Name: Brooke Petry
IG handle: @FitMom3Girls
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.