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I’m 23, Make $4k A Year, & Spent $71 On My Wellness Routine This Week

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.
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Today: A graduate student who’s wellness routine includes canned kombucha, rock climbing, and martial arts.
Age: 23
Location: Carrboro, NC
Occupation: Grad student
Salary: $4,000/year from two part time jobs
This diary was written in November 2020.
Day One
7 a.m. — My roommate has a Beachbody subscription, and she does a workout each morning. I usually join her. Today was a tough lower body workout. I hate myself when the alarm goes off at 6:40 a.m. and I regret saying I'd join in on a workout, but afterwards, I feel accomplished and ready to start the day. And, really, a 30-minute morning workout is nothing!  
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1 p.m. — While wearing a mask and practicing social distancing from the five other climbers in the gym, I spend around 30 minutes rebuilding my climbing strength — and calluses. I only started climbing last year, and I was devastated when COVID hit and the gym closed. Honestly, it’s one of the only things I really missed from my life before March (that, and sitting in coffee shops). I love being able to visibly mark my fitness progress from when I first started going again last month to now with my calluses. I pay $15 a month for a membership, so that comes out to $3.75 a week.
2 p.m. — My Misfits box arrives! It’s filled with a bunch of fruit and veggies that the company sells at a discount because they look weird or are going to be thrown out. It’s a great chance to pick out some new foods to try and cook over the week — like different types of chard! What is chard? What do I do with chard? I don’t know, but I will eat it and I will enjoy it. My roommate and I split the price of the weekly box. ($14.18)
Daily Total: $17.93
Day Two
2 p.m. — My school handled reopening horribly in the fall, and switched to online classes a week after opening. I lost a lot of respect for my university after that, but I do appreciate that they are now offering free COVID tests on campus. They are encouraging students (whoever is still here) to come and get tested every few weeks. This is my first time going, and I’m impressed with how efficient the process is. They get the results back to me by the next day. Getting tested again before going home for Thanksgiving will give me much needed peace of mind, especially since I choose to go to the gym.
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5 p.m. — I got some potatoes and a beet in my Misfits box, so I decided to make some vegan borscht for my roommate and me. Since we’re home pretty much all of the time now, we’ve started switching on and off cooking duties each night. I made this soup a few weeks ago and my mom suggested that I add in some brown sugar to bring out the brightness of the vinegar and lemon next time. I’m always looking for ways to improve my cooking, so I’ve been excited to try that suggestion out. The soup reminds me of my childhood, and I love the color and freshness of it.
7 p.m. — The best thing about college is the free stuff (and learning, I guess?). With COVID, though, those opportunities are few and far between. So when one of the clubs I’m in put together a candle-making Zoom event, I jumped at the opportunity. I haven’t gotten too much of a chance to talk to these people lately, so it was great to combine that with a little arts and crafts.
Daily Total: $0
Day Three
8 a.m. — My birthday passed recently, and my friends sent me some fun flavored coffee samples from Bones Coffee. I open the pistachio flavor to get me through the day. It tastes like what I thought coffee would taste like when I was a kid, and I love it.
10 a.m. — My roommate has an adorable cat. Sometimes the cat ignores my existence, and sometimes he believes he will perish if he does not maintain contact with my leg at all times while I traverse the apartment. I’ve only almost died a few times. We’re teaching him some tricks, and he does them 80% of the time.
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2 p.m. — I gave a long presentation this morning and feel completely drained. I have a few things that I need to work on afterwards, but nothing due today. I can’t stop thinking about the emails I need to address from work and projects for my classes. Sometimes all the tasks I need to finish pile on and on in my mind until I feel paralyzed. If I take a bit of time for myself, though, everything seems more manageable afterwards, even if I end up having less time to do everything. I’ve been making my way through The Americans, so I set aside a few hours to watch an episode (or four) of that.
Daily Total: $0
Day Four
2 p.m. — I drink a can of kombucha I got from the grocery store a few days ago ($3). I usually don’t like kombucha, but this local company, Tribucha Kombucha, has this rosemary and sage flavor that I love — it has a very distinct and refreshing herbal taste. Because of the pandemic, I’m spending a lot less money going to coffeeshops, so I usually end up getting a can or two of kombucha when I stop by the grocery store.
7 p.m. — I’ve been in a martial arts club at my university ever since I was an undergrad. Even though we can’t meet to do in-person practices this year, they still hold Zoom practices that I occasionally attend. I love catching up with my friends that are still in the club, and the combination of stretching and kicking drills makes for a fun and challenging hour.
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Daily Total: $3
Day Five
11 a.m. — Since the weather is nice today, the girl I’m seeing and I decided to head to an outdoor coffee shop and study for our upcoming finals. I pick up two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits for our study brunch ($9) and she pays for my maple latte. Even though leaves kept hitting our faces, it felt nice to spend some time outside. I haven’t been doing enough of that lately, though that’s no one’s fault but my own. It’s too easy to stay inside all day and only realize I haven’t seen the sun when the sun’s already disappeared.
6 p.m. — I make shakshuka for dinner, and warm up some naan bread in the oven. It’s such a lovely comfort food and is simple to make.
8 p.m. — After I got home from the coffee shop, I spent the rest of the day inside. My roommate had as well, so I suggested we get out of the house for a little bit and pick up some wine and ice cream at a nearby grocery store. Getting out of the house is nice — and so is the mint chocolate chip ice cream, various potato chips, and 19 Crimes red wine we walk away with ($15).
Daily Total: $24
Day Six
2 p.m. — My friend comes over for a lazy day of nothing. We pick up Thai food (Pad Thai, fresh chicken and shrimp rolls, and a Thai iced tea for me) and head back to my house. I hadn’t seen her for a while, so it was nice to catch up. I’m pleased with my copious amounts of leftovers. ($23)
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2:30 p.m. — I talk myself into buying the Adventures of Food Boy off Amazon. I saw the trailer months ago, and it captivated me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I finally gave in. As advertised, the movie is horrifically and hilariously terrible. At least three times I laughed so hard I cried. My friend, roommate, and I discussed ways Food Boy could use his powers most effectively to become a supervillain (two words: hot soup), and I mused on what the movie would look like if Food Boy was replaced with Edward Cullen in this movie, and Food Boy in turn became Bella Swan’s love interest in the Twilight movies. Best $3 I’ve ever spent.
Daily Total: $26
Day Seven
7 a.m. — Another day, another Beachbody workout. This one was a tough cardio one. Afterward, I feel accomplished and ready to start the day afterwards. 
3 p.m. — The Misfits box we received this week had more ginger and limes than we could possibly use. Last night, I boiled ginger, lime, and sugar and left it to cool in the fridge overnight. Today I have a refreshing iced ginger lime tea to drink!
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $70.93
Reflection: Since the start of the pandemic, my wellness routine has been completely torn up. I moved back home with my parents for a few months in the summer, saw no friends, and stopped regularly exercising. It was summer break and I didn't do anything except watch Netflix, scroll through social media, and WFH a few hours a week. I felt bad for not exercising, and I would beat myself up over not cultivating my hobbies. (I love to write but I didn't even open up a Word doc that summer.) Honestly, I was a little depressed. When classes started up and I came back to my apartment, things felt so much better because I've been able to build up a routine again.

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