How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

We are thrilled to bring you a new post in our Healthy & Whole series on a topic we haven’t covered much in this space: exercise.  Along with diet, fitness is a significant part of a healthy lifestyle. While we tend to focus on balanced, healthy eating in our regular content, we’ve found a balanced approach is an essential part of the conversation that should be highlighted as well. To do so, we bring you Ashley McLaughlin of the blog Edible Perspective: a knock-out food photographer, recipe developer, fitness guru, and most importantly, a dear friend of ours. We couldn’t agree more with Ashley’s balanced approach to integrating working out into everyday life. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and make sure to check out Ashley’s blog for her stunning recipes and photos!

All photos by Ashley McLaughlin Photography


Hello, hello!

It’s such an honor to be guest posting on A Couple Cooks today. Sonja + Alex are two of my favorite people ever, and I absolutely adore this blog. I was lucky enough to meet them a few months back and just didn’t get enough during their short visit. So since we can’t hang out all of the time, I do things like bug them on Google messenger and take over their blog, instead.

My favorite part about Sonja + Alex’s blog is how they seamlessly integrate such diversity into their post topics. It’s not just about the food, but an overall approach to a living a healthy and happy life. So today I’ll be talking about working out and staying active and how I make that part of my everyday lifestyle.

I’ve always been a pretty active person. I think it started from playing sports growing up and throughout high school. Our high school workouts were pretty intense, and this is when I learned how to lift weights, gain speed, jump higher, build strength, etc. I’ve always felt like those were important tools to learn at that age and they’ve stuck with me throughout the years. They gave me a good foundation to build from and made me realize how good it feels to be active, consistently.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

Since high school, my workouts have varied greatly. In undergrad (OH-IO!), I was a gym rat. The gym was free, it was close to home, and it was easy an easy option. For four years I lifted, rode the bike or elliptical machine, and also speed walked around campus trying to make it to class on time. I didn’t really have the time or energy to get creative with my workouts, as most of my time was spent in the architecture building.

Then, for most of grad school I actually didn’t work out. I would go through little phases of running or lifting but wasn’t consistent at all. There just wasn’t enough time! In my last semester of grad school, though, I was introduced to a hot vinyasa yoga class and fell in love. This happened at the same time when my husband Chris and I were starting to be more mindful of our eating habits. We were fairly healthy before then, but decided to start making small changes after becoming more educated on our food system, organics, sustainability, animal welfare, etc. A few of the first steps we took were cutting down on our processed food intake, making more meals from scratch, lowering our meat consumption, and eating more vegetables. We started small and made improvements that made sense to us.

This is the time when I really started to create balance and diversity in my workouts. I wasn’t as focused on how many calories I was burning, but more on how good my mind + body felt when I left each yoga class. I felt strong, mentally and physically. It was a major turning point in my way of thinking about working out. I wasn’t working out to burn off the previous night’s dessert, but to clear my head and gain strength.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

So for the past 6 years I’ve maintained a very active lifestyle and it’s felt extremely natural. It’s part of my daily routine and is something I don’t give much thought to. It just happens. Staying active keeps me sane, especially since I work at home by myself. There isn’t any one routine or strategy I follow for my workouts. I don’t count calories I eat or calories I burn. I like to switch things up and make sure I’m enjoying whatever I’m doing. Because if I’m not enjoying it, why am I doing it?

Whether it’s walking the dogs each day, cruising around town on my bike during the summer months, hopping on my road bike for a long ride, snowboarding during the winter, or hiking in the mountains with friends, I love any and all time spent being active outside. It lets me soak up some vitamin D. It lets me clear my head. It lets me breathe fresh air. It makes me calm.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

I also like to incorporate more formal workouts into my routine a few times each week. This could be anything from riding our stationary bike at home and doing a few sets of pushups, to getting to the gym for a strength training sesh or swim at the pool. I’ve also recently become obsessed with The Dailey Method barre classes. It clears my head and centers me like no other workout I’ve ever done, plus, it’s incredibly challenging physically. (You can typically save a lot of money on barre/yoga/etc. classes by volunteering to work the front desk!)

Over the years I’ve learned not to stress about missing a workout, or even two or three. If I only have time to walk the dogs, hop on the bike for 15 minutes, or do 3 sets of pushups, that’s okay. It equals out with the days of more intense workouts. My focus is on an overall picture of good health. It includes my physical health and mental health. It includes what I’m putting into my body and how I’m staying active. It includes rest and downtime. It includes ice cream + chocolate. It’s about balance and showing myself kindness.

This is my way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks


About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. love the emphasis on not feeling guilt if you don’t get chance to do much. I do what I am able to squeeze in based on my busy lifestyle and somedays it’s lots others its a few sun salutations whilst I wait for dinner to cook! Great post.

  2. I’m similar to you in that I grew up working out a lot through sports in high school, etc., then didn’t have a ton of time for it in college, and recently I’ve really revved up my workout routine. I’ve been getting up and working out in the mornings since January and I’ve literally become addicted to how it makes me feel. Thanks for sharing your lifestyle – I think it’s a healthy way to approach the topic.

  3. This is a great post. Along with eating right, working out is such an important part of staying healthy. I love the fact that you emphasize staying active every day, even if you can’t get to the gym for an actual work out. Life is hectic and sometimes it’s hard to keep the same schedule every day. Such a great outlook. Thank you sharing!

    1. Thanks, Paige! I know what you mean about the busyness of life and having time to fit in “real” workouts. Sometimes it’s just not possible. I really have our dogs to thank for keeping me active every day, even in the winter! :)

  4. Great point of view on exercise Ashley. I have a very different background but I have ended up in a similarly happy place. I didn’t do exercise or sport at all growing up. I was the quintessential nerd (before nerd was cool). It wasn’t until I was in uni and actually studying Nutrition and Dietetics and Exercise Physiology that I even stepped into my first gym.
    Now, in the decade since that day there have been ups and downs with my relationship with my body and using exercise to punish is, but now I am in a happy place. I love to run, and I go running nearly everyday. It’s my therapy, and it fits in well with my life. But I don’t let it rule my life.
    Exercise needs to make you happy and be used to nourish, not punish. I’m so glad I clicked over today. Thanks for sharing your positive attitude :)