Guest Post: Getting Back To Goodness With Eating & Exercise (Part 4)

This is a guest post by Brooke Benlifer.

She’s back with Part Four of her Back To Goodness Series.

Brooke’s a Registered Dietitian, food lover, avid runner, and good friend of mine.

Her insight and tips in my Lose 10 Pounds In 30 Days workshop has helped create the amazing weight loss results we continue to see from those who go through the workshop.

Here’s another months worth of goodness and how to create your own.

You’re awesome Brooke! Thanks for being here.


Thanks Mike! It’s always great to be here with you and this wonderful community.

Writing about my health sharing it here makes me learn about myself.

It’s easy to let days and months slip by with no introspection about what makes us tick and what challenges us.

I set out to create and adhere to a meal plan that fueled me, was simple, and delicious. I found the plan to work well for me in many ways however, I also learned the following:

1) Some days I was much hungrier than others

2) When I was stressed, I found myself snacking A LOT

3) It helps to identify cravings (then figure out how and when to consciously give in to them)

4) Substitutions (what I refer to as “smart swaps”) are lifesavers

5) I LOVE to challenge myself physically, especially with running (even if it’s just for a short time every morning) it makes me feel fantastic

6) It helps to write down the PROS of eating well and the CONS of eating poorly


Here’s a look into each of these insights. Perhaps one or more of these will resonates with you too.


Some Days I Am Hungrier Than Others

Even when I’ve eaten quite a bit of food (3 snacks and 3 meals), by the time my husband and I take our kiddos for a late afternoon walk, I find myself truly hungry and my blood sugar relatively low.

I know I’ll feel shaky if I don’t eat some protein soon.



IMG_5001When I get home, I feed the kids dinner and fix myself a large helping of turkey salad smothered in Primal Kitchen mayo with some raw carrots and green tea.

Although this definitely helps, I find myself snacking on LOTS of nuts later on.

It’s not to the point of feeling overly full, but probably 2 cups worth of mixed nuts, and then some chicken.


I did have an active day: 12 minute HIIT run morning, 12 min weight circuit, 8 min core workout and two 25 minute walks with my kids in the double stroller up and down hills in our neighborhood.

This is a typical day for me. Sometimes even more activity than this, in addition to the lifting the toddlers in and out of their strollers/cribs/high chairs/general cleaning up of toys, scattered food under the table, etc.


My two takeaways:

1) Listen to your body and trust that it will take care of you if you take care of it.

2) We are not robots and sometimes we need to eat more to fuel ourselves properly. Respect that, but also respect a comfortable stopping point for the day so that you feel energetic and strong for tomorrow.


Stress = Lots Of Snacking

This happened to me several times but I am well aware of what contributed to it which helps me to prevent this situation from happening again down the road.

IMG_4999The first time it happened I had run a race and had not had my normal breakfast. Instead, my husband and I decided ahead of time to check out Richard Walker’s Pancake House after the race.

The food was good. I had the chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream, and the bacon waffle, which was shared amongst my kids, my husband and myself.


Now do you see what I mean when I say I have a hearty appetite? 🙂

I had 6 chocolate chip pancakes, plus ½ of a large bacon waffle and I easily could have eaten double that amount – I really do mean easily.

Everyone else at our table (4 other adults) commented on how stuffed they were after their meals – not me though.


Let’s breakdown what happened this day:

1) I neglected to have at least some protein before eating a boatload of sugar and starch, which set me up to be hungry all day long.

2) My house was super crowded with people and instead of de-stressing by giving myself a little breathing room (e.g. reading a book upstairs on my own for a bit), I snacked and snacked, which in the end, left me feeling worse instead of better.


Identify Cravings & When To Give In

I find it helpful, especially when following a healthy meal plan, to either build in small daily indulgences, or to plan weekly or monthly ones.

I literally keep a list of foods that I am craving, so that I can find ways to enjoy them and still reach my fitness goals.


IMG_5002For example, I was craving Kabocha squash and Okinawa potatoes—what are those, you ask?! They’re like sweet potatoes, only more delicious in my opinion. They can generally be found at Asian markets.

My family and I took a fun little field trip across town and had a great time checking out a particular Korean market we’d never been to before.

When we got home, I cooked up the squash and potatoes and enjoyed them. Until I reached that inevitable point where, as with most cravings, you realize–you’re over it.

I find that a craving should be satisfied with the actual food, not a fake substitute.


There are some exceptions though…

I enjoy Quest protein bars (the ones sweetened with erythritol, Stevia and lo han guo—NOT sucralose) and have them as snacks on a daily basis as of late, often paired with almonds.

They definitely satisfy my chocolate or sweets craving as much as, if not better, than a candy bar.

One of my favorite treats is ice cream and when it comes to ice cream, I prefer the real deal.

So, once a month, we plan to do a Sunday FunDay and splurge on an awesome ice cream sandwich or sundae at a local spot here in town.

Another thing I like to do is to allow a little wiggle room in every day’s meal plan that is designed for a small portion of literally whatever I am craving!

(Comment from Mike: I absolutely love this wiggle room suggestion – when it comes to cravings, this approach is a winner)


Substitutions “Smart Swaps” Are Life Savers

When I ran out of my regular greens for salads and bell peppers for snacking on, I used what I have available (fresh kale from a friend’s garden and carrots from a 10 pound bag of carrots I purchased).

This saved me an extra trip to the store, added variety to my diet, and encouraged me to create some new recipes—such as a turkey salad “wrap” using kale.


Challenging Myself Physcially

What worked really well was to continue doing my daily 12 minute hill circuit by my house.

Except for race day and one day of pouring rain, I got up and out the door every morning and completed this quick workout.

It never ceases to amaze me how working out just makes you feel SO GOOD!

(Comment from Mike: Here’s a 12 Minute HIIT Workout complete with stretches you can follow)


Writing Down PROS Of Eating Well & CONS Of Eating Poorly

PROS of eating well:

1) Feeling satisfied and nourished

2) Feeling energetic

3) Feeling grounded (not shaky or lethargic)

4) No/fewer headaches

5) Confidence

6) Establishing a good habit


CONS of eating poorly:

1) Poor sleep

2) Not listening to cues of hunger and fullness

3) Eating too fast or mindlessly

4) Next day’s workouts may feel tougher


Summary Of What Went Well

Water, Water, Water

My goal was to drink a gallon of water daily and I did just that nearly every day, sometimes even more if I was still thirsty.

I used either large mugs that I refilled at the refrigerator’s water filter, or a 1 Liter bottle that I filled up 4 times throughout the day.


Consistent, Varied Workouts

These included hilly neighborhood walks, lagoon walk, 4 mile bridge run for our monthly race, 2 types of core training workouts, 2 types of arm workouts, 12 minute hill circuit, 12 min weight circuit with heavy weights, and Tabata workouts.


I’m looking forward to this month and am eager to share my adventures in getting Back to Goodness with you!

Stay tuned, more to come… including a fun “disco” race around the marina. I’m planning to get decked out in some neon or sparkles (or maybe both!)


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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