Professional fitness model and actress Amanda Carrier talks with Answer Fitness about her diet and exercise routine, why she lifts heavy, looking sexy while you’re pregnant and America’s obsession with “thin at any cost.”
Amanda Carrier has a confession to make. Actually two of them.
The Muscle & Fitness Hers cover girl, Maxim model, actress and amateur pugilist (yes, she likes to box) has a little secret to share. And it has to do with cheat meals.
“I cheat everyday!” she gushes. “Sometimes a couple of times a day!”
This was not what I was expecting to hear from a woman who has some of the flattest female abs around and makes a living posing in barely-there bikinis.
A cheat meal once a week, I expected. A cheat day, perhaps. But daily cheat meals? And more than one of them a day?
I was waiting for Amanda to say she had “fast-metabolism” that let her eat whatever she wanted and still keep that body beach-ready for the next photo shoot or acting role.
But she didn’t.
Enter Amanda’s second confession: Until she started hitting the weights and getting serious with her training, she admits that she was the quintessential “skinny fat girl” – her scale weight said she was lean, her body fat percentage and appearance said otherwise.
“I had been inactive all of my life. I didn’t really play sports. I was always told I had a pretty face, but I wanted to also be told I had a nice body. I never really felt like I had a womanly, sexy body,” Amanda explains. “I was thin, but ‘mushy.’ I had stick legs, a flabby belly and a square waist. I had to work really hard to put on curves.”
This was not what I was expecting to hear at all.
In a way, I was actually thrilled to hear Amanda say this, even if it seemed unimaginable based on how she looked in her swimwear portfolio.
Breaking The Myths Around Female Fitness
I’ve been wanting to run a series of interviews with female fitness models for some time now.
Not the usual “Tell me your turn-Ons and Turn-Offs” that you often see accompanying their spreads in men’s magazines, but more honest and serious interviews around their exercise routines, diet, and philosophy for staying fit.
I thought it would be a great way to counter some of the myths around women and weight training and help inspire my female readers. I was also hoping to take some of the gloss off from fitness models and demonstrate that for many of them, getting and staying in top shape has more to do with hard work, healthy eating and good habits than with genes or metabolism.
I decided to start this series with Amanda Carrier, partly on appearances and partly on instinct. And based on the interview she gave, I’m glad I did.
Profile: Amanda Carrier
Place of Birth: Alexandria, LA
Current Home: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Fitness Model & Actress
Height: 5 5″
Marital Status: Married
Favorite Activities: Weight Training, Boxing
Amanda’s Workout Routine: 4-Day Split; Trains legs twice a week; Cardio is performed on non-weight training days, usually on a stair-stepper or elliptical trainer set to high resistance to keep her glutes hard.
Favorite Food Indulgence: Sweets
Best Body Part: “Butt and abs”
Favorite Healthy Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes
Latest Film Project: Featured role in “Labor Pains” with Lindsay Lohan
Website: Amanda Carrier Actress and Fitness Model (www.amandacarrier441.com)
What’s So Cool About Amanda?
I first ran across Amanda in 2007 in Muscle and Fitness Hers magazine where she did an eight page workout spread (she also graced the cover) demonstrating how to use resistance bands and an exercise ball to get a killer home workout.
Amanda had that great combination of athleticism, feminine curves and tight, toned muscle that I think a lot of women associate with a fit, sexy, bikini-ready body.
And she just looked so healthy, which struck me as a refreshing break from the pencil-thin role models trotted out in Hollywood or on the fashion runways.
My instincts told me this wasn’t a woman who got in that kind of shape with a bottle of Trim Spa, The Detox Diet and 90 minutes of cardio seven days a week. I’ve spent enough time in the gym to recognize a woman who lifts weights, and I was willing to bet Amanda did her fair share of hanging out in the weight room.
My instincts were right.
I asked Amanda, who just wrapped up shooting a featured role in the upcoming movie “Labor Pains” with Lindsay Lohan, if she’d do the honors of kicking off my fitness model interview series because I suspected that she’d be able to back up some of the things I discuss regularly on Answer Fitness around female weight training, dieting and focusing on reducing body fat, instead of simply scale weight.
I also thought she would be a healthy role model for my female readers and help debunk the myth that lifting weights will make you bulky and manly. After all, there is nothing manly about Amanda Carrier. She is walking, talking proof of why more women should cut back on the endless cardio and start working in the weights.
Not Your Average Hardbody
I also had no clue that she had done a major spread in Maxim, was featured on Harley Davidson’s 2006 Dreamgirls calendar, and had lead roles in everything from national eHarmony and Kawasaki commercials (she’s the sexy female super agent with the stapler) to an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show playing, of all people, Victoria Beckham.
I just thought I was getting an interview with a really healthy, in-shape woman (who also happened to model in fitness magazines,) so it was fun to discover that she’s also a up-and-coming Hollywood actress and model.
And her buff shoulders and ”no fear of the free weights” attitude aren’t the only cool thing about Amanda Carrier — she also gave a really great, honest interview that really helped kick this series off on a high note.
Maybe it’s Amanda’s southern roots — she was born in Louisiana and grew up in Florida before heading to Los Angeles at 24 to pursue her modeling and acting career – but she has none of the pretentiousness that you might normally expect to encounter in someone with the term “model” on their resume.
Describing herself on her website as the ”All-American Sweetheart”, Carrier has managed to balance the demands of a career that by its very nature places a premium on physical attractiveness, with a common-sense, holistic approach to fitness that doesn’t sacrifice her health in the pursuit of beauty.
The most impressive thing about Carrier is that you’ll never get that “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” vibe from her, despite all of the covers, commercials and modeling gigs.
From “Skinny Fat” To The Cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers
While you might be tempted to think that Carrier was born with this body, she freely admits that she’s she hasn’t always been comfortable in her own skin.
“Honestly, I struggled with some insecurities like a lot girls do. Some of them stemmed from unhealthy relationships I had with certain people who pressured me by telling me I was fat and needed to lose weight and work out.”
“I remember looking at the girls on the covers of fitness magazines with those phenomenal bodies in bikinis and thinking ‘I want to look like that!’ It was motivation for me to start taking my health and fitness more seriously. I felt un-proportioned and flabby.”
So Carrier threw herself into trying to sculpt some curves onto her 5′ 5″ frame. Her goal: Become that woman in the bikini on the cover of the fitness magazines.
“I immersed myself in a whole lifestyle change to reach that goal.”
At 24, and with two years of training under her belt, Carrier decided it was time to go for that cover shot. She packed up her bags, left Florida and moved to Los Angeles to see if she could jump-start her modeling and acting career.
“I just picked up and moved to L.A. by myself, with no experience and no connections. It was all hopes and dreams. So in that regard, the move was easy,” says Carrier. ”I worked a part time job, tried to line up connections and head shots and started getting enough work hosting, modeling, spokes-modeling, acting, doing commercials and fitness modeling to pay my bills. “
But going from the skinny fat girl to a successful fitness cover model took plenty of discipline and lots of sweat. In the ultra-competitive L.A. market — where beautiful bodies are the rule and not the exception and pretty faces are a dime a dozen — Carrier found out that “good enough” wasn’t going to cut it.
“Come Back When You Look Like You Workout”
Carrier recalls an uncomfortable meeting she had with a fitness photographer shortly after she arrived in California:
“He took a look at me and my portfolio and told me ‘Come back when you look like you workout.’”
”That really hurt, but I think it made me more determined,” says Carrier. ”I had already been training for two years, but because of my build, it takes me time to build muscle. It was also hard for me to teach myself how to eat right. I knew how to eat, but I had struggled in the past with some emotional binge eating. It took me about two years to work through that and another two years to get my diet where I wanted it to be.”
Carrier also admits that she didn’t have the fitness foundation that some of the other models had, which put her at a competitive disadvantage, at least initially.
“When you were active, played sports or were involved in gymnastics earlier in your life, it’s way easier to build the body you want and get the fitness modeling shoots,” says Carrier. “But I started from scratch. I had no tone or muscle memory and had been very inactive my whole life. That’s the “skinny fat” you hear people talk about. I really had to work at it. It wasn’t enough just to catch-up … you had to pass them.”
But Carrier did catch-up, and the opportunities started rolling in.
The Muscle and Fitness Hers spreads, the Maxim shoots, the acting roles and spokes-model gigs. And as Carrier became more fit and muscular — not skinnier — she also felt her self-confidence growing.
“I’m sure other people always thought I looked great, but I was so critical of myself then,” she explains. ”But the stronger I got and the more jobs I booked, the more confident I became. Over time, the good things people said — and the sense of personal accomplishment I was experiencing — helped me really focus on the positive.”
Carrier says it let her get over any lingering self-doubt and concentrate on moving her career forward.
“I think improving my fitness and focusing on getting lean and strong, versus where I was before, was key.”
Fit Year Round
I was curious about Carrier’s body fat levels, since I’m regularly trying to get readers to focus on body composition and body fat-to-lean muscle ratio versus scale weight.
Carrier, who is six months pregnant with her first child, says she is normally between 14-16 percent body fat and weighs between 125-130 lbs. If you do some fast calculations, that means that Carrier is carrying only 18-20 lbs of fat at any given time, and the rest is all muscle and lean tissue. Yet, if you looked at her scale weight alone, Carrier might be deemed “heavy” by some people’s standards at her height.
What’s even more impressive is that Carrier is able to maintain her body fat levels within that range all year round. Unlike many professional female fitness and figure competitors, Carrier’s not a big fan of bulking and cutting cycles, preferring instead to take a more moderated approach to adding lean muscle and minimizing body fat.
“I’m not a fitness competitor, I’m a model and actress, so I like to stay fit year round,” Carrier explains. ”I don’t need to bulk and then lean out. I used to be interested in trying my hand at fitness or figure competitions, but it’s just too hard for my body to gain muscle. And honestly, think I look better this way. It’s also healthier and easier on my body to just focus on staying lean and trim all year long, versus picking up bad eating habits during a gain cycle and then having to crash diet them off.”
Staying In-Shape With Baby On The Way
While she admits to naturally adding some body fat as a result of the pregnancy, she says she’s tried to do a good job of keeping fit despite the pregnancy.
“I wasn’t able to train during the first five months of the pregnancy because I was so tired and nauseous,” says Carrier. “But now that I’m in my sixth month, I feel better.”
Carrier has resumed her training slowly, walking on the treadmill three times a week and then gradually adding in some light circuit training twice a week, splitting her circuit between upper and lower body exercises.
And it’s paid off. Aside from the baby bump, Carrier still looks fantastic, avoiding some of the fat gain that many women struggle with during pregnancy.
“I think going into the pregnancy in really good shape, with lots of lean muscle and good eating habits has really helped me stay trim and healthy. The best part is when people tell me I’m the hottest pregnant woman they’ve ever seen!”
Carrier thinks having a baby will actually be a boom for her career, and not a barrier.
“It opens up a lot of additional opportunities for me,” says Carrier. “I’m just now showing enough to go on maternity auditions, so I’ll be doing maternity work for the next few months. Right now I’m trying to work out a shoot with Fit Pregnancy and am on hold for two major maternity print shoots.”
Carrier says that after her son, Fox, is born, she’ll jump back into the fitness modeling she did before her pregnancy, and plans on doing some mom and baby work as well.
Why Amanda Goes Heavy with the Weights
“For me personally I have to go very heavy with the weights because my body doesn’t respond as well to higher reps. I just don’t get the kind of growth and results I want with light weights and high reps.”
Amanda’s Workout Routine
“Typically I do three sets per exercise for 12-15 reps, using a weight that causes me to fatigue somewhere in that range. I usually do a four day split. So on one day I’ll do back, biceps, and abs. The next workout will be legs, calves and abs. The third workout will be shoulders, chest and triceps and the last workout I’ll go back to legs, calves and abs.
“I do a minimum of three different exercises per muscle group. For example, on back days I’ll do lat pull-downs at 90 lbs, bent-over dumbbell rows at 35 lbs and cable rows at 70 lbs. I then follow-up with two bicep exercises and three ab exercises. ”
“On my non-weight training days, I do a 30 minute cardio session. I usually prefer the Stepmill because it tones and tightens my glutes the best. I’ll also skip every-other step to hit a larger range of motion. I also will do the elliptical trainer at high-intensity and a slow-to-moderate pace. I like to use more resistance to keep my muscle hard, but now that I’m pregnant, I can only handle the treadmill on the highest incline and at a walking pace. “
“I try to change my routine up every two or three weeks.”
What’s Amanda’s Favorite Body Part to Train?
“I love training legs because it’s where I need the most growth and it keeps my butt plump. I love doing deadlifts. I use a 70-90lb straight bar. My second favorite muscle group to train are shoulders. I like the definition it adds to my upper body.”
Amanda on Diet, Nutrition and Healthy Eating
“I eat pretty clean. I focus on eating natural healthy food that’s valuable to my body and I also indulge here and there on sweets. I don’t like to poison myself with fake sugars in processed foods. I read everything I buy and pay special attention to the nutritional labels as well as the ingredient list. Reading the ingredient list let’s you find things you might miss or should avoid — things like artificial sweeteners or hydrogenated oils.”
“I also eat a lot of whole grains … oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa flakes, grits and wheat toast along with my veggies and lean meats.
I try to keep follow the guideline that if I can’t recognize it in it’s natural form from the Earth, then I don’t eat it. So I stay away from canned food, fast food and most things from a box that are overly-processed. ”
“If you take the time to look, research and explore, there are some really cool stores that have interesting, unique and healthy treats. I’m not talking about Atkins and low carb gimmicks. I’m talking about whole natural foods. “
What About Supplements?
Amanda loves her whey protein, and has a shake every day along with her vitamins. When she’s not pregnant, she says she takes L-Glutamine after workouts to help with recovery and to keep her muscle and curves.
Amanda on Cheat Meals
“It really depends on my activity level and how I look,” Amanda explains. ”If I’m training really hard and I look great and I’m maintaining [my figure] I’ll splurge and indulge in whatever I fancy. But I won’t gorge on stuff. If I’m looking a little sloppy, I monitor what I eat more closely and make adjustments.”
Amanda on Female Fitness
“I think fitness can play a really key role in a women’s physical and emotional health and well-being. But I do think that women need to be careful and check themselves. It’s a balancing act. If you are already very skinny and spending hours doing cardio, it can be anything but healthy. Likewise, if you are already muscular and starting to cross over into looking like a male, you might want to ease off on the weights for a while.”
“Fitness is about health – so your goal should be about improving your health and well-being. No steroids, and no dangerous supplements like fat burners or diet pills. Also, the silly practice of eliminating certain food groups is just counterproductive. There’s nothing healthy about it. At its root, that type of extreme dieting probably indicates an emotional issue that needs to be worked out. It’s less about diet, then about control. It’s the kind of behavior that can lead to eating disorders.”
Does Amanda Keep a Exercise Journal or Diet Log?
“I don’t keep either of them, although I do admire people who have the discipline to do it. Just as long as they don’t become too obsessed!”
Amanda on America’s Obsession with Thin
“Some women get so focused on being thin. How often do you hear men saying “Yeah, look at that girl, the one with no curves. She’s so hot and skinny.” In my opinion, it’s not attractive.”
“I think a woman is sexy when she has tone, muscle definition, curves and her body is tight from training, not starving. She looks strong and powerful and it shows in her personality and self-confidence.”
“Unfortunately, girls who fall in the trap of buying into the lie that ”skinny is better or more healthy” are probably struggling with a weakness or emotional issue on the inside that’s as dangerous as the outward, physical weakness that comes along with starving yourself. I have the same opinion on sloppy people, who don’t care enough about their health, allow themselves to become lazy and let themselves go.”
“Taking care of yourself is hard work and it takes commitment. There are definitely days that I don’t want to workout. But I push myself anyway, because it’s important. I always feel better that I did.”
Amanda on The Pressures of Staying Thin in Hollywood
“In terms of Hollywood and the focus on being skinny, I know a lot of actresses say they feel pressure to be ultra-thin. I personally have never heard any talk of that from agents or directors or anyone. It may well be an excuse for some girls and it might mask some other, deeper issues. I actually asked my agents and the directors I worked with about this, and they all said that they are looking for women who have a more natural, healthy weight. I don’t mean plump, but toned and athletic.”
Amanda’s Most Admired Celebrity Bods
“I love Jessica Biel and Madonna. Jessica has this super-healthy, buff and toned body that’s strong, but sexy and feminine. Madonna is totally ripped and sexy, and she has the attitude to match it. It’s even more impressive that she’s been able to build on it well into her forties.”
Amanda Carrier’s Tips and Tricks for Developing a Killer Body
Tip #1: Try replacing your sugar or artificial sweetener with a bottle of liquid stevia.
“I like the vanilla cream flavor. The great thing about liquid stevia is that you can carry it in your purse and it’s calorie-free. Even better, it’s an all-natural extract of the Stevia plant, which makes it a great alternative to artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Nutrasweet.”
Tip #2: Force yourself go to the gym and train even if you’re tired or feeling lazy.
“Make it a priority and a habit — like brushing your teeth. You have to do it. Eventually, you’ll love it because you’ll love the way it makes you look and feel. It takes a little time, but the results will come and they’ll motivate you to keep it up, no matter what your current fitness or experience level is.”
“Avoid taking long breaks from working out. It will make it even more difficult to get back in the groove again. Although you might not have the best workout of your life when you’re tired or lack motivation, just getting yourself in the gym will make you feel better when you’re done. More importantly, you’ll have kept up your routine, which is critical to long-term success.”
Tip #3: Don’t let ignorance or lack-of-knowledge keep you from a more healthy body.
“If you have questions, seek out answers. There are so many resources available to people now. Look it up, read up on it (check out some magazines or books from the library), browse the Internet which is a great, free source of fitness and diet information and advice. I learned myself by trial-and-error. I’m completely self-taught. And though I never had a professional trainer or dietitian, I’ve become a certified personal trainer. I learned by trial-and-error, by searching the Internet and by reading magazines.”
Amanda on Becoming a Fitness Model
“It’s not as difficult as it sounds. It just takes wanting it bad enough to stick it out. It’s a lifestyle and it requires that you change you habits and reevaluate your priorities and determine what’s really important to you.”
“If you want to be fit and healthy you have to LIVE that way. It’s just like any other career. You can say that you want to be a doctor, but if you don’t study, go to school, put in the hours, work at it and pass your boards, you’ll never reach your goal.”
“I know it sounds cliched, but it really takes a series of baby steps. It’s a learning process. You take one step, and then another, and eventually you get it down. You start by cleaning up your diet, you then add in some weight training, you get your heart in shape with some cardio and then you just take the intensity up a notch. And then when you get there, you do it again. The coolest feeling is to look back at your progress and see how far you’ve come. At that point, you can’t go back because the new you is sooooo much better. ”
“I have to be honest, I feel awful if I haven’t trained in a while. Part of that is because exercise produces certain chemical reactions in the body that make us feel better, but part of it is also because you hold yourself to a certain standard. If you didn’t brush your teeth, you’d probably feel awful also. That’s where you want to get. It’s a habit and one that will probably add years on to your life. And if you’re really disciplined, you might be able to make a paying career out of it.”
Amanda on Keeping the Faith
“Anything I’ve ever dreamed and imagined, I’ve been able to produce with my effort. I don’t think I’m special in that regard — I think everyone has that potential. At the end of the day, effort counts more than talent, genetics, money, privilege and intelligence.”
“If you want to lose 200 lbs, you can. If you want to change your lifestyle you can. If you want to compete in a fitness competition, you can. No one is holding you back except your own fears and lack of focus. You just have to concentrate and put 100 percent of your effort behind whatever goal you have. It’s not as hard as it seems, especially when you believe, and dream and imagine.”
How To Get More Amanda
You can also check out Amanda’s busy schedule (including up coming acting jobs and appearances) here.
Amanda’s Modeling and Acting Credits
- Featured role in ”Labor Pains” starring Lindsay Lohan
- The Jimmy Kimmel Show
- The Jamie Kennedy Experiment
- Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery (The Learning Channel)
- Two and A Half Men
- CSI Miami & Las Vegas
- Season Host of ESPN 2 Big Game Preview Show
- Muscle & Fitness Hers (Cover)
- American Curves
- 2Chix Maternity Clothing (Times Square Billboard)
- Muscle & Fitness “Hot Bod” September, 2006
- 2008 Harley Davidson Dreamgirls Calendar
- Maxim Magazine
- Surf Illustrated
- Maxim Hometown Hotties Finalist
- WWE Raw Diva Search Semifinalist