I used to be suited and booted, not trainered and leggings-ed. I was good at school, diligent and hard-working, so it was pretty much a given that I would go to university. I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do (I've always been a person with a lot of ideas). I knew I was going to spend £10k on a degree regardless and I wanted to make sure I got the greatest possible return on my investment, so I chose Law - an intellectual challenge with some prestige attached, plus lots of transferrable skills.
To cut a long story short, I graduated from Southampton, under 2% off a first in Law, with a particular specialism in insurance law. I didn't want to go into legal practice and I genuinely loved the insurance side, so I went into claims. It was great fun and a real eye-opener, but as an exceptionally ambitious person, I wanted the challenge of 'Account Exec'. Within three years, I was there, an Account Exec at 24 in a fantastic team, working for a highly prestigious company.
I loved my colleagues and I had a fabulous boss but, in all honesty, it wasn't enough. If you're happy in a corporate environment and enjoy working in insurance, there is nowhere better, but my heart lay in fitness and working for myself. I've been on a 'fitness-journey' myself (that's another blog!) and I just wanted more.
This means that I understand - I've sat at your desk (proverbially), have felt that 11am intersection, lunch so far away. Rushed to get everything I needed to done in my lunch hour, eating being at the bottom of my priority list; I used to eat such crap just because it was convenient! Felt the waves of tiredness and boredom at 3:30 and then escaped as soon as I could at 5:01! I know - despite the best intentions of your employers or your boss - how trapped you feel and how stuck in a routine you can get.
I understand the corporate environment - its pressures, red-tape, office politics, team structures, different dynamics, the long sedentary hours. It's not a world that is designed around people and doesn't tend to promote self-care.
This wasn't enough for me and exercise was my escape. At just 24, I started to get lower back and shoulder pain, after the hours and hours spent sat at my desk pouring over pages and staring at the screen. Consider how that would have progressed ten years down the line. Even with the best will in the world, countless desk assessments, fancy chairs and a BUPA programme won't prevent these issues entirely - they're so so common, but so treatable, and the solution is pretty easy.
The corporate world has bred a generation of people with sleepy bums, weak cores, rounded shoulders and craned necks. Also, an addiction to convenience foods, caffeine and sugar highs and lows. It became really important to me to change this, not just for myself, but for others too.
Have you had enough of this?
For the employEES reading, make a choice:
- To take your health seriously
- To use your lunch breaks to eat, alongside running errands
- To leave your desk - stand up for 1 minute of every hour minimum
- To move - exercise isn't a negotiable part of life - it's essential if you want your body to last!
- To strengthen those areas that are lacking and to deal with any aches and pains that you've been ignoring for a while.
For the employERS that are reading, consider:
- How much better your teams could function if they were all getting regular exercise
- What a difference it would make to afternoon productivity in particular if your staff moved at lunchtime and ate nutritious food that fed their brains and didn't send them into a slump
- How improving your employees' health could reduce the amount of sick days and the cost this has for your business?
- How much more engaged employees would feel if they saw that you were taking their day to day welfare seriously, more so than just offering a BUPA or Simply Health programme?
- How you would fare against your competitors in attracting talent, if your employee benefits package was a bit different to the norm?
I have a solution for you both - I'd love to help. There really is a better way.
To get you started, check out my free e-book - it contains 20 tips as to how to look after your body AND your mind - you can't do one without the other!