How has January already passed us by? It feels like only a couple days ago that we all collectively woke up on New Year’s day with a hangover and a plan to change our lives. No more junk food, no more alcohol, we were going to sign up to the gym on Tuesday and by February we’d already be searching for smaller waisted trousers.
Whether you’ve got through January with a new gym, new workout program, and a positive attitude, or you’ve completely bailed on your plans after that New Year glow wore off, February is an important month for you. You can either use it to kick start your new lifestyle changes, or continue to build on the good work that you’ve done in January.
Sadly this is not usually the case, most people who started attending the gym on January 2nd will have given up by the end of February. There are a number of reasons why this can happen (which we will explore in a bit), but luckily there are also a number of proven strategies that you can use to avoid this common issue. Let’s make February 2018 the month where we all succeed in smashing our fitness goals.
Why People Fail in Feb
The majority of people fail to maintain their goals from January into February because their initial plan was unrealistic and very difficult to maintain. Your typical New Year’s Resolutioner suffers from an all or nothing mentality, they’re either doing something with maximum effort or they’re not doing it at all. There are many benefits to this approach, but one of the biggest downsides is the inability to complete tasks.
Let’s say you’re not a NY Resolutioner, and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror on December the 14th. You feel like you’ve put on some weight and would like to be fitter. You decide to start walking more, and you cut down on your portion sizes. Because these goals are easy to follow and accomplish you find that you’ve lost an inch off your waist by January 1st. How awesome would that be? Decide that you want to achieve something, start immediately, and get some success.
Sadly these people are as rare as Superbowl winners. In fact, they probably are Superbowl winners because if you have that mentality you can achieve anything. The rest of us work slightly differently. When we’re looking at the mirror on the 14th of December we have a different thought process.
“Wow I need to lose some weight, I had better sign up to the gym, by a tub of protein powder, start cooking all my meals in bulk, oh and get a professionally designed training program” we think, then we glance at our calendar “Well better start this after Christmas when I can really dedicate some time to it”.
This all or nothing approach rarely pays off (though when it does it pays off spectacularly). The main problem is that because we’ve grouped everything into one giant project, when one thing falls apart, everything does. So you miss a few days training and all of a sudden you feel like a failure, so you stop eating healthily, and you skip your protein shake, and instead of walking your 10,000 steps you walk 200 steps … to buy some ice cream.
But there is another way, and you can get back on that horse you just need to change your approach. So now that we have identified the most common reason why people fail in February, let’s concentrate on having a successful Feb.
Tip #1 Create a Simple Goal
You can’t judge whether your program is successful or not if you never had well outlined goals to begin with. If you just walk into a gym with a vague idea of six packs and biceps you’ll probably fail. Decide what it is that you want, and when you want to achieve it by. If you are looking to lose weight then plan on losing 1lb every 2-4 weeks. This is a sensible amount and well within your capability.
If you are looking to build muscle, then you can follow that same target, 1lb per month. Obviously there are hundreds of factors that can affect either of these goals. Your current size, your desired size, your capabilities, the amount of time that you can dedicate to it etc … Which is why YOU have to decide these goals for yourself.
Tip #2 Measure Everything
Once you have a desired goal, you should take a frank look at your current situation. What do you weigh? What is your waist circumference? How many calories are you consuming each day? What is your average step count.
Now, you don’t need to take all of these measurements (particularly as this would lead to the common failure we mentioned earlier). But if your goal is to walk more then you need to know your step count. If your goal is to lose weight then you need to know your calories in vs calories out. If your goal is to build bigger muscles then you need to know your current muscle size.
Take these measurements at the start of February and then retake them every six weeks or so. This way you can gauge your progress and see how successful you have been.
Tip #3 Stop Procrastinating
You want to smash your goals in February? Well you’ll actually have to be proactive. Want to lift weights but haven’t signed up to a gym? Do that tomorrow, heck if you can do it today even better. Almost all gyms can be signed up to online these days so you really have no excuses! Stop putting off today’s tasks because with that attitude you won’t be completing them tomorrow or the day after. No more excuses, we’re already 4 weeks into 2018!
Tip #4 Follow a Simple Program
If you are a long term gym goer and have highly specific goals then by all means find yourself the perfect program. If you are returning to the gym after 4 years of sitting on a couch then you can probably get away with a simple program. Stop overthinking things! Add some cardio in, try some bodyweight exercises, and you can worry about progressing the program once you’ve been to the gym 3-4 days per week for a month.
Tip #5 Establish a Routine
Hopefully you brush your teeth twice per day, and hopefully you turn up to work on time each day (if not then you’ve got bigger problems than a lack of gym time). This isn’t an accident, you’ve created a routine for yourself that you do without even thinking about it.
Before you were working did you ever wonder how people spend 8-9 hours in an office and 1-2 hours commuting? How did these people have time for anything else? Now you ARE that person and you don’t think twice about it. Going to the gym, walking your 10,000 steps (or whatever your goals are) is exactly the same principle.
When you have a routine where you always go to the gym, it won’t feel like you’re struggling to fit it in. You fit other things in around it. That’s how incredibly busy office workers still find time to train, even if they are working 60 hour weeks.
Tip #6 Reward Yourself
Yes this tip seems a bit like something a Guru would say on social media. But it does make sense, why not treat yourself at the end of each week, or each month as a reward for hitting certain targets. For some people this will really help motivate them, for others it may do the opposite. But give it a try, as it might really help you conquer February.
Tip #7 Buy a Gym Bag and Workout Clothes
This last tip is a small step that can make a huge difference. Buy yourself a gym bag, fill it with all the equipment that you need, plus some clean workout gear. Bring that bag with you to work every day. This will take away all excuses, it’s habit forming (see above) and it will save you time.
February is usually the month where everybody fails their brand new programs, it is a depressing month for people in the fitness industry and for those who had such high hopes just a few weeks ago. But we can change that, not for everyone obviously. But for those of you who read this article, let’s make February the second chance month.
If you failed in your January goals then now is the time to reset them. Make better ones, get that jolt of excitement and enthusiasm that you got on New Year’s day but this time pair it with a better strategy, more realistic targets, and a smarter approach to planning. Let’s make February the best month in 2018! … Or we’ll see each other again in March.