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 us feel good.
Today: A woman who’s kind to herself, eats everything in moderation, tries to move vigorously at least 3-5 times a week, and is desperately trying to fit back into her pre-baby, pre-2016 election, pre-grad school jeans.
Location: New York, NY
Location: New York, NY
6:30 a.m. — Wake up early for a spinning class. I live way uptown, but work way downtown, so I need to give myself ample time to get ready. It’s a new year, and I’m trying out all of these wellness things; some Insta-fitness person suggested drinking 1 oz. of apple cider vinegar (ACV), the juice of one lemon, and ½ cup of water upon waking because it’s great for “digestion and alkalizing your bod.” I don’t know what the last part means, but I figure it’s worth a try. It’s also supposed to help with bloating. I use my baby’s bottle to measure 1 oz., and wow, lemons have so many seeds.
As I suspected, it tastes disgusting and very, very tart, but I’ve had worse (see Buckley’s cough medicine).
I kiss my 9-month-old daughter goodbye — my husband’s dropping her off at daycare — in order to catch the train to Chelsea.
7:30 a.m. — I’m at my first Peloton class ever. I see their bikes everywhere — OK, malls mostly — and I'm excited to see what the hype is about. I'm a big SoulCycle fan. The candles just do it for me. But I hear this is way more athletic; we shall see!
On my way there, however, I had a little accident. Apparently, ACV and lemon juice gives me the runs. It wasn’t quite like the scene in Bridesmaids, but it was almost quite like the scene in Bridesmaids. Yes, I pooped my pants. Luckily, I got there early, had some extra clothes on me and was able to change before class… I guess the part about it helping with digestion turned out to be a little too true for me.
After the 45-minute class I feel amazing. It’s not quite SoulCycle, but the dashboard that showed how hard I was actually cycling definitely offered some perspective and helped me focus.
2:00 p.m. — After I eat lunch I like to go for a walk, to actually help with digestion, and get some fresh air. Sitting at a desk all day can be stifling. Free.
Daily Total: $33.56
11:30 a.m. — I pop into an empty conference room to listen to a meditation app. I’m a publicist, and one of my clients was upset that I couldn’t get a online publication to retract something they wrote about them. I got yelled at, and it took everything in my power not to yell right back. So now I need to woosah. I’ve heard good things about Headspace, and am fed up listening to ads during guided meditations on YouTube for free.
A year’s subscription to Headspace costs $7.99 per month, or $95.88 for a year.
1:30 p.m. — Lunch time is the best time of my work day, because I love to eat. I had a baby nine months ago, and gained a lot of weight — on top of my election weight, and grad school weight. So, I’ve been trying to be way more mindful of my exercise and dietary habits and make my lunch for the week over the weekend. Also, babies aren’t cheap, so bye-bye $20-$25 daily, unhealthy lunches.
This week I made beef and broccolini stir fry from a recipe in Body Love by Kelly LeVeque. It tastes so damn good, and I added ½ cup of sweet mashed potatoes for some extra calories so I don’t get too hungry later in the day, and some pickled red onions from a recipe that I got on Goop. They’re not as good as my grandmother’s, but they’re pretty damn good. I love all things pickled. This will be my lunch for the whole week.
I do most of my grocery shopping on AmazonFresh. It costs $14.99 per month, but you get unlimited deliveries, and they can deliver the next day, or sometimes the same day. The grass-fed, organic sirloin steak cost $27.54 for 20 oz., two bunches of organic broccolini cost $8, two red onions cost $2.60, four limes for the pickled onions cost $2, and the key ingredient — Coconut Aminos — cost $6.69. A two-pound bag of organic sweet potatoes cost $5.99.
Daily Total: $148.70
12:30 p.m. — I sneak out from work to attend a barre class at Xtend Barre in Tribeca with one of my favorite fitness instructors ever. A few months after I had my baby, this was one of the first places that I went to in an attempt to get back into fitness, and she really walked me through it all. I have my abdominal muscles back — despite having a c-section — thanks to this woman. Xtend’s midday barre classes are only 45 minutes, but they’re so hard, and so good. I sweat like crazy. My muscles quake for days! $34
4 p.m. — Because I worked out midday, I need more than my usual daily plain, full-fat greek yogurt cup with Splenda (no, I don’t care about the dangers of fake sugar) between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. (I time it to about two hours before my usual evening workout between 5:30 and 7 p.m.). So, I grab a peanut butter chocolate chip flavored No Cow bar, which has a pretty low sugar count, and a Diet Coke — I’ve been addicted since I was 9 — and I’m in heaven. A box of 12 No Cow bars on Amazon costs $26.24. A diet coke from the vending machine at work costs $1.25.
I’m there for about an hour and it’s hot, but not too hot. I leave feeling refreshed, but I’m not sure if I’d pay the typical $65 fee for a session. Free.
Daily Total: $61.49
6:30 a.m. — I’m up early again for another Chelsea fitness class, but this time instead of spinning it’s rowing at Row House. Yes, instead of cycling in place, I’m going to row in place. I’ve heard good things about these classes, and am excited to try my first one. After I take my ACV and lemon juice mixture (I’ve halved the amount of ACV I add to the mixture, and haven’t had any accidents since!), I make a protein smoothie — my typical go-to breakfast.
I mix one scoop of Optimum Nutrition protein powder in cake batter flavor with ½ cup of berries (or any type of fruit really), a cup of ice cubes, 2 tbsp flax seeds, 1 tbsp MCT oil, and 1 ½ cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
Except for the frozen fruit and almond milk that I buy weekly, all of the other smoothie ingredients last me about a month. A 2-lb container of the protein powder costs $20.86, a bag of organic ground flaxseed costs $16.99, a 16-oz. bottle of MCT oil costs $16.96 — all totaling $54.81 per month, or approximately $14 per week. That’s not bad for seven healthy and filling breakfasts!
8:00 a.m. — I arrive for my rowing class, and I don’t get the hype: it was hard and not particularly entertaining. Maybe my upper body was too weak. They say it’s a full body workout, and I don’t doubt it. I’m sore in new ways for a couple of days. Maybe I need to try it again. $38
Daily Total: $40
9:30 a.m. — Every other Friday morning for the last year, I've gone to a therapist near my home. I don’t know if she’s helping, but the anti-anxiety meds she prescribes have sure helped calm me the fuck down. I feel like I can conquer my career and motherhood now without totally losing my mind. $150 per session, since she’s out of network.
6 p.m. — I’m meeting a friend at Switch Playground. It’s a fitness center with 20 or so different stations that you circuit through with a partner. It’s intense. There’s a StairMaster, there are ropes, there are very heavy medicine balls.
At the end, my friend and I are wiped. I'm sweating profusely and I didn't bring an extra shirt. The ride home was not fun. $35
10 p.m. — It’s been a long week at work, and it’s time for an Epsom Salt bath soak. I add two cups to half a tub of hot water, light three Sandoval candles that I ordered online, and sink in for about 20 minutes until the water starts to chill. Afterwards, I feel calm, my skin is baby soft, and my cheeks are flushed.
I slip into bed and think about initiating sex with my husband, but don’t want to get sticky after so thoroughly cleansing my body. He’s almost asleep anyway, and I figure we can do it in the morning, which is his favorite anyway. Instead, I pick up my baby from the crib and rock her gently while she continues to sleep. Holding her, smelling her, and caring for her is one the most self-soothing moments I’ve ever experienced.
Daily Total: $392.99
12:45 p.m. — I take my daughter to a mommy-and-me yoga class at PureYoga. I’m not sure how relaxing it is for her, but she’s always very entertained whenever we do these types of classes. Lots of giggles, kisses, and trying to interact with everyone.
I am pretty relaxed too, but also have to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t crawl away. She’s pretty much aged out of this class!
Afterwards, we take the train back to our apartment. I leave the stroller and carrier at home — too much with a yoga mat — and carry her. She’s a little heavy, so I count this as an arm workout. $35
8:00 p.m. — After dinner, my husband, daughter, and I bundle up and go for a stroll through Central Park. It’s cold, but not freezing and the fresh air feels good.
When we get home, our daughter is fast asleep. YAY! No bedtime routine. Priceless. Free.
Daily Total: $35
Noon — I skip my scheduled SoulCycle class and get a 30-minute massage on the Upper East Side. Our daughter is with my husband’s parents for the day, my husband is catching up on work, and I just don’t feel like I need to work out.
The massage was $60, the window shopping was free, and my half of the food bill was $61.65.
Daily Total: $121.65
Self-Reflection: When I look back at my week, I realize how much I'm spending on boutique fitness classes and sign up for ClassPass. I might not have the same flexibility, but at least I'll save some money. That said, I'll never give the classes up entirely. They're fun, encouraging, and have really helped me get into fitness. I'm also saving a lot by making most of my meals at home now, which I love. My meals are exciting, tasty, and healthy. Cooking at home and exercising have definitely changed my body. Duh — I know — but it's much easier said than done. And, I need to eat more pizza — gonna find a good recipe to make at home!