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I Live In Michigan, Make $39k A Year, & Spent $166 On Self Care 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 woman spends her week strength training, dealing with work anxiety, and spending time with her mother.
Age: 24
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Occupation: Office administrator
Salary: $39,000/year
Editor’s Note: This diary was written in June 2022.

Day One

6 a.m. — I have recently started getting up a little earlier so I have time to exercise before work and so I don't have to run in the hottest part of the day. I go into work every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I go for a two mile run before coming home and getting ready for work. I make a smoothie for breakfast with lots of fruit, vanilla protein powder, and almond milk. I've been trying to be more consistent with journaling again lately, so I do that for about ten minutes which helps me clear my head and get ready for the day.
1 p.m. — I eat some leftovers for lunch at work and then go for a fifteen minute walk. I've found that doing short walks throughout the day really helps give my brain a break and helps me feel better.
4 p.m. — We have a happy hour after work. It's always so much fun to get to know my coworkers a little better and spend time together outside of the office. It's much more relaxed. I spend $1.40 for parking and then $13.55 for a taco and some queso dip at the restaurant. We have a lot of laughs and good times. After, I go out to dinner with my mom because happy hour ended at 6 p.m. and I still hadn't had enough to eat. We each pay for our own orders, and I get some sushi for $14.25. It’s really nice to spend time with my mom, we’re pretty close and I like talking things out with her. $29.20
Daily Total: $29.20

Day Two

8 a.m. — Going to the farmer’s market is one of my favorite things to do every week. It’s an essential part of my routine and makes me feel good. I always prioritize buying local food when I can, and I know it's a huge privilege to be able to do so. I buy a flat of strawberries (yay, in-season fruit!), asparagus, lettuce, cucumbers, and some broccoli. I also buy a pastry to eat for breakfast: dough stuffed with chicken, gravy, and mushrooms. My husband and I share a joint account for shared expenses, so these groceries will come out of that. We got married in May of 2020 and had a very small COVID wedding. $38
5 p.m. — My mom, sisters, and I go into a small, very popular tourist town for my older sister’s birthday. It's known for having one of the biggest Christmas stores in the world! I got a few lace snowflake ornaments for our Christmas tree and a tequila bottle ornament for a coworker for $29.77. Then we head to lunch and I get chicken with some sides for $27.28. It turns out to be pretty disappointing. After lunch, we shop at the other stores and I buy a wonderful natural candle for $26.74 that’s made with essential oils. It's supposed to help with calming anxiety and I love that it’s natural because I don't like to have artificial fragrance on or around me. It gives me headaches. $83.79
To end our day, we stop and got some gelato for $4.25. It’s so much fun to spend time with my mom and sisters. We don't get to spend time just the four of us very often anymore, so it’s been a wonderful day — and we walked so much, 3.5 miles! I purposely didn't exercise this morning because I knew we would be walking a lot. $4.25
8 p.m. — I get home much later than planned, and I don’t have the energy — or all the groceries — to make food. My husband offers to pay for takeout, so we order from a local restaurant. I want something light, so I get a house salad. My husband and I share our meal together and catch up. We haven’t seen each other much in the last two days. He spent last night at a friend’s house and I was gone all day today. He's my favorite person to be around, so obviously it feels good to be together.
Daily Total: $126.04

Day Three

8 a.m. — No plans for today! I sleep in a bit since it's Sunday. I make some eggs and toast for breakfast with mango and spinach on the side. I try to ask myself how I can add things to make a meal slightly healthier rather than trying to take things away, so I try to add veggies at every meal rather than try to take out bread or something. I don't restrict in any way whatsoever because I have had some bad food control issues in the past. Food is also one of my great passions, so I like to enjoy and savor every meal. This meal is delicious and leaves me feeling great and ready for the day!
3 p.m. — My mom and I decide to go for a hike at our local nature center. Getting out in nature is one of the things that makes me feel best and helps my mental health tremendously. We have a great hike and it's an absolutely beautiful day.
7:30 p.m. — I make a new recipe for dinner: carbonara! It’s extremely tasty and my husband and I both enjoy it. We eat out on our patio. We don't do that enough and I would love to start doing it more. Usually we eat while watching TV, which I know isn't as good for you, but we both enjoy winding down our day that way. I read and journal for a bit after and then get ready for bed (shower, brush teeth, etc.) Lights out at 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6 a.m. — I do my normal morning routine: Get up, go for a run, get ready for work, eat breakfast. Our blender bit the bullet this morning (it's been on its last legs for a while), so I order a to-go bagel from our local place which is so good. I get a plain bagel with mixed berry schmear (cream cheese they make themselves). $4.59
4 p.m. — I have to go in to fix a filling that fell out. I used to have horrible teeth and got so much dental work done when I was younger. Now, I'm meticulous with my oral health and do everything I can to prevent needing work. Thankfully, I haven't had a cavity or any major work done in three or four years. Also, thankfully, I have insurance through my work and an HSA account so I didn't have to pay anything out of pocket, but I paid $80 from my HSA.
7 p.m. — I water my garden and plant some new sunflower and squash seeds because mine got eaten by critters. I love, love, love having a garden. We have two plots at our community garden. Gardening makes me feel so connected to the earth and it brings me such joy to grow my own food. After, I head home to make dinner. We have lettuce wraps, which are one of our favorite light, easy summer meals. Before bed, my husband and I finally have sex. I was on my period earlier for the last few days, and while we aren't grossed out by period sex, we usually wait until I'm on the last few days so it's less messy.
Daily Total: $4.59

Day Five

6 a.m. — I do my usual morning routine once again. Having a consistent routine has really helped my mental health. Before my current job, I didn't have a regular schedule and it took a big toll on me. Now, at about eight months into my new job, I'm really nailing down my routine and I've seen a huge improvement in my mental health.
5 p.m. — I almost always bring my lunch to work. I typically eat leftovers, or if we don't have leftovers, I will make a turkey sandwich. I leave work a bit later today since I had to leave early yesterday, and I come home to see that my package has arrived! I bought a few pairs of new running spandex last week from Nike for $72 total. I gained weight over the last few years and I've been slowly trying to buy new items that actually fit and help me feel good. I ordered longer bike shorts so that I can eliminate some thigh chafing, which has been no joke in the recent heat.
6:30 p.m. — We join my husband's family to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. We have hibachi for dinner, which is always fun and delicious! My in-laws paid for the actual dinner but my husband wanted to pay the hibachi chef, so I gave him the $6 that I had in my wallet to do so. As soon as we get home, we get done what we need to get done, and then my husband and I have sex. It's been a good week so far! We usually average sex two to three times a week on a good week. I think it's so important for my health to maintain a healthy sex life, and I definitely notice the difference in my emotions and the closeness I feel with my husband when we don't have sex for a while. $6
Daily Total: $6

Day Six

6 a.m. — This morning I make some avocado toast with spinach and prosciutto because we had some leftover from earlier in the week. Another thing I decided to start incorporating in my morning routine is stretching on our patio! My cat (who I should have mentioned before and absolutely positively has a huge positive impact on my mental health) likes to join me, and it's one of my favorite parts of the morning now.
1 p.m. — I have been thinking about my leftover hibachi in the fridge all morning and I'm so excited when I finally get to eat it. It's almost just as good the next day! I go for my afternoon walk, which feels great and helps clear my head.
4 p.m. — My husband and I go to the beach after work today. It's been very hot this week and we only live about 35 minutes from it. Our goal is to get to the beach as much as possible this summer because we both love it. It's so calm and makes me feel so peaceful. It's one of my absolute favorite spots to be in the whole world. The water is also warm enough to swim in! We take along a salad that we made last night and it is the perfect summer dinner on the beach. We have sex for the third day in a row when we get home, which is definitely not usual for us! We rarely have sex that many days in a row, but I can assure you neither of us was complaining.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Same routine that I'm sure you're used to by now. The only difference is this morning I walked instead of run because I’m feeling more tired than usual and want to give my body a break. I volunteer every week at the nature center, and today we are weeding invasive species. I like being able to start my day outside for a few hours once a week. Again, outside is one of my favorite places to be.
1:30 p.m. — I eat my lunch outside at the picnic tables today. It’s a bit cooler, so I don’t feel like I’m roasting just being outside. I have leftover lettuce wraps from Monday night and they are delicious!
5:30 p.m. — My husband and I walk down to the garden after I get home from work to weed and water. The heat has been making the weeds grow like crazy! After we get home, I make some honey garlic tofu for dinner with rice and broccoli and we finish watching a movie we had started earlier in the week.
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $165.83
Reflection: I think the most negative thing for my wellness routine, which I am very careful of, is obsessing over food and my weight. I try my very hardest not to, especially with disordered eating tendencies in the past, but society makes it hard. I have also really struggled with gaining quite a bit of weight in the last two years, so I have to be conscious of how I speak to myself and what thoughts I have around food, especially with putting food into "good" or "bad" categories. I've come a long way and those thoughts don't occur nearly as much anymore, but it's still something I have to be conscious of and can still be triggered by when I hear other people talk like that or by seeing things on social media.

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