You grew up in the media spotlight while playing the role of D.J. Tanner on Full House. What was your experience like? My experience on_ Full House_ was great. It was a joy and a privilege, and I’m still very close to many people from the show. I spent so many years of my life with them—they were my family.
What did you do after the show ended? Right after the show, I met my husband Val at a charity hockey game that he was playing in. (Dave Courier—the actor who played Uncle Joey—invited me to go.) We went on a date the next day, and the rest is history. I was very excited to start a new chapter in my life, as a wife and a mom. I became a stay-at-home mom and recently, I started working again on Make It or Break It _and _Truth Be Told. I don’t want to say I came full circle, but I took a leave of absence and found some time to grow as a person.
Can you tell me a little about your children? I have a daughter, Natasha, 12 ½, and two boys, Lev, 11, and Max, 9. Both my boys play hockey, and Natasha loves figure skating and singing. She likes to act, too. She was in the finale episode of “Make It or Break It,” which was really fun for her.
How’s the dynamic with three kids in the house? Natasha and Lev are a little closer and they play around a lot. And Max, since he’s the youngest, likes to poke and annoy his older sister. But we’re a super tight family. If we go to hockey practice with the boys, Natasha comes with us, and vice versa. We don’t have a nanny, so pretty much whatever we do, we all do together. The five of us are together 24/7.****
How are you balancing work and family life now that you’re back on screen? It’s not easy; some days are really difficult. But my priorities must be kept in line, and for me, those priorities are God and family. When I put them first, the work aspect seems to work itself out. If ever there are too many things going on, my husband definitely helps me refocus. Right now, I have a wonderful schedule on “Make It or Break It” since I don’t work every day. I can still drive my kids to school and pick them up on the carpool line. I’m not there for every single game, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything in their lives. When I’m home from work, I’ll still take them to hockey practice or cook dinner at home. My schedule allows me to have a nice balance. ****
Your movie__ “Truth Be Told” also just aired last month on FOX. What made you take this role? I was so excited when they sent me the script. This was a part of Walmart and Proctor & Gamble’s family movie night initiative, and I’m a big supporter of shows that promote wholesome family values to the younger generation. When I saw the script, I thought to myself, “That’s exactly what I’d love to be doing.” It was a no-brainer for me since the movie had a good message and promoted great values. It’s important for me to work on projects that I can sit down with my kids and enjoy. For me, that’s what acting is all about. I love that families can spend quality time together watching these shows.
How does your family like to spend quality time together? We love boogie boarding and spending time in the sun building sandcastles. We’re a very active family. We love riding our bikes and taking the dog for walks. Fitness is a really big part of our lives.****
Speaking of fitness, you also recently authored a book on that subject. What inspired you to write? I decided to write Reshaping It All because over the last eight years, whenever I spoke at big conferences and churches where I share my [Christian] faith, I would always get questions about my diet plan and exercise. I’m no longer my chubby self from Full House and I’m in such better shape now as a grown woman with three kids—people were curious to see how I’d gotten here.
Sounds like it was a natural overflow of a topic that was close to your heart. It really was. I was receiving so many questions and emails through my website, and I found myself talking about this topic so much. In the book, I share how it’s not just about the exercise; there is a spiritual element. For me, it’s about bringing my faith into the forefront of my relationship with food.
How has the book been received? I was so excited when it hit the New York Times best-seller list. I’m so glad to know that it’s encouraging and inspiring women from all around. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from women saying that they are losing weight from reading the book and making that connection, which makes me so happy to hear. ****
How did you deal with the media’s critiques of your physique? Growing up on Full House, I was such a normal teenager, and there was no pressure to lose weight. In fact, more fans came up to me at that time and expressed their appreciation of me representing a normal girl in America. These days, people will want to give me compliments, but don’t always say it in the nicest way. I hear a lot about how big I was on TV compared to what I look like now—petite-framed. You eventually grow a thick skin about it. I’m living my life the healthiest I can be for me and my family, and at the end of the day, I’m not going to please everyone or look how people want me to look.
That sounds tough to deal with. Any other challenges you’re facing now as a working mother? My biggest challenge is to mentally disengage the work that I’ve just come from and be present with my family. Sometimes I’m at home with my kids and I’m helping them with homework or reading them a story, but my mind is still on my to-do list or the next phone interview that I have. So it’s really important to make an effort to disengage from those things and be mentally present with my children, because they’re so aware of that. ****
How do you and your husband share parenting duties? We have a great balance. When I’m working, my husband takes on all the responsibility with the kids, and vice versa. When I’m not working, my husband goes and does his work. For example, my husband made breakfast this morning, while I made the school lunches. I took my kids to school and my husband will pick them up later this afternoon. Then I’ll take them to hockey practice while he stays home and cooks dinner. (I’m so thankful that he’s a great chef!) We have different duties that we enjoy, but we are both really involved in our children’s lives. Depending on the day—and who has to work—will determine who does what.
Sounds like a pretty good model. Who does the disciplining? We both do—there’s not really a good cop or bad cop and our kids know it, so they can’t manipulate either of us. If one of us says one thing, that’s the rule. If they ask me something, I’ll ask, “Did you already ask your dad?” And if his answer is “no,” then the answer is no. ****
Anything in particular you like to do during ‘me’ time? I’ll be honest—I love to go shopping! I love just walking and browsing; I love that time by myself. I also love to read and spend time with my girlfriends. And if we don’t have much going on, one of my favorite things to do is have a lunch date with my husband. ****
How do you keep the romance alive in your marriage? I think it’s about putting the person’s needs before your own. When I do something for my husband, he’s quite grateful about it, and in turn, I usually get the same thing back. When you’re kind to someone, it’s a natural instinct for someone to be kind back. We also make time to have a date night or date afternoon at least once a week. Whether it’s over lunch or dinner or a walk in the park, it’s important to talk about your day, your schedule and the kids’ needs. Life can get so consuming with work and kids and the laundry list of things to do. If you’re not making time with your spouse, your relationship can potentially crumble. Also, give it up—have lots of sex! You got to keep it fun and real.