How an Abortion Doula Spent $1,000 on Wellness in Arlington, Virginia

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What if you had $1,000 to spend on your health?

Welcome to Wellness Diaries. In this series, we send readers $1,000 to splurge on any product, service, or experience—as long as it’s something that can enhance health. Any leftover cash is donated to a charity of the diarist’s choice.

This time, we’re highlighting the healthiest cities in the United States. We found caretakers—a resident physician in pediatrics, an abortion doula, and a puppy-fostering superstar—who live in these cities so they could highlight the different products and services in the area that keep residents well. (And also just give them some cash to spend on health and wellness, because they deserve it.)

Our only requirement: In the spirit of community wellness, all purchases had to be made at local businesses. Consider it your healthy spending guide for these cities—and, of course, an invitation to live vicariously through each local, healthy buy.

Local hero Emily Harrison lives in Arlington, Virginia. She spent her $1,000 on decaf chai, three different kinds of planners, and a gift card to local health food spot South Block. (A true DMV icon for those in the know.)

Emily Headshot

Meet Emily

She’s an abortion doula—someone who cares for people before, during, and after they have an abortion—and political strategist currently based in Arlington, VA. She is also an intuitive self care coach, a planner connoisseur, and is working toward becoming a holistic health coach for women.

Emily’s Diary

$119 Workout Classes

Fit District

Fit District Founding Membership Freedom Pack (5 Classes)

“This year, I’ve been working on finding movement that makes me feel better mentally and physically, rather than exclusively viewing exercise as a mode for losing weight. I’d love to try out the various classes FitDistrict offers so I can continue this movement journey.”

$13 Tea

Calabash Tea

Calabash Tea Yoga Chai – Decaf Masala

“I cut out caffeine cold turkey four months ago and never looked back, but I very much miss my chai lattes. I can’t wait to try this decaf version!”

$42 Planner

Appointed on Penny Post

Penny Post Appointed 2023 Weekly Task Planner (Oxford Blue)

“I’m chronically over-scheduled and need to balance my care work with the rest of my life. Not only does this help me stay on top of my needs,  I also find a lot of peace in setting aside time to stop and use a paper planner.”

$129 Massage

Origins Thai Spa 60-Minute Indian Head Massage

“When I’m not doula-ing, I’m usually sitting at a desk or looking at screens. Indian head massages focus on helping with tension headaches (something I get pretty frequently) and can help with eye strain (who doesn’t suffer from that these days?).”

$99 Floatation Therapy


Soulex First-Time Float Session (60-Minute)

“Between our abortion rights constantly being attacked and a never-ending news cycle, I could really use a break. That’s why I’m so interested in floatation therapy. The idea of floating in the dark, by myself, with no noise or light, just sounds so, so healing.”

$47.97 Nut Butters

The Nutrition Corners

Fit Butters (Fluffernutter, Caramel Apple Pie, Chocolate Caramel Candy Bar)

“After having surgery earlier this summer, I’ve had to change my diet to prioritize protein. I’ve wanted to try these nut butters at my local vitamin store for a while now for a high-protein, low-sugar treat!”

$44.99 Habit Journal

Delightful E Made

Delightful E Made The 90 Day Healthy Habits Journal

“I try to practice a growth mindset in every aspect of my life, and I love finding different avenues to track my growth. This healthy habits journal has everything I love. Plus, it’s from one of my favorite local meal preppers!”

$48 Body Oil

Nothing in Between Studio

Everyday Oil Warm Feelings

“After a long doula shift on my feet, I love to be able to reconnect with my body through dry brushing followed by moisturizing oil. My favorite toxin-free nail salon uses this oil. I love its feel and scent.”

$28 Workbook

Nothing in Between Studio

Moon Lists Volume 2

“Between my doula work and my political work, I do a lot of heavy emotional lifting. This journal focuses on helping people tap into their inner peace and creativity, providing a nice distraction from the heavier stuff. “

$12 Exfoliating Washcloth

Nothing in Between Studio

Nash & Jones Agave Washcloth

“I love skincare and am always looking for ways to exfoliate that don’t dry out my skin or tear my pores. I would love to try this washcloth, which is described as a ‘gentle exfoliator.'”

$24 Foot File

Nothing in Between Studio

Nothing in Between Studio Renew Glass Foot File

“Maybe it’s because I spend doula shifts on my feet, or maybe it’s because I spent the entire summer in sandals, but my feet are so calloused. This glass foot file is my favorite part of getting pedicures at this studio.”

$38 Toner

Take Care Shop

Take Care Osea Sea Minerals Mist

“I’ve been on the hunt for a new toner. After meeting with the great folks at Take Care, a self care-focused shop in DC, I’ve fallen in love with this gentle toner.”

$125 Running Shoes

Fleet Feet

Georgetown Running Company Fleet Feet Gift Card

“I’ve never paid much attention to the quality of my shoes. Now at the ripe old age of 26, I am paying for it. I began running again this fall, and I want to make sure I’m wearing shoes that 1) fit properly and 2) are supportive enough. Getting to do a fitting with a pro at Georgetown Running Company will help me do that.”

$200 Spa Credit

King Spa Gift Card

“I’m a workaholic. If I have a day off work, I’ll pick up a doula shift. If there isn’t a doula shift that day, I will volunteer to escort patients into the abortion clinic to avoid protestors. The thought of taking an entire day to spend at the spa is kind of mind-blowing to me. In a good way!”

$30 Healthy Food Credit

South Block

South Block Gift Card

“South Block is my absolute favorite healthy food option in the DMV (D.C/Maryland/Virginia) area.  The avocado toast and apple crisp acai bowl are the best!”

Total: $999.96

Stay tuned for details on our next Wellness Diaries by subscribing to Nessie Sightings! (That’s our newsletter.)

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“This card is such an exciting addition to my wallet and it’s perfect for someone who values health and wellness but hasn’t found a credit card that rewards me for that. I love getting rewarded for wellness practices like sleeping, meditating, and moving my body—plus extra points on purchases at my favorite places like Whole Foods, ClassPass and sweetgreen. The app is easy to use and the card is designed for your definition of health and wellness, which I love. It’s flexible!”

Kira's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“It’s no secret that wellness is such an important part of my everyday life. I spend a lot of money to help fuel my love of running, recovery, nutrition and mindfulness, so the fact that I can now earn rewards for every dollar I spend with the Ness Card is amazing. My health always comes first, and the Ness Card makes that easy to do. It’s a win-win for everyone!”

Andi's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“As a new mum, wellness and self-care is a priority for me—so I can, in turn, be able to take care of my baby. I love the incentives that Ness offers for making healthier choices. And to be rewarded along the way for those purchases is such a plus!

Oh, and getting 5x point rewards on my Erewhon $20+ smoothie makes it a little more justifiable.”

Amrit's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“I made a promise to myself to find my joy again in 2023. For the past few years, I haven’t been taking care of myself mentally and physically because I’ve just been on the go and focusing on the future instead of being present. I realized that part of the reason I wasn’t happy was because I wasn’t taking care of myself. So, now with the Ness Card—which literally rewards you for staying on top of your wellness journey—I’ve easily been able to focus on my mental and physical journey. Using the card is now a part of my weekly routine, whether I’m buying groceries, going to therapy, spending a day at the spa, or treating myself to a delicious yummy meal.”

Candace's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“I love life with the Ness Card! The team behind the scenes work really hard to make it valuable and to create a sense of community, which you feel in every newsletter and hand-crafted partnership. The card itself encourages me to be even more curious about where I’m spending my money. It definitely incentivizes me to spend ‘healthier’, which is really unique. On top of that, getting points for taking more steps? There is seriously nothing like it.

David's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“My favorite thing about the Ness Card is that it rewards you for your healthy habits, and not all of them require spending. Yes, you can earn 5x points when you spend at any of their approved health and wellness merchants (think Erewhon and many of your other favorites) but you also earn points for being active daily! So now your sanity walks are literally paying off :) As someone who not only works in wellness but lives and breathes it, essentially most of my expenses live in that realm and with the Ness Card I can now be rewarded nicely for those purchases.”

Kirsty's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“I love that I have rewards to look forward to when I focus on my health and wellness. As a mom of two and full time photographer/creator, it’s hard to find time to prioritize my health and—as my body ages—I want to make sure that I’m treating it to all the TLC it needs (and deserves)! The Ness Card reminds me to take care of my mental, physical, and emotional health on the daily.”

Valerie's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“It’s refreshing to have a card app that is so easy to use. I can track my spending and rewards at the click of a button. I love getting a notification when I get extra points for getting a full night sleep or getting my steps in, though of course those are optional. I work a lot, and I feel like I get extra rewarded for taking the time to take care of myself – whether it’s therapy or simply cooking at home instead of dining out. The points accumulate really quickly, and I’ve already gotten a $1,000 credit at Erewhon in my first four months. I also go visit family in Europe a lot, and no one takes my card there, so it’s so convenient to be able to use my Ness Card without ever paying a fee.”

Mélanie's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“As someone who spends the majority of her money on wellness, the Ness Card is perfect for me! I love earning 5x points on purchases at healthy businesses that I was already making, anyways. The Ness Card also motivates me to get enough sleep, practice mindfulness and other healthy habits. The app is really user-friendly and I love watching my points add up. I am excited to redeem them for wellness-related items!”

Lauren's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“The Ness Card motivates me to keep up my healthy habits, and has helped me discover new brands and products that are in alignment with my goals. I’m not spending any more with my Ness Card, but the money I am spending on health and wellness is actually earning me rewards, benefits, and even cash back. And because Ness’s definition of a ‘healthy merchant’ is so generous, I’m able to recognize all of the small ways I practice self-care throughout the week. From buying fresh veggies to going to therapy to taking my supplements, the Ness Card is there to cheer me on: ‘Keep being healthy, girl. You deserve 5x points for that.'”

Melissa's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“The Ness Card rewards me when I spend money on health and wellness. Especially because so much of my wellness routine is spent being active, gardening, making food with my husband, getting a massage, or having some me time, it is nice to be rewarded for that with points that are with brands I shop at all the time anyway. It allows my wellness choices to work harder which I love.”

Research Based

This article was rigorously researched and fact checked. We use peer-reviewed journals and reputable medical sources (think: CDC, WHO, NIH, and the like) to back up every claim we make, and also reach out to experts in the field to ensure we’re covering things the right way. We apply these principles to everything we cover—including brands we partner with—and we’ll always disclose sponsorships, ads, and any kind of financial relationship with anything featured on The Nessie. You deserve the best, most straightforward information on health and wellness, and we think this is the right way to do it. You can read more about our testing and review process here.

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