So, we tried the 75 Hard.
If you (somehow) haven’t heard of this challenge yet, here’s a quick recap: the 75 Hard is a mental toughness challenge that’s taken the internet by storm and promises the help you become the best version of yourself. We’re talking weight loss, mental clarity, and potentially enough adrenaline-induced focus that you’ll see a boost in your business ventures.
You guys know we’re all about routines and consistency, so we obviously had to give this a shot. Here’s how it went:
First Things First, the Rules:
The 75 Hard has some hard-and-fast rules that you have to follow. Mess up just one day, and you’re supposed to restart from day 1… but we’ll get to that.
- Workout twice a day for a minimum of 45 minutes each session
- Follow a diet of your choice (this can be vegan, keto, paleo, etc.)
- Drink a gallon of water a day
- Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book
- Take a picture of your progress each day
- No cheat days and no exceptions allowed
To keep yourself in check, there is an official app, but it costs $$. So we made our own sheet for staying motivated, which you can download (for free) here.
Our First Impressions
We took one look at those rules and thought: let’s GO. Easy. We can do this, no problem. But once you start the challenge, you’ll quickly find that the amount of things you need to do in one day is very challenging to complete.
Our intent in trying out this challenge was never to do this in the traditional way, but to see how disciplined we could be over a period of time. We don’t believe that one small mistake should set you back and force you to restart the entire challenge. But we do believe that you’re still disciplined if you let the one mistake just be one mistake, and do not let it snowball into a downward spiral of your old habits taking over again. So we planned for that going into the challenge.
That being said… we gotta tell you, this challenge isn’t for everyone. During the first 20 days of this challenge, we were exuberant. We were excited. It was cool to tell people we were giving it a shot, and their reactions motivated us. But as the days went by, it was easy to feel like, “ok… we’re still doing this, but we’re less excited now,” and those thoughts alone will set you back.
When you’re setting a new routine or trying to be consistent with something new, it can be easy to take one thing, one day at a time. But this challenge forced us to add in an extra workout, and be aware of our diets, and drink a gallon of water a day, and have the focus to read 10 pages a day, so setting many new routines into your day is already not as easy as you think it’s going to be. Especially when you’ve been working all week and you need to do your second workout of the day, and suddenly it’s 11 pm on a Friday… it’s easy to just say no.
But that’s the point: this challenge is not supposed to be easy. They don’t call it mental toughness for nothing!
Here’s How We Made It Work
Get an Accountability Buddy
First and foremost, do this challenge with a buddy. You need someone to hold you accountable. (For us doing this with someone who we work with and see on a regular basis certainly made accountability a natural thing.)
Break Down Your Goals
Decide which of the goals you’re going to work towards not missing a day of, and which aspects of the challenge are most important to you. If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself: what drew you to the challenge in the first place? That should be your main focus, and where you spend most of your energy. Here’s ours:
- Ed: 0 cans of Pepsi for the entire 75 days, count calories as a diet, and drink the entire 1 gallon of water more days than not. (Ed said he couldn’t imagine going even a day or two without drinking 4-5 sodas.)
- Michael: Gave up beer completely, gym before going to work each day, create an intermittent fasting window each day, and never miss a day of reading. (Michael didn’t think the reading was going to be much of a challenge, but the meal and gym times were going to take specific focus)
Once we decided which of our goals motivated us the most, achieving the other goals was easier. As those easier goals started to feel like a part of our regular routines, we were able to start focusing on doing those harder goals better each time.
Here’s How It Actually Went
45 minutes twice a day doesn’t sound like a lot until you actually get started. When you factor in an 8-hour workday, 8(ish) hours of sleep, and time for yourself, it starts to get a little trickier. For us, we’re used to fitting in a workout a few days a week, but the transition to 45 minutes twice a day was tricker than expected. Our advice is to start out by setting the routine, then make it challenging for yourself.
For example, Michael didn’t start out by hitting the gym every single morning before work; he did the workouts as he could. Then, once that became easier, he was able to turn up the toughness level and prioritize a gym visit before work. Now, hitting the gym every morning comes more naturally to him, and he’s set a healthy new routine.
For both of us, setting healthy eating habits turned out to not be the hardest part of the challenge, which is something that others really seem to struggle with. Setting limits on our favorite drinks, on the other hand… now that was the real challenge.
For Ed, the no-Pepsi aspect of the challenge was the worst. But by first replacing Pepsi with Gatorade, and later with water, he was able to cut back on the cravings in a way that was easier– but still tough.
Michael went cold turkey on beer. Enough said.
Our biggest takeaway from changing our diets is that we had to start planning in advance. We realized that there were many instances in our daily lives where we’d habitually have a Pepsi or beer- with a pizza at dinner, at an event in the evenings, on a Saturday night. Planning for those moments, preparing ourselves mentally to say “no, thank you” if offered one, and deciding what we would eat/drink instead was a huge help to stay on track.
No doubt the easiest part. Once you can get past running to the bathroom every 6 minutes in the first week.
The 10 Pages a Day:
For us, this felt pretty similar to the realization of having to do your 2nd workout of the day at 11 pm. Mental exercise is still exercise, so when you’ve been at work all day and then you’re sitting down to read a non-fiction book, it’s pretty easy to try to say no. Michael is still working on the John D Rockefeller biography…
The Progress Photos:
This part will keep you motivated, but if you wait until the end of the day, you feel the motivation and then head straight to bed. We recommend taking your progress photos first thing in the morning and comparing each day to your Day 1. That will give you the push you need to do your best each day.
So What’s Next?
For Michael: Obviously, with a wedding coming up in April, the workouts and healthy eating need to continue indefinitely. But to stack onto the healthy habits already being formed, Michael has looked to benefit his system by prioritizing, fish oil & super greens, and other more natural solutions. Creating a plan around diet and nutrition has been the biggest win along the way.
For Ed: He is considering continuing on this part of his fitness journey, by training for and completing a second Half-Ironman Triathlon. (Stay tuned for more details here) As far as the sodas go.. he may or may not have one of those on day 76…
You can’t do the 75 Hard one day at a time. You have to plan ahead: get ready to meal prep and schedule your day down to the minute.
For our approach, not every day has to be perfect, but just remember to not let a snowball turn into an avalanche if you know what we mean.
From a business perspective, the 75 Hard is actually a great investment … in yourself. We both experienced an insane level of mental clarity a few weeks into doing this challenge, which is a combination of a healthier lifestyle and probably, pure adrenaline. Either way, we were more productive and able to create better results at work.
The things we took away from this challenge is that we can actually do a lot more than we thought was humanly possible, and not just physical things. It’s hard to change your mindset and habits that you have been used to for years, but it is possible. And once you start seeing the results, it becomes an addictive positive feedback loop.
Would we recommend the 75 Hard challenge to others? Absolutely! In fact, we plan to do it again, because it’s not just a challenge. It’s a lifestyle change. The only thing standing between you and your goals is yourself. So lets GOOOOOO! Print your accountability tracker and start today. In 75 days, you’ll thank us.