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I’m 23, Make $40k, & Spent $60 On My Wellness Routine This Week

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Today: A freelancer living in Georgia spends this week working out at dance class, relaxing in the bath, and hanging out with her girlfriend.
Age: 24
Location: Atlanta, GA
Occupation: Freelance writer
Salary: ~$40,000/year
This diary was written in December 2020.

Day One

2:15 p.m. — I’ve recently become more interested in podcasts and decided to check out one called Real Pod by Victoria Garrick. She’s a body image advocate, and her content has helped me through my own struggles. I listen to about 30 minutes of her seventh podcast episode, featuring Elise Lougee, while I fold laundry. They talk about toxic body image and specifically the pressures within the dance industry. Their conversation makes me feel more calm and comforted.
While I’ll probably always struggle with body image to some degree, listening to podcasts that normalize those struggles and discuss body diversity and body positivity encourages me. By listening to Garrick’s podcast — and watching her TikToks — I’m able to gain insights that help when I’m actively struggling with body dysmorphia. This particular episode mostly emphasized how I’m not alone when it comes to body judgments from myself and others.
7:30 p.m. — I leave my dance class feeling tired, sweaty, out of breath, and happy. My mom pays for my dance classes, thankfully — they're $135 for 10 classes per month. Exercise isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I love dancing specifically, and the serotonin it gives me. This class in particular is great because it’s not too complicated, the moves are fun, and the teacher has a fantastic sense of humor. I try to not compare my body too much to other students’. It's hard. Instead, I’m trying to appreciate my body for the dancing it allows me to do. Now it’s time to drive home, shower, and take a couple puffs of my inhaler. I have asthma, but it's not too bad. I use my inhaler as needed — sometimes at night, sometimes after working out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

3 p.m. — I take a bubble bath with Bath and Body Works’ Stress Relief soap — the eucalyptus and spearmint scent is one of my favorites. While in the bath, I read my copy of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Books help distract me from my daily anxieties. While I love a good, suspenseful book, one thing I appreciate about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is how chill and even humorous it is. It allows me to feel like I’m living in a calmer world.
Reading in a bubble bath is one of my favorite ways to de-stress and spend my alone time. I could take them multiple times a day, for hours at a time — but I stick to three to five baths a week. After I get out, I feel relaxed.
9:30 p.m. — Since I struggle to fall asleep sometimes, I take a 10 mg melatonin gummy to help me drift off. I try to not take more melatonin than I need, but also take enough that it will work efficiently. The taste of this gummy isn’t my favorite, but it usually kicks in within 20 to 45 minutes, which makes it worth it.
Not being able to fall asleep quickly enough stresses me out — I start having negative thoughts at night. My partner, meanwhile, always falls asleep so easily, which makes me a bit jealous. I’m thankful my melatonin helped me physically and emotionally in that way.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

9 a.m. — Usually around one morning a week, when my partner goes into the office, I like to work on my writing assignments over breakfast at Panera Bread. I always order a bacon, scrambled egg, and cheese sandwich on brioche, a chocolate chip muffie, and a Dr. Pepper for caffeine since I don’t like coffee. This breakfast makes my heart, my mind, and my stomach happy. I also enjoy working at Panera because I only have a lap desk at home; having a whole table to work at feels luxurious. In addition, the music they play at Panera — while loud — is relaxing. $9.80
3 p.m. — Every two weeks, I FaceTime with my therapist in my car for an hour. She isn’t covered by my new insurance, but she allows me to pay only $50, which is the lowest amount on her sliding scale — and the cost is well worth it. I’ve gone to therapy for years now because I believe it can be helpful, no matter where you’re at in your life. She’s helped me handle some relationship conflicts and encouraged me in my freelance work. After talking out all the struggles I’d made note of over the past two weeks, I feel empowered, relaxed, and relieved. $50
10 p.m. — For a few weeks now I’ve been going to my church’s Young Adult Connect Group to make friends and lean more into my faith as a Christian. This week, we talk about vulnerability, faith, and Brené Brown. While I usually get anxious when I have to talk in groups, I appreciate how my friends there encourage what I say and laugh at my jokes. In this group, I feel heard and I both learn and laugh a lot. It rejuvenates me and gives me something to look forward to every other week. I wish we could meet more often — but at least when we do, our meetings last a few hours, since they combine both normal conversation and topic-based conversation! Tonight, we all enjoy the dessert I brought, which I’d made over Thanksgiving.
Daily Total: $59.80

Day Four

6 p.m. — I finish up a 60-minute dance class at the same place I went to on Monday. This particular class is usually more difficult for me, mentally. I’m not as familiar with the moves, which can make keeping up with the choreography difficult. But the people there are funny and kind, and that makes me feel better.
As I get ready to shower, I enjoy the post-workout endorphins and celebrate what my body can do. I really enjoy these dance classes every now and then, but I have to be careful to not over-exercise. I make sure that I go to dance for my mental health and physical health, and not to lose weight, because that mindset has been harmful for me in the past.
8 p.m. — I reconnect with one of my best friends on FaceTime after a while of not talking. We weren’t mad at each other, she’s just not the best at texting back. Talking to her always makes me feel better, especially when I can share difficult situations with her and she validates my feelings. We talk about our relationships, our favorite TV shows, what we’d been up to, and life in general for a little over an hour, before we both become tired and decide to hang up. During our conversation, she mentioned wanting to be better at responding to me in a timely fashion. I’m glad she said that and I’m looking forward to more frequent interactions.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

12 p.m. — My girlfriend and I try to take our women’s One a Day vitamins daily, but we often forget. While we’re making lunch, we notice the bottle and each take one. They don’t taste the best, but I believe I need one since I probably don’t get all the minerals and nutrients I need each day through what I eat. This multivitamin helps with heart health, gut health, hair health, and more. Taking these doesn’t usually change my well-being in a noticeable way — maybe since I don’t take them daily — but I still believe taking them as close to daily as possible is important and helps my health somewhat.
10 p.m. — While my girlfriend is playing a game with her friends, I masturbate in our bed, watching a video to help. I wasn’t particularly turned on beforehand, I just wanted something to do. We lost our vibrator and are waiting for the second to arrive, or otherwise I would’ve used one. Emotionally, I actually feel a bit lonely during and after — though physically I feel good when I orgasm. Unfortunately, sometimes sex-related activities trigger my sexual assault memories, especially when I’m alone. I struggle with this for a bit before I’m able to pull myself out of it. This wasn’t my best masturbating “session,” but they can’t all be.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

1:30 p.m. — I wake up from a nap so I can watch The Bachelorette with my friend virtually. I’m feeling tired, but don’t want to sacrifice our special time. I haven’t had lunch yet and know that food will give me some energy, so I make mac and cheese with peas. This is a food combination that people have teased me for eating, but I love it and appreciate how it combines a few food groups into one meal. I’m also craving something fruity, so after watching the episode, I pull out my plastic jar of mandarin oranges and eat them while my friend and I talk.
On average, I grocery shop about once a week or once every two weeks. I spend around $70 for my partner and me, and we either take turns paying or split it 50/50.
9 p.m. — Relationships play a crucial role in my emotional well-being. I depend on my friends, and they've often helped me handle life’s tough situations. Three of my college friends and I usually FaceTime once a week to play virtual games or watch something on Netflix together. This week, we play Codenames and Scattergories, then watch the last episode of Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father on Netflix, which makes us all laugh. I’m thankful that I have that time with them to look forward to, no matter what’s going on in my life.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

3 p.m. — My girlfriend and I wake up from a nap and continue to lie in bed for a few minutes before having sex. We both orgasm — orgasms give me the biggest oxytocin rush, and making her orgasm makes me feel good too. We do a great job complimenting each other while we have sex, which makes me feel more comfortable and attractive. As someone who’s self-conscious and struggles with body image, I especially appreciate her affirmations. After having sex, I always want to cuddle a lot.
9:30 p.m. — Before going to bed, my girlfriend and I take a bath together, using the “‘F’” bath bomb from the “Da Bomb Bath” brand. The lavender smell is calming, and makes me feel happy and extra relaxed. The bath bomb came with a message: “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” Reading this reminded me to be grateful for the good things in life without focusing too much on the bad. Talking and joking around with my girlfriend in the bath also makes me feel happy in general and about our relationship, which is meaningful and plays a large role in my well-being.
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $59.80
Reflection: My approach to wellness focuses primarily on my emotional and mental health. I've struggled with disordered eating before and today I don't believe food has moral value, so I don't place an emphasis on eating only "healthy" foods or anything like that. I also believe in the seven dimensions of wellness — spiritual, physical, emotional, career, intellectual, environmental, social — and do my best to take care of my entire self in certain ways, like going to therapy consistently. I don't give in to diet culture ideals as often anymore, and I believe in Health at Every Size. I know health is more than just physical, and my wellness practices reflect that.

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