2012 People Issue: Dr. Kim Carpenter
When you go to see Dr. Kim Carpenter, she does not play around.
“Our approach to health is looking at you as a whole person, and then we address the way you eat, the way you move, the way you think, and the way that you live your life through your nervous system, to see what you would need to do to be healthier over the next five years.”
Dr. Carpenter is an athletic mother of two young kids, a chiropractor and the owner of Awaken to Wellness in St. Matthews. She agrees with my attempt to summarize it as a one-stop shop combining trips to the doctor, the gym, yoga and other medical hot spots.
Her facility also includes massage and acupuncture treatments, and they work with people’s eating issues, customizing meal plans. These plans help weight loss as well as balancing blood sugar and helping to wean people off processed foods, what she calls “getting you to eat real, live food.”
Some people come because they’re in physical pain. Some “know that, with our current health care system, the average person is sicker in five years, not healthier, and they want to find out ways that they can stay well.” It takes a variety of approaches to work with a variety of problems, and they see patients from babies to the elderly.
If it sounds like an alternative approach to medicine, Carpenter doesn’t disagree. Do people ever tell her what she does sounds weird? “Oh, yeah!” she laughs. “Unfortunately, in our culture, what I do is alternative medicine, or alternative health, and I think until our country decides that being pro-active would be the norm, then we will continue to be a sick culture … When mainstream health care is about lifestyle, that’s when we’ll see a shift in the way people live.”
Carpenter played volleyball in high school and college, and doctor visits for back pain led her to change her diet, improving her health and reducing those Ohio Valley allergies. By high school, her life’s work was laid out for her. Today she also continues to work with athletes in high schools, at the University of Louisville, and at the pro level.
But Carpenter isn’t the only successful professional in her family. Her sister Jennifer, who knew what she wanted to do while still in grade school, has carved out a career playing some of the unhealthiest Americans in fictional entertainment, as the title character in the movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and as the foul-mouthed, brother-loving Debra Morgan on Showtime’s “Dexter.”
“Both my parents are very driven individuals in their own way,” Carpenter says. “They both gave us freedom, taught us the value of things, and the quality of not only material things but of people. They both just let us be who we were … We had no idea that certain things, to some people, wouldn’t seem possible. Anything we wanted to achieve was possible with hard work, determination and confidence.”
Family is central to Carpenter in every way; she says that families do even better with her program than individuals because they’re accountable to each other, not just to the doctor. Not everyone is ready for her approach, but she’ll be there when they are.
“The challenges in life are the exact same reasons why I’m happier and healthier down the road,” she says. “They teach you the most.”