Brooke Burke Charvet
It's hard not to gawk at Brooke Burke Charvet. Dressed in form-fitting workout gear, she moves effortlessly through a series of exercises at her LHJ photo shoot -- going from lunges to push-ups to impressively deep knee bends -- without breaking a sweat. But the 40-year-old Dancing with the Stars cohost and mother of four hasn't always been this picture-perfect. "In my 20s I gained some weight," she says. "I tried a lot of dumb diets without any results." These days Burke Charvet, who is also co-CEO of ModernMom.com and president of the online store BabooshBaby.com, relies on healthy eating and regular workouts to stay fit. "Exercising is my me time," she says. "It clears my head. It gives me more energy. I'm a better person because of it." We asked her about her go-to fitness routine -- and her secret to staying so motivated.
How are you able to make working out a priority when you have such a crazy schedule?
By learning over the years that I'm just as important as everyone else in my family. I used to believe that women should be last on the totem pole -- that their kids and their husband come first. Now I know that's not the case. I schedule my kids' doctors' appointments, their sporting events -- and I never miss any of these things. But I also schedule my exercise. Working out is one of the only times in the day that is dedicated solely to me.
When do you typically squeeze in a workout?
In the mornings after I drop the kids off at school. I usually do a Pilates class three days a week for 55 minutes. It helps sculpt, tone, and elongate my muscles. I also like to work out with my husband [actor David Charvet] or go for a hike with the kids.
Are there days when you feel your 40 years and you're too tired to exercise?
Sometimes my body is sore but I know that working out will help loosen those muscles. And when I'm really stressed, I push myself to exercise because it helps me feel more balanced and it gives me energy. But I listen to my body. When I feel too weak or overwhelmed with life, I take a day off.
Sometimes on your blog you vent about being too overscheduled -- and women have called you on it. How do you respond when people leave comments saying you shouldn't complain since you have a great job, a nanny, and money?
Ah, the haters. The women out there who think if you talk about a nanny you're so privileged. Listen, I'm a working mom. If I don't have child care I don't work. There's always going to be somebody out there judging, scrutinizing, or complaining, whether it's about my hair, my gown, or my lifestyle. Inside the walls of my home, my life is probably not that much different than a lot of other mothers' lives across the country. I'm talking about the problems, the struggles, and the emotions. It's the same stuff everybody goes through. By sharing it, I think we can learn from one another.
You've said you've tried a lot of different diets over the years. What kind of foods do you eat now?
I eat Mediterranean, which to me means cooking with olive oil, herbs, and spices for flavor and eating a lot of fresh fish, meat, and vegetables. There was a point in my life where I tried the different powder supplements, weighed my food, and ate at the "right" times. Now I think the more you eat, the higher your metabolism is. When I want to get in great shape, I eat more, smaller, smarter meals. I always avoid "bad" fat, sugar, and white flour. Instead I'll eat things like salmon, lentil soup, or a salad with grilled chicken. For snacks I'll eat almonds, dried cherries, or a protein bar. And I only drink green tea and water with lemon during the day; I never drink soda or juice. Of course, I do drink coffee and wine!
What other guilty pleasures do you have?
Spaghetti Bolognese, margherita pizza...If I really crave something, I'll eat it and then get back into the groove afterward. I don't feel like I've failed or fallen off the wagon. Eating healthy shouldn't be torture.
Do you ever feel that people focus too much on the way you look and not who you are as a person?
When I first started having children, everyone wanted to know how I got back into shape after the baby rather than how I was coping with motherhood. People want to know how I get my look rather than how I feel. Welcome to Hollywood, right? I work in a very shallow town and industry and it's just part of the business. Part of my job is to look the best I can. But becoming a part of a community of bloggers [on ModernMom] has allowed me to share my stories with other women. I talk about the challenges of raising a blended family [Burke's two oldest daughters are from her first marriage] and being the mom of four active kids. If I hadn't gotten involved in social media, people wouldn't have gotten a chance to get to know me .
Do you have any downtime?
I don't work at night: no computers and no phones. I make an effort to check out after dinner so I can be with the kids and David and also have some time by myself. Twitter is addictive but I try to stay off it after 8 P.M. And I went on my first "sleepcation" with David this year. In my first marriage we never went on vacation without our kids. Now David and I carve out time for ourselves, even if it means going to a local hotel, ordering room service, and falling asleep.
Have you learned to say no more often?
I'm really good at saying no now. Perfect example, tonight there's a breast-cancer awareness event that I've been doing a lot of work for and I'm passionate about. But I have a 6 A.M. call time tomorrow, it's Friday night, and all my kids are home, so I decided not to attend the event. I want to go home, have dinner with my family, and get a good night's sleep. As demanding as my life is, I don't let myself get pulled in too many directions. Saying no is necessary. When you feel worse about saying yes than you would about saying no, that's a sign. You know you need to be tougher.
What one tip would you give all the harried women out there who are trying to balance career, family, friends, chores, exercise, healthy eating, and more?
Don't do guilt. Guilt is a choice. There's always going to be somebody who's doing what you're trying to do better. The key is to be flexible. I've learned as a mother that things do not always go the way I imagine they will. I have some very strong personalities in my family. I could be completely stressed out all day long. But I accept the chaos. I'm very driven, but I don't expect things to work out perfectly anymore.