22| Kara Hardman, hiker, project manager, and co-founder: “I got to redefine athleticism in a plus-size body”

Kara Hardman is a Construction Project Manager at Flintco, the Chief Fun Officer of WNDR Outdoors, and a curvy adventurer living in Colorado. Her favorite adventures include hiking with her adorable dog and kayaking. Kara has been in a plus-size body for many years and understands the thought work it takes to love yourself exactly as you are. In March 2019, Kara climbed Kilimanjaro with the Cury Kili Crew, an all-women’s group of curvy hikers, for International Women’s Day. Their journey is the basis for the documentary. 

Connect with Kara

WNDR Outdoors: Wndroutdoors.com, https://m.facebook.com/#!/wndroutdoors/?ref=bookmarks

Instagram: @adventuristkara and  @wndroutdoors

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wndr-outdoors

Trigger warning: eating disorders

In this episode, we talked about…

  • Engaging in endurance sports (half marathons, triathlons) to lose weight
  • What it felt like to lose weight and be showered with compliments 
  • How she ended up landing in the hospital with kidney stones 
  • Not “looking like” she had an eating disorder 
  • Hiring a body-positive health coach and how that helped 
  • On gaining weight with intuitive eating and making peace with that 
  • How Kara reacts when other hikers patronize her on the trails 
  • Tips for beginner hikers in larger bodies 
  • Getting sick and dealing with asthma while hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • Celebrating her birthday on Mt. Kilimanjaro 
  • Why it was important the creator of Kili Big wasn’t willing to accept funding 
  • The emotionally wrenching decision Kara and the other Kili Big hikers had to make when one of the women fell behind
  • Type 1 fun, Type 2 fun, Type 3 fun 
  • Why it was impossible to chat while ascending Mt. Kilimanjaro  
  • How she met her WNDR business partner
  • The nuts and bolts of pants design and manufacturing 
  • Why WNDR is using Kickstarted to produce their first run of pants 
  • What inspired WNDR to create a line of high-quality pants for outdoor activities in sizes 14-36 (and why leggings really aren’t a great alternative)
  • What Kara’s next adventures hold


It’s a practice to love yourself. 

The beautiful part about Kili Big and climbing Kilimanjaro was I got to redefine athleticism in a plus-size body, which was incredible. 

All of us tend to go on diets because we don’t want to look like fat people because we all already know the way they get treated in our society. 

Thank God for social media in that I was able to follow people on Instagram who were just being their true selves and just rocking their fatness and loving it. And realizing  it’s either me existing in this world as a fat person or me potentially dying from an eating disorder. 

The people I surround myself within my community are very supportive. So it is very fun for me to be fat in the world.

Imagine 19 superheroes,  standing behind you with their arms crossed, ready to like back you up.

The amount I can push myself physically is kind of incredible.

 I can do anything 

People have felt like they were the only fat person out hiking and they didn’t know that there were others. And they finally see this film and they’re like, holy crap, there’s a community. This is so amazing.

If [large-bodied people] don’t see the clothes that they can fit into for the activity, they’re not going to go do the activity. They’re not going to make the effort. 

Your body and the way it looks just isn’t as important as other things in life.

It’s is a practice to love yourself. I a lot of times lately have not really been radically in love with myself. But I’ve been very neutral about it. It’s just not the most important thing, my body shape. What’s more important is having love around me and doing awesome things and building the things I do in my day job. 

I love for my body to feel good. Like I love to eat vegetables. So I feel like I can kick some butt. But it’s just not as important as the other amazing things in life. 

Focus on the awesome things you want to do. Focus less on the way you look and the way other people look and just go like change the world and do bad-ass things. That’s what you’re going to look back at at the end of your life, you’re gonna look like, oh shit, I climbed a mountain.

I changed people’s lives. I got to do this. It’s not going to be important, what your body looks like at every step of your life.

Your value is always a hundred percent, but your worth is subjective when the person that’s looking at it. 

I think you learn a great lesson when you turn around, before you reached the summit, you learn where it’s important for you to turn around or maybe quit in life.

Sometimes it’s important to quit in life. Sometimes it’s important for your own safety for other people’s safety to quit and to turn around. 

Success is having a good mix of type one type two and type three fun throughout your entire life. And then being able to inspire others to do something outside of their comfort zone. 

WNDR Outdoors  

Curvy Kili Crew

Kili Big’s IG account- Go here for the most-up-to-date info on how to watch the film

Denver Fatties community 

WHOA (Women High on Adventure) Travel

Fat Girls Traveling 

Fat Girls Hiking

Fat Babes in the Wild 

Laziness Does Not Exist (book) 

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