The 75 Hard challenge has gained viral popularity over the last few years, with many people posting progress updates and singing its praises as a transformational experience.
As a fitness professional for over 15 years, I have mixed feelings about “challenges”. They can be used as great motivational tools, but results can be short lived and long lasting lessons missed. However with 75 Hard, I was intrigued by the concept, as it is lauded as not a diet or a weight loss challenge. Instead it is intended to facilitate deep, positive change and personal growth through applying a strict set of rules for 75 consecutive days. These motivating factors are what really inspires me in the fitness industry.
So in late 2021, I set out to complete this challenge and can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life.
75 hard is a challenge where you must stick to a set of rules for 75 consecutive days. The rules can be scaled to suit all ages and fitness levels.
• Stick to a diet that supports your goals. This is not prescribed and can be something as simple as no refined sugar or you can choose to be in a calorie surplus/deficit if you are looking to gain/lose weight.
• Exercise twice a day for 45 minutes, one must be outdoors.
• Drink a gallon of water a day (around 3.8L)
• Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book daily.
• Take a progress picture daily.
• No alcohol consumption.
The catch is, that if you break any rules, you have to start from day one again. So if you forget to take your progress photo, or read 9 pages of a book rather than 10 on day 74, you have not been successful in the challenge.
Rather than focussing on the physical aspects of a challenge, 75 Hard is about improving and strengthening your mindset. It forces you to be incredibly disciplined and organised every single day, and gives you the chance to experience the benefits of applying such dedication to your lifestyle.
How many times do we cut corners, procrastinate, pick Netflix over a workout or take away over meal prepping? 75 Hard provides you with the framework to level up your daily routine and reap the benefits.
Through the application of strict rules, 75 Hard also teaches you the importance of planning for the little things and pushing through when it gets tough. After all, growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
Firstly, I loved this challenge. You can see from many forums that everyone’s experience is different, but for me I didn’t have many days that I really struggled. I made a strong commitment from the get go, and didn’t allow negative self-talk to enter my head, which in itself is a win!
Physically, I lost just over 7kg. I tried not to be too motivated by the scales, but I definitely have a new found love, respect and confidence in my body after that experience, that I have maintained.
The non-physical results were what I am most proud of. I feel like I really levelled up in life and realised how holding yourself to a high standard and squeezing the juice out of every day brings such awesome feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment.
It really shows you what you can achieve with focus, determination and self-belief. I’ve loved finding time for things that I know are important, but often neglect, like flexibility training, mindfulness and proper hydration. I’ve always been a pretty motivated person but can see that I can push myself a little harder too.
It wasn’t long before I missed the structure and accountability of 75 Hard, so I started working with a Coach who has been guiding me with my training and nutrition on a more long term basis.
We quickly discovered that, although I was eating 1600-1700 calories per day during 75 Hard, I was in a pretty intense calorie deficit, so she has been guiding me to slowly increase my calories and build muscle, while staying lean. It’s been a fantastic next chapter that I don’t think I could be achieving without the lessons from 75 Hard. I’ve maintained my weight, but built muscle and reshaped my body.
I have continued to start my every day with some non-fiction reading, which was a great new habit. I loved the feeling of filling my mind with knowledge and wisdom first thing every day, rather than reaching straight for the phone.
Above all, I have maintained the new level of confidence, strength and self-belief that I achieved through 75 Hard, which I love.
• Just pick a date and do it. I put it off a couple of times based on parties and events I wanted to indulge in. There will always be something and once I got into it and was loving it, I wished I had started sooner
• Don’t be put off by the workout volumes. A workout is defined as any intentional movement. So on days that I did feel lower on energy, I just did a walk or some mobility/flexibility work. In many ways this made me tune into my body more to ensure its needs were being met.
• Drink your water early. Start sipping as soon as you wake up! You want to try to have most of your water consumed by 7pm, otherwise you’ll be up a few times in the night.
• Keep a journal to ensure you achieve all of the daily goals. There is also a 75 Hard app to help you keep track too.
• It’s not as hard as you think it is. This was probably my biggest take away. Like many hard things in life, once I was into 75 Hard, I realised it was easier than I had told myself it was going to be. The structure got me quickly into a daily flow and once the positive feelings came, I built an enjoyable momentum that has continued to reap benefits beyond the 75 days.