Candice Lewis-Carter discovered two big things in life by accident. The first was Figure competition. “We were out celebrating a friend’s first competition and I was intrigued by the process,” she says. “I decided to do a show on a whim six weeks later, and even though I ate Chinese food the night before, I actually ended up taking first place and winning overall!”
Her second discovery wasn’t as opportune: Lewis-Carter went in for a routine physical and came out with a lifechanging diagnosis — polycystic ovary syndrome. “I had been struggling to lose weight even though I was eating super clean, resistance training, and doubling up on cardio,” she says. “I thought I was [having trouble] just because I was getting older, and even though irregular periods are a symptom of PCOS, I had always been irregular because of athletics — I never realized there was a problem with my hormones.”
The diagnosis came just two years into her pro career and four months before her wedding, which was devastating on both fronts. To continue competing, Lewis-Carter would have to work twice as hard and be twice as diligent about her nutrition. “I had to learn how to balance my carbs because I am carb-resistant,” she says. “This was a challenge because when I was competing at the highest level, I was always fatigued — whether it was from eating too many or too few carbs.” Even more difficult was the realization that she might not be able to bear children. “PCOS causes infertility because your hormonal imbalance interferes with the growth and release of eggs, and if you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant,” she says. And as one of 10 siblings, Lewis-Carter had always imagined her future family would hold the same promise.
Professionally, Lewis-Carter went on to become one of the most decorated Figure competitors in history, with 13 total IFBB wins in her 12-year career, including seven Figure Olympia and four Arnold Classic Figure titles. She retired in 2018 to focus on family, and though she and her husband, Wahhab Carter, are still trying for a baby naturally, they are also open to adoption.
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