Candace Cameron Bure on fitness, family and faith

James Fell chats with the Full House star about her workout routine, why she loves getting dirty and lifting heavy weights.

Candace Cameron Bure

Candace Cameron Bure. Photo, Rowan Daly.

Many of us watched Candace grow up on the hit sitcom Full House. D.J. Tanner isn’t a little girl any longer, but a grown woman with three children and a passion for healthy living. And it should be no surprise that being married to retired NHL star and Olympic medalist Valeri Bure has helped in following a fitness-focused lifestyle.

I recently had the chance to chat with the star about how she finds time to balance it all.

Q: What’s your daily exercise routine?
A: I usually go to the gym three days a week. I get there at 5 a.m. to get my workout in before my kids get up. I lift heavy weights for about 20 minutes and then do 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical machine or a treadmill.

On in-between days what I do for exercise depends on my work schedule, but if I can get in a yoga class or a Pilates class, I will. Other times I’ll do a hike or a walk. I like to be as physical as possible.

Q: Hearing that you lift heavy is refreshing and encouraging. What led you to that?
A: Over the years I have loved trying new exercises. You watch the latest, and supposedly greatest, trainers and try different things, and I realized one size doesn’t fit all, and bodies respond differently. One day I was working out with my husband, and he had seen a trainer he thought was well qualified and he got me to work out with this guy. So I tried working out with this trainer, and he got me into an intense routine of heavy weights for 20 minutes. It’s a non-stop kind of routine.

I saw such a difference in my body that I’d never seen with any other workout. It was lifting heavy weights that transformed my body the most, and in a way that I liked. My goal is not to be thin, but to be toned and in shape. The heavy weights gave me the muscular definition that I like, and my husband likes it too.

Q: I imagine you noticed a difference in your strength as well.
A: I noticed a huge difference in my strength, and this propelled me into running mud races. I’m not a great runner, one of my knees is not very good, so I can’t do long distances. I can do a 10K but that’s my limit. I have done a Spartan Race and the Camp Pendleton Mud Run a few times.

I felt so physically empowered by doing these mud races. I really love it because I like adventure and these types of races involve obstacles courses, so you need to be strong for them. You’re scaling walls; they allow me to see how much my strength has grown. They give me a chance to test myself.

I also love getting dirty. In my profession it’s about looking great all the time. They’re pinning and taping clothes, and your hair can’t be out of place and makeup has to be perfect, but going through these mud pits I just want to dive in because it’s the opposite of all that. The dirtier the better.
Candace Cameron Bure

Q: Do you get a chance to exercise much with your family?
A: We live right at the beach, so a lot of our training is on the beach, which makes it that much more fun. We will go for a 3-mile run along the beach, and my husband always has training gear in his car. We will be in the park and do all kinds of exercises together. It’s calisthenics: push-ups and dips and lunges those kind of things. We’re just an active family. We also take our dog on a hike in the mountains or go for family walks. We’re big tennis fans too.

Q: What are your favourite healthy foods? 
A: I love vegetables. They are the staple of my diet. All different lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, zucchini . . . that’s delicious food to me. It’s not a chore for me to eat. It’s what I naturally crave, but I had to learn it. I had to train my body to crave these foods. I can’t live without vegetables on a daily basis now.

Q: What’s the best health advice you ever received?
A: I remember this because someone told me when I was 16 and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s great not just for losing weight, but for maintaining your weight: “Eat until you are satisfied, not full.” It made me get in tune with my body and listening to the signals that I was satisfied and didn’t need to eat any more.

Q: What kind of guilty food pleasures do you have?
A: Sugar. I love desserts. If it’s ice cream or some type of chocolate cake or apple pie or crème brûlée, I just love it. Those are hard for me to resist. I don’t think people need to give those things up. I believe in moderation. I usually keep desserts for in a restaurant instead of at home. Unless it’s a special occasion we try not to bring those things into the house.

Q: I understand you battled an eating disorder. How did you overcome that?
A: I wrote about it in my first book, Reshaping It All. The eating disorder was a result of the big life change after finishing work on Full House and getting married and moving to Montreal. It was such a huge change for me to having worked every day since I was five, and now moving to another country and being a hockey wife and not really having any of the elements of what I was used to. I couldn’t work, and in my loneliness of trying to figure out what I was doing with my life, I ran to food for comfort and that created an unhealthy relationship with it. Food became my best friend to the detriment of my own body. Overcoming it had a lot to do with my faith and recognizing that I was using food as an emotional tool and that I needed to run to God for those things instead.

CandaceCameronBureBookCoverQ: You have a brand new book out now. Tell me about it.
A: It’s called Balancing It All, and it is much more autobiographical. It takes you through my life story and the steps along the way, and pulls out stories that both have and have not helped me in terms of balancing my life. The question I get asked the most by women is how to juggle all these things about being a wife, mother, my career, philanthropy . . . it looks at how to do all these things and do them well.

Follow Candace on Twitter.

James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His syndicated column, In-Your-Face Fitness, for the Chicago Tribune runs across the U.S., and he also interviews celebrities about their fitness for the Los Angeles Times. Based in Calgary, he is an avid runner, cyclist and weightlifter, and wishes he had more opportunities to go downhill skiing with his wife and two children. You can look for his first book out in early 2014. Visit his site for a free metabolism report. 

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