Stories That Didn’t Make It In The Book – Part 3

Stories That Didn’t Make The Book – Part 3

The thing about ducks // yoga for non-yogis // you win in the end– here’s Part 3 of Stories That Didn’t Make It In “Sweat with Brook Benten.”

Sweat with Brook Benten” is my new book, available on Amazon. It published on January 22, 2024. Each chapter has a workout title and the contents within give a story of my life related to that chapter title. The chapter ends with a workout and follow-along video, accessible through QR code. (Far be it from me to just write a regular old vanilla book. It’s a spruced-up, fully illustrated book with 12 professionally-produced exercise videos: warm-up, run, cycle dance, strength, kickbox, step, kettlebell, HIIT, barre, yoga-Pilates, and recovery.)

When I initially set out to write the book, I just thought that I’d write workouts and embed videos. My husband asked why. I said, “Because fitness is my thing.” He challenged me to quit thinking of myself as just a vessel for fitness. I’m more. It’s “me” that people would buy a book for, not my workouts. He said that they could get a workout anywhere, but what they cannot get is my stories. “Tell them your stories,” he nudged.

I know I didn’t marry a dummy, but I cannot believe that he was right!

I am floored that the reviews, text messages, calls, and conversations people have given me since the release of “Sweat with Brook Benten” have been praising my stories of strife, struggle, and success. Like, you didn’t buy the book for those 12 workout videos? You bought it for my stories?! And you haven’t even done the workout videos? These are the messages I keep receiving– not once; not twice; just about every time!

Well, alright! If getting to know me helps you give yourself grace and go at hard things with gumption, I’ve got stories for days. Here is part 3 of stories that didn’t make it in the book.

These introductory remarks feel meaningful to me. I hope that, to you, they don’t seem like a bunch of mumbo jumbo that you have to scroll through to get to what you actually opened this blog post for. I hate mumbo jumbo. I’m a get-to-the-point kind of gal.
Friend, it’s all the point.
It’s not like those recipe posts where you have to scroll, scroll, stroll, eat a snack, take a shower, and eventually get to how to make a fritatta. The whole thing is the fritatta.

Chapter 8: HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training means periods of high intensity and low intensity. Paradoxically, I’m experiencing both at the moment.

My high school mascot was a duck. The mantra for the Taylor Ducks is “Once a Duck, Always a Duck.” I have never felt like more of a duck than I do right now: on the surface, floating along blissfully- a quintessential stay-at-home mom, entrepreneur, author, travel writer, room parent, Costco shopper.
But below the surface, I’m flapping like heck.

My work’s ambition is to move millions to well-being. To serve that, I personal train, life coach, host a podcast, write books, review wellness resorts, and host online fitness and wellness programs. Flap, flap, flap, flippity flap, flap.

But it feels moot, in vein, worthless when people don’t want to change. Laura Wahlstrom, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Austin, TX, said, “You will never convince a person to change who sees no problem with their situation or behavior.” Unfortunately, even though one in three Americans are overweight, many have preventable chronic health conditions, and our annual national healthcare spend is over $4,000,000,000,000 — with >90% attributed to preventable chronic health conditions, most people don’t see that they have a problem.

The wellness industry is booming right now, but the definition is obtuse.
Many people are taking time off of work, doing cold plunges, connecting with wearable technology, going to the day spa, getting a massage and calling it wellness. No wonder they like wellness- by these means, it’s just buying expensive stuff and chilling out.
Wellness is not just indulgence.
Wellness is discipline.
Wellness is work.
Wellness is eating and drinking things that nourish your brain and body (fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids, and water); wellness is recognizing your life’s stressors and addressing, not avoiding them; wellness is spending time in nature; wellness is moving daily; wellness is picking up and putting down heavy things; wellness is strong social connections; wellness is curiosity and learning; wellness is time management; wellness is setting a circadian rhythm by routinely going to bed and getting up at the same time.

By that definition, wellness isn’t so appealing to a lot of people. In fact, I was on a Facebook group recently where a woman mentioned that she was going to start a group for ladies to empower one another. Several respondent mentioned that they’d join if it was just empowerment, not wellness. Exactly what are we empowering each other to do, if not be well?

I get discouraged by the state of our nation, and the state of our nation is a reflection of us.

I have to believe that with more and better education and appealing ways to be well, people will see that they have a problem, need to change, and change.
Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

One personal training session, podcast, book, article, online group program at a time, I hope my work enables you to know better and do better.

HEAVY 100, Brook’s next 100 Day Online Group Wellness Program is starting soon! March 18 – June 25, 2024.

Over about a third of your year, you’ll learn simple steps that transform your lifestyle and make you feel and look your best.

Chapter 9: Barre

It’s homonym time! Barre is a ballet-inspired workout. Bar is an establishment where alcohol is served. In “Sweat with Brook Benten,” I go into detail about my journey from porch-pounding chardonnay-drinker to sober living advocate. Sobriety has blessed my life with everything that alcohol promised. In the book, I explain how giving up alcohol helped me overcome psychological avoidance, connect with my children, sleep better, be a better wife, and so on. Initially, it almost seemed too easy. I didn’t have to buy anything or sacrifice in any way to reap all of these benefits. I just had to quit consuming poison, and “poof,” my existence got better.

I feel a deep sense of peace existing in the world without alcohol inside of me. Who knows how long my existence will last. I want to feel this good, present, clear, and honest every moment I get to spend here. I just celebrated a sober-versary. Like birthdays, I hope to have many more.

After I published “Sweat with Brook Benten,” I tuned in to one of my favorite podcasts, We Can Do Hard Things. The guest was Laura McKowen. Laura is the author of “We are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life.

The book is beautifully written and will strike a chord with anyone who has a dependency. Your dependence may not be bar (alcohol). Maybe it’s food, sugar, gambling, pornography, shopping, drugs, or something else. If you’re leaning on a thing to avoid a present, clear, honest life, the price is too high. That thing doesn’t make life more palatable. It makes it more passive, because you’re not there. You get one shot at this precious moment. Be here!

In a roundabout way, I’m getting to the point that if the Barre Like a Mother chapter (Chapter 9) spoke to you in “Sweat with Brook Benten,” I would recommend reading “We are the Luckiest” by Laura McKowen. In the podcast, McKowen mentioned that she had initially titled the book “I am the Luckiest,” but changed it to “We are the Luckiest.” We are, aren’t we?!

In both of our books, McKowen and I reveal some of the mistakes that we made while under the influence of alcohol. Although, thankfully, I won’t be making irrational decisions aided and abetted by alcohol anymore, I will still make mistakes. Being accepting enough of myself to deliver self-compassion when I do is one of the ways that alcohol lost its stronghold. I approach instead of avoid.

In “We Are the Luckiest,” McKowen writes “We are all capable of everything.” She says that every person is a full moon: half dark, half light. What a metaphor! If I took a walk in your shoes, I could have made the same mistakes you have. If you took a walk in mine, you could as well. I have it in me to do dark, deleterious things. I also have it in me to glow and positively impact the world with my goodness. You do, too. So do nuns, priests, principals, and philanthropists. We are all full moons.

Chapter 10: Yoga-Pilates

In “Sweat with Brook Benten,” I express that I don’t care for yoga.

Well-meaning yogis have tried to change my mind in the same way that non-sushi lovers are constantly told to try California rolls. I don’t like any of the different types of yoga. I’m bored. I am not saying that you shouldn’t do yoga. Do your sun salutations, enjoy long savasanas, invert yourself, breathe. But I have tried. I started most every morning of 2020 with yoga. I completed a basic yoga teacher training. Ultimately, I come back to what I said all along- I just don’t like yoga.

I do love the spirit of yoga. An overstimulated nervous system leads to inflammation, sleep disturbances, a suppressed immune system, injuries, and burnout. Yoga calms the nervous system. So do other things. Here are some of my favorite ways to get yoga for non-yogis.

  • 500 Meter swim in cold water (50-65 degrees in a wet suit or 65-70 degrees in a swimsuit) followed by 30-minutes in an infrared sauna
  • A comfortable walk outside (Joyce Shulman, recently released the bookWhy Walk!” It’s a sensational read with so much research supporting this.)
  • Normatec compression boots for legs and Normatec compression sleeves for arms (done in tandem- nirvana!)
  • Meditation while paddle boarding (moving meditation)
  • An easy hike with Jetti Poles
  • Foam rolling (see the 30-minute Recovery video in “Sweat with Brook Benten”)

For me, driving a Vespa scooter is the epitome of yoga. I hold that back from the list because not everybody finds scooters accessible or safe. Just know if you’re cruising around Austin, TX and see me on a Vespa Piaggio with my hair blowing in the wind, I’m doing yoga.

Chapter 11: Recovery

The recovery chapter is my favorite chapter in the entire book. It’s the chapter that almost wasn’t. I had planned on ending the book with Chapter 10. My friend and fellow author, Haven Lindsey, read my manuscript, and warmly asked, “Are you sure that’s how you want to end it?” She loved the book. But why I would end it with 12-year-old humor about farting in yoga was lost on her. (A bit about me: I look my biological age; I have the sense of humor of a middle schooler; and I deal with a nagging hamstring injury that has me limping like I’ve been around since the Civil War.)

I went back to the drawing board and decided that I’d add another chapter. It’s the victorious finish we were all hoping for. It’s the hero winning in the end. The hero wasn’t a white knight, a god or goddess, a patriarch, benevolent stranger… it was you. Little old you. You survived every battle, worked on yourself, healed, and alas recovered. With scars, you straighten your crown and start the sequel where you help other women do the same.

My sequel, so to speak, is coming up next month. I’ve given you my stories. It’s your turn. I won’t ask you to do one thing or take one step that I won’t join you with. I’ll make your journey my journey. We’ll do it together. For 100 days, I’ll lead you through a program that builds strength, establishes a morning routine, limits screen time, has you eating the right things, gives you a plan, and has you drinking water.

The program is called HEAVY 100. It will have you well by summer, then it will be your turn to pass it on.

“Good teachers lay themselves down as bridges, over which they invite their students to cross. Then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.” Nikos Kazantzakis

With your trust to take my lead and join, the sequels to “Sweat with Brook Benten” may be endless.

HEAVY 100 registration details here. Needs: one set of heavy dumbbells; your trust; your belief that you can recover and be well.
HEAVY 100: March 18 – June 25, 2024

Don’t let cost be prohibitive. If you know anything about me by now, you know I can always find a way. I’ll do the same for you.

In Closing…

After three blog posts, each longer than the book of Psalms, we’ve come to the point where the rubber meets the road.

You have all my stories and then some- the ones from the book and the bonus blog trilogy. Now, take the next step. Read my book. Read the other books referenced here. Go outside. Eat something green. Check in on a friend. Pet a dog. Fill up your thermos (with water). Go to bed when you’d rather watch Netflix. Get up before you have to. Say “I love you.” Wash your face. But don’t stay the same. You haven’t come this far to come this far. Keep growing.


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