Hello Dear Readers! As promised, I have spent the past fortnight attempting to banish all post-Chrimbo feelings of hibernation and general bleeeeurgh, and as the title suggests, I have had some fascinating experiences and lessons in personal hygiene along the way. So, I shall comment on each of the main areas necessary to make one feel a tad more alive during a grey old January. (Fear not, turds in pools is not one of them.)
It stands to reason of course that getting out and doing some exercise when you feel like you’ve been hibernating in a hobbit hole all winter is going to make you feel better. However, it’s tricky to get out there and do anything. I usually swim, run and cycle. The running has had to take a back seat due to my current injury, so I have kept plodding along with the cycling and the swimming.
Rather sadly, on my first post-festive ‘proper’ day back in the pool, I encountered the now infamous Chlorinated Turd. Just as I came to complete my mile, happy in my endorphin cocoon, I espied a lifeguard asking people to “Clear the pool please”. Assuming that this was due to a private lesson, gala, or similar, I climbed out by way of the steps, pleased with my efforts, only to find said endorphin high getting pissed upon (or more aptly, shat all over) from a vast height. I quote, “There’s a poo in the pool. We need to fish it out… It’s breaking up in the water”. AAARGGHHHHHH!!!!! Horror at the dawning realisation that I’d been swimming with another person’s shit! (Not that I want to swim with my own either you understand.) Never have I seen people run for a shower so fast – not easy on a slippery poolside I hasten to add. The bald guy next to me, who was entirely hairless, was scrubbing his bonce like Vidal Sassoon with OCD on speed. A tragic end to my first feelings of hibernation-escape. Tom Daley doesn’t have to put up with this kind of thing on Splash I tell you. (Though I hear from friends that that’s a different kind of shit altogether.)
Anyway, I have since joined a nice private gym with a nice private pool, that – I sincerely wish – does not include any nice private turds. Most unfortunately I can also confirm that this was not my sole encounter with the bodily waste of strangers as I battled the January Bleurgh Blues, for as I cycled the 3 miles back from Southsea last week, I pedalled through the subway that lies beneath one of the city roundabouts. There near the entrance stood a man with a can of Strong Bow at his feet and his penis (I hope it’s withered) in his hand. Not only was he pissing against the wall (urgh!), but he turned to face me as he did so!! What’s next I wonder? A stranger ejaculating onto the back of my Adidas vest whilst I cross train at the gym?
In conclusion, I can confirm that exercise makes one feel fabulous, minus the wee and turds of course. My friend Emma had a good idea in that mixing up your usual routine gives you back some of the lost mojo following new year. One friend, Lenka, has just joined a gym, and is running for the first time in a while, thereby finding herself thoroughly motivated by just how quickly one can build mileage when running. So try a class or two, or go for a swim if you usually run, or try a spin class if you normally hog the treadmill. Either way, exercise does – even though it’s a drag to get started with – make us feel better about ourselves.
Food and Drink
I can most definitely vouch for the mate and marshmallow tea that I was given by the wonderful Wendy at Budd’s Herbal Apothecary, and also the schisandra tincture. It’s funny because we acknowledge that other naturally-sourced products do what they say, eg: caffeine, tobacco, cannabis etc, but for some reason we often have a dippy-hippy view of herbalism. However, it turns out that even a prior-cynic such as myself can be converted. I awoke two days after beginning the tea/tincture feeling so much better that I spent the morning wondering why I felt so much more alert and energetic – and it was only then, when I thought “what’s different?” that I realised.
I’ve also cut down to only 1 or 2 coffees a day (cue withdrawal headache) and have been very clean and lean with my diet, only indulging in a glass of vino on Friday and Saturday evenings. My friend Caroline has completed a dry January thus far and lost an inch from her waist in doing so – and she also gave me a great recipe for curly kale crisps. They sound like they’d be grim but are actually delicious, as verified by my sceptical husband. Simply spray the kale with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt or sea salt flakes, and pop in the oven on 180 for 8-10 mins, or thereabouts. Yummy, savoury, salty, yet pretty good for you.
(Another friend, Dave, told me about the wonderful health benefits of his whisky and beer diet over Chrimbo – apparently only offset by indulging in at least one hour’s exercise 6 days a week. Presumably the alcohol also manages to pickle you, thereby acting as a formaldehyde of sorts and retaining one’s youthful looks!)
Being female I cannot possibly disperse of my insideyness without the aid of lovely, scrumptious, feminine beauty products. Mmmmm, delicious. My friend Ruth suggests Liz Earle’s Brightening Treatment, and the aforementioned Caroline uses James Duigan’s (he of Clean and Lean fame) advice about organic coconut oil for hair. (The oil is fabulous to cook with too: smells unbelievably yummy whilst lowering bad cholesterol & raising good.)
In conjunction with the above products, I would also suggest any make-up or body cream by Laura Mercier (all positively covetable and available in abundance at Space NK), and Leighton Denny nail products. I am also completely swayed by the beautiful packaging of the award-winning Lanolips hand and lip creams, both of which work wonderfully well. Flower Harmonising Mist by Elemental Herbology is a real treat to use – spritz on one’s visage to protect skin and to swathe oneself in the girlie scent of rose petals, and smother said visage in Lush’s Oatifix face mask, which smells of honey and makes skin lovely and soft (as opposed to shrunken and shrivelled, which is how mine spent most of December and January until I began my mission in ernest).
And so, Dear Reader, in conclusion, I hope that you too are emerging from your cocoon. Another friend of mine does not emerge from hers until March, but then she also spent four hours climbing up and toboganning down a snowy hill on Sunday, so I’m sure she’s looking fairly spritely under the layers of clothing that we in Britain are currently swaddled in against the chill and gloom. If you have not yet started your emergence, then I hope that the advice of lushnessblog & friends is of some use to you. A combination of all of the above, plus a nice dose of positive mental attitude (and the wonders of psychosomatic positivity) should see you right!
(Just keep an eye out at the bottom of the swimming pool next time you jump in. They break up in the water you know.)