Sweat Diaries

Meet the Bank Analyst Who Deleted Social Media to Focus on Wellness

To decompress from her role as a benefits analyst for Ally, Jen White journals, meditates, and crushes Orangetheory workouts.


Jen White, a benefits analyst for Ally and resident of NoLibs, swapped social media and TV for Orangetheory and meditation. / Photograph by Ram Holgado

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 area resident 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: Jen White, 28

Where I live: Northern Liberties

What I do: I work for Ally in its human resources department as a benefits analyst. My work revolves around the health and well-being of our employees, which lends itself well to my passion: being the best version of myself through healthy living. When I’m not obsessing over Ally’s benefit offerings, I am either exercising, cooking and drinking wine with friends, or loving on my French bulldog, Bruno.

What role healthy living plays in my life: Because of my job and personal interests, my world revolves around healthy living. I feel truly myself when I am living a healthy and purposeful lifestyle. I feel my most centered when I get in a good workout at least four times per week and an opportunity to quiet my mind in meditation class one to two times per week. Additionally, I’ve maximized my wellness routines by being present and deleting the majority of my social media accounts — yes, you heard that correctly! I recently got rid of my TV, too. I’ll admit I still have a Pinterest account for workouts and recipes. It’s my last lifeline to the social media world. Eliminating social media and television has boosted my productivity and has allowed me to stay focused on the things I find important: healthy living, my job, and Bruno.

Health memberships (and what they cost): Orangetheory — $199 per month

This week’s grocery haul: $87

Monday

Meet White’s super adorable French bulldog, Bruno. / Photograph by Jen White

6 a.m. — I wake up and immediately get moving because I know I need to be out the door in 30 minutes. In that time, I get myself together; take Bruno outside quickly; grab my breakfast, lunch, and coffee; and head out the door to catch the MFL to Jefferson station.

6:53 a.m. — Finally sitting down on the regional train to work. The ride to and from work is my “me” time, which normally consists of emails, planning for the day, listening to a podcast, and journaling. I live by my five-minute journal and write in it every morning and night. It helps shift my focus to gratitude and positivity before my day even really starts. As I journal, I eat my breakfast of a scrambled egg on a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread. I swear by this bread. It’s an awesome source of complete protein and has the best crunch when it’s toasted.

8:30 a.m. — At work and ready to tackle this Monday!

9:30 a.m. — Time for a snack. I rotate between two different snacks, a Think protein bar or plain Greek yogurt with fruit. Today I go for the fruit and yogurt. My coworkers brought me in a fruit tray as an early birthday celebration and I have been snacking the majority of the morning.,

9:45 a.m. — Fruit in belly, and I’m diving head-first into calls and meetings. My job mainly consists of talking with current and potential vendors on the phone or with other Ally teams in meetings and conferences. When I’m not doing either, I try to get in the zone and get paperwork done by listening to podcasts. The majority of the podcasts I listen to are either news-related or about self-improvement. Today I listen to Jay Shetty’s podcast On Purpose, which is interesting and really hits home.

12 p.m. — Lunch consists of leftovers from a Skinnytaste eggplant and tomato recipe. It’s not a huge portion; I am a big snacker, so I don’t eat huge meals. During lunch hour, I also attend a panel discussion at work hosted by our Hispanic and Latino employee resource group about finding your voice, which is super insightful.

2 p.m. — Second snack of the day: Think protein bar. I’ve got about two hours worth of calls and meetings ahead of me, plus some of my “regular work,” which involves evaluating our current benefits to see if they are market-competitive and how or if they can be enhanced.

4 p.m. — My commute home starts right at 4 p.m. From the time I get on the train to the time I get home, it’s about an hour and a half. I typically spend that time catching up on news, reading and following up on personal emails, or working, depending on what needs or doesn’t need my attention that day.

5:30 p.m. — I get home and quickly get ready for my Orangetheory class, which is conveniently right around the block.

5:45 p.m. — Ready to crush this workout!

7 p.m. — I get home from the gym, take Bruno on a little walk, shower, and make dinner. Tonight’s dinner is a cauliflower steak recipe from Jessica Gavin accompanied by sautéed veggies and brown rice. I save leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

8 p.m. — If I have more work to do or want to get a jump on the next day’s to-do list, I open my computer. If I’m done with work for the day, I normally listen to a podcast, read a book, or indulge in an episode of The Office on my phone. I try to keep my TV watching to one to three hours per week. Tonight, because it’s busy season at work, I open up my computer to take a look at the emails I missed from late afternoon and prioritize for the next day.

9 p.m. — I hit the hay early to read, journal, and wind down. I am a big advocate of sleep and try my best to get eight hours per night.

Daily total: $0

Tuesday

To find her zen, White frequents Vitality Meditation for some peace of mind. / Photograph courtesy of Vitality Meditation.

6 a.m. — Today starts off the same way yesterday did: getting ready, walking Bruno, and gathering my things before heading to catch my 6:53 a.m. train.

8 a.m. — I am at my desk with a scrambled egg on a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread for breakfast, plus a coffee with a splash of almond milk.

9:30 a.m. — Like clockwork, it’s snack time again. I have my Think protein bar and power through the rest of the morning.

12:30 p.m. — I’ve been on calls and in meetings for the past three hours, but I have some time now to eat lunch. I brought leftovers from last night’s dinner and the food is just as tasty.

1 p.m. — Ally has an amazing well-being program, and there is a mindfulness challenge running right now. Employees are encouraged to have mindful minutes throughout the day to quiet their mind and stay present. As a group, my coworkers and I have a mindful minute, and I instantly feel lighter.

2 p.m. — I eat yogurt and fruit as my afternoon snack and work on a few project deliverables while listening to a podcast. Today, I catch up on the news by listening to NPR’s The Daily. I haven’t listened in a few days, so a few of those podcasts help to pass the time and keep me informed before I head home.

4 p.m. — Time to start my trek home.

5:30 p.m. — Home! I make a quick turkey taco salad dinner using this Skinnytaste recipe for the turkey and put it over whatever veggies I have in my fridge. So incredibly easy and filling.

6 p.m. — I open up my computer and work for a little while before my meditation class tonight.

7:30 p.m. — I ride my bike to Vitality Meditation in Fishtown, where I’ll be taking their evening meditation class. Jasmine, one of the owners and instructors, rocks. I highly recommend going. (Price ranges from $13 to $18, but luckily I still have some class credits on a gift card to use, so tonight’s class is free for me!)

8:15 p.m. — I get home and read for a little bit before bed. I recently started reading Jonathan Van Ness’s book, Over The Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love. It’s so entertaining. If you are a JVN fan, DL immediately.

Daily total: $0

Wednesday

White winds down her Wednesday by making homemade focaccia bread. / Photograph by Jen White

6 a.m. — Today is a lot like yesterday, but this is my last day in the office for the week. Woohoo! I follow my same commute and breakfast routine and am at my desk by 7:45 a.m.

8 a.m. — Today, I have lots of meetings, which means I don’t have very much downtime to get project work done.

9:30 a.m. — Quick snack at my desk (Think protein bar) in between call after call.

12 p.m. — Lunch today is leftover turkey taco salad. Yum!

12:30 p.m. — I sit on more calls in the afternoon. It really is a jam-packed phone call day.

4 p.m. — I am out of the office like clockwork and hop on the train home.

5:40 p.m. — I run to the 5:45 p.m. Orangetheory class to get my workout in. As always, I know I’m going to work up a sweat and leave feeling good no matter what.

7 p.m. — I’m home for the night! Because I know I can sleep in a bit tomorrow (working from home — yay), I plan to bake something after dinner to wind down. Tonight’s dinner, by the way, is a quick shrimp and veggie pasta dish. Nothing fancy about this one. I throw everything together and add olive oil, salt, and pepper. I use brown rice pasta and whatever veggies I still have in my fridge.

7:45 p.m. — I clean up and get all my ingredients out to bake. I started baking this year, and it is so therapeutic. Tonight I’m making focaccia bread (my go-to). I’m more of a bread baker than a sweets baker. The best part is I always have a lot of bread to eat and share with friends when I’m done.

10 p.m. — Bread seems to have turned out great! I’m heading to bed after this busy day.

Daily total: $0

Thursday

White takes in all the greenery with a dinner at Terrain Cafe. / Photograph by Ram Holgado

7 a.m. — Working from home means I get to sleep in (!!). I have a quick cup of coffee and start working by 7:30 a.m. I have to leave the city at 4 p.m. for an event at Longwood Gardens tonight, so I try to get moving as quickly as possible this morning.

9:30 a.m. — Quick break from work for my mid-morning protein bar snack.

11:45 a.m. — I head out for my lunchtime workout at Orangetheory. Even though I have a ton to get done before the event tonight, I make it a point to make time for the gym. It keeps me sane, energized, and focused.

12 p.m. — Here we go!

1 p.m. — Class was great. I’m home, take a quick shower, and get right back to working. I stay in the zone all afternoon by listening to Maggie Rogers. Her music rocks and is easy to have on in the background as I work.

4 p.m. — A friend invited me to an influencer event tonight at Longwood Gardens, and we leave right at 4 p.m. to get to dinner before the event. We eat at Terrain, which is amazing. We share the hummus and a bottle of rosé, and I have the salmon as my main course. Because my birthday is in a couple of days, we also split a big chocolate chip cookie and an apple pie latte. On top of the good food and company, my friend treats!

6:30 p.m. — We get to the event and are able to spend time at the Blooms and Bamboo exhibit after it closes to the public. I sip on more rosé and admire all of the amazing bamboo structures and Japanese-inspired flowers. What a great start to kick off my birthday weekend!

9 p.m. — The event is over, which was really fun, and we head back to the city.

10 p.m. — Home sweet home. I quickly journal and get to sleep.

Daily total: $0

Friday

White started her birthday weekend by celebrating at Orangetheory. / Photograph courtesy of Jen White

8 a.m. — I am off from work today and take time to sleep in and get extra snuggles from Bruno. Once I’m out of bed, I officially start my day with a journal entry.

8:45 a.m. — I head over to Orangetheory for the 9 a.m. class. It’s my last workout of the week. I know I have a busy weekend ahead, so I’ve tried to get all of my gym time in during the week. I normally love working out on the weekends, but I won’t be able to swing it this Saturday and Sunday.

10:30 a.m. — I stop by One Shot Cafe after the gym for my usual (cold brew with unsweetened vanilla syrup and almond milk) before I head home ($8). I am amazed that I have only been here once this week. It’s only a block away from my house and so, so good.

11 a.m. — I’m home and cook a late breakfast slash early lunch: scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit. I clean up my apartment and get some laundry done while I listen to a TedTalk.

2 p.m. — I have a hair appointment with my favorite stylist in the city, Marcos at ME on 2nd Salon in NoLibs. I found him when I first moved back to Philly two years ago and never tried another stylist. He has always done an amazing job, and the salon feels so welcoming. Why would I stray?! He chops off seven inches of my hair (which I wanted!) and gives me a killer blow-out for the weekend. Thank you Marcos!! ($80)

3 p.m. — I get home and have several Beyoncé moments in the mirror with my new hair.

4:30 p.m. — I cook a quick dinner and get ready for the Maggie Rogers concert, another birthday activity I have been looking forward to!

7 p.m. — I get to the concert and have several spiked seltzers ($30). I try (key word, try) to keep my drinking to one night per week and stay away from heavy beers because they don’t make me feel good.

11 p.m. — The concert was amazing! I’m home now and go straight to bed. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve got a full list of fun going on.

Daily total: $118

Weekly totals

Money spent: $205
Workouts completed: 4, plus 1 meditation class
Journal entries: 10
Snacks consumed: Many. No shame.