- 2, 45-minute workouts per day (one has to be outside)
- Follow a diet that helps you achieve YOUR nutrition goals
- NO ALCOHOL
- Drink 1 gallon of water
- 10 Pages of Reading a non-fiction book
- Take a progress picture every day.
I’m not gonna lie – I considered quitting. Several times. I mean, what exactly am I trying to prove? And to whom? And why??? Those “Why” questions beat me down throughout the challenge, from the mundanity of the ridiculous scheduling and peeing (OMG so much peeing) and just trying to fit it all in. But the other day I read something and it reminded me why…
I heard someone say, oh your life must be so easy that you actually have to do hard things, but my life is already hard. But here is the thing. We always have a choice as to how we REACT to the shit that life throws at us. Am I a victim or am I a person who succeeds. Period. So when someone is mean to you, you can choose to feel sorry for yourself, or you can CHOOSE to ignore it and go win anyway. When you get sick or injured, you can CHOOSE to get in bed and feel sorry for yourself, or you can CHOOSE to get up and move your body and get better anyway. When you lose someone close to you, you can hide away and mourn, or you can CHOOSE to live your own most glorious life in their honor. This 75-day trial was hard, but it just reminded me that no matter what life throws at me – I CHOOSE to live extraordinarily.
So if you are interested in your own Extraordinary Journey with 75 Hard, this will help you figure out what to do, how to do it, and more about why you should give it a try.
But FIRST – let’s talk about What to do – each portion and what was really hard and what wasn’t.
2, 45-minute workouts per day.
As a gym owner I obviously workout a LOT but this had added a new level. Most of all this is a major TIME SUCK. For one thing, the workouts need to be 3 hours apart and one of them needs to be outdoors. Thank God for our outdoor areas at the gym! The hardest part is that I never have a day off so I have had to be careful to program ACTIVE REST – that means I’m up and moving but I’m not hitting super high exertion. This may consist of yoga, a long walk, 45 minutes on the Echo bike at an easy pace, or something like that. As many of you know, my personality is to go, go, go – so I’ve had to slow myself down a couple of times – especially when I know I have a big workout like the CrossFit Open the next day – which leads me to even more issues with scheduling and over-exertion. If you are attempting this, my advice is to EASE IN those second workouts. Start with a walk and increase it over time to a walk/run or a weighted walk or whatever floats your boat and stay mindful of the days when you need to allow your body to recover more. Personally, I have really enjoyed a lot of this – it’s usually just a long, slow cardio and my favorite is a 45 minute walk or run with my daughter rollerblading or going to yoga. It gets her outside exercising and off media and best of all, spending time with me!
The other issue with working out has been the outdoor workouts. I LOVE being outside, but I HATE being in the cold – especially when wet. But the idea is to build mental toughness even amidst conditions that we can’t control, so I HAVE done it. I might have almost cried a little bit feeling sorry for myself once while stomping through the freezing cold rain at 10:30 on a Saturday night, but I DID it. 😂 About halfway through the challenge I heard that you can’t be under a patio or cover of any kind so I tried to do all of my workouts without cover, however, I realized that a lot of my workouts actually suffered because I didn’t have the equipment I needed such as a pullup bar or wall. I decided the intensity of the workout (while still outside) was more important than the (more specific) rules. Besides if you’ve ever done pull-ups on a freezing cold bar then you know that is much harder than running in the cold.
Follow a Diet
OK this has been difficult for me, to be honest. My goal was to get off of thyroid medication through diet. I spoke to a doctor and she thinks my calories are too low for this much activity, so I have been reluctantly increasing them. But as many of you know, this can be a mindf#ck. I am NOT immune to vanity, after all. Anyway, I have been trying to eat clean and LEARN what is going to serve my body best. Every person has to remember that each body is different and has different needs – and age and hormones and goals and a whole bunch of other things come into play to add a new level of difficulty at each phase of life. But as I always say – it’s a journey. Just keep walking through it and LEARN! If you are doing this challenge, you will want to first figure out your goals. If you are trying to build muscle, your goals will be different than if you want to lose fat. Then talk to someone who can help you figure out the next steps. I know how to lose weight, but hormones and medical issues such as thyroid are out of my specialty, so I got help. Interestingly, my inches have gone down and I have lost about 4 lbs (1/2lb per week) eating more food.
This has been a lot easier than I thought it might be. Part of the reason I wanted to do this challenge was because I felt like recently alcohol had become too much a part of my lifestyle and I needed a break. I’ve certainly gone long periods without alcohol. I gave birth to 3 kids – that’s 6 years with breastfeeding – but my youngest is now fourteen! I also have been seriously considering giving up alcohol completely because it’s really not good for you and it’s just a bunch of extra calories that I don’t need and therefore why do it? That becomes the eternally nagging question – why do it?
I normally don’t drink when I’m home alone anyway, but I do love to go out with friends and enjoy a big glass of wine. In the beginning, I felt like I was being punished or missing out – not a happy feeling. That dwindled and became easier. In trying to assess what it was I really missed, I finally decided that my wild little heart likes to do something “rebellious” and possibly even “naughty” at the end of the day and a glass of wine makes me feel like a free spirit. So I’ve attempted to change my thought pattern to being rebellious by NOT partaking. It’s definitely easier when I stay home, and when going out I’ve started having Topo Chico with a splash of cranberry juice and lime so that I feel like I’m enjoying something fun and staying on my diet!
The other thing I really missed was something that WARMED my body – especially in the freezing cold weather. I drank a lot of hot water (sounds gross, but it was actually pretty good) but that was really difficult in restaurants, which is where I would often drink red wine because it made me feel warm. So I would ask for a glass of hot water and that often helped.
Another thing that has been super helpful – and very interesting – is the help of an app called Reframe. It has daily information about alcohol and how it affects your body and our physical, mental, and spiritual reactions – and actions we can take to get through it as best we can. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND checking it out if you are interested in trying sobriety!
Drink 1 Gallon of Water
This might have been the hardest part of the challenge – not because I can’t do it, (in fact, I often have it done quite early in the day and go over a gallon in liquids) – but because I am a peeing machine. And if you expect a 52-year-old woman who has had 3 kids and who is 5’2″ to drink that much water and then run for 45 minutes, you are crazy. But, again, I’m figuring it out. I learned to sip small amounts throughout the day and extend it into the evening, but not too late so that I didn’t have to wake up to hit the bathroom. Seriously, just a pain in the ass more than anything.
The other issue, is that I am low in electrolytes and actually DEHYDRATED by drinking that much water and had to consult a doctor about how to replenish electrolytes so that I don’t end up doing more damage than good. Salt, electrolytes and pickle juice were the answer. Again, just annoying. But again – my skin looked AMAZING so I’m trying to keep it up!
Read 10 Pages on Non-Fiction
This is probably my favorite part. I admit – I had gotten out of the habit of reading every night due to the fact that A) I get tired and fall asleep and B) I’ve gotten old and I can’t see as well and I have to go searching for my reading glasses, wherever I left them. The first book I read was “What Doesn’t Kill Us” by Scott Carney about Wim Hof – the Ice Man who climbed Kilamanjaro in hiking boots and shorts in record time defying the principles of cold as well as altitude sickness. The whole idea is that our bodies are made to withstand the elements and that if we take the time to mentally and physically connect to the world around us and control our bodies from within, we can survive almost anything. The method has even shown incredible results in dealing with Parkinsons, depression, and many other illnesses. This was super timely as I was outside doing workouts in 19-degree weather. I highly recommend it! Now I have a LARGE stack of books next to my bed and I fully intend to keep up the minimum of 10 pages per day forever – I even went and bought a whole bunch of reading glasses to leave around my house just in case!
Take a Progress Picture Every Day
This is something I do every now and then anyway to see where I am, and I have to admit I had gotten pretty fluffy over the past year! However, this one little thing does a GREAT job of showing you your progress and keeping you accountable! You can see that just a short time back on track is helped!
WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE IT A TRY
The thing that really drew me to this challenge was something that the author, Andy Frisella, said about doing hard things. When he was a teenager he was mugged and his face was cut horribly all over by a knife. In recovery, the “why me” voice moaned until one day he decided to just win anyway. His summation was that hard things make us stronger, better people and in the long run, we learn to welcome them. This is often resounded in Alcoholics Anonymous when people are grateful for hitting rock bottom because they become better, stronger people afterward. In fact, often when you ask people who have gone through things that are really hard if they wish they could have had an easier life, they will often say no – because those hard things made them stronger and more grateful than they ever would have been. THAT is priceless.
As far as this challenge goes, the hardest part FOR ME is the mental aspect of NOT GIVING UP and holding myself accountable. There have been many times when I thought, I should just quit and get back to normal life because I don’t have time for this and this is dumb. Andy Frisella, the creator of the challenge, calls that the “Bitch Voice” – that voice inside your head that says it’s ok to be lazy or do things you know won’t serve you best. Believe me, it can be a very powerful voice sometimes, telling me that only crazy people care about this and that I have REAL stuff in life that needs to be attended to and I don’t have time for stupid games.
But I kept reminding myself that I wanted to try this for several reasons:
- to challenge myself in new and different ways (I love a good challenge).
- to see if I can dial in my diet and shed a few pounds.
- to see if I FEEL better without alcohol, with more water, and by dialing in my diet
- to get back in the habit of reading
- to LEARN something about myself, about restriction, and about doing hard things.
What I have LEARNED:
- I love challenges, but I get bored easily and perhaps that is the biggest part of this challenge and what I need to learn right now about myself – that good things take time and tending. The world we live in today is full of “magic pills” and instant gratification that is not good for us and once again – I am not immune. Acknowledgment is the first step!
- My diet is pretty good, but I might need to eat more.
- I have even more appreciation for being outside, unplugged, and connecting to nature – even the parts that I normally don’t usually appreciate.
- Abstaining from alcohol while out at dinners and parties is not hard and I might start adding more alcohol-free outings to my post-75hard future.
- Water is good, but spread it out over the day and get lots of salt and electrolytes!
- I missed reading a lot more than I realized.
- The world we live in here in America is EASY. We have an abundance of food and drink and time and things. So many of us have created what I call “lazy hard things” in the form of trying to fit in and get other people to accept us. It’s called co-dependence. But there are lots of REAL hard things in this world, like starvation and war and slavery and brutality. When we learn to challenge ourselves with things that take a lot of real effort we realize how easy our lives our and we have gratitude and peace – and we can attempt to focus on and solve the real hard things in this world.
I keep reminding myself – “I can do hard things” and this is nothing compared to what so many other people have to go through every day in their lives. My life is a breeze in comparison.
When I think about the hard things I have done – from graduating from college, Obstacle Races, Skydiving, CrossFit, starting my own business, surviving a life-threatening illness, and of course giving birth – those are all super hard things – but they are some of the most amazing and memorable moments of my life and they taught me so much about how fragile life can be and how strong I am and how grateful I am to live this beautiful life.
The emotional and physical and psychological reward you get when you do hard things is nothing short of Extraordinary! That is why you should give 75 Hard a try.