The creator of Skinny Mom, Brooke Griffin, can be seen gracing many a fitness photo or video on SkinnyMom.com. She will soon be gracing the cover of her new cookbook, SKINNY SUPPERS, and members of the Skinny Mom 21-Day Shred community can always find her heading up motivating live chats about sticking to your fitness goals. One look at Brooke could convince anyone to desperately plead for her to spill her secrets to weight loss success — and that's exactly what she did. We talked to Brooke about her cheering in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals, her experience as Fitness Universe Champion in 2009, and how she dug herself out of depression and personal anguish after a tough divorce. If you're looking for inspiration, motivation, or that extra push to continue striving for your goals, you've come to the right place.
Q: Have you always been knowledgeable about health and fitness?
BG: I have always been interested in health and fitness, even going back to my adolescence. I was always active in various sports like gymnastics and track. In fact, in high school we had to take on a project, and I chose to shadow a personal trainer, so I taught my first aerobics class when I was 15 years old!
In college I paid my way through school by being a personal trainer. And so I’ve always had this passion for fitness. Later when I was cheering in the NFL, I was responsible for working the cheer team out. I was really involved in making sure all of us stayed in shape and that we did it in a healthy way. I also learned a lot during my experience in training and competing, because when you compete in fitness shows you really learn a lot about your body — like how to use carbs and protein to put on muscle and lose fat — so it was during those four years of competition that I learned the most.
Q: Tell us a little about your journey and how you became passionate and proactive about the health and fitness world.
BG: A big shift in my thinking came with moving into those fitness competitions. Before I started competing, I was a runner and I did a lot of cardio, but then I saw what your body could do when you ate a certain diet and you balanced your carbs with your protein and you started lifting weights. I think weight training really changed the way that I looked physically, and that’s really one thing that I knew I wanted to share with others — that we have the ability to control our weight by eating a certain way, living a certain lifestyle, and making sure that we bring in the weight training portion of it.
But I would say really the true change for me was after I had my son. Because that was a point in my life, when during my pregnancy, if you’ve heard my personal story, when I was not as passionate about fitness. I kind of ‘let myself go’ and gained a lot of weight. It was then that I said, "I want to change my life, not only for me, but for my son." That was the pivot for me, when I said, "I know there have to be other moms out there going through what I’m going through, and I want to somehow help them."
Q: How important is a support system when trying to lose weight? Who do you lean on?
BG: I think a support system is so important now, and it always has been. I can think back through my entire life — during the fitness competitions I had a great training partner. When I was cheering specifically with the Bengals, I think it was the community of women; we were all working towards the same goal, and it was that camaraderie that really kept us motivated and encouraged us to look our best — we had a common goal that we were working towards.
It was no different trying to lose the baby weight. For any mom or female out there who is saying “I want to change my lifestyle,” you have to have that support system, for a couple reasons. One, it holds you accountable. Two, it keeps you encouraged! The motivation comes from a support group and from being able to share your story — what’s working, what’s not working — I think that that’s what really leads to long-term success.
Nowadays, I have to say, I’m pretty bold about my faith and my personal beliefs, and that’s a huge motivation for me. I really look to the spiritual side of me for my daily motivation to live this healthy lifestyle. And then I would say my next support group is this amazing community that’s come about from Skinny Mom. Having the opportunity to be in front of these women and live this lifestyle alongside of them is really motivating every day.
Q: What do you do to stay motivated?
BG: Once you start having a family of your own, you’re really an example for your children. I want my son to see how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle.
Q: Why is a healthy lifestyle so important for moms?
BG: Moms today are pulled in a million directions. Most moms are working outside the home, and then we have to take care of our children, so we are put in this position to be the leader of our households. I think we can only do that when we feel the best about ourselves. Obviously the health effects of being overweight — life expectancy is going to be shorter, your risk for diabetes is higher, high blood pressure, and then just your overall energy level is impacted — are huge. The physical benefits that come with living a healthy lifestyle set moms up to be better leaders of their household and better examples to their families.
There’s also the aspect of personal satisfaction. There are statistics about how many women are always on a diet and how many women are constantly trying to lose weight. We’re always trying to correlate the number on the scale and how we appear on the outside to how we feel on the inside. Weight loss is really important, but what I think is most important is that we love ourselves for who we are on the inside. So many women correlate their self worth with their weight, so I think there has to be a mindshift into not thinking about it as losing weight, but instead about taking care of ourselves. If we love ourselves, we’re going to want to take care of ourselves — for us and for our families. So it’s kind of just looking at it in a different way.
Q: What advice do you have for moms out there who can barely find time to use the restroom alone, yet alone work out 3-5 times per week and plan and cook healthy meals?
BG: I can speak to this 100 percent. A lot of people probably look at my life and they think, “Oh that’s just what she does for a living,” but they don’t understand that it’s a business, and I’m a business owner, and I’m responsible for making sure the business runs. I’m also a single mom to my little son and managing a household by myself; I say all that to say that I am right there with other moms that don’t have a lot of time. Most moms probably think that I’m just working out and planning my meals every day, but I have to fit it in, too.
To answer your question, I think the first thing is making a plan. Treat your workouts and cooking healthy meals for your family like a job or appointment — actually take the time to write it down and make a plan. Don’t just wake up and say, “I’m going to try and find time to go to the gym today.” Look at your week in advance, plan out your meals, plan out when you’re going to work out — I think that is the first step. I love the quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That’s my favorite; it’s just so simple, but it has a place in my heart because it’s so true.
So, make that plan every week, but also carve out time for yourself. Because I think so many women live with guilt and we think, “Oh no, I don’t have time for me,” but when we take care of ourselves, we’re going to be better in all the other areas of life that we’re called to do.
And then I would also say that your workouts don’t have to be these long, involved, hour-long gym sessions. You also don’t have to be cooking gourmet meals for your family. Even if you can start with one day a week. Say, “I’m going to work out for 15 minutes, and one day a week I’m going to start cooking healthy for my family.” That one day will eventually turn into more opportunities and a healthy lifestyle.