A Lady Goes West year in review for 2020 (personal and professional)

Hey, my friends! I’m pretty sure we’re all ready to ditch 2020 and move on to 2021. This year has been a tough one in so many ways. But, we’ve made it this far, and we’re going to see better things ahead, I just know it.

Because it’s the end of the year and because this is the last post on A Lady Goes West in 2020, it felt like a good time to do a year in review, of all things personal and professional combined into one.

And before we get started, two things: I appreciate you for being here. And I’m keeping it pretty real in this one with a lot of life details, because I’m committed to sharing both the good and the bad with you. Here we go …

A Lady Goes West year in review for 2020 (personal and professional)

2020 year in review by A Lady Goes West

On the personal side …

I set out in 2020 hoping to have fun, grow my business, get physically stronger, travel a lot and spend more time with my family. Well, some of that happened and some certainly didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m TRULY blessed and grateful for all that I have. However …

In the last month, I’ve lost my dad, been laid off via a mass email from a fitness company that I gave eight years of service to, saw a couple of friendships end and started packing up our California life to leave the place we’ve lived for eight years without much of a chance to say goodbye to anyone or anything, due to super-strict stay-at-home orders and a national pandemic. But other than that. 🙂 

Here’s a recap of a few personal areas …

Family

Dave, Brady and Rudy and I spent more time together this year than we ever have before — and likely more than we ever will again. We did daily walks, we ate lunch together, we hung out a ton, and this was all because we were staying safely at home, under California’s tight COVID policy. This family time was a major benefit. And one that we will remember and cherish forever, because leading up to this, Dave was gone a lot, and we missed him.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, we didn’t get to see any other family members, other than Dave’s sister, Gwena, who lives nearby in San Francisco. It was sad to miss the holidays with family, especially my momma. It was sad to miss so many things throughout the year. And of course, it was hard to know that my dad was getting progressively more sick this year, ultimately passing just after Thanksgiving, all while I was stuck across the country. Losing my dad was my first instance of big loss, and it’s something that is with me every single day still, and I’m guessing it will be for a while — popping up throughout the day with a little sprinkle of grief.

While this was hard, I’m grateful for my little family, and I’m so grateful for the relationship I have with my mom too — and those things keep me going.

One of the highlights of the year personally was our summer trip to Lake Tahoe, which marked the only time we really got away. We hope to have way more family time in 2021 after we move. And we hope to do a lot more traveling in 2021 and beyond. Overall, my family is healthy, happy and strong, and this is such a blessing.

Thanksgiving hike 2020 by A Lady Goes West

Health

I started out 2020 with a flu and bronchitis and was super sick for two weeks, which is rare for me. From there, my health has been great. I have good energy, I sleep well, I feel healthy and strong. I like my food, I like my workouts, and I have no major complaints.

However, in the last month or so, my stress level has been through the roof with loss, the pandemic, and of course, preparing for a cross-country move — and during this time I’ve felt some knots in my stomach and noticed a few other things that are totally stress related (like hair loss, the worst, oh my gosh). I know these will get better with time, as this is just a tough period for me.

I’m grateful for my health and the health of the people I love. And I will always place importance on caring for myself so that I feel my best, because this is a feeling that you cannot replace. Health is wealth. And you should never feel bad about investing in your health or spending time taking care of yourself.

Ashley's year in review for 2020 by A Lady Goes West

Mindset and pace

When 2020 began, I was running around like crazy doing all the things, always on the go. (More on that below.) Well, once COVID hit, I was forced to slow down immensely. At first, I really struggled with staying home all the time, because I felt like I always had to be out and about doing things — one activity after another, with Brady’s nap in the middle. But over the last nine months, I’ve learned that you don’t have to pack every moment. You don’t always have to have an “activity,” and you can get a lot from slowing down — an afternoon walk is plenty on the schedule.

I’d love to be able to go out to lunch and dinner and maybe a concert or two, but I’m positive that I’ll approach life moving forward with the knowledge that free time is totally okay. And this is a big learning for me. Thanks for that one, 2020.

Other noteworthy things:

  • For a few months this year, I worked with a life coach virtually, and it was an amazing experience. She asked me tough questions, helped me find the answers inside myself and ultimately gave me clarity on both personal and professional situations in life. I loved doing this and would recommend it to others. And I have my life coach to thank for helping me to make some positive changes with how I do things, like changing my blog posting schedule and always asking explicitly for what I need.
  • In September, Brady Boo turned three. This little man is truly the light of my life, and watching him grow up so much this year has been amazing. He’s the cutest, and he’s such a good little companion. He’s a mini me and is so similar to me, and I love it. And although he still gets some crazy tantrums, he’s super fun most of the time.
  • Hikes galore. I guess we were just too busy before COVID happened to get outside and enjoy the Bay Area, but once most places closed down for entertainment, our hikes began. We’ve explored so many new beautiful areas around us the last few months, and it’s been so nice. Three cheers for fresh air and spending time in nature together.

Ashley and Brady at Acalanes by A Lady Goes West - August 2020

Now, let’s move on to business.

On the professional side …

I worked hard this year, and I did it in fragments throughout the day when I wasn’t caring for Brady. I usually work for a bit in the mornings, during Brady’s afternoon nap, a bit in the evenings and a lot on the weekends. While it’s not ideal, it actually works for me and works for our life right now.

The blog

Even though things in the world went pretty badly this year, my business has actually been good. A Lady Goes West and all of its parts have had some strong growth. I continued to put up two new blog posts a week, one on an evergreen subject and one a current faves post. I also posted to Instagram fairly regularly and tried to provide valuable content in both places (hopefully I succeeded in that — you tell me).

My income grew this year, and I surpassed the monetary goal that I set out to achieve. For this, I am thankful. I don’t say this to brag. Because I’ve been pouring a lot of my heart and soul into this blog for more than eight years. I didn’t make a single cent for maybe the first three years, then not too much at all for another two years, having other jobs to supplement, all the while plugging along on the blog on the side. I’ve always done this blog because I enjoy it (never taking more than a week off posting in eight years). And if you can’t tell, I love to write, and the fact that this is my job — from my laptop on my couch — is an amazing thing. Because you click over to read means so much to me.

This year, I spent more money on my blog than I ever have, with programs, software and backend help, and I think investing in it has paid off. And there’s a lot more to come in 2021 as I consider a rebrand too. I’ve tried to take an abundance mindset with what I do, and that’s been a nice shift for me mentally.

I think what makes this blog work is that I try to be honest and sometimes that opens me up to criticism, which I’ve had some more of this year. I definitely tend to take things personally, so I’m working on that. And hey, you can’t please everyone. 

Identify your anchor habits by A Lady Goes West

Beautycounter

This year, I had a goal to grow my Beautycounter team to 10 people total. I started out the year with three people and am ending the year with 14 people, some of whom are my direct recruits and some of whom are recruits from my team members. A couple of my team members (and friends) have done so well with the business, it’s incredible. And I’ve had so much fun growing this part of my business. As I’ve put more into it, the income has grown as well. I finally hit the title of “Director” with Beautycounter, which is a big milestone in the company. I truly love it, and I love that I’m doing it with friends (and meeting new friends) too.

This year, I spent much more money on sending gifts to clients, shipping out samples to prospective clients, hosting an event and fulfilling giveaways for clients too. My post office bills have been huge, but I also think that investing in giving to others freely has resulted in more people deciding to shop with me.

When people tell me that their skin has improved because of my recommendations on Beautycounter products to switch to, now that feels good. I knew very little when I joined Beautycounter, and I love how much I’ve learned along the way. This part of my business is truly enjoyable, and it will continue to be a focus in 2021. It feels great to be a part of something that is so mission driven about improving health too. 

Ashley's in Beautycounter red by A Lady Goes West

Group fitness and teaching

I started out this year teaching four regular in-person group fitness classes a week, often subbing an additional one or two. I was so happy with the fact that I had so many classes and was somehow managing four different formats a week, BODYATTACK, BODYPUMP, Pop Pilates and Bootybarre — because I had to wait a long time to get those classes. But let’s be honest, it was a lot of time, responsibility and burden to know so much choreography to teach them all. I was running around to the gym practicing to teach, then teaching — oftentimes using up all my allotted gym-childcare usage in a day without sitting still for one second. I was constantly learning choreography. It was all consuming.

Oh how things have changed. After COVID hit, I was devastated about the loss of group fitness. To this day, I miss the in-person-crazy-sweaty-crowded-loud-music-pumping-vibe like crazy. But, I’ve adapted. In the spring, I decided to jump into a secret start-up project with Area 120 within Google, and got out of my comfort zone to teach some freestyle barre classes virtually on camera from my living room. I was terrified. But, saying yes to that project has opened up so much. Now, that project, called Motus, is about to make its official public launch, and I’m one of the original instructors. I absolutely love it. Do I look perfect on camera? No. Do I teach a perfect class every time? No. But I’m out there in the ring, and that’s what counts.

In addition to teaching on Motus, I also jumped into an on-demand video project with Fit Revolution. This is a brand-new app that is still growing, and I’ve filmed a ton of workout content there, and you can try a 14-day free trial here. These things take a lot of work, and they have driven me to question myself so much — but I know it’s so much better to give it a go than to sit on the sidelines because I’m scared.

I may not have taught as many in-person classes as I wanted this year, but I’ve evolved, and for this, I’m proud. Have you had a chance to do any of my virtual workouts yet? If not, I’d love if you gave one a try. 

Other noteworthy things:

  • In January, I officially became a certified POP Pilates instructor. I really hope to teach this class in-person again one day, because I love the way it feels on the body.
  • In February, I hosted a “Barre, Beauty and Bubbles” event, which was so much fun and was something I had wanted to do for a long time, combining fitness, clean beauty and wellness with some local friends.
  • In the spring, I completed my Precision Nutrition level 1 certification program and learned so much.
  • In the summer, I re-certified for my NASM certified personal trainer certification, so I can continue to keep up with my fitness education, even though I don’t train clients in a one-on-one setting any longer.

Ashley speaking to the group at the barre, beauty and bubbles event - by A Lady Goes West - February 2020

The most popular blog posts of 2020

Even though some of these weren’t written this year, here are the most highly visited posts on A Lady Goes West in 2021 …

  1. 73 questions — This is a fun one I wrote last year with all sorts of personal information.
  2. Review of the Les Mills On Demand streaming workout — Because nothing beats Les Mills.
  3. The best instructors on the Peloton app — I actually really enjoy riding the Peloton bike, which has been a huge surprise to me, because I’ve never been much of a cycling fan before.
  4. Review of the Peloton app after my first 100 workouts — There’s a lot to choose from.
  5. Everything you need to know about the Orangetheory Fitness workout — Definitely the oldest post on the list. Did you guys know I used to be a coach at OTF long ago?
  6. My review of the Precision Nutrition level 1 certification program — Such a great program.
  7. Everything you need to know about Les Mills workouts and how to get started — Les Mills will always be one of my top topics, whether I’m teaching the classes regularly or not.
  8. The NASM CPT guided study program and passing the NASM exam — Written a couple of years ago, but still relevant for fitness professionals who want to get a respected credential.
  9. Five things no one tells you about postpartum exercise — I still stand by this post and think we need to keep talking about this topic.
  10. My top seven Beautycounter products and how I take care of my skin — Because we all care about our skin.
  11. How to motivate others to work out — Most of us feel better when we’re in motion, so it’s only natural that we share this with those in our lives.
  12. Remembering my dad — This is not a post I was ready to write, but it was therapeutic to put my thoughts into words. 
  13. The creamiest warm almond butter oatmeal bowl — This is the best cold-weather breakfast.
  14. How to modify a BODYPUMP class when you’re pregnant — I did BODYPUMP up until the end of my pregnancy.
  15. How to show appreciation to your favorite group fitness instructors — I guess people are trying to support their instructors this year, which is super nice.

And that’s the list. As you see, Les Mills group fitness will always be my blogging bread and butter, and I will always love it. Let’s hope I get to teach it in-person again one day soon. Until then, I’ll be using Les Mills On Demand at home happily in my living room.

Overall

Overall, 2020 has been quite the year. I’ve had some tough personal situations, I’ve worked really hard on all parts of my business, and I’ve spent a whole lot of time at home, with my sweet boys, wearing activewear, hugging them tightly and thanking my lucky stars that I had them by my side this year. And I’m 100 percent ready for change next year, especially as we head off into an entirely new adventure. Let’s do this! 

Ashley and Brady before class by A Lady Goes West-2

That concludes today’s year in review. I’ll see you in 2021, my friends. Come say hi on Instagram until we meet back here!

Questions of the day

What’s something you did this year that you are proud of?

What’s something that you want to accomplish in 2021?

What’s one thing you are totally leaving behind in 2020? For me, it’s negative people!

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18 Comments

  1. I loved reading this post because I always appreciate you keeping it totally real. But I was sad to hear some of the not so great things that I didn’t really know about, like losing friends, getting let go from a fitness company and people being negative and critical on here or social media. {Who are they because imma fight em!} But as always, you have a great attitude about it and one I try to emulate.

    Congrats on all of your professional growth! Lots of milestones hit and I know how much heart and soul you put into everything you do so it is well deserved.

    xoxo

    1. Hi Courtney! Thank you for reading and for being a positive friend! I always appreciate your support and comments. As far as the stuff that has been going on with me that isn’t so great — the endings of a few things only mean that there is space for new (and better) things! 🙂

  2. I have followed you for years and you continue to be one of my favorite bloggers. I too have a 3 year old so it’s fun to have that in common! Thank you for sharing your life with us, and for keeping it real! Knowing that we all are in these tough times together helps keep me going. Happy new year to you and your family!

    1. Hi Erica! Thank YOU for reading and for following. I really appreciate it. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the age of 3 for Brady right now — he still gets upset with tantrums, but he is just SO cute and smart hahaha. I hope you have a wonderful new year too!! xoxo

  3. Hi Ashley! This was such a great post to read – because you were so honest and real. It is alot easier to relate to others (especially this year!) when it is not all sunshine and roses. While we may all have struggled differently this year, the fact is that in some way or another, each of us has gone through difficult times. I appreciate you sharing both the good and the bad, and I wish more bloggers would do the same! I also wanted to let you know that you really do inspire me and make me want to try hard things and be a better person. Although we have never met, I learn a lot from you and the way you approach life through your blog, so thank you! I hope you continue to blog forever because you are really a source of good, positive energy and it is just a blessing to be able to click open your posts and get inspired and motivated. I hope you have a great new year and good luck with the move. I think 2021 is going to be a great year for you and your family <3

    1. Hi Shelby! Wow — thank you so much for these sweet words. I really appreciate it. Yes, I know we’ve all had some hard stuff, and I know personally that I like to know others are dealing with things and it’s not just me — so that’s why I decide to share it. And it’s so awesome you are inspired to try hard things — it’s usually worth it! Here’s to 2021, my friend! 🙂

  4. Loved this so so much, and it got me thinking about so many aspects of my life. I am most proud of simply surviving. This year has been tough, but I’m still standing and that’s something.

    I want to build out my brand more and figure out a way to better monetize the content I create and what I do.

    And I’m SOOOO with you on leaving negative people behind in 2020.

    1. Hi Kayla! Surviving this year is ENOUGH, my friend! I’m always impressed with how you show up on social media and your blog, so keep up the great work lady. I appreciate you!! 🙂

  5. Hi Ashley! Really enjoyed this. You were one of the first healthy living blogs I started following back in the day when I started blogging in 2012 and I’m so glad you’re still blogging and thriving. I’ve SO enjoyed your path over the years. Again, I’m so sorry about your dad.

    To answer your questions: What’s something you did this year that you are proud of? I’m proud of myself for re-committing to YouTube and making consistent videos that my audience enjoys.

    What’s something that you want to accomplish in 2021? I’d love to be able to get vaccinated against COVID and travel to FL to see my family.

    What’s one thing you are totally leaving behind in 2020? For me, it’s negative people!
    I’m leaving behind the habit of thinking small in terms of Oui In France’s growth. We can do whatever we want and don’t have to limit ourselves in this online space, and I’m inspired by your growth with Pop Pilates and the blog and Beautycounter. 😉

    Just my 2 cents about negative people. I think there’s a difference between someone who is negative for the sake of it and is critical, negative and never has anything positive to contribute versus someone who is generally a good friend, inspiring, a hard worker, etc. just going through a hard time. I think in society it’s become almost trendy to be positive and grateful but the human experience has struggle and tough times (esp this year!) woven in too. Sometimes it makes me nervous to lean on friends and family for fear that my unloading will be perceived as “negative” when maybe I just need some support. Hope that makes sense 😉
    All the best to you in 2021 and beyond. xx

    1. Hi Diane! What a thorough comment! Wow — I totally agree with your assessment of negative people, and I’m not leaving behind people who are going through a hard time and can be downers — no way — it’s totally okay to have those times and be honest when things aren’t right. I’m leaving behind negative people who try really hard to bring you down for the sake of being critical and because perhaps they are jealous or just angry at themselves, so they pick at you — you know those types. Anywho, back to your answers: I really hope you can get to Florida for a visit safely soon. And I think you’ve already done great things with your brand, and keep on reaching, you can grow as much as you want. Props to you for knowing that, and I look forward to see where 2021 takes you! Thank you, friend!

  6. I’ve been thinking of you since your post about losing your dad. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sorry the end of the year included additional hardships. 🙁 Good luck with your move!

    I love your blog, btw. It’s nice to have a place to read so much positivity and authenticity about fitness in a real life schedule.

  7. I’m so incredibly proud of you, proud to know you, and inspired by you. I know this year has been tough- but you are tougher. Thank you for keeping it real and for being the thoughtful and beautiful person you are!

    1. Hi Laurene! What a treat to have a comment from you on the blog! 🙂 I’m happy to know you and wish we had more time to spend together — maybe one day on the East Coast. Let’s catch up soon!

  8. Hi Ashley,

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I think you made the most of 2020, despite all the bad things so you should be very proud of yourself!

    Best of luck with the move. Exciting times ahead.

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