When I was a kid, I distinctly remember the dread attached to “report card day” in school. What if my grades weren’t good? Would I be grounded? What if I got… a B? (I know…I know…I blame my Asian parents)
The report card was never as bad as I made it out to be, but still, the fear was real. I’m sure most of you shared my sentiment that report card day was the worst. As an adult, I can begrudgingly admit that report cards weren’t all bad. They showed my progress and helped me identify areas where I needed improvement.
Since I started my fitness journey, I’ve actually done a complete 180 on report cards. I now use a Mid-Year Report Card to assess my fitness for the first half of the year, and in this post, I’ll walk you through how to create one for yourself. (I also do a Year-End Report Card which I’ll share in December.)
At this point in the year, everyone falls into one of the following categories:
1. You hacked fitness and are crushing your 2017 goals.
Nice job! The challenge for you is making sure you’re still being challenged: If you’re still on track to reach your goals by year’s end, keep chugging along. If you’ve already blown past your goals, then set new, more aggressive goals. As Denzel famously said: “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” If The Equalizer said it, you know it must be true.
2. You keep stumbling and can’t seem to make significant progress.
It’s OK if you’ve struggled to find your footing with fitness in 2017. The Mid-Year Report Card gives you the perfect opportunity to salvage what’s left of this year. What helps me is to hit rock bottom so I can get motivated to get back in shape. If you’re struggling, take a full week off and don’t step foot in the gym. Use this time to reset and regain your motivation. Seriously—go on a hedonistic rampage and live it up. I guarantee that 90% of you will want to start hacking again before the week is up.
3. Life got in the way and you’ve completely fallen off the wagon.
Never fear! Keep on reading as this article is for you.
Let’s start this process by reviewing how we started off the year. In our previous post about mental hacks to get the most out of fitness, the first two recommendations were finding your trigger and defining your goal.
1. Find Your Trigger
The decision to get serious about fitness is usually triggered by something:
A New Year’s resolution to finally lose weight
Your favorite pants that fit too tight
A funny jab at your beer gut that hits too close to home
In this case, your trigger will be the Mid-Year Report Card. If you haven’t discovered your deeply rooted reason to get in shape (mine is vanity—I simply want to look good!), then take a moment now to discover that desire.
2. Clearly Define Your Goal
A Mid-Year Report Card essentially gives you a “do over” on your New Year’s Resolutions. Given this opportunity, don’t squander it on vague goals like “better health” or “losing weight.” Instead, aim for hyper specific goals like these that give you a clear path forward:
I want to achieve single-digit body fat.
I want to increase my max lifts by 25%.
I want to rock a six-pack at the beach next summer.
3. Visualize Success
Remember how Arnold Schwarzenegger used the power of visualization to actualize his dream of standing on stage with the Mr. Olympia trophy in his hands? I want you to run through this exercise now with your goals in mind.
4. Find External Accountability
Now that half the year has gone by, it’s time to mix in some more advanced strategies. Fitness is all about accountability, which explains why personal trainers exists. You don’t need a personal trainer, but we are going to incorporate some external accountability. Here are two strategies I recommend that leverage good, old-fashioned social pressure:
If you want to fly solo, set a 12-week goal and post a “before” picture on social media.
If you want to include friends, start a “fitness contest” for the next 12 weeks.
Take advantage of this do-over so the entire year doesn’t go to waste.
5. Utilize the Reset
If you’re doing good right now but get burned out later this year, or your progress stagnates, you can utilize the reset strategy I mentioned above to kickstart your progress. Maybe it’s not your body so much as your mind that needs a break.
As we discussed before, fitness burnout is real.
If you need a mental break, take a week off and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. You can also try taking a class at your gym, trying CrossFit, or playing pickup hoops. Sometimes it’s helpful to rediscover and enjoy the social aspect of fitness.
When you’re ready, Hack Your Fitness will welcome you back with open arms.
For the rest of 2017, just remember—fitness is a lifelong journey. You will have ups and downs. What matters is navigating the downs just as diligently as you do the ups.