I Live in New York, Make $85K a Year & Spent $714.62 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. Have your own Feel Good Diary to submit? You can do so here!
Today: A woman who’s juggling visiting family, vacation, and a half-marathon training plan. 
Age: 30
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Writer
Salary: $85,000 per year
Day One
9 a.m. — I wake up in my hotel room after a luxurious night of sleep — even if I did have to share a King-size bed with both my sisters. They’re both in town to do some bridal shopping (my younger sis is getting married in 2020), but leaving today.
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Even though I live here in NYC, we booked one night in a hotel by Central Park just for fun. 
My plan is to do my long run (11 miles) in Central Park after my sisters head to the airport. I’ve only got 21 days left on my training plan for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and I’m miraculously still on target, so I really don’t want to skip it. I brush my teeth, splash some water on my face, and get dressed in my running gear — but then we decide to do brunch near the hotel at Sarabeth’s on Central Park South. My sisters both look cute, so I decide to change. We check out, and store our bags with the hotel. ($150 for my portion, including a $35 facility fee.) 
When we get to the restaurant, I order coffee and the jalapeno and cheddar omelette with wheat toast. When our food arrives, I also get a taste of my little sister’s lemon & ricotta pancakes and my older sister’s chive and cream cheese scrambled eggs. All of it is so good. We split the bill evenly. $49.92 for my portion.
12:30 p.m. — Annndddd... now it’s raining, so I guess the Central Park run is out.  After my sisters get in the cab to the airport, I agonize over whether I should attempt to run on the treadmill at the hotel gym (which I paid to use, included in the hotel bill). Or if I should just head home and run later. 
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Although 11 miles on the dreadmill will be absolutely terrible, I’ll get to use the gym’s steam room and sauna afterward. Plus if I go home now, I may sit down on the couch and never find the will to get back up again. So I decide to go for it. I talk to the front desk guy who gives me a pass even though we’ve already checked out.
1 p.m. — Okay, this gym is extremely nice, and it’s empty. After I change, I take a puff on my inhaler. I discovered a few years ago that the reason I hated exercise so much for so long is that I actually have exercise-induced asthma. Eventually, I made the connection that most people don’t wheeze or have coughing fits every time their heart rate goes up. I’m glad I figured it out, because working out is now really important for my mental health.
I do my run in segments to break up the monotony; I tell myself re-setting the treadmill will help trick my brain. First, I do 5.7 miles (61:04), while listening to an episode of the best celebrity news podcast of all time, Who? Weekly. Then I stop for water and do another 3.3 (35:15), while listening to a Taylor Swift playlist on Spotify. Her new single “Me” is the perfect running tempo. After another quick water break, I switch to my regular no-fail running playlist for the final, brutal two miles (23:20). I have had this playlist on Spotify ($14.99 per month) for about three years now. I continually edit it, adding and subtracting songs as I go, that I use for all my races.
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By the end, I am drenched in sweat, red-faced, and my legs are jelly. But I feel amazing. I just did 11. fucking. miles
3:30 p.m. — Steam room time, my reward. It’s so worth it. There is no one here so I stretch naked for a few minutes, then lay down for another 10 or so. I cool off and check out the amenities in the shower before doing the sauna next. This is going to sound weird, but I absolutely love sweating. I’m 100% sure there is no scientific basis for this statement, but I think regular heavy sweating is good for your skin. Maybe it clears it out or something? Also I think the salt is a natural exfoliant. After my shower, my skin feels super soft.
7 p.m. — I wake up from a nap on my couch, and I am already super sore. Ouch. I lay on the couch for another 20 minutes before my partner gets home from work. He’s an artist, so he sets his own schedule and has spent most of the weekend in his studio working while I was with my sisters. We decide to order Mexican food on Seamless ($38.65), and while we wait for our delivery, I go to the grocery store to get us staples for lunches for the rest of the week while he cleans the kitchen. 
At the grocery store I buy kale, two cucumbers, four tomatoes, a bell pepper, a red onion, a loaf of 7-grain bread, a jar of salsa, a can of black beans, a bag of frozen corn,  seven large yellow parsnips, eight large carrots, five honeycrisp apples, two avocados, two lemons, and toilet paper. (Total $48.42)
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Daily total: $301.98
Day Two
7:30 a.m. — Ugh, Monday. I get up earlier than usual because last night I was too tired to do all my lunch prep. I also want to do some of the weekly chores I didn’t get around to while my sisters were here: cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming my apartment, and scooping the cat litter. A lot of people think of self-care as lighting a candle and taking a bath or some shit, but I’m a firm-believer that the best and most important form of self-care is literally just doing the unglamourous things you need to do to care for yourself. If I haven’t cleaned my apartment, it drives me nuts all week, especially because I have a cat who sheds (and poops) a lot. 
My boyfriend makes coffee and our regular breakfast: Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal (which he buys in bulk on Amazon) with frozen blueberries and honey. Meanwhile, I floss with my new “dental lace” that I got at a package-free grocery in our neighborhood ($10). I’ve been trying for months to reduce the amount of plastic I use — there is so much going wrong in the world, and the giant plastic garbage dump killing our ocean is just one part of it. But it happens to be one of the things I can actually do something about, so I’m trying to be more conscious of it. The lace itself still has some plastic in it, but it’s way less than normal floss. It comes in a glass vial that you can refill, which saves a lot of plastic over time, according to the Internet.
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After brushing my teeth and rinsing my face, I get started on our lunches. I chop the kale, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, and put them in separate tupperware. I rinse the beans, and microwave some corn. And then I assemble salads for both of us using all the ingredients, plus the salsa, and some home-made hummus and tortilla chips I already had. This is what we will eat every day this week for lunch. I also pack myself an apple and my portion of the oatmeal to eat at my desk when I get to work.
Then, I do my other chores: I scrub down the bathroom, sweep the kitchen, scoop the cat litter, and then vacuum. Finally, I get dressed, clip my hair back in a bun, and I’m out the door by 9:15. 
7 p.m. — Home from work after a stressful day. Thankfully it’s a rest day, no running! I planned to also tackle the mountain of laundry in my bathroom, but I’m too tired. I fall asleep on the couch watching episodes of Brooklyn99 on Hulu, which is free because it’s my mom’s account. 
Daily Total: $10
Day Three 
7:30 a.m. — I’m awake early again because I have to be at work early to cover a Congressional Hearing. Thankfully this morning I have fewer things to tackle. I feed my cat before again making our salads, and I realize I’m out of dressing. I’ve started making my own lately to avoid the plastic packaging. So, I whip together a recipe for Greek dressing I found online: olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, dijon mustard, and minced garlic. And then I pour it into a glass jar that once held store bought tahini. (Reuse is the most overlooked of the three Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle.)
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2 p.m. — I’m on deadline at work, and hella stressed! When I get stressed from writing I get this tight feeling in my throat, like you get when you’re about to cry. I hate it, but there’s really not much I can do about it until my copy is turned in. Afterward, I do some deep-breathing and scroll Instagram to relax.
6:45 p.m. — At home, I eat a snack of homemade hummus spread on a slice of 7-grain bread while looking at my running app. I use the My Run Plan App ($9.99/ month) and just do what it tells me, based on my goals. I’m a consistent and dedicated runner, but I’m not fast (and I’m fine with that). My last half I did in 2:13:17 and this time I want to try for 2:10 or better (one day I’ll break the 2-hours!). Tonight I have a 7-mile speed workout on deck. 
As I’m getting changed for my run, I realize most of my gear is dirty — it’s all in the mountain of laundry I neglected yesterday. Ugh. I am going on to Colombia on Friday for a wedding and a little vacation, so I really need to just do it. I decide to do my run while I do laundry. I pack all my dirty stuff into my laundry bag and lug it to the laundromat a block from my house. 
After I put two big loads into the wash, I run around my neighborhood — 1 easy mile and 1,000 meters of drills to warm-up, followed by 2 miles in 18:55 — ending up back at the laundromat. I pause the app to move my clothes to the dryer. Then I finish my workout — 1 (painful) mile in 8:56, followed by 10 hard 30-second repeats, and a 1-mile easy cool-down. I get my stuff out of the dryer, fold it, and head home, exhausted. 
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9:30 p.m. — My boyfriend is home from work when I walk in with the laundry. He’s warming up chili he made us a while ago and froze for later. I fold the laundry quickly then immediately get in the shower, where I use my shampoo bar ($18) to wash my hair. This is another recent plastic-free switch, and I love it. It lasts so much longer than a bottle does. It’s an all-natural tea tree and basil bar made by a woman-owned small business called Ava Quinn’s I found on Instagram. 
After a relaxing shower, I sit on the couch, and my boyfriend brings me a bowl of chili. He’s also roasting the carrots and parsnips I bought Sunday, so we can add them to the salads in the morning. We watch an episode of Shark Tank on Hulu before getting in bed. 
Daily Total: $27.99
Day Four
8:30 a.m. — Oh man, I am struggling to get up today. My right hip feels really tight. I didn’t stretch after my run, and now I’m paying for it. I vow to make it to yoga tonight. 
I do my normal morning skin routine: Just a rinse with water, followed by SuperGoop sunscreen ($38) and Aquaphor (which boyfriend buys in a big 14 oz. tub that I use) on my lips. I love this repairing lip balm. My boyfriend bought me these adorable glass (plastic-free!) empty lip balm containers from Amazon that I fill with Aquaphor from my bulk container. I keep one in my bedroom, one in my bag, and one on my desk at work. I’m that obsessed. Outside of Aquaphor, I don’t wear anything else. I stopped wearing makeup regularly a few years ago, after I realized it was more trouble than it’s worth for me. 
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7:20 p.m. — I’m still at work, pounding out my story and making a to-do list for more reporting. There is no way I’m making it to yoga. As I’m leaving, I discover someone has left mini-cupcakes in the kitchen. I eat a rainbow one and leave. As soon as I get on the elevator I regret not taking an oreo cupcake to-go.
8:30 p.m. — I’m home from work. I heat up some chili, and then do more work on my story, while drinking a coffee mug full of flat champagne that’s leftover from when my sisters were here. I promise myself I will do a Youtube stretching video at least, but then boyfriend gets home from karate, and instead I hang out and talk with him while packing for my trip to Colombia. I leave Friday.
Daily Total: $38
Day Five
8 a.m. — I’m up right on time today. Time for oatmeal, coffee, and making my salad. I have a run later, so I pack my gear so I can run along the water after work.
2:30 p.m. — I’m late for my therapy appointment. I email my therapist to let her know, and she writes back “No worries. I’m here.” She’s worth every penny. ($100)
6 p.m. — 5 miles easy along the water. Hudson River Park is my happy place. I love  seeing the Statue of Liberty and just staring out at the water. I read a study that found that just staring at nature patterns, like blue water or green tree tops, has a naturally calming effect on the brain. This is partly why living in a concrete jungle is so stressful— we’re hard-wired to need time to be in nature, just staring at the patterns. 
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8 p.m. — I finish packing for Cartagena. My boyfriend won’t be joining me for this wedding, because we’ve already been to a few this year and it’s too expensive for him right now. This one’s going to be extra challenging, because I’m not really close to anyone who’s going, outside of the bride and groom. So, I’m going to have to make friends. I’m still excited about the trip, though, because I’m turning it into a mini-vacation — just for myself. I’m also going to Australia later in the year, so I bought a new backpack to accommodate both trips. I got it on sale at the REI co-op for $89. When I’m in Cartagena for the wedding, I’m staying in a hostel to keep it affordable. After the wedding, I’m joining the bride and groom and a few other guests at a house we’ve rented. It’ll be a welcome break — and I’ll get to run in a new place, which is great for making the training fun. 
Daily total: $189
Day Six
3:24 a.m. — I’m up and on the way to JFK Airport. I’m seriously regretting booking a 6:25 a.m. flight (the round trip ticket I bought weeks ago was $554.03) while in the Lyft ($33.08). I can’t wait to pass out on the plane. 
Noon — I’ve made it through customs at the airport where I’m connecting to another flight. And I’m starving. Thankfully, I slept the entire first flight, so my brain is sharp enough to order a chicken empanada and a coffee in Spanish (10,000 pesos, or roughly $3) while I wait for my next flight.
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3:30 p.m. — Finally…. Cartagena! I find a cab immediately. I read it shouldn’t be more than 10,000 pesos, but the guy is insisting on 15,000. After one volley, I realize the extra 5,000 is not even $2 for me, so I just go with it. I end up giving him 20,000 pesos or roughly $6. 
4  p.m.  — Where I’m staying in Cartagena couldn’t be more perfect. It’s right around the corner from the wedding festivities, off a beautiful square, and it’s adorable and clean. Because I know I will be staying out late both nights for the wedding festivities, I booked a private room to make it easy on myself. My room has a twin bed, and a private bathroom. It’s on the roof, with the door opening right to the rooftop bar and hot tub. I’m in heaven! I pay upfront at check-in ($65.07)
7 p.m. — I have to leave the Old Town, which is basically the remnants of Spanish colonialism, contained by the fortified wall, to get to the rehearsal dinner, which is at a hotel near the beach. After I’m ready, I walk to the square to see if I can hail a cab. After about 5 minutes, I remember this is not New York. Back at the hostel, I have the front desk call me a cab. The woman who helps me is very sweet, and laughs with me when I tell her that I thought I could hail one. 
7:30 p.m. — Outside of the wall, Cartagena reminds me a lot of Miami. The cab ride is less than 10 minutes. There is some confusion at the end of my ride because my Spanish is terrible and I have no idea what he’s saying. I end up just handing him two bills, and getting out when I see he’s satisfied. Only later do I realize I gave him the equivalent of $30 when the ride should have cost around $4. Oops! 
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Daily Total: $137.15 
Day Seven 
9:00 a.m. — I wake up very hungover from last night’s rehearsal dinner.  How am I going to run 10 miles like this, in the middle of a heatwave?! Cartagena is known to be warm, but it’s unusually hot this week, with highs in the 90s. I refill my water bottle from the sink, and take some of the Ibuprofen I brought with me. I really don’t want to run right now, but I know that the sooner I get going, the sooner my hangover will disappear. 
9:30 a.m. — This is terrible. The humidity must be 100%, because I cannot breathe. Also, my GPS isn’t working, so I have no idea how far I’m going, which is frustrating. I tell myself if I can just run for an hour, that will be enough. Based on feel I can tell I’m not running fast at all. I estimate that if I just run for an hour, I can do roughly five miles. Considering my condition, it’s a miracle I’m going at all, I tell myself. The one good thing: Cartagena is absolutely beautiful. I run along the wall overlooking the sea, then up and down the narrow streets, passing shops and churches and brightly colored villas covered in flowering vines. I run through the neighborhood Getsamani, and see the murals. If I just focus on how absolutely adorable this place is, my pain subsides — a little.

I run for an hour and a half, so probably 6 or 7 miles? Good enough. Back at the hostel, I’ve just missed the included breakfast, but the front desk girl feels bad for me, (I must look red-faced and terrible) so she makes me breakfast anyway. It’s amazing: scrambled eggs, toast, juice, and coffee. Hangover is now officially cured.
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12:30 p.m. — After I shower and change, I have all day before the wedding festivities begin, so I venture back out to wander some more. I get an iced coffee and a pastry ($1.50) and just get lost inside the wall. I go into too many churches to count, and spend a good chunk of time learning about Cartagena’s colonial history at the Palace of The Inquisition, which is now a museum ($6). On the way back, I stop at a grocery store and buy a Sprite (I’m so thirsty) and two apples so I have snacks in my room ($3).
2:30 p.m. — Hot tub time! It’s extremely hot, so I don’t even need to turn the thing on. And yet, it’s still refreshing. I text my boyfriend a selfie and a few shots of the roof view. After my trying run this morning, this is exactly what I need. 
6 p.m. — Wedding time! The ceremony and the party is held on the roof of the hotel. I cry a little seeing my friend coming down the aisle at sunset. During the cocktail hour, I just drink seltzer. I have finally learned that I cannot drink during the cocktail hour at weddings; I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve been to where I end up the drunkest person there because I drink too much during that evil open bar period. Then, by the time dinner rolls around I’m too drunk to even be hungry, and then things get really sloppy.

7 p.m. — I eat the delicious vegetarian ceviche and mushroom risotto, paired with lots of red wine. Yum.
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10 p.m. — After dinner, I do Tequila shots with everyone at the table. Then with the bride and groom. I move on to Cuba Libres and lose count of how many I’ve had. It’s stiflingly hot up here, even with the sun down, and everyone is drenched in sweat on the dance floor. I try to drink water after each alcoholic drink, but after another round of tequila shots with a group of new friends, I just quit.
Daily Total: $10.50
Bonus: Morning of Day Eight 
9 a.m. — Plot twist: Somehow, I’m not hungover. It’s a miracle! Especially considering I’m not sure what time I got back here last night? It turns out this is the way to avoid a hangover: avoid cocktail hour, eat dinner, and then sweat it all out on the dance floor before you sleep.
Weekly total: $714.62
Reflection: Making time for my family, traveling, seeing old friends, and making new ones are all just as important to my wellness routine as eating healthy, doing my workouts, and seeing my therapist. Everything I do, I do because I truly enjoy it and it makes me feel good — even running in the heat hungover — and I think that’s the key to real wellness: Do what you want when you want. 
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