Stunning as ever, the once-globetrotting model Brooke Burke now navigates
motherhood with a world view of natural health.
In her three years hosting the exotic travel series “Wild On,” model Brooke Burke swam with sharks, skydived and flew in a Russian MIG at negative G force. Now she’s traded edge-of-your-seat thrills for carpooling and PTA meetings.
Those lifestyles may sound light years apart, but Burke, 38, says her globetrotting days influenced her approach to motherhood and health. She has picked up diet and other tips from foreign cultures, applying them to how she parents her four children: daughters Neriah, 9; Sierra, 7; Rain, 2; and son Shaya, 19 months. Adding spice to the mix is her French, Irish and Portuguese descent.
The entrepreneur in her has turned some of those influences into products Burke sells on her online store (www.BabooshBaby.com). And instead of guiding televised tours of the Australian outback and the endangered bamboo forests of Bali, Burke blogs about pregnancy, parenting, exercise and nutrition on her other website, www.modernmom.com.
Motherhood hasn’t slowed Burke down. The media-savvy beauty traverses the Internet, television, film and even video games, in the latter medium playing a streetwise adventurous spirit in the game “Need for Speed: Underground 2.” With dance partner Derek Hough, Burke won season seven of ABC’s grueling “Dancing With the Stars.” Stunning as ever, she remains a favorite on the swimsuit-calendar circuit. Burke spoke with us from her Malibu home.
Energy Times: How did your many global travels on “Wild On” shape your perspective on health?
Brooke Burke: When you’re traveling you have less access to a lot of things. Around the world many people don’t have access to a lot. You have to keep it simple and you have to keep it natural. You learn to have with you only what you need. The truth of the matter is that we have a lot more then what we need in our country. I had an opportunity to travel on many different levels, some extravagant and some very simple, and I’ve always embraced the concept in raising my children and for myself that less is more. I can find things in my own kitchen to use, whether it’s olive oil, natural coconut oil or avocados. There are so many opportunities that don’t cost a lot. When it comes to raising my children, my baby’s skin care and hygiene for infants, I’ve always tried to keep it as natural as possible.
ET: How did you do that for your children?
BB: We never used baby lotion and cleaning products. We used simple 2 x 2 wet gauze squares to clean the baby. We never used all of the expensive baby lotions, even for rashes. We always let the kids just air dry and kept their skin clean and natural. For baby foods I would choose fresh vegetables. I didn’t do a lot of sugar. All my kids have always been milk drinkers; it’s always been milk or water. We would purée natural vegetables. We would make fresh beet-carrot vegetable juices. All my children fortunately have a really great palate because they were exposed to a lot of healthy foods early on. I’ve tried to teach them healthy eating habits since they were capable of making their own food choices. That’s super important early on.
ET: What other approaches to women’s health have you learned from overseas cultures?
BB: We developed a product called Tauts, which is really a healthy, natural way of getting your postpartum belly back in shape. It’s a concept that’s been around thousands of years all over the world. I didn’t invent it. It’s an impression garment that helps your uterus go back down to its original size. It supports all the baggy baby skin. It’s kind of a compression corset-type of garment. You wear it for 40 days and nights after giving birth. It really works for women around the world. Asian women. French women. I used it after my last two pregnancies. It made a really big difference.
ET: As the mother of four, you must have a hearty diet and robust fitness routine to keep your energy up. What’s a typical meal at home?
BB: I probably spend 75% of my life in the kitchen, which I really enjoy. A typical family dinner? I do a lot of roasted chicken with garlic and fresh vegetables. I bake them or grill them, though sometimes baking is a healthier approach. I make lentil soups, chicken vegetable soups; I use a lot of garlic, ginger, lemon, a lot of olive oil. Soup is a full complete meal for me; my kids love it, too. I also cook with almonds, celery, parsley, carrots, avocado. I have a garden so I try to take from that what I can. I try to keep it fresh and clean and easy. I don’t believe in a non-fat diet. I just try to keep it as simple as possible when I can.
ET: How has your Portuguese, French and Irish heritage shaped your food tastes?
BB: My mother was adopted so I didn’t get a lot of exposure culturally to my Portuguese heritage. Traveling the world is what really developed my palate and my passion for food and different herbs and spices. I was raised by an Armenian stepfather. I have a lot of really great Middle Eastern influences in my life and I just love herbs and spices.
ET: What vitamins do you take?
BB: I take a prenatal vitamin; I’m not pregnant but I still take that. It’s a really good vitamin for a woman. I take that every night. It’s a great multi-vitamin that’s easy to digest. It’s got a lot of folic acid in it, a little extra calcium, the things a woman needs when she is pregnant. It’s great for your hair, skin and nails. It’s very valuable even if you’re not pregnant. I take a prenatal vitamin everyday. I’ve been doing it since I had my last baby. I also take three omega-3 capsules at night with it.
ET: You mention that the prenatal vitamin is good for your skin. Any other tips for our readers on skincare and beauty?
BB: It’s really important to have clean skin as much as possible. Even though I’m in the business, I wash my face as soon as I’m done working. I try to wear no makeup whenever I can. I really believe that your skin needs to breathe. I drink a ton of water. I think that makes a huge difference on all things relating to beauty. Just taking good care of yourself and eating healthy really affects your skin as well.
ET: And your fitness routine?
BB: I do Pilates. It’s great for your back and a lot of fantastic stretching. I did it through all my pregnancies: before, during, and after. I feel like it’s a head-to-toe amazing workout. I take long vigorous walks in the mountains in Malibu. I try to get cardio in when I can, but I’m not much of a gym person. I live by the beach, so I’d rather be outdoors. I don’t do a lot of yoga anymore only because I don’t have that kind of time. Yoga is incredible. I wish I had the time to actually drive to a studio and do an hour and a half class. It’s just hard for me to pick my spot. The benefits just personally and physically are huge from yoga. I try to keep as active a lifestyle as I can but it’s hard with four kids to always make time.
ET: Congratulations on your “Dancing with the Stars” victory. What did you do to prepare for that?
BB: Oh thank you! I didn’t prepare much because I found out about a week before that I got the gig. I ate really healthy. I would do some protein shakes because I was working out so much that I needed some extra calories. I snacked on a lot of nuts and fruits. I never missed a meal. I’ve always been a big sushi eater and then I would just have some almond butter, yogurt banana shakes. I normally don’t need that many calories but it was just really important. Everybody loses so much weight on that show. You’re training eight hours a day. I got massages. I did some physical therapy in the evenings. It was really strenuous on the tendon level: the knees, feet, legs. I mentally got into the right place and I made the commitment and I took as good care of myself as possible during the process of training. I’ll never know how I pulled that off.
ET: What advice or experiences that you shared on modernmom.com resonated the most with your readers?
BB: I do a daily blog, which is a big commitment. I can remember being in a little bit of a writing rut for a few days, thinking what’s really relevant in my life, what do I have to share that people will relate to or that’s valuable? I remember it was a gloomy June day and I simply sat down to write the fact that life sometimes gets stuck, sometimes the days are less exciting and I’m not sure what I really have to share with everybody but this is what I’m going through and this is what I’m feeling. I got such a great response from other women, maybe because of the vulnerability of the situation. The feedback I received was that we all go through it: “We’re in the same place” and “we can totally relate.” It’s not just about sharing the exciting stuff; it’s about sharing the whole journey.
ET: That’s a big departure from your adventurous traveling days. Tell me about your philosophy on making major life changes, in your case to motherhood.
BB: In the parenting area I would have said a year ago that I wanted to be all about balance. But today I realize it’s not about balance; balance is a little bit too high of an expectation. It’s about being okay in the chaos. It’s about taking it day by day. It’s about making the most of everyday and not trying to be perfect, not always trying to be right, just trying to learn and grow and really share.
ET: It sounds like you’re being a little easier on yourself.
BB: Well I am. Everyday I learn from my children and learn more about myself. I think it’s important to give ourselves as women and mothers the room to change and to grow and to do things differently, to just be prepared for the unexpected every day.
ET: What prompted the change in your thinking, from seeking balance to seeking order in the chaos?
BB: Before I became a mother I thought I knew what motherhood was going to be like. When I had one or two children I was able to kind of manipulate the situation to how I thought it should be. Now that I have four I’m able to embrace all the different personalities and the situations that come up. I know that everyday I don’t know what to expect because I have so many different personalities to deal with. I realized that I can’t do it all on my own anymore. We’re a total community in our home. My 9-year-old is like a little mother. At the same time I need her to be a 9-year-old, not a mother. Every day is new and I just learn to roll with whatever comes our way.