Last year, Brooke Stacey Parker modeled for our annual Swimsuit Issue. She was eight months pregnant with her first baby. Since last May, she has given birth to her son Luke and has a year under her belt as a mom. In honor of Mother’s Day this month, we caught up with her to chat all about motherhood and the new role fitness plays in her life post-partum.
AFM: What has been the most rewarding part of motherhood?
BSP: “The unconditional love you feel for your baby. Your heart really does grow bigger and everything in life has a new, greater meaning. “
AFM: What has been the most challenging?
BSP: “There are so many challenges during pregnancy and with the transition of having a little one because all of it is new and constantly changing. I would say the greatest challenge is finding balance in your new normal. That means mentally, physically and spiritually for yourself, with your spouse and for your baby. It requires daily effort to find balance as you and your baby’s needs are always changing. You must be flexible and give yourself grace.”
AFM: How has your relationship to health and fitness evolved since giving birth?
BSP: “My relationship with health and fitness has been constant and has evolved at the same time. What I do for exercise has changed throughout my pregnancy journey, as well as now during my post-partum journey, yet I have always stayed active. It always makes me feel good to move my body no matter what stage of life I’m in. Pre-pregnancy I would spend my time exercising in the gym lifting weights for 45 minutes to an hour with 15-30 minutes of cardio, five days a week. However, during my pregnancy it evolved to taking 1 hour classes at Orange Theory for all nine months, two to five days a week which includes both cardio and resistance training.
During my post-partum journey I have been excited to be back in the gym lifting. This spring have taken to running outside and I have alternated gym and running two to six days a week depending on the week. I have really enjoyed pushing my baby boy in his stroller while I run so we can enjoy being outdoors together. What I do for exercise is always evolving but one thing that is constant is that we are always staying active.”
AFM: Did you expect that it would change after giving birth?
BSP: “I knew it would change but I wasn’t sure how it would change. I have been surprised that I’ve been able to get equal joy from trying and doing different types of exercise versus just being in the gym lifting weights (my original “happy place”) to exercise.”
AFM: What are your favorite ways to stay active and fit? Did those change at all from before you had Luke?
BSP: “Luke and I love to be outside. Any time we can enjoy beautiful weather here in Austin, we get outside. We love going to the Town Lake Trail to run and take in all of the beauty of nature. As it heats up, we will be swimming and getting outside when we can. I have always loved running the trail even before I had Luke. But it has a new meaning now pushing him in the stroller and a higher priority if it means I can exercise with him versus without.”
AFM: What is some advice you have for soon-to-be and new mom’s out there when it comes to staying healthy and fit as a mom?
BSP: “Be flexible and consistent. Do what you can do and don’t get discouraged by the things you can’t or don’t have time for yet.
Find something you enjoy and can be consistent with it. Continue to evolve with your health and fitness goals as your recovery progresses post partum. You don’t have to do it all right away. It is an evolution and enjoying the journey is just as important as the end results. If it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you — so keep evolving.”