Finished #75Hard

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

The Workouts:

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.

Typical Day:

Weights (Pull/Push/Leg)

Walk (minimum 5 kilometres)

Yoga (on non weight lifting days)

Kickboxing (weekly, except August)

The Diet:

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!).

Meal from Day 1

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.

Books I finished during this venture:

Fight Like a Physicist: The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts
The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba
Karate of Okinawa Building Warrior Spirit With Gan Soku Tanden Riki
Functional Training and Beyond: Building the Ultimate Superfunctional Body and Mind
The Way of Energy: Mastering the Chinese Art of Internal Strength with Chi Kung Exercise

Nicole’s favorite books »

I am currently reading Endure. I started it a few days ago and will continue reading it this month.

Progress Picture:

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.

MeasurementDay 1Day 76Change
Weight80.7 kg70.8 kg-9.9 kg
Body Fat %31.225.6-5.6%
Muscle %28.932.5+3.6%
Bone %3.74+0.3%
VO2 Max3944+5
Waist77 cm72-7 cm
Hips97 cm92.5-4.5 cm
Resting Heart Rate61 bpm55 bpm-6 bpm
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!

#75Hard: The First Two Weeks

I have made it through the first two weeks of #75Hard. If you are not sure what I am talking about check out this post about my 75Hard journey.

Let’s look at all the mandates of the challenge and see how each one is going rather than me babbling on with no where to go. I will do that later in the post.

Just to add a little side note about this post. By the time I actually completed


As mentioned in the previous post, everyday there needs to be 2 workouts, one outside, spaced 3 hours apart and one must be done outside. With this current heat wave, trust me when I say the outdoors have been a struggle. Heart condition, swelling, all that fun stuff really likes to come out and play in the humid heat. Anyway, that is neither here nor there. It’s been rough, but going out at night has definitely helped.

This part of the challenge has not been terribly difficult, other than the aforementioned heat issues. I was already basically doing two a days and one was usually outside. I tweaked the timing and voila, it worked out. Not including my teaching or training other individuals in my workouts is perfect. I decided rather than try to do the 3 hour spacing from my teaching or leading classes, I would time it to be three hours from my first workout. Which logically makes sense but part of me thought maybe I was cheating the experience of 75 Hard by doing so, but there is literally not enough hours in the day to make that happen.

On days where I am not weight training, because those muscles still need a rest day, my friends, challenge or no, I did an hour of yoga for one and I did about 45 minutes of heavy bag training. Yesterday I double walked and did an ab class for 30 minutes.

The ab workout has been a bit of an issue for me somehow. I keep forgetting to add it in and end up doing ten minutes of abs work before bed. At least I am getting it in, but I would like it to flow more naturally. By the end of my lifting sessions, I am exhausted and forget. Going to have to push the abs a little more. Only because I like doing abs. I have several compound movements that work my abs anyway, so there is not a “need” for me to focus on my abs training, but I do find that it helps my back and strengthens my control when doing my martial arts training.


I have not cheated, there has been no alcohol, no chocolate (other than protein powder), no pastries, cakes or cookies, etc. Granted I was following this before, but still let’s enjoy the moment of success. I have kept my calories under 1650, actually closer to 1500. I did start to split my meals up. I am now doing 5 meals every day to avoid some stomach/digesting issues I have been dealing with. (Not related to this challenge, but the challenge made it clearer.)


4 Liters every day, at least for the last ten days. What have I noticed? I pee a lot. Like a lot a lot. I have had to pause my walks to take care of things. I thought I had the timing down but looks like no!

I find myself chugging down one litre of water at a time. I am pretty sure this kind of goes against the idea behind the water, like it should be drank consistently throughout the day. This is working for me and I am keeping it going.


I actually forgot how much I enjoy reading before bed. I struggled with focusing solely on the reading. I “need” background noise. My heart ticking is very annoying to listen to. I don’t think I have discussed my mechanical valve here yet, we will. Anyway, constant ticking noise in my head. I made an effort and have successfully read without adding in background noise, like a podcast or music. Ten pages is a great number, a few days I read more. It’s been wonderful. I managed to complete my first book and am now looking for a second one. I am sure there are a few on my shelf however I am thinking I will check out my local bookstore to see what they may have.

Daily Progress Picture

I have taken an image every day. Usually at the gym, a few times I completely forgot and had to do it from home (very bad lighting and not a large mirror). I don’t think I will be posting these until the end of the challenge. I think it will be far more dramatic in a before and after style of progress picture. I may change my mind, we’ll see.

Some Thoughts So Far

I managed to gain weight the first week. How? Who the f*ck knows? I am thinking it was the increased water intake combined with humidity. It was actually a significant number like over 2 kg over the course of a day. It has since evaporated or whatever, and weight loss has since continued. I cannot possibly explain to you have frustrating that was. Rationally, I understand fluctuations are normal and increased water intake, humidity, and cardiac patient usually equals weight gain from water retention. But when the scale goes up, all attempts at rational thought tend to fly out the window. I even had moments of “should I decrease my calories even more?” I did not because that would be a first class ticket to coocoo town. I don’t like visiting there.

Speaking of calories, I am actually thinking mine are too low. But because of that weight gain, I cannot tell what the trend is. So I am going to continue watching. Ideally, I want to only be dropping body fat and not start eating into my muscle mass. I have far less room to play with lower calories than I did when I started this journey. In looking at my calculated TDEE, (not completely accurate, by the way, you have to do your own experimenting to really get proper insight) I should be consuming something like 750 calories more than I am currently eating. Since TDEE calculators are not super accurate I am not going to change just yet. I will be watching the scale to see, I would like to avoid losing more than 1 kg a week.

So let’s take a moment to get a little personal… The constipation is a real issue. I don’t understand it. I am drinking tons of water, getting lots of fibre and still things are not on track. They are stuck in the track. I am at a loss in what to do here. I have changed my eating so that I am eating more frequently.

I have not been doing any IG story check-ins, cause I am a bad person. This week I will start. I don’t really want to load up my feed with just 75Hard stuff, and this seems like a great opportunity to learn how to use stories. Yes, I am an old lady. I don’t know how social media works.

Summaries from the Last Two Weeks

I know these are not too exciting at the moment, working on my excitement skills as we speak.

See you in the next one.


Time for #75Hard

You may have seen the 75 Hard Challenge floating around the interwebs lately. It has been around for a while but seems to have ramped up in popularity since COVID. That’s neither here nor there. This is a challenge where the end goal is mental fortitude. There seems to be added biproducts, like weight loss. So let’s get into this.

What is it?

What is it going to look like for me?

Why do this?

Starting thoughts.

What is 75 Hard?

75 Hard is a list of daily behaviours that need to be done every single day for 75 days straight. Any deviation results in starting over to Day 1.

Workout Twice a day:

Every day you must work out twice. One of those must be outside (regardless of the weather). Some are saying they should be spaced no less than 3 hours apart. Each workout is a minimum of 45 minutes. The workouts will depend on your current fitness level. If you are not an athlete, and let’s face it, few of us are, you will not be performing 2 45 minute intense workouts. Walk outside, yoga, elliptical, dancing, whatever, find a workout that suits your current fitness level. Do not go out there and start doing plyometrics and ridiculous calisthenics if you can’t perform them properly. The risk of injury is high. Adapt to what you can.

Follow a diet:

Any diet. Just have a concrete plan that you will not deviate from for the entirety of the 75 days. This can be some sort of popular eating protocol like keto, paleo, whole-30 etc. Find something that suits your goals. If you want to gain weight, don’t plan a calorie deficit. And vise versa. There are no cheat days, and no alcohol. So, if your plan is to go keto and you ate 40% of your macros as carbs, well, guess what? You are starting over.

Drink 4L of Water:

Everyday you must consume a gallon (4 Litres) of water. This is plain water, not juice, not sports drink, water. Like from the tap.

Read 10 Pages of a Non-Fiction Book:

It may not seem like a lot but carving out the time to read 10 pages every single day. This cannot be an audio book. Yes, it has to be non-fiction. What that means to you. Some people are saying must be self-help or entrepreneurial, just pick a book and read it.

Daily Picture:

Take a daily progress picture. Post it or don’t, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can reflect on the changes.

Learn more about 75 Hard from the creator:

75 Hard for Me:

Starts June 1st, 2021.

So for the challenge this is my plan:

The workouts:

I will be doing my weight training at the same schedule. 3 days on, 1 day off. On weight rest days I will be performing some other sort of workout, like heavy bag training, elliptical, rowing (there is no way I can row for 45 minutes), we will see what the rest days will look like.

The outdoor workout will be walking/jogging. This is my usual thing anyway so not much change other than committing to the jogging. I watch a friend of mine run by me the other day while on my walk and I was like “Damn, I wanna do that too.” So I am doing it too. Plus there are many other people in my circle that have taken up running, and I find it incredibly inspirational, so I am doing it too! We just have to hope my knees decide to cooperate.

One of these two work out will include ab specific exercises. I have been neglecting my abs lately and would like to put some more focus on them.

Added information for the workouts. If I am leading a class, regardless of how many calories or what my heart rate is at the time, it does not count toward my workouts.

How will this effect my step counting? Well, I am hoping to continue reaching my goal of 11,000 steps per day, so if I am short, I will be getting more steps in. That’s just the way it is.


So, here is where I am going to have some trouble. Not in the execution of the task but rather finding something I can stick to the entire time that has enough calories for me to increase my muscle mass and decrease my body fat percentage. Since I don’t know how many more calories my body will need with the increased expenditure, I am going to have to make a guess and hope it will be a good amount for me to not crash and burn.

The plan is going to be simple. I am not aiming for a specific macro nutrient distribution. I am going to create a maximum calorie consumption and a minimum protein requirement.

So 1650 kcal is the maximum daily. I am going into this feeling confident in that number, however, I am adding a wrinkle, if this is not sufficient to run my body on, I will up it but will keep the same idea of a maximum calorie consumption. I just know that if I start burning 3000 calories a day and am only eating say 1500, it is going to be bad. I will use my weight loss and muscle percentage to keep track. I will be consuming a minimum of 130 grams of protein daily.

To sum up: 1650 Calories a day made up of a minimum of 130 grams of protein.


I see we meet again, my arch nemesis. If there is one place that I see being the BIGGEST challenge for me, it is the water consumption. In case you have not been following my journey, water and I struggle to be together often enough. 4 Litres is a F*CK ton of water. I guess I will be peeing all the time. (might need to buy something to run with).

I am going to break this down into manageable increments. Say 4 shots of 1L at a time. I will set up timers and just basically hope for the best and make sure the majority of my water is consumed way before bedtime.


This part of the challenge works out really well because I have been wanting to add some reading time to my daily life. I have not decided which book I will be starting with, but since it begins tomorrow I better hurry up.

Progress Picture:

Shouldn’t be an issue for me.

Why Do 75 Hard?

This is not about weight loss. This is about creating a mental toughness that I lack in certain aspects of my life. I would like to gain the ability to do all the things. Right now, I am great with following eating plans, working out, those things that are necessary for weight loss. In the future, I want to be good at the things that will go beyond my wellness journey. Like marketing my business. Keeping my house clean (my house surfers when I “run out of time”). I would like to take control of my time management, and just all around prove to myself that this is something I can do. I am a sucker for a challenge.

For those of you thinking about joining on this challenge, please find your why. Like with weight loss, it is important to remember why you are doing this. This challenge is not meant to be sustainable. It is not meant to be something you implement in your daily life. It is a challenge to overcome. This is a sprint. Where as most things in life are a marathon.

Starting thoughts

There is not much to say other than water…. I am going to have a tough time there. The reading might prove to be a bigger challenge than I am giving it credit for right now, since it is something new to add in. Ultimately, I am excited to see how this will go and if I can make it the whole 75 days the first time around without starting over. Fingers crossed.

Be sure to follow my IG account for daily check ins. These will be in my stories (are they stories on Insta? I don’t even know. Might need a book on such things). I will try and cross-post on Facebook as well, and do recaps on Twitter.