On May 20th, 2019 I set out to complete a challenge called 75 Hard. The challenge consisted of following a group of tasks related to health and wellness for 75 Days straight. This is the tale of my journey.
What is 75 Hard?
The program was created by Andy Frisella (@andyfrisella) who is a CEO, runs several businesses and hosts a podcast called the MFCEO Project. Mr. Frisella documented his own journey through 75 Hard on Instagram, and it was motivating to see someone come up with a program, and also live it. I always loved how Mr. Frisella described the program “It doesn’t cost anything, but it isn’t free.”
The program is quite simple. There are a group of tasks to follow, and you must complete them each day, no exceptions, no shortcuts, and no deviations. The five tasks are:
1 - Follow a Diet. The diet can be chosen by you and could be whatever fits your lifestyle. There are no cheat meals allowed any time during the 75 days and you cannot consume alcohol.
2 - Workout twice a day for a minimum of 45 minutes each workout. One of the workouts must take place outdoors. This can be any form of exercising (weights, walking, running, etc.) as long as the above criteria is met.
3 - Drink a Gallon of water a day.
4 - Read 10 Pages in a Non-Fiction, Entrepreneurial, Self-Help Book each day. Audio books do not count.
5 - Take a progress pic each day.
Why Would I Do This?
I was at a point where I had let myself slip. I was not taking care of my body. I was not eating well. I was not exercising. I felt like crap. I was having chest pains. My stomach was bothering me constantly. It was clear that what I was putting into my body and the lack of physical movement was taking its toll not only physically but mentally as well. I needed a change, and this was going to be a program that would help me take back control of how I was treating myself.
I love food. When deciding what diet I was going to follow during this program, I knew I had to go extreme in order to truly have it make an impact on my life. How do you truly test your relationship with food? You remove the things you indulge in the most. So that is what I did. My diet on this program would be pretty simple: cut out the things that I love that aren’t really good for me. My diet was: No potatoes, No rice, No pasta, No tortillas (in any form), No bread, No Fast Food, No fried foods, No sugar drinks, and most importantly No desserts. If you know me, you know that last one is the toughest of all.
The Weekend Before Starting
The weekend before I started the program was my last hurrah. It was an annual trip that I make with my family to play golf for a weekend in the midwest. It is a weekend of eating, drinking, and playing golf. I went into the weekend knowing on Monday I will be starting this challenge, so I drank beer, ate all the desserts, breads, and things I knew I would not be able to have once 75 hard started. It was a great weekend, but when that Monday morning came around, my body was ready for a change, and that was what it was going to get.
I was not sure what to expect from this challenge upon starting. Sticking to any sort of diet or physical challenge has always been tough for me. I have set out on diets before, but usually after a couple weeks, the excuses would kick in, and I would let myself slide, and before I knew it, I was off track. I knew this wasn’t going to be possible on this challenge. I started out with my head in the right place. I was not doing this so I could impress people, or look good. I was doing this for me. I needed to feel better. I needed to respect how I was treating my body. when that first day started, NOT seeing this all the way through, was not an option.
The first day arrived. I was tired from the weekend, and had kept the day clear to make sure I got myself started on the right foot. I needed to go to the grocery store, and wanted to see what a day in the life of this would look like. I completed all the tasks and Day 1 was complete. I weighed myself and came in at 200 lbs.
When doing something like this, I need to have something to check off. There is something about tracking progress and putting that final checkmark on a day when you have completed something. I did this by starting a journal. This journal was going to be my way of keeping myself in check and documenting this journey. The first page consisted of writing out the challenge and all the tasks. I then wrote out the numbers 1-75. These would be what I check off when I have completed all of my tasks for the day. It was a really helpful way to double check that I did everything. Each daily entry consisted of listing each of the tasks for the challenge and what I did to complete them. It was my way of double checking myself to make sure I didn’t miss anything. As it turns out there were a few times where I forgot to take my daily progress pic and this journal entry served as my reminder to do so. I also added a thoughts section. This was my way to reflect on how I felt about the day, note anything that stood out, and put down on paper how I was feeling. Once this was all done, it was my personal reminder that I accomplished all the tasks and that day could get its checkmark. Some entries were short, some were long. On some I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open and just scribbled everything down.
A Few Examples of Journal Entries:
Day 2 - “Workout is tough, body is tired, water is tough too, peeing a lot”
Day 4 - “Tough Day. Super Tired. Sore. Struggled to do anything. Not good only 4 days in.”
Day 8 - “Got through Holiday Weekend (Memorial Day). Turned down dinner at my parents. Nance was making quesadillas.”
Day 9 - “I know it takes time, but I somehow created an impression I’d feel different by now. I need to shake that belief, Rome wasn’t built in a day, let alone 9.”
Day 16 - “I feel mentally weak. Depressed. Tired. Unconnected. Fight continues..”
Day 20 - “Long hike today. Felt Good. Didn’t bring enough water. 20,000 steps. Onward.”
Day 28 - “Today was tough. I wanted to eat a bunch of stuff at Andy’s but refrained.”
Day 30 - “Hard Day. Almost cut a corner. Told myself that hike outside counted for both workouts. It was a hair short, so at 9:45PM went into gym and did 45 min workout. Also didn’t drink water as good as normal throughout the day, had to chug some later in the evening.”
Day 34 - “Tough challenge going out to dinner and concert tonight, but discipline was in control.”
Day 36 - “I can’t believe it is Day 36, still a long way to go, but I am proud to be in this spot. The work continues..”
Day 46 - “4th of July. Got through it. Was really tough at my parents house, full of tortilla chips, candy, etc. Took a lot of willpower. Got through it all, Day 46 done, Onward!”
Day 51 - “Today was the day. The day I wanted to just quit and take a day off from a workout. My body is sore. I have blisters, and I am unmotivated. But I did it. It was not my best workout day by far, but I at least did it.”
Day 56 - “I can’t just get by these last 18 days, they are the most important. Finish strong, and keep moving the only way I know, onward!”
Day 58 - “Today is one of those days where things could have gotten messed up simply due to bad planning. I have to learn from it. Tomorrow is that chance. Onward!”
Day 73 - “I am so close, but it has been a thing to remind myself not to go on Auto Pilot and mess anything up”
Day 75 - “Done. Wow, I can’t believe it is here. I feel good. I am proud. I stuck with this and got it done. I’ve officially lost 25 pounds. I tried to end the challenge with a record breaking hike of Piestiewa, but fell short by a minute. I will keep it going. I will do the next phase. Doing this, I can do anything. Well, to the next step I move that one and only direction I know...Onward!”
I read three books during this challenge. The requirement was to read 10 pages each day. I found myself doing that early on, but as time progressed, I found myself going from 10 pages to 1 chapter each day. As I was going through these books, it helped me understand more about the way I read, and why I read. I want to read to get better. I want to learn. I want to not go through the motions of reading lines, but also take the knowledge of those lines and apply them to my life. The three books I read were:
My Favorite Outdoor Workout
One of my favorite ways to get my outdoor workout done was to go for a hike. I live about 10 minutes from two really great hiking areas so it was a no-brainer to do those as my outdoor workout. When I was following Mr. Frisella during his challenge, he was always showing himself doing his outdoor workouts in crazy weather (cold, rain, snow, etc.) I was always impressed by that. So I always strived to do my outdoor workouts in the peak heat of the day. Which in Arizona, can be extreme. My hottest hike was an afternoon where it was 113 degrees. My favorite hike is Piestewa Peak. It is a short hike, 1.15 miles, it has an elevation gain of 1,000ish feet, and is a great leg workout. When I started this challenge, my time to get to the top was about 39 minutes, but my last week of the 75 hard challenge I was able to get up in just under 26 minutes. That was a big indicator that I was improving physically.
Music is a must in my life. I need a soundtrack. I especially needed something that was going to help me get through this challenge that wasn’t one of my regular workout playlists. So I spent one day early on putting together this playlist. It is hardcore. It is heavy. It covers all sorts of genres. Parental Advisory is definitely advised.
One thing I was introduced to during this challenge was Bulletproof Coffee. This would become my go to drink in the morning with breakfast 4-5 days a week. Later in the challenge, I started adding Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder to the coffee and then having it over ice. It is delicious and is now a drink of choice for me. The recipe is simple. Brew 12 ounces of coffee. Then add 1 Tablespoon of Grass Fed Unsalted Butter (Kerrygold is the best in my opinion). Add 1 Tablespoon of MCT Oil. Then add a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract and a teaspoon of cinnamon and then blend it together for about 45-60 seconds. It is a delicious treat. When I started adding the Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder, I stopped adding cinnamon, and then would pour that all over ice.
What I Learned
Manage Expectations - I went into this having seen results from others on social media. From what they posted, they felt mentally clear, inspired, energized. I expected the same thing and when I was hit with bouts of feeling down during this challenge, I wondered why I didn’t feel like the other people who have done it. Each person’s circumstances are different, I am not them. My experience is unique to me, and I can’t let that be shaped by what others have done.
Time Management - It is easy to waste time and put things off. When I got things done earlier in the day, it helped me when a wrench was thrown in a days plans.
Give Credit - I pointed out a lot of negative things to myself during this challenge. I also forgot to give myself credit where credit is due. This is a hard challenge. It takes a lot to do something of this scale. I didn’t want to bask in my accomplishments, but I needed to give myself the proper recognition and that didn’t happen very much until the end.
Exercise Helps - There were more times than I am proud to admit that I wanted to skip exercise. Obviously, I never did, and there was never a time where I regretted it. BUT IT CAN BE HARD WHEN EVERYTHING INSIDE YOU IS TELLING YOU TO JUST SKIP IT, OR CUT IT SHORT. Learning to fight that battle and win it is important. I always felt better both physically and mentally after doing exercise when I didn’t feel like it.
Get Creative With Food - A Diet can become monotonous. It is easy to stick with familiar things, but changing it up is the key to making sure to not slip simply from being bored.
Understand Intentions - I have to admit there were a few times during this challenge that I forgot my intentions for doing this challenge. Forgetting that put me in a place where I was going through the motions and not being aware of why it was important to do so. This improved as I went along, but is also something I need to get better at. This applies to all aspects of this challenge. It took a podcast with Mr. Frisella and Dr. Nicola LaPera (@the.holistic.psychologist) to drive that message home for me.
I am not proud that I let myself get to the point that I did with my weight and overall well-being, but I give myself credit for recognizing that I needed to make a change and this challenge helped me do that. The tasks are easy to do, but they are just as easy not to do. It is hard. It takes discipline, but in the end it is worth it. I am really grateful that Mr. Frisella documented this the way he did. We hear the word influencer a lot, but I don’t feel a ton of people who are labeled influencer can back their words up with action. Mr. Frisella did that and was an inspiration for me. Not only did his influence inspire me, it made me realize the value of staying true to my word, seeing things through, and not cutting corners. I WILL continue this lifestyle and apply the things I learned to many aspects of my life. If you have any questions or want to chat about what I did, let me know, I am happy to help any way I can. Thanks for reading!