Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner: fourth edition

Hello, friends! How are you? Welcome to the fourth edition of the Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner. I’ve really enjoyed putting together these posts for you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them too. Please feel free to submit an anonymous question or topic after you read this, because I’m planning to keep this series going. Don’t be shy, because whatever you want to ask, someone else may want to ask too. 🙂

Before we begin, a quick reminder: I’m not an expert in anything we’re talking about below, but I love to help you out. These are my neutral third-party honest responses to the questions I’ve been asked.

Let’s go for it …

Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner: fourth edition

Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner fourth edition by A Lady Goes West

The following are totally anonymous questions that you’ve submitted, and I’m providing my thoughts and advice. I received some great questions and not all have been included, but could be included next time. If you have a question that you’d like advice on in the next advice corner, please submit it here.

FRIENDSHIPS

Question: “My friendships have changed a lot as I’ve gotten older and gone through different jobs, becoming a mom, etc. Sometimes, I get down seeing how many seemingly close friends people have, and I feel like I don’t have all that many good friends (although I’m close to my mom and sister and I consider my husband my best friend). Could you touch on how your friendships have evolved (if any) and how you meet new people?”

Answer: Hello, there! Well this question is very timely, because now that we’ve been in Charlotte for six months, and we’re more comfortable being out and about having been vaccinated, we’re ready to make some friends. We’ve met some really nice people in our neighborhood, and I’ve gone on some walks with people, but I haven’t established any close friendships yet. I do expect to though. I have to remind myself just how long it really takes to create a “good” friendship — it takes many hangouts, conversations and experiences to truly trust and feel close to someone, and it is absolutely much more difficult to do that as an adult.

But let’s get back to your statement that it seems like everyone has so many close friends. Well, we have to be careful what we think about other people and their lives. Just because someone may be hanging out in large groups regularly and posting photos about it, doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a lot of good or close friendships. Some people try to paint a picture of having a lot more fun and a lot more of a circle of friends than they really have. We really don’t know what type of relationships are there though. 

And it sounds like you have a good support circle! You mentioned that you have, a mom, sister and husband, as people that you are close to and would consider your close friends — that is AMAZING. Let me repeat that, it is AMAZING. You are blessed, and having what you have means so much. Not everyone can call their husband their best friend, not everyone has a sibling that they are close to, not everyone has a mom that they are close to, and so I want to make sure you are super appreciative of your circle, even if perhaps it seems smaller than you’d like.

That being said, I do think it’s important to have friendships, outside of your home relationships, and you can have different types of friends for different types of things. You don’t need a lot of friends either, just a couple of good ones and a couple of fun ones. Or perhaps a couple that can do both. 🙂 

When I was in college and in my first six years out of college living in Orlando, I remember saying “I literally cannot manage another friendship. I have too many.” And I meant it. I had so many good friends, I had big groups of fun friends, I had super-close girlfriends. It was great, but it was a lot of work to keep up with everyone, and I was only able to do that by being very social. And these days, being a mom who works, it would be nearly impossible to maintain all those friendships I had then. And I don’t need all that now, nor do I have it. Even though, I still think many of my friendships from those days are still good friends — we just aren’t in each other’s lives like we used to be. We’ve grown. We’ve moved. Life happens. That’s really how my friendships have evolved, is that I no longer need to report every little thing to someone, and I no longer spend long amounts of time on the phone with friends every day. I mostly go through life doing my own thing, which keeps me very busy (but yes, I do talk to my mom every day still, and I talk to Dave and Brady, of course). And adulthood does lend itself to going through your daily routine with your family, without as much friendship interaction. So you have to be intentional to try to fit some “friend activities” in every week or month, as your schedule can allow.

As an adult, it’s really hard to find new friends and to be able to make enough time to build those friendships. Over the years, I’ve met friends at the gym through group fitness. I’ve met friends through the blog world. I’ve met friends through Dave’s friends. I’ve met friends through work. And I’m still close with some of my childhood and college friends, even if we don’t talk often or see each other often — I know I can call them if I need someone, so I can consider them close for that reason. There’s real history there.

When I meet someone new these days, I always suggest a walk. I feel like walking and talking is a great way to spend time with someone you don’t know well yet, because there’s no pressure to host them somewhere or have a meal. And with walking, there are no other distractions, so you can focus on the conversation. I also always liked to invite new friends to join me for a cycle class, and then you can hang out before and after class and have that shared experience. Back when Dave and I were just making friends in the Bay Area, we would meet other couples for drinks to get to know them, and we developed some good friendships that way. Some friends were just fun going-out friends, and some we’ve lost touch with. But some friends turned into much greater friendships, that we’ve kept. We have several really good couples friends, and that’s so convenient for hanging out.

As far as recommendations for you: I know this sounds super silly, but I think Facebook groups are a great way to make friends these days. If you join the moms Facebook group for your city (there are always local moms groups), you may be able to interact with some folks, keep your eye out for meet-ups, and see if you can join the small group hangouts that could potentially happen from there. You could also try to search on Facebook or Meetup for a book club, running club or walking club that meets in your area. These are great places to meet people. And of course, so is group fitness, or chatting with other parents during activities for your kiddo. Whatever it is, you have to chat with people, stay off your phone out in public and be ready to ask someone if they’d like to hang out one day. Then you have to schedule that time in your calendar and keep it, even if you have the tendency to go through your routine without much social-ness, which many of us do.

I haven’t tried to make new friends in a long time, and I’m reminding myself that I need to put myself out there more, and I plan to do that moving forward. But like you, I’m happy I have my mom and Dave as the two people closest to me, with some very good friends just a phone-call away in other cities too.

Bottom line: It’s hard to make friends as an adult, and you don’t need a big circle at all. Remember that it takes a long time to cultivate real friendships, so you’ll have to put yourself out there and schedule time in each week (or month) to hang out with people, if you can. Try finding local groups as a place to start meeting people.

A Lady Goes West Advice Corner fourth edition by A Lady Goes West

HEALTH AND NUTRITION

Question: “What do you have for breakfast, lunch, dinner? How many calories do you have per day on workout days and rest days? I know everyone is different, but I am curious.”

Answer: Hello, friend! Thank you for asking this question. You did nail it right there with the statement that everyone is different. And of course, we are all curious what other people are eating. I don’t want to be a big disappoint here, but I actually don’t know how many calories I eat. At all. I don’t track my calories, nor do I track my food. I did try tracking my food long ago, and it didn’t work for me. I felt very stressed about it, and I also felt like I didn’t want to change what I felt like eating, just because it may not have fallen into my requirements for the day, according to MyFitnessPal. Some people do very well with tracking their macronutrients and calories, and that’s amazing. It can be super helpful in certain circumstances. But some people do not do well with tracking. I did not.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m eating. I do know. I know that I try to get around 20 grams of protein or more for each of my three main meals of the day, and I also have at least one protein-heavy snack. I don’t write it down, I don’t track it, but I loosely guess my protein intake most days, always loosely hoping to end up at around 100 grams of protein a day (I don’t always hit it, which I probably should). That’s the only way I track things. I could definitely change my body composition if I ate more protein and less carbs and fat (because I eat a lot of carbs and fat, and those are my favorite macronutrients), yet, that’s not a goal of mine. I’m not a bikini model, I’m not in a fitness competition, and I don’t need to change my intake just to lean out right now. I feel very healthy and strong, and I can perform well in my life and in my classes, so this is just where I am. When I had less body-fat and more muscle definition, I was in the midst of some hormonal problems, and so I am also a little hesitant to get back to a place where my body-fat is really low. As women, we need fat. Okay, okay, this isn’t what you asked, and I’ve gone on a tirade here. But if I know my readers, I know that this is the one question you will actually read all the way through, and I have to make this clear. I love you guys, but I also know sometimes you guys need to hear that you don’t have to be too strict or controlled with your food, and you don’t have to measure it all either. While it can be helpful, it can also take all the joy out of eating, and that’s what it did to me.

You need to really consider whether tracking your food is something that is going to work for you or against you. Yes, it’s good to know how many calories and which macronutrients are in your food, but perhaps you can track only every once in a while to check in. Perhaps you instead could try to picture portion sizes (for instance, a fist for your protein at each meal). When I went through my Precision Nutrition certification, we were told that most people only need to track their food with loose portion sizes, rather than detailed tracking in an app. Unfortunately, if you follow a lot of fitness accounts on Instagram, you aren’t going to see that, because these people want to sell you their “macro-calculating” services. And some people do need these services. I have a couple of friends who do this in the right way, and they do it well. But be careful who you follow and what you consume. And remember, you can make small adjustments to your food overall based on loose macro calculations, but that doesn’t mean you need to track daily. 

If you have a history of under-eating or if you’re trying to recover from a hormone issue, or if you’re pregnant or postpartum, you may need to track your calories in order to make sure you are eating enough. And then I fully support this. Under-eating for the long-term causes a lot of damage, and you may want to work with a nutrition coach or a registered dietitian to slowly increase your intake, for the betterment of your health.

What I will tell you about me, because you specifically asked about me, is that I do not track, I do not know how many calories I eat, but I know I eat a lot of calories. Here’s an idea of what I eat on the average weekday, and throw in some wine, pizza and extra treats on the weekend, every single weekend. I work out six days a week, and I definitely eat more on those days, because I’m hungrier. On Sundays, which is my rest day, I usually don’t snack as much, and I only do my three meals, and that’s only because I’m not as hungry, if I don’t work out. I can’t share numbers, because I don’t have them, but I can share this:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, Brazil nuts, bananas, blueberries, green tea with collagen and oat milk
  • Lunch: Grain and veggie mixtures with eggs, hummus and seed crackers, smoothies, salads, rice bowls
  • Dinner: Veggie burgers, eggs, fish, pizza, plant-based burgers, avocado, sushi, bone broth, miso soup
  • Snacks: Protein shakes, protein bars, a second tea latte with oat milk
  • Dessert: Coconut-covered dates after every meal, with the occasional slice of carrot cake

I eat a variety of food, not a lot of meat (although I do love a medium-rare grass-fed steak here and there), and I never skip a meal, nor do I track my intake. I never go hungry. I never get cranky between meals. I never feel lethargic. I am nourished. This works for me to feel good. I know that my diet is not optimized for body composition changes, but I also know that my diet is optimized for my health.

I hope this didn’t come off wrong. I love that you care about your nutrition and want to know what I’m eating. But I want you to really think about why you want to know the exact macronutrients, and whether that’s a method you need to be using in your own life too. As far as seeing my meals, I am due for a “What I Ate Wednesday” post one day soon, so look out for that. Much love to you!

Bottom line: It’s great to get inspiration from others, but figuring out what will work for you in your life takes trial and error. Eat foods that you enjoy and that give you good energy. Try to get a loose idea of the amount of food and macronutrients you are eating, and unless you’re training for a specific event or working with a nutrition professional, you probably don’t need to worry about hitting exact macronutrient numbers on a daily basis. Good luck!

Other posts you may like:

Ask-me-Anything Advice Corner fourth edition by A Lady Goes West

BEAUTY

Question: “I am self-conscious about my teeth since coming to America, because it seems everyone here has perfect white smiles. How do you keep your teeth so white?”

Answer: Hello, there! First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Everyone you see has a perfect smile, because when you see someone smiling, they immediately look more attractive and happy, and you like it. That’s the beauty of the smile! And that means that you also look beautiful when you smile too, even if you don’t know it right now.

We are always very critical of ourselves, way more critical than other people are. And when there’s something we’re a little self-conscious about with our own appearance, we tend to seek that particular feature out on others, almost looking to prove a point — that everyone looks better than us in that department. How do I know this? Because I do it too. I’ve got plenty of insecurities, and I can easily look around at the gym and on social media and find many people looking so much better than me in those areas. But you know what? They may not actually look better.

For your teeth, it is definitely common for kids to get braces here in America, if their parents can afford this treatment. And orthodontists do this to try to fix overbites and correct any major crooked teeth/crowding issues. So perhaps you may notice that a lot of people do have slightly more organized teeth than you, if that’s not the norm where you are from. But it’s not everyone here that does this (just think of all the celebrities who are famous for gaps in their teeth that they never fix, because they like them). And if you’re super concerned with your teeth, you could always get Invisalign or speak to your dentist about a generic Invisalign, which can be much cheaper.

Personally, I have never had braces, but I do whiten my teeth, and I do go to the dentist twice a year to keep my teeth clean and healthy. And I’ve also had my teeth “shaved” down a bit. I did this right before my wedding in Orlando, and my dentist there created these Invisalign-like clear retainers I wore during the day to slightly straighten my front two teeth for a few months, and then after I did that, he shortened the teeth just a tiny bit with a file. It was totally painless, and I loved the result. I’m not sure if all dentists can do this, but he said it was a common and easy practice. (This was all before the blog, so that’s why I’ve never mentioned it before.)

As far as teeth care, if you drink a lot of red wine or tea or coffee, you should be sure to always follow that up with drinks of water and brushing your teeth to minimize the stains. I drink two big mugs of green tea a day, which is really staining, so I always brush my teeth shortly after drinking tea, and I drink water in between sips. I think this helps.

As far as whitening, I buy a super gentle bleach from the dentist (I’ve bought different brands as I’ve changed dentists over the years, and they all have this offering, so I know it’s common), and I put a couple drops in my clear retainers I wear at night that protect my teeth like a night guard. This is a very simple process that you could ask about at the dentist, if you go. Or, there’s always the trusty Crest Whitestrips, which I’ve used before, and they may be a little toxic, but I haven’t looked into that particular product and its safety. I use my teeth-whitening bleach every six months, timed right after I go to the dentist. One tube is all I use, and I use a drop a night, for a week.

If you’re not into any of that, I have seen some LED-light teeth whitening contraptions on Instagram lately that apparently all the celebs use, and maybe that’s an option, but I’m guessing it is pricey.

Either way, I would encourage you to keep smiling, to try to take care of your teeth as best as you can and to remember that you are definitely being harder on yourself than you need to be.

Bottom line: Keep your teeth healthy, never be afraid to flash your beautiful smile no matter what your teeth look like (because all smiles are beautiful smiles), and know that you are being your own worst critic. If you truly want to change your teeth, talk to your dentist about a treatment, do a little whitening and make that change. 

A Lady Goes West Advice fourth edition by A Lady Goes West

(I’m wearing these shorts and this lipgloss in these photos.)

That’ll do it for the advice for today. Thank you so much for visiting A Lady Goes West. I appreciate you!

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2 Comments

    1. Thanks, Ashley! I think my parents are happy I didn’t have braces too, because my brother needed ALL the work! 🙂 hahaha Hope you’re having a great week.

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