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Brooke Burke: Wild on Motherhood

It’s a typical day in the life of television personality Brooke Burke. She’s in her Los Angeles business office in the middle of a meeting about her new line of swimwear, which she will be wearing when she shoots her 2003 swimsuit calendar, which will be made into a documentary to be aired on E! Entertainment Television where she is the host of Wild On and Rank. And oh yeah, she just gave birth to her second daughter, Sierra Sky Fisher, six short weeks ago.

But her world travels and nonstop excitement on the job can’t compare with what she loves most in life: being a mother.

Family First
Born in Hartford, Conn., and raised in Tucson, Ariz., Burke always knew she would be a mother. Married to Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Garth Fisher, her lifelong dream of being a mother was fulfilled two years ago with the birth of Neriah, who has accompanied Burke on her many travels. “She went everywhere I went. There are 35 stamps on Neriah’s passport – she’s a great traveler!” Today, the family of four has now shifted gears. “I’m foremost committed to being a mother. It’s not in my plans to raise kids on the road.”

Neriah, now nearly 30 pounds, was born five weeks early, weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces, after a 20-minute labor. “Five pushes and it was over,” Burke says. This hardy baby left the NICU and headed home within 48 hours and has never looked back. A believer in attachment parenting, Burke breastfed Neriah as much as she could. “Premature babies are more of a challenge with feeding, and it takes a lot of patience and care from Mom,” she says. “[Neriah] couldn’t really latch on, and I eventually wasn’t making as much milk as she needed.”

Burke and Fisher, whom Burke calls “the backbone” of the family, set up a family bedroom, with Neriah sleeping in the same room as her parents. This allowed Burke easy access to the baby at night. It worked so well for them that Neriah still sleeps in the same room. The new baby, Sierra, has joined them there.

During her second pregnancy, Burke learned she may have a tendency to produce small babies, and doctors monitored her for Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR), a condition in which the fetus grows more slowly than normal. “I went to the doctor every week rather than every two weeks and saw a special ultrasound doctor to check up on the baby,” she says, noting that there may be a genetic component to having small babies. “I was a small baby, too.”

Burke, who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs between 110 and 115 pounds, endured bed rest to ensure that her second baby stayed inside as long as possible. “I’m such an active person, it was really hard for me,” she says, noting that she canceled two show tapings during the first week of bed rest. But she knew the down time was necessary, and she was willing to do what was required to make sure her baby was healthy. “It was a very small sacrifice,” she says. And her slower lifestyle had its perks, too. “I spent time reading, relaxing and trying to connect with my baby,” she says. “I was meditating, communicating and spending precious time with Neriah.”

Fit and Fabulous
How did Burke regain her fabulous figure after Baby No. 2? Burke is committed to Pilates, “an exercise system focused on improving flexibility and strength for the total body without building bulk,” according to Pilates Inc. Burke credits Pilates with carving out her killer abs with movements she calls “abdominal contouring activities.” She used to practice yoga every day, but for the past three years, she has done nothing but Pilates three times a week and cardio workouts three times a week. “It’s all about balance and an active lifestyle,” she says.

While she also enjoys swimming, her favorite cardio activity is walking with her two girls, who serve as weight resistance to add impact to Burke’s hikes. Neriah, age 2, sits in the Peg Perego stroller while baby Sierra gets worn by Mom in the Baby Bjorn front carrier. “I take a 2-mile walk in the hills, up and down, pushing and carrying more than 40 pounds,” she says. “It’s a great cardio workout, great for the hamstrings and toning.”

Food for Thought
While living in LA makes it easy to adhere to a healthy diet, Burke says, she has always maintained a balanced eating program. “It’s a state of mind,” she says. “You have to do what’s best for your body.” Her daily plan incorporates lots of water, salad, clear soups, wheat bread and sushi (spicy tuna roll is her favorite), and her one vice each day is a single café latte. “It has very little coffee and lots of milk.” She avoids carbohydrates, sugar, white flour, dairy, juices, smoothies and most fruit. “I have a caveman philosophy: I eat raw, natural foods,” she says. “I really enjoy what I eat – I don’t think of it as a diet. If you are going to diet, cater it to your needs.”

Before you think she has more will power than one person deserves, take heart: She allows herself one day off each week to indulge her cravings. “Take one day and splurge – eat whatever you want to eat.” For Burke, that day includes such decadences as margarita pizza, chicken burritos, bread dipped in olive oil and her weakness: chocolate chip cookies.

During her pregnancies, Burke remains conscious of her food choices. “I eat smaller meals more frequently. Protein is really important; there’s so much brain development, especially in the first three months,” she says.

Burke had no morning sickness during either pregnancy, but she did experience a craving. “I usually drink soymilk, but I incorporated dairy into my diet,” she says. “I craved cheese and milk. I listen to my body.” One of her favorite recipes is a smoothie containing nonfat milk, nonfat vanilla yogurt, peanut butter and frozen bananas. She usually eats the same breakfast each day during her pregnancies – a whole-wheat sesame bagel with tomatoes – but she tried to incorporate extra protein, such as eggs.

On the Job
While Burke still hosts the travel adventure program Wild On, her international travel has decreased significantly. As a mom of two, she prefers to be less mobile and is concentrating on more local opportunities. She now also hosts Rank, a pop culture countdown show and is focusing on her swimwear line, which is inspired by the exotic destinations she has explored. Her swimsuits, which she models in her 2003 calendar, will be available online and in stores by the end of the year.

Burke is perhaps most excited about the book she is writing titled Destinations. “It’s a collection of my travel adventures, photos and favorite places. The book will be a hip, easy and fun guide for any traveler.” She keeps her fans updated on her career moves at her Web site, www.brookeburke.com.

The Simple Life
Burke notes that her greatest challenge now is to find the balance between her marriage (she calls Fisher “a wonderful man”), her children and her career, but everyone in the family contributes to that balance. “My angel babies are very much like me – there’s no drama in our house,” she says. “Life is more simple than it used to be. We spend more quality time and have a deeper bond as a family. Nothing works without every member.”

Burke is enjoying the bond she sees developing between her daughters. “Neriah has been amazing – she’s such a big sister,” Burke says. “She’s very sensitive and deep. She calls Sierra her ‘baby sister.’ I love being Neriah and Sierra’s mom.”

Burke’s family includes furry friends as well – including a Pit Bull and German Shepard – and when she loads up her Cadillac Escalade with the brood, people get out of the way. “I have two cats, two dogs and two babies! You should see me going to Wild On with the nanny – it’s a scene.”

Between work and family, Burke will be busy indefinitely. But motherhood wins out every time. “Being a mother is such an honorable role. It’s added a lot of value to my character.”

This interview was conducted six weeks after the birth of Burke’s second child, Sierra Sky Fisher, born on April 2, 2002.