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 who believes in a haphazard approach to wellness. She once had a personal trainer who told her: "It's not good to have too many goals." She can't seem to follow his advice. She reads a lot about wellness trends, and often sets spur-of-the-moment goals, which she says she sometimes abandons weeks later for another new idea. This leads to an unconventional mix of marathon, weight, and HIIT training. But doing a little bit of something each day is better than nothing.
Location: New York, New York
8:15 — I drag myself out of bed, after snoozing four phone alarms, as well as my Phillips Somneo Sleep and Wake-up Light, which jogs me out of sleep by lighting up my room with artificial sunlight while blasting an orchestra of chirping birds. This fancy-ass clock makes waking up slightly less painful. Although I love being awake, there is nothing I hate more than getting up in the morning. The alarm clock runs $179.95, but I tested it for a previous job and got to keep it, so it was free. I put on mascara and a dress, floss, brush my teeth, and am out the door in under 15 minutes. I take the subway to work, and listen to my favorite podcast, Reply All, a free Gimlet Media podcast. I find the stories they tell to be thoughtful and inspiring, and it helps me mentally prep for a long Monday at work.
9:15 — I start my work day by drinking our office’s in-house coffee with oat milk. I answer emails while dipping a honeycrisp apple into my jar of Justin’s coconut almond butter, which is my current obsession. I eat it on everything: Apples, rice cakes, spoons. It’s about $12 for a jar, but this jar was a gift. My mom sent the apple home in my suitcase the last time I visited her. She’s a doll.
7 p.m. — My best friend and I meet up after work for a quick bout of retail therapy. I buy a dress for my birthday trip this weekend from Banana Republic for $89. As we shop, we vent about our boy probs. Honestly, she’s a better therapist than even retail! Next, we head to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for the week. I buy avocados, lemons, chicken, and red licorice. I only spend $25 because I already have some less perishable items in my fridge from my last TJ trip. My friend and I hug and part ways. When I get home, my roommate and I go out for a quick three-mile run through the neighborhood. As we trot down our street, we catch up on our weekends, since we were both out of town. When we get home, I shower, and grill up some lemon garlic chicken. It will be dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. It’s boring, but I don’t have time for extravagant meal prepping in my life at this point. At 11, I settle in my bed for the night, watching half an episode of Mad Men on my laptop while eating my chicken and licorice. It’s been a busy Monday, but it’s for the best — I don’t do well sitting still.
Daily Total: $114
5:30 a.m. — I have a busy day, so I get up early to prepare. I pop a Sakara Life probiotic. I also take a Frunutta vitamin D pill, and a MyTrition Energy multivitamin. Like almost everything else in my life, I’m sporadic about taking my vitamins. I am skeptical that anything but the probiotic is actually working for me. Once, a friend told me that New Yorkers don’t get enough vitamin D, because they’re in their offices working and not out in the sun. I know The New York Times says that most people aren’t actually D deficient, but I still take the vitamin because I like to bask in the placebo effect. I actually got most of these vitamins at my old job, so they were free. The probiotics are left over from a Sakara Life meal plan I tried. I fill up my water bottle, which I will chug on the subway to work. I drink loads of water — it’s really the only constant in my wellness routine. I feel sluggish and get headaches when dehydrated, so it’s a must-have for me.
6:30 p.m. — I meet up with two friends and my roommate for happy hour at a bar downtown. I get a glass of pinot noir and then nurse a glass of whiskey on the rocks as we spend the night catching up on our lives. It’s about $28 for both drinks, including tip. I prioritize hanging with friends and family over most things. I find it’s important for my mental health to spend as much time with positive people as possible. I’ve been known to drop everything for my friends, which has both perks and drawbacks.
11 p.m. — When I get home, it’s time for bed. I try to balance reading before bed with watching Netflix. I often feel overwhelmed by everything in the world that needs to be consumed. There’s always a new must-watch show or best-selling book everyone is talking about. Before bed, I try to keep up with the Joneses — but in a fulfilling and relaxing way. If something is popular, but I find it draining or boring, I’ll skip it ( Breaking Bad was too stressful for me, for example). I only have an hour or so before bed to read and watch for fun, so I might as well enjoy it. Tonight, I read a chapter of I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott, which I borrowed from the library.
Daily Total: $28
12 p.m. — Today, I’m working from home. I don’t wear a bra for most of the day, which is as “self-care” as it gets, in my opinion. For lunch, I have a Trader Joe's Quinoa Cowboy veggie burger ( $3.69) with no bun that’s smeared with smashed avocado. I also heat up a bowl of frozen cherries ( $3.50) in the microwave — a poor woman’s cherry pie. It’s more appetizing than it sounds. I drink some Aveda tea, which is delicious and calming. It’s also expensive at $20 for 20 tea bags. I drop a Nuun tablet ( $24 for four sleeves) in my water for extra electrolytes to rehydrate from last night.
6:30 p.m. — My best friend and I go to an event at a hotel. We drink lavender chamomile tea with milk and honey, and chat with other guests. Then we go up to a hotel room and make essential oil room sprays. I make my spritz with the scents lavender and frankincense, which our host says have meditative and relaxing properties. Next, we do yoga nidra, which is basically a fancy way to say guided meditation. Our teacher tells us to bring our awareness to our toes, fingers, and belly button. I feel like I’m riding into a land of relaxation on a cloud — until guests chatting loudly out in the hall pull my focus. It’s a bit frustrating, but I try not to sweat it. My friend has a hookup, so the event is free.
9 p.m. — I head to the gym. I was supposed to do a workout class this morning at 7:30, but I canceled last minute because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. This is a constant problem in my life, and I have no idea how to pull my brain out of its incessant quest for “ten more minutes” of rest. Although I skipped the morning workout, I still “fit it in.” I go to Equinox (my membership is $175 a month) and do a Kayla Itsines BBG workout through the Sweat app ( $120 for annual membership). I can feel your skeptical looks — yes, I pay for an app on top of an expensive gym. If it seems extra, it is. But I’m a person who has a hard time getting myself to do strength workouts. The nice gym environment and structured workouts in the app help me stay more consistent. It’s leg day today, and the BBG Stronger plan has me doing angled leg presses, squats, lunges, and burpees. I run two miles before leaving the gym feeling accomplished, but exhausted.
Daily Total: $346.19
7 p.m. — When I get home from work, and my roommate isn’t around. I take this opportunity to self-indulge using my Blueberry Bliss California Exotics Waterproof Turbo Glider vibrator. I bought it in college for $10.32, and it always does the trick. I use the Dipsea app, which offers a variety of different erotic audio stories tailored to women. It’s basically a porn podcast. It really doesn’t get any more millennial than that, folks. It’s $47.99 for a year’s subscription. I find “me” time is an important part of self-care (and literal self-love, ha!), and helps me release stress.
7:20 p.m. — I always choose sleep over making a proper meal in the morning, so I like to make nice breakfasts for dinner. Tonight I make avocado toast. I smash up an avocado in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic salt, and Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning, which costs $1.99, if you buy it in-store. I smash it on toasted rye bread and pop two poached eggs on top. I add more seasoning because I’m obsessed with that stuff.
8:30 p.m. — I go to Equinox and do another BBG workout. Tonight it’s arms and abs-focused. I have the upper body strength of a kitten — a fact I’m trying to change. I don’t want to get too muscle-y, but I would like to get to a point in my life where I can open a jar of pickles on my own. With that in mind, I do tricep push-downs and extensions, mountain climbers, sit-ups, and bent-leg jackknifes. I leave feeling a little restless after leaving the gym, so I go for a walk and talk to my mom on the phone. She always makes me laugh and feel less anxious.
Daily Total: $60.30
1:30 p.m. — I’m usually an even-keeled person, but sometimes when I get overwhelmed with emails and work, I need to take a quick minute to calm myself and focus on my breathing. I step into a conference room and use an app called PranayamaFree. It literally just uses two chimes to tell you to inhale and exhale deeply over and over again. It’s simple, soothing, and, obviously, free.
8:30 p.m. — I have a date with a guy I’ve been seeing casually for a few months. We go to my favorite wine bar on the Upper West Side, and I drink a glass of pinot noir. I usually find dating to be exhausting, but this guy doesn’t make it feel like a chore. We keep it light and have similar tastes in wines and politicians, so that’s something. I’m not convinced he’s “the one,” but he’ll do for now. He pays, so the wine is free.
11:55 — I’m finally home, and it’s time to shower and do my nightly skincare routine. First, I do a replenishing Joanna Vargas Eden Instant Face Mask, which sits for 20 minutes as I catch up on The Bachelorette i n my bed. I have tried various brands of skincare throughout the years, but have found that Neutrogena cleanser and Oxy Pads are the only products that keep my face clear and zit-free. I know they’re a little harsh on my skin, so I try to make up for that at night with Clinique ID Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer, Olay calming mist, and retinol from ZO Skin Health by Zein Obagi. I got most of these products for free from my old job, but the Oxy Pads are $5 at the drugstore.
Daily Total: $5
1:30 p.m. — It’s my birthday weekend, so I go to a beach resort with my besties. As soon as we arrive at the resort, we make mixed drinks in the hotel room. I mix some rum my friend brought, with pineapple-flavored Vita Coco Coconut Water, which I picked up at a convenience store for $1.88. We jump and dance on the beds to the song “New Romantics” by Taylor Swift. It’s going to be a good weekend. The hotel for the night is about $400, but my parents got it for me for my birthday.
2:30 p.m. — I put on $8 Hawaiian Tropic body SPF and Lancôme’s face sunscreen from their $40 Aqua Radiance Set, and head to the beach. My friends and I pull three reclining beach chairs up to the water’s edge. We read books, bask in the sun, and talk about who we’ll vote for in the 2020 election. Later, we go for a walk down the coast line, and do cartwheels in the sand.
9 p.m. — We grab dinner at the resort, and split a bottle of red wine. I have the shrimp scampi for dinner, which tastes so fresh. The conversation is scintillating, and accompanied by a cabaret singer playing '80s rock hits. My roommate buys my dinner for my birthday — she’s the best. While we’re at dinner, some local boys come up and ask us to meet them at a nearby bar. After dinner, we split an Uber there for $6.30 each. When we get there, a guy buys me a few drinks, and I enjoy free whiskey on the rocks all night. My friends and I all dance together like we’re still in college, and we scream when the DJ plays our “thank u, next” request.
11 a.m. — After dancing all night, we sleep in. I pack my bags, and then buy a Starbucks iced coffee with almond milk, which is $4 with tip. My friends and I take our coffees to the beach and debrief. We talk for hours in the big blue lounge chairs. We joke around, and reflect on what our mid-twenties will bring. We giggle and watch the waves roll in until we have to head back to the city.
6:30 p.m. — I pop into Trader Joe’s after I get home. I pick up two “Field Fresh” chopped salads with grilled chicken, and some mango chips. My total comes to $11.47. I eat the salad and some of the chips for dinner while people watching on my front stoop with my best friend.
8 p.m. — I run seven miles, and then apply $40Cause + Medic Hemp Pain Cream to my knees and calves to head off soreness. I should foam roll, but I’m too tired. I’m allegedly training for a marathon. I did a program through the New York Road Runners last year that allowed me to quality for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. Registration for the historic race costs $255, on top of what I paid last year for the qualifying races — and they say running is a cheap sport. Marathoning originally seemed like a great idea, but now I’m nervous. I still have some time to prepare, but I haven’t exactly kept on track with my training plan. Between BBG, fitness classes at Equinox, and running, it’s clear that I’m a little bogged down with goals. But I’ve found life is more interesting when you aim high. The beauty usually isn’t in achieving the goals themselves, but the journey getting there.
Daily Total: $310.47
Weekly Total: $918.26
Reflection: My approach to wellness is a bit sporadic. Sometimes I’ll feel like marathon training, sometimes I won’t. I switch up my skincare routine constantly. I’ll go to the gym consistently for a few weeks, then I’ll skip it for a while. I wake up and go to sleep at odd times. It’s not a normal life, but it’s the one I’m living. It’s well intentioned, and I’m generally healthy. The number one constant is my friends. They’re what feeds my mental health the most, and the ones I prioritize above it all. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
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