Red January: Kick starting the new year

Date: 25 June 2020   Author: Energise Me

January is usually a month of making excuses and feeling guilty. Jen decided to turn her January around and signed up to Red January. She shares her story of trying to increase her activity levels and improve her mental well-being.

Jen on a run


Getting active every day, my way…

I heard about Red January through work last year and loved the messages that I saw on social media. I saw a community of people who were encouraging and motivating each other. No matter what their goals were! The campaign appealed to me because it doesn’t focus on how fast or far you go. I just had to commit to being active every day and want to improve my mental well-being.

I usually manage about 150 minutes of activity per week, but sometimes lack the motivation. I found that I would be really inactive on the weekends and by the time it got to Sunday evening I would feel guilty. Quite often in the new year, I go one of two ways. I’ll either continue to make excuses and keep telling myself that “I’ll start next week”.  By the time I do start, it’s nearly March! Or I’ll set unrealistic goals, start the first couple of weeks really strong, only to fall off track and feel bad for the rest of the month.

Reflecting on previous Januarys, I remembered how I usually felt more self-conscious and sluggish due to overeating during the festive period and less motivated to get out and about. I generally just felt a bit “meh!”  One year, I remember, not turning up to my own birthday night out because I felt that down and self-conscious. I didn’t want to feel like that again and needed some motivation!

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't looking forward to it!

Getting started

This year, a colleague encouraged the team to sign up. It’s amazing how having a group around you doing the same thing can be a great motivator. It gave me that extra push to set good intentions. I signed up for a SUP, Bike, Run event for the summer. Using Red January as a reason to spur on my training. It encouraged me to put my trainers back on and start running again. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t looking forward to it!

I thought I was going to have to start from scratch with the Couch to 5k. However, I decided to go without setting a time, distance or expectations. It turned out that it was a great tactic! I nearly stacked it in the mud and panted most the way round but ended up running 3 miles! I love the couch to 5k app and have used it several times but I would also suggest sometimes to, “just go for it”!  You may be pleasantly surprised with what you can do.


Bad weather days

I’ve lived in Winchester for two years and although I enjoy swimming I’d never been to the local pool. I think this was due to the fear of the unknown… Things that may seem silly, such as not knowing where the changing rooms are, or being unsure of which lane to swim in. Red January gave me that extra push to go, especially as the evenings were cold and dark and I needed an indoor cardio activity. I persuaded my boyfriend to come along to which made the experience less intimidating! Now I have been a couple of times and feel comfortable and more confident. I have never been a great sleeper, but I found that on the days I went swimming, I would be gone as soon as my head hit the pillow.

On other rainy days, I used Youtube videos, I’m a big fan of Popsugar workouts. There is something for everyone and it gives you adaptations if you don’t want to go full pelt, to begin with. I haven’t had the guts to go to a dance class yet, but I enjoy doing cardio dance in the comfort of my own lounge, it burns lots of calories and makes me feel great!


Something new

I’ve always wanted to try martial arts or a self-defense class but always felt intimidated.  Getting the impression that I would be a beginner among all the professionals! This meant I had never quite made it past searching for something online. A friend runs a martial art and fight club and encouraged me to go along. Knowing that she would be there helped me to actually make it through the front door. In the end I really enjoying it. I loved how it challenged me physically and mentally, as you had to remember all the different moves. It was great to learn a new skill and everyone there was really friendly and happy to help, definitely not intimidating!

Energise Me team on a walk

In the workplace

In the Winter it can be difficult to fit exercise in before it gets dark, so I arranged a Wellbeing Walk for our office. It was a fun way to get our legs moving in the middle of the day. It was also an opportunity to network with other people who work in the same building that we don’t get to see very often.



Although Red January encourages activity every day it’s important not to push yourself too far. If my muscles were sore from the day before I would follow it with pilates or yoga to avoid injury and to help with recovery.

After comparing intensity minutes to the last few months of 2019,  they had nearly tripled. I think it’s safe to say that RED January has had a great impact on me, especially with helping me to create good habits for the rest of the year. I also felt a lot fitter for my ski trip!

Let us know how you found Red January, we would love to hear about your journey to becoming more active and how this helps your mental wellbeing.

Read next

Getting creative with Physical Activity

If your New Year fitness goals are slipping it's time to rethink

Sara smiling on a not motivated to run run

The ‘Not Motivated to Run’ run

Sara embraces flexible working and apps to keep running.

Emma doing yoga - falling back in love with physical activity

Physical activity for the inactive

Emma, talks about falling back in love with physical activity.

Our Partners

Helping us tackle inactivity to boost health and happiness

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get energising ideas direct to your inbox