I Work a Busy Hospital Job. Here’s How I Find Time to Stay in Shape.

Melissa Bailey shares her week of making time to hit the gym, eat dark chocolate, and get plenty of sleep.

eat dark chocolate

Melissa Bailey gives us a look inside her week, including making time to work out, sleep well, and of course, eat dark chocolate.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details.

Who I am: Melissa Bailey (@thenourishedfork), 29, from Graduate Hospital

What I do: I am a registered dietitian for a large hospital in the city. My main patient population is liver transplant, which is challenging! I spend one day per week in an outpatient clinic, which evaluates patients for a potential liver transplant. The remainder of the week I work directly in the hospital seeing patients who are waiting for a transplant or have received one. On the side, I am working on my social media account and blog, which provide recipes and nutrition tips for general healthy eating.

What role healthy living plays in my life: It is my life! Healthy living is my number one, especially because I like to practice what I preach. I try to eat healthy most of the time, with the occasional treat.  I make sure to exercise at least five days per week and get adequate rest every night. When I feel my best and take care of myself, I can give others my best as well.

Health memberships: Barre3 ($129 per month) and in the process of joining a gym ($50 per month).


6:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I hit snooze twice.

6:35 a.m. — Finally get out of bed, drink eight ounces of water (I keep a large glass at my bedside every night to have in the morning when I wake up), start getting ready for work.

7:10 a.m. — Pour my coffee to go, thanks to my programmed coffee pot. Grab my packed lunch and I am out the door to walk to work (1.6 miles).

7:40 a.m. — Arrive at work and get the day started. Today is a clinic day for me and I have nine patients scheduled. I munch on some blueberries until I can heat up my breakfast.

8:10 a.m. — Time to eat breakfast — today I packed pumpkin flaxseed pancakes and cashew butter to go on top. I use a high protein pancake mix and add flaxseed to help keep me full for a few hours!

9 a.m. — Clinic starts and I am running between patients for the next four hours.

1 p.m. — I am hangry! I packed salmon and butternut squash mac and cheese with me. Unfortunately, since I am pressed for time, I devour it while writing notes.

3 p.m. — I head to my patient conference.  I bring an RXBar with me as a pre-fuel snack for my workout.

5 p.m. — Meeting is done and I am walking to SoulCycle (1.3 miles).

5:30 p.m. — SoulCycle with Bryant!  He is my favorite instructor. My brother gave me a gift card for 10 classes (this is my last one!). I leave feeling like I could conquer the world.

6:20 p.m. — Out of SoulCycle and I stop at my favorite store, Loft, to pick up two dresses because it’s a 50 percent off sale! Then walk home (one mile).

6:45 p.m. — Back home and in for the night. I prep dinner, which is spaghetti squash, organic ground turkey, and marinara sauce.

8 p.m. — Showered and working on nutritional analysis of recipes for a local meal delivery company; I munch on some dark chocolate and have a glass of tea to relax.  I also catch up on the day with my roommate, Nicole.

9:30 p.m. — It’s been a long day. I’m in bed reading a book with lights out by 10 p.m.

Daily total: $0


eat dark chocolate

Melissa Bailey makes time for Barre3 classes. Photograph courtesy Melissa Bailey.

5:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I don’t have time to hit snooze. I drink water and throw on my gym clothes.

6 a.m. — I pour my coffee to go and I’m out the door to Barre3 for class. I walk there (one mile).

6:30 a.m. — Class starts and Emily kicks my butt, literally. My glutes are on fire and I love it.  I vary my workouts between morning and night depending on my schedule, but nothing is more satisfying than getting a workout done before the day starts!

7:30 a.m. — I shower and get ready for work at Barre3. Then I’m out the door for my walk to work (1.7 miles).

8:20 a.m. — I arrive at work and grab my patient list for the day. Today I am inpatient, which means I see those who are in the hospital. Because I am in clinic on Monday, Tuesday is busy with catching up.

8:30 a.m. — I heat up breakfast. Today is my veggie and goat cheese frittata! I sort through my patient list for new consults and follow-up visits. We have a pathway in place that helps us determine when patients need to be seen.

9 a.m. — I head to the floors.  The hospital is huge, so I visit patients in three to four different buildings and multiple different floors on any given day. Usually I rack up another mile in steps just from this!

12 p.m. — I packed salmon with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts for lunch, plus a piece of dark chocolate as my something sweet.  I write notes while I eat.

3 p.m. — Make phone calls to patients.  I ask nutrition questions over the phone to get a history and give any recommendations the patient might need. I eat a spoonful of peanut butter between calls as I forgot my snack today!

4:30 p.m. — Work is done. I throw on my sneakers and start walking home (1.6 miles).

eat dark chocolate

Melissa Bailey loves shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market. Photograph courtesy Melissa Bailey.

5 p.m. — Home! Debating whether to start dinner, head to the grocery store for a few things, or work on Instagram posts. I decide to take a few pics and then walk to the new Sprouts, just four blocks  from my house!

5:45 p.m. — I could live at Sprouts, seriously. I pick up a few staple items such as eggs, fruit, and spices, then browse the store for any other items I might want. Of course I stock up on chocolate ($22.89).

6:30 p.m. — Back home, I make dinner. Tonight it’s spaghetti squash, chicken sausage, and goat cheese in a butternut squash sauce.

7:30 p.m. — I’m packing my bag for the morning and other things around the house, then sit to read a book. Lights out by 10 p.m.

Daily total: $22.89


eat dark chocolate

A morning frittata. Photograph courtesy Melissa Bailey.

5:20 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I am supposed to go to Barre3 this morning, but I didn’t sleep well and I have worked out the last five days in a row. I decide to reset my alarm and sleep a bit longer.

6:20 a.m. — Alarm goes off again, out of bed. Drink my cup of water and get ready for work. Instead of taking my coffee to go, I run downstairs and pour it in a mug to drink while I am getting ready.

7 a.m. — Out the door and walking to the hospital (1.6 miles).

7:35 a.m. — Arrive at work and grab my patient list for the day. I have a student shadowing me today, which means I will be doing a lot of talking and teaching throughout the day.

8 a.m. — Heat up my breakfast; pumpkin pancakes topped with cashew butter. So good!

9:30 a.m. — My student who is shadowing for the day shows up.  The rest of the day is a whirlwind after this. We go see patients.

12 p.m. — We walk over to an education session, which lasts an hour.

1 p.m. — Lunch is provided. I grab some tortellini and chicken. I am still hungry, so I heat up a small piece of my veggie frittata I had packed. I eat two pieces of chocolate after this.

2:30 p.m. — Student leaves for the day and I finish up my notes. I have an RXBar as a snack.

eat dark chocolate

Melissa Bailey with Marc Vetri. Photograph courtesy Melissa Bailey.

4 p.m. — I leave the hospital to walk home (1.6 miles).  I have about 45 minutes at home to relax before heading back to the hospital to teach medical students about nutrition with the Vetri Community Partnership.

5:30 p.m. — I arrive at class to see Marc Vetri himself there. What an amazing opportunity!

7:15 p.m. — Class went well and I think the med students enjoyed it! Heading back home. I take an Uber as it’s been a long day and my feet don’t want to walk anymore.

7:45 p.m. — Home and heating up dinner, which is leftover spaghetti squash and veggies.  I then eat two chocolate chip cookies I made earlier this week.

8 p.m. — I walk over to a friend’s to hang for the night (0.8 miles). We watch a movie. I’m home in bed by 11 p.m.

Daily total: $8.62


eat dark chocolate

Meal prepped lunches include another chance to eat dark chocolate. Photograph courtesy Melissa Bailey.

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I hit snooze three times until I am finally out of bed.

6:30 a.m. — I drink my water and get ready for work; out the door by 7:10.

7:25 a.m. — I didn’t take my own coffee today, so I stop at Starbucks and grab a tall dark roast ($2.16). I add a splash of milk and some cinnamon, then continue on my way.

7:40 a.m. — I arrive at work and get started. Today I have about 15 patients in the hospital I need to see. This is standard for the inpatient side of things. Busy, but manageable. I fuel up with breakfast — banana pancakes, blueberries, and a spoonful of peanut butter.

9 a.m. — I head to the floors to see patients. I am all over in every building of the hospital today.

12:30 p.m. — Time for lunch.  Today is a big bowl of vegan mac and cheese. So good! Of course it’s followed by a piece of dark chocolate. I write notes and go back to see a few patients who were not in their room when I first visited.

4 p.m. — Work day is done. I munch on a Kind bar, throw on my gym clothes and head to the gym.  I recently purchased a Groupon at Sweat Fitness ($32 for 15 gym visits).  Once these are used up, I plan on joining a gym in addition to my Barre3 membership to help balance out my workouts.

4:30 p.m. — I arrive at the gym. I do a mixture of weight lifting and cardio for an hour, then walk home (1.2 miles).

5:30 p.m. — While walking home, my friend texts me to get food and drinks, so I head to Founding Fathers instead of going home.  I have a glass of wine and two shrimp tacos ($15).

7:30 p.m. — Home and showered, time to relax. I have yet to watch This Is Us this season, so that’s how I spend the rest of the night.

9 p.m. — I am exhausted and head to bed.

Daily total: $17.16


eat dark chocolate

Another Barre3 class for the week. Photograph courtesy Melissa Bailey.

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I’m up and taking my dog Marlie for a walk. My parents keep my dog part time to help me out (dog daycare/walking is expensive!), and they dropped her off last night.

6:15 a.m. — Back inside, I make a cup of coffee. I drink my water and head upstairs to get ready for work.

7:10 a.m. — Out the door to drop Marlie at daycare and walk to work (1.8 miles).

7:50 a.m. —  I arrive at work and get started.  We have a few people out on vacation today, so it is extremely busy.

8:15 a.m. — Breakfast is pumpkin pancakes and cashew butter.

8:45 a.m. — I head to my donor selection meeting. As the transplant dietitian, I also am in charge of evaluating any living liver transplant donors to make sure they have a healthy BMI and are eating a well-balanced diet.

9:15 a.m. — I’m off to the floors to see patients in the hospital, and running around like crazy.

11:30 a.m. — I run over to the outpatient center across the street a patient for donor evaluation.

12 p.m. — Back in the hospital and on the floors seeing patients. Starting to feel hungry!

12:45 p.m. — I break for lunch. A few of the girls in my office are going to Goldie Falafel, so I join them. I get the falafel sandwich with sauce on the side ($7.50) and take it to go so I can eat at my desk while working.

2 p.m. — A few new consults come in, and I’m back to the floors.

3 p.m. — I finish up notes and munch on an RXBar.

4:30 p.m. — Out of work and walking to Barre3 for my class with Danielle. She is also a dietitian and was once my intern.

6 p.m. — Barre is done and I am wiped out. I walk home and pickup Marlie from daycare on the way.

7 p.m. — I heat up dinner. All leftovers from the week: a mix of mac and cheese, squash, chicken.

8 p.m. — My friends want to go out for a drink. I walk to meet them at Pub and Kitchen.  I have two glasses of wine there ($22). Home and in bed by 11 p.m. Tomorrow I’ll be up early for Barre3 and social media work!

Daily total: $29.50

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $78.17

Miles walked: 27.3

Fitness Classes: 3

Gym workouts: 1

Pieces of Dark Chocolate: 5

Glasses of wine: 3

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