Guest Post: Getting Back To Goodness in 2016

This is a guest post by Brooke Benlifer.

The first installment of her Back To Goodness Series in 2016.

Brooke is our resident Dietitian here at The Wellness Bucket and a very good friend of mine.

Overcoming injuries, walking instead of running for exercise, and giving into food cravings… it’s all in there.


Take it away Brooke!

Thanks Mike!

As we welcome in this new year, I find myself feeling grateful.

Hard work paid off, injuries were overcome and healed, and I was surrounded by the love of friends and family every day.


I Passed My Exam!

After months of studying, I took my exam to become a personal trainer and passed!

(Note From Mike: HUGE congrats Brooke – you’re awesome!)

I used the little free time I had (namely my kiddos’ nap times and after they went to bed) to dedicate to studying.

I started off gung ho, with a strict study schedule. After about a month, I was completely burnt out and took a little time off, but then resumed again.

I took time off again, and resumed again, but this time with a more crazy intense study schedule.

All in all, I did the entire curriculum multiple times over, to make sure I really understood the material and wasn’t simply memorizing acronyms.

I am beyond excited to be able to combine my nutrition background with personal training to help people feel their best.

When we’re healthy, everything else sort of has a way of falling into place. And if I can aid in giving people the tools to live a healthier life, even in some small way, to me that is invaluable.

I found myself inspired this month by moms…both in my circle of friends and beyond.

Suzanne Bowen, Lindsay Brin, and Heidi Powell all balance motherhood and careers in fitness.

All three commit their time and energy to help others be active and make room for physical fitness into their daily lives.


Spending Time Outdoors

This month, my family and I spent lots of time outdoors together playing around.

Everything from skateboarding, kicking the soccer ball, taking walks, AND going to an awesome playground!

Seriously though, playgrounds these days have been upgraded times ten since I was a kid.

We stayed out till dark and sometimes got up very early for our monthly 5K run.

It reinforced to me that we are “designed” to be active every day and that it really does make life better just to get out and move.

I know we’re tired sometimes and it’s inconvenient but the truth is, it doesn’t take much to get reap the benefits of being active.

Gone are the days of people spending hours in the gym or hours in front of the stove cooking some complex meal.

I get it, we’re all busy although a quick workout or a simple, hearty meal is all we need.

If we’re honest with ourselves we’ll admit that we all have the time.


Dealing With Injuries

I struggled a bit this month with a couple of injuries.

The first was sciatica, ironically from overstretching.

The second was a slight back injury that didn’t allow me to do my beloved morning sprint, which I have really come to look forward to as a way to start my day as the sun rises on these chilly wintry mornings…. well, as wintry as it gets here in California. 🙂

I found myself really very frustrated about not being able to run after attempting to do so and finding that it was way too painful continue.

With encouragement from my ever supportive husband, I found a couple of suitable substitutions.

One of them was walking the hill instead of running it.

And to be honest, it was fun!

Yes, it took twice as long to power up the hill walking rather than running, but it wasn’t bad. We’re talking14 minutes, instead of 7.

I also found ways to incorporate lighter dumbbells if the heavier weights bothered my back.

I kept up my walks with my kids and am confident that my back will soon be healed and I’ll be running again in no time.


Food Structure & Cravings

As far as eating, I definitely had some days this month where I indulged in way more food than I normally eat. Of course not an unfamiliar scenario around the holidays.

I find that I do really well with some structure around my meals and snacks. It helps me to have steady energy and blood sugar levels and keeps me mindful of eating when I am actually hungry.

My current schedule that includes 3 meals and 2 snacks spaced evenly apart, works well for me.

I’ve been eating an earlier breakfast, a mid morning snack, lunch in the early afternoon, a mid afternoon snack and an early dinner.

I’ve been on an oatmeal kick lately since the colder weather definitely adds to the appeal of warm, comfort foods.

I’ve also been enjoying lots of hot green tea.

Another thing I’ve done this month is to allow myself to eat exactly what I crave.

I spent 2015 eating a Paleo diet, which I loved. During this time, I found myself really only missing one thing…oatmeal!

Not some Paleo substitute, but actual oatmeal.

I find that eating “around” cravings often just makes me want the actual food all the more. Plus, it just so happens that oatmeal has a ton of health benefits such as a decent dose of fiber, some protein, and a little fat.

It’s super satiating and can be eaten anywhere, anytime. It’s also inexpensive, easy to prepare, portable, and can be flavored and enhanced with just about any fruit or nut if you choose.

Personally, I love it made with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and lots of cinnamon.

Oatmeal made with just water is NOT for me!


Looking Ahead

This month allowed me time to reflect on what I want to accomplish in this new year.

Some of these things include connecting with dear friends, many of whom I do not see often enough, even though I think about them all the time.

Another is how I can give back to my community and continue to enjoy quality time with my family.

My greatest moments were found in the simplest of things such as group hugs with my husband and kids, late afternoon walks, pushing the stroller as the sun is setting, a lunch date with a close friend at one of our favorite restaurants.

It’s all of these little moments that create the larger collage of life and always brings me Back to Goodness.


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.”


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