Bringing Our Health Home

How a hard look in the mirror put our family on the road to fitness

herald fitlive

Have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized the person looking back at you?

As an actor, my husband (Ryan) experiences this nightly as his costumes and the characters he plays change from scene to scene and show to show. However, in one particular performance, during a quick change in his dressing room, he caught a side reflection of himself that was different.

Really different. Real life different.

He didn’t recognize the overweight, worn-down person he’d become.

At the time, our daughters were 18 months and five years old. It appears as if we were settling into life as parents; we’d lost sight of ourselves. Nightly rewards came after a full day of work and parenting with up to three hours of TV watching.

The highlight of our night was turning on our favourite TV shows while munching on chocolate and chips.

It was no wonder that we had little energy to keep up with the kids!

What Ryan saw that night in his dressing room was not only a reflection of himself, but a reflection of our lifestyle.

We were gaining weight with no end in sight. There were no boundaries. Nothing was off the table in terms of what we could or could not eat.

We’d convinced ourselves that we were too tired for exercise and there wasn’t any time for it anyways.

As for me (Carolyn), watch the video below – it’s my transformation story. Grab a kleenex first 😉


How To Make It Work

The impact of Ryan’s experience with his reflection in the mirror led to a huge reality check and on Jan. 1, 2010, we made a commitment to change and to design a healthier lifestyle.

What we learned is the key to finding a healthy lifestyle isn’t as simple as buying a DVD or joining a gym – a family needs to work together to accomplish their goals.

Here’s what worked for us….

1. Fitness

The first thing we addressed was finding a fitness program.

To make it doable and sustainable, we realized that we had to find what we call our “soul-mate” workout – that workout that made us want to come back every day.

We tried some boot camps and workout programs at the local gym, but found that home-based workout programs like P90x and TurboFire really resonated with us because they were on DVD.

They worked to our schedule rather than us having to work our schedule around a gyms schedule.

In addition, we could do these programs at home, they required little space or equipment, they were under an hour, the instructors were charismatic and motivating.

We could do them when it worked with our ever-changing schedules and family demands.

 2. Support

These home-based programs allowed us to tackle 2 of the biggest challenges to creating a healthy lifestyle which, for us, was 1) finding time in our schedule and 2) being consistent.

We looked for those pockets of time in our day that we actually did have time to workout. That three hours every night after the kids went to bed became prime time to fit our workouts in.

We also became more mindful of the unique ways we could support each other as a couple.

For example, if I was playing a game with the girls, it would allow Ryan the chance to do his workout, or if one of us was alone with the girls, we’d wait for a quiet time of the day when they were consumed with a craft and then we’d put that workout DVD on and get moving.

It wasn’t always perfect timing, but we did what we could and were thankful for the opportunity in whatever form it came.

3. Nutrition

It took us about 3 months to create and maintain a good habit around fitness.

But we hadn’t lost much weight, if any, since we started.

The problem was is that we’d added fitness to our lifestyle, but hadn’t addressed nutrition.

We would do our exercise and then reward ourselves for a great workout with chips and chocolate – just like before.

With a little research we learned that although we were working out and burning lots of calories, we were defeating the purpose with our food choices.

The light bulb finally went off and we started to work together to change how we ate. This is so much easier to maintain with someone (or a group) helping you stay accountable.

First, we removed the ‘trigger’ foods that would send us into an eating tailspin and made sure that they were replaced with healthy options.

Then, we did research and created meal plans to keep us on track.

4. Fitness + Support + Nutrition = SUCCESS

Things really started to shift and those side-glances in the mirror brought back reflections of ourselves that were inspiring.

Four years later, we didn’t expect the results that we have achieved.

Ryan has lost a total of 50 pounds and I’ve lost over 20 pounds through fitness and nutrition – neither would have been possible without each others support.

progress  ryanthenandnow

Click images above to enlarge



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Paying it Forward

Our journey to a healthy lifestyle keeps getting more interesting, but it doesn’t come with quick fixes. However, the payoff is worth it.

Now when we look in the mirror we recognize our images as a reflection of not only a healthy lifestyle, but something that we have achieved together.

We realize how fortunate we are to have that built-in support system in our family and how vital it was to reaching our goals.

In October 2012, Ryan and I started a Facebook page called Game Changers and now this website, where we provide inspiration and support for others so that they can reach their goals.

Both this website and our Game Changers Facebook page features daily posts about fitness, nutrition and life.

Support Groups

We also run Fitness Challenge’s and an Accountability Group so that people can work out at home, like we did, and benefit from the additional support that our online group provides.