“New year, new you”, that’s a phrase we are bound to see in abundance in the coming days and while now I can’t help but be slightly irritated by it, it’s something I have personally prescribed to for a few decades. A new year, a new start, a time to change. But, in reality, January 1 is just another day and as Penelope Cruz says in Vanilla Sky, “Every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around”.
I’ve spent a career writing about changing yourself externally and a large part of my adult life worrying about what I need to change about myself in order to be happy. As such, new year’s resolutions have usually involved me setting unrealistic and punishing goals that I quickly fall short of and use as a stick to beat myself up with. While I believe that positive change is an important in life and have experienced the benefits of it in many ways myself, I’ve grown to look at things differently when it comes to what shape those changes take.
As today is the start of 2019, many of us will be making resolutions and I’m no different. The beginning of a new year is naturally time for reflection and projection but this year I’ve decided that, instead of my usual resolution of losing every excess Christmas pound by my birthday in two weeks’ time, I’m just going to make a resolution to look after myself and my body as we enter January instead. No scales, no crash diet, no punishment.
Rather than going on a diet and desperate weight-loss driven exercise regime, I’ve signed up to RED January, a month-long initiative which encourages us to boost our mental health and beat the January blues by getting out and moving our bodies in some way every day. It’s run in conjunction with the charity Mind, which is something close to my heart so raising money for a good cause is another bonus.
I first read about RED January in my favourite magazine Psychologies and that encouraged me to sign up this year.
RED stands for Run Every Day and although the challenge encourages any kind of physical activity, its roots are based in reaping the mental and physical benefits of running outside and this is something that I have personally found a lot of joy in, mainly because it was a big old struggle to achieve it and nothing makes you feel better than overcoming adversity, however big or small.
Little over three years ago I could hardly run for the bus but then, while writing an article about a charity, I found myself volunteering without thinking to run the British 10k with them.
When I started training I could manage 2-5 mins of continuous running but I kept going and was surprised at how quickly my stamina built up. On the day I ran the whole thing. It took me 1hr 18 and it felt like hell on earth at the time, I wanted to cry and give up at various points, but I didn’t stop and I was really proud of myself when I crossed the finish line.
A year later I ran my third 10k, this time for Race for Life, and did it in an hour. I now love running and since I moved back to Kent have started doing Park Run on the Leas at Folkestone. It’s free to take part in and it’s so nice to be out running on a Saturday morning with so many other people, there’s a real sense of community about it and I love it.
One of the reasons I like running is that it gets me outside in the fresh air. Nature is a tonic and there is something particularly invigorating and good for the soul about running outside.
So, no more “pinch and a punch on the first of the month” for me, I want my resolutions to be kinder and about selfcare and helping others and what better way to do that than to get moving and raise money for charity at the same time.
You can sponsor me via my Just Giving page if you would like.
Happy New Year