Six health and fitness things I’ve learned to never do anymore

Health and fitness things I’ve learned to never do any more! This post was originally published in 2018, and this is a fresh and updated version. Please enjoy.

Life is about continuous improvement. While we’re never striving for perfection, we should always be striving to be just a little bit better, and to know just a little bit more. And because I used to know very little about health and fitness, and now I’m actually both a certified fitness and nutrition professional, I feel like I’ve come a long way. Over the years, I’ve tried to bring you all with me, and I think we’ve learned a lot together.

This post is all about things I used to do before I was into health and fitness at all. I was just trying to get by, you know? And who knows, maybe 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).

By the way, no shame here, we each choose what works for us. So if you’re holding onto any of these health and fitness things in your current life and they’re working for you, you do you!

Here we go …

Six health and fitness things I’ve learned to never do anymore

Six health and fitness things I've learned to never do anymore by A Lady Goes West

Let’s get to those health and fitness things I’ve learned to never do anymore …

1. 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 I did this every single day around 6 a.m. before heading off to work.

This dedication to a 1-hour session and this dedication to cardio was not doing me any favors — nor was the repetitive motion of running, without ever switching it up. This was an obsessive behavior, and it was timed around the part of my life when I was much more restrictive with all my food and routines too. I thought my discipline was a good thing, but over time, I’ve learned it was misguided.

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: If running is your favorite, then run, but to be smart you should also 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 too. This really does matter, and will help you to perform better in all you do.

35-minute weights workout by A Lady Goes West

(Wearing my number-one training sneakers in this picture, and this is my fourth pair of them, because they are that good.)

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 as much as the effectiveness. 

Better option: Include strength training in your workout routine 2-4 times a week.

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

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? Immediately grab my phone and scroll it. I’d check my work email (back in the corporate days, 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? You should never check your phone in the middle of the night.

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 my phone onto night mode around 8 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. And you may notice it’s really hard 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 scrolling in bed is a big no-no for me now.

How to meditate by A Lady Goes West

I get it that we like to be connected all the time. But I’ve 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. I now choose to take some time each night to unplug, and I recommend that you do it too.

Better option: Use night mode on your phone starting at sundown until sun up and have a no-phone-in-the-bed policy.

3. Eat pre-packaged microwaveable meals every night.

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 (veggie burgers, cauliflower rice, etc.), but I try to eat foods that have more recognizable ingredients instead of those with mile-long ingredient lists of super-long chemical-laden words. 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. I also didn’t love salad back then.

Homemade lunch by A Lady Goes West

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 for many years), but there are so many better options out there for a quick meal. These days, Tattooed Chef and Purple Carrot make some excellently clean frozen meals, by the way.

If you’re buying something packaged, just make sure you to check the ingredients list and make sure you can pronounce all of the things listed. But when in doubt, try your best to compose your meals of a lean protein, veggie and carb from fresher sources.

Better option: Try the frozen Tattooed Chef or Purple Carrot brand meals, which have real-food ingredients, but eat them sparingly. And always shoot for more fresh produce and lean proteins.

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

There are several things I don’t like about the 100-calorie snack 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’re 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, better protein bars, Greek yogurt singles, apples and almond butter, cottage cheese, etc. I like my snacks to have protein and fat, so they truly hold me over until my next meal.

Siggis yogurt A Lady Goes West

Listen, 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. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.

Better option: Try snacking on real foods with both protein and fat content, like cheese, nuts, jerky, minimal-ingredient protein bars, yogurt or cottage cheese.

5. Sip on diet soda like it’s 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 were 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 also would sometimes drink so much carbonated liquid that my stomach would get really full, without filling it with food. Yuck. These days, I want to leave room for all the food.

Over the years, I’ve had soda water in cocktails here and there, but I truly could not tell you the last time I had a sip of a regular soda or a diet soda. In fact, Dave and I were talking about that the other day — what would it even taste like to me now? Will I ever drink it again? I don’t think I will.

Poppi drink by A Lady Goes West

It’s just not for me any more. I’d rather get my liquid calories from kombucha, wine, oat milk lattes or even green juice. You feel me? And speaking of kombucha, why don’t they have unlimited draft refills of that like they do with soda?

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. If a Diet Coke here and there is a treat for you, then keep it. But if you’re chugging it every single day, it may be a good idea to take a hard look at that habit and see if it’s serving you.

Better options: Try sparkling Topo Chico or Poppi drinks if you really need some flavor. Otherwise, choose water with a sprinkle of sea salt in it.

6. Step on the scale every day and let the number dictate my day.

I used to have a little scale out in my bathroom, and I stepped on it every single day. If it went down, boy I was happy. If it stayed the same, I was okay. If it went up, I didn’t like it. This may have been the unhealthiest habit I’ve ever had. 

Whats in a group fitness instructors bag by A Lady Goes West

(Using my go-to travel and gym crossbody bag, which fits so much stuff.)

Our weight is not an important metric. Yes, it’s important to have a general idea of what your weight should be for your height, but you don’t need to weigh yourself daily. Your weight can fluctuate up to even five pounds, based on your hydration levels, what you’ve eaten or even where you are in your menstrual cycle. There’s no reason to weigh yourself every day, unless you’re a wrestler, who has to keep a certain number. Your weight does not equal your worth or your health.

Better option: If you’re concerned about your size, monitor how your clothes fit. If you’re concerned about your health, monitor your energy levels.

A few other health and fitness things I used to do that I don’t do any longer …

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

  • No nuts. 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 eat nuts all the time now and like all types of nuts. I really can’t believe I didn’t eat nuts for so long, because they are full of beneficial nutrients and healthy fats, and they’re tasty.
  • No self-care. I used to have virtually no self-care, mind/body or recovery 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. Now, I’ve been meditating daily for several years, and I hit my foam roller almost daily.
  • No salad. I hated salad. I don’t know why, but I would never eat salad. Now, I love salad.
  • Too many artificial sweeteners. This one is cringe: Back in the day, I used to put 3 to 4 Sweet ‘n Low packets in my coffee twice a day, trying to avoid the calories in real sugar. I can’t even fathom stomaching a beverage with Sweet ‘n Low now. I really can’t. I use a tiny bit of stevia now, which is one of the more natural sweeteners, and it’s a far better option.

Always be a work in progress

I could probably go on and on with the health and fitness things that I used to do, because I’m a work in progress, and I’m always learning and changing. In fact, it was just earlier this year in 2023, that I shared these three changes I’ve made to my health and fitness routine.

And listen up: There’s zero judgment in this post or shame heading your way if you’re currently doing any of the things I mentioned above. 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” — maybe you need to try baby steps to make improvements. We never need to change everything at once, because that’s rarely the most sustainable way of making progress.

Best foam rolling moves by A Lady Goes West

(This is my one of my favorite workout outfits right now. Here are my leggings, here is my top, here are my socks, and here’s my trusty foam roller.)

Remember: Nobody is perfect, and we’re all just trying to feel our best and 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 healthy foods with treats on the regular, focusing on my sleep, drinking a lot of water and doing a variety of workouts that feel good on my body, with plenty of strength training. So that’s what I’m doing now and hope to continue doing for as long as it feels right. 

Thanks for reading this one about the health and fitness things I’ve learned to never do anymore. Have a healthy day!

Other posts you may like …

Question of the day for you

What are some health and fitness things that you no longer do anymore?

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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.

  14. Love this post Ashley! I can relate to just about all of these things. I cringe when I think about my past so called “healthy” habits. I now vary my workouts amongst strength training, barre and cardio and they are usually 30 minutes. I also no longer own a scale as it was too triggering for me. I don’t drink nearly as much soda, but I will admit to drinking more wine than I used to. Live and learn 😀

    1. I think it’s totally normal to cringe at some of the things we did in our past! Thanks for sharing with me, Erica. And hey — I’m with you on the wine too! 🙂 xoxo

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