Sweat Diaries

Running and Swimming Keep This Social Media Maven on Top of Her Game

Running, swimming, and lots of cottage cheese help Laurie Roma maintain a healthy lifestyle.


When she’s not managing social media accounts for her agency job in King of Prussia, Laurie Roma is an avid runner, swimmer, anda  fan of cottage cheese. / Photograph courtesy of Laurie Roma

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 lbrzyski@phillymag.com.

Who I am: Laurie Roma (@larroma), 42

Where I live: Fairmount

What I do: I am the senior manager of a large social media team at Universal Health Services‘ in-house advertising agency.

What role healthy living plays in my life: I’ve always led a healthy lifestyle. As a child, I was a competitive gymnast. Then in high school I was a rather unenthusiastic cheerleader, was on the swim team, and ran track. During my senior year of college, I became seriously ill with endometriosis, a chronic illness in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus (mostly within the abdominal cavity).

During this time, I was struggling with pain management and day-to-day basics. I left college to transfer to a school closer to my hometown, which fortunately has a major healthcare system headquartered there. I was very lucky in that I received my diagnosis in less than two years and had several surgeries, including a ‘big’ endometriosis excision surgery in 2000 that very much restored my quality of life. I was largely asymptomatic for a number of years and was also relatively inactive during that time.

In 2015, though, I signed up for my first Broad Street Run, and as I upped my activity levels, I began to again experience endo-related issues, mostly related to adhesions, anemia, and bone density. Prioritizing my health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is such a big part of who I am today. Working out helps me clear my head after a long day at work, but it’s also how I like to challenge myself and has become a part of my social life. I know what it’s like to be in agonizing pain and barely able to complete daily tasks. I’m so lucky that I’m well right now and do not take it for granted. As long as I can get out there and can have fun while doing it, I’m going to.

Health memberships (and what they cost): LA Fitness — $29.99 per month

Monday

Roma enjoys an evening run in her neighborhood. / Photograph courtesy of Laurie Roma

4:35 a.m. — My first alarm goes off. I set it thinking I would wake up and run three miles because today is the last day of a month-long step challenge at my company. Luckily, I have already surpassed my personal goal (500,000 steps for September!). I didn’t sleep well last night, so I decide to run after work instead, turn on my second alarm for 5:45 a.m., and go back to sleep.

5:45 a.m. — The extra sleep was so worth it. I wake up, check my work email and social media notifications to make sure there aren’t any fires, then get ready for work. I’ve already ironed an outfit for the day, which consists of an all-day training with a vendor we’ve been working to onboard for about a year. I have snacks packed in the refrigerator and just need to grab my frozen water bottle (which doubles as my ice pack) before I head out the door by 6:40 a.m.

7:25 a.m. — I arrive at work and take a prime parking spot. (These things make me happy.) My company’s offices are in King of Prussia, so I try to get to work by 7:30 a.m. to cut down on commute time. I get to the room where we’ll be doing our training, turn on the lights, and start working.

8 a.m. — I eat a strawberry chia cottage cheese by Good Culture. I am now imagining half of the readership going, “Ew, cottage cheese.” LOL! I think it’s so good, plus it’s filling and loaded with protein, which I’ll need to carry me through the training that’s about to start.

12 p.m. — We break for lunch, and my stomach is growling. Today’s catering is from Panera. It’s a small training group, so our options are a few sandwiches, salad, and water. I choose a chicken salad sandwich and enjoy the break from work. I also eat two cookies and do not regret it. I find that eliminating food entirely from my diet doesn’t work for me, so I take the ‘everything in moderation’ approach. This is to say: EAT THE COOKIES.

3:30 p.m. — The trainer is working on building out some templates for the team, so I catch up on email and devour an apple that I packed.

5:30 p.m. — Home for a quick change so I can get out for a run. I have a race on Saturday near where I grew up, plus I’ve been walking and running literally everywhere for my corporate step challenge in September, so this will be my last run until the race. To be honest, my legs are tired. I typically run more than anything else, so this week is a little bit different for me workout-wise. Before I head out to run, I make deviled eggs to eat when I get back. I generally don’t like to eat a big meal at night, so this will be perfect later.

7 p.m. — Tonight I run…straight to Whole Foods. I pick up some spinach, various prepared salads, and capers ($21.07). If you haven’t tried them on deviled eggs, you’re missing out. I quickly prepare a salad and a few deviled eggs and settle in for the night.

9:30 p.m. — Finish watching a documentary on Stiv Bators that I started last night, shower, check email one last time, and go to bed.

Daily total: $21.07

Tuesday

Roma makes most of her meals at home, including this salad and deviled egg pairing. / Photograph by Laurie Roma.

5:30 a.m. — I’m awake! I hop in the shower and get ready for work.

6 a.m. — I try to log in to sign up for DelMoSports’ Escape the Cape Triathlon. I frantically go through the password reset process and complete my registration ($240.81). The event is not until June, but registration opened this morning, meaning it will sell out today. I’m happy to have gotten in!

7:40 a.m. — I get to work and input the last few days of my step challenge data into our shared portal. September is also the first full month that I used Strava to track my activity, and I admittedly get a little sidetracked by looking at the data it pulls. This is appropriate, as I then start pulling my part of our team’s September metrics. We maintain A LOT of accounts, so this task will take the better part of the morning, if not all day, so I settle in for the long haul and eat a blueberry chia seed cottage cheese. Trust me, they’re good.

11:20 a.m. — I have been thinking about lunch for precisely the last half hour and finally decide that 11:20 a.m. is an acceptable time to eat the food I packed for myself: a Whole Foods Mediterranean tuna salad on a bed of spinach with a hard-boiled egg and tomato.

1:36 p.m. — I grab a handful of peanut M&Ms from my colleague Celine’s desk. I never liked them until Celine started stocking them regularly. Now, they’ve become a go-to treat.

3:26 p.m. — Eat some trail mix and start working towardswrapping up my day. Checking things off my to-do list is the best.

5:45 p.m. — Miraculously, I park my car in front of my place. This never happens. I check my mail, rush inside to check my work email, and get ready to walk to Lumos Yoga and Barre, a studio I absolutely love. Their classes are always fun and the instructors are amazing. I eat the last of my deviled eggs before heading out.

7 p.m. — I’m here for Sculpt Jawn, a class that combines yoga with strength training and cardio ($17). The first time I went to the class, we did a half hour of yoga and then transitioned into a dance party that started out by doing a jumping jack series for the duration of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” I know tonight won’t be exactly the same, but it will be the perfect combination of zen and sweat.

8:20 p.m. — What a great class! I’m home and showered and decide to call my sister to catch up. While we talk, I eat some vegan chicken salad on a bed of spinach with tomatoes and deviled eggs.

10 p.m. — I check my work email and call it a day.

Daily total: $257.81

Wednesday

When she’s not running, Roma enjoys swimming in her gym’s lap pool. / Photograph by Laurie Roma

5 a.m. — I do my best to prep for the gym and work the night before. I put on my swimsuit and head to LA Fitness in King of Prussia, which is close to my office.

6 a.m. — I am in the water and am the only person here. I’m about to get in a mile in before sunrise.

7:30 a.m. — I arrive at work feeling so good to have started my day with a workout. I prepare an apple with peanut butter and honey and a hot tea. My meetings today start at 9 a.m., so I’m going to try and work ahead a bit before too many people get to the office and the day begins.

9 a.m. — First meeting of the day. My team is super creative and has grown so much in the seven years that I’ve been with UHS. We’re brainstorming during this meeting, and it’s productive and fun.

10 a.m. — I schedule out the planned content for my accounts and start working through my to-do list. I’m starving from my swim earlier, so I eat the last of my cottage cheese.

11:22 a.m. — This is an acceptable time to eat the leftover Trader Joe’s stuffed gnocchi that I brought today, right? I’m digging in!

12 p.m. — Super happy that I don’t leave the office for lunch because a lot of stuff is going on and I like being as responsive as I can be for our clients (none of them are in the area, so I’m not just saying that for brownie points). The rest of my day is full of meetings, phone calls, and finalizing the report we were working on yesterday.

5:30 p.m. — I somehow snag the exact same parking spot on my street as yesterday, which happens even less frequently than actually finding parking on my street. I run inside and quickly change, grab my bike, and ride to South Philly to pick up my 1-900-ICE-CREAM order from Herman’s Coffee ($24). This stuff is so amazing. The ride is 8.57 miles, and the biggest part of this workout is making sure I’m paying attention to traffic and things that are in the bike lane that shouldn’t be. Other cyclists know what I’m talking about.

6:45 p.m. — Get home just after sunset and remind myself to buy a light for my bike. I will not forego ice cream runs because of the changing seasons. My ice cream order includes God Mode (coffee ice cream with a plum and caramel swirl and bits of candied roasted almond-cacao nib crunch] and Apple Streusel Doodle, and it’s slightly melted from the ride (despite my lunch cooler and ice packs), so it goes in the freezer. I’m determined to save it for another night. I decide to eat dinner: the last of the deviled eggs I made and a salad with spinach, vegan chicken salad, and tomato.

7:30 p.m. — I don’t watch a lot of television and get bored fairly easily, so I do a 45-minute cardio kick-boxing boot camp from PopSugar Fitness on Facebook (which is FREE!). I try these workouts a lot and know almost immediately if I’m going to like them or not, and save the ones that I like. I find myself using these a lot in the winter to avoid going out in the cold.

10:35 p.m. — I’m showered and ready for bed. I was set on packing up my summer clothes tonight to switch out my closet, but these current humid temps make me change my plans.

Daily total: $24

Thursday

Roma isn’t one to let food go to waste. Thursday night’s dinner is broiled tomatoes topped with cheese and basil. / Photograph by Laurie Roma

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I can hear the rain already. In general, I don’t like the rain, so I’m bummed, but also not complaining as we’ve had amazing weather for a while. I genuinely admire people who enjoy running in the rain. I do not, and as I wasn’t planning on swimming or going to the gym today anyway, this automatically becomes a rest day. I get ready for work, grab my packed lunch, and am out the door.

7:40 a.m. — To anyone reading this who knows what I mean when I say I’m stuck in rainy weather traffic, well, today is bad, rainy weather traffic. I should be at work right now, but I’m only near Conshohocken. Thankfully, I’m listening to a great podcast, “The Dream,” which is about multi-level marketing. It is fascinating and helps pass the time. Traffic is stopped, so I message the team to let them know I’m running late.

8 a.m. — Finally at work! I always keep food in my office in case I forget to pack something for breakfast. Today is one of those days, so I end up eating Wegmans brand instant steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and cranberries. I am feeling mopey (rain?) and decide to drink some complimentary office coffee.

9 a.m. — Our team has a huddle every morning at 9 a.m. Today is the first day all week I’m actually able to make it to the huddle. We quickly talk about what everyone has on their plate for the day and get to work!

11:40 a.m. — Target has called me maybe 20 times about a prescription refill, so my lunch break is a Target run. While I’m there, I also pick up vitamins and maple crème Oreos ($9.71). The team at work takes snacks seriously, and a taste test will brighten any rainy day.

12:50 p.m. — Back in the office, I quickly eat my lunch: the same Mediterranean tuna salad I had the other day on a bed of spinach with tomato and egg. When everyone is back from their various lunch breaks we put the Oreos to the test. Our expert opinion determines they’re… just OK.

1:15 p.m. — Cramming in the rest of my day’s work before back-to-back afternoon meetings start at 2 p.m.

4:50 p.m. — Head out the door and am only on 76 for a few minutes before I get a text to check my email. Social media work is never done (this is not a complaint, just the nature of the beast).

6:17 p.m. — I do not get a parking spot in front of my apartment (womp womp). This is a major disappointment, as I have a lot planned for my weekend away (I’m heading to visit my parents) and know that I’m going to have to take multiple early morning trips to my car a few blocks away. Argh. Anyway, I get to my apartment, check my email, and prep my dinner. I am scraping the bottom of my Whole Foods run at the beginning of the week, and with going away, I’m trying to use up anything that will go bad. I decide to broil tomatoes with basil, olive oil, and Wegmans brand Parmesan and Romano shaker cheese.

8 p.m. — Dinner is done, and I’m about to pack for the upcoming weekend. I’ll be visiting my parents who live in Danville, the town where I grew up.

11:10 p.m. — I spend way too much time tonight packing, texting, and doing work. I will pay for this when my alarm goes off in the morning!

Daily total: $9.81

Friday

Roma ends the week strong: with freestyle laps at the pool. / Photograph by Laurie Roma

5 a.m. — I jump out of bed immediately for the first time all week at the sound of my alarm. I thoroughly enjoyed a rest day yesterday but have to get to the pool this morning, and before I do that, there is the issue of getting all of my packed items for the weekend to my car, which is several blocks away. Before I head out the door, I check work email. No fires.

5:30 a.m. — My car is packed, and I’m headed to the gym.

6:15 a.m. — The pool is really busy today, so everyone is sharing lanes. I do six sets of 12 laps of freestyle and am envious of my lane partner’s pull buoy and kickboard. I make a mental note to invest in those.

7:45 a.m. — I get to the office and have a discussion with a team member about the various podcasts we’ve been listening to recently. We also talk about the food truck visiting the office later in the day (woohoo!) before I dive into my to-do list.

11:30 a.m. — The team is first in line for the food truck, Surf and Turf. I get a crab roll and Parmesan truffle fries ($20.40). So good.

2:20 p.m. — I leave my office building to get my flu shot and then hit the road to visit my parents for the weekend.

6:15 p.m. — I get to my parents’ house as my dad is pulling in the driveway with pizza. I eat two slices and then head to my grandmother’s with my mom for a visit. I pass up apple pie and ice cream, which is pretty tough, but I try not to eat after 7 p.m. the night before a race.

11 p.m. — The weather tomorrow is supposed to be much colder than I had anticipated, so I am up later than I wanted to be getting myself prepared for the race in the morning. Before I know it, I am fast asleep under a pile of blankets!

Daily total: $20.40

Weekly totals

Money spent: $333.09
Workouts completed: Six
Meals made at home: Six
Number of cottage cheeses consumed: Three but could go for more.