Okay, my friends, we are doing 75 Hard again. I loved it so much the first time, I figured why not start the New Year with it! I am also recovering from covid. I was not super ill but there one month since symptoms first showed and I am still recovering. So this challenge seems like a great way to “detox” myself from bad habits I get into while sick and from not paying attention to my food and exercise over the last month. Though truthfully it has been a bit longer, covid is just a convenient excuse.
Continuing on with my PUSH/PULL/LEG split. Three days on, one day off. This is an 8 day cycle, so 5 or 6 resistance training sessions a week.
On days without resistance training, I will be doing yoga. I might make it more frequent but not committing just yet.
I am alternating between walks, and walk/jog intervals. On push and rest days from weights, I will be doing my jog intervals, and walking on the other days. Minimum 45 minutes and outside.
I will be continuing with my martial arts training but this will be separate from the 75 hard. I have jogging and weight training goals. (More on that another time)
Since gyms are closed at the moment, I am only teaching private sessions, so I will have to make myself move more throughout the day.
My “diet” is going to be very simple, under 1800 calories a day, clean food. That’s it. You know me, I like to play around with my macros (not that it makes a difference, really, a calorie is a calorie). For the 75 days I likely will be playing around with them, but not committing to one ratio for the entire time.
There will be no alcohol, no sweets, and no cheats.
F*cking water… 4 Litres a day! The good side to this time, vs last time, I am a bit more accustomed to drinking more and while it will inevitably still be very difficult, it’ll be easier than the first time. I do have to be careful, upon starting this challenge (while writing this I am in Day 3) I found the water overfilled me, and my eating suffered, meaning I ate very little and with the amount of exercise involved, that is not a good plan!
I still have a bunch of books to read. Not the sort of entrepreneurial style that is suggested for 75 Hard but rather ones that are relevant to my own self development. Think fitness, health, martial arts, well being, housekeeping… you get the idea. I keep track via GoodReads.
Take a picture every single day. Unfortunately I started with pictures in my bathroom, which is not terribly pretty. I really need to invest in a full length mirror for my bedroom… Anyway, picture every day 🙂
Some Thoughts Before Starting This Time:
This time is a little different than the first time, obviously. The knowledge that I have already done this challenge might actually be more of an obstacle than a benefit. I tend to get lazy when it is something I have already done. I will overcome this during the challenge, but figured I should mention it anyway.
After completing the challenge the first time, I started reading more about other people’s experiences with 75Hard. I can see where their criticisms come from. This is not a sustainable plan. My understanding, however, is that sustainability was never the intention. It is a challenge, not a lifestyle.
Looking back on the first experience, it was great, I did feel good throughout, but it did feel very isolating. Was that a consequence of the challenge or living through a pandemic? I don’t have the answer. What I do know, is that this challenge will likely save my mental health through this wave of covid chaos, because I need something to go hardcore with, something healthy and not alcohol or other substances. So going to go crazy with the health kick instead.
What a crazy experience! Seriously. I cannot believe the transformation, not just the physical change, that was going to happen anyway, the mental, psychological, emotional changes have been numerous. Here’s to them staying!
Reflections on My Initial Thoughts
I did not add as much cardio focused workouts as I had initially planned. Instead there was a lot of yoga. Well, a lot is subjective. A lot of yoga for me. I actually found that this was extremely helpful with my joints and helped me relax at the end of the day, even with my hatred of yoga. Hatred might be too strong of a word. My displeasure in doing yoga.
Unfortunately, there was little to no jogging or running. My joints were just having none of it and the heat didn’t help either. I did spend a good amount of time with the elliptical.
I aimed to walk about 5k every day, managed it most days, some days I very much surpassed that number. My strength workouts were three days on, one days off. Active rest days were yoga and/or the elliptical and some heavy bag work. Forty-five minutes of heavy bag work was not going to happen.
Unlike my initial plan, I did not do abs every day. Ab were definitely a focus when doing my weight training and I did participate in several abs classes during the last 75 days.
Walk (minimum 5 kilometres)
Yoga (on non weight lifting days)
Kickboxing (weekly, except August)
The diet part of my 75Hard challenge was simple. Under 1650 calories and a minimum of 130 grams of protein daily. I hit this every day. The last month however, I did have to increase my intake to under 1750 calories and aim for 160 grams of protein.
My workouts, and ability to move my body increased so much in intensity that without the calorie increase, I was a mess. Brain fog, poor muscle control, all those markers for under eating. So instead of working out lighter, I increased my calories (side not, since finishing my 75Hard, I have increased my calories again and am still steadily losing weight, so I probably should have increased it earlier.).
I ate clean the whole time, with the exception of protein powder. I know some people argue about whether protein powder should be considered clean. Most meal were made by me, in fact there was only a handful, like 3 meals where I actually ate out the entire time. When I did it was steak and veg or one time where I went to a vegan restaurant (actually amazing!).
No Cheat Meals and No Alcohol:
75 days without alcohol, during the summer months. I did it. It was actually surprisingly easy. I haven’t been having much to drink this year since I started counting my calories, so it does not feel like a massive accomplishment. I am, however, very excited for my son and I to go out for our first drink together. We could have last year, but the cov.
No cheat meals was a surprise. What I mean by that, in the past food has always been a comfort. It’s been easy to eat my feelings and shove them down by putting a hefty cheesecake on top. I expected my mental state to suffer without this comfort and am surprised and delighted that this was not the case. Granted, most meals were made at home by me, that might be the trick. I am looking forward to my first dessert since 75 hard but I am also not in a particular rush to have it.
Water was/is my enemy. My body never adapted to the 4L consumption. Every night I was up peeing. More than once. But my skin felt awesome the whole time, and I rarely woke up feeling dehydrated.
This was the part that kept me up. I would often be missing water and would need to chug a whole bunch before finally resting my head.
OMG did I love this part. I had genuinely forgotten how much I enjoy reading. While I did get woken up by a book cover falling to my head cause I fell asleep reading, it was great. I read through a ton of books, all related to training, martial arts and self discovery. It’s been truly amazing.
I am currently reading Endure. I started it a few days ago and will continue reading it this month.
A picture is worth a thousand words right?
Okay. I spent like ten minutes trying to figure out why they are not in the same position when I was sooooo anal retentive about standing on the same tiles. I changed phone in between. So that explains that. Anyway, you can definitely see some rather significant body composition changes.
We will discuss the physical and psychological changes shortly.
What Has Changed Since Starting 75Hard?
So let’s start with the easiest to measure, measurements and figures and all that.
Body Fat %
Resting Heart Rate
Using Day 76 since it is the first day following the 75Hard tasks. I did the same with the picture.
Lots of great body changes. Would this have happened without 75Hard? Yeah, probably. A little slower perhaps but yeah, it would have happened.
But this isn’t a weight loss challenge
It is not a weight loss, health challenge, it really is not. Working out, eating well, yeah, we all know to do that. The biggest changing were psychological, emotional, habit changes.
What Else Changed For Me
The beginning of this adventure brought with it very few emotional, psychological changes. It was mostly about accomplishing the specific tasks. I understand why the duration is 75 days. It is rather simple, comparatively speaking to perform a daily routine for 10, 20, even 30 days. The changes that went beyond physical took a significantly longer time to manifest. It was not until the second half of the challenge that I began to notice these changes.
My confidence increased significantly. I am not a person who has difficulty finding confidence when necessary, however, my inner dialogue is a little harsher than how I project. What I found is that throughout this challenge, my inner dialogue changed to match my projections. There were rough days where self confidence was in the toilet but they were short lived and spaced apart. My mental health is something I generally struggle with and for me (important, FOR ME, not everyone will react in the same way), this challenge helped bring about a certain balance in my state of mind. No signs of depression at all. This borders on miraculous.
I even convinced myself to clean my depression nest from last year. I don’t know if anyone else does this. When I get depressed, or down, or am just in a bad place, I tend to surround myself with sh*t. Like, holding on to 87 empty shampoo bottles, or leaving utensils close by to be washed “later”. This sort of thing. So basically, when I start recovering from my bouts of depression, I have to deal with a ton of housekeeping, which in turn makes me more depressed and re-triggers. As such, I tend to just learn to live with the mess, my brain stops seeing it and I go about my stuff. It’s complicated, I have unhealthy coping mechanisms sometimes. Anyway, that can be a whole post on its own. What I am trying, ever so slowly apparently, to get at is that during my 75 Hard experience, I started cleaning, clear, scrubbing and all that stuff. Not because I felt I had to, but rather because it did not feel hard or challenging, or triggering to do so. My mind was/is strong enough to accept that this is depression Nicole behaviour and I am not there right now, so let’s fix it. That may sound a little bizarre and explaining it is not simple but I tried.
I watched little to no television. Now, I don’t know that this is an improvement, or what. But I found it interesting that during this challenge, I very rarely watched an episode or film. There was some YouTube watching though. I don’t know why this is. Perhaps because if I had the time, reading was the priority during this time. I don’t know. But this little to no television was actually a delight. I accomplished much more than I normally would. I don’t know how this related to mental toughness, or psychological wellbeing but it feels somewhat related by I can’t seem to connect the dots.
The rediscovery of a love of reading. I have rarely made time for reading in the past few years. This challenge was the perfect thing to remind me. Now I cannot get enough. It is fantastic.
With the reading came the need for silence. This gave me a new found appreciation/tolerance of my ticking valve. Forcing myself to sit in silence with the ticks while I read was actually exactly what I needed. Does it still make me mental? Absolutely but less so.
There are other tiny changes, things that only I or people I am very close to would notice. Giving you some broad strokes here. And now…
Would I Recommend #75Hard
So look, this challenge was hard. There are some criticisms out on the interwebs, vlogs, and such. I do believe that this is not a challenge for everyone. I think anyone could accomplish it, but do I believe everyone should try it? No. I can see how for some it would encourage disordered eating, or exercise, how it could drain the life out of you, how it would be horrible to the point of just not worth it….
If you are wanting to try it as a means to lose weight or improve your exercise regime, this is not the ideal challenge. There are many challenges out there that are not as harsh and not as psychologically taxing. Remember, this is a MENTAL TOUGHNESS challenge.
I would recommend thinking about whether you want to take the challenge and outline your reasons for doing it. This does not have to be long. But just make sure you think about it before plunging in.
Thoughts if you take the challenge
Get your water in early. Late night water marathons make for mid-night peeing marathons.
Plan your diet to be something that is adaptable. Don’t start a new diet or a fad diet.
Find exercises you love or try new exercises regularly. Yoga and walking are your friend.
Pick books that relate to your life. I avoided finance, entrepreneur books because really, I have little to no interest.
Finally, be willing to forgive yourself if you need to start over. Self compassion is available in any situation!