This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
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 is revamping her approach to wellness. She’s adjusting to a desk job, after a crazy grad school schedule. She tries to focus now on living a balanced life, while being mindful about activity, food, and her approach to downtime. As someone engaged in public policy, she considers the environmental impacts of her actions, and sometimes that weighs heavily on her mindset. This is why she tries to make sustainable choices.
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Occupation: Policy Analyst
11:30 a.m. — Last week was a busy one, and I didn't get to the gym as much as I would have liked. So, I definitely need some activity in my life today. I meant to get up in time for a BodyCombat class I love at my gym, but I was exhausted and slept straight through my alarm. I’m on my own for a self-directed workout. Today, I do arms and core for about 25 minutes, then another 25 on the elliptical, while listening to yesterday's episode of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend. I get a great gym discount through work, so it costs me roughly $28 per month.
1:30 p.m. — It’s time for grocery shopping and meal prep. I have Celiac disease, and work hard to live below my means most of the time, which means I meal prep my work lunches for the week. This week I'm doing a chickpea curry with spinach, peppers, and onion, and making a quinoa, pepper, tomato, and chickpea salad for dinners on nights I’m feeling to lazy to cook. I also buy supplies for oatmeal breakfast cookies. I already have the oatmeal and spices, so I pick up bananas and eggs. I also grab cucumbers, cheese, hummus, navel oranges, oat milk, pasta, and regular milk for my morning coffee. This all adds up to $48.79.
7 p.m. — This last week was jammed with social activities, so, as an introvert, I need some R&R. My roommate is out tonight, so I take advantage of having the apartment to myself. I spend some time catching up on TV. I watch Jane the Virgin and The Handmaid's Tale. Then I read a bit of the book I'm working on, From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein, before heading to bed around midnight. I borrowed the book from the library, and I share my streaming subscription with my mother, and end up paying $8.38.
Daily Total: $85.17
10:30 a.m. — I decide to take advantage and spend as much time outside as possible today. I retrieve my bike from my building's storage room and ride along the Rideau Canal to a small farmer's market. It's about a 20 minute ride each way at a moderate pace. It's lovely to just bike past all the people out for walks, runs, and kayaking trips on the waterway.
2 p.m. — I’m still feeling that introverted vibe, so I decide to relax on the couch, read some more of my book, and catch up on my finances from last week. I try to do this every week, and keep a massive spreadsheet in my Google Account to track and categorize all my spending and saving. I'm a bit of a data nerd — I also wear a FitBit (I got it for $137.19 on sale) and track my sleep and workout habits pretty religiously. This helps me feel more in control and better informed about how much money I have.
6 p.m. — I've been going to a studio for weekly yoga classes for about a year now. Although my gym offers yoga, I go to a studio. I love the teaching style and the option to take warm or hot classes. I buy 25 class packs at Costco every 6 months or so for $152. It works out to about $7 a class, but my mum bought this pack for me as a gift. I bought my yoga mat last year from Lolë, and the fabric is both recyclable and PVC-free, so it's a more sustainable option than some of the alternatives out there. Tonight is a warm yin class, which is exactly what I need after yesterday's weight session. It’s an awesome way to end a relaxing weekend, while resetting for a week of work ahead.
Daily Total: $137.19
5:30 a.m. — I make it to my BodyCombat class tonight to make up for skipping on Saturday. This is a beast of a workout. It’s a high-energy mashup of different martial art styles. I always leave sore and soaked in sweat. Today is an especially tough class — very lower body focused. I leave totally red-faced and gulping back water, but I feel amazing (if exhausted).
7 p.m. — I wouldn't usually consider going out to dinner a feat of self-care, but my boyfriend’s parents are in town. This week is the first time I’ve met them. I was initially incredibly anxious about it, so the fact that they keep inviting me to join them in activities is helping to assuage my nerves. We go to a fantastic wine bar that does cheap and delicious steak. I know they'll insist on paying, but I grab a Groupon to cover some of our wine flights. I end up covering $15 of the alcohol.
Daily total: $15
7:15 a.m. — I overslept. Does that count as self care? Clearly I was exhausted because I slept straight through both my FitBit alarms (luckily I also have a late alarm set on my phone). I pour a quick (reusable) mug of coffee, and make it out the door almost on time. I walk to work every morning and usually listen to podcasts on my way in (today it's the Bechdel Cast).
10:30 a.m. — I meet with a student who wants to learn more about the work my team does. Getting a job in government is hard, and I've been really lucky to have a good support system along the way. I'm excited to have a chance to do the same for someone in the same place I was only two years ago. She's lovely, and I try to give her as much advice as possible. She tries to pay for our teas, but I know how much students are paid. I overrule her and pay the $2.70 for both of us.
4:30 p.m. — I decide to just go to the yoga class at my gym today so I can get home from work sooner. It’s high intensity, and focuses on core. I sneak out of work a few minutes early to get there on time (although I didn't really take a lunch, so shrug). I settle in for an hour of a combination of tai chi, yoga, and pilates. The classes at my gym have a corporate feel, which is why I usually prefer the other classes. I miss the more intimate feel of my usual studio. Still, it’s a good way to get loose after last night’s class.
Daily Total: $2.70
9:30 a.m. — I grew up playing hockey, but chose to coach younger kids instead of playing myself in undergrad. I recently decided to finally get back to the game myself. A while back, I signed up for a women's league, which requires a paid deposit. I got paid today, so I take some time this morning to send $115 off to the woman who's organizing our team.
12:15 p.m. — I've gained some weight over the last year, which I believe is a combination of moving to a desk job and getting an IUD put in. As such, I've been trying to be more systematic about my approach to fitness. To get more active, I'm playing in an outdoor mixed sports league this summer. I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of shorts to wear while I play. On my lunch, I see that the Gap has some great deals right now, and I can't resist. I order a pair of dolphin-hem run shorts, and cross my fingers they'll fit like the Old Navy ones I currently love. I also order a pair of casual shorts and deeply discounted shirts to hit my free shipping minimums. My total is $50.54, but only $16.50 is spent on activewear. I know how bad online ordering is for the environment, but my local stores have a terrible in-store selection.
5:30 p.m. — I planned to go to a weight-lifting class after work, but I've had an awful headache and upset stomach all afternoon. I decide to accept my fate and have a quiet night at home. I roast some vegetables, and dump some pesto on top, then head to bed for some TV and reading before I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $131.50
8:10 a.m. — I normally make my coffee in the morning, but I woke up feeling pretty “meh” today. It takes longer than usual to get out of bed, so I save about 8 minutes by buying my coffee on my way in to work. It's convenient (and dangerous for my wallet) that I have a great local chain right behind my apartment building. I grab my reusable mug, so at least I'm not generating more trash with my laziness. The coffee is $1.72.
5:45 p.m. — My boyfriend and I play in a mixed sports league with our friends. We usually do different sports during different seasons, and this week it's flag football. It's a ton of fun, a great group of people, and guarantees some outdoor time and cardio sessions every week. One of our teammates just got an adorable puppy, which makes the league that much more fun. We pay to play $83 to play at the beginning of the season, but it works out to about $5.45 per week. Lightning starts up toward the end of the game so we call it early — but we still win.
Daily Total: $7.17
12 p..m. — I'm almost done with From the Corner of the Oval, so I take my lunch outside and sit in the grass along the river and read. I eat my prepared quinoa, chickpea, avocado, and tahini salad. There's a great breeze, so it doesn't matter that it's a little humid today. I make it through a good chunk of the book.
5:30 p.m. — Since I skipped my weight lifting class on Wednesday, I force myself to go tonight. It's the Friday before a long weekend, so I'd love to just start relaxing — but I know this class is a good way to start the weekend right. It's a super tough workout (for me) that I rarely go to, but I know I'll feel great about it later.
7 p.m. — I almost never buy flowers for myself, but a friend gave me a coupon she had for a free bouquet. It expires on Sunday, so I go slightly out of my way to pick out a bouquet to enjoy all weekend long. The arrangement includes tulips and other flowers. I know it'll make me happy every time I look at it.
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $378.73
Reflection: I've been trying to prioritize my wellness routine more. I want to make it a regular part of my schedule, so I can’t opt out of it for things I’d rather do or have to do. Being active regularly has the biggest positive impact on my life. My mood is much better when I focus on wellness a little each day. It quells some of my physical anxieties, and I sleep better.
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