Welcome to Part 1 of our 4 part blog series: Meet CCN! For awhile now, we have alluded to the fact that there are several amazing people that work hard to make CCN what it is and we thought now would be a great time to introduce everyone.
First up is Cara, herself. Because without Cara there would be no Cara Clark Nutrition.
1.Tell us a bit about yourself. And the history of CCN.
What is there that you all don’t already know about me? You know I’m a wife and a mama bear of 4 little girls. We live in Orange County, CA, but I’m a country girl at heart. I grew up on a lot of land in Ohio and went to college in Oklahoma, where I played basketball.
It was as I was in school for broadcast journalism that I developed my passion for nutrition. I grew up eating real foods and loads of fruits and vegetables. My parents were health conscious. When I went to Oklahoma, it was another world. Not only was all the food fried, but it was double fried and in trans-fat oils. I didn’t feel very good and healthy after living there for awhile.
When I went home the summer after my freshman year, I was extremely aware of everything I ate and started to intuitively eat only what felt good and gave me energy. I went back to school for my sophomore year of basketball and I was leaner, faster, stronger and could jump higher. I was possibly even taller! My coach was amazed and thought I just worked extra hard in the gym. Honestly, it was all my food transformation.
At that point though, I had no idea about combining macros and I knew deep down there was something missing. It wasn’t until after college, with my bachelors degree in broadcast journalism that I knew there would be a path in health, but the best thing is I use my degree in so many ways: bogging and social media writing, scripts for videos, writing meal plans, filming videos, etc. I’m always amazed that God knew my journey would look this way even though I doubted it.
Another fun fact about my degree is I wanted to be a meteorologist since I was about 13 and I was convinced by mentors that the science classes would be too hard while I played basketball. They said I would make a great sportscaster or side line reporter. But that was never the right path for me and here I am in a science world. More recently, I was about 3 classes away from my Masters of Science of Nutrition, but then the babies just kept coming. Someday I will hopefully finish. Especially since I already did the hardest classes: Organic Chemistry, Biochem, etc.
CCN started because I knew there had to be a better way to teach athletes to eat! But the start of that journey wasn’t very healthy. I was falling into an obsessive disordered eating pattern, I worked out longer than I needed to and I wasn’t feeling healthy again. At this point in my story,I was living on the west coast and at 22 years old there is a little more pressure to look a certain way. I finally put my head in a couple science books, interviewed a few RD’s and Certified Nutritionists to find the answers. I knew God had given me a gift to help others, but I needed a means to reach people. Fitness and nutrition was that path, so by the time I was 24 I was a certified nutritionist and personal trainer and this is where Cara Clark Nutrition (& Fitness) was born. This was in 2009 and truly where it all began.
I started a boot camp for sororities (we called it G.O Bootcamp for Girls Only) and taught how much of a difference resistance training played in toning muscles. I showed them how to navigate a grocery store and taught them all about food pairings. I wanted to be sure these girls didn’t go down the same disordered eating path I have previously been down. This age group of girls has always been one of my passions. Fast forward a decade and having four daughters myself, I am even more passionate about girl’s health than ever before.
I took on individual clients and at the time, the business was more like a hobby. I kept running it while I had babies, but by the time I had two kids, I couldn’t keep up the fitness side. At that point, in 2012, I became just Cara Clark Nutrition. The clients just kept coming and being here in Southern California, I had a few celebrities come my way. By 2013, I had too many clients and too much business to keep up and I was due with my 3rd child. I came up with the idea of the group challenges, but including the personal assessment you would receive from an individual consultation all the while keeping within our guidelines, at a low cost and having people participate all over the world. And that idea became reality!
This is where Allison joins the CCN story. She was brought on to help manage our challenge groups. The first challenge we offered, we had 150 participants and now in 2018 (with only word of mouth and social media referrals) our biggest challenge had 750 participants. We now have six people who help make these happen and have added another nutritionist to the team. We also have a team of RD’s and nutritionists that we refer out to for specific reasons.
We continue to take individual clients and I mostly work with athletes, especially professional athletes. We take on groups, like sororities, office groups, businesses, bootcamps, sports clubs and most recently the Miss America contestants. We’ve even brought in a business consultant this year to help guide all our growth and manage the changes that are needed in order to keep up with all these business blessings.
I never in a bazillion years dreamed that CCN would become all of this and I often disregard all the hard work and relationships I built because I think it’s solely God’s blessing. But I’m reminded almost daily by our clients that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. We are changing lives by preparing a program that anyone can realistically do and importantly, afford to do. I will also say that sometimes it doesn’t feel like a blessing because all I ever wanted to be was a mom and I’m often taken out of my mommy role to fulfill the needs of the business. A business doesn’t take weekends off even if it looks like it does and I’ve had times where I wish I could shut it down, but I remind myself of a quote Mother Teresa said: "I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He wouldn’t trust me so much."
I continue to follow the path He created for me and now for us: Allison, Ashlee, Lisa and the others that make the challenges you all have come to know and love so amazing: Nellie, our graphic designer; Aubrey, our food photographer; and Ashley, our personal trainer. All of us are busy moms that have been called together to impact the lives of others and use our gifts outside of wife life and mom life.
A few more fun facts about me since I know a lot of you think I’m just a good ol' Christian girl. I LOVE red wine and tequila and I cuss to the people I’m closest to: my husband, my mom, my sister and some of my closest friends. I’m one of 8 kids and we still fight like we were young... less wrestling matches, still a lot of screaming matches! I like rap and hip hop and when I need to get into the zone, Eminem and Dr. Dre get me into my flow, just like they did when all I was focused on was winning my next game. My husband can pretty much recite any 90’s west coast rap song there is and it’s one of my favorite things about him! My family loves country music the most though!
Here's one final, fun fact about me. I am partnered up in another business venture that will be launching very soon in Australia. It’s also something that I’m very passionate about, as it’s about health..but it’s health on all levels; spiritual, physical, emotional, mental and helping moms of all backgrounds navigate motherhood as happily and healthily as possible. Can’t wait to share more! Stay tuned!
2.What is you favorite CCN meal?
Anything that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. I love all our soups and stir fries and an old fashion bbq, with veggie or turkey burgers.
3.What is your favorite food indulgence?
Dark chocolate. Really special indulgence: wedding cake.
4.What do you do for exercise?
Chase and run around kids mostly. I love to run and do moderately hot yoga. I love Orange Theory Fitness. My favorite is still playing sports, like soccer and basketball.
5.When not being totally awesome and working at CCN, what are you up to?
We love to travel back to the Midwest to visit family in Ohio and Michigan. Michigan has amazing lakes and an awesome summer. If you’ve never been, we highly recommend it. We are in a great phase where our kids are starting to play more competitive sports, so we are at the fields and gym a lot these days. So you can say, mostly busy with the kiddos and their crazy, but fun schedules. When we have weekends off, we like to head to the beach, the desert or to San Diego for some fun adventures.
6.Why do you love CCN?
For all the reasons I listed above in the "history of CCN". I love it the most because it wasn’t planned... it just happened. It’s been successful because people trust it and believe it and found a plan that they can do forever. I love it because outside of my faith and family, it’s my greatest passion. It’s fun to see it evolve and take on new projects and be connected to new people. I love it because of the positive support the community gives me and everyone else. It’s always uplifting to see you all support each other and hold each other accountable.
Cara's Favorite California Turkey Burgers
¼ cup shallots, chopped
½ teaspoon low sodium Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound organic lean ground turkey breast (or grass-fed beef or bison)
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
To serve: Bibb, Boston, or Romaine lettuce for wraps, mustard, red onion slices (option to sauté or grill), avocado slices, microgreens
Lightly coat the grill grates or grill pan with avocado or coconut oil spray and pre-heat to medium high heat. To prepare patties: combine shallots, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic, and turkey. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix well. Divide mixture into 5 equal portions, and then shape each into a ½ inch thick patty. Cook patties about 5 minutes on each side or until they are done in the middle. Place each patty in a lettuce wrap and spread with mustard and top with red onion, sliced avocado, and microgreens. Serve with a side of roasted sweet potato fries!