Stephanie Carter’s World of Health
This baby boomer fuses her passion for health and fitness with entrepreneurial driveSeptember 2018
By Kyle Roderick
Stephanie Carter is the co-founder of Wallaroo Hat Company, which manufactures sun hats, scarves and turbans that provide maximum protection from harmful ultraviolet rays.
But she’s more than an entrepreneur whose headwear protects people around the world. An attorney and mother of three grown children who lives with her husband in Boulder, Colorado, Carter is also an avid amateur athlete. Lending her products and company name to health campaigns that raise awareness of potentially deadly skin cancers and the steps we can take to prevent them, Carter’s professional life is balanced with daily mind/body fitness training.
Life Extension® quizzed her about her passion for health, wellness, and protecting the skin, the largest organ of the body.
LE: How do you define health?
SC: Health is a mind/body condition that we can support and protect through diet and lifestyle-related behaviors. The basis of my health is my meditation practice, which I do for 20 minutes every morning as soon as I wake up. Sometimes it can be challenging to make time for meditation, but the clarity, stress management and strength that it provides makes it worth the effort. I do an India mantra-based meditation, also known as Vedic meditation.
LE: In addition to being a meditator, you’re also an avid amateur athlete. Were you a very sporty girl?
SC: Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, with three older brothers, I was playing sports all year round. We were all on ski teams when we were young. I skied most every winter weekend throughout my youth. In high school, I was a runner and I also did bike racing.
LE: What are your favorite forms of physical exercise?
SC: I love being outside, so I hike several times a week early in the morning. After I’ve done my morning meditation, I go sunrise hiking on Mount Sanitas with a group of friends who live nearby. We meet at 6 a.m. and power up the steep backside of the mountain, and although the trail is only 3.1 miles roundtrip, it’s quite a workout as the climb involves 1,343 feet of elevation gain. We can usually get up to the top in about 45 minutes. Between climbing in the fresh air, taking in the view with friends and seeing the beauty of the morning light, it’s totally energizing.
LE: Do you stretch before you hike?
SC: I don’t really have the time to do much stretching so early in the morning, but because I do yoga several times a week, I am limber enough to get moving in the dark!
LE: Tell us about your yoga practice.
SC: Vinyasa flow-style yoga is an integral part of my life, and I first got into it when I was a law student at University of Denver law school. I started to do heated flow yoga classes to release stress and relax my body after long hours of reading, writing and sitting at a desk. Law school felt very stressful, particularly during the second year. Yoga came to my rescue because it helps get you out of your head so that you concentrate on breathing and downshift into mental calm. From my experience, regularly practicing yoga enhances energy levels and endurance.
I deepened my yoga practice by taking some teacher training courses in India and in Boulder to learn more about the technique behind the poses and to learn their Sanskrit and English names. I do Vinyasa yoga anywhere from three to four times a week at Yoga Pod and CORE Power Yoga, which are two fine studios in Boulder.
LE: With so many fitness-oriented citizens, Boulder is also well known for its supportive yoga and meditation community.
SC: Yes, it’s true. I was an original investor in Boulder’s Hanuman Yoga Festival, which in 2018 is celebrating its seventh year. I am also an owner of the festival, which happens every June in Boulder for four days. The festival is a great cross-cultural gathering uniting people of all ages and walks of life. Along with seminars taught by renowned female and male yogis who are teaching everything from Kundalini yoga to Vinyasa flow yoga, the program features musical performances.
LE: What other forms of exercise do you love to do?
SC: In the winter, I ski since it’s second nature for me. I’m on a tennis team for which I train individually with a pro on some mornings before I go to the office. Besides attending group practices in the evenings and on weekends, I also play in tournaments. I enjoy doing stand-up paddleboarding because it’s a low impact exercise that requires coordinating your mind and body to balance. You are constantly using your strength and endurance to paddle or just stand up straight on the board. While it’s an excellent core workout, your feet, legs, back, shoulders, arms and neck must work together, so really, your whole body benefits.
Every year, I travel with a group of women friends to Baja California, Mexico, to do stand-up paddleboarding and sea kayaking. We go to the Sea of Cortez and visit beautiful islands such as Isla Carmen and Isla Danzante in the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, a protected marine area that’s home to dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, sea lions, and whales. We camp, paddle, and snorkel around these islands. You can unplug from your daily life and electronic devices as there is zero cell phone reception there.
LE: What are your biggest health challenges?
SC: I’ve been getting migraine headaches since I was in college at New York University, where I earned my undergraduate degree in French and Spanish. Although they tend to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations, the migraines are also aggravated by alcohol, especially beer, and caffeine. I find that if I get eight hours of sleep, and stay very well hydrated, I’m far less likely to develop a migraine. A few years ago, my acupuncturist suggested I stop eating gluten to see if that might improve the situation. After eliminating gluten from my diet, my headache symptoms reduced in severity. Although I occasionally get migraines with bad occipital pain behind the eyes, they’re not as bad as they used to be. I take Ginkgo biloba for enhanced blood circulation to the brain.
LE: Given that you’re so physically active, do you get any regular body work?
SC: I get a deep tissue massage every other week for muscle mobility, relaxation, and mental health, because it’s therapeutic for me. It’s also important to get a massage to stimulate blood and lymph flow, which helps to flush toxins out of your system.
LE: You’re involved in raising awareness of melanoma and various skin cancers. Why is it so important to be informed about these particular health issues?
SC: Because protecting your skin and seeing a dermatologist for a full body exam starting in childhood can possibly save your life, or the lives of your friends and family. Most people diagnosed with melanoma are Caucasian men older than 50. Almost one million people in the U.S. have the disease.
It needs to be said that melanoma is not just a skin cancer. In fact, it can develop anywhere on the body: eyes, scalp, nails, feet, mouth, etc.
According to the melanoma.org website: “In 2018, over 178,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma. Of these, approximately 91,000 will be diagnosed with invasive (Stage I, II, III or IV) melanoma and another 87,000 will be diagnosed with melanoma in situ (Stage 0).” Many people are unaware that melanoma is the top cause of cancer death in women ages 25 to 30, and the second most common cause of cancer death in women ages 30 to 35.
LE: U.S. government figures state that the incidence of people under 30 with melanoma is rising faster than any other age group and has risen by 50% in women since 1980, while about 500 American children are diagnosed with the disease each year. Tell me about how you and your company partners are educating the public about melanoma and skin cancer prevention.
SC: My business, The Wallaroo Hat Company, was founded in 1999, mainly to provide people with stylish hats that will provide maximum sun protection and protection from ultraviolet radiation. We partner with the Melanoma Research Foundation (www.melanoma.org), which is based in Washington, D.C., in addition to other nonprofit community organizations devoted to skin cancer prevention. The Melanoma Research Foundation sponsors running races at Universal Studios every year, and we donate to their silent auction. Recently we made a line of turbans and scarves that we donated to the American Cancer Society, and we also donate products to the University of Virginia where they do skin-cancer screenings.
LE: So what type of hat do you recommend people wear? Is there a minimum brim width?
SC: A wide-brimmed (3-inch or greater) hat covers places where it is difficult to apply sunscreen, such as the scalp and tops of the ears, plus the back of the neck. A tightly woven hat will shade your face and protect the delicate internal structures of the eyes from ultraviolet UVA and UVB rays while also preventing you from squinting in the sun. Wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen provide ideal protection. Baseball caps are not recommended as they offer relatively little protection for the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, etc.
LE: Is there some kind of internationally recognized and certified rating system?
SC: Wear a hat that has at least a three-inch brim and is certified UPF 50+ by the Skin Cancer Foundation. UPF is a concept that was standardized in Australia in 1999, and while the initials stand for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, the number indicates what percentage of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate a fabric. This means that a hat or garment with a UPF of 50 allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin.
LE: What creates the UPF? Is the fabric embedded with chemicals?
SC: UPF is determined by the density of the weave of the fabric and it is this density that creates the UV protection. There are no chemicals involved in UPF. While wearing a hat is your #1 defense against damaging ultraviolet rays, it’s also important to wear sunglasses and sunscreen, even while driving, because light reflects off sidewalks, snow and roads. And while car windows and glass filter out the kind of radiation known as UVB rays, it allows UVA rays to penetrate. It’s a sunny world. Wear a hat!
Stephanie Carter’s Wallaroo Hat Company can be accessed online at https://wallaroohats.com
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