Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hanging up the pom poms 

Posted by Sasha at 8:57 AM ET

Former Edmontonian Candice Carr had an unforgettable tenure as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader
By Cary Castagna
The Edmonton Sun

For one fleeting NFL season, Candice Carr lived a fantasy as big as Texas.

Last year, the petite Edmonton native was a member of the world-famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Of course, membership with pro football’s venerable sideline darlings has its price.

As Carr quickly found out, looking good in the prestigious blue and white star-spangled uniform is a 24-7 proposition.

“It’s crazy. You always have to look good because you’re a mini-celebrity in this city,” the 26-year-old brunette beauty explains in an exclusive phone interview from her home in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.

“People expect you to look like what you look like on the website when they see you. It was hard because I’m not used to being done up all the time. I’m a real laid-back person. I just like being natural. Some days, I just want to go out in my sweats and a pony tail.”

Photo gallery of Candice Carr

Carr, a fit 107 pounds at five-foot-four, didn’t have time to slack off while cheering for America’s team.

Cheerleading practice typically runs weekdays from 7 p.m. until as late as 11 p.m. Sessions invariably involve a two-mile warm-up run and 30 minutes of strength training in a boot camp-style workout. After that, the squad hits the dance studio for a few hours to hone a variety of high-energy dance routines.

“It was almost like we didn’t have time to do anything extra,” says the transplanted Canadian who moved to Dallas a few years ago to marry her sweetheart, a Dallas travel agency owner she met working as a dancer on a Florida-based cruise ship. “If I ever had down time, it was like, ‘I just want to lay down. I need to relax.’ ”

That’s part of the reason Carr gave up the world of pom-poms and pageantry after the 2007 campaign.

“I decided not to go back because it was almost like having two full-time jobs,” explains Carr, who was working as an interior designer at the time but has since joined Lululemon as an educator.

“It was very time-consuming and for this stage in my life I didn’t want it to be the focal point. I barely saw my husband and it was just really hard because you’re not allowed to miss any practices or games.”

Despite retreating from the glare of the spotlight and no longer having to look her best for the raucous home crowd at Texas Stadium, Carr still works hard at keeping fit.

These days, the graduate of Harry Ainlay High School, who grew up cheering for her hometown Edmonton Eskimos, does yoga at a Dallas studio up to three times a week.

She has also kept up her boot-camp regimen with the trainer of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Three evenings a week, Carr is put through her paces. Workouts include a two-mile run and a series of basic exercises such as sit-ups, pushups and lunges.

No longer stressed out about looking good in perhaps the most famous cheerleading outfit on the planet, Carr points out that she still watches what she eats.

Her diet consists largely of chicken, fish, veggies and some fruit.

On the advice of her trainer, Carr eats every few hours.

“That’s something that our trainer always tells us – at least six (smaller) meals a day, which I know is hard for some people, especially when you don’t have time to fix those meals,” she says. “But you just really have to try and maybe pack your lunches the night before so it’s all ready.”

Carr, who kept fit in her younger days by dancing – everything from jazz, tap and ballet to musical theatre and hip-hop – 20-plus hours a week after school, emphasizes that exercise and diet go hand in hand.

“It’s almost like the training goes to waste if you’re not watching what you’re eating,” she says.

Although Carr now sticks to cheering for the ‘Boys from the stands or from her living room couch, she plans to maintain the kind of conditioning that allowed her to become a cheerleader in the first place.

She’s content with the notion that her foray onto the gridiron, although brief, was unforgettable.

“It was time-consuming. But at the same time, it was the most amazing experience of my life. It was awesome,” she says, noting that she also got some screen time in CMT’s reality TV series Making the Team, which documents the Cowboys cheerleading tryouts. “It definitely helps on a resume.”

So she’s fit, happy – and she has at least one Texas-sized item on her resume. Three good reasons to cheer … or maybe even break into a funky end-zone celebration.

Candice’s tips

1) Write down your goals, “so you know what you’re doing and what needs to be done.”

2) Keep a training journal and dietary diary on a daily basis. That way you can chart your exercise progress and count your calories.

3) Stay committed to keeping active. “If it’s only a little bit a day – even walking, a slow jog – that’s better than not doing anything at all.”

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