Hi Jo, I hope you are having a great start to 2020! We noticed that you were taking part in RED January and seemed to be having a lot of fun doing so. Can you tell us more about the campaign?
Thank you! RED January is a community campaign in partnership with the mental health charity, Mind, which encourages us to get active every day in January to kick-start the year and help banish the blues.
It was founded by Hannah Beecham in January 2016 after she saw the positive impact being active had on her Mum, who was going through a period of depression in 2015. You can read more here. Initially, the campaign encouraged participants to run every day but in 2019, this was changed to be active every day so that more people could be involved who wanted to swim, cycle, dance, do yoga or walk for example.
Since January 2016 £1.7 million has been raised and around 90,000 signed up for 2020.
That sounds great. When did you first do RED January and why?
I joined RED January in 2019 for the first time when I learned from my friend Sam Dale of Sporting Heads that Hannah had opened it up to other activities. My frozen shoulder was just unfreezing and I thought it would be a super way to start the new year and start to get more active. In the last 3 years both my shoulders have gone through periods of being frozen and the pain and restricted movement can be very demoralising.
Being part of RED January was just the thing I needed to make sure that I did something active for myself each day to strengthen my shoulder and help me feel brighter and better. It was such a confidence boost that by the end of the month I believed I would be strong enough in the summer to paddleboard 162 miles coast to coast on my #PaddleboardTheNorth adventure for The Wave Project and 2MinuteBeachClean charities.
It wasn’t just the activity that I enjoyed. The RED January community is so supportive and enthusiastic, especially on Twitter. I felt we were all in it together and their encouragement was incredible.
Wow, that’s wonderful! We understand you were then asked to be part of the 2020 campaign photoshoot?
Yes, that was such an honour! Hannah invited me down to Crystal Palace and we had a wonderful day in the gym being photographed and meeting other fabulous Redders! I was honoured to be on their posters and part of the promotional material!
How have you enjoyed RED January 2020?
Well, to be honest, January 2020 didn’t start out quite as I had planned. I was hoping to get off to a flying start with all sorts of things but a lingering cold (I am lucky as it was my first cold in years!) and a few challenges at work, home and my personal projects rather overwhelmed me. There were a few days when I would come home from work and simply want to curl up in bed with a book.
Over the last few years however, I have learned that being active really does help my mental health and often it is when I don’t want to exercise that it will benefit me most. I had also promised myself that 2020 was about really good self care - moving, nutrition, sleep, relaxing, learning.
So on those days, I would do something really uplifting like a spin class with fab music or boxfit where you are so focussed or a gentle walk in the fresh air & yoga after. I did things to nourish my body & soul when I was feeling a little low. I would come away feeling brighter & happy that I had kept my promise to myself. I would still be in bed by 9pm with my book but my heart was fuller & I slept better!
What does it mean to you?
For me, REDJanuary is about starting the new year being kind to myself by focussing on being active which I know is really good for my well-being. If I can set a lovely habit to move in some way each day in January when it’s dark & grey much of the time, then I’ll be putting self care high up on my priority list.
It’s also about community & friendship, supporting friends & social media ”redders” towards a common goal.
Importantly, it is also about highlighting the very valuable work of Mind & raising money for them. Although I haven’t asked other people for donations, I’ll be sending one to Mind from me.
How well does it fit in with your lifestyle?
I try and do something every day that’s active simply because I know how much it helps me feel better and brighter, emotionally and physically. I have scheduled something in each day so it’s part of my routine. At 55, I know the value of exercise for my heart & bone health too, so I’m trying to make it as routine as brushing my teeth - as long as I am well enough to do it. I don’t ever “push through” if I’m unwell. Silly!
Absolutely. So it sounds like it was an easy thing for you to do?
I have deliberately made it easier by not putting any pressure on myself in terms of targets, distances & times. I started the year with the tail end of a cold so being kind to myself has been paramount. There’s no point risking injury or a prolonged illness.
What do you enjoy most about the process?
I think the lovely community aspect, knowing you are part of something bigger. Also the people I’ve met on Twitter & Instagram who are taking part too.
Does the pressure to get out everyday negate the benefits of getting outside?
No, but only because I didn’t put myself under any pressure at the start! As long as I got outside for at least a few minutes to walk around and do my #2minutelitterpick or #2minutebeachclean, I was happy. Some days a short walk was supplemented with a home disco dancing round my kitchen for 20 mins listening to Dolly Parton & a few squats, lunges & burpees making tea! Moving is moving however you do it!
I think the key is to do it for yourself & your well-being. I’m thrilled for people who use it to kickstart marathon training, run each day or reach PBs, but that’s not for me. I don’t compare myself to what they do. I do what brings me joy. I do me!
REDJanuary as a campaign definitely doesn’t suggest we do anything that puts us under pressure either.
We love that - it's just about doing something, it doesn't have to be big. What have you done across the month?
Well, my grand plans didn’t quite materialise but I’ve paddleboarded in the sea, misjudged a wave so had a dunking as I went flying off my board - so does that count as wild swimming?! I’ve restarted Couch to 5K after plantar fasciitis and I’m on week 3 and enjoying it! I’ve been to spin, boxfit, kettlebells & taught hydro jog & aquafit. I’ve also danced in my kitchen, done short home workouts & lovely yoga in my bedroom. I’ve walked through London in my dress & trainers, getting off the tube a few stops earlier. Every day, wherever I am, I’ve walked for just a few minutes & done my #2minutelitterpick. Good for my mind, body & soul - definitely a huge part of my wheelofwellbeing!