Current faves: Our family photos from Camp North End, fun times, workouts and more

Hello, my friends! How are you?

I’m doing well. Brady finished up his second week of half-day summer camp yesterday, so we’re officially on summer break until he goes back to preschool after Labor Day. I’ll bring him with me to the gym most days of the week when I teach classes, so that’ll keep us busy. But other than that, we’ll be filling our time with walks, park time, the pool, library visits and all the things you do in the summer to keep a little one entertained without spending all day in front of the TV, you know? (But yes, there will be some time in front of the TV, and I’m okay with that.)

Guess what? I started writing this blog post at a coffee shop mid-week when Brady was at camp, and it reminded me of how I would go to Peet’s Coffee in Pleasant Hill (back in California) twice a week in the mornings when Brady was so tiny and just started his morning preschool at two-years-old. I would get a golden milk latte and sit at the bar and work, and I often had the same people sitting directly next to me (definitely not socially distanced back then). Those mornings were my first taste of freedom since having Brady two years before. It made me think: As a mother, we go through phases, right? It was so crazy to me when I first dropped him at his little preschool and drove away that I was alone. And now, I’m used to leaving him four mornings a week, and next year, it will be five mornings a week.

Moral of the story: If you’re a mom of very young children, and you feel totally tethered to them with no independence … be patient … because next thing you know, you’ll have some time back. But, of course, I say that now, as I’m about to embark on a three-month summer with no childcare other than at Life Time. It was on my mind when typing this though. Perspective is everything!

This week, I taught my regular five classes, worked, and we had our kitchen measured for our new countertops. We still have to pick our sink and hardware, but we’re scheduled to get the work done on July 1st, so I’ll keep you posted on the project, and I’ll definitely share pictures of the before/after. This weekend, we’re not doing too much, and that’s fine by me. But I’m going to the Ballantyne Hotel Spa this afternoon to use up a gift certificate that Dave bought me for Mother’s Day, so I have some pampering on the agenda. 

Now, let’s get to the current faves of the week …

Current faves of the week


Our family photos at Camp North End in Uptown Charlotte by Sidra Sharif Photography

Who says you can only take family photographs in the late fall to use for your holiday cards in December? 

When we took our last family photos in October of last year, while I loved them, I decided that the next time we did a professional session, I wanted the setting/vibe to be a little different. Unique. Not a plain grassy field (although I definitely don’t have anything against greenery, and you’ll still see some of that in our new photos). 

Well, about a month ago, a local photographer, named Sidra Sharif, reached out to me on Instagram, and it was meant to be that she was down to try out a new location and capture our family.

We decided on Camp North End, a really cool area in Uptown (also known as downtown) Charlotte. Camp North End is a former military depot and factory, now used for festivals, public art displays and events. And it was exactly what I wanted for our family photos. The location was perfection, and we didn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to backgrounds available there.

We met Sidra around 7 p.m. on a Tuesday, not only so we could get that early evening sunset glow, but also because it’s not as busy at Camp North End on weekdays. We walked around the property, hitting old railroad tracks, art displays, trees, murals and some other stuff, and we would stop here and there and let her take some shots. Brady was a little bit crazy, as expected, but somehow, it all worked out, and I love so many of our photos.

Sidra was so kind as to do our session complimentary, and she even gave us some free photos, but I was so pleased with her work that I purchased over and above what we had agreed to, and I’m glad I did.

Let’s get to some of my favorites from our one-hour shoot at Camp North End …

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

Family photos at Camp North End

(I’m wearing this navy romper again, which actually photographed pretty well, except for a few side shots, and those pictures are not published here, clearly, because I didn’t buy them. I’m wearing these heels again.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect of our photos before she delivered them, because I spent a lot of the shoot asking Brady to be still, with my hair blowing in my face, and with my eyes squinting in the sunlight — not my best look. However, what we got were some real moments, which I actually really appreciate. She kept shooting, even when we weren’t “ready,” and those are the shots I like the best. They’re different.

If you’re in the Charlotte area and looking for a great photographer, please reach out to Sidra Sharif Photography, and let her know you found her from me. You can see her work on her website or on her Instagram here

What’s even better is that Sidra was very sweet and patient with us during our session (she has kids, so she gets it). She gave some direction, but also let us just be — and it shows in what she captured.

By the way, Sidra also helps with styling, helps come up with the photo location (may I recommend Camp North End?), and she spends a lot of time editing photos down from the hundreds she takes in one session to the very best 100 or so for your final gallery. Sidra also does newborn, maternity and family photoshoots, but I’m sure she’d be open to other occasions if you just ask. Her prices are competitive, and you definitely get a quality product.

Thank you, Sidra, for these photos. We’ll definitely be framing these!


A five-hour brunch with the ladies

I couldn’t miss a chance to include this in my favorites. Last Sunday, I went to brunch with a few of my neighborhood lady friends for a birthday (we returned to the Ballantyne Hotel, which we’ve brunched at before, and it’s close to us).

It was a great chance to put on a dress and get away for a bit (actually for more than a bit). We had cocktails, lattes, cake, brunch food, conversation and a lot of laughter, and before we knew it, almost five hours had gone by. It literally seemed like an hour, because we were having so much fun. Good times! 

Brunch ladies at Ballantyne Hotel in June by A Lady Goes West

Fun fact about the photo above: I am 5’8″ and wearing heels, and in the photo you can see I’m the shortest one in my group. A bunch of tall women, and I’m here for that. 

For my meal, I had the smoked salmon benedict with potatoes, and it was excellent. I can never say no to smoked salmon on a menu. We also had deviled eggs to start and a light-and-fluffy chantilly cake for dessert. I was so stuffed at the end, but it was worth it.

Brunch at Ballantyne Hotel in June by A Lady Goes West

What was also great during this activity was that at brunch, we all pulled out our phones and scheduled our next two hang-outs before we left. And I think we’re going to make a practice of that moving forward to make sure we always have things on the agenda.

Three cheers for good friends and good times. And also three cheers for our husbands, who watched our kids for more than five hours on a Sunday, so we could celebrate.


My four favorite nuts/seeds and why I eat them

Nuts about nuts and seeds!

You guys already know that I’m working with NOW this year as a partner, because this is a brand that I’ve used and loved for a long time.

Well, a few months ago, I published this piece in partnership with NOW about the supplements I take. And then this week, I made a video about my four favorite nuts and seeds (all from NOW), why I eat them and how I eat them. Spoiler alert: My favorites include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, Brazil nuts and almonds. And I eat them all every single day. What are your favorites?

Nuts and seeds with NOW Foods by A Lady Goes West

Head here to check out my video/reel, and don’t forget, if you want to order anything from, use my code, WEST, for 20 percent off your order. Thanks for supporting a great A Lady Goes West sponsor!


My workouts from last week

Here’s where I share a recap of my previous week of workouts. I share this to show you how I try to get diversity in my week, and how I always take a rest day (almost always). But remember, I do a little bit more than the average person, because I’m a group fitness instructor. 

New weekly workouts by A Lady Goes West

Workouts from the week of 5/30

  • Monday: Taught 1-hour barbell class at Life Time, 9:45 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 1-hour barre class with light weights at Life Time, 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday: Taught 45-minute barbell class at Life Time, 8:30 a.m., taught 45-minute barre class with light weights at Life Time, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 45-minute combo class with weights at Life Time, 9:45 a.m., took 75-minute neighborhood walk with friend, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday: Taught 45-minute barbell class at Life Time, 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday: Rest day (took 45-minute neighborhood walk, 8 a.m.)
  • Sunday: Rest day (took 45-minute neighborhood walk, 6 p.m.)

This past week was a good one, because I switched it up! I taught six classes, took two days off of formal exercise and threw in a few extra leisure neighborhood walks. My favorite walk was the one I did with a friend at sunset around our neighborhood one evening, and I know we’ll do another one of those soon. My tennis clinic was cancelled last weekend, but I’ll be back to it this upcoming weekend. Stay moving, folks, and remember that everyday activities like walking and playing count too!

Best read of the week …

Here’s an article I read this week that I felt like sharing with you:

10,000 steps a day? This article is from one of my all-time favorite fitness brands, Les Mills, and it’s all about whether you really need to walk 10,000 steps a day. Where did that number come from? Can you do less? Does walking matter? The answer is that it’s dependent on your lifestyle and physical abilities, and you can actually still get the benefits of walking for your health from less steps. What’s most important is that you live an active lifestyle every day. Check out the full article here.

Quote of the week …

Here’s a thought I shared on Instagram last week based on some conversations I had been having with people in my life:

The story of your life IG post by A Lady Goes West

Blog archives of the week …

There are so many posts on the blog worth revisiting, so let’s look back at two good ones (one recent, one older) …

Father’s Day gift ideas. There’s just over a week until Father’s Day, so there’s still time for a rush order. I wrote this post with the help of some cool dads who shared what’s really on their wish lists … “The best (dad-approved) Father’s Day gift ideas for 2022.”


Acupuncture. If I had some extra time and money, I’d love to still be going to acupuncture every week. If you find the right acupuncturist, it’s a great experience for the body, mind and soul … “What it’s like to get acupuncture and why you may need Traditional Chinese Medicine.

What it's like to get acupuncture and why you may need Traditional Chinese Medicine by A Lady Goes West

I truly appreciate you clicking over to A Lady Goes West today. Have a wonderful day, and see you back here soon! 🙂 

Questions of the day for YOU …

How was your week?

What’s one thing you’ll be up to this weekend?

Where’s your ideal location for taking professional photos?

Do you track how many steps a day you get? I don’t! But I do track my daily overall calorie burn and movement per hour with my Apple watch, and sometimes I check out the steps there too.



  1. Your photos came out SO well – such a different location but it makes the photos so unique ♡ this weekend I have a hockey match, which is always fun and doesn’t feel like typical exercise!

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