Yannick and I have always been health conscious. I mean, how can you afford not to be in our line of work? We started dating when we were both young actors, and back in those days – yes I’m going to say “those days” because it was 1988 – we didn’t know what it meant to actually be healthy. We did what we needed to do so that we would look good on camera. That meant compromising our health and relying on unhealthy habits. Instinctively, I knew that not eating (or not eating properly) wasn’t the answer to keep the numbers on my weigh scale down, and he knew that smoking wasn’t good for him. We would later find out – and understand – how those decisions made earlier in life would affect us later on.
Luckily for us, I got pregnant early on in our relationship, which gave us the motivation we needed to cut out those detrimental lifestyle habits. Quitting those not-very-wise ways was quite easy when we knew we had to set an example for our unborn child.
The minute we learned of my first pregnancy, we instantly set about these obvious changes to achieve “ultimate wellness.” At that time, we were still primarily focused on eating in a way that kept us camera-ready; we knew little to nothing of food as preventive medicine for internal physical wellness. I mean, what 18-year-old back in 1988 would have known that?
Modern 18-year-olds tend to be more aware that healthy eating benefits the entire body, not just how said body looks on the outside. It used to be so much less about anti-aging or protecting ourselves against disease through diet.
So, the initial change toward living a cleaner lifestyle began with us back in 1988. That meant eliminating the obvious offending habits that were robbing our bodies of wellness. But, we still knew nothing about canned versus fresh, or wholegrain instead of good ol’ fashioned white sandwich bread. We were also pretty hard up for cash as starving actors – need I say more? Due to our bleak financial situation, it wasn’t unusual for us to eat boxed dinners and canned veggies.
Then Came The Turning Point
It wasn’t until 2006 that my health took a turn for the better after my best friend, Barbie Springfield, called me and said: “You have to fly to L.A. and come to Desert Hot Springs with me to do this wellness retreat. It will change your life.”
I was hesitant about anything “changing my life” after Yannick and I were casually recruited into a religious cult, back in 1991, but that’s another story. Since this was my best friend, my life mentor with more years of marriage under her belt, more years of parenting, and more access to good health thanks to the ground-breaking modern wellness innovations coming out of California at that time, I kept an open mind. So, when she talked, I listened.
Soon after, I found myself headed to We Care Spa, a retreat centre focused on detoxification, juice fasting, and yoga. This was the first time that I started to learn about genetically modified foods and the damage that all forms of conventional farming is doing to not only our bodies, but also our planet. Once I became aware of this disturbing information, I decided that – regardless of our financial position, which was still quite precarious – I would stop purchasing products and supporting any farming that wasn’t free of antibiotics and growth hormones. If animals weren’t free range and humanely raised, I didn’t buy the meat. I began purchasing only organic and ethically raised everything. I did this not just for the well-being of myself, Yannick, and our daughters, but for our planet at large.
Changing how we eat actually became less about how we looked or how much we weighed, and more about how we were treating the planet. In other words, we became mindful of the question: What mark would our need to eat to survive leave behind?
We cleaned up our eating habits so much that our biological ages started actually going backwards! No joke! We’re pushing 50 years old – nine more months for Yannick, and 10 for me. Yet he can still throw himself down a giant mountain on his mountain bike for three or four days straight. At 48, he competed in his first ever mountain bike race. We both love skiing and are able to go on ski trips, and ski four to five consecutive days. Just this past summer, at 49, I learned how to ride a wakeboard.
Looking back on how far we’ve come, I’m confident enough to say that if we hadn’t made these changes to our lifestyle we would definitely look older than we do. Not only that, but we would have to deal with many year’s worth of built-up toxins in our bloodstream and organs.
And I’m pretty sure that the injuries we’ve sustained due to our rough and tumble lives would have resulted in far worse physical consequences if we weren’t in such great shape. But the injuries haven’t held us back much because we eat clean, we work out (at “our ages”) from four to six times a week, and we’re feeling great. And it’s not just that we’re ‘scale well’ at our ideal weights, but we’re actually living and breathing well from the inside out.
Sadly, we are surrounded by people who haven’t cleaned out their fridges, who have low energy and don’t appear vital or healthy. This helps to remind me that although the cost to our pocketbook might be a little higher to eat and live this clean lifestyle, the return on our investment is priceless.
If you’re a person on the brink of jumping onto the organic, ethical lifestyle, start small with those purchases of items that you and your kids consume daily: eggs; milk; butter; vegetables. Substitute a few of your animal protein meals with non-GMO pasta nights, or vegetarian meals. Make small, affordable changes at first, and then you’ll witness this amazing thing happen to you and for you. You will gain energy, you will feel healthier, and you will actually eat less. Because the super cool thing about high-quality, nutrient-rich foods is you need less of it for your body to be satiated. And how can that be a bad thing?
Come join the movement, the movement that is living your best, longest and most vibrant one life; while honouring the only Mother Earth we’re ever going to get.
Yannick Bisson is best known to global audiences for his long-running role as ‘Detective William Murdoch’ on Canada’s most watched drama, Murdoch Mysteries, which is currently in Season 12 production in 2018. With over 60 film and TV credits to his name, Yannick is a multiple award-winning actor. In 2017, Bisson was honoured with the ACTRA Award of Excellence for his outstanding contributions to the industry. A dedicated humanitarian who has made meaningful connections to several philanthropic organizations, Yannick is involved with Artists for Peace and Justice, helping communities in Haiti; Camp Ooch, and Childhood Cancer Canada.
Shantelle Bisson was born and raised in Toronto, and splits her time with her family between her home city and Los Angeles. Shantelle is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, writing on parenting and relationships from her personal experience, as well as a producer, actress, novelist, and parenting expert. Shantelle and Yannick have three beautiful 20-something daughters, Brianna, Dominique and Mikaela.