Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good. Have your own Feel Good Diary to submit? You can do so here!
Today: A woman whose relationship to wellness is informed by a past history of struggling with eating disorders. As such, she tries to approach health with grace. She says wellness is an important part of her daily life, but she doesn’t put pressure on herself to follow a specific routine. She tries to be intuitive and do what feels best for her body and mind at any given moment.
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Occupation: Environmental Consultant
7:30 a.m. — The one constant piece of my morning routine is a cup (or two) of coffee. It's less about the caffeine boost and more about the ritual of slowing down and enjoying a cup before my day starts. I sometimes brew coffee in a French press, but I’ve recently switched over to iced. Anything hot sounds gross right now because of the humid weather. I recently tested out iced coffee concentrate from Lidl ( $7.99), which turned out to be really tasty. Today, I make it in my favorite Healthy Human tumbler ( $22.99), which comes with a metal straw. This keeps it cold, and it’s good for the environment — score! There is no us without an Earth, so I try my best to limit my impact where I can. I try to incorporate reusable items into my routine, recycle, and purchase products that don't use environmentally harmful chemicals. I'm not perfect at this, but I strive to be better.
8 a.m. — In the past, I wrote in a gratitude journal every morning before work, but I’ve gotten out of that habit. In an effort to do it more often, I bought a sparkly Spiderman journal from a craft store for $4 that makes me smile every time I use it. As part of my journal, I pick a card from a deck I bought for $11 called Affirmators! 50 Cards to Help You Help Yourself – Without the Self-Helpy-Ness! These cards help me set an intention for my day. Today, I pull the “self love” card. We could all use more of that. I definitely notice an overall difference in my attitude when I journal in the mornings. I head to work feeling good.
6 p.m. — Our apartment gym is pretty bare bones, but nice. It's convenient to be able to walk two minutes and get a workout in. I warm up on the treadmill and then complete a sweaty 20-minute Tabata circuit. I use the freeInterval Timer — HIIT Workouts app to keep track of each Tabata round. I used to have a complicated relationship with exercise, but now it’s a way for me to feel strong and manage stress. After a lot of practice, I’m much better at listening to my body and only working out in ways that make me feel good.
Daily Total: $39.99
8:30 a.m. — My daily commute is about 30 minutes each way. To keep myself from going crazy, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I am currently loving Armchair Expert with Dax Sheppard. Hearing celebrities talk candidly about their struggles is oddly comforting to me. It makes me feel like we’re all humans dealing with crazy emotions. We’re all just trying to make the best of our messy lives.
2 p.m. — After lunch is the hardest part of the day for me. My job is extremely desk-based, and afternoon slump tends to hit me hard. Today I decide to take a quick 10-minute walk. I come back to my desk feeling refreshed. I decide I need to make this part of my daily schedule. Nature is really the best medicine, and it's free!
6 p.m. — I signed up for ClassPass (my package is $29 per month) a few months ago, and I love it. Tonight, I decide to take a class at my favorite hip-hop dance studio. Dancing is one of my favorite ways to exercise since it feels more like a party than a workout. The community at this studio is awesome. After my contemporary-style class, the owner convinces me to stay and take a new class they're offering. Halfway through the second class, I realize that this was overly ambitious. I return home sore and exhausted.
Daily Total: $29
12 p.m. — I usually pack my lunch, but I treat myself by going out once a week. Today I’m craving the modern Greek salad from Panera ( $12). I add smoked chicken and have a baguette as my side.
7 p.m. — The two dance classes last night have me feeling so sore. It's obvious that my body is crying out for some rest, so I happily oblige. I take the night off from exercise. I decide that a face mask sounds nice, and put on my favorite chlorophyll mask, which is $19 from Cocokind. It's dark green, and my husband tells me I look like the Hulk. Rude. We snuggle on the couch with our dog as we watch a 2002 action film with Christian Bale on Netflix called Equilibrium. We love over-the-top action movies like this. It’s a perfect night.
Daily Total: $31
6 a.m. — My body is still feeling a little tender from the dance marathon (lesson learned), but I’m craving some movement. I sign up for a hot yoga class through my ClassPass account. I hope it will help loosen me up. The workout ends up being just what I need. I’m a sweaty, noodle-y mess afterwards.
5 p.m. — Tonight, my husband offers to cook Korean food for us. He makes spicy chicken thighs using gochujang(Korean pepper paste), while I pickle some cucumbers. We eat it wrapped in lettuce with rice and more gochujang on top. All together, the ingredients cost about $20. When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I needed to control every little thing I ate, so I never let others cook for me. Today, I’m so grateful to be healed, and to be able to share moments like this with my husband.
6:30 p.m. — Most Thursdays, I get together with a group of friends for drinks. We try to do different things each week. We hit up trivia nights, breweries, food truck rodeos, and concerts. I consider myself an introverted extrovert, so I enjoy having a mix of social and non-social nights throughout the week. After a few nights in, I’m excited to see my friends. My hubby joins too! We go to a taproom where you pour your own beer, paying by the ounce. It allows you to try different brews without committing to a full pour. The weather is great, so we sit at a table outside and chat until almost 9 p.m. We leave feeling grateful for our friendships and cheap beer — our bill was only $22 for the both of us.
Daily Total: $42
7 a.m. — Now that I am in my late twenties, I’m more conscious about taking care of my skin than I used to be. I don't have an extensive skincare routine, but I have a couple of things I use every day. If nothing else, I always use a face moisturizer with SPF. Since my skin is not particularly sensitive, I'm not too picky about the brand. Currently, I am using the Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Day Cream SPF 18. It's typically $60, but I received my bottle for free as a gift from my mother-in-law. I slather it on my face, neck, and ears. I feel moisturized and protected. I use the Cocokind mymatcha stick ( $8.99) to help reduce the appearance of my dark circles under my eyes. I also rub it on my lips. It’s a multi-functional staple of mine.
6 p.m. — Instead of going to the gym to exercise, I decide to take my dog — an adopted border collie mix — for a long walk. She loves walks, and enjoys being out in nature as much as I do. I throw on my favorite Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones ( $80), and listen to music on Spotify while we walk along the river. It's so nice to be outside after a long day in the office. I zone out as we cover four miles. Although I haven't mastered quiet meditation, I feel like walking in nature clears my mind and helps me relax in a similar way.
Daily Total: $88.99
9:30 a.m. — It's the weekend, so we sleep in. I slowly enjoy my coffee on the couch. After taking the dog out, I head to our apartment gym for a quick workout. I decide to play around with some equipment I don't typically use. I incorporate the battle ropes and TRX bands into my circuit. It's fun to switch things up. I leave the gym feeling energized after my 30-minute sweat session.
11:30 a.m. — A friend invites us to hang out at his apartment's pool, so we throw on our bathing suits and head over. It's over 90 degrees outside, so this feels like the perfect activity. We pick up a case of Corona Refrescas ( $19) to enjoy poolside. I’m obsessed with the coconut lime flavor — it’s become my drink of the summer. I enjoy two while lounging and reading Origin by Dan Brown on my Kindle.
7:30 p.m. — My husband and I typically dine out at restaurants a few nights a week. Tonight we meet some friends at our favorite Chinese place. We share the dumplings for an appetizer, and I order the tofu and veggie stir-fry as my entree. The portions here are huge, and it's one of the few places that we actually leave with leftovers. Our bill ends up being about $50. I cover it, since my hubby paid for groceries this week. We're all still having a great time after dinner, so we decide to walk over to a nearby brewery to continue the night. Hubby pays for our beers, and we stay out for a few more hours chatting and playing ping pong. I crash into bed at midnight and sleep hard.
Daily Total: $69
6 a.m. — Despite the late night, I'm up early to drive to North Carolina to visit my parents. It's Father's Day and my Dad's birthday, so my brother and sister are also in town. We have a BBQ, play corn hole, and enjoy cake. I spend most of the day laughing. It’s so good to be surrounded by family. I make the drive back to Richmond feeling loved and recharged. Time with family and loved ones is priceless, and great for my mental health.
7:30 p.m. — My husband and I have a shared love for puzzle games. I’m not typically interested in the computer games he plays, but we recently found an app we can play together. I make us popcorn from kernels on the stove top ( $3) and we snack on it while playing The Room ( $.99) on his phone. We have a blast solving creepy puzzles for a couple of hours before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $3.99
Weekly Total: $309.96
Reflection: Wellness impacts how I show up to life. If I’m not taking care of myself, it negatively affects my work and relationships. This week, I was able to spend a lot of quality time with friends and family, while still having time alone to recharge. I'm not always great at balancing these things, but I'm getting better. Having more grace and flexibility in my wellness routine has been really positive. I no longer set stringent expectations or rules for what I have to do to be “well.” Instead, I take it day by day. I try to respect what my body needs.
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