Guest Post: Back To Goodness With Eating & Exercise (Part 2)

This is a guest post by Brooke Benlifer.

She’s a Registered Dietitian, food lover, avid runner, and mother of twins.

Brooke is also a dear friend of mine who I had the pleasure of working with recently to create my latest workshop Lose 10 Pounds In 30 Days.

Here’s a months worth of goodness (nutrition, exercise, and life) and how to create your own.


Take it way Brooke!


We’re half way through April as I write this.

How did THAT happen?!

My family truly made the most of our weekends, and while we sometimes came home exhausted, in the end, it was well worth it.

My husband and I pushed ourselves with a 6.4 mile hike (each with 40 lbs of toddler/food/water strapped to our backs) as well as a 5K race with good friends.

We set a flexible goal to run a 5K each month. We have races set up for April and May. One is a trail run and the other is across a scenic bridge.



IMG_4168Last month, I mentioned how I trained indoors each weekday morning on the treadmill before sunrise. So, about that…

I was really starting to dread the early morning routine, finding myself anxious every time I would speed up the treadmill to 10.5mph. I decided to shorten my runs and do them outdoors with hill repeats.

Each run takes 12 minutes and change, which is totally manageable, every day. And guess what? I am happier before, during and afterwards.


(Note from Mike: It’s all about exercise quality, not so much quantity)

I come home energized and ready to greet the day. It’s usually a little dark when I begin. The sun is just starting to peak through when I finish.

I still take my kids for one to two walks each day and do some strength training or Tabata intervals with at home DVDs, like Suzanne Bowen’s Barre Amped series. One day when it was pouring rain, my husband and I broke out a Jillian Michaels DVD and got in a great, efficient workout. Half the time my kids use me as a human jungle gym when I do core work!



In my last post, I talked about how I began following the Paleo eating program last December. I really feel good and generally enjoy the foods I eat.

My approach is to eat this way at least 90% of the time.

I started a tradition to try one phenomenal dessert each month this year, the best sweets that this city has to offer. The rest of the time, I eat super healthy foods – lots of nuts, seeds, oils, butter, avocado, fresh fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, eggs, fish, chicken, and beef.

After the 5K race, we savored a wonderful S’mores Skillet at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum, which is a replica of Boston’s original Green Dragon Tavern.

(Note from Mike: Great reminder to celebrate your successes)

The dessert was delicious! A small cast iron skillet lined with graham cracker crumbs, topped with chocolate ganache and honey marshmallows (I substituted vanilla bean whipped cream, as I am not a marshmallow fan…crazy, I know. Don’t take me on a Girl Scouts camping trip!)


Back To Training

My hill runs really helped me in my 5K race, which was along the ocean, read…PANCAKE FLAT by comparison. I had not actually run 3.1 miles since November, at the Race for the Cure. Despite that, I ran this race in 21 minutes, 55 seconds, in the top 7% for my age group, women 30-39.

It gave me a good baseline and my goal will be to beat that time next year in the same race. In the meantime, I know that I pushed myself decently hard. The first 1 and a ½ miles I honestly felt like I was flying, kind of that , “Hey, I could do this forever!” feeling. I think that was the Venti Starbucks coffee talking though.

By the second half of the race, that euphoria had worn off and was replaced with a lot of “Oh my gosh, please let this be over soon. Really?! We are STILL on Mile 2?!” I just kept telling myself that I only had a few more minutes to run, which was totally true.

A 5K is good like that….it’s really just a 20 minute or so activity, manageable by any standard.

As far as eating, I have some new favorites.


Simple & Yummy Dishes


Sweet Red Apple & Chicken Stir Fry

1 can cooked organic chicken (7oz)

1 Pink Lady apple (diced)

½ Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)

Garlic and black pepper, to taste

Add the butter/oil to a frying pan on medium heat

Toss in the chicken, apple & seasoning

Cook until chicken & apple are browned



Sicilian Lemon Egg Scramble
Sicilian Lemon Egg Scramble

4 organic eggs

½ Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp Sicilian Lemon white balsamic vinegar

You can substitute 1 Tbsp each white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice

Add the butter to a frying pan. Crack and add the eggs.


After they are well cooked, transfer the egg scramble to a plate and drizzle the Sicilian Lemon white balsamic vinegar over it.


Quality Trumps Quantity

I splurged and spent more than I have ever spent on a bottle of vinegar this month. But you know what? It is worth every penny.

On a recent outing, I was lucky enough to sample an array of gourmet, artisan, all that fancy lingo balsamic vinegar and olive oils. Everything from Lavender Balsamic to Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Balsamic to Espresso Balsamic was available to taste.

I bought a beautiful glass bottle of Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar and have been a fan ever since. I was almost tempted to drizzle it on my snack of roasted almonds…seriously.

Add it to vegetable dishes to really enhance the flavor.

So that has been a win this month, rediscovering that a little of something decadent can really add benefit. Same goes for the once a month dessert. It gives my husband and I a chance to try out new restaurants. We savor what we order because it is a treat, rather than a daily habit.


What I Am Loving This Month

My Hoka One One Clifton running shoes. I am in no way sponsored by the company (at least not yet…a girl can dream!) but they have literally changed running for me.

People have described wearing them to running on clouds and that is a pretty good comparison (at least what I imagine clouds of cotton to feel like).


Where I Struggled

I reverted back to my old habit of grazing throughout the day, rather than eating three square meals. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong here, but I kind of looked at what I was doing from the perspective of an outside observer.

I noticed that I often (too often for my liking) felt overly full. It was unintentional, but I just ended up feeling stuffed, like nauseous stuffed.

I think it was due to a lot of snacking. In other words, I abandoned the “beginning” and “end” of a single meal which helps to avoid that by allowing normal hunger in the interim.

This coming month, my intention is to stop eating prior to feeling overly full, whether or not I am grazing or eating three squares.

What are your intentions for the rest of this month and the coming month as well? Let us know in the comments below and how we can help.


BrookeBenlifer1Brooke Joanna Benlifer, RD is a Cornell University graduate and Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and twins.

“My passion is preventative health through optimal nutrition. I want to lead people toward healthier, more fulfilling lives.”


Featured Image Credit: mid life rocks Blog

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