Current faves: Christmas activities, San Francisco sweating, food and workouts

Hi, friends! How are you? Feeling festive? I hope so, because here we are moving into Christmas weekend just like that. December certainly went by quickly, didn’t it?

This weekend is not only a good one because of the holiday, but it’s also my birthday on Sunday — another year older and wiser. I know I’m getting a massage on that day, but not sure what else. Other than that, Dave, Brady and Rudy and I are staying put for the holiday this year and are celebrating as a little foursome only — and the good part about that is that we won’t be packing and/or spending any time in the airport — woohoo. What are your Christmas plans?

It’s the end of the week, so it’s time for my usual random selection of favorites featuring fitness, fun, life, food and everything in between. Here we go … 


Taking Brady to the Tilden Park Merry-go-Round

I spent some time researching holiday activities to do with young kids in the East Bay of SF, and there isn’t much that takes place during the daytime and is accessible for a toddler Brady’s age. There are a million festivals and Christmas shows and nighttime things, but when your kiddo goes to bed at 6:45 p.m., your window of activity is much earlier. However, upon my research I discovered a few attractions for toddlers in the Tilden Park area near Oakland, so Dave and I planned to head there as soon as Brady woke up from his nap on Saturday.

Ashley and Brady at Tilden merry-go-round by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Dave and Brady on the merry-go-round by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

I was looking forward to taking our little guy on the Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round, but boy did I underestimate how entertaining it would be to take Brady to a new place to try new things. He was literally squealing with excitement while people watching. Although he was a little nervous and reserved on his two actual merry-go-round rides, it was clear he was loving the scene, complete with the Christmas music and decorations too.

Ashley and Brady at the merry-go-round by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Dave took Brady the first time and stood next to him holding him while he rode, and I videoed almost every time they came around and waved too. My annoyingly high “mom” voice was at its highest yet, and I didn’t care at all hehehe.

We took a little snack break after the first ride, then I got the chance to take him. He was wide-eyed and just adorable the whole 3-minute ride — which by the way was only $3, so those two rides made up one worthy $6 investment, with no admission to the little park area required and easy parking.

Brady on the merry-go-round by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Ashley and Brady on the merry-go-round by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

On the drive home (which is a winding one, down the mountain, wheww), I was telling Dave that before becoming a mom, I dreaded the thought of doing kid things. But now, all of a sudden, I’m excited to do them. It’s just as much fun for us parents as it is for the littles. This outing was the highlight of my week, and I kept picturing Brady’s little body on that merry-go-round, and it made me smile every time!

Brady at the merry-go-round by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018


Getting a library card

Yes, this is filed under the “fun” category!

Earlier this week, I finally went to the library and got a library card. I’ve read every book in our house and have ordered a ton and finished them too, so I figured maybe I should borrow books instead (it’s better for the environment too).

Brady and I swung into our local Walnut Creek library after the gym and signed up for my library card and picked up two fiction books by writers I’ve read from before … here’s hoping they are both fun, and I get them read in three weeks before they are due back. Who else goes to the library?

Library card by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Library books by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

I used to do work there when I was pregnant and wanted to get out of the house, but this is my first time checking out books since college. It’s a nice place, and I would’ve stayed longer if Brady wasn’t being so chatty in his stroller.

Shown above are the two light and fluffy books I’ll be digging into.


SoulCycle Self-Care Sunday in the City

Truth be told, as much as I love going to fitness events, I don’t love being gone for too long on the weekends, when it’s our only time to do family stuff (oh parenthood — I need time away, but then I don’t want too much so that I miss things). However, I RSVPed yes to the SoulCycle Self-Care Sunday weeks ago and was excited to get into the City for some fun. I’ve been a digital influencer for SoulCycle this year, and I’ve grown to love my time on the bike in those classes in the dark studio. It’s like a mini-therapy session sometimes.

Ashley at SoulCycle Castro by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

It was a dreary and rainy day, and I took the BART in from the East Bay and arrived just in time to walk to SoulCycle Castro, which is in a gorgeous corner spot in the heart of the neighborhood. I said hi to some of the other ladies there, and met my friend Jill, who was my guest, then we hopped into a class with the most amazing instructor, Joe.

I’ve taken a lot of SoulCycle classes with a lot of instructors, and Joe is BY FAR my favorite. He was charismatic, entertaining, he commanded the room, gave just the right amount of challenge, and best of all — he gave COACHING at the beginning of the workout and throughout to make sure everyone was safely doing what they needed to do — without being too informative and killing the vibe. Oftentimes in SoulCycle, even though it’s fun, there’s not a lot of instruction — and the fitness professional in me doesn’t like that at all — so Joe was top notch in my eyes.

After an awesome class, we showered up, then headed over to The Assembly women’s club, which I’ve been to once before. It’s a beautifully designed place in an old church in the Mission District. Once there, we chatted, opened our gift bags and then took a restorative yoga class, which was such a treat. I nearly fell asleep while lying there in the long poses supported with bolsters and smelling the essential oils. Heavenly is the word! By the way, The Assembly has a great line-up of fitness classes, wellness events and all sorts of programming for women — definitely worth checking out if you live in the City.

The Assembly yoga class by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

We finished up the day of activities around 3:30 p.m., and Dave, Brady and Rudy picked me up from the BART station back home in the East Bay, so I had a little bit of time to hang out with them before we had to get Brady to bed.

Overall, it was great to get out of my neck of the woods, take a sweaty and fun cycle class, hang out with some awesome influencer ladies and friends, then end the event with some major relaxation in yoga with another super-skilled instructor. I’m so glad I went to this day! Thanks for having me, SoulCycle. (Side note: After enjoying that yoga class so much, I realize I need to figure out how to make time to get to a studio yoga class every once in a while — it’s soooo good for me.)


Tone It Up peanut butter protein powder

I can’t tell you how often people ask me about my favorite protein powder. I used to love Vega Sport Chocolate, I’ve also used and enjoyed Sunwarrior Chocolate, and I typically go for plant-based protein powder.

I’ve been purchasing new brands of protein powder and haven’t come up with a good one to share with you until — of all brands — the one from the Tone It Up girls. I was prepared to not like this protein powder, but I totally enjoy the taste of the PB flavor.

Tone It Up protein powder by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

It’s non-GMO, gluten-free, plant-based protein powder made from pea protein isolate (isolate is a more pure form of protein than concentrate), and organic pumpkin seed protein. There are only a few other recognizable ingredients, so it’s quite clean, and it tastes very good and has 15 grams of protein per serving. I’ve been mixing it with water mostly, but it’s extra delicious mixed with coconut milk too. 

I wouldn’t say this would be the best protein powder for someone looking to put on tons of muscle and get extra vitamins and minerals, but this is an affordable and flavorful protein powder perfect for someone who likes to add it to smoothies or drink after a workout to hold them over until their next meal. I’m totally going to try the other flavors, especially the organic vanilla, which wasn’t on the shelves when I was shopping. Oh, and you can find it here or at Target. I don’t mind supporting the Tone It Up gals either, because they are adorable, and I remember watching them when they were starting out on their Bravo show for one season. Anyone else remember that?


Weekly workout recap

And now we’re into the fitness.

Here’s a look at my workouts from last week …

Weekly workouts by A Lady Goes West

  • Monday: 1-hour BODYPUMP class, 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday: 30-minute CXWORX class, 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday: 30-minute full-body weights workout, 12 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 1-hour Bootybarre class, 12 p.m.
  • Friday: Rest day 
  • Saturday: 45-minute BODYATTACK class, 9:30 a.m.
  • Sunday: 45-minute SoulCycle class, 11:45 a.m., 1-hour restorative yoga class, 2 p.m.

This past week had a few good things about — number one, I did 45 minutes of BODYATTACK, which is almost a full class (the class was shortened that day due to an instructor issue), and wow, it was so hard and so fun. Sometimes I can’t believe that I ever taught BODYATTACK, because it’s such an intense workout. I’m most definitely not in BODYATTACK instructor fitness shape right now, but I made it through the class and just soaked it up. I haven’t done a full hour of BODYATTACK since the last time I taught the class in August 2016. OMG. I do want to teach it again one day … we will just have to see if the opportunity ever comes up and it works.

The second good thing about this week was the restorative yoga class I took at The Assembly in SF — it was so slow, relaxing and just what I needed. I want to do more yoga, but it’s just not easy to get to yoga studios these days, and they never have childcare. Yoga at home just isn’t the same to me.

Here’s the full-body solo workout I did on the double cable machine … it was a good one!

Cable machine workout by A Lady Goes West - December 2018

Favorite reads

Best stuff on the web

  • Micronutrients 101: Micronutrients are nutrients that we need small amounts of in order to function properly. You can get your micronutrients from food or supplements. This article explains where you can get each micronutrient and what you need it for. Quite helpful!
  • Easy budgeting. We don’t talk about budgeting much on the blog, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to share this simple equation for looking at your finances. 
  • Holiday movies. My favorite holiday movies are White Christmas, Elf, Love Actually and Holiday Inn. I’ve watched all these this month, but perhaps embarrassingly, I’ve also watched a few Netflix originals from this list. hehehe How about you?
  • Fitness humor. This is a hilarious list of memes about lifting weight. A few grammatical errors, but I laughed anyhow.

A Lady Goes West archives

Have a wonderful weekend, Christmas Eve and Christmas, my dear friends.

I know I said it earlier in the week, but the fact that you click through and read this blog means SO much to me, so THANK YOU for that. Now go enjoy your day! 🙂 

Questions of the day

What’s on your wish list for Christmas?

What are you up to this weekend?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Do you have a library card?

What are you currently reading?



  1. Love all of these favorites and happy early birthday to you, my friend! I’m glad a massage will be included in your day.

    Brady is so stinking cute via pictures and Insta Stories so I can only imagine how precious he is in person, especially while riding the carousel!

    Tone it Up and Sunwarrior are my two protein powder staples. The organic vanilla is my forever fave and right now I’m adding spoonfuls of canned pumpkin to it before blending, which gives it a hideous color, but a delicious flavor!

    Happy Friday. Xoxo

    1. Hi Court! Oh yay!! You have me sold on getting the organic vanilla TIU powder next then, so thanks for that tip! I hope you get some nice time off this weekend and next week, my friend! 🙂 Brady says hi!

  2. I love the library, I haven’t bought a book in years!! I checkout ebooks on my Kindle. So I don’t even have to go to the library to get them or take them back. I always have something on hold. I’m excited for a relaxed weekend at home before spending time with family for Christmas.

    Have a fantastic holiday!

    1. I mean, technology these days! That’s so cool you can check out ebooks too hahah! I’ve never used a Kindle — wonder if I’d like it? Hope you enjoy your time off and family holiday, my friend! 🙂

  3. I love the library! I’ve always been a big reader but joined this year and have read 48 books, have saved so much money too, I used to spend a fortune on books…

    We loved the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix!

    Merry Christmas to you and the family!

    1. Dang girl!! Way to go! You’ve read a ton! I love the idea of reading something and then someone else reads the same physical book — don’t know why?? And now I know I need to watch Christmas Chronicles — I’ve heard good things hehehe. Have a wonderful day and holiday!!

  4. Hey Ashley! Have you been to JustBe Yoga or YogaWorks in Walnut Creek yet? I have been enjoying those studios! Maybe we could meet for a class sometime!

    1. I only went to YogaWorks 2-3 times when I tried a free week right after we moved to the East Bay, and I’ve never been to JustBe but have heard good things — would LOVE to try with you one day! 🙂

  5. Public librarian here–make sure to check out the programs that your library offers for babies/toddlers! I’m sure Brady would love going to storytime or a toddler play group!

  6. Oh yay, it’s Sunday when I’m reading this so HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 😀 Sounds like you had such a fun time. I thought the same about “kid” stuff but boy is it fun watching them light up and enjoy something!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.