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.
Today: a woman spends her week lifting weights, eating vegan, and getting ready for a Dua Lipa concert.
Location: Portland, OR
Occupation: Customer Success Manager
Location: Portland, OR
Occupation: Customer Success Manager
Editor's note: This diary was written in March 2022.
7:30 a.m. — I get up at 7:30 — earlier than usual for me — but I have today off and want to take advantage of some sun and go for a hike outside the city and enjoy some fresh air. Waking up early to beat the crowds and hit the trails might be tough when the alarm goes off but I'm always so happy I did. Our car is low on gas, so I have to stop to fill the tank first. Then I drive about 40 minutes to park at the trailhead for my seven-mile hike. My hike is harder than expected and I get a huge blister — but I'm still smiling at the end of it. $40.84
1 p.m. — After I finish my hike, I’m ravenously hungry. Before I drive back I change into my comfy Birkenstocks in the parking lot (my heel is blister city) and then call my fiancé to see if he wants anything from one of our favorite food trucks that makes vegan cheese steaks, and place an order for both of us. I get a cheese steak sandwich and mozzarella sticks, and plan to steal a few fries from my fiancé. I absolutely love the great vegan food options in Portland and am looking forward to filling back up after the hard hike! Once I’m home, I cozy up on the couch to watch last night's episode of Top Chef while I eat my food. After we eat, I feel nourished and ready for an afternoon nap. $45.40
7 p.m. — Two of our friends are coming over for dinner and we’re making use of the communal grills on our building's rooftop. Between my nap and their arrival, I pop out to the grocery store for dinner necessities and also pick up a four pack of sour beer from a local brewery. I don't drink often but it's starting to feel like spring and I'm in the mood for a treat. $55.43
My fiancé and I have never used the grill before, so our friends teach us how and they grill us vegetables to go with our Beyond Burgers. I love connecting with friends — quality time is my love language after all! We enjoy our food and then move to the tabletop fire pit for warmth and get caught up in conversation until we are ready to call it a night. My cup feels full!
Daily Total: $141.67
10:30 a.m. — I wake up a little later than I usually do, and my Whoop tells me my recovery today is in the red. That makes sense after the challenging hike I had, and my beer with dinner probably didn't help much. I make some avocado toast and an iced coffee and decide to go to Target since we are out of a few things. In addition to toilet paper and cat treats, I get some some new high-waisted pants that I hope I can pull off, two body suits, a new bralette, and a workout t-shirt I plan to wear to the gym today. $99.99
Trying on clothes can be stressful, but I've been working hard on body neutrality and feel more comfortable with the bright lights and angles in the tiny changing rooms. I try on a lot of clothes, but ultimately only stick with the few items that I can't wait to get home and put on. It feels so empowering to not let the fit of a single pair of jeans ruin my day.
2 p.m. — After I finish a tasty homemade smoothie bowl for lunch (always topped with almond butter and fresh strawberries) I sit down with my fiancé to check off some wedding planning tasks. Our wedding is less than four months away and there is so much to do! After we square away his attire and order my wedding ring (surreal) we head to the gym together.
I fell in love with strength training about five years ago, and after the pandemic caused gym closures to be off and on for the last two years, I'm finally in a strong period of training. My fiancé and I both power lift, and we grab squat racks across from each other and I tune into Maintenance Phase while I work through my bench press and deadlift sets. My low recovery from last night has me feeling wiped, and I muscle through my workout anyways. I finish feeling satisfied, proud, and like I need some coffee to stay awake until bedtime.
7:30 p.m. — I've been seeing lots of buzz about The Lost City, a new movie that one of our favorite actresses, Patti Harrison, is in, so we decide to go check it out. I've been wanting to get out of the house more, since novel experiences are so good for our brains! We grab tickets online and hit the concession stand for some popcorn. We split a bag after confirming with the theater that the seasoning and butter topping are both dairy free. The movie is fairly entertaining, and the popcorn really hits the spot. My fiancé and I whisper jokes to each other throughout the movie, and crack up when some people laugh a little too hard in the theater. I'm glad we got out of our apartment and did something different together. I'm tuckered out when we leave and when we get home we cuddle up on the couch for a bit before I pass out. $45.65
Daily Total: $145.64
10 a.m. — The sun is pouring in when I wake up and I'm delighted to be feeling fully rested this morning. I make myself avocado toast for breakfast again and wait for my fiancé to get ready. A fairly new Sunday tradition, we head to a coffee shop to sit and read over our respective latte and cold brew — I bring Outside magazine and he brings a nonfiction book. I get an iced coffee with a healthy pour of oat milk and simple syrup. We sit in a corner of the hip shop with indie music playing and people working on their laptops around us. I think about the word 'sonder' (the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own) and how grateful I am to be able to sit in a cafe again and be around other people living their lives. Overpriced coffees are always worth this environment to me. $10
2 p.m. — I spend my afternoon addressing wedding invitations and then go for a grocery run to stock up our fridge and pantry for the week. It's so sunny today and the temperature is in the high 60s, so I pull out my Tevas and sunglasses (as opposed to the usual rain boots and jacket) and walk down to the store.
I love grocery shopping and understand that not everybody feels that way. For me, walking through the store with my list and selecting my produce carefully, checking out new products to try, and seeing what's on sale is always very soothing to me. I do my best to practice intuitive eating so I am always striving to be very present at the grocery store so I'm getting foods that I'm both excited to eat and know will nourish me well. The trip is a pricier one, but with two powerlifting vegans in one household I don't skimp on our food! $243.90
9 p.m. — We volunteer every week with a mutual aid group to hand out food, water, and fresh supplies to unhoused people in downtown Portland. After a meeting with the group, I make a fairly late dinner of tofu parmesan (my vegan take on chicken parmesan) and serve it to my fiancé in front of the TV for our long-standing Sunday night tradition: 90 Day Fiancé. I notice a marketing text from Foria Wellness offering a BOGO sale on their CBD suppositories. I have chronic pelvic pain and their suppositories are a lifesaver! The text reminds me that I'm starting to run low so I buy a pack and get one free! $50
I have struggled for over a decade with my pelvic pain and it affects my life in a lot of ways, but I always feel empowered and more in control when I take actions to help ease the pain and improve my quality of life. The pain makes intimacy challenging and managing that pain is expensive and time consuming, but it's a large part of my self care and wellness routine because I have to take care of myself. I am worth the investment of both time and money, and I'm glad I can afford to buy things like $50 CBD suppositories.
Daily Total: $303.90
9 a.m. — Time for the work week! After taking this last Friday off for a mental health day, it's back to the grind after my three-day weekend. I start the day working from home with coffee made in my French press and get through my first few meetings. I have lots of focus time this afternoon and am looking forward to making some progress on a few projects I am working on.
Starting off the work week strong from a good night's rest and renewed focus from my long weekend has me feeling productive and happy. I've only been at this new company for a few months and things are fast paced but I love being ready to tackle whatever happens next!
12 p.m. — I haven't been very hungry yet today but I know I need to fill up to have energy for my run and gym session after work. I make a big smoothie bowl (I am on a serious smoothie bowl kick) and spend my lunch hour catching up with a friend over Zoom. We talk about what's going on in our lives, I update her on wedding planning, and we gossip about our favorite reality shows of the moment. I always feel so warm and positive after connecting with my friends! Having this dedicated time to talk to each other has been so wonderful, especially since I moved across the country two years ago.
6 p.m. — After I finish work for the day I head out for a quick jog and then grab my gym bag and head to the gym. Usually my fiancé and I go together, but on Mondays he takes a rest day so it's just me today. I have a bench press workout and then finish with some upper body accessory work. Sweaty and proud of my hard work, I decide to stop at a dispensary before heading back home. I'm low on flower and my favorite gummies and need to stock up. $98
Daily Total: $98
8 a.m. — I have a really early start today. Usually my work day starts at 9 and as much as I want to be that girl with the early morning routine, I am an up-five-minutes-before-my-workday-starts girl since I started working from home full time in March 2020. I make myself one of my favorite breakfasts; sourdough toast smeared with almond butter, topped with banana slices, cinnamon, and hemp seeds. And of course, a huge mug of fresh French press coffee.
4 p.m. — After my Zoom-packed workday I start winding down to head to the gym. My fiancé and I are seeing Dua Lipa later, but I want to squeeze in a treadmill jog and a lift beforehand. I warned my coach that I have a busy week so she programmed some faster workouts to accommodate me. I had a late lunch of cheesy pasta, courtesy of a huge batch of homemade cashew mozzarella I made Sunday night with my tofu parmesan, and it's feeling a little heavy in my stomach, so I skip an afternoon snack.
I used to live for long, jam-packed days. Pre-COVID, I used to wake up super early to get in my cardio training for triathlons, bike to work, work all day and then bike to the gym to lift before going home to make dinner for my partner and I. Present Me admires Past Me for doing all of that, but now I try to avoid long days like I am having today. I've learned to manage stress by planning ahead. That's why I'm grateful for the shorter lift my coach gave me!
7:30 p.m. — I shower as soon as I get home from the gym and then make a quick dinner of air fried Impossible nuggets and a side salad. I throw on a casual outfit (featuring some new, high-waisted linen pants I just got!) and my fiancé and I head out for Dua Lipa. Traffic and parking can be a headache, so we decide to take the train. We get stoked seeing so many fun outfits from other people on their way to the concert. My fiancé got tickets through work for free, so we only have to pay for the train passes! $10
It's been a really long time since we've seen a live concert, and this was a really fun one to jump back into live music for. I try to play it cool and not dance along too hard since we are with my fiancé's coworkers, but I had a total blast at the concert. It's rare to be out on a weeknight, and especially off our usual work-gym-dinner Tuesday routine, but I always find that new and novel experiences spark a lot of happiness and joy for me. I am really glad that we went even if I'll be extra tired tomorrow from it!
Daily Total: $10
10 a.m. — Another work day, another packed calendar. I'm feeling pretty tired after being out late last night so I make myself another big smoothie bowl to pep me up before my next meeting starts. It's a fairly uneventful morning and I manage to get a lot done despite all of the meetings.
Wednesday mornings are when the week starts to catch up with me and I start to feel my focus slipping big time by the afternoon, but I use my time management and to do systems that work well for me (I am currently obsessed with Notion) to stay on top of what I need to do. I feel really challenged in my new role and while it can be stressful and tiring it's also really rewarding.
5 p.m. — The rest of the work day unfolds without much fanfare and I make sure to sign off right at five to head downtown. Another day of volunteering. It can be really challenging work sometimes, but I have been going almost every week for over a year and it's a big part of our community here. We raise donations via social media and local businesses to purchase most of the supplies we hand out.
Doing this mutual aid work has been one of the more challenging experiences I've had. I’m proud that I am doing something to help, even in a small way, in a situation that can seem really helpless to many. But it also feels like we aren't doing nearly enough in the long run, and I feel frustrated with the leaders in Portland who have left so many people without shelter and stability. Some days things can get tense, but most of the time we get to see a lot of the same people week after week and I look forward to seeing their smiles, but I often regret that I cannot do more to help long term. I hope that someday we don't need to do this type of work because it will no longer be necessary, but for now I continue to show up because I'd rather be somebody who does something than sits by and does nothing.
We pay for parking while we walk around handing everything out from wagons that we pull with us. All we pay for today is parking, but sometimes we pick up extra water or snacks on the way to our meetup spot. $3.20
8:30 p.m. — After we finish volunteering, we head to the gym to lift together. I have a shorter lift again and I finish much earlier than my fiancé does. It's later than we usually finish so I am really hungry and start looking up what's open this late on a Wednesday that sounds good for dinner. We decide on vegan wings and cheesy bread from a pizza spot a couple miles away and we put in an order. While he finishes up I head out to pick up our food before coming to get him and head home. Getting back home after such a long evening volunteering and working out, putting on Jeopardy (yes we watch every night), and settling in on the couch with our food is such an indulgent way to end the day. We cuddle and catch up with each other before calling it a night. I love these kind of evenings. $33.48
Daily Total: $36.68
11 a.m. — It's another long day ahead, but this one ends with a flight to Los Angeles! I booked a spontaneous trip last week to visit with friends and go camping. I try to stay focused on work this morning and make myself some tofutti and avocado toast (the dreamiest combo, I swear) and work on my packing list between meetings. The anticipation before a vacation, even a short one, is such a fun feeling. As a kid I used to wake up so early on those days, grinning from ear to ear. As an adult I wake up at a reasonable hour, but I haven't lost the joy! I am so excited to catch up with my friends and the morning flies by while I text with them about plans for our weekend together. I love organizing so getting my list in order keeps me on track to pack efficiently when my lunch hour hits.
I realize that I probably can’t bring my tent with me in a carry-on, even though it's a tiny backpacking tent that will fit, so I Google it to check and confirm I have to check a bag. I pull up the airline app to pay for my checked bag ahead of time. Worth it! $30
2 p.m. — I have a later lunch today and make — you guessed it — my classic big smoothie bowl. Since I have to head to the airport for my flight around dinner time, I want to make sure I’m filled up and won't be ravenous when I land after 11 p.m. While I'm eating my smoothie bowl I notice an email come through from All Trails confirming that my trial has ended and my annual subscription has started. I forgot that I signed up for a trial so I could download the map for the hike I did last week! Oops. I'll use the pro features for sure for some backpacking adventures this summer so I'm not too concerned about the cost. I have a 'subscriptions' category built into the budgeting app I used to manage our joint account, so I know I have the funds to cover it. Budgeting has made me feel really empowered to spend money, whereas I think most people believe budgeting will restrict them. When I know that I am on track with my savings goals and my living expenses are covered, I don't stress splurging on the fun stuff! $31.86
11:30 p.m. — My friends are kind enough to pick me up from LAX and spare me the pricey Lyft from the airport to their house. After lots of big hugs we pile into the car with the top down and it is comically small for four of us and my suitcase, but we make it work and I am overjoyed to be singing along to Dua Lipa with them on the freeway.
Heading into the weekend with some of my closest and oldest friends, many of which I haven't seen since before the pandemic, my heart is feeling warm and bursting with happiness. I value quality time and connection so deeply, and being together in person to catch up feels really special. We live all over the country and only have a few days together this weekend but we really make them count when we get to be together.
Daily Total: $61.86
Weekly Total: $735.89
Reflection: My wellness is really important to me, and the regular daily routines I've built to support that are one of my top priorities. It takes some prep to always stay on top of it, but knowing when I need to plan ahead keeps me successful. When I realized what a busy week I had, with a concert and a flight on nights I normally lift, I reached out to my coach so she could support my goal to get in workouts instead of just skipping them altogether. I've also worked a lot on accepting that it won't always be perfect, but that consistency keeps me in a good place.