In August my best friend Holly forwarded me an email it just said, “Let’s do this!” I opened it, never having heard about HARD 75 before that day. The email had a link to a podcast that I’ll link HERE, it explains the program and the rules. I listened and was intrigued but scared, then had just a couple days to wrap my head around it before we were set to begin. I’m pretty sure that was intentional, Holly didn’t want to me to have too much time to talk myself out of it ;) This was late August of 2020.
In a nutshell for 75 days straight these are the rules:
- Drink a gallon of water a day.
- Follow a diet, no cheating.
- No alcohol.
- Take a progress picture each day.
- 2 workouts, 45 minutes each and at least one must be outdoors.
- Read 10 pages a day of a non fiction book.
The kicker of the challenge is, if you fail or miss one of these, on any day you START OVER at day one!
I get this is not for everyone, and I’m not a medical professional, but I do know I was in a rut and needed something drastic to shake things up! To give you a little background, I did really well at the beginning of quarantine in early 2020. I stayed active, made the most of the situation and felt like I was juggling all the responsibilities well. But eventually, the stress of running a business by myself with no help, juggling a family stuck at home and facing the uncertainty of “normal” life really started to take its toll around mid summer.
In what felt like overnight, I wasn’t eating well or moving my body enough and had gained 15 pounds. I was always tired and I just didn’t like the way I felt. Holly, knowing me better than anyone saw I needed a change and convinced me to do it with her! I’m so grateful for her and the push, I never would have done this or stuck with it without her! She is the real rockstar!!! The accountability with her was HUGE, we’ll get into that in some of my tips and takeaways, but if you want to take on this challenge or any others if you can do it with a spouse or friend your chances of sticking with it are much higher. You don’t even have to live in the same town, Holly is in Idaho and I’m in Montana, but we checked in daily and made it work!
At the end of the day this isn’t a weight loss or fitness challenge, it really is a test of mental toughness. Can you stick it out, can you do the tasks even when you don’t want to for 75 days, no excuses? Sure, you can lose weight and see physical changes in doing these daily things, but the real change for me was mentally knowing I did it and in turn I felt like, if I can do that, I can do just about ANYTHING!!!
BUT, yes it’s HARD, really really HARD for that very reason! Many days I wanted to quit or phone it in! I did way more workouts than I care to admit at 11pm because I had procrastinated until the last second and they just had to get done! It often wasn’t pretty, but I did it. Our texted selfies of the “torture” or progress however you want to look at it are pretty fun to scroll back through.
November 6th we logged day 75! It was a great feeling to know we did it together! As I write this, I’m now a few days on the other side of 75, I’m still walking in the snow and drinking the water, but have also had some time to let the experience sink in! Here are my takeaways.
1. Drinking the water was a big habit to create, but I have never felt better. This one thing has made the biggest difference. My skin is clear and glowing, I’m not bloated or lethargic and I have less stomach and digestion issues for sure! I believe I lost weight in part because I wasn’t drinking as many calories. If you have to get in that much water, you simply don’t have time for as many sugary, creamy iced coffees or sodas if that’s your thing, and that shift alone was huge. I still love my iced coffee, but now it’s a treat not a daily or a twice daily habit.
2. Get an accountability partner! Yes, you can do this challenge on your own, but it’s too easy to quit on yourself. Find someone, link arms and do it together. Having holly text me selfies from her walks, pushed me to lace up my shoes and go on one too!
3. No alcohol I thought would be much harder than it was. I’m not a big drinker, but I like a cocktail with dinner or when we are out with friends. It was hard to not partake on the lake with when everyone else was, but I drank my water and didn’t let it keep me from enjoying the company. I realized over the 75 days that it’s very easy to grab a drink after a stressful day to cope, I have justified that I deserve it. But the reality is, a walk outside and getting fresh air actually does more for me than any beverage. Now knowing that I can make a better choice when I do and don’t drink. Do I want this drink because I really want one or to not deal with something else? That perspective has been powerful!
4. Fresh air is good for my soul! I live where it is cold a large portion of the year. I made excuses last year for not exercising or being outside because it was “too cold” but this challenge forced me to get out and at least go for a walk for 45 minutes each day. We did this in rain, sleet, high winds, snow, ice and hail over the 75 days and even in those less than ideal conditions I was always glad afterwards that I did it. I learned I do my best thinking on those walks, just me and our black lab LUCKY! Each day, I could feel my shoulders relax and the stress lessen after just a few minutes into the 45. I saw deer, sunsets and views I would have missed had I stayed inside. These outside walks and runs are now a part of my day and I will continue them moving forward, they are that important to me, my attitude and my mood.
5. Track your activity! This challenge is FREE, but I did invest in some new quality shoes (Holly and I love these adidas) and an apple watch or fitbit. I have THIS series 5 apple watch and I love it. Holly and I shared our activity and that was a big motivator, she kicked my butt daily on calories burned but seeing what she was doing in real time, right on my wrist kept me going and inspired me to move. Also, setting your move, stand and exercise goals in the system keeps you accountable and on track to close out those rings or goals each day! There is also a free HARD 75 Facebook community that is a good resource as well.
6. Reading! I ended each day with my 10 pages before going to bed. I like to read on my kindle and doing it at night helps me wind down and I sleep better after reading. I read The Road Less Stupid, High Performance Habits and Shoe Dog, all great motivational and inspiring books for entrepreneurs.
7. Download the app! It was around $5 and it helps you track those daily challenges, stores your progress photos to look back on and gives a scary prompt if you forget to record a day…. are you sure you didn’t cheat!!! YES, I’M SURE!!!!! Holly and I had quite a few laughs about that darn intimidating screen. But, it was worth the money!
8. DIET. You get to choose your plan you just have to stick to it. Holly had a lot of success with the CODE RED diet, you can find out more online. Basically high protein, veggies and low carb/sugar with some intermittent fasting, I followed a rough outline of that.
I lost 15 pounds! The same 15 that came on so easily during the summer were a lot harder to get off, but I’m grateful they are gone. I feel more energized, rested and notice clearer skin, less bloating and overall leaner shape. But most importantly for me the fog and funk I was in have lifted. I just feel better and that for me is a win. I asked Holly what her biggest take away was and she said, “I didn’t die!” hahah
So will we do it again? Yes, I think so as crazy as that sounds. I know I can do it and now I want to see what results I can really get on a second round. I sort of feel like this 75 was the warm up, now we are ready to really go for it on ROUND TWO! We are planning to start at the end of the year to really kick start 2021. Despite the look on his face, he’s very camera shy, LUCKY loved every second of this challenge and is excited for another go!
What will I do differently the 2nd time around?
1. I loved that I could do 2 walks a day no pressure to do some huge workout and a lot of days that’s what I did. Next time I’d like to mix in at least a few days a week of a more structured workout program. Holly did Crossfit a few days a week, and crushed it! I’d like to add in a workout class a few days a week to up the intensity and those results.
2. I will measure myself, not just weigh in. I think there are for sure progress in inches that you don’t see on a scale and I’d love to know those. I feel leaner and my clothes fit better, but I wish I knew the lost inches too.
3. DIET, I know I could dial in my nutrition even more and in turn see greater physical results. But for me it’s more about being healthy and having energy than a number on the scale, so it’s really about balance! More protein and fresh veggies, less sugar and processed food!
I love that my kids saw me follow through with this crazy challenge, and even came along on some of those walks! In the end WE SURVIVED, and are crazy enough to do it again….. after a few weeks off ;) Let me know if you do it too!