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.
Today: a woman spends her week trying out new workouts on ClassPass, renewing a library membership, and baking bread.
Location: Boston, MA
Location: Boston, MA
Editor's note: This diary was written in March 2022.
7:30 a.m. — After a friend I visited this past weekend in New York City tested positive for COVID on Tuesday evening, I’ve been isolating and waiting for the results of my PCR test. I was feeling bad Monday and Tuesday, but now it’s Thursday and I wake up feeling much better! I take the time to go extra slow with my morning gua sha routine and make myself a matcha latte. I sit down at my desk and open my laptop to start work.
12 p.m. — I get an email that my PCR results are in! I log on to the portal while chowing down on lunch: a Chinese tomato and egg dish I stir-fried very quickly. Negative!! Hooray!! I check in on how my friend is doing. I haven’t properly worked out since Saturday due to the weekend trip, feeling poorly, and then isolating, so I’m ecstatic about my negative test.
I open ClassPass so I can finally schedule a few workouts. I book my usual Sunday yoga using seven credits, which wipes me out for my monthly plan. I see that there’s a pilates class later today at 7 p.m., so I buy 50 credits and book it for 13 credits. $95
5:30 p.m. — I shut my work laptop for the day and scrounge for a snack. I don’t want to eat too much before pilates, so I finish the few bites leftover from yesterday’s salad. The salad is the viral Erewhon white bean and kale salad, and it’s a staple in my meal roster. I’ve always loved kale salads, but the dressing on this one is truly elite. My legs need a stretch after the past few days, so I decide to walk the three miles to the studio. It’s a chilly day, but the walk is still way more appealing than taking the subway during rush hour.
7 p.m. — I make it to the studio just in time for class. This is only my fourth time here, and I'm really starting to enjoy it! Previously, I would go to Barry's Bootcamp, which is a very different workout experience (although similar energy and vibes). But to supplement my own running schedule, I figured I needed less HIIT and more low-intensity strength or weight training, so pilates is a better fit. By the time we’re halfway through the inner thighs, my legs are absolutely shaking like mad and there’s nothing I can do to make them stop. The severity of the shaking is giving me some major deja vu to this past weekend, and I start wondering when I’ll see my NYC sneaky link(s?) again. I start chuckling that I’m even thinking about this right now, so I try to snap back into focus.
8:30 p.m. - Absolutely destroyed, I slump onto the subway back to my apartment (free with work’s commuter benefits). On the way, I purchase Lululemon’s new running shoes in white. They just came out this week! I make sure to go through my credit card’s shopping portal which has 5% back, so they’ll cost me $140.60.
That order triggered something in me, and now I’m on a full-blown shopping spree when I get home. I finish my stir fry leftovers and also boil around a dozen frozen dumplings. As I’m scarfing those down, I buy a matching pink tennis skirt, biker shorts, and sports bra from Alo, again through my credit card portal (9% back, also a 10% discount code, which bring my total to $158.89). I justify the purchases by thinking about how fun it is to work out in a cute outfit, especially as the days warm up. $299.49
As I’m doing my nightly skincare, I realize that Sephora’s spring sale is coming up. I hit Rouge for the first time this year and am definitely planning to stock up at 20% off, so I should probably be careful to budget the next several days (one UberEats order is like, a bottle of moisturizer!). Typically, when I budget, eating out and delivery is the first thing I’ll cut, so I expect I’ll be eating a lot of home cooked meals these next few days.
Daily Total: $394.49
8:30 a.m. - No meetings today, so I wake up with no alarm. I forgot to put in my noise-canceling earplugs in last night because I literally fell asleep while scrolling through TikTok, so I’m not that well-rested. My place is right on a busy street, and I’ve been noticing that I don’t sleep well due to the car noise. I had purchased these very expensive earplugs a few weeks ago, and while they’re tricky to put on correctly, my Whoop tracker is showing that they are indeed useful.
I spend a little extra time on my morning gua sha routine. I totally see a difference with gua sha, and I’ve only been doing it consistently for about a month and a half now. My gua sha tool is actually passed down through the family, which is really endearing. While I scrape and drain away, I listen to the BBC Global News podcast.
11 a.m. — I take a quick break from work to do some FSA reimbursements. I loathe doing paperwork, but hey, it is technically a part of my health + wellness maintenance. I have $500 left in my 2021 account and $500 in my 2022 account. I submit a large dental expense to close out the 2021 account. I also submit around $110 for 2022 so far, which includes a pulse oximeter I bought on Monday to double-check my blood O2 during my COVID scare. I also check my mail and find the $150 fitness reimbursement check from my health insurance, which I promptly cash. This reminds me that my health insurance also has an annual $300 incentive if you visit your PCP and are deemed “healthy” — this concept seems a bit weird but also, I would like $300. I call my PCP and the earliest they can schedule me in is in June. I take it.
I’m hungry from fasting all morning so I can't wait to make lunch, which is a simplified Erewhon kale salad (just kale + dressing, avocado, and sunflower seeds). After I finish that, I steam a filet of frozen sea bass from Costco for my protein and top that with a classic Chinese hot oil sauce. I knock out some more errands in the lunch hour and then settle in for a short Friday afternoon of work.
4:30 p.m. - I shut off the work laptop and decide that I’ll go on a run to my recovery appointments. The studio I go to has these “assisted stretch” sessions that are like interactive massages, as well as Normatec boots and infrared saunas. Today I have the second assisted stretch of my monthly two-stretch membership, and I’m also using one of my 30-minute sauna sessions right after.
I get there a bit early, so I pop into the nearby Whole Foods. I have a bunch of tomatoes at home that I urgently need to eat, and I grab a block of cheddar cheese to make a variation of Halfbaked Harvest’s heirloom tomato tart. I also can’t resist the urge to buy myself a cute bouquet of flowers that I immediately see when I walk in. They’re on sale for $8.99! I also pick up a small packet of za’atar, a jalapeno, and bean tortilla chips. $23.21
I go in for my 25-min assisted stretch, which is a lifesaver today as I’m definitely feeling yesterday’s pilates. It’s not one of those massages where you’re relaxed and oiled up in a zen room — it feels more clinical, like a physical therapy setting but with more hands-on massage work. I feel amazing afterwards, like someone kneaded me in all the right places. I follow up my massage with 30 minutes in an infrared sauna.
7:30 p.m. — I make it home and start to cook my dinner. I’ve had this cauliflower pizza crust in my freezer forever, so I figured it was time to use it. I top it with grated cheddar cheese, my tomato slices, and a herb blend of dill, cilantro, scallions, and garlic heaped on like they’re vegetables and not herbs.
8:30 p.m. — It’s Friday night and I’ve purposely made no plans. I really wanted this whole weekend to reset and recharge. Even my roommate is away, so I blast my playlist titled “deeply emotional vibes” extremely loudly in the bathroom and have a pre-shower solo dance party. I shave, do a pumpkin honey glycolic mask from Andalou Naturals, put away laundry, and finish up the skincare routine. By 10 p.m. I light a new candle and curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea to pass the rest of the evening by reading, texting a few friends, and catching up on new videos from my favorite YouTubers.
Daily Total: $23.21
12:00 p.m. — Wow, did I sleep in! I’m a little surprised, but I guess I must’ve been more tired than I thought. I’m also ravenous, so I eat the remaining quarter of my pizza cold without even bothering to heat it up. I follow that up with a hearty serving of scrambled eggs. I catch up on social media for a good bit. When I finally put my phone down for a break, I feel like I need something different for my brain so I pick up The Model Thinker by Scott E. Page. It’s relevant to my field and I’ve been meaning to read it for weeks. About one chapter in, I get antsy and decide I should renew my membership at the Boston Athenaeum to go read there.
3:30 p.m. — I arrive at the Athenaeum and renew my annual membership. The Athenaeum is a stunning private library and one of the oldest in the US. I last had an annual membership maybe three or four years ago, and I haven’t been since then. The first floor collections are open to the public, but there are four additional levels of members-only reading rooms and desks. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a great deal for what it is. It works out to be around $26 a month, which I would happily spend on my physical fitness. Plus, with my heavy work from home schedule, I’ll also come here when I don’t have many meetings and just need to crank out code. I read my book until they close at 5 p.m. $310
5:30 p.m. — I stop by Whole Foods on my way home and get some grocery refills: eggs, kale, arugula, white beans, oat milk, and pineapple chunks. Back home, I start cooking and meal prepping for the week ahead. I have some Costco-portion defrosted chicken breasts, so I make some coconut crusted chicken tenders and pop them in the oven. While they bake, I make some homemade salsa and eat that with the bean tortilla chips I got a few days ago. I also have to prepare for another week of my Erewhon kale salad fixation by making more dressing and washing and tearing up the kale. I’m feeling rather cozy tonight, and since I’m already making a mess in the kitchen I decide I’ll go all in and also bake some challah. I spend the rest of my night FaceTiming with my mom while I make the dough, which I end up popping into the fridge for an overnight rise. $26.08
Daily Total: $336.08
10 a.m. — I’m up a little later than intended, and I want to bake the challah before leaving for my 12:30 p.m. yoga class. The recipe I used makes two loaves, and I only have time to shape, rise, and bake one of them before I have to leave. The other loaf is shaped, but I don’t have enough time so I pop it in the fridge. I literally turn off the oven, take the first loaf out, and rush out the door within the same minute! The subway is also running a little behind schedule, so I end up sprinting the last half mile to class and barely make it on time. After a restorative class, I walk through Boston to do some returns.
3:30 p.m. — I’m wandering through the aisles at Nordstrom Rack even though I intended on just returning things here. I find a cute pair of Stuart Weitzman sandals that are super discounted, but still a heavy-hitter price-wise. They’re a rather unique silhouette which I feel like is very me! I text a picture to a few friends and it’s split 50/50 whether I should get them or not. I’m getting a little impatient so I decide to just purchase them and then make up my mind later. This mentality is also why I’m always in an endless cycle of returns, it seems. After I return my items and purchase the shoes, it turns out to be $106.23.
8:30 p.m. — I’m so tired even though I feel like I didn’t do anything today. The second challah loaf has finished baking, and I’ve had a quick arugula salad and another tomato egg stir fry for dinner. I put on Seinfeld and start on my taxes, which I’ve procrastinated on for a while on but I simply can’t ignore it any longer. I’m up until 2 a.m. tracking down documents and whatnot, and end up extremely frazzled and stressed. I take a melatonin supplement, otherwise I fear I won’t be able to stop thinking about taxes.
Daily Total: $106.23
9:30 a.m. — I barely make it up to get dressed and brush my teeth before my 10 a.m. Zoom meeting. I think I’m still groggy from the melatonin. After that’s done, I do my morning skincare, since I didn’t get to that earlier. After a stressful evening from the taxes, I’m feeling like a mini pamper session, so I apply a charcoal face mask and give myself a quick pedicure. My friend texts me asking if I could babysit while she and her husband go on a date night tonight, as their babysitter had to cancel. They live in walking distance from me so I’m in! I assemble my lunch, which is (surprise) the Erewhon kale salad but with the crusted chicken breast for protein and a whole avocado. I make my first cup of coffee and take my lunch while alternating between people watching out the window and admiring the Whole Foods flowers.
2 p.m. — I have an hour break in between meetings, so I decide to go on a roughly 1.5 mile walk to disassociate at Target. I order a grande Americano to pick up at the Starbucks on the way, which my existing app balance covers it. I made plans to go out with friends on Thursday night, so I pick up a set of Ardell individual lashes and Duo lash glue. I actually get regular eyelash extensions, but they are on their last week and look a bit sparse. I figured glueing the individual fake lashes where those lash extensions have fallen out would be a good solution. I walk home in time for my next meeting and am glued to my desk working for the rest of the day. $14.82
6:45 p.m. — I’m not totally done with everything I wanted to do for work, and I didn’t get a chance to squeeze in a workout or a run yet, so I’m feeling frazzled. I debate whether I should do something like extend the walk to my friend’s place with a run-commute situation, but ultimately decide it’s too unseasonably cold and I should use the time to eat instead. I gobble down some scrambled eggs for dinner and a few more chunks of my bread, and I tell myself that I’ll do a bodyweight strength workout when I get back. Babysitting should be fairly chill as the baby will just be going to bed, so I bring my work laptop with me.
11:00 p.m. — After my friends got back from their date night, we spent a while catching up and I lose track of time. I spend some time on TikTok and Instagram and at 11:40 I finally peel away for a shower. I pretty much wash my hair every time I shower, which I know is objectively bad but I can’t stop. And then, this doesn’t make any sense, but I am too lazy to blow-dry my hair and would rather stay up the one and a half-two hours required for it to air dry. So tonight, I use that time to make more headway on my taxes. I put season two of Bridgerton on the external monitor while I find, download, organize, scan, etc. a heaping pile of tax documents for this year. At 2:30 a.m., I finally think I’ve tracked down every document I need, which has been a rather formidable task. And my hair is dry now. I get ready for bed and put in my earplugs and eventually fall asleep.
Daily Total: $14.82
8:15 a.m. — I wake up after only five total hours of sleep, but my Whoop is giving me a green recovery of 88%. I thought I would make it to the office again today, but I check the weather and decide against it. It currently feels like 11 degrees, so it’s going to be another day bundled up inside for me. I finally get up and do the usual morning skincare and make a French press coffee. I’m in front of the laptop shortly after and am stuck working the rest of the morning.
12:30 p.m. — I take my lunch break and eat, again, the Erewhon kale salad but with my coconut crusted chicken breast. It’s way too cold for salad weather, but it’s super fast to assemble after I’ve prepped all the individual parts. I don’t have much time for anything else before my afternoon meetings start.
5:30 p.m. — I close the work laptop and unplug it from my external monitor just to swap in my personal laptop. I spend some time going through my personal stuff and end up rescheduling a bunch of personal care treatments: I push back a haircut from this Friday to the end of next month, I reschedule a sugaring appointment for my Brazilian to earlier next week, and I reschedule my lash appointment a few days earlier as well. I also sign up for a Friday early evening pilates class and my usual Sunday yoga.
Speaking of working out, I put away both laptops and decide to get ready for a run! I’m a little antsy after not working out yesterday, which is the only thing catalyzing me to run outside in today’s cold temperatures. I’ve technically been running in these temperatures or colder all winter, but something about still having to reach for the winter hat and gloves at the end of March is sad. Tonight, I do a 7k guided run with Coach Bennett on the Nike Run Club app. I’m absolutely attached to Coach Bennett and end up having an amazing run.
7 p.m. — Back at home and I’m absolutely ravenous. I cook some scrambled eggs with dill and toast up some more bread. I realize this is my second night in a row eating scrambled eggs for dinner, and this prompts me to treat myself to some chocolate truffles. I catch up on a few texts with friends while I’m eating. I’m glad I had this past weekend to myself, as this coming weekend is shaping up to be very different with things lined up from Thursday through Sunday.
I shower and put in a load of whites in the washer, and it’s somehow already past 10. I’m very tired so I curl up on the sofa and take a chill night on my personal laptop doing various things, like writing, planning, more chatting with friends. I check that my FSA reimbursements have gone through and have hit my bank account. In total, along with the fitness reimbursement, that’s around $860 that I got back. With stuff like this, I don’t treat it as extra real money and use it for investments instead. I set some lowball limit orders for Bitcoin and Ethereum. If the orders aren’t filled by the end of the week, then I’ll up the limit a little closer to market price.
Daily Total: $0
8:30 a.m. — While doing my morning skincare, I start to get really anxious about how many products I’ve already purchased that I haven’t yet tried, so I decide to exert some more self-control. I have a coffee meeting later, so I just make hot water with goji berries and trim down my Sephora cart: Dr. Jart’s ceramidin cream, Caudalie Vinoperfect dark spot serum, Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean foam cleanser, The Ordinary niacinamide serum, and a First Aid Beauty oil control moisturizer. For fun I decide I can leave in a Rare Beauty liquid blush, which I justify because I don’t have any other liquid blush products. It will come to $187.53 in two days when the sale starts.
I get my coffee covered in my morning meeting, and then I head into the office afterwards in time for free lunch. I decide on a turkey panini. It’s been a while since I’ve been in, and I take my time catching up with coworkers before settling down for an afternoon of the usual work.
3:30 p.m. — My mid-afternoon break consists of eating a free but sad office banana and then hastily buying the travel sizes of two perfumes from a niche fragrance house I really like, BDK Parfums. Long story short, I'm still thinking about the NYC sneaky link from the past trip and have really surprised myself by how excited I'd be to see him again! I wore one of these scents on our first date, but that was from a sample size and I'm running low. I don't even know if he'll notice, but I particularly love scents and want to restock on precisely the same perfume before I see him again. I should have placed the order earlier, but now I’m left hoping they’ll come before I leave for my next trip in a week’s time. $101.40
5:30 p.m. — I change into my running clothes and run home from the office, which is just under six kilometers. I’m surprised that I’m finding today a difficult run, and it takes me longer mentally and physically to get into my rhythm and pace. When I get home, my Lululemon and Alo packages have arrived! The new Lululemon shoes have a 30 day trial policy, so I’ll test them out on a few runs. I decide to return the Alo biker shorts but I keep the matching sports bra and tennis skirt. I package everything up to drop off at UPS, which includes 2 other boxes of returns from a few weeks ago.
I have some freshly baked chicken wings for dinner, light a candle, and spend the rest of the evening on the couch browsing Net-a-Porter and Alo, but I don’t purchase anything. When I do my evening skincare, I put on a pair of those eye patch stickers and wear them to bed. This time, to experiment, instead of earplugs I take melatonin and put on a two-hour fireplace ASMR video. I still want to see if the performance when I wear the expensive earplugs is justified and not replicable by any other cheaper strategy. I eventually drift off to sleep to the cozy cackling fireplace sounds.
Daily Total: $101.40
Weekly Total: $976.23
Reflection: The highlight of this specific week was my spontaneous and pricey decision to renew my Athenaeum membership, which will be good for one year. I've been fairly generous with myself for my physical health budget, but I hadn't considered that I wasn't doing anything specifically to lift my mental spirits or energy.