, it’s a great quote to live by.
Q: Your book is in a highly saturated space – health, wellness, and weight loss. What makes your work different?
A: There’s only one me, and my book is my journey! 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds shares my experiences from the various perspectives of my journey – what it was like when I started, the experiences I had along the way, and how I’m living now. Another unique feature is that my book also serves as a workbook and action guide. Also, another distinguishing feature is that each of the reasons in the book are linked to the video corresponding to each reason. For instance, the eBook links each reason to the YouTube videos. The podcast shownotes for each episode link to each of the videos as well. The hard copy of the book has the links to the video and podcast for each reason. That link is http://mindheartswole.com/100reasonstolose100pounds/. I own the domain 100ReasonstoLose100Pounds.com and that’s another work in progress!
Q: Did you feel there was a gap in the market for your type of story?
A: Absolutely. Look, I’m the Imperfect Coach for Imperfect People. I’ve lost over 120 pounds of excess body fat; I’m not the model-type, smooth-skinned, perfectly sculpted Adonis-type figure we see so often in the health, wellness, and nutrition space. I’ve got scars, stretch marks and gray hairs. I curse. I’m a recovering addict. My life coach calls me the Dark Horse with a Bright Light. I have done my best to be vulnerable, authentic, and forthright about who I am and by doing so, my intention has been to encourage people to be flawed, imperfect, and to stop fighting their “defects” and embrace those unique qualities. We are not the sum total of our past, our mistakes, our flaws and our shortcomings. We are who we are because of those things.
So many health, wellness, fitness and particularly yoga-centric sites, books, videos, magazines and such promote self-acceptance, and yet the images we see are of “perfect” people. Our space needs someone who doesn’t fit the mold. I’ve learned this in the places I’ve taught workshops, yoga and group fitness, in my daily interactions, and from the members of the various groups I run. People often tell me that they appreciate the diversity I bring. They say there was a need for something different. Look, the folks who have come before (and likely after) me serve a tremendous purpose, and there is an audience for them. There is a need for them. There’s also a need for me. I feel compelled to share myself, my story, and my message in MY unique way. It has impact. It resonates with the folks who want and need to hear it. Some of the other folks in my space just haven’t been relatable to the people I’ve worked with. People I’ve worked with in this space, who have over 20 years of experience, have told me that I’m the real deal; in all their work experience, they haven’t met someone who is as real, raw, and honest as I am. I’ve heard this same message from high school students, teachers and administrators all the way to fitness professionals, community leaders and business gurus. I’m onto something big here.
Q: Does your book shed light on a common issue? Is it a topic that lots of people can relate to?
A: Yes, and it’s an issue that is killing Americans. The top killers in our country – and spreading worldwide – are preventative diseases, which are all rooted in how we eat. Over 65% of Americans are overweight to obese. That’s a staggering statistic. For the first time in our country’s history, children are going to live shorter lives than their parents. It’s going to take many of us to have a lasting impact on that issue, and I hope that I can reach out to people and empower them to make lasting change.
Fitness is an important element, and practicing mindfulness is foundational. I give insight and activities, challenges and ask questions in my book, blog, videos and newsletters that address all three facets of wellness – mind, body and spirit. We can’t just wake up and immediately change our habits for life. That’s willpower, and it has a very short fuse. We must instead learn to be our own generators of power – we must learn to create lasting healthy habits for life!
Q: Do you have a unique background that is different from other authors?
A: I can’t speak about the varied backgrounds of other authors, but I will share this – I’ve got great insight reaped from a lifetime of anger, inadequacy, learning challenges, living in active addiction, obesity, facing discrimination, and have learned to live with and rise above it all. Every day I still face challenges, and many of them are self-imposed. I appreciate when other authors share about their struggles, but I often see the huge focus on their current success. I’m living with this now, and I’ll always live with it. These are challenges that will be with me the rest of my life. I hope people understand that when we reach a goal, it doesn’t make our problems go away. The strategies I give are the ones I use in my life every day. I see many others talk about things that resolve an issue. I don’t focus on resolving the issue, I focus on the symptoms. One way I like to express it is that we all have a demon. We can’t just pretend it isn’t there and hope that it will go away. We can choose to let it ride with us in the back seat, the passenger’s seat, or even in the trunk or strapped to the hood – just don’t let it drive. That’s how we face our issues – address them and be aware of them, instead of fix, stifle, ignore or repress them. If we don’t embrace them, we’ll forever keep trying to run away from them.
There are a few authors that have touched on this – Dr. Brene Brown, Debbie Ford, and the contributors to the various books and publications in the recovery fellowships. I haven’t however seen anyone focus on this in a fully integrated approach in mind, body and spiritual wellness.
That’s why I chose my website name MindHeartSwole.com. I focus on wellness in mind, spirit (Heart), and body (Swole – it’s a clever term for muscle strength!).
Samples from the book can be found on the 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds website here! There’s also a link to the book on Amazon.com, and there is a PDF sample on there as well.
Q: Would you elaborate on what “swole” means in your website MindHeartSwole.com?
A: Swole is another word for pumped, strong, muscular. It’s a pun, a play on words. I wanted to incorporate some kind of mind, body and soul phrase in my website and business, so I came up with mind, heart (soul-stuff) and swole to relate to the fitness and nutrition component.
I’m a fan of strength training, and I want to encourage people to get strong. It doesn’t mean we have to get bulky, it just means strength is a powerful asset. Strength training burns fat (longer than cardiovascular exercise does) and helps off-set osteoporosis by making our bones stronger. It’s not about how it makes us look, though that is a great bonus! It’s all about how it benefits us.
Working out is a great component of that, but the real truth (which is very hard for folks to grasp and definitely comes with a lot of reluctance and resistance) is that the main component of a healthy lifestyle is nutrition. It’s important what we do with our bodies, and even more important what we put into them!
Q: Is there a message you hope your readers, clients and followers will grasp?
A: Easy does it. Start slowly, Be kind to yourself. Allow room for setbacks. Make sure you give yourself at least one rest day per week and cheat meals. Do things in moderation to avoid going overboard – both the healthy stuff and the unhealthy stuff.
Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to this audience?
A: We can always learn; the moment we think we know it all is when we’ve actually regressed. Be open-minded, learn from everyone you come across. Even if you may not be particularly fond of the messenger, pay attention to the message. Learn to accept the things you don’t like in others, because they’re really reflections of what we don’t like about ourselves. Smile lots, especially when it’s hard.
Practice gratitude. Tell at least one person a day that you appreciate him or her, and do it like this:
“Have you been asked today if you are appreciated? I appreciate you. Thank you.”
Watch what that simple thing will do for you, and for the other person! Try it! It’s harder than you think! Most of all, think of what you can do to be of service to others. Curiosity is the cure for loneliness. Witness the fulfillment that comes with serving others.
Here are some testimonials:
“Karen, I am in awe of your authentic presentation. The words you speak are a gift to all of those who are blessed enough to hear them! You teach me so much!” – Kelly L.
“Karen’s successes and stories smashed right through many of my walls and sparked the self I lost so many years ago. As I was reading, I could hear her compassion, enthusiasm, coaching, cheering and celebration. The experiences she shared throughout this book related to and addressed about 100 different topics and issues beyond losing weight. It literally met me right where I was at, on every level, and with no coincidence. I cried, I laughed, I learned so much and truth be known I found a 100 reasons to keep living.” – Jill M.
“Karen has an inimitable passion that seems bottomless. Her desire to share her experiences, good and bad, is easily identifiable, even when from different backgrounds. She is a completely authentic individual, whose generosity is unmatched. She is truly a remarkable woman.” – Cinn F.
“Just wanted to take a moment to say that you are an amazing woman. You have done such a wonderful job. Your emails are fantastic and your website is top notch. Seriously, so awesome.” – Danni W.
“I was not looking forward to the event at Tomoka Correctional Institute. However, that changed when I heard Karen Petersen speak. Okay, she was a little unorthodox to stay the least, and she admitted so. That’s why she was such a good fit for the program. She had an inspiring message! Very well presented! Her delivery almost made me want to commit a crime, be sentenced to Tomoka Correctional Institute and hear her message again! It was THAT good! Keep an eye on her – she’s a secret weapon.” – Jim C. Senior VP, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce
“It was a great event to watch and your message was conveyed beautifully. A job well done.” – Corrine H.
“I never expected to feel so welcomed and supported by such a wonderful human being. Your overflowing warmth and generosity helped me through a time of serious uncertainty and feelings of hopelessness. I feel new purpose, and I am grateful that there are people like you, who continue to liten and give meaning to a person that will affect them for a lifetime. I thank you with all my heart for your help and faith. If is with great honor that I will work to one day do for others what you have done for me. Thank you.” – Imad E.
“You ROCK! You have been such a godsend during my difficult times! I’m so glad there are still helpful and caring people like you around. It’s good to know I have someone to help me navigate through these new challenges, and I thank you for your insight and understanding.” – Rowena A.
“You were amazing this morning. I appreciate you sharing with us. Thank you so much for your energy and open heart!” – Amanda M.
“Keep on being inspirational and motivational! You’ve already helped me a ton!” – Tirzah H.
“This woman is wildly committed, body and soul, to health. I’ve known Karen since high school, and she continues to amaze and inspire me as I try to live a healthier, saner life.” – Dr. Colleen S. Harris-Keith
Feedback from success classes:
“This woman is amazing. She pretty much was the deciding factor for me to continue pursuing my goals.”
“Great advice and positivity from her life experiences!”
“I wish I we had more time with her!”
“It’s GREAT that you are willing to share your life experiences with the group! It makes the group feel more comfortable.”
“Great speaker! Gets the point across in a friendly manner!”
“Karen tells the truth of the what and how things actually work.”
“Authentic personal story. I loved “the wah is ova!” (ask me about that one 🙂 )
“I was in the back and I still heard everything that she said. She spoke so that everyone could hear and understand.”
“I enjoy hearing a super success story coming from someone with experience. Karen keeps your attention by being such a lively speaker, well-informed, and speaks about life and success experiences. She is AWESOME! Love her!”
“Karen is SO approachable and sunny! So positive! LOVE her!!”
“Love her energy!”
“She is such a lively person. She is helpful, caring, and devoted. She is a wealth of information, helpful, and knows her stuff. She’s approachable. Karen is caring, helpful, and a great leader. She shines in her work and makes a huge difference in lives. Everyone can learn from her.”
“VERY confident! Knows what she wants and goes after it! Very positive!”
“She’s a big ball of sunshine! So full of energy!”
There are stacks and stacks of more of these 🙂 References are available upon request!
Thank you so much for this opportunity, and please contact me to let me know how I may best serve you!