My year in review for 2023 is here!
When I sat down to write this year in review for 2023, I almost couldn’t believe that it was time to write it. How did 2023 just fly by like it did? There have been years in my life that have not flown by (2020, I’m looking at you), but 2023 … it was gone in the blink of an eye.
While this year was not special, in a way it was. Big things happened this year in my life, and we’ll get into all that later.
In the spirit of oversharing, I’m in the mood to really let it all out about 2023. Let’s do it …
My year in review for 2023
Here’s how I did this year in a few areas of my life …
My personal health, wellness and fitness
I think I’m ending 2023 perhaps the strongest I’ve ever been physically, particularly my strength endurance.
And I worked for it too. This year, in 2023, was the first time that I made it a whole year staying consistent with a weekly weight-room floor solo workout (outside of the group fitness studio). I missed a handful of weeks over the year, for pregnancy/illness/travel, but otherwise, I tried my best to get in at least a 20-minute solo weights session, even when I didn’t feel like it. What’s different about my solo weights session is that it’s focused on heavier weights and way less repetitions than I do in my group fitness classes. And I do the same small rotation of movements over and over again in these solo workouts. While I have so many performance goals that I’ve not yet met, I’ve seen progress over the year with strength, and I love that. I will absolutely stay with these weekly workouts, because they’ve been working.
But in addition to my solo sessions, this year, my group fitness teaching schedule has been the fullest it has been since before Brady was born — I’m teaching so many classes each week. Through all this teaching, moving, challenging myself and others, I’ve become a lot more fit. I feel very mobile, flexible, strong and ready for just about anything, and that’s such a good feeling. To be honest though (because that’s my specialty), I wouldn’t say that aesthetically I’m where I want to be at all. There are plenty of things about my body I’d like to improve on — but functionally, I’m really happy with where I’m at, and I hope I just keep building on it.
Diet and nutrition
Outside of the movement, I’ve changed some other wellness things in 2023. In fact, this year, I also started eating way more protein. I’ve tried to up my protein slowly over the last few years, but I’ve never been super intentional about it until now.
(I’m still eating these protein bars several times a week, and I love them. You can always get a discount on the G2G website with my code ALADYGOESWEST.)
Last year in 2022, I tried to get about 100 grams of protein a day. And this year, in 2023, I tried to get about 140 grams of protein a day, but my ultimate goal is 145 grams a day (which is about what I weigh — sometimes I’m 145 pounds, sometimes I’m 150 pounds — it just depends on the day/time). I didn’t meet this every day at all, usually slipping up on weekends, but the majority of days, I hit it. When you want to consume that much protein, you need three protein-rich meals a day as well as two protein-rich snacks a day. I’m not saying I stuff my face, but oftentimes, I’ll see it’s time for my protein snack, even if I’m not 100 percent hungry. I think staying consistent with this protein intake has helped me to improve my strength and helped my recovery too. Gone are the days of trying to eat less to be smaller. And I have to say, I’m a fan of this phase. I look around at a lot of women doing their best to eat as little as possible at all times to stay skinny because that’s all they’ve ever known how to do. I was that way before many years ago too. And I can say with 100 percent certainty that eating more to fuel yourself properly is a far better way to live than eating as little as you can to stay small. If I skipped breakfast and lived off coffee and salads, there’s no way I’d be able to manage the schedule I have as a group fitness instructor (who also plays tennis a few times a week), you know? We live and we learn.
I think it’s important to note that lifting more weights and eating more protein has also made me loosen up some other things a little — in the name of growth. I’m probably the least strict I’ve ever been when it comes to food. While I like to eat healthy and choose quality food most of the time, I’m honestly quite laid back about it now. I’ve been eating a lot more meat, Trader Joe’s organic chicken nuggets are now a staple in my diet, and I eat a lot of healthier packaged frozen foods too. Also, for the first time in so many years I couldn’t count, I ate fast food this year (we stopped at Chick-fil-a on the way home from Disney, and it was Brady’s first time eating fast food then too). I’m not hating on fast food, it’s just not something I love (probably because I ate so much of it growing up), so I prefer more fast-casual take-out options when I’m in need of food on the go.
All that being said is, I’ve really changed the way I approach my food. Other than loosely tracking my protein (I don’t use a tracker or keep track of any other macros, like calories or fats), my overall eating philosophy has just been about eating good food that I enjoy, mostly healthy, sometimes not. And this eating philosophy certainly doesn’t involve cutting out food groups. Not a week goes by that I don’t have a few glasses of cold white wine and some dessert.
Other wellness habits
I did well with my water intake, my sleep, my stress management, my meditations and my supplements this year too. So as far as health and wellness is concerned, I’d say I’m doing great. This is an area I have under control. I feel good mentally, emotionally and physically, and I have energy. I’m pleased with where I’m at, even if I still want to make some improvements to my physique next year. We’ll call this bucket a success for 2023, with more to come in 2024.
In the past, I’ve written an entire blog post with a professional year in review. But this year, we’re covering it here within this post, so I’ll be brief.
I worked a lot this year, and I love the work I get to do so much, even if at times I feel frazzled and pulled in too many directions. That’s because my work comes in multiple forms. There’s group fitness. There’s the blog. There’s Beautycounter. There’s general content creation. And all of it combined makes up my “work” and my overall income. The majority of my income comes from blog/Beautycounter/content creation, but, most of my time is spent in fitness. And ideally, it should be the other way around, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. My work bucket is most definitely a “work in progress.”
(I worked with adidas this year and got a lot of adidas gear in return. This red hoodie is one of my favorite items I ordered.)
Teaching group fitness
I taught 289 group fitness classes in the year of 2023. That’s a lot. For each class, I prepared, I practiced, I showed up, and I gave it my all, whether I had a small class or a totally packed class. I live for group fitness, and the joy it brings me is vast. I will continue to do it for as long as I am able, that’s for sure. But group fitness takes up a ton of my time — both the teaching and the preparing/creating. I’ve become a little more efficient at creating new workouts than I was the first year I worked at Life Time, but it’s still not a quick process.
This year, I got certified in a small-group training program at Life Time, and I’ve loved adding it to my weekly line-up, with the other programs I already teach — it’s similar to Orangetheory Fitness (which I used to be a coach at).
Right now, I teach six regular classes each week at Life Time Charlotte, including Barbell Strength, LifeBarre, Shred and GTX. Next year, I’m considering adding one more class/format, and we’ll talk about that when it happens. I like my schedule at Life Time (although there’s one class time I’m hoping to change next year, if possible, to streamline things), and I feel so fulfilled with this part of my work. Just when I think I’m out of ideas for new stuff, somehow, I come up with new ideas (because I make up all the workouts I teach). I hope to keep growing as an instructor and keep creating safe, effective and joyful workouts in 2024.
Blogging and content creation
I published 82 blog posts in 2023. At times, I felt very inspired and the words were flowing from my fingertips. And at other times, I felt like I had nothing to say, it’s all already been said, or I’m incredibly sick of talking about myself on the internet, you know?
I’ve had much better blogging years than I had this past year, that’s for sure. But I still showed up here regularly and tried to provide decent content. Yet, I frequently felt like world’s worst blogger, because I spend so much of my time on the fitness side, when I used to spend more time on the blogging side.
I had several great partnerships with brands this year that I truly believe in (NOW, Les Mills and Atrium Health, to name a few), and some of them will continue next year. I still see the value in this blog, and as my peers have shifted their attention solely to Instagram, I refuse to give up this little space on the internet. I hope you’ll keep coming back, even when a simple scroll through social media is sometimes easier than consuming one of my long-winded posts. I’ll be here writing (at minimum) weekly posts in 2024, and I’d love to hear what you want to see more of, so please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.
This year, I also created content for other brands as well, and I really enjoyed it. I made some videos for Quest, I made some videos for Neighborhood TV, and I wrote some pieces for The Everymom too. Some of this I shared on the blog, and some I didn’t.
A big win for me this year was claiming my name back on Instagram. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get some version of Ashley Pitt on Instagram for two years. This year, in October, I got it. My Instagram name is now @ashley.pitt and I’m also verified, which is great for my social presence.
I have some loose plans for more Instagram content in 2024, and I hope to make them happen. This was my most popular reel of the year, and it’s about Taylor Swift. But this was my favorite reel of the year, because it’s about Brady through the years on his sixth birthday.
Recently, I did some back-end work to clean up my email offerings. I sent a couple a newsletters and see myself sending more of them next year too. If you’re not on my email list, I’d really appreciate if you’d sign up for it here. When you sign up, I send you a couple welcome emails, one of which includes a fitness resource. Then, you’ll get an email when I publish a new blog post, and you’ll hopefully get some newsletters from time to time. Sign up here, and thank you for being on my list.
Here are the five most popular posts (by amount of visitors) on A Lady Goes West this year. These posts are diverse and not all of them were written this year …
- Highlights from our adults-only all-inclusive vacation in the Dominican Republic (2023)
- Current faves: Spa day, tennis anniversary, Trader Joe’s finds, workouts and more (2023)
- Everything you need to know about the Orangetheory Fitness workout (2015)
- How to modify a BODYPUMP class when you’re pregnant (2017)
- Brady’s first birthday party (2018)
A little bit about travel, a little bit about life, some fitness and a party. I guess that sums me up, right?
To close out this work year in review, I’ll say this: The fact that you’re reading this blog post means you’re interested in what I write, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I don’t feel like I nailed it in the work department in 2023, and I want to do better for you and for me in 2024.
My family and our family’s future
This is the biggest change of the year. This year, for the first time in my entire life, I can say with all certainty that our family is complete.
As you all know, this year, in the summer, I went through my third miscarriage and D&E surgery, which was terrible. And while I hated that it happened that way, it was incredibly eye-opening. I looked at Brady and realized just how lucky and fortunate and blessed our family already was/is. It’s no guarantee that anyone can have a baby, and I had one, and he’s everything.
After that third miscarriage, something in me told me that I was ready to close the door on the idea of trying for another baby completely. I just knew it then. I know it now. Dave knows it too. Ultimately making this decision and feeling good about it is so freeing. We sold all our baby stuff, we speak in affirmatives about our future, and we’re so thankful for what we’ve got right here in the moment. I prayed for this closure in 2023, and I got it. It’s huge to me. I literally couldn’t take the questions, the uncertainty and the wondering. And now, I don’t have to.
But once again, I have to be honest … There are little moments in time where the pain comes back to me. I had to make a couple trips to the Atrium Health Pineville Hospital recently when my mom was really sick, and I found myself in a crumble of tears — reliving those three procedures that I went through there and how it felt to know another pregnancy was over too soon. Every once in a while, I’ll see an infant and think about where I may be at this time, if one of those pregnancies had gone on to be successful. And I think I’ll always have those mixed feelings. But overall, I’m truly doing fine.
Our little family unit is really doing well. Brady is at such a fun age (my big kindergartner), and we have a blast doing lots of things together. We’re happy in our home, we’re happy in our city, we’re happy with our friends, we’re happy with our activities. We really are. I already knew we were full, complete and happy, but the idea of another baby somehow muddied the waters for me for several years. I don’t know if that describes it well or not, but it makes sense to me. What I wanted and needed was already right here in front of me. And I’m holding onto it tightly. Also, I sold our baby stuff on Facebook marketplace and through a consignment sale and recouped a decent amount of our investment, which was fun. I love to sell things!
Another great/big thing that happened for our family this year is that Dave got a new job. I don’t say very much about Dave’s life and work on the blog, but he was ready for a change, and his new job is perfect for him. We love that Dave is back working on the team side of sports for the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC, and Brady and I are going to reap the benefits by going to a lot of games. This has been a change to our family’s daily routine, because Dave is gone a lot more now, both working at an office in Uptown and attending games and events, but Brady and I have our systems down, so I don’t mind it at all.
I do think we’re a little too busy sometimes, and I get really sick of rushing around every day (even on the weekends) to fit in my blog work, my teaching, my class prep, regular household duties like chores and grocery shopping and of course, Brady’s school drop-offs/pick-ups and his sports and activities too. But I can’t choose anything that we’d eliminate, so we just keep running on our loop and hoping none of the wheels fall off.
Overall, our lives are not perfect — they are far from it — but we have a sense of happiness as a family unit (and with my mom too, who is an extension of that living so close to us and being with us so much) that truly matters and holds us together even when other things go wrong or get tough (which they sometimes do). Having this little group with me here in my life is my greatest blessing (I say in the cheesiest way possible, but I mean it), and the events of 2023 have cemented that for me, which is huge.
Highlights from 2023
While I can’t write about or look back at everything, here are some big things from the year worth highlighting …
- Teaching a super-fun “Barre and Bubbles” special event at Life Time in January and bringing some of my girlfriends and mom too. We had 50 women in the room sweating, moving and having a blast in the name of fitness that night.
- Going to my first real hockey game on an overnight trip to Raleigh with Dave in February.
- Checking out the town of Davidson, north of Charlotte, for the first time, with my mom, Dave and Brady in March.
- Visiting Atlanta with Dave in March for my brother’s birthday party and seeing all his friends I’ve known for forever. We had so much fun that night.
- Going strawberry picking with my mom and Brady on the most gorgeous day in April.
- Celebrating Brady’s graduation from preschool in June.
- Having an awesome weekend in Columbus, Ohio with our besties and their kids in June.
- Traveling to Chicago for a really cool NOW immersion media trip in June and meeting a bunch of fellow wellness influencers and going inside the NOW production facility.
- Getting away for four nights to the most beautiful resort in the Dominican Republic with Dave for some quality adult time in August.
- Taking Brady to his first real monster truck experience with friends in August. I had no idea how much we would all love seeing monster trucks.
- Enjoying my second annual Florida girls’ weekend with a visit to charming Charleston in August, where we ate, laughed, shopped and walked for two days straight.
- Finally spending time in the Carolina beaches with my wonderful neighborhood friends on a seriously amazing Holden Beach girls’ weekend in September.
- Having a really cute and informal party for Brady’s 6th birthday with all his and our friends at our neighborhood park in September.
- Becoming the captain of a USTA tennis combo team of 15 ladies, playing in a ton of matches and really starting to improve my tennis game in the fall.
- Adding small group training to my repertoire at Life Time and starting to teach a weekly GTX class in September.
- Seeing the Old Dominion “No Bad Vibes” Tour with Dave at Spectrum Center in September. So good!
- Seeing “MJ the Musical” with Dave at the Blumenthal Center in October. Also so good!
(We walked so many steps around Disney, and these shoes were the perfect ones to wear for that.)
- After many years of waiting, finally taking Brady down to Disney World in October, a place that means so much to me and the place where I started working right out of college. This trip was magical, and I can’t wait to go back.
- Supporting Dave in his brand new job and going to our first NFL game in November, followed by several other games. Go Panthers!
(I’ve worn these high-top platform sneakers to two football games, and they’re comfy and stylish.)
- Flexing my on-camera skills and working with Neighborhood TV to film some local segments.
- Hosting my brother and his wife for Thanksgiving, taking them to my Shred class at Life Time and checking out Light the Knight event in Uptown.
- Doing all the fun holiday activities in December with family and friends.
- Sweating it out with hundreds of really cool people each week in the group fitness studios of Life Time Charlotte.
- Soaking up all the amazing moments with our little family and watching Brady grow into the coolest little dude ever.
Concluding thoughts on my year in review for 2023
If you read this review, you’ll see that everything is mostly on track for me. But I want to be clear I still have my struggles. I get overwhelmed. I question everything. I get upset on things I see in the mirror that I want to fix. I get my feelings hurt. I feel down. But I focus on my wellness and my family, and through those two things, I’m really able to take all the other stuff.
Most of the time, I’m moving quickly, feeling positive and motivated and trying to share that with others both through the online world and in the group fitness studio. And I want to keep doing that in 2024 and beyond.
That’ll do it for my year in review for 2023. As always, I’m grateful that you come to the blog to read my words, because by doing that, you’re supporting me. I hope you have a moment to reflect on your 2023, and I also hope you have an amazing start to 2024. Be well, friend.
(P.S. I made a year-in-review video too, which you can watch here.)
Questions of the day for you
What was the highlight of your 2023?
What’s one thing you want to do better in 2024?