All her life, Joania Burnett has struggled with her weight.

For years, the Orleans resident simply lived with it —“my whole family on my mom’s side is overweight,” she said — until the real impact of it hit her last fall.

She took her two-year-old son, Malcolm, to the park, and couldn’t keep up. That’s when the 35-year-old federal employee decided that enough was enough.

She called a personal trainer friend, who put together a fitness program for her.

Since December, Burnett “has gone from one end of the spectrum to the other,” she said. “I used to do nothing but sit on my butt after work. I wasn’t active at all.”

Last year, she carried 258 pounds on her five-foot-five frame; today, she’s halfway to her goal, having already lost 50 pounds.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I breathe with ease and run around with my son. I have much more energy. I sleep better.”

One would think that was the icing on the cake, but not for Burnett.

With the goal of helping others realize their goals, Burnett had started a fitness blog. Before long, her friends were encouraging her to send her story to ParticipACTION, which asked Canadians to share their personal stories about getting physically active, so they can inspire others to do the same.

Burnett was “stunned” when her story was chosen as one of five to be turned into national commercials. Joania’s Journey aired for the first time yesterday.

“I was really excited,” said Burnett, who does the voiceover for her animated character in the commercial. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Hal (Johnson) and Joanne (Mcleod).”

“We poured through a thousand stories that would inspire the average Canadian to get active,” said ParticipACTION president and CEO Kelly Murumets. “Most Canadians will be able to relate to one or more of the five stories,” she said.

Burnett continues to work towards her goals, which she shares in the commercial.

“I’m working towards a 5K run and I want to play with (my) son as much as he wants to play, and wear whatever type of swimsuit I want,” she told Metro Ottawa.