Natural Hair & Fitness: Deborah Cordner Carson

The boy and I were watching television one day, and settled on watching The CrossFit Games (he’s such a CrossFit enthuse, lol).  I had just pretty much just started my fitness journey, so I sat down to watch the women’s events for some inspiration to keep pushing.  Lo and behold, a natural hair beauty graced the screen.  Not only was she strong as all get out (and brought everyone to tears and extra cheers during her performance in the ocean swim portion of the games, earning her the Spirit of the Games Award), but her hair! – That was the day I found one of my biggest fitness inspirations – Deborah Cordner Carson.
Totally geeked – literally! HA!
Okay, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, I attended a CrossFit challenge with my beau and guess who is in attendance?  As nervous as I was, I had to just talk to her and tell her how much of an inspiration she had been in my fitness journey and that her hair – her hair is absolutely stunning in person!  Needless to say, she agreed to do an interview and I am more than ecstatic to share with all of my readers her story. 
Learn more about Deborah, the 32 year old professional CrossFit Athlete and CrossFit Coach from Minneapolis, MN as she talks about her natural hair journey (and even offers a bit of fitness advice)!
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How did your natural hair journey begin?

I was living in upstate NY in 2006 and my now husband had always wondered what my hair looked like natural. My first year in upstate I felt like I didn’t know many people, so I experimented with my hair more for fun than anything. I also didn’t really worry too much how it turned out, because again I didn’t know many people. However, soon I was wearing my hair in it’s natural state more than before because it was easier, and frankly, I felt like I looked more like myself than I ever had in my life!

You hair is absolutely beautiful! How, better than anyone, do you describe your hair?
Finicky, fun, unique. Like a fingerprint, I like that this is me and this is not me trying to be someone else. So I’m okay with my finicky curls. 🙂

Three hair products you can’t live without. Go.
Mixed Chicks leave in conditioner, DevaCurl No-poo, Mixed Chicks deep conditioner.

Judging by what I saw, your hair appears to be in a wash ‘n go.  How do you get your curls so defined? What is your current hair care/styling regimen? Any special treatments?
Cleanse with DevaCurl No-Poo. When the product is in my hair this is the only time I comb through my hair with my fingers. Then I use a mixture of DevaCurl one condition and Mixed Chicks deep conditioner. Every once and in a while, I’ll use Ouidad Deep Treatment Conditioner and focus on my ends. I rinse by not manipulating my curls too much and when my hair is soaking wet, I gently scrunch some of the moisture out of my curls with a hand towel. Then I use about a quarter size of Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner and generously apply it all over my hair, creating four sections and making sure all have had enough product. Then, I use a small amount of Ted Gibson Fix It Gel and scrunch it in my hair from the ends. My hair should have enough moisture that a “scrunch” sound can still be heard from the moisture. Then, I usually let it air dry for the best results.

I know working out is discouraging to some Black women because they don’t want to mess up their hair.  It seems to be an after thought to you, which is refreshing and your hair is thriving!  What are the benefits in having natural hair when it comes to your lifestyle of fitness?
There is no way I would be as “hard core” with my fitness if I was worrying about my hair sweating out. I just don’t think about it, ever. There is a lot that can be said about that, but that’s really it.

I don’t EVER worry about what my hair looks like anymore. I don’t care what anyone thinks, I like my hair because it is mine, and if you don’t; well, good thing I have it and you don’t. 🙂 
I gradually came to this mindset while getting more confident in my sport of CrossFit. I train often and gaining confidence in my abilities has allowed me to gain confidence in the natural state of my hair because in many ways I wouldn’t be this good if I was constantly worrying about my straight hair that was curling at the roots from sweat, breaking all over the place because it was much weaker, and all in all not “me”.

There may be some readers who aspire to take the plunge into the natural hair AND the fitness world. Any words of wisdom?
Really both are not that big of a deal. Over time, yes, but initially it’s just like anything else, one step at a time it will happen. At first NO ONE will notice and if they do, they won’t care as much as you do. So if you can remember that this journey is yours and yours alone, then it’s much easier to realize that all you have to do is start. 

 Step foot into a gym make a goal and focus on that. It can be a time goal:
I will go to the gym three times a week for 3 months and after that assess my next steps.” 
 Those types of goals are good because you don’t have to do anything to attain them. Time will pass whether you like it or not, so if all you have to do is make sure that you make it to the gym a certain amount a week then it’s very doable. This creates consistency which is half the battle. 
Once consistency is reached, maybe you can make more specific goals
 “I will lift free weights and try to increase my strength for 2 weeks along with short cardio burst, then alternate for another two weeks with more focus on cardio and less on weights but try to maintain my strength.
This kind of goal shows you can not only hold yourself to going to the gym, you can follow a plan and stick to it. With out stepping on a scale and worrying, I’m sure fitness goals have been met with both those types of goals. 
As far as natural hair goes, there are endless products out there geared towards helping you with this goal. Not to mention hair professionals that would be more than happy to assist you. I find it fun to search the Internet for products that I think will help me out with my journey at this point. Find a few brands and dive in.. it’s kind of fun! 
Also, know that what you hair looks like when you start will be nothing like what it looks like weeks from now when your curl pattern finds itself.. like a fingerprint. Overtime, I promise, when you look at yourself in the mirror you’ll say “Oh, there you are!” Literally, you will never feel more like yourself.

Contact Deborah:

  • Deborah is an awesome, Inspiring and beautiful woman- inside and out! I feel honored just know her. This is a great article both for naturals as well as those trying to get on shape.
    Thanks SFLE!

    Ebony J Davis, Minneapolis