Feel Good Diaries: Leg Days, Trail Runs & Lots Of Tea

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 in the beginning stages of psoriatic arthritis, and therefore tries to avoid white sugar, flour, and alcohol in an effort to keep joint pain and flare-ups at bay. She’s only human, however, so she has the occasional “screw ups,” but her absolute no-nos are red meat, pork, and soda. She has a short-term goal to lose 15 lbs before her next birthday in May, and a long-term goal to keep moving and eating healthy for as long as possible in order to feel good as she ages.
Age: 36
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Occupation: Project Assistant
Salary: $37,200

Day 1 (Saturday)

4:45 a.m. — Even though it's Saturday, I'm up early. It’s my second leg day of the week at the gym. To be honest, I only weight lift because doing so helps keep my joints and muscles strong for running, which I’ve been doing for years. (I'd rather be outside running at pretty much all times.) I do enjoy leg day, however, because I know the stronger my legs are the better my trail runs are. Saturday mornings at my gym are usually my favorite because no one is there this early. My gym costs $9 per month.
6:30 a.m. — Vitamin time! I take hyaluronic acid (for my joint pain), iron, and turmeric (for inflammation). The iron is for my anemia. I have been experiencing hair shedding lately and after a very thorough Googling, anemia popped up as a possible cause. I also take Women's One A Day. $30
8 a.m. — Smoothie time! I have to wait until at least 8 a.m. to have breakfast, and even then it has to be liquid, otherwise my stomach gets upset. I can't handle eating too early (8 a.m. isn't early to my stomach, since I've been up since 4 a.m.) and I prefer to work out on an empty stomach. I've been drinking the same variation of the same smoothie for years. When women compliment my skin I credit this smoothie (and water) as the key. The current iteration of this smoothie consists of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a big handful of fresh spinach, half an avocado, a spoonful of dark cocoa powder, a tablespoon of Hemp protein powder, a dash of ginger, cinnamon, and a few drops of honey.
Again, I love this smoothie. I get leafy greens without actually having to taste them, and the smoothie isn't too heavy post-workout.
All of the non-fresh ingredients cost me about $35, and last me about a month.
Daily Total: $74

Day 2

8 a.m. — I went to breakfast with my husband, who is a HUGE breakfast person, so despite all my complaining about not being able to eat early, I occasionally oblige his wishes and accompany him. I ordered scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, fresh fruit, and harvest grain pancakes. I don't really love pancakes, so I'm not sure why I ordered these. They were good, but after about four bites the fluffy dry consistency turned me off. However, I demolished everything else and a hot tea. This was his treat, so it was free.
9 a.m. — Went to Target with the husband. After wandering around for awhile, as you do when at Target, we grab a few of the items we came for, starting with Raw Sugar Body Wash. This is the only body wash that does not cause flare-ups for me, or dryness for the husband. Also pick up a Turmeric Rebbl and convince myself I need two single-serve Vital Proteins Collagen packets. I always wanted to try Vital Proteins, and this seems like a cost effective way to give collagen a second chance. The first brand I ordered made my hot tea taste like beef broth.
I love to shop at Target for health items, as they seriously have a wider variety of health-focused items than our usual grocery store, so we come here whenever needed to stock up. All the items cost $40.
2 p.m. — My husband and I watch a movie together. Sundays are the only day my husband and I are off together, and usually we choose to stay home, find a good movie and relax. The cost of quality time and relaxation is priceless! Free.
Daily Total: $40

Day 3

5 a.m. — Monday is upper body day! I’ve have been on a early aughts punk-ish music kick so I'm relying heavily on the likes of Alkaline Trio, Rise Against, and more to power me through my workout today.
8 a.m. — I like having my Monday-through-Saturday routine of smoothies and vitamins. It makes me feel like my first choices of the day are healthy, and I'm starting things off on a good foot.
Noon — It’s lunch time! I meal prep lunch for my husband and myself. This not only saves us money, but also ensures that I know what we’re eating. This week I took it easy on my meal prep, so lunch is a collection of whatever vegetables were left in the veggie drawer, Tillamook Colby, a few Triscuits, and a pear. I snack on pumpkin seeds and drink various hot teas throughout the day if I get hungry.
For five days, for three meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — we eat for about $10 per day each.
Daily Total: $10

When I moved to this city I knew very few people on my side of town, and she was one of the first people to really welcome me here.

Day 4
5:10 a.m. — It’s running day!!! I put on Slipknot, feel a sudden rush of late ‘90s, early ‘20s angst, and crank out 4.5 miles outside. I usually shoot for 5 miles during my weekday runs, but am recovering from two injuries over the span of four months — an undiagnosed knee injury and a broken toe (I am CLUMSY and trail running can be a slippery slope, literally). The run is free, but my New Balance (I’m a loyal customer) trail sneakers cost me about $50 on Amazon and I have to switch these out about every six months.
8 a.m. — Yup, you guessed it, smoothie and vitamins time!
11 a.m. — Going to lunch with my favorite coworker. When I moved to this city, I knew very few people on my side of town, and she was one of the first people to really welcome me here. We've had a great working, and personal, friendship ever since. She gives great advice, and is like the older sister I never had. So this is a welcome mental health break. My lunch cost $9, but the advice was free.
Daily Total: $59

Day 5

5:20 a.m. — This morning I went to the gym with my husband. We have memberships to the same gym, but only go together on Wednesday mornings, which is his day off. This is the first leg workout day for this week. Lots of squats and hamstring work capped off with stretching. I’m not back up to the weight I was pushing before my injuries, but am working toward it. My husband makes working out fun, and he's in incredible shape, and younger than me, so the competition helps me push myself harder than I might on my own.
5 p.m. — I make tuna melt sandwiches with sprouted grain bread for dinner. This might not be high brow, but gets the job done. Even if dinner is something simple like this, I feel better when I make our meals. Husband has tuna with mustard, I make mine with mayo and hot sauce. $10.
Daily Total: $10.

Day 6

5 a.m. — Running day two! Running makes me feel great, but the fact that my old t-shirt is choking me to death every half mile makes me not feel so great. Time to order some new shirts for the gym. The ones I've had my eye on cost $13 each on Amazon. After I’m done with my run, and shower, I order one.
8 a.m. — This time I add hot tea to my smoothie and vitamins ritual. I love tea. It’s soothing, and too much caffeine makes me jittery, so I rely on some type of tea to wake me up in the morning. There’s always a variety in my office drawer. I’m currently working through this delicious sweet almond, loose leaf, black tea from a specialty shop in Cincinnati, where my sister lives. It's so good, but very strong.
A variety box of this tea costs $45.
7:30 p.m. — For a nightcap, I have a ginger and turmeric tea. Some nights I like to have either a ginger tea or peppermint tea to help with digestion overnight. Plus, something about sipping from a warm mug helps lull me to sleep. Even though Sons of Anarchy is currently keeping my husband and I up past our bedtimes. This tea cost $3 a box.
Daily Total: $61

Gratitude is becoming increasingly important to me because I used to be a very negative person, and believe you attract what you put out.

Day 7

6:30 a.m. — After my second upper body workout for the week, I shower and change at the gym for work. (The gym has kinda become my second home.) Since I live in Arizona, I take my skincare routine super seriously due to the dry climate. (Well, as seriously as my budget will allow!). I wash my face with CeraVe, but have noticed drying on my upper cheeks, so once the bottle is done I’ll switch to something else. I recently purchased Neutrogena's Hydro Boost face wash to use as my p.m. cleanser, and like it so far. After I’m done washing my face in the mornings, I’ll apply CeraVe’s sunscreen with SPF 30. I don't wear makeup — part rebellion and partly because it's way too much hassle to do a full face at the gym every morning — but I do color in my eyebrows and apply mascara and chapstick. You can't go anywhere in Arizona without having hand lotion and chapstick around; otherwise you’ll start to feel like a mummy quickly. My a.m. face routine — cleanser, sunscreen, mascara, eyebrows, mascara and chapstick — all cost around $30.
8 a.m. — I bet you thought it was smoothie and vitamin time, but today I’m also going to journal. My gratitude journal is my New Year's thing. I wanted to try journaling and being mindful of expressing gratitude. Gratitude is becoming increasingly important to me, because I used to be a very negative person, and believe you attract what you put out. And all told, I really don't have much to complain about, and it's good to remind myself of that. Every morning I write down three things I'm grateful for. Today it's: Payday, Friday, and being able to run again after missing so many months. My mom gifted me the journal, so it’s free.
6 p.m. — I head to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients to meal prep over the weekend for the next week. I hate meal prepping, I really do, but I feel like I’m getting more efficient at it. For my husband's lunches, I make slow cooker chicken and red potatoes. I’ll add broccoli to the containers before I freeze them. I also make sheet pan scrambled eggs for his breakfasts for the week, and cut up the fruits and vegetables we’ll eat during the week. Once I finally listened to all the Food Network chefs about washing, cutting, and storing your fresh vegetables and fruits when you first buy them, I haven't looked back. No more spoilage! Or, at least a lot less! My groceries for the week cost me $80.
Daily Total: $110

Being alone and conquering a hard trail run makes the world and its problems fall away for me.

Self-Reflection: Running, and the fact that I’m able to run again after my injuries, was the best part of my week. Working out is a priority in my household, and being injured and not being able to work out — especially run — definitely impacted my mental health. When I eat healthy and am able to go to the gym regularly, I just feel better. I see running as my me-time, but also like my therapy. Being alone and conquering a hard trail run makes the world and its problems fall away for me. Not being able to run made me irritable, snappy, and depressed. A lot of who I am is tied up in running and I feel grateful to be back at it!
Weekly Total: $364
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