You Are Stronger Than You Think

ConvowithmyTrainer Dana Kettle Bells
Trainer Dana hard at work.

Conversations With My Trainer – Strength Is the New Black.

I have struggled my whole life to love my body – to understand and appreciate its innate abilities before the shame of having stretch marks and a big stomach set in. I was as many women are, trained from childhood to find body flaws, worry about weight, and envy others with a more appealing body type.

Searching for self-love and self-acceptance through most of my early adult life, I’ve now found enjoyment in and gratitude for my body’s abilities to hear the birds during a walk; to bike to the lakefront, feeling the peaceful stillness soak into my bones. 

Becoming a trainer at 40 didn’t come with a new physique and attitude. While I do work out, I don’t punish my body with exercise. I create healthy movement patterns with my body and I have found joy in lifting weights and getting stronger physically and emotionally.  I eventually found loving words towards my body instead of disparaging comments.  But I am still a work in progress. This isn’t a journey to one end result – I’m constantly learning, assessing, and evolving as a human and a trainer. 

My career allows me to meet people who also want to find joy in moving or are recovering from injury or just want to feel better.  Another perk of the job is that I can choose my clients and over the years, I have surrounded myself with smart and confident women who inspire me as much as I empower them.

One of these women is Carlyn Morris. An athlete, philanthropist and extrovert, Carlyn’s passion and energy are contagious.  She’s short (like me) and fierce, with a heart bigger than Texas (she’s a native).

I met Carlyn when she began training with me for her Angel’s Landing hike while also recovering from a foot injury. As I would come to learn, a little setback wouldn’t stop her from dominating and attacking that rock!  Training Carlyn is a highlight of my career – partly because we’ve become friends, but also helping her get stronger and feel better for her adventure challenged me as a trainer. I developed a training plan around her injury, expected mileage and terrain, focusing on building glute strength and overall cardio endurance.

During our sessions, we bonded around our love of the outdoors and our shared struggle for body acceptance and self-love. In my experience, clients sometimes use our time together to work through a moment of career stress or life uncertainty. Carlyn felt her career in digital advertising left her with little downtime to relax, but her outdoor excursions comforted her body and mind. Finding enjoyment outside counteracted the burnout she was feeling inside.

Soon after she returned from completing Angel’s Landing (Hanging onto chains on the trail and lowering her body into tiny crevices along the way) she worked with a life/business coach who helped her realize that her love for the outdoors is her gift to share – To empower other women and help them access the outdoors – overcoming fears or injuries and concerns that their bodies aren’t good or strong enough to hike a trail.

She approached building a new business during a pandemic with the same drive and determination of accomplishing a physical feat. Carlyn began putting together the first pieces of Back to Wild Adventures and in July of 2020, launched Phase I, the foundational hikes and outdoor experiences for her business. Fearless and passionate, Carlyn wants to advocate for women who may feel left out of the outdoors experience. Back to Wild Adventures is a safe space for women of all sizes and abilities and hikes are designed around experience levels and mileage and terrain preferences.

If you want to get strong for your next adventure or just feel better on a daily basis, contact Dana at or check her out on Instagram @strongwithdana and @wh_performance