Sweat Diaries

This Philly Speech Pathologist Spends a Ton of Time on the Road. Here’s How She Makes Wellness a Priority.

Alexandria Russell takes us behind the scenes of her week in this week’s Sweat Diary.


Alexandria Russell balances all her passions: speech language pathology, a women-empowerment side biz, home-cooked meals, and frequent fitness routines. / Photograph by The Shine Studio.

Who I am: Alexandria Russell (@alexwynter24), 30

Where I live: Queen Village

What I do: I’m a speech language pathologist for Penn Medicine Home Health treating the adult and geriatric population in West Philly and the city. I’m also the publication director for NewGradSpeechTherapy (NGST), a resource aimed at helping new speech pathology graduates start their jobs with confidence. And in January, I started a business with my friend called SHE x SHINES, where we provide the resources and space for career, entrepreneurial, and side hustlin’ women to grow professionally and personally through events, workshops, and digital content.

What role healthy living plays in my life: To me, healthy living means staying active at least three times per week, eating my veggies, and enjoying the delicious restaurants in Philly. I drive all day for work, so I try to avoid stopping for fast food and like to bring meals that are easy to eat in the car with me. My goal is for my fitness and nutrition habits to keep me happy, reduce stress, and don’t involve the scale or numbers. I like to keep workouts around 30 minutes and mix it up between HIIT, strength, and yoga. I also like to find new recipes to make with my fiancé. If you want all the recipes for my meals and workouts for the week, check out my Instagram highlights called “bts/bewellPHL.”

Health memberships (and what they cost):

Monday

Russell and her fiancé make the majority of their meals, like this Greek chicken and veggies dish. / Photograph by Alexandria Russell.

7:30 a.m. — I had a really hard time waking up this morning! My fiancé Ryan and I got back from Fort Lauderdale late last night and I am still tired. But, I get dressed for work, sync my computer, and take a look at my caseload of patients for the day.

8:30 a.m. — My first client of the day cancelled, which is unfortunately common in home health. I have my second cup of coffee for the day (sweetened with So Delicious Coconut Milk creamer — my favorite!) and answer some emails for NGST.

10 a.m. — I am in the “field” as they say and begin to treat patients for the day. I help adult and geriatric patients who have suffered from strokes, traumatic brain injury, dementia, seizures, or any disorder/diagnosis that has impacted someone’s cognition, swallow, speech, language, or voice. I have a cafe latte protein shake with half of a banana, frozen strawberries, spinach, and almond milk.

12 p.m. — Lunch today is homemade tuna salad, half a piece of pita, and arugula salad with lemon, Himalayan salt, pepper, and olive oil. I eat this arugula salad a lot, as it’s one of my favorites and easy to make.

2:30 p.m. — I’m back in the city from West Philly to treat my last few patients for the day. I snack on an apple to keep me energized.

5 p.m. — Done for the day. I Instacart-ed my groceries on Sunday, but forgot to order carrots for our chicken dish for dinner, so I make a stop and pick up popcorn because it was BOGO. I couldn’t pass that up and eat a handful on the way home.

6 p.m. — Time to workout in my basement. I do Insanity Max:30, which is a HIIT-based workout. Quick, but definitely a challenge.

7 p.m. — I make a Greek chicken sheet pan dinner with carrots and potatoes, and lots of fresh lemon, oregano, and feta. After dinner, Ryan and I finish our work on the couch before heading to bed.

9:30 p.m. — Bedtime! This is a little earlier than usual for us, but we’re still dragging from our Florida vacay.

Daily total: $5.97

Tuesday

Typically, Russell works out at home using adjustable weights, ab sliders, and resistance bands. / Photograph by Alexandria Russell.

6:30 a.m. — Wake up. Get dressed, listen to the Gary Vaynerchuk Audio Experience podcast, and make a cup of coffee and my lunch for the day.

7:45 a.m. — I leave for my team meeting in Bala Cynwyd. Every other week, I meet with the other physical and occupational therapists, as well as nurses, social workers, and my manager to discuss new company policies and patient caseloads.

8:30 a.m. — I am 30 minutes early for my meeting, but someone brought in homemade fresh cookies…so I clearly have 2 oatmeal walnut raisin cookies. During the meeting, we get new patient education handouts for patients who have a diagnosis of heart failure and we discuss new policies for checking medication bottles in the home.

10:30 a.m. — After my meeting, I’m on my way in the field. Usually I would’ve eaten by now, but the cookies filled me up.

12 p.m. — I have the same lunch as yesterday, but I don’t mind because it’s so good! Today, I am training a patient and her family how to use a communication device that will help her speak since she is nonverbal. After, I’m meeting a new patient with dementia. That visit will focus primarily on family training and modifying the home to keep the patient safe.

4 p.m. — I’m home from work, so I sit down with a bowl of Greek yogurt mixed with honey and granola and complete some patient paperwork.

5 p.m. — I do a lifting workout at home. We have BowFlex adjustable weights at home, ab sliders, resistance bands, foam rollers, and a stability ball. Since Ryan gets home late and I’ve got a million things going on, we mostly workout at home so we stock up the at-home gym.

6:30 p.m. — I have some time before dinner, so I FaceTime with my college friend who now lives in California. She is also a speech pathologist, but works with kids. In between crunching on my apple, we give each other some business tips and tell stories from our summer job at the pool.

7:30 p.m. — I prep overnight oats for Ryan and I for breakfast tomorrow before he starts dinner. I like almond milk, cinnamon, banana slices, and a little maple syrup.

8 p.m. — Ryan makes a delicious steak (with crushed garlic) in the cast iron pan. For Christmas last year he wanted MasterClass to learn some more cooking recipes and I have definitely benefited from that gift! One of my favorite desserts is a bowl of cereal so I end the night with a bowl of honey bunches of oats and almond milk!

9 p.m. — We scan Netflix for a movie to watch while we do work, but we both fall asleep halfway through it.

Daily total: $0

Wednesday

Russell enjoys all the muscle shakes at Sculpt360. / Photograph courtesy of Alexandria Russell.

6:30 a.m. — Wake up!

7 a.m. — I officially start my morning with a cup of coffee with my coconut milk creamer. I finish some patient paperwork, listen to a Gary Vee podcast, and answer SHE x SHINES emails and messages.

8 a.m. — Get dressed, make lunch, and get ready for work. I bought a rotisserie chicken on Sunday because I think it makes for an easy grab-and-go lunch option.

9 a.m. — I eat my overnight oats in the car before heading to my first patient of the day. He was recently diagnosed with dementia and is nervous about how he’s going to manage his day-to-day. Thankfully he has a really supportive aide who stays with him. I’ve been training the both of them in visual aides, planners, and alarms to use in the home to help with his memory.

11:30 a.m. — I make a pit stop in Bala Cynwyd at the office to pick up a new medical bag because my strap broke yesterday. Oof!

12:30 p.m. — Before the second half of my day with patients begins, I eat some rotisserie chicken and arugula salad with pita. I’m on my way to treat a few patients with dysphagia. I usually send patients to the hospital for a video swallow study, which will take an x-ray of their swallowing muscles and let me know which exercises and diet I need to prescribe.

3 p.m. — Today’s snack is a bowl of Greek yogurt, honey, strawberries, granola, and a dash of cinnamon. I actually have two lunch boxes I take in the car during my work day: one for hot/warm foods and the other with an ice-pack for my drinks and items that need to stay cold.

4 p.m. — Drink a cup of pre-workout and get ready to drive to Sculpt360 for Pilates (which I didn’t have enough credits for, but spending the extra $10 is worth the shakes this class gives my muscles!)

6:30 p.m. — After class and a shower, I season the salmon and cut the potatoes Ryan’s making for dinner tonight.

8 p.m. — Dinner is salmon, avocado slices, tomato, feta, and arugula salad, and baked rosemary potato slices. After, I do some work for SHE x SHINES, making final edits to our workbook for our digital academy launching soon!

10 p.m. — Bedtime!

Daily total: $10

Thursday

Being an at-home therapist means Russell spends most of her workday driving from patient to patient. She refuels with easy-to-eat meals. / Photograph by Alexandria Russell.

6:30 a.m. — Wake up, listen to the Gary Vee podcast, and head downstairs to make breakfast since I have a late start to today’s workday.

7:30 a.m. — Today’s breakfast is banana oat pancakes with two slices of uncured applewood smoked bacon from The Butcher Shop (which Ryan claims is the best bacon he’s ever eaten). I like to cook my bacon in the oven, rather than in a pan. After breakfast, I have about an hour and a half to spare before my first patient (who lives close to me), so I create my schedule for next week and confirm patients for today and tomorrow. I touch base with my friend and SHE x SHINES partner Anna Laura Sommer since we’re looking to hire a virtual assistant.

10 a.m. — I treat my first patient of the day, who is one of my head and neck cancer patients going through chemoradiation. She has difficulty swallowing and has a trach in place with a speaking valve. I am working on safe swallowing strategies with her and voice exercises with her speaking valve on.

11 a.m. — For lunch, I eat a chicken quesadilla on a grain-free tortilla. If you haven’t tried Siete Foods almond-flour wraps, highly recommend! I put tomatoes on my quesadilla and have an arugula side salad.

3 p.m. — I head over to Graduate Hospital for my last patients of the day. I have some carrot slices and tapenade which I bought from Sprouts!

4:30 p.m. — Home from work and feeling super tired today. I consider napping, but decide to finish up some patient paperwork instead since I have a workout class later. Ryan won a fitness package at the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center‘s Cruise for the Kids last month, so we decide to redeem some coupons and take a Flywheel class together.

5:30 p.m. — Time to fly! I get a bike in the back and always struggle getting on and off the bike. I always need a seat cushion too! My seat cushion fell off mid-class, but I was too nervous I wouldn’t be able to get back on the bike so I push through. After class, I feel like my legs have officially fallen off.

7 p.m. — Home from class and exhausted from spinning. Thank goodness Ryan is making dinner.

8:30 p.m. — We’re having the Greek sheet pan dinner again! I answer some NGST emails, message potential writers, and plan Instagram posts after dinner. We “relax” on the couch, doing work until bed.

10 p.m. — Lights out.

Daily total: $17.92

Friday

At the end of a busy week, Russell and her fiancé take a break from cooking and order dinner from Ralph’s. / Photograph by Alexandria Russell.

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, have a cup of coffee, do an inbox clean-out of my NGST and personal email accounts, and get ready for a doctor appointment I have in Center City this morning.

11 a.m. — After my appointment, I walk home and stop at Federal Donuts for a cold brew and cinnamon sugar donut. Couldn’t pass it up!

12 p.m. — Head into the field to treat a few patients. Today I’m discharging a patient with her communication device, treating an older man with a new speech impairment called dysarthria, and headed back into the city to treat a stroke patient who has difficulty finding his words in conversation.

4:30 p.m. — Come home and decide today is nap day! My body is pretty sore and tired from the week, so I take today as a rest day. I need to recharge before yoga tomorrow morning.

6 p.m. — Wake up from my nap feeling refreshed. Ryan and I are both not in the mood to cook so we order one of our favorites: Ralph’s. We get chicken parm and penne which will leave plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

8 p.m. — We debate going out for cocktails, but the couch is calling our name and we have Daybreaker on the Moshulu bright and early tomorrow morning. We settle in on the couch for a solid Netflix night, and I finalize interview questions for our new hire with SXS!

10 p.m. — Bedtime!

Daily total: $52.47

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $86.36
Workouts completed: 4
Patients cared for: 25
Meals made at home: 11