You'd never guess looking at her now, but just four months ago, Brooke Burke-Charvet was undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer. The diagnosis was a shock for the 41-year-old "Dancing with the Stars" co-host. Newly married to David Charvet, the mom of four was busy juggling her career and blended family when, last spring, her doctor found a lump.
She is now cancer-free, and the experience reinforced Brooke's belief in the importance of taking care of yourself — inside and out. Here's her everyday advice for eating right, getting fit, and staying grounded.
Focus on What Matters
"Dance through the chaos. Breathe through everything. I've got four kids — including a 13-year-old going on 30 — and this is my second marriage. I know there's not going to be balance in every day, so I don't beat myself up. I'm an idealist; I strive and dream big. But I focus on the stuff that really matters, and I let everything else roll off. Truly, truly, truly."
Keep the Romance Going
"In our house, with four kids, it's tough to remember we're a couple, not just people's parents! We try to have a regular date night, but sometimes it doesn't happen, so we make sure we connect every week. Maybe it's a lunch. Maybe it's dinner after the kids fall asleep. Sometimes it's with another couple. It's just the fact that we got up, got dressed and got out of our sweats!"
Have a Big Lunch
"Lunch is usually my largest meal. I love sushi. Or I'll do a huge salad with mixed greens and vegetables like cucumbers, and I'm not afraid of avocados. Then I top it with a really nice piece of salmon or other fish."
"Pay for that class, buy that DVD, commit with a girlfriend. As working women and moms, we make it to all our meetings, get our kids to every appointment. But you have to make yourself a priority. Just commit. Write it down. Make a plan. I try to do my workouts early in the day, after I drop my kids off at school, so they're just done. I think if you procrastinate your workout, as evening falls, it's just never gonna happen! Also, I want that energy. I want that adrenaline."
Eat More Asparagus
"I've been baking asparagus in the oven, which is so yummy and healthy because you don't need all the oil and it cooks beautifully. You can even put a little Parmesan on top."
Soak the Stress Away
"I love a great bath," says Brooke. "I explain to my kids, 'I do so many things for you guys, I just need you to give me 10 minutes.' " Her ingredients for a perfect dip?
- Zone-Out Music. "Easy listening, mellow instrumental, no lyrics. Nothing to think about."
- Epsom Salts. "I use them all the time, and you can get them at any drugstore for $5. They're great for muscle aches and soreness."
- Spa Add-Ons. "I will light candles, put on a facial mask and create this whole spa thing at home. It is just as good as the real deal—except that I have to keep the kids out!
Cook Good Food
"My husband is French, and we love to cook and eat flavorful food. We try to eat a Mediterranean diet—lots of greens, lots of fish, lots of vegetables. It's really all about portion control."
Add Flavor Without Fat
"We flavor with salts and rubs rather than drowning things in sauces. I use a lot of harissa — it's a Middle Eastern spice, like a chili paste. It's great on sandwiches, and it's ideal on vegetables if you just put a little bit of olive oil in them."
Don't Be Afraid to Indulge
"If your body is really craving something, you might need it. Last night, my mom came over and made homemade meatballs and Bolognese, which is so not on the plan. But I had a couple of meatballs and a little less pasta. Do it in moderation, then get back on track."
Keep Healthy Snacks Handy
"I keep a smart snack pack in my SUV. Then my kids aren't running into the gas station and buying chips. It might contain these foods:
- Fresh Fruit and Dried, Roasted Seaweed Packs. Which, thank God, my kids eat.
- Nuts. Usually almonds.
- My Girlfriend's Popcorn Recipe. It's the best in the world—I make it at home and put it in baggies. You pop kernels using regular olive oil, not extra-virgin, then you season with pink Himalayan salt."
Face Your Fears
"I try to remain neutral [on DWTS], but I get emotionally connected to a few contestants. Rob Kardashian was one. When he started he had no confidence, then he learned to dance and became this stud. It's amazing to see people face their fears and transform themselves."
"The 40s are a reality check. That's when some people are trying to look 25. I would like to slow down my aging process, but I don't want to look like a pumpkin, all swollen! I don't want to fill every flaw in my face. A few? [Laughs] But you have to embrace Mother Nature a little. I'm a woman. I'm a wife. I'm a mother of four. I don't want to look like a 25-year-old anymore. I want to be my best healthy self."