LG Sister Spotlight: Brooke

The LG Sister Spotlight is a place that honors you, all the amazing women that make up the LG Community. This week, the spotlight is on our ConfidenceKini Challenge week 1 sneaker giveaway winner… Brooke. She is someone who is dedicated to bettering herself. She shares her positivity and journey regularly with the community. And, she’s super interactive and supportive of her fellow LG Sisters! Meet Brooke!
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Name: Brooke Petry    
IG handle: @FitMom3Girls
Age: 35
Location: Illinois
Occupation: “Stay at home” mom
Hobbies: Shopping, Baking, Reading, Drawing, Doing Handstands, Taking too many pictures of my kids
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself… hobbies, interests, what we can find you up to on a weekend.
I’m the oldest of 4 girls, and a stay at home mom to 3 beautiful girls, ages 3, 5 and 8.  They are my pride and joy, and they keep me on my toes, but in the best way!  Obviously, I have an interest in fitness – I love to read books about health and holistic nutrition and the power of foods,  which I find truly fascinating! Ironically, I also LOVE to bake.  LOL.  In fact, I used to have my own successful, in-home cupcake business called Itty Bitty Pretty Cakes. I shut that one down after I had my third daughter. I can handle a lot, but running a cupcake business on my own with a 3 year old, a 1 year old and a newborn was a little more of a challenge than I was ready to take on at the time.  
Back up a little – I graduated from Bradley University in 2004, earning my Bachelor’s in Retail Merchandising/Marketing.  I went on to work in marketing and buying for several prominent corporations including: Harley Davidson Motor Co., Kohl’s Corporate and Sears Holdings.  I loved the world of buying – I got to see the front end of all of the trends in shoes, women’s fashion and sporting goods. There was lots of product and lots of travel.  …Aaaaand then I got married and had kids and quickly realized that I couldn’t give my all to my work AND my family.  After having my 2nd daughter in 2011, I made the decision to resign and stay home as a full-time mom.  Hardest and best decision ever. I don’t regret it for a second.  My husband is a successful real estate broker and he works from our home.  I feel so blessed to be with all my people most hours of every day.  I am a consultant for a natural beauty and skincare company called Beautycounter. My whole family uses it.   I also passively sell Stella & Dot jewelry (obsessed).  All in all, we’re a pretty low-key family.  On the weekends, we love to just sort of take it easy.  Go out for ice cream, play in the yard, work on home improvement projects, visit with family and friends – nothing too super exciting! 
2. How did you get started with your health and fitness journey?
Alright. I have been an athlete all my life.  I participated in t-ball, softball, basketball, ballet, jazz, tap, gymnastic, tumbling, cheerleading – you name it! I even remember going on long jogs with my dad as a 2nd grader! I was most passionate about gymnastics though.  I started in 3rd or 4th grade, which is very late if you have any hopes of really dominating in this sport. Still, I fell in love with gymnastics.  Soon, I was on the team at our local gymnastic club. I advanced through the compulsory levels and made my way right into open routine junior olympic gymnastics.  I was practicing 4-5 days per week, for 3-4 hours per day.  That’s a lot for a kid who is still in middle school full time!  Problem was, I was at my peak for the sport.  I was 5’3″ and definitely the largest girl on our team.  I was very aware of that, but not really insecure about it.  I didn’t care – I loved what I was doing.   It never felt like a “workout.”  It was just practice.  And over time, I (unfortunately) learned that success equaled perfection. Whoops.  That is a tough lesson to unlearn.  Long story short, I quit gymnastics at the end of 8th grade for various reasons.  My practice was placing a tremendous stress on my family.  My mom was taxi-ing me and all of my sisters all over the place every single day.  And the the financial strain was apparent. I was done. And it ruined me.  Almost immediately after I quit, I became anorexic.  It’s actually a much slower process than that – but the mindset and behaviors kicked in pretty quickly.  Gymnastics had taught me poise, control, perfection, precision, pain, and endurance – how to go hard until you get it.  I had no outlet for these behaviors now, so I began to control what I ate. I’m not sure why I did it.  Maybe I blamed my body for not letting me thrive in my sport, and so I wanted to prove that I could be small like the rest of them.  If I couldn’t DO gymnastics, I would look like a gymnast.  I began restricting what I ate, down to the last calorie.  That started a long era of hell on earth – to this day, I am not a fan of counting calories or macros or any of it!  I isolated myself and became severely depressed. I hated my body.  Even though my ribs were popping out and my face looked like a skeleton’s, I was terrified of gaining weight.  I was hospitalized twice with anorexia during my sophomore and junior years of high school, but I had so many people praying for me.  
I find that during traumatic times in my life, my memory is sort of foggy.  So, this is a hard story to tell, and maybe that is why I haven’t told it often. Anyway, after I was released from the hospital that second time, I don’t really know what changed. Maybe all the prayers were slowly leading me toward healing.  I tried out for Varsity cheerleading and made the squad. That helped me start to become more social, and being social really helps overcome depression.  I was a cheerleader through my Junior and Senior year and my memories of my Senior year of high school are positive and healthy.  I still had those super perfectionistic tendencies, but I didn’t want to be miserable anymore. 
I guess all of this back-story is to explain where my fitness journey started – it started naturally as a kid, moved to a passion (gymnastics), then became a means to an end (aesthetics/ideal body).  And I lived there in that “dieting and fitness as a means to the ideal body” zone for a LONG time.  Through college and even my early career days.  Here’s another confession: I was a smoker for 7 years after high school.  So, what changed?  How did I move on from a diet/exercise life to a health and fitness lifestyle?  Again, it was gradual – but there are 3 prominent things that I believe really changed me. 
1) Getting pregnant with my first daughter.  
I quit smoking cold turkey. No issues. No second thoughts. There was a baby inside of me and I was not going to pollute that innocent life. Being pregnant fosters this all around healthy lifestyle – no smoking, no drinking, less caffeine, more rest, vitamins, healthy foods.  There is an innate instinct to care for and protect this life that’s growing inside of you. It was no longer all about me.
2) Going unprocessed. 
Several years ago, I came across the 100 Days of Real Food blog, and I decided to eliminate all processed foods from my kitchen as part of an initial challenge phase.  I put all of it on our counter and I was astounded at all of the crap I had. LOL. Really though.  Supposedly “healthy” foods made from artificial sweeteners and all kinds of ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce. I threw it all out.  I started making bread from scratch and cooking all sorts of delicious whole food recipes.  Real food preparation became a hobby.  Shortly after that, I read the book “Eat Naked” by Margaret Floyd.  THAT one changed me.  It’s an excellent read and super educational. But I always recommend that book with warning: you cannot unlearn it.  Make sure you are ready to only buy organic milk, organic chicken, grass fed beef, cage free/ free range eggs, etc… for the rest of your life.  Because this book will give you cause.  
3) Lauren Gleisberg.  
Yep. I was perusing Pinterest at some point probably 4-ish years ago? And I came across this super adorable blonde girl with abs, flexing her bicep in her driveway.  Fitness Barbie, I think it said.  I clicked and started reading her blog.  I loved it! Lauren was so down to earth in her approach to fitness and healthy eating.  I felt like she was a normal human sharing her thing. (With pictures – bonus!!) I started pinning and doing her workouts regularly. I loved the variety. A new workout every day. No more beating the treadmill for 20 minutes, bored out of my MIND!! And then… my body started changing too.  I was always lean/thin.  But I became strong, and I loved the muscles I was sculpting!  
3. How do you balance being busy as a mom and living a healthy lifestyle?
It’s not always easy, and I don’t take for granted that my husband works from home and is super supportive. So if I want to go get my workout in, sans kids, he is around and usually has the flexibility to help me out. Often though, my kids play with toys in my little humble, home gym while I workout.  I love that I can be a daily example of living a healthy lifestyle for them.  And I actually attribute healthy eating and regular exercise to helping me be the best mom I can – I feel energized and great most of the time and rarely get sick.  Honestly, I don’t know how people balance being a mom without living a healthy lifestyle!   
4. Do you have a go-to meal for when you’re short on time?
I eat a lot salad. I love fruits and veggies!  I gather all of the prepped veggies and protein in the fridge, throw on top of a bed of greens and voila! No cooking required, just assembling.  I also love to have meals prepped in the fridge and ready to grab during the week.  I often share what I’m cooking on my Instagram page on Sundays.  If I’m on-the-go, I love Quest Cookie Dough bars – it’s kind of a problem actually.   I also love smoothies/protein shakes – you can get so many nutrients and protein in there and it travels well!  Also, anything with peanut butter is great for when you’re short on time – a little peanut butter keeps me full for hours. 
5. How has the LG Accountability Community played a role in your journey?
I created my fitness Instagram account about a year and a half ago so that I could participate in an LG community challenge for the first time.  This fitness community has opened me up to a whole new world of encouragement and accountability that I never imagined existed.  I am hooked and I love to share what I learn, while being inspired by all of the other amazing fit girls and fit moms out there! I did not get to participate in the LG meet ups last year – I’m hoping there’s a next time! 😉
6. Any advice for someone looking to get started?
Just start! And be patient with yourself. Progress takes time, but as long as you do something every day to move you toward your goals, you will get there.  And really, there isn’t an “end destination.”  Think of it as a new way of living that makes you feel energized,  happy, confident – and BONUS – yields a great bod over time ;)!  And since I’m a nutrition junkie – I have to say it: get rid of all the processed foods and refined sugars!!! 
Favorite Quote: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”  C.S. Lewis
Favorite Book: Eat Naked by Margaret Floyd, 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Favorite TV Show: The Office, Breaking Bad
Favorite Movie: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Proposal
Favorite Vacation Spot: Leblanc Spa Resort in Cancun, Mexico
Favorite Healthy Food: fresh fruits and veggies, crunchy peanut butter
Favorite Treat: chocolate chip cookies, ice cream 
Favorite Weekend Activity: home improvement projects, date night, family time
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