If anyone was going to be able to pull out of a middle-age health spiral, it was Kevin Lowther.

His doctor had just told Lowther what he already knew: He had been eating and drinking more than he should during the pandemic. Worse than that, Lowther had become pre-diabetic.

Avoiding a bigger problem wouldn’t be easy. For his 5-year-old daughter’s sake, Lowther would have to adopt a healthy diet while also wedging in daily exercise to shed his pandemic pounds. It would mean changing his work-life balance.

For many of us, the next step would have been preparation for Type 2 diabetes. But Lowther decided he could overcome it.

And why not? This is a former triathlete his friends could always count on to do things like climb a mountain with them or join a half marathon with no training, if they needed him to, because he had.

This is also the guy who had forged a career path from his native New Zealand to the financial capital of London — and while there, fell in love with an American from Bakersfield who he followed to San Francisco.

The two of them eventually started a family in Bakersfield, where Lowther found zero prospects for the kind of high-level financial position he had risen to. But from that beginning he and his wife, Shannon, have built a successful local business valuation firm.

Naturally Lowther had it in him to come back from this near health crisis. He didn‘t see himself as having much choice, at any rate, so he gave it his best.

His health had slipped during early fatherhood. When the gym Lowther had joined closed under stay-at-home orders, he fell off his exercise schedule. Neither was his bicycle getting much use anymore. He had fallen into a rut.

By April his weight gain had become noticeable. When his doctor broke the news, Lowther, almost 52 years at the time, knew it was time for changes.

It took two, three months to get back into a groove.

“I don’t know about you,” he said. “When you stop exercising it’s really difficult to change your mindset.”

He started getting up early at least once per week to take out his new road bike. He began going to the gym three times weekly.

Now he’s exercising five days out of seven: three days of resistance training, two days of cardio.

It helps that his gym in Seven Oaks has a child-care center with a play structure to keep his daughter busy, along with toys and movies.

“If I’m at least getting 40 minutes in, I’m OK with that,” he said. “Because I’m doing it regularly again.”

He and Shannon have fine-tuned their meal preparation schedule to remove snacking. He’s been able to leave behind a diet shaped by what he called the pandemic’s “apocalyptic worldview,” and now eats oatmeal for breakfast, a salad or something equally light for lunch and a healthy dinner the couple prepares ahead of time.

Only recently has he reintroduced potatoes and rice, after cutting out carbohydrates to meet his weight goal. This result has been that his blood sugar levels have stabilized.

Working with his wife helps. It’s just the two of them at Central Pacific Valuation in Bakersfield, and when 4 p.m. rolls around, work comes to a hard stop for them both.

That didn’t used to be. When Kevin and Shannon worked for large firms in big cities — she did business valuations at the former Price Waterhouse in Los Angeles before moving to London — long hours were the norm. But now they’re a family of three with the flexibility, and obligations, of having their own firm.

Recalibrating their work-life balance has required planning. They bought a freezer for their garage during the pandemic, and now they use it to store frozen fish, for example, to go with dinner. On weekends their days are loosely structured, though there’s usually some cooking to do for the week ahead.

Getting meals ready in advance means less temptation to settle for something unhealthy. That’s important because Shannon draws the line at unprocessed foods.

“If you have it planned out,” Shannon said, “you tend to not come home and do whatever’s convenient for dinner.”

She added that her husband’s efforts to return to regular exercise helped her get back on track after pregnancy.

“He got into it so I got into it,” she said.

For Kevin, the whole process of getting back into shape brings to mind his earlier challenge of switching careers from banking to wealth management to, after the couple moved to Bakersfield four years ago, business valuations.

He had a foundation in finance but it was distinct from the kind of work Shannon did. Getting the right certifications took him 2½ years of online study, and a whole lot of coffee, but he did it.

Fortunately, demand existed locally for an independent firm to provide valuations for business compliance reasons, estate planning and transaction advisory works. Central Pacific now works with local law firms and certified public accountants.

Kevin could have been referring to either challenge -- finding a new career or getting back into shape -- when he advised not trying to take on too much at once.

His muscles don’t respond as readily as they used to, and he has encountered more aches than he once did. That’s why he has put consistency ahead of intensity.

“The most important thing,” he said, “is to start.”

Bakersfield tax and accounting professional Tom Maxwell, who has worked closely with the Lowthers, admitted to being impressed by Kevin’s health turnaround.

Maxwell, too, had let his exercise routine slip during the early part of the pandemic. But now that he’s been able to pick it up back up again, he said it’s interesting the way big life changes beyond our control prompt us to ask what we’re living for.

“Am I living for other people’s demands,” Maxwell asked, “or am I living for things under my control that can bring us happiness?"