Back in December last year, after seeing my friend Hannah’s results, I decided to take on the 75Hard challenge. I’d looked at it earlier in the year but dismissed it as I didn’t understand it properly. 75 days of training without a rest day? No thanks! I don’t even do 14 day challenges that don’t factor in rest and recovery as that’s just a straight road to overtraining, loss of performance and possible injury.
Hannah posted her results and I immediately messaged her to ask some questions. She gave me all the info I needed to finally understand this challenge and decide that yes, this could actually be one for me.
I shared it with the 3 other Team NBR members (my accountability group)that I would be starting this on 1st Jan and in sharing it for accountability reasons I actually inspired (although he’ll say peer pressured) Chris James to do it with me.
We had several discussions about our individual ‘Why’ as we both had similar thoughts… “it doesn’t actually sound that hard”, “thats pretty much what we do anyway” “I don’t really know what I’d get out of it”… and I think we both came to the same conclusion; This is the Why… because we think it’ll be easy/simple and it must be called 75Hard for a reason. I was also still massively motivated by Hannah’s results but also aware that she is an absolute beast when it comes to fitness so it was unlikely I could achieve what she had.
What is 75 Hard?
It a mindset challenge, not a fitness challenge, designed by Andy Frisella, also known as the MF CEO. It’s 75 days of discipline abiding by the following 6 rules:
1) Two 45 Minute workouts. 1 MUST be outside. They cannot be consecutive and 3 to 4 hours apart at least.
2) Follow a diet. You choose the diet to match your goals but it must be strict. If you decide on calorie deficit and macro counting you cannot just have a takeaway pizza one day and make the rest of the day fit. It must be clean.
3) No alcohol or cheat meals.
4) Take a progress photo every day.
5) 1 gallon of water a day. This is a US gallon which is basically 4 litres.
6) Read 10 pages of a non fiction book every day. Not a e-book, not an audio book. An actual book.
I completed day 75 yesterday and can honestly say this is one of the most surprising challenges I have ever done. I didn’t expect it to be so worthwhile or interesting. I got so much more out of doing this than I ever imagined. It was also a better experience for doing it alongside Chris as we had a lot of the same revelations and thoughts.
Ok, so what did I get out of it?
Well for starters I look better. I start there because it’s the most obvious change. I’m the lightest I’ve been for about 20 years maybe, but the body composition shift is all the right way. Fat% down and muscle % up.
I’m stronger than I was. During the 75 days I PB’d my 1RM Deadlift and Strict Press and have been challenging myself to use heavier options during CrossFit classes.
I read more, I read better. I have loved carving out a little bit of time everyday to sit down with a book and this is definitely something I will be continuing. I’m always listening to audiobooks and reading my kindle but very rarely read an actual book and this is staying. I found it makes such a difference putting the book in my hands. Its a different focus as there are no devices, no electronics and I really liked that a lot. I finished 6 books and am a third of a way through the 7th.
I have proved again to myself that all the stuff I say about myself is true. I am disciplined. I have strong mental grit. I have a strong work ethic. If I say I’m going to do something I do it. There were days when it got to 8pm and I still hadn’t hit the workout criteria so had to get shit done before I could think about going to bed. I’m Ironman training so many days I would hit 2, some days even 3 workouts but because they were either brick sessions, or all indoors or outdoors, I hadn’t followed the rules. In this situation a few people said to me “what does it really matter” “you’ve done 2 workouts” and thats true, but thats not the rules and you can say the rules are stupid/not fair/whatever but I knew the rules going in so bitching about them would have been pointless. I could have quit, saying the rules don’t suit my lifestyle… but thats the point. It’s meant to be difficult, it’s meant to be inconvenient so head down, mouth shut, do the work!
I discovered how much of a difference refined sugar makes to how I feel day to day. Both Chris and I cut refined sugar as part of the diet rule. Neither of us are mass consumers and we were both surprised as how a small change made such a big difference. I followed a strict high protein, calorie deficit diet with no refined sugar. I’ve been doing the high protein, calorie deficit thing for a while, although not as strictly, so the major difference was the sugar piece. After the cravings on day 5 and 6, it was actually really easy to stick to. I thought this would be the hardest bit but not at all. I feel a bit in love with no sugar me. I had more energy, I didn’t feel the need to power nap every afternoon (although I still love a nap – I just didn’t need one), I was just, well, better. Thats not to say I’m never eating refined sugar ever again but it was a learning experience and will for sure shape my diet moving forward.
I finally found a type of yoga I can get on board with. As mentioned at the start, the bit I struggled with when I first heard about 75Hard was the 75 days of 2 workouts a day. After speaking to Hannah, and listening to Andy’s podcast ( a must for anyone thinking of doing this), I understood that you can still have rest and recovery days. An outdoor workout can be a walk and an indoor workout can be yoga. I’ve never been a fan of Yoga but Hannah was using the downdog app and suggested I look at the Yin Yoga. Ok, game changer! I LOVE Yin Yoga. I’m a huge fan of mobility work so this was perfect for me and although I only did maybe 1 or 2 sessions a week, my mobility improved, my squat technique improved and I genuinely enjoyed every session. Like the reading an actual book, weekly yoga is staying as part of my new routine.
*for the before and after photos you’ll need to check my social media.
Weight – Day 1; 82.4kg – Day 75; 74.6kg (Total loss: 7.8kg)
Body Fat % – Day 1; 32.8 – Day 75; 27.5 (Total loss: 5.3%)
Muscle% – Day 1 29.8 -Day 75; 33.2 (Total gain: 3.4%)
Bust/Back – Day 1; 38.5 / 31.5 – Day 75; 36 / 28 (Total loss: 2.5″ / 3.5″)
Waist – Day 1; 34 – Day 75; 29 (Total loss: 5″)
Hips – Day 1; 39 – Day 75; 36 (Total loss: 3″)
Resting Heart Rate – Day 1; 52bpm – Day 75; 45bpm
Bike FTP – Day 1; 195 – Day 75; 235
Bike Watts per kg (avg) – Day 1; 2.1 – Day 75; 2.5
Vo2 Max – Day 1; 42 – Day 75; 45
Cycling Vo2 Max – Day 1; 44 – Day 75; 51
Open Water Swimming – 1
Pool Swimming – 10
Outdoor Cycle – 2
Indoor Cycle – 24
Run – 23 (92 miles)
CrossFit Class – 45
Training with Toby – 12
Indoor Strength – 1
Outdoor Strength – 2
Indoor Row – 1
Yoga / Mobility – 19
Recovery Cardio/Mobility – 5
Total sessions – 145 + 62 (45 min+) walk