Maintaining optimum health & fitness is more than just half a promise for this Sherwood Park power couple.
Several years ago, Carrie Doll and her husband Stephen Petasky made a monumental lifestyle decision- to invest in their own health and ensure exercise, eating healthy and living well were the number one priorities in their lives. And for many (most!) of us, that goal always seems valiant and often half-hearted; but for Carrie and Stephen, their pledge was far from token.
As the anchor for CTV Edmonton News at Six for 12 years, and 20 years in media, Carrie was always comfortable with being in the public spotlight, knowing that image, along with smarts and drive, go a long way in the world of media. Along with husband Stephen, who is founder and president of the Luxus Group – a successful company that offers luxury vacation properties, development and more – this dynamic duo already knew the importance of looking after themselves to become successful in life. But in the past few years, Carrie and Stephen have taken that general sense of well-being to the next level of fitness.
“One thing we never compromise on is our health and our exercise. Because once that deteriorates, we deteriorate so it’s always a number one priority: it’s just a way of life for us now,” says Carrie. “Even when I am not feeling well, or I have a cold coming on, I’ll always drag my butt to the gym because after that workout and that boost of endorphins I feel better. It gives me a clear head and helps me function better through the day. I always say that exercise is my magic elixir,” she adds.
And for both Carrie and Stephen, starting the day off early with an hour of morning exercise is vital to their success in life.
“If we don’t [exercise], it feels like we are sacrificing our day, because we are less focused and our productivity goes down,” says Stephen.
And with various business, charity and community commitments, being focused is essential for the power couple. Since leaving CTV a year ago, Carrie has started her own consulting business, and has also continued being a much sought after public speaker and facilitator, as well as being more involved as a principal with the Luxus Group, with husband Stephen.
Besides their hectic business schedule, both are heavily involved in the community. Both Stephen and Carrie are co-chairs of the Glenrose Courage Gala, while Carrie is the chair of the Stollery Women’s Network, is the honourary chair for both the CIBC Run for the Cure and the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, and is also involved with the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, the Zebra Foundation and Kids with Cancer, among many others over the years.
“We want our kids to understand that it’s a way of life.”
Stephen also sits on the Stollery Hospital board, and has taken over running the Tee Up For Tots, a charity golf tournament once managed by Kevin Lowe and Sam Abouhassen, and helped raise over $1 million last year for the Stollery. He is also on the exploration committee for Northlands to decide what to do with Rexall Place once the new downtown arena is built.
“This community is our community and we have to take ownership of it. We always felt that if we want to see improvements [to the community] then we have to get involved. Instead of saying ‘this needs to be done, or that needs to be done’ we look at it from the perspective of how can we help, and how can we make a difference, and also, how can we motivate other people to get involved?” says Carrie.
Stephen also echoes the same sentiment, but adds that selecting where to help can be challenging.
“We look at something that is close to our heart, first and foremost. But we also look at where we can provide the biggest impact in the community,” says Stephen.
But with all the commitments and more, finding time to exercise five to six times a week, plus yoga, mountain and road biking, or running in the river valley with their son Kasha and daughter Allegra, the goal of keeping fit is something they help and encourage each other attain.
“Both of us are very respectful of each other’s work out time. We are very encouraging and supportive of each other. And the busier we get, we always remind each other to make time for exercise. In the past, it was easy for exercise to be the first thing that went out the window, but we’ve learned from those mistakes.
“There’s ebbs and flows to everything though. Some months we do just awesome, and some weeks we fall off the bandwagon a bit. But we both motivate each other and try to pull the other back on track if the wheel falls off,” says Carrie with a laugh.
Part of that commitment comes from the fact that they do invest monetarily in personal trainers and more, but both agree that any money spent of staying healthy is the best investment they could ever make.
“My problem used to be that I would go to the gym, talk my time away, and get absolutely nothing accomplished.”
“My problem used to be that I would go to the gym, talk my time away, and get absolutely nothing accomplished. So I needed [a personal trainer] to keep me focused and push me beyond limits that I would ever push myself,” says Carrie.
“I agree,” says Stephen. “If I’m paying for it, I want to make sure that I am getting more out of it. And if I’m not paying for it, I just don’t push myself enough, and it also makes me more accountable to the goals that I set,” he adds.
But that’s not to say that Carrie and Stephen are not human as well, and admit that there are times when diet and life in general can get in the way of perfect optimum health, but both agree that when they do falter, they just work a little harder the next day.
“We love champagne and sometimes when we go out we might indulge a bit much, but we make sure to drag our butt out of bed and jump on the treadmill. It’s the hardest thing to do, but after you’ve done it, you feel like a million bucks again,” says Carrie.
Due to the nature of Luxus Group owning dozens of international vacation properties, business and travel often mix, and while the first thing to be packed is the runners, they do ‘vacation’ sometimes.
“It’s always challenging for both of us to maintain our diet on vacation. Restaurants are the killer. We just love Italian food and when we are there we let our guard down in terms of diet,” says Stephen.
As for their daily diet, both eat light and fresh, with regular green spinach protein shakes, plenty of big salads and a minimum of snacks.
“One thing we never compromise on is our health and our exercise.”
“Stephen is the cook. I’m a terrible cook!” laughs Carrie. “But he does such a great job and he gets very creative with things like salad, and even makes all his own dressings,” she adds.
“We want our kids to understand that it’s a way of life. So they see us exercising and that becomes their normal, and they understand that is part of being healthy and part of life,” says Stephen.
As for their next fitness goals? Carrie is studiously contemplating tackling the New York City Marathon, as her trainer would like her to, while Stephen is heading down to the U.S. in a few months to take part in a simulated “Hell Week” with some friends that incorporates the same training that US Navy Seals endure complete with sleep deprivation and basic water ‘torture.’
“Our goal is to just survive it, but I’m really excited about taking part. I think it’s going to be very tough mentally. I feel that will be the biggest challenge,” says Stephen.
With hard training going on for almost a year now in preparation for “Hell Week” Stephen has been pushing himself beyond the usual limits.
“It’s empowering for me to see the dedication and the hours that he’s putting into it to push the limits, which is great for anyone,” says Carrie.
But both agree that while they have made health a major priority in their lives, they feel that anyone, no matter how busy, can attain the same goals by starting small and staying committed.
“When it’s a priority, you make the time no matter what. Anybody can say they don’t have the time, but you have to find it in your day and a half hour is better than nothing. Once you make exercise part of your lifestyle, everything else changes in your life as well. You will find that you will eat better, sleep better and feel better,” says Carrie.
Sounds like good advice.