Conversations with Alison Izzo - body+soul
At the beginning of lockdown in Australia in April 2020, the Papinelle team spoke to Alison Izzo, editor of www.bodyandsoul.com.au, to check in and see how she was adapting to her "new normal"
Can you take us through your morning routine? Has it changed?
My morning routine has slowed down quite a bit, which has been a very positive change for me. I have a toddler, so mornings used to have to run with military precision so everyone got out the door and to work/daycare on time. But now we can take our time and enjoy the little moments before rushing into the day. Instead of commuting to the office, I now take a walk by the beach in Bondi (whilst keeping my distance), listen to a meditation (sounds woo-woo, but stay with me), grab a coffee and sort out our daily story list while looking at the ocean. I'm so lucky to live where I do.
Can you take us through your wellness routine?
I think that having a little more time has meant I'm able to be a bit more consistent with my wellness routine. Given my role, I know what I ~should~ be doing, but don't always have the time/energy/mental bandwidth to do it. Now, I religiously take a prebiotic, and a JS Health multivitamin for energy and hair (trying to grow out a lob...), then drink a glass of WelleCo's Super Elixir - which when I don't, I notice my energy levels dip. I've also found some at-home workouts that I really enjoy - so it never feels like a chore. I rotate between Lean Bean Fitness, The Upbeat, Fluidform Pilates or BodyLove Pilates. Or, I do a guided running meditation on the Nike Run Club app. They're weirdly addictive. I may be more stressed WFH, but I'm also taking better care of myself than I have in a while... which feels nice. I'm also spending a bit more time on #selfcare. I dry body brush a few times a week, am slowly using up all the body lotions and potions I never have time to touch, and am trying to do a nightly facial massage (similar to Gua Sha) taught to me by the wonderful Valli at Herbario Clinic in Melbourne. I can also vouch for the transformative powers of the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil.
What have you been listening to?
I find podcasts the best balm for my sanity right now - they keep me connected and informed, and entertained. Plus, they keep my hands free so I can still get things done around the house/herd my wayward toddler at the same time. After Work Drinks, The Daily, Bad and Busy, The High Low, Shameless, Note to Self, How to Fail With Elizabeth Day, and of course Healthy-ish are my go-tos.
What are you currently reading?
I'm currently struggling through Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, but ripped through Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and, like every human on the planet, loved Ordinary People by Diana Evans. I also read anything my friend Annie Stevens suggests. Follow her on Instagram for good book recs.
Anything you have been watching that you would recommend?
West World on Foxtel (it's getting weeeeird). Cheer, Joe the Exotic, and old episodes of Friends for the amazing outfits. Rachel's are always a highlight.
Working out: how has the new norm affected this for you, and do you have any tips or recommendations?
I think that regular exercise is one of the best things we can do for our mental, as well as physical, health. I worked out pretty regularly before, but now I especially feel my mood drop if I don't move my body for a day or two. My tip would be to schedule a workout into your day like a meeting. Block out the time in your calendar, put it on your to-do list, and stick to it like you would any other work commitment. There are now so many incredible online workouts available - either via the website of your local gyms or studios, on Instagram Live or TV, Youtube, or via great multi-studio apps like Mind Body Life or Class Pass. Also, running outside (as long as you're avoiding popular areas) is a fantastic way to boost endorphins, and reduce stress. I've rediscovered running and am so grateful. I love the feeling of switching off my brain and just listening to my breathing and my feet hitting the pavement. Once you're in the zone, it's meditative. And I always feel amazing afterwards.
Eating: how has the new way of living changed the way you eat, if it has?
I think, if Instagram memes are anything to go by, I'm like everyone and am eating my feelings and snacking a LOT more than I should be. It's hard when you've got time to kill, are feeling a bit anxious about the state of the world, and the fridge is literally within arm's reach! On the upside however, I'm cooking from scratch a lot more and eating out a LOT less, so maybe... that balances it out? I'm trying to prep more healthy snacks (roasted cauliflower and fennel is a fave) to have on hand, as well as the usual suspects like almonds, berries or rice crackers with a nut butter. Sometimes I can distract myself enough by just making a pot of herbal tea - often I'm just looking to do something else, or am thirsty. In the morning, Matcha green or peppermint tea is a great pick me up, and liquorice tea is a lovely sweet treat for the afternoon. I usually have a cup of chamomile or Sleepy Time tea before bed. Failing that, good quality dark chocolate is practically a health food...right?
Do you have any suggestions on keeping a calm mind, juggling all of our lives' roles in the one place - our own home?
Staying calm and mentally clear during such a time of upheaval is something I'm sure a lot of us are struggling with - including me! Some days feel like an utter mess, whereas others feel strangely quiet and at peace. I've always been terrible at meditating and have never been able to stick to any one app or programme. No matter how glowing the reviews are. However, my podcast co-host Maz Compton invited me to do Deepak Chopra's 21 days of Abundance programme, and holy moley it's a game changer. The daily audio tracks are 10-15 minutes long, and some are a little woo-woo, but overall I've found them really effective for creating space between myself, and the craziness of the world around me. I'd highly recommend to give this, or any other type of guided meditation (like the Headspace and Smiling Minds apps), a go. And importantly, to persist with it. I don't always do them on the day you're supposed to, because life. But I keep going and am still reaping the benefits.
How are you managing to work from home? What does your time management / desk arrangement look like?
I'm lucky that we have a spare bedroom that I've been able to turn into my 'office'. My husband is working from home too - and we were initially sharing the dining room table, which did not do good things to our marriage. We bought a small desk, and I have my laptop propped up on a stack of coffee table books, but it's actually quite tranquil. I spent a little time making it feel like somewhere I'd want to hang out - adding a scented candle, a lamp, a potted plant, some nice stationery. Currently, I'm still struggling to 'switch off' from work at the end of the day, but now that I can physically shut the door on my computer the lines between work and home are a little less blurred. I'm also getting up to eat my lunch in a different spot in the house, and make an effort to annoy/chat to my husband at least a few times so I'm not totally desk-bound. The best tool for time management is nothing new - but I find if I write a to-do list first thing, I'm not only more productive but when I get to the end of the list (which doesn't happen that often!) I'm more likely to call it a day at a decent hour.