Real-life details: Seven elements of a healthy weekly routine

People love to know about other people’s lives. I do. We all do. And ever since I wrote this post about my current career choices, I’ve received a bunch of follow-up questions and requests for more information on my daily life and weekly routine. What am I eating? What am I doing for a workout? And how am I fitting it all in after making such a big change from working as a trainer and group fitness instructor all day to sitting behind a desk?

The answer is simple: I’m actually not doing it all. In fact, there are many things I want to be doing more of but just don’t have the time right now. But I have a decent routine down, and I’m maintaining my healthy lifestyle in a different way with some new time restraints, so I thought I’d share it with all of you lovelies. Get ready for some detail, because I’m putting it out there. Let’s dive right into the big seven elements that matter in life: sleep, food, fitness, rest, family and more with generalities that cover most of my weekdays. Ready, set, go …

Real-life details: Seven elements of a healthy weekly routine

Seven elements of a healthy weekly routine

1. Up and ‘at em: Wake-up times

I wake up between 5:05 and 6:35 a.m. each weekday, depending on the day (and that’s not an ideal range, but it works for me). On Tuesdays, I wake up at 5:05 a.m. to teach a 6 a.m. BODYPUMP class about 20 minutes from my house. On Mondays, I almost always sleep until 6:35 a.m. and skip my morning workout. I use that extra time in the morning to work on A Lady Goes West before I head off on the road to start the week of work at my office, and I’ve gotten quite used to having Monday as a rest day. I like it!

2. Sweat: Workouts and fitness

Right now, I’m teaching only two group fitness classes a week. One in the early morning on Tuesdays and one in the morning on Saturdays. I used to have Monday evening and Wednesday evening classes, but sadly, I had to give those up. In addition to teaching two classes, I also do a few additional workouts each week for a total of no more than five workouts, with one occurring on the weekend and the other four during the week. Usually I reserve Wednesday and Thursday mornings before work to go to the gym for around 40 minutes. During those 40 minutes, I warm up, do mobility moves, use the foam roller and then do 20 to30 minutes of weights, with Friday usually being a yoga day — usually in the morning or at lunch, if I’m lucky. If I could, I’d love to fit in a couple more workouts and a second yoga session each week, but I’ve found that five is currently the maximum I can handle time-wise, so that’s where it remains. 

You can find a general frame-work for my gym visits in this post: what should you do in the gym. But to get a little more specific, here’s an example of exactly what a recent lower-body looked like for me …

20-minute lower-body blast

Warm-up

  • 5 minutes walking on incline on the treadmill
  • Mobility moves including front and side kicks and walkouts
  • Foam rolling the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves

Circuit 1 (completed three times through)

  • Step-ups on a 24-inch box holding 20-pound dumbbells: 10 reps on each leg
  • Kettlebell swings holding an 18-kg kettlebell: 12 reps

Circuit 2 (completed three times through)

  • Back extensions on a machine, holding a 15-pound weight plate: 10 reps
  • Goblet sumo squats, holding a 35-lb dumbbell: 10 reps

Foam rolling and stretching to finish.

Just so you know, this workout isn’t one that’s completely balanced (it needs a little more lateral movement), but it’s short and to the point and gives me a nice sweat — focused mostly on the lower-half of the body. But real life means that sometimes even trainers do workouts that aren’t perfect — but they sure are better than doing nothing at all.

And with this workout: I would probably do this as written above for one week, then switch the rep range the next week and do four sets with eight reps instead of doing three sets with 10 reps, then move onto something else after that. I’m not working against a plan right now, so just coming up with things on the fly. It keeps the body guessing!

3. Eats: Food and meals

I’m a creature of habit and often eat the same healthy things most days. I would say I regularly switch up my meals every few weeks though, so it’s not too repetitive (and so I get diverse nutrients). While I reserve Saturdays for going out to eat and indulging in whatever I want, I’ve always been way more drawn to healthy food the rest of the week. While I would say that I make all of my own food for every meal, oftentimes, I’m just assembling things, i.e. making eggs and roasting veggies, then mixing them all together. I’m pretty creative when it comes to using hot sauce, salsa and spices to make even the same dishes seem different.

I eat breakfast at home, lunch at work, an afternoon snack at work and dinner at home. While I’m going to put together a full picture day of what I eat in a future post, know that it’s like this … 

  • Pre-workout snack: Some sort of a cleanish bar
  • Post-workout recovery: Protein shake
  • Breakfast: Yogurt, green tea and fruit
  • Lunch: Hard-boiled eggs and veggies
  • Afternoon snack: Trail mix, nuts or more yogurt and maybe some more green tea
  • Dinner: Chicken or turkey burger and veggies or sweet potato

Of course, I switch things up as much as needed to keep a healthy variety, but I always come back to the same staples. And yes, I pack my foods in a little lunch-bag each day and keep it in the fridge at my office. And because the basketball season is about to start up again and I’ll be alone at night much more while the hubs is gone and working, I’ll probably be eating a lot of things on repeat for dinner! (Dave likes to rotate our meals much more than I do — I’d seriously be happy eating a sweet potato boat every single night and not get sick of it.)

As far as lunches are concerned? Here’s my take on meal-prepping, which is not actually my current menu, but a solid one if you need help. I ended up adding an egg to that plan because two just wasn’t enough, by the way!

As far as what needs to change in my eating routine? Eating dinner earlier. Dave and I always try to make it a point to eat dinner before 8 p.m., but that doesn’t happen often. In fact, sometimes it’s as late as 8:45 p.m. I know, I know. A bad habit we can’t seem to right!

4. Night night: Bed-times and sleep

Oh sleep. I love it so. And I feel so much better when I get it. I absolutely get my seven hours every single night — and the hardest night to do that is Mondays, because I’m up at 5:05 a.m. on Tuesdays to teach. But most days of the week, Dave and I will watch a Netflix show starting just before 9 p.m., so I can head up and be in bed right at 10 p.m. While I don’t always fall asleep immediately, it’s pretty close. I’ve thought about going back to reading before bed, and I bet that will start happening when Dave is gone for games as well.

Speaking of sleep: Need some tips on how to sleep better? Check out this: five ways I improved my sleep thanks to reading the book Sleep Smarter. My next plan of attack is getting black-out shades for my bedroom, so those just may end up on my Christmas list. (But clearly, I’ll ask for something more exciting than that as well.) But for now, I wear a slumber mask that always falls off my face half-way through the night. Or the dog pulls it off. 

5. Steps: Movement and activity 

This is a tough one. Because I write a blog for myself and for another company, I’m almost always chained to a desk. I have a standing desk at work and use that for about two hours a day. I also try to park my car as far away from the building as possible, so I have a nice journey on the way in and out. Other than that, at lunchtimes, after I finish eating, I’ll often circle the office complex or go up and down the stairs a few times. But overall, it’s tough to get all those steps in.

One of my favorite little movement helpers is keeping a lacrosse ball (<——like this one) at work. When I’m using my standing desk, I take off my shoes and rub my feet on top of the ball and stand on it. It’s such a good feeling and a good way to loosen up the legs and hips and feet. Try it and enjoy that foot-massage feeling at work.

But as a whole, I know I don’t hit 10,000 steps-a-day regularly (well I don’t know for sure, because my activity tracker broke months ago, and I’m off the grid), and if I had more time, I’d definitely throw in a longer morning walk with Rudy and a longer evening walk with him too. He would love it.

6. Tech: Blogging and social media

Well, as you may have noticed from the reduced volume of posts on A Lady Goes West, since I’ve gone into my current day-job, it’s hard to write very much. I spend about 45 minutes a night working on the blog when I get home just to respond to comments and emails and get at least one-to-two posts up a week — then I also spend a good chunk of time on Sundays. It’s not ideal, and I’m not posting as much as I want — but for now, it’s the best I can do. And as far as social media is concerned — I’m on it way less, and I’m not sad about that! 

7. Social: Family, fun and friends 

These days, my fun times with friends only happen on the weekends. While I do get out for the occasional mid-week blog event or meet-up in San Francisco, I am very particular and protective of my weeknight time. I often turn things down that I want to do, because I know that I only have three free hours or so each evening, and sometimes I need that just for myself or to get organized. It’s okay. The world will be out there waiting for me when I’m ready to party on Saturday (and by party, I mean The Cheesecake Factory). You know? Other than making some phone calls and sending texts, I really don’t get to connect with my friends as often as I want, but I always have time for snuggling my dog and husband on the regular — and that keeps me whole between playdates and family visits.

Overall, every day is a work in progress, and I’m always wanting to fit more in than I can — but I’ve come to realize that you can’t do it all, so just do your best. Life ebbs and flows and the balance will shift one way to the other. So just enjoy the perks of your current situation and make smart decisions to take you to your next one.

Takeaways for you …

  • Move around. No matter what your day-job is, movement is key. Try to fit in little walks, stretch sessions and workouts whenever you can. And if you are chained to a desk, set an alarm to remind yourself to get up out of your seat every hour or so. And take it from me and roll your feet with a tennis or lacrosse ball daily.
  • Make your food. Nine times out of ten, it’s healthier to make and bring your own food. It’s not always easy, but it’s often the right choice. Find a few staples that fit your lifestyle and repeat them. Whole food, mostly, with plenty of protein and healthy fats. And then you don’t have to worry about running out to grab something when you’re starving, ultimately wasting more time and setting you up to choose the wrong foods in your time of need.
  • Prioritize downtime and alone time. When you lead a busy life, it’s imperative that you protect at least a little bit of time each day or night for yourself. Maybe you wake up 10 minutes before everyone else in your house to soak up some silence, or maybe you go for a solo walk after dinner to think. It’s up to you to regroup!
  • Relax and recovery. Just like you should take some time for yourself, you should always give yourself a fighting chance with a good night’s sleep. Set yourself an alarm each night as a reminder to end all activities, power down your technology and hit the bed. Absolute darkness and a cold room will help.
  • Do the best you can, but know you can’t do it all. If you have the time for one extracurricular activity each week, choose your favorite and enjoy it. Don’t waste time worrying about things you don’t have time for. And don’t worry about not getting to everything on your to-do list. There’s always tomorrow. Sleep it off and go after it again when the sun rises.

That’s a wrap for this one, my friends. I’d love to hear more about your days, nights and routines. So please leave me a comment or shoot me an email. And I’ll talk to you soon! 

How to have a healthy week? Try this #BusyGirls guide of the 7 things you need to do by @apstyle Click To Tweet

If you liked this post, check out more information in Six Habits of Healthy and Busy Gals. And by the way, there are a couple of affiliate links pointing to the lacrosse ball, so thanks for your support.

Questions of the day

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

What’s the best part of your daily routine?

39 Comments

  1. Oh, I used to be a night person but in the last few years work and other responsibilities forced me to change. Now I can’t stay awake past 9 and I’m up at 5 every day. Maybe that’s getting old? Lol! Great tips Ashley!

    1. Hi Megan! No, not getting old — getting smart. Our bodies are MUCH more primed for waking with the sun and going to bed shortly after dark. You’re just being smart. 🙂 Thanks, lady!

  2. I always say I wish the day had about two extra hours so I can fit everything in I want to do, especially during the work week. I like to try to walk the dog when I get home from work to get moving, and my legs always feel so much better after. Great tips!

    1. Hi Patricia! Yes, I always take Rudy for a little walk, but I should probably make it longer. Aren’t dogs wonderful for helping with the activity level? Hope you had fun with your ‘rents this weekend, lady!! 🙂

  3. Thanks for this great post, Ashley! I know I’m not alone in loving hearing the details of your life.

    I’d answer your question, but you already know I’m totally a morning person! And we eat so similarly. 🙂

    I also appreciated your comment about it being ok to say no. I turn down a lot of activities because I simply know they aren’t worth it and I need to protect my downtime. Being social is important, but being healthy and happy and productive is too.

    Have a great Monday! Xoxo.

    1. Hi Courtney! It’s TOTALLY okay to say no to things! Alone time is important, especially when you are super busy. So if you only want to be social once a week, then be social once a week — or whatever amount you’ve decided on. I’m with you! It’s your life to decide what you do with it. And hope you have a great Monday too, my friend! 🙂

  4. Love this list! I’m so impressed you are still able to blog as often as you do now that your work.schedule has changed! I find that scheduling “me” time is so important to my sanity….whether it being able to go on a run, go to pure Barre or sit in my room and read a hook-up it’s so necessary!

    1. Yes, Marielle!! A workout can help too. We all need that time to breath and think and not worry about others. Hope you get some of that today, lady! 🙂

  5. Thanks for this post! Really great information for feeling sometimes like I am chained to a desk. I have never heard of the Lacrose balls but have already added to my Amazon cart.

    I completely agree with the “saying no” as it can be hard thing at the time to say but is something I always appreciate after the fact!

    1. I feel ya, Samantha! Hope you enjoy the lacrosse balls. And YES to saying NO. It’s always your choice to choose free time. Hope you have a great day!

  6. Love this post! Thanks for answering some questions I wrote in my email. My favorite sentence: “The answer is simple: I’m actually not doing it all.” Thank you for being real.

    I recently heard someone say “When you say YES to something, you say NO to something else” and while that totally makes sense, it seemed so insightful to me. If I want to say yes to rest, I have to say no to something.

    I love working out in the AM and wish I could do it, but I already wake up at 5am and 4am sounds a bit too early for me. I find it hard to shorten my workout, even when I’m short on time, so your 40 minute workouts offer a healthy and different perspective which I love.

    Thanks for putting all the effort you do into this blog.

    1. India! I LOVE that you email me and ask questions and we have a nice little conversation going over here! And yes, your wake-up time is already really early– so probably not the best candidate for morning workouts right now. But maybe one day?? Thanks for sharing that quote about yes and no. I’ve heard it too and love it. Have a good afternoon, friend!!

  7. Great post! I’m also very protective of my week-night time. Once I get home from work it’s time to make dinner, walk the dog, watch one episode of something, and before I know it my alert to start getting ready for bed (at 9:40) goes off and it’s time to read, relax and brush my teeth.

    I think my favorite part of the day is walking the dog with the bf every morning. It was raining this morning, so I was sad to miss it.

  8. Thanks for sharing this! It makes me feel better about not working out 7 days a week, ha! I have been beating myself up over it but I know I shouldn’t. I also like Monday’s as rest days. So many people are all about the have to work out on monday mentality, but sometimes I feel it’s the busiest day of the week.

    1. I agree, Heather. Sometimes we need to take Monday a little slower. And yet DEF don’t need to work out all seven days. A rest day or two each week! Keep up the good work, lady!

  9. Great post!! I can relate to a lot of these things … well, minus the 5:05 am wakeup time. (I’m sure that will change once our studio actually opens, unfortunately!) I try my best to get enough sleep — it’s just HARD to fit everything in! Looks like you’ve got a great work/life balance down!

  10. Love Love LOVE how comfortable you are with just saying, “this is me right now & this is what I have time for.” I think a lot of us start to feel guilty saying no – whether that be to a mid-week blog event or to a workout we want to be doing. But taking all of that time can be incredibly draining.

    We have to be comfortable knowing our limits in order to be truly happy in each season of life. THANK YOU for modeling that.

    XO, Jessica
    http://www.semisweettooth.com

  11. Hi Ashley, what a great post! Your words really resonated with me– I work a full-time desk job and teach yoga a couple times a week (early morning classes FTW!), and it’s easy to feel like I’m not doing enough to be my healthiest, best self. I sometimes feel like my whole life is packing and unpacking my gym bag/purse/lunch bag… It gets tiring!

    It’s so helpful to hear how diligent you are about protecting your time in the evenings. It can be tricky to say no to get-togethers that sound fun, but self-care is essential. The best part of my daytime routine is my shower, haha. I shower at night, and light a bunch of candles. Honestly, it’s seven minutes of my day that helps me feel like a new, much more relaxed person. So refreshing!

    Take care,
    Kate

    1. Hi Kate!! We are on the same page, totally. And I want to steal your shower ritual — it sounds magical! Keep it up, lady!! You are doing the best you can!!

  12. Loved this post SO much! You are so right, it’s basically impossible to do it all. I am totally a morning person! I never used to be but now my fave part of the day is the morning. I definitely include all these things in my daily routine — working out, eating well, sleeping enough. But you are so right to say you need a good balance of alone and social time!

    1. I love the morning too, Aya! I feel like I’m so productive then. I’m glad you liked this post. Thanks so much for reading! Have an awesome day!

    1. Hi Cayanne! I know. I’d definitely like to sleep later, but that’s not the routine for me right now. 🙂 Hope you are having a fab weekend, lady. Thanks for saying hi!

  13. I used to be in the habit of doing (some of) these things and I guess you don’t realise how valuable they are until you stop doing them right? I’ve got the early morning wakeups downpat. Thanks for the easy-to-follow list though, I might add a new one every week until I’m back on track 🙂

    1. Hi Kat! That’s the spirit — one small change at a time is always reasonable – you don’t want to try to do too much all at once. Thanks for saying hi and keep up the great work! 🙂

  14. Wondering how you commute, and whether you multitask while doing so? I tend to do work on the (early) train in the morning, and then zone out / read fluff on the afternoon train.

    1. Hi Anne! I drive to work for my commute and use the time to talk to my Mom, review music for the group fitness classes I teach or listen to podcasts. I’m always doing something while safely driving heheh! I WISH I could take public transit, but I work in a dead zone for that. 🙁 Keep up the good work, lady!!

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