Hi everyone, Pippa here with my first column of 2017.
Did you have a lovely break over Christmas? I certainly did. It’s unbelievable how exhausting the build- up is though isn’t it? By the time I’d made the long train journey home, up North, with bags so heavy and stuffed with presents they nearly snapped my spine and fingers, I felt utterly broken. Nothing to do with the serious hangover I had from my work Christmas party the night before of course…..
Anyway, Dad picked me up from the station, like a wonderful mirage, a true Christmas angel of the North, promptly relieved me of my bags and bundled me into his nice warm car at which point I feel asleep and dribbled onto his upholstery.
After that it was the usual mix of magical and miserable. It was magical to see everyone, to eat 9000 calories a day (whilst not giving a minute’s thought to the health implications of having cream and custard), to drink Bailey’s from pint glasses and stuff baked Camembert into my mouth with my bare hands. It was magical to hear some carols in the church, to sleep and do nothing and to breathe some Northern air and go for cold, rainy walks. It was miserable to see irritating Aunty Sue for three days on the trot, to realise I’d put on eight pounds in one day and to feel so alarmingly toxic I’d give Britney Spears a run for her money. And then the main festivities ended and the ‘bit in the middle’ arrived. That glorious bit of time that seems to just stop, when getting dressed feels like a chore and it could just as easily be a Monday or a Saturday. I sort of ground to a halt, started sleeping till the afternoon and to be honest, needed the New Year to get going before I became completely institutionalised, an alcoholic who thinks it’s normal to start drinking at 11 am and/or morbidly obese.
And now here we are, having officially landed in 2017. A year which puts an end to the one a lot of people labelled ‘the worst year ever’ in terms of global turmoil and politics, the divisions caused by Brexit and the fact that a lot of incredible celebrities shuffled off this mortal coil. Of course, none of this was really the ‘year’s’ fault quite frankly and who’s to say what’s in store for 2017. Anything could happen and probably will, given that a certain orange reality star will be in charge of the biggest Western super power in the world. So, all we can really do going forward is decide how we as individuals are going to approach the next twelve months. How can we insure a happy, healthy, productive year for ourselves as working people, one which is as successful and fruitful as can possibly be?
Well, here follow a few suggestions which I hope can last longer than January.
You are what you eat.
Of course everybody jumps on the healthy eating bandwagon at this time of year. It’s inevitable as we resolve to get fit, lose the Christmas blubber and be able to get back into our favourite jeans again. However, personally I have resolved not to be too militant about this. You see dry January doesn’t really work for me. Neither does cutting out whole food groups because whatever I forbid myself ends up being the very thing I crave or end up bingeing on. So, what I have decided to do is to make small changes, ones which will hopefully become habits and therefore benefit me on a much bigger scale if I can stick to them. I will do this for two reasons. The first reason isn’t one to be proud of but is a driving force for me nevertheless. It’s vanity. I can’t lie, often if I go for a run it’s because I’ve seen my arse in a photo, or made the mistake of trying on a swimming costume in a well- lit changing room. My second reason to start eating better and moving more is probably more pertinent to this work related blog. It’s the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ because not only do you reflect physically what you choose to eat and drink, it’s also true to say that you ‘feel’ how you eat. I really noticed this last year. If I had a big lunch involving loads of carbohydrate or that was a bit greasy I would invariably feel shocking in the afternoon. The clock would reach about four and I’d be feeling soporific, unproductive and like I urgently needed to be horizontal. The desire to lie down is always a tricky one to navigate in an office environment.
By the same token, miss breakfast and by the time lunch comes around I’m making ridiculous choices because I’m so over hungry. Also, if I drink eight cups of tea or coffee throughout the day I end up wired but still tired and my urine smells of Nescafe. This is not only revolting but unhealthy too, especially because I take sugar in my coffee.
Then of course in the evening there’s the classic ‘I need to unwind’ reach for the wine bottle which means I relax but then don’t sleep as well as I would normally. I also worry that I’m having too many units a week overall.
So, what to do? Give up tea and coffee? Give up booze? No, where’s the fun in that?
Instead I’ve decided to allow myself one morning coffee, a mid- morning cup of tea or coffee and then one cup of tea in the afternoon. Apart from that it’s water or herbal teas only.
I’m going to have three days off booze a week (I shall figure out which ones they are before the week begins) and I am going to eat breakfast every day.
Basically I am going to make small changes wherever I can, fruit instead of biscuits, take the stairs instead of the lift, more salads, less sarnies and a walk or exercise class in my lunch hours. My hope is that by respecting my body more than I did last year it will give me more energy in return. Please know I don’t expect any of you to be reading this thinking that my small efforts are particularly impressive but from small acorns grow large oaks, or something like that. Plus I’m not sure about this culture of bingeing in December then starving ourselves in January or the annual spring panic to get ‘beach ready.’ It all feels a bit unhealthy and my point is that perhaps more moderation throughout the year would help avoid such peaks and troughs. Anyway, whatever your personal choices are, the only message is that eating right and feeling fit makes us happier, healthier, more focused human beings and that is what I want for the year ahead. Bring it on.
I love a good clear out and this year I am going to be brutal. If something doesn’t fit properly, look good, or if I haven’t worn it for more than a year, it’s going to charity. I have also decided that less is more. I don’t need fifteen average work outfits; I need seven killer ones that I feel absolutely great in. The sales are on and it’s time to sharpen up my act. What I wear also affects how I feel I find, so I think it’s important to think about the kind of image you want to project at work. There’s no need to think you can’t be smart and stylish and there are a few places which are great for on trend basics that will not just look great but last. Buying good quality work clothes ensures they’ll be able to withstand regular wears and washes, so it’s worth investing what you can in a great coat, good boots and shoes plus whatever your outfit of choice is. N.B Just wearing a coat and boots isn’t appropriate no matter how good the quality…….
I’ve actually started to wear more and more dresses to work, tunic dresses and A line dresses mainly, from places like Cos and ASOS and River Island. Marks and Spencer do some great styles too and for me dresses work well because they’re so comfortable. There’s no waistband, they don’t crease and somehow always make you look like you’ve made an effort.
Take the New Year as an opportunity to start on the right foot professionally. Update your CV; think about what you want out of the year ahead and whether you are in the right place and doing the right job. Are you due a promotion or a raise? What did you learn from the year just gone by? How can you improve your performance? Perhaps it’s time to put an appraisal meeting in the diary with your boss. If you instigate this it will show both willing and initiative. Essentially the beginning of a New Year is the perfect time to really stop and think about what targets you want to achieve for yourself in every area.
So my worker bee friends, good luck with it all and I look forward to reconvening in a month,