Ashley Greenblatt’s advice for a healthy life

Sophie Ferguson and Nancy Bowne

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An avid reader of the Philadelphia Inquirer can probably recognize Ashley Greenblatt’s name from the fitness section. Bubbly and encouraging, her columns are full of tips and tricks from how to relieve joint pain to the art of meditation.

  But Greenblatt’s dream wasn’t always to write about workout regimens in the newspaper, though.

  Greenblatt graduated from Eastern in 2004. “I was a huge fan of high school,” she said. “I know not everyone loves it, but I did.” She remembers abandoning her lunch to greet students around the cafeteria and doing the morning news. Classes like journalism, English, and media convinced her that she wanted to be on television as a news anchor.

   The idea of fitness was still there in the back of her mind, though. As an avid field hockey and lacrosse player, the daughter of a calorie counter, and participant in exercise, it was probably no surprise to the people around her that Greenblatt ended up pursuing health as a career.

   After not getting accepted into Rutgers’ communications school, Greenblatt decided she would major in history and minor in journalism. In terms of health, she admits she really “blipped up,” confessing that she had never seen Cheese Wiz before, but once she started using it she couldn’t stop. “I put cheese on things that cheese should never go on,” she said.

   She then interned at NBC with the sports department, but got sidetracked in her personal life after meeting a professional hockey player. Once she got her professional drive back, Greenblatt said she learned a lot. “It’s a hard landing being 28 living with your parents,” she said. “I thought, ‘What have I done?’”

   Greenblatt got married just two years ago (to someone different), making her a Singer.

   Her career took a turn when she started getting into fitness again by running. And by a twist of fate, the Philadelphia Inquirer had an opening for a fitness columnist, but Greenblatt wasn’t the typical candidate; she had no education in the fitness field or professional experience.

   Determined to secure the position, she got certified and got the column which went from an unpaid monthly gig to a paid weekly affair. Greenblatt has been at the Inquirer for seven years.

   She is very passionate about the health of teenagers, specifically. She encourages sleeping as much as you can while you can and eating as natural as possible before you see the repercussions. “When I played field hockey we did intense workouts and I felt fine.”

  She laughed.

“Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m starting to feel it!”

   Ms. Greenblatt also says that mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand, calling it a trickle-down effect. She believes that social media seriously harms your mental health, citing the Kardashians as a main reason why girls feel so insecure about themselves. Greenblatt even deleted her Instagram recently to clear her mind and even help her posture.

   She reminds us that everyone is under a filter. Not everything you see is how everything actually is. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else because they have their insecurities, too,” she said. “That’s why they filter themselves!”

   Something she really doesn’t believe in, surprisingly enough, are diets. “I don’t like any extremist thinking. I just don’t think the human body was designed for that,” she said. Instead, Greenblatt advocates for healthy eating in general and to keep moving because “as long as you’re moving, you’re doing something good for your body.”

   For busy high school students, she suggests meal preps: get a couple of containers, some chicken, a box of quinoa, some veggies, and put it all together in the tupperware. Then, use the meals throughout the week to save time making lunch or dinner everyday.

   What she advocates for most, however, is kindness. Greenblatt says that she tries to be nice to everyone, whether she knows them or not. Sometimes she is met with irritation or annoyance, but it never stops her from trying. “My husband jokes with me and says, ‘It’s like you’re running for mayor, but there’s no election,’” she said.

   And her thoughts on vaping?

  “That is so lame!”


Q&A with the fitness coach

What is your job?
I worked for as a writer, but I saw an ad for a column writer for The Inquirer on Health and Fitness and applied for it. I had been an athlete in high school and took some time to dive back into fitness.

What purpose has exercise served in your life?
I struggled with bad anxiety when I got out of high school but found an outlet through exercise. That was my inspiration to see that there was something that could make me feel better, so i kept doing it. Stress is like a glass of water. You continue to put more in and there is a certain threshold. Eventually it will overflow. Exercising helped me empty that glass

What do you do when you first walk into a gym?
Don’t feel intimidated. Be patient and find what you like in the gym. Seek out a personal trainer, and tell them your goals. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

How can I maintain health if I don’t like to exercise all the time?
Being mindful meditation and practicing your breathing helps if you suffer from anxiety. When you have so much going on, it’s like a filing system. You need an outlet. Exercise is great but i would recommend finding ways to be mindful. Find someone to connect to. We tend to lose our connections with people through social media. Connect with yourself, it’s priceless.

What is the best way to balance a healthy lifestyle?
Turn off your phone. Balance your mental health, physical health, and sleep well. I think there’s a misconception you can’t eat well if you’re on a budget. Go into a market and go to the edges of the store, with all of the fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Buy some, for the same price you get a sandwhich at Chick-fil-A