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.
Books I finished during this venture:
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.
|Measurement||Day 1||Day 76||Change|
|Weight||80.7 kg||70.8 kg||-9.9 kg|
|Body Fat %||31.2||25.6||-5.6%|
|Waist||77 cm||72||-7 cm|
|Hips||97 cm||92.5||-4.5 cm|
|Resting Heart Rate||61 bpm||55 bpm||-6 bpm|
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!