Wellness Activist Kris Carr on Cancer, Prevention and Her Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Kris Carr with Crazy Sexy Kitchen meals on her New York Farm
Photo: Bill Miles

UPDATE 1/14/14: Kris is writing another book, “Crazy Sexy Woman,” which she is calling her most personal. Check out her blog where she talks about her newest venture.

By Stacey Gualandi/February 4, 2013

TWITTER: @Kris_Carr

In 2007, I got to meet Kris Carr right before the launch of her very first book Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. Her take-charge approach to a healthy lifestyle inspired me, and many others, in so many ways. Now, nearly ten years after the diagnosis that changed her life for good, Kris is not only a cancer “thriver,” she has created a wellness revolution.

“Crazy is that kind of speak that somebody might say to you when they say, ‘Oh, that’ll never happen. That’s crazy!’ And then we say, ‘Oh really?  Watch me!’”  Kris Carr

She has a new bestseller on her hands, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, her first cookbook that she calls a veggie manifesto. It will change the way you think about your health.

I recently interviewed Kris for TWE Radio and got to hear her speak at a (Parker Seminar/Hay House) “You Can Heal Your Life” Conference in Las Vegas. This wellness activist preaches self-care, ending negative self-talk, and adopting a plant-based diet…  

EYE:  For people who are really into health, you are everybody’s go-to person. How does that feel? I’m sure that’s not necessarily what you had intended initially…

Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Kitchen bookKRIS: I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was just trying to figure out what I was going to do to feel better living with incurable cancer. When I started to do the research and certainly when I started to write my books, I realized that everybody needs to know this information, not just people who have chronic diseases.

We’re all struggling to figure out what we should do. So it’s an art to be able to put this out there. We take it really seriously at Team Kris, and we make sure we really understand the issues.  It’s exciting.

EYE:  I’m obviously a Crazy Sexy fan. What do you mean when you say Crazy Sexy?

KRIS: It started as mass emails that I would send to friends and family…my Crazy Sexy cancer updates. That was my way of letting everybody know all at once what was happening to me.  And also, it was my way of also letting them know I still had my sense of humor and I was  still the same old Kris.

Things had just changed in regard to my health, but I was still the same. Then as time went by and as I started to put myself out there, I really reevaluated and sort of decided to define what Crazy Sexy meant to me. And here it is in a nutshell…ready?

Stacey Gualandi and Kris Carr, author "Crazy Sexy Kitchen"

Stacey and Kris at “You Can Heal Your Life” conference

EYE:  I’m writing it down!

KRIS:  Crazy is out of the box; it’s forward thinking. Crazy is that kind of speak that somebody might say to you when they say, “Oh, that’ll never happen. That’s crazy!” And then we say, “Oh really?  Watch me!” Sexy is just empowering. So it stuck, and I think it really describes my mission. So we use Crazy and Sexy!

EYE:   Your grandmother was very much an inspiration to you when it comes to cooking. But did you ever think that some day you would actually write a cookbook?

KRIS: No. I didn’t know what a whisk was, you know? Forget it…

EYE:  I still don’t.

KRIS:  I was on a very different path. I moved to New York when I was 19 to pursue acting and dancing. I started performing when I was a kid, and my diet was what I would eat to stay slim for my job. I had a bad relationship with my diet.

“The one thing I can do is learn how to feed myself , how to take care of myself and how to be nicer to myself.” 

I was either dieting or binging, and there was a lot of chaos around my diet. So when I got diagnosed and I learned that there was no treatment for the disease that I have and that I would have to learn how to live with it, I decided, “Well, the one thing I can do is learn how to feed myself, how to take care of myself and to be nicer to myself. That’s what I can do; I can participate in some way.” And it started with the kitchen.

I took many different cooking classes and training courses and certification courses, and I was just doing my best to learn everything about plant-based foods. Then over time, I released a few books for cancer patients. In 2011, Crazy Sexy Diet came out, and that made it to the New York Times bestseller list.

Kris Carr and Chef Chad Sarno

Kris with Chef Chad Sarno
Photo: Bill Miles

EYE:  The diet was the why, and then Crazy Sexy Kitchen is the how.

KRIS:  Exactly. With Crazy Sexy Kitchen, I even break some of my own rules, where with Diet I’m really laying out a philosophy. With Kitchen, I think I open it up to an even broader audience which is why I brought in my friend Chef Sarno, who is a chef at Whole Foods.

EYE:  He’s a phenomenal chef, and he’s really cute, too.

KRIS:  He’s cute, he knows how to cook; it’s a win-win situation.

EYE: For many people who don’t know your back story, Valentine’s Day, 2003, was a life-changing day for you. What were you told on that day?

KRIS:  I was 31-years-old. I had pain that had been misdiagnosed for a few years that I was trying to avoid as well. I wasn’t totally on top of my health situation, but finally I got to a place where I couldn’t walk and I was doubled over in agony. I could barely breathe.

I got myself to the doctor, and they found lesions on my liver doing an ultrasound. Then they did a full body scan and found lesions on my lungs. At the time, I often joke, I didn’t even know what lesions meant. I thought they were like little cuts, and I wondered if my partying ways cut up my lungs and my liver which was highly possible at the time, I might add…

EYE:  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes something like a diagnosis to wake us up and think, “Oh gosh, why didn’t I take care of this sooner?”

KRIS:  I had no reference. There wasn’t cancer in my life or in my family, and I didn’t know anybody with cancer. Anyway, long story short—it came back that I had a very rare sarcoma, and it was stage four when they found it.

That’s the end stage. But the good news was that it’s slow moving, and it can change. It can become aggressive, which is why I get checked every year and a half now to make sure I’m still stable. So I’ll be honest—if I had been able to have chemo or radiation or surgery or anything like that, I maybe wouldn’t have changed my life.

Perhaps I would have just said, “Okay, we’ll cut it out and then I’ll just go back to my old ways.” Most people aren’t taught that you should probably change when you find yourself in this situation. And so because I didn’t have any option, that’s when I became self-reliant.

Kris Carr, author of "Crazy Sexy Kitchen"

Kris speaking at Gilda’s Club New York City, 2009

EYE:   We’re not following a prevention path. I think that’s a big word in your vocabulary:  prevention.

KRIS:  Absolutely. One thing I could tell you that I know for sure as somebody who lives with an incurable cancer—I can tell you with every ounce of my being—that prevention is the only lasting cure. We need to focus on it more. I’m all for testing and I’m all for better scanning, but I think we’re missing the point. I think we’re waiting until people are in the medical system before we teach them anything.

“I don’t know why but I think that maybe I’m just meant to teach things through my experience.”

EYE:   Do you think about cancer on a daily basis?  Now you’re onto this whole new way of life…

KRIS: When it comes to my health, I still have things that I struggle with. They keep me, for lack of a better word—they keep me motivated. Yes, I never forget, that’s for sure. I’ve dealt with some adrenal issues in the past year, and I’ve got a fragile body.

I don’t know why but I think that maybe I’m just meant to teach things through my experience. And that’s looking at it the bright way. My health issues are never far from me, but they just don’t define me. They don’t lead me, they don’t set the tone for who I am or who I am to become.

Kris Carr, author of "Crazy Sexy Kitchen" and her dogEYE:   You did all this work in terms of educating yourself, but why did you take that next leap and say, “Okay, I’m gonna put all of this into books and help other people, too?” You could have just focused on yourself.

KRIS: I was 31 at the time, and everything that I was finding in regards to cancer was doom and gloom. It was geared towards an older audience. I was frustrated. I wanted to share. It felt selfish to learn what I learned and just keep it to myself.

EYE:  I think that’s what makes you so endearing to people, too, the way that you write.

KRIS:  You’re speaking to your friends. That’s what I try to do when I’m writing. I’m also speaking to myself. I can write for months and months in a vacuum, and I just find that I’m babbling.

I think having that relationship with myself, talking to myself and asking myself what I need helps because usually what I need can become universal especially because I primarily write for other women.

 “It started as a way for me to just have somebody to talk to, and that was the camera.”

EYE: It all started with your documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, which is amazing. You literally documented the entire journey that you went on with your diagnosis. I really think that was your launching pad.

KRIS:  Absolutely. I documented my story for four years. I thought it was going to be over after the four years, and I’m on year ten now. I could probably do a part two. It started as a way for me to just have somebody to talk to, and that was the camera. And then it morphed into something much different four years later.

EYE:   What is the one thing that you really want people to know… that we can have control over our health?

KRIS:  I think we can participate. You know, we really can make a difference, and the most important thing I could recommend is just to accept where you are right now. It’s okay. You don’t have to fall apart or beat yourself up. Learn how to befriend yourself.

Kris Carr, author of "Crazy Sexy Kitchen"

Learn how to be with where you are, and from that place you’ll start to be able to grow and make changes that can stick. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can lean in and go one step at a time, and at the end of a day, a week, a month, a year, two years, ten years, you’ll be in much better shape.

EYE:  And I want to have good skin like you!

KRIS:   Drink your green juice!

EYE:  What are your future plans for Crazy Sexy wellness? Do you have some things on the horizon?

KRIS:  Yes, we’ve got more books, and I’m developing some online programs for people. We’re doing a lot of video content at my website, trying to get more knowledge and  information out there. So we have a busy schedule, but we’re inspired.

EYE:  That’s fantastic! Well, in the words of Kris Carr, make juice, not war. I love that. So Kris, thank you so much for joining me. I’m so thrilled to talk with you and I just hope you get even more followers!!! For more of our interview, check out the podcast on The Women’s Eye Radio Show.

Kris Carr, author of "Crazy Sexy Kitchen," with Bill Miles

Kris with her special healthy green juice/Photo: Bill Miles

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Comments

  1. Kris Carr is one of my many good health mentors. I own all of her books and have watched her documentary film about her journey with cancer. I love her chat & chew interviews and dinner series interviews also. The CSK cookbook is the best one that I own to-date. I’ve made several of the recipes and they are all amazing (especially the no-crab cakes). I’m thankful for women like Kris who are able to share the message of good living in such a positive light.

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