Today: A woman who believes that wellness, both physical and mental, is crucial. As she copes with a long-term back injury, she’s willing to devote time and money to make sure she’s feeling balanced.
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Occupation: Fundraising manager
5:30 a.m. — I’m an early riser, and I’m ready for my morning workout. I foam roll for a few minutes using my roller from Amazon ($8), and then I head to yoga for a 6 a.m. class. I always leave these workouts feeling sweaty and like I achieved something. Plus, they offer lavender towels and brief neck and shoulder massages during shavasana. It’s total heaven.
I buy packs of classes from the Hot Asana Studio in Durham, which usually last me a month or so. Packs run 10 sessions for $110. In my opinion, that’s crazy cheap! I moved to North Carolina from New York City a few years ago, and I’m still surprised at how inexpensive it is to live here. A pack of classes at a similar studio in Brooklyn Heights might have cost me double that.
6:30 p.m. — After work, I spend some time on the Curable app, which helps people deal with chronic pain. I hurt my back running. The injury happened over a long period of time, because I was overusing specific muscles. The back issues can be frustrating and painful at times. This app uses mindfulness techniques to help me look at the emotional connection I have with my pain. It’s $76 for a year-long subscription, and I’ve found it’s worth every penny.
Daily Total: $230
5:45 a.m. — I’m up and out the door for spin class. I have a gym membership at my local wellness center that costs $56 per month. I usually only go there for the group spinning or to swim. The instructor is amazing — her classes are always full. She always plays fun music, and her motivational skills are top notch. I feel like I’m getting eight SoulCycle-level classes a month for a fraction of the price.
11 a.m. — Since I eat breakfast pretty early, I have two “lunches” at work. Today I indulge in a broccoli quinoa casserole I meal-prepped this weekend. It’s a delicious Cookie and Kate recipe that has a good amount of protein and veggies in it. The meal is big enough for six servings, so I’m eating half of it this week and froze the other half for next. I live near a Trader Joe’s and picked up all the ingredients there, and it cost me $13 for everything. Not bad for six days worth of food!
Cooking is usually the most relaxing part of my day. It’s almost mind-numbing. I get to focus on each element of the meal I'm preparing, instead of the world and its problems.
7 p.m. — Some friends and I meet up for a monthly bike ride that was set up by a local brewery. It’s a fun way to catch up while being active. We always grab a beer and some snacks afterward. The brewery sells my favorite candy, Swedish Fish, so I get some to pair with my pale ale for $7.
Daily Total: $76
7 a.m. — I let myself sleep in. Essentially, I did two workouts yesterday. I make myself a smoothie using my favorite recipe. It requires blueberries, bananas, kale, Califia almond milk, and cold brew coffee (ingredients: $14.50). I make coffee using a cold brew pitcher I got for Christmas, and it comes out perfect every time with some inexpensive ground beans.
2 p.m. — For my second lunch of the day, I try a Simply Protein bar I got for free at the yoga studio. I pair that with some Pirates Booty baked snacks. I buy those in bulk for $12 because they’re so seriously delicious.
9 p.m. — I’m not sleepy yet since I woke up later than usual. So, I take a few hits off my Relief vape pen from Dosist. I love using this to smoke — it’s sleek and super easy to use. I’ll get one any time I go out to California to visit friends, and it costs $45. That’s a lot, but it helps me get to sleep and stay asleep until my alarm goes off.
Daily Total: $71.50
7 a.m. — After yoga, I make my favorite millennial meal: Avocado toast. I once heard on the Forever35 podcast that you should have a fat, carb, and protein at every meal, and this checks off all those boxes. Plus, it’s easy to make and inexpensive— $5 for a loaf of bread, $1 for avocado, and $5 for eggs from my coworker’s chickens.
10 a.m. — My friend wants to meet up for coffee, so I run out to get a Starbucks latte for $4. I used to do this kind of thing more when I worked in a city, but now that I’m in an office park, it’s a real rarity for me. Breaking away from the office for a bit feels like a major treat.
5 p.m. — Once a month, I’ll get a massage after work to help with some of my back pain. The masseuse I use does a combination of Reiki and deep tissue, which has really helped me. It makes my muscles feel at ease again, and afterward I typically don't have pain from my injury for a couple weeks. He charges $40 for an hour if you pre-book, so I always have something on my calendar.
Daily Total: $55
6 a.m. — I almost didn’t make it to yoga this morning, but I forced myself to go so I wouldn’t lose a class credit. Afterward, I treat myself to a bougie smoothie from Clean Juice ($10). It’s Friday, after all.
Most mornings I try to use the Insight Timer meditation app (free) to get my head in a good space before work. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s the best app I’ve found. It helps me feel ready to tackle any last-minute projects. It also gives me a sense of grounding. On the mornings I don't do it, I feel like I stress out.
7 p.m. — I grab dinner with a few friends at a cute taco place. The three of us have all been single for the last year, and it’s nice for me to spend time with people who aren’t married. My main group of friends is made up of couples, and having some single girl time makes me feel more at ease about my dating situation. Tonight, we do some commiserating. Meeting a good guy is hard — it helps to vent. While I'm fine with being on my own for now, I definitely miss the comfort of having a partner. Thankfully, I’ve got good friends and jalapeño margaritas to get me through. The dinner costs $33, including tip.
10 p.m. — We grab two more drinks at a bar across the street ($14). I might regret this tomorrow. Thankfully I recently bought PartySmart pills on an impulse for hangover prevention at Whole Foods ($1.50). I pop a few and hope for the best.
Daily Total: $58.50
9 a.m. — I sleep in because I was out so late. Thankfully, I’m headache-free! I make my favorite southern weekend morning breakfast: Cheesy grits with an egg on top. It’s not the healthiest, but it’s so easy and gives me some comfort after a long week. I use some of my eggs from earlier in the week, and use other ingredients lying around the house ($4).
2:20 p.m. — Time for a nice, relaxing swim. I’m off to my gym, which has a great heated pool for laps. I can’t run because of my injuries, so I took up swimming to get that intense cardio feeling. I do 2,400 meters once or twice a week, and it usually puts me in a good headspace. However, today, the new swimsuit I got from Amazon for $24 is definitely not working out. I notice when I’m doing a kick turn that it balloons out, and I flash everyone in the lap lanes. Oops... I’ll need to get a suit ASAP.
7:30 p.m. — My friends and I have a monthly potluck. I volunteered to make something relatively easy for this one: Curried cauliflower rice. We never have enough veggies at the dinners, so I’m trying to fill in that portion of the food pyramid. The ingredients cost $7, plus $5 for a cheap wine from Trader Joe’s. Oddly, my friends and I don’t go out to eat much. Since a few of them own homes, we cook in and enjoy lounging around.
Daily Total: $40
10 a.m. — I’m pretty wiped out from the week, so I decided to do something relaxing. I go see a movie with my mom. We get to the first theater showing at 10:30, so it’s only $6 each. I get the tickets, and she gets the popcorn. We’re sweating and on the edge of our seats for most of Free Solo. I’m taking a nap after this, and hopefully won’t have nightmares about falling off a cliff.
2 p.m. — I host a monthly article club, and this time we’re meeting at a brewery. I picked up some hummus and pita chips on the way here for $5, and then buy a cheap beer for $3. I’m tempted to get another one when one of the girls busts out homemade cookies. I don’t have my hangover pills with me today, so I fill my water bottle instead.
6 p.m. — Sunday means meal prep. About $40 worth of groceries is going to get me at least ten meals, some of which I’ll have during the week and some of which I’ll freeze for later. Since it’s chilly outside, I make a hearty vegetable soup and some chili. I stash a lot of my meals at work, and usually just pull something out to defrost when I’m hungry.
Afterward, I light my new tiny Volupsa Lemon Coco candle ($8) and start listing out what I need to do over the next week. Doing this helps me figure out how to structure my time so that I can also hang out with my friends. That alone has become a nice form of self care for me over the years.
Daily Total: $68
Weekly Total: $599
Reflection: My wellness routine makes me feel like I have control over my life. When I'm out of balance, I feel like I've lost some agency and can’t do the things I enjoy most.
My injury plays a huge part in my wellness routine. It's something I have to keep in mind and work around, so it doesn't flare up. When it's really bothering me, I have to make sure that I take time to relax or else it only gets more irritated.
Sharing a meal with friends is usually the best part of the week. It’s a sacred piece of our relationship. It's so beautiful to gather over food and talk about what's on our minds. It gives me a real sense of community. When we cook, it's like we're building something special together (sometimes that thing is tacos, and those are very special, too!).
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