Five health, fitness and food-related things I never do anymore

Hi, friends! I’ve got a fun one for you today, all about old health and wellness habits.

Before we get to that: I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was pretty low-key. Dave worked on Friday night, so I was at home with Brady and Rudy, and I painted my toenails and watched “Vanderpump Rules” — it was a dream (well, until I saw that little baby wiggle and red lines appear on the baby monitor halfway through my show, and I had to put everything on hold). On Saturday, I taught Bootybarre, did some more decorating of our new entertainment center in the living room (still working on the new house, so no pictures for you yet), and we had some friends over to make pizzas and chill that evening. On Sunday, we did the usual routine, and I even snuck in a workout. So as you can see, it was definitely low-key stuff and nothing too exciting. And that workout concluded with a selfie …

Ashley at the gym March 2018 by A Lady Goes West

(Think they need to clean the mirrors at my gym? I do!)

Now that we’ve covered the weekend, let’s get to the topic of the day …

And by the way, this post is inspired by some facts about me I shared on my Instagram stories last week (which you can still access if you go to my profile and click on the “Five Facts” story highlights). Anywho … one of my facts that I shared was that I used to eat Chef Boyardee ravioli cans for dinner when I was first working in the corporate world — single, living alone and on a pretty tight budget. Budget aside, I probably shouldn’t have been eating that crap, but I didn’t know any better. But you know what, we only know what we know, and we do the best with what we have. And that’s okay. I didn’t have the knowledge of health, wellness and nutrition that I have now, nor did I have any fitness certifications, and I was just a regular gal trying to live a good life, canned dinners and all.

Nobody knows everything about healthy living, and nobody is perfect, and you learn, grow and change and constantly try new things. In fact, 10 years from now, I may look back on my current seemingly healthy habits and be appalled as well (well, maybe not appalled, but you get the point). Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to look at some habits that I used to have and don’t have any longer. And no shame here, we each choose what works for us, so if you’re holding onto any of these things in your current life and they are working for you, you do you! Here we go …

Five health, fitness and food-related things I never do anymore

Run on the treadmill for 60 minutes at a time, six days a week.

There was one point in my life in which I would not consider a workout or exercise session complete unless I was on the treadmill for 60 full minutes. In fact, I was so neurotic about the duration, that I literally would not get off until the very last second — no hopping off at 59 minutes and 45 seconds for this girl. I would run for about 30 to 45 minutes of the hour and then power-walk for the rest of the time in intervals, and the intervals were the smart part, because intervals are good and so is power-walking. However, the dedication to a 1-hour session and the dedication to doing only cardio was not doing me any favors — nor was the repetitive motion of running, without ever switching it up.

I have not done a full hour of cardio since the last time I taught BODYATTACK, which was before I got pregnant. True story. I prefer circuit training, barre, yoga or weights, and I also now know that cardio sessions can be much shorter than an hour. Ohhhhh how you live and you learn.

Also, while cardio is, of course, a part of your workout routine, it shouldn’t be the only part. To all my running-addicted friends out there: Try to include some planks, push-ups, squats and bridges into your sessions as much as you can to cross train and pick up weights, if they’re available to you. And remember that an effective workout is one that does what you set out to do (stretch, get your heart-rate up or feel a burn), and unless you’re training for a race or event, you don’t need to worry about the duration so much. Ever tried tabata? You can be toast in four minutes with that!

Check my phone in the middle of the night upon waking. 

Oh man, this is bad. But I used to have trouble sleeping and would often wake up around 3 a.m. or so. You know what I would do? Grab my phone and scroll it. I’d check my work email (back in the corporate days, of course, and you know those emails are always stressful), check social media and read articles with the bright white light screaming at my face. Like, what? This just pains me now to think of it. And I wonder why I had sleep troubles?

Granted, in the early days of Brady, when I was up all night, I would play on my phone in order to stay awake purposely (with night mode on and not looking at emails), but now — no way. I turn the phone onto safe night mode around 9 p.m. to remove the harmful blue lights, and I only check it after getting up, most of the time after being completely out of the bed too.

The blue light from the phone messes with your sleep hormones and makes it harder for you to get quality sleep, if you’re able to fall back to sleep at all after looking at your phone. I’ve written a lot about improving your sleep here and here, and after we can start getting Brady to sleep through the night soon, I hope to return to those excellent sleep hygiene habits I adopted before he arrived. I love sleep.

With the phone and wanting to be connected issue — I’ve just learned that it can wait. No email, social media notification or text needs to be answered in the middle of the night, unless it’s a family emergency, so I choose to take some time each night to unplug, and I recommend that you do it too.

Eat microwaveable meals on the regular.

It’s pretty embarrassing to think about my diet right after college. I didn’t want to cook after a long day working in my first full-time corporate job (which was at Disney World, by the way, in the role of communications coordinator for Epcot Center!), so I ate microwavable everything. Chef Boyardee Ravioli. Lean Cuisines. Hot Pockets. You get the picture. If it was cheap, required a microwave and could last for a long time in the pantry or freezer and was full of artificial ingredients and preservatives, I bought it. I never ONCE looked at ingredients.

While I have no problem with eating convenient foods today, those are not the type of convenient foods I rely on any longer. For instance, I can make a full meal out of my freezer and pantry staples these days (super clean soy-free veggie burgers, cauliflower rice and coconut oil as an example), but I try to eat foods that have less ingredients and more recognizable ingredients instead of those with mile-long ingredient lists. I also buy a lot of eggs and fresh produce, which is the basis of my diet — and there wasn’t much of that in my diet in the early part of my twenties. I didn’t really know how to cook veggies properly, so I just skipped them. And a salad like this? Probably not in my wheelhouse way back when …

Healthy salmon salad March 2018 by A Lady Goes West

(Give me ALL the salmon, veggies and garlic bread, please, nowadays.)

I’m not saying that the occasional Lean Cuisine will kill you (I’m clearly still here and kicking after eating quite a bit of crap consumed), but there are so many better options out there for a quick meal. Always check the ingredients list and make sure you can pronounce all of the things listed. And stick to fresh stuff if you can. (Once again, no shame if you’re still eating some of this stuff — just think about adding a couple of fresh pieces to one or two meals a day to start replacing the processed items.)

Snack on 100-calorie low-fat packs and low-fat food.

I always fly on Southwest Airlines, because that’s where we have our loyalty points, so it makes the most sense to keep building up there. And I mostly like flying on Southwest, but I’m not into the snacks that they pass out. Granted, I know that healthy snack options are just not as cost effective or accessible for an airline who has many mouths to feed (RxBars for every passenger, please??), but I have to laugh at the selection of 100-calorie packs in the snack box. No thanks. I always pass.

There are several things I don’t like about the 100-calorie pack idea. First of all, it tells you that you can only have 100 calories in a pack, making you think that it should fill you up. It doesn’t. Also, it makes you think that you are choosing the healthy option, when oftentimes, those 100 calories of snacks have tons of ingredients, artificial flavorings and preservatives, as well as little to no protein or fat — two important macronutrients you need to feel full. And it makes you focus on counting calories, which has never really been my thing. I’m much more into counting good-for-you food, colors and ingredients.

Snacks that I like? Pre-portioned raw almonds, pre-portioned clean trail mix, Larabars, apples and almond butter, etc.. There’s nothing wrong with having snacks out of a bag, but the 100-calorie marketed ones are usually not the best choice. Oh, and I also used to eat a lot of low-fat or no-fat yogurt, and I only buy the full-fat variety these days. You can usually bet that the “low-fat” label is not the best option either, because when they take the fat out, they add something else back in.

Sip on diet soda like it is my job.

What’s your favorite soda? Okay, mine was Diet Dr. Pepper, and I would have one with lunch every single day. And if I went out to eat, I would get a Diet Coke and refill it more than once from the fountain — because FREE refills are my jam. I could drink soda so quickly, and I just loved the taste. While I didn’t die from drinking a lot of soda growing up as a kid, teenager and through my mid-twenties, I know now that the artificial ingredients in soda were not good for me. 

I have had soda water in cocktails here and there throughout the last few years, but I truly could NOT tell you the last time I had a sip of a regular soda or a diet soda. It’s just not for me any more. I’d rather get my liquid calories from kombucha, wine or green juice. You feel me? And speaking of kombucha, why don’t they have unlimited draft refills of that? Anyway, the whole soda industry is a mess, and that’s for another post — but I think it’s best to limit your soda intake as much as you can.

Green kombucha March 2018 by A Lady Goes West

(Speaking of green juice and kombucha. How about green kombucha?)

Honorable mentions on habits I used to have …

While not worthy of their own section, here are a few other things that I used to do and definitely don’t any longer …

  • I didn’t like nuts until the age of 25. Like what? I would even turn down baked goods with nuts in them, because I was so anti-nuts and anti-crunch. Well, times have changed.
  • I had no self-care or mind/body practices in place at all. I was pretty high-stress all the time. I hated yoga and thought stretching and anything related to it was lame.
  • I hated salad. Hmmmm.
  • I put 3 to 4 Sweet ‘n Low packets in my coffee twice a day. Barf. I can’t even fathom stomaching a beverage with Sweet ‘n Low. I really can’t. And as you know, I don’t even do coffee any more. (But I have nothing against coffee and may possibly go back to it one day, I just really like green tea right now.)

Boy, how things have changed. And that’ll do it!

Closing thoughts on saying goodbye to these old habits …

I could probably go on and on with things that I used to do, because I’m a work in progress and I’m always learning and changing. This post is really just meant to be entertaining, and I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I guess it also serves as a great reminder that we’re all on a health and wellness journey, and we have all started somewhere.

And listen up: There is absolutely no judgment in this post, and no shame heading your way if you are currently doing any of these things. In fact, if you’re still relying on Lean Cuisines as diet food and pounding the pavement for an hour at a time to “sweat it off” — just try baby steps of adding fresh produce to your daily line-up and switching up your workouts with some weights and stretching once in a while too.

Remember: Nobody is perfect, and we’re all just trying to feel our best and we learn as we go, and the goal is not to eat perfectly and work out every day. It’s to find the right routine for your body and your life. I know that I feel way better eating mostly clean foods with treats on the regular, focusing on my sleep and doing a variety of workouts that feel good on my body, so that’s what I’m doing now and hope to continue doing for as long as it feels right. 

Thanks for reading, lovely people! Let me know how I can help you, if you’re having trouble with this stuff, because I love to get emails from you! Have a wonderful day, my friends! 

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Questions of the day

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  1. Love this post! I can relate to so many of these. I used to waitress and would drink large amounts of diet soda because we could fill up with soda anytime we wanted. And when I wasn’t working, Diet Coke with lime was my fav. Now I haven’t had it in nearly 8 years! Give me all the sparkling water and kombucha. Oh and in college I rarely ate lunch, and if I did it was pretzels and peanut butter. I can’t imagine skipping a meal now.

    1. ahhahaha Pretzels and PB for lunch? I’m pretty sure I would have done that back in the day too. And can you imagine what it would feel like to drink a bunch of soda now? So glad you’re over all that too! 🙂

    1. Me too! Well, cardio is usually the gateway exercise, so it’s often where most people start. Glad you learned! And glad I did too! heheh! 🙂 Have a great day, Emily!

  2. This was such a fun read. I have never been much of a soda drinker, though in high school after tennis matches, my treat was a large fountain Mountain Dew from 7-11. In law school I consumed quite a few 100-calorie packs, which I now would not touch with a 10 foot pole. And I also was queen of the 1 hour treadmill and cardio sessions. It made me laugh how you said “no hopping off at 59 minutes and 45 seconds for this girl,” and that was SO me. Remember the apartment complex we lived in together for a brief period? I would run on the treadmill down there for a full hour and if it wasn’t the full 60 minutes, it felt like it didn’t count at all! So glad we’ve both developed some healthier habits.

    1. Hi Courtney! Yuppppp I TOTALLY remember! I hit one of those three apartment treadmills on the regular, but I think I was only doing 45 minutes at that time — hahha. Ohhhh how we learn and change. The 30-minute workout is now my JAM, I wish I had known that before and I could have saved myself a ton of time ehehe. Here’s to being smarter with age!

  3. Hey, Ashley! I’ve been following your blog for awhile and I really like your approach to health, fitness, and diet. It can get so overwhelming sometimes with all the information out there and I confess it’s something I struggle with. I have anxiety thinking about all the things I’m probably doing “wrong” even though I try so hard to eat right and be healthy. One of the things I just started researching is the grain-free diet. So apparently our bodies aren’t able to digest grains and nuts, seeds & beans have high levels of phytic acid which inhibits our bodies from absorbing key nutrients & minerals – didn’t know any of that – and oatmeal, nuts and beans have been staples in my diet for years. So I guess what I want to ask you is, how do you handle all the “noise” about what’s healthy and what’s not? And how do you keep from going crazy when you feel like something you thought was healthy may not actually be? Now I’m thinking I need to soak and sprout all my grains and nuts before I eat them or I’m potentially poisoning my body. Needless to say that stresses me out (not the best thing when I’m trying to REDUCE stress in my life)! And don’t get me started on microwaves and plastic water bottles. 🙁
    Sorry for the rambling post, just something I’ve been thinking about!

    1. Hi Lauren! I actually am planning a post on this very topic, so I’ll address it in depth in a future blog post, but let me say this: If you feel FINE, then don’t worry that what you’re doing is harming you. 🙂 The soaking grains thing — yes I know about this — but it’s not a 100 percent thing — it’s SOME stuff, so I’ll get more info on that too and share it. Overall, the things that are commonly bad — like putting plastic in the microwave and eating Lean Cuisines, skip those — but things like eating oatmeal that isn’t soaked — if your digestion has been fine, stick with it. 🙂

  4. Haha oh man this is funny to think back about my diet in college. I would workout a lot but would eat spaghetti o’s for dinner, so bad. And just like you, I never liked salads until recently lol! We live and we learn 🙂

  5. Was definitely guilty of heavy cardio machine work outs!! I have never enjoyed running though. But I always did body weight things too but took me a very long time to pick up weights. I definitely just do short body weight cardio these days and it kicks my butt. My fave cardio pre baby was a body step class which is quite intense but I would love to go back some day. And I totally used to put Splenda on everything. Fruit even haha. And I had a Diet Coke daily habit. I won’t lie. I still have one maybe once or twice a month. I cut it out for a long time and eventually just decided life is too short haha. But I know it’s junk.

    Also isn’t Vanderpump fantastic this season? Mindless entertainment at its finest! My hubby works some nights too (actually also in the sports industry) and its nice to make a ‘me time’ kinda evening out of it even though it’s tempting to just collapse into bed the second baby is asleep. Or maybe that’s just me hehe. Sounds like a great weekend and that you’ve got that baby is his crib! Go you mama! We had a date night at a steakhouse with grandma babysitting on Saturday and at home pizza night Sunday so I really have no complaints.

    1. Hi Rose! Having a Diet Coke once a month is TOTALLY fine, and I agree, life is too short. That’s why I’ll never give up The Cheesecake Factory hahaha. But props to you for limiting your soda from a daily habit. And I do love all the Bravo shows. They are so mindless, and I need that sometimes. Also — sooo jealous of your baby-free night out with the hubs! I bet it was magical hahaha!

  6. I am totally guilty of reading things on my phone in the middle of the night now that I’m waking for my daughter’s feedings. While in the past not having a skincare regimen is probably the worst. Oh and too much pizza and pasta in my college years.

    1. Hi Nina! Well I mean — pizza and pasta is staple college food — so no harm done there I’m sure heheh. And it’s hard to avoid the phone when you need something to keep you awake at night with the babe, but hopefully you can wean off of that! 🙂 Thanks for reading, lady!

  7. Hi Ashley, as I was reading through your blog I first thought I would suggest you send us pictures of your house before and after but then I saw you were telling us about your before and after experience with food. I imagine most of your readers can relate to this. Soda (called it pop in Indiana) was a down fall for me at one time. I loved Pepsi over Coke. But seems they have changed it over the years. I don’t like any Soda now. Been several years since I have brought a carton of Soda. We don’t drink wine either so we have become huge water drinkers. I still have to have a glass of milk with my dinner. Must had been something I picked up from my mother. I still do the treadmill but I like running outside much better. I have a condition right now that I can control better running on the treadmill than outside. I can’t keep my self from running faster than I want outside where I can control the pace better on the treadmill. Hopefully that won’t last much longer. I have always been a cardio freak. Running before I was introduce to spining. Now do both daily. I also lift quite a bit. I am sure I am not as well rounded with my activities as I need to be. But I just turned 76 last week and still breathing. I admire all you young people how dedicated you are to your diet and physical activities. Being a sport nut I did watch too much basketball (that was college) over the weekend. Have a great week.

    1. Hi Richard! I’m glad you don’t drink “pop” any longer heheh And being from Florida, I think it’s funny when people say “pop” because that’s not what we called it growing up. And I think you should be SO proud of how healthy you are and how dedicated you are to your fitness. Happy belated birthday to you too!! Have a GREAT day!! 🙂

    1. Hi Katrina! Ohhh it’s exhausted how meticulous some people are with food tracking — but no, me neither! Glad you’re over it too, momma! 🙂

  8. Ha! I am glad you do none of these things anymore! I never did any of those things… Some things I no longer do anymore though: Eat Spaghetti Squash and Nori every single day… Like truck loads of it (I actually don’t touch spaghetti squash and only eat nori with sushi)… Because they do not agree with me. Same goes for Cabbage and Cauliflower, etc. I really only eat 3 – 6 foods in general. I had to eliminate everything, ha! OHHHHH well!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing these awesome tips, Ashley! For me, in high school it was 7 miles a day, no matter what. Now I feel better, more energized, and LOVE my HITT routines mixed with a run here and there and lots of full body workouts (plus weights). Also, now I’m seriously craving salmon! That looks so good.

    1. Hi Mackenzie, I’m SO glad to hear you’ve learned that the distance doesn’t matter and HIIT and variety is so much better for the body than constantly pounding the pavement! 🙂 We live and we learn, right?

  10. Awesome article!
    I just wanted to mention boxing as a great way to get fit and improve your health.
    It’s best to workout in a class, as it’s crucial for beginners to learn proper form from an instructor who can help keep your intensity level high.

  11. It’s the same for clothing and fashion – it’s so interesting (funny and appalling) to look back and see what trends we were following. I’m so glad there’s more of a shift to doing what feels right for our own bodies.

    1. It sure is, Nicci! Although sometimes fashion trends come back around, and I don’t want any of the low-fat, cardio-crazy trends to resurface hahah! 🙂 Thanks for reading, lady!

  12. Hi Ashley, I recently ran across your blog through Pintrest and I am in love!! I really enjoy reading all your posts and I feel like we have so much in common. I am a small time blogger and I love seeing how big your blog is. I hope to get there one day! I am currently in college and I recently enrolled in GFI courses. So your GFI posts are very helpful to me!! I love reading your posts and I can’t wait to continue to read more.

    1. Hi Casey,

      You are so sweet! Thank you so much for reading and for saying hi! 🙂 Group fitness is amazing, and I wish I had gotten started in it a bit earlier too, so I love to hear you are doing it in college. As far as blogging — keep at it — if you are passionate about it, it will show to your readers and will always be worth your time, no matter how big or small your blog is. Let me know what else you want to see! 🙂

  13. This was a much better read than the copycat version written by “Cup of catherine.” She was revealed to be a complete FRAUD in the wellness blogger world and stopped only to copy poetry by instagram poets.

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