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.
Location: Riga, Latvia
Occupation: C-level executive
Editor’s Note: This diary was written in October 2022.
6 a.m. — I get up and immediately make a coffee so I can be energized for a strength training session with my personal coach at my local gym. I started to weight train with my coach almost a year ago. This was the final round of a three-week weights program, and honestly I struggled a lot to complete it. I haven’t been sleeping well, and poor sleep definitely impacts my ability to lift heavier and improve my technique. The gym membership costs $54 a year while each training session costs $26.
After the workout I jump into the shower, make a quick breakfast of two whole grain bread slices with a bit of hummus, add a sliced boiled egg, and top it off with arugula for a bit of a veggie balance. I also drink another cup of coffee thanks to my poor sleep cycle.
1 p.m. — I live near my office, so I take my lunch break at home. I make a salad with chickpeas, steamed beetroot, arugula, feta cheese, cucumber, and olive oil. I also take a ginger shot, since my lack of sleep is making me feel ill. For dessert, I have organic peanut butter on a piece of dark chocolate. After lunch I’d normally go for a quick 20-minute walk, but today I feel extra exhausted and instead I stay at home for a bit longer to scroll TikTok before heading back for my afternoon meetings.
When I first started my fitness journey, I cut out carbs and did extensive cardio. My coach suggested I reach out to a certified nutritionist, who’d check in with my weekly meal and training progress via the MyFitnessPal app. I pay $66 for three months of weekly coaching. First thing the nutrition coach did was to add back carbs into my meal routine and increase calorie intake, given my training schedule. I also added in a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. This new routine eased me into a new habit of healthy eating and I have been on this plan for nine months.
6 p.m. — I invite my husband to go for an evening walk. We usually take two to three walks per week after work to discuss our days and to have a bit of a movement and fresh air. I really enjoy taking walks in the evening, as it really helps to brush off the day, anxiety of to-dos, and overall exhaustion of constant meetings. After we walk, I shower and make dinner with the leftover salad I had for lunch. I also make a frozen cherry milkshake later in the evening.
Daily Total: $26
6 a.m. — It’s a beautiful morning, so today I go for a five-mile run. Once I get back from my run, I jump in the shower and make breakfast. Today it’s a coffee with plain yogurt, wholegrain oats, flaxseed, honey, cinnamon, and fresh blueberries. I also have a whole grain cracker with peanut butter. Since I am living in northern Europe where sunlight is a pretty rare occurrence, I tend to go for a run or walk whenever it’s sunny. I loved every bit of my run in the sun, as it quickly turns to a rainy gray day.
1 p.m. — I break for lunch and decide to head home. I make grilled chicken with a bit of roasted potatoes from the weekend’s leftovers and make small side of arugula, beetroot, feta, and cherry tomato salad with olive oil. For a dessert, I make another cracker with peanut butter and fresh blueberries. After lunch, I go for a quick walk around the neighborhood before I have to get back to my meetings.
It took me nine months to get used to eating well and it took me three years in therapy to ease into a habit of short but regular walks. Trust me, it does make a difference.
7 p.m. — I get home a bit later tonight since I have my online therapy session straight after work. I see my therapist once a week, and each session costs $44. Today’s session is really good and I focus on shifting my mind to be true to myself, my needs, and managing other people’s expectations. I have been very bad at saying no to people, and that has made me feel burned out at work. Although I have made a good career progression, it has come with a severe cost of mental health issues and I am dealing with the consequences, even after three years in therapy. For dinner, I make a whole grain sandwich with turkey, ham, cucumber, and cottage cheese with greek yogurt. It tastes a bit random, but it balances protein, carbs, and fats. I also drink the frozen cherry shake before heading to bed. $44
Despite not having my evening walk tonight, I still feel so much better after the therapy session. I am trying to stick to a 9 p.m. bed time without my phone to get into a healthier sleep cycle. My sleep started to get worse when I got a new job. I tend to fall asleep between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. and I’ve been trying to read a bit before easing into the sleep.
Daily Total: $44
6 a.m. — I get up, make coffee, and walk to the nearby gym for a strength session with my personal trainer. Today’s training includes a lot of squats and I made my personal best achievement in some of the weights training. A good night’s sleep makes such a difference! Once I’m home I shower and make a breakfast of whole grain oat porridge with berries, cocoa powder, almonds, and a large cup of coffee. I then walk to my office to kick off the day. $26
1 p.m. — I break for lunch and buy a chicken vegetable soup and a protein bar from a local cafe and take the usual walk around the office. I tend to mix take out and homemade lunches these days after I spent six months of only eating home-cooked meals in order to track my macros. $5
6 p.m. — After work, I take a short walk around the block with my husband before making dinner. Today is a family favorite of a whole grain penne pasta, grilled shrimp, zucchini, and parmesan cheese. I also have a glass of white wine that will likely give me a headache tomorrow morning.
With the price of food rising, I’m more cautious on spending, since a lot of my monthly money goes to various coaches. I used to drink a bottle of wine per night, frequently shop for clothes, and order take out three to four times a week. I am super happy to change these habits and still spend money, but this time on my personal well being and good food instead.
Daily Total: $31
6 a.m. — I get up feeling that large glass of wine, but manage to go to the gym for my cardio session. I use the free Nike Training App, which has a great choice of various training regimes. After the workout, I head home, shower, and have porridge with berries again for breakfast. I get my weekly food order delivery — the usual staples are milk, whole grain bread, chicken breasts, lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, oranges, whole grain oats, whole grain pasta, rice, organic peanut butter, low fat milk, low fat greek yogurt, dark chocolate, chips and ice cream for my hubby, frozen berries, peas, green beans, and shrimp. I put the delivery away and head out to the office. $100
The hangover headache is real! I used to be able to drink a bottle of wine per night and have a fully functioning work day at the office. As a result my skin looked gray and spotty, and I definitely didn’t get a good night’s sleep. The cycle of feeling exhausted after a 12-hour office shift and rewarding myself with wine was difficult to get out of. It took me approximately two years of regular weekly therapy sessions. I am not judging anyone who drinks frequently, but can definitely say that by breaking this cycle of frequent drinking has made my life a lot more pleasurable.
1 p.m. — I have today’s lunch at a local cafe. I am having a salmon patty, boiled rice, and carrot salad with olive oil. I also take a ginger shot, then go for a quick walk and return back to my desk a little earlier than usual so I can break earlier for an evening pilates session that is included in my monthly gym membership fee. $7
7 p.m. — I catch a nearby bus to travel into the city center to meet my friend at a rooftop terrace for a Friday drink. I have an alcohol-free beer and Caesar salad that tastes pretty awful. I’m glad to have a chat with my friend, who is living her life like a true rock star. We also make plans to go to a fancy meal out with our husbands that I am very much looking forward to. $25
I love a good balance of work, self-care, and social life. Although the majority of my friends live abroad and visit irregularly, I am always happy to spend the precious time together and feel great.
Daily Total: $132
8 a.m. — It’s the weekend! This week I’m taking it easy since a few upcoming weekends are shaping up to be packed. I get up, have a cup of coffee, and head out for an eight-mile run. After the run I shower, have sex, and make breakfast of a scrambled egg with spinach, turkey bacon, and cherry tomatoes. Then, I head out to get a hair color renewal done. I have a Red Bull to keep the energy levels up after the run. $70
3 p.m. — It’s my mom’s birthday, so I treat her to a nice meal at a restaurant. I am having fish soup, shrimp salad, and a glass of water. We have a lovely catch up and after a few hours, we head back home. $120
I tend to struggle with multiple social events in one day, since I find it overwhelming. Although it is nice to see my hairdresser I’ve know for years and my mom, it also makes me a bit tired and I am happy to head back home.
8 p.m. — We are having a chill night in front of TV. We watch an ice hockey championship game and switch to the Eurovision competition straight after. It is a fun show to watch and I tear up when the Ukrainian act is on. I drink a fresh mint tea and scroll through social media while we watch. At around midnight we head to bed and fall asleep soon after.
Being at home is my happy place and the whole situation with the Ukraine war makes me value having a lovely house and my husband by my side. This war is definitely a trigger for my mental health, and so it is for other people around me. The feeling of how close we are living to the war zone makes this anxiety trigger a lot more overwhelming.
Daily Total: $190
9 a.m. — I get up, have a coffee, and head out for a five-mile run, then when I get home, I shower and have sex. My husband prepares a pancake breakfast that I have with a fresh banana, berries, and honey. Weekends are my time to recharge and I appreciate the rush-free morning routine and late breakfast. My sleep cycle is so much better during the weekends since I am not thinking of work.
2 p.m. — After late breakfast I take a nap and wake up feeling charged enough to go for a walk around the neighborhood. My husband treats me to a Coke. I rarely drink any fizzy pop.
Having time to take a nap is a true gem! I take vitamins, drink plenty of water, and also work with my nutrition coach to balance meal macros out so I don’t feel so tired after each meal. Pancakes are not the meal to get energy from, so I gladly use the time for a nap.
6 p.m. — After spending the day doing chores (cleaning, ironing), I get ready to make a meal for me and my husband. We usually take turns but I actually enjoy cooking, so quite often I ask if I can make something nice for us. Tonight we are having grilled pork medallions, mashed potatoes, green beans, and air fried baby carrots. After, I drink mint tea, watch TikToks, and get ready for bed. I feel much more recharged after the week and socially active Saturday.
Daily Total: $0
5:30 a.m. — I sleep well so I get up early, have a cup of coffee and a banana, and head out to the gym. Today is my Nike Training Club routine session. I love every bit of it and feel super energized afterwards. I head home, shower, and make breakfast of greek yogurt, berries, oats, cinnamon, and honey and head out to the office.
1 p.m. — I break for lunch. Today I buy quinoa, lettuce, bell pepper salad with peanut butter sauce and grilled chicken from a local restaurant. I also have a chocolate bar and coffee for dessert and do my usual walk around the block. $10
Generally speaking, I find it important to track which types of meals make you feel sluggish and sleepy, therefore only recently I am keeping an eye of not having too many carbs during the weekdays, so I don’t feel sleepy during the day and can keep up with work tasks.
7 p.m. — Tonight I am work a bit later due to a few urgent tasks. I get home and reheat a few plain crepes from the weekend with cheese and turkey ham slices. I also have a banana for dessert. We watch TV and TikTok and head to bed by 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $10
Reflection: The positive impact of this routine is feeling more self-sufficient, less anxious, and more in control of various situations and my behavior around them. The downside, probably, is the fact that I am becoming a bit boring, but I am still balancing it out with an occasional big night out from time to time. Overall, I must say I own my 30s and wish that others would too!
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