Current faves: Welcome to 2023, a birthday and holiday recap, life and workouts

Hi, friend! Welcome to the first current faves post of 2023 on A Lady Goes West. Thank you for being here! 

We have a lot to catch up on, because this is the first current faves in a couple weeks. Let’s see here: 2023 started off with an annoying cold going through our house, so we ended up missing a New Year’s Day get-together with our friends, but we’re back to mostly healthy now, thank goodness.

This week, I taught my usual classes, went to two tennis clinics, organized some areas of our house and threw things out (that felt great and was way overdue), and we also went out to really nice dinner for a friend’s 40th birthday. This weekend, we have Dave’s company holiday party, I have a tennis clinic and a lot of group fitness work to handle to create new workouts for all three of my programs, so it’ll be a busy one.

Now, let’s get to the faves …

Current faves


An amazing 39th birthday

A couple of weeks ago, on December 23, it was my 39th birthday, and it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had — truly! I liked everything about it from beginning to end.

That day, Dave went to my Barbell Strength class (and he hadn’t been to one of my classes in six months), and at the end of class, he came on stage and gave me a birthday sash to wear, then had the class sing to me — which has never happened to me before. It was so sweet!

39th birthday at Life Time by A Lady Goes West

(Wearing my favorite leggings, my new mic belt and my go-to training sneakers.)

After that, we went to lunch with my mom and Brady to a place I like called The Lights Cafe and had a delicious meal (shown below).

Later that day, we hung out at home for a while, I ran a couple of errands (last-minute Christmas stuff, which is very unlike me, but had to happen), then we had my little birthday party in the evening, complete with sushi, gifts and cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory (one slice of Ultimate Red Velvet, one slice of Adam’s Fudge Ripple and one slice of Coconut Cream Pie Cheesecake shared between us — which I think is way better than a regular birthday cake)!

The Lights Cafe lunch by A Lady Goes West

My 39th birthday by A Lady Goes West

After dinner, Dave and I had already planned to go get drinks at The Ballantyne Hotel, and I was looking forward to a little outing, just the two of us. But when we walked into the lounge/bar area, there was my group of friends (and their husbands) to surprise me with glasses of Prosecco and balloons! So fun! We hung out for a couple hours chatting and laughing before everyone went home to rest up for Christmas Eve the next day. It was such a nice surprise!

Ballantyne Hotel surprise birthday by A Lady Goes West

Ballantyne Hotel Ashley surprise birthday by A Lady Goes West

I know I’ve said this before, but because my birthday is so close to Christmas, it’s always been hard to coordinate activities with friends outside of my immediate family, so this special surprise was a real treat. I loved every minute of my birthday, and I truly felt special and celebrated, and that makes this a worthy favorites mention, even if it is a two-weeks-old event.


A look at Christmas 2022

I know Christmas is already almost two weeks out as well, but I wanted to share just a little recap with you. We had a small, quiet, peaceful and restful Christmas with my mom. It was nice not to travel, not to pack up and unpack and not to stress. It was just us.

However, it wasn’t all rosy: On Christmas Eve, we woke up to having no hot water in our house, because our pipes froze, and we also woke up to no internet or TV. It could have been worse though, because a lot of our friends were out of power too. This all happened because of basically record low temperatures in Charlotte during the holiday. I think our low was like 13 degrees, which is super cold for us. Cold enough for Rudy to need his Christmas sweater and socks …

Christmas Rudy A Lady Goes West

Luckily, my mom still had hot water and power, so we went to her house to take some showers in the middle of the day, before she came back with us to our house to stay for the night. And then when we got home, both our hot water and internet/TV was already back, so it wasn’t that long of an outage for us.

In the afternoon, Brady and I made some Christmas cookies to put out for Santa (from pre-made mix, of course — nothing fancy), and I had some last-minute wrapping to do too (once again, very unlike me, but it had to happen).

Making Christmas cookies by A Lady Goes West

Christmas Eve in front of the tree by A Lady Goes West

Christmas Eve cooking by A Lady Goes West

That evening, we went to a Christmas Eve candlelight service, which marks my first time going to church in Charlotte. We all loved the service and enjoyed hearing a message about the reason for the season, and from there, we went home and had a nice steak dinner, prepared by Dave. That night, we watched “White Christmas” and got a good night of sleep. We like to watch “White Christmas” every December, and we fit it in just before the big day this year.

Christmas Day was a chilly one! We stayed in our matching jammies all day, and did some FaceTimes with family members, opened our presents, had pancakes for breakfast and then had pizza for dinner. And Brady enjoyed playing with all his new toys. It was so fun watching him open his presents and get so excited. Christmas time has so much more magic when you have a little guy to share it with, and we all felt that through his eyes.

Christmas Day family picture by A Lady Goes West

Because Christmas fell on a Sunday, and I was back at the gym Monday morning, it didn’t feel like a true holiday toward the end of the day, because I still had some class prep and other work to do that evening, unfortunately.

But we agreed that Christmas 2022 was a really good one, and it was the perfect culmination of a busy and festive December with a ton of fun activities. I love the holiday season and am always a little sad to see it go. Anyone else? I definitely felt a little post-holiday blues this week knowing all those special times (including my birthday) are over for a whole year. Oh well!


Another visit from our besties

We were so lucky that during December, our besties from Ohio (Grant and Bre), visited us for a night on their drive down to Florida (from Ohio) and visited us for a night on their drive back up to Ohio (from Florida). We love to have them visit, and we have the very best time with them. Their three kiddos are all a little older than Brady, but they play well together, and Brady lovingly refers to them as “the big kids.” And his times with “the big kids” are his favorite times. He likes to copy everything they do.

This time, they joined us on a Wednesday night, and I was the last to arrive back to our house after teaching a class. That night, we had wine and pizza made my Dave, and then played Cards Against Humanity including the new extension card pack that my mom bought for Dave for Christmas. If you’re a fan of this totally terribly fun and filthy game, I would recommend the extension packs for sure. That night we laughed until our faces hurt and stayed up way too late.

We had planned for the group to attend my Shred class the next morning, but by the time I was heading out to teach, hardly anyone was stirring in the house except Brady. But somehow, someway, all the adults and kids made it to the gym. And Grant, Bre and Dave took Shred with me, and then we played pickleball together in the new indoor pickleball courts at Life Time.

Team after Shred by A Lady Goes West

If you’ve not heard of pickleball, it’s a small court with small paddles, a small net and a light ball, and it’s the idea of tennis, but almost more like ping pong. Pickleball is getting so popular here in Charlotte, and I’ve been wanting to try it.

We played pickleball for a little less than an hour, and it was a blast. At times I wanted to laugh, because the ball makes a funny sound, and the idea of it is just so funny — we kept saying, “we’re pickling.” It’s fast-paced and fairly easy to pick up, although I kept thinking I was holding a big tennis racket, and thus missing the ball because it was too far from my tiny paddle when I swung. I definitely want to play again!

Pickleball team by A Lady Goes West

After a busy (and active) morning, we all went to lunch at Cava to chow down (my meal is shown below). And after that, we went back to our house for the friends to pack up and hit the road. It was less than 24 hours that they were with us, but we did a whole lot of stuff in a short time.

Cava lunch by A Lady Goes West

The good news is that we already have plans to get together two times in 2023, so we’ll look forward to both those occasions. After they left, Dave and I both had to mention to each other that if we still lived in California these visits would not be happening as often, so just another reason we’re glad to be on the East Coast.


My workouts from last week

Every week, I like to share a recap of my previous week of workouts. I share this to show you how I try to get diversity of movement 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. You absolutely don’t need to compare your movement to mine.

New weekly workouts by A Lady Goes West

Workouts from the week of 12/19

  • Monday: Taught 1-hour barbell class, 9:45 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 1-hour barre class with light weights, 9:30 a.m., taught 45-minute barre class with weights, 10:45 a.m.
  • Wednesday: Taught 45-minute barre class with light weights, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 45-minute combo class, 9:45 a.m., took 1-hour tennis clinic, 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday: Taught 45-minute barbell class, 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday: Did 45-minute Les Mills Strength Development at home via Les Mills+, 12 p.m.
  • Sunday: Rest day (Christmas Day)

Workouts from the week of 12/26

  • Monday: Taught 1-hour barbell class, 9:45 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 1-hour barre class with light weights, 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday: Played 1-hour of tennis, 11 a.m., taught 45-minute barre class with light weights, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 45-minute combo class, 9:45 a.m., played 1-hour of pickleball, 11 a.m.
  • Friday: Taught 45-minute barbell class, 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday: Took 90-minute tennis clinic, 11 a.m.
  • Sunday: Rest day (New Year’s Day)

These last two weeks of workouts were actually very consistent/regular for holiday weeks — when normally I would have more time off, but we didn’t travel, and I kept teaching my classes, because the actual holidays took place on the weekend, so none of my classes were cancelled. I did take one real day off each week, I lifted weights about three times each week, I played tennis a couple times, I tried pickleball, and I taught my classes, which always counts as a workout for me. I’m grateful to have a healthy body and to be feeling strong at the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023. But as usual, there’s always more I want to do.

Best read of the week

Here’s an article that I thought was worthy of sharing:

Gymtimidation. Feeling a little scared to hit the gym? You’re not alone. This is a helpful short and sweet article with some tips on how not to be scared of the gym. For example, consider visiting the gym at off-peak hours, try going with a friend, shop around and tour multiple studios before making a choice and start slowly. If you’re in need of some tips in this area, head here to read.

Quote of the week

A thought for you:

Everything changes quote by A Lady Goes West

Blog archives of the week

Let’s look back at a couple posts I recently published:

Professional stuff. This post is a long look back at the goals I made for 2022 and how I tracked on them with my work life … “My professional year in review for 2022.”

My professional year in review for 2022 on A Lady Goes West

Personal stuff. This post is a long look back at how I did on my personal goals, what I struggled with and learned in my personal life in 2022 and more … “My personal year in review for 2022.”

My personal year in review for 2022 on A Lady Goes West

And with that, our first current faves for 2023 is complete. Thanks for stopping by the blog, my friend!

Questions of the day for YOU

How’s your 2023 going so far?

What’s one thing you’re grateful for right now?


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