Lisa Byrne on the benefits of healthy living
PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 October 2017
Take time out every day just to find a bit of peace, says our usually fast-living and fun-loving columnist
I worked in ‘Fleet Street’ at the tail end of the heady days of newspaper journalism. Okay, so I never actually worked on the street – though I did visit the pub synonymous with reporters, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and I was proposed to by my husband at St Bride’s Church, which was then, I suppose, the spiritual home of national newspapers. But while I did work experience at The Observer, freelanced at the Sunday Mirror and went on to edit OK! Magazine, I regarded myself as a stalwart of that infamous place, despite being based in Canary Wharf, Gray’s Inn Road and Lower Thames Street.
I have extremely fond memories of those days, though they were ridiculously unhealthy. We thought nothing of going for long, boozy lunches while devouring huge, carb-heavy meals before heading back to the office to put the newspaper or magazine ‘to bed’. Evenings would be spent at premieres, beauty launches or just joining colleagues for a few down the local.
But in the couple of years before I left OK! Magazine, I noticed a distinct transformation. With the dawn of the internet the editorial team appeared to be tied to their desks, emailing rather than visiting or calling contacts. And if lunch was taken, writers started to visit the gym for spinning classes rather than the pub, and were mercilessly mocked by the growing minority of committed wine and pizza guzzling reporters. But soon more of the work force started to ‘see the light’ and realised what the cycle of the intense stress of the newsroom, relieved with drink and a horrendous diet, was doing to their bodies and souls.
Since leaving OK! Magazine and moving back to Yorkshire following gruelling cancer treatment, I’ve found it a lot easier to steer myself towards a healthier way of life. Rather than partaking in the lunchtime hair-of-the-dog, I relish my daily dog walks and I’m also working with a personal trainer who, instead of being a screeching banshee, is extremely positive and motivational. His gym is in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by cows and sheep instead of a soulless building in the city.
And despite despising modern technology, I’m using my smartphone to some good purpose by downloading an app to do morning and evening meditations. But I’ve banned the phone from my bedroom and instead I read a book before writing down a to-do list for the following day – this has so helped to relax my mind.
One of my main issues is that I’m going through the perimenopause due to past cancer treatment. This has caused terrible mood swings, sadness, hot flushes and general raging at anything from Donald Trump to self-service checkouts. A nutritionist I consulted for help explained that in Chinese medicine perimenopause is brought about by the decline of ‘yin’. This is the cooling, moistening and calming mechanism within the body. Apart from acupuncture, I was advised to eat nourishing foods such as walnuts, asparagus, aubergine, oily fish and avoid spicy foods and refined carbohydrates.
I’ve taken this on board but also believe that life is all about balance. I recently read a feature about Victoria Beckham, whom I’ve met on a number of occasions through OK! Magazine and always liked immensely. But her interview left me feeling exhausted. She appears to spend most of the night toiling over her design business, getting up early for a vigorous work out, making a super-healthy breakfast and doing the school run followed by office work. Victoria is incredibly successful for a reason: she’s so focused. But even so, I do feel it’s important to take time out on a daily basis, just for a bit of peace.
It’s easy to feel nostalgic for the heady days of Fleet Street, and though they were rather glorious, there was a lack of balance about the work hard play harder ethos. In fact, it was a recipe for an untimely demise.
However, I’m making much healthier life choices today although I still occasionally have a glass of burgundy, some white bread dripping with butter as well as cheese with the odd healthy walnut thrown in.