I recently completed 75 Hard, a program designed by Andy Frisella (entrepreneur, author, podcaster, and business coach), and have since had so many questions about it that it only made sense to designate a blog post to it. I am a big believer in working in silence and intentionally did not post much about the program while I was going through it, but if sharing my experience can inspire someone else to do it or make a change in their own life, then it is my duty to share. Below I have compiled some FAQs and tidbits from my personal experience.
What is 75 Hard?
75 Hard is a mental toughness and discipline challenge designed to instill good daily habits, break old ones, and ultimately take your mindset to the next level. Andy refers to it as a “bootcamp for your brain”.
Each day for 75 days there are six critical tasks you must complete. If you fail to complete any of them, you must start over at day one. The tasks are as follows:
- Two workouts, each at least 45 minutes, and one must be done outside. (The workouts must also be separated by at least 3 hours).
- Drink 1 gallon of water
- Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book (audiobooks don’t count)
- Follow a diet
- No cheat meals or alcohol
- Take a progress picture
The program has historically gotten a lot of backlash for being “too intense” or “too strict”, but the beauty of the program is that it is totally scalable. This means that anyone, at any stage, can complete it by doing what they can with what they have. You can do whatever workouts you choose and follow whatever diet you choose. For some people this might mean following a strict paleo or macro diet, and for others it might mean just avoiding sugar or fast food. Everyone has different goals/intentions, and the way you go about the program should reflect that. Again, this is not a fitness or weight loss program. The physical results are a nice benefit but should ultimately be a by-product of the internal changes happening.
Why did I decide to do it?
I started following Andy awhile ago after discovering his very popular podcast, Real AF, where he covers all things business, entrepreneurship, self improvement, and current events. He frequently talks about 75 Hard on his podcast and its implications in business and the impact it’s had on not only him, but countless others in his life. I’m a junkie for anything related to self-development, and I absolutely love a good challenge. When I first heard about 75 Hard, my immediate thought was “that scares the shit out of me, but I know I have to do it.”
Before starting the program, I already had a pretty good foundation of healthy habits. I exercised on a regular basis and ate a mostly balanced diet. However, I was drinking alcohol on a frequent basis (a glass of wine or two on a majority of weeknights, often more on the weekends), making regular compromises on my diet (pizza or nachos on the weekends, eating out several times per week, zero mindfulness regarding my macros, etc.), and drinking way more coffee in a day than water. I knew that 75 Hard would refine my habits and cut out a lot of the excuses and BS I had been allowing in my life. And to add to the challenge, I decided to start it on November 1st, meaning I would be doing it over Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and in the middle of winter in the Midwest.
My goal for the program was to be extremely consistent, become more disciplined, improve overall markers of health (resting heart rate, VO2 max, blood pressure), and to build muscle/gain strength. I was not necessarily looking to lose or gain weight, but to improve my overall body composition.
I decided to follow a simple “clean eating” diet, meaning I focused mostly on whole foods, getting enough servings of fruits and veggies, eating adequate protein, and avoiding anything processed. No fast food, no desserts, no candy, etc. My rule of thumb was that if I had to question it, it probably didn’t fit.
I did quite a bit of experimentation with my workouts throughout the program. I always did strength training as my first workout in the mornings, and my outdoor workouts in the beginning started as either runs or bike rides. However, since one of my goals was to gain strength and build muscle, I switched partway through to incorporating more walks. Higher intensity cardio was making it difficult for me to maintain muscle mass, and I was having difficulty eating enough to sustain this level of activity. I also included 1-2 “active recovery” days per week, which always included an outdoor walk and yoga. Something I realized very quickly in the program was that not every day could be super intense. I would never have made it through the program if I wasn’t recovering properly, and I wanted to avoid injury and burn-out.
What was the hardest part?
I’ve talked to many people who have completed the program, and what always stands out to me is that everyone seems to have a different “hardest part”. For some, the gallon of water every day is the most challenging. For others, it’s the reading. For me, however, the hardest part was easily the second workout every day. Finishing a long work day only to go home and have to bundle up and head outside for a second workout, when all I wanted to do was eat dinner and melt into the couch, was a huge mental battle. But I did some of my best thinking during those daily outdoor workouts in the cold, and I’m ultimately grateful for how they shaped me over the course of 75 days.
What was the best part?
My boyfriend and I decided to do the program together, and it was amazing to have an accountability partner from start to finish. There were days where I leaned into him for motivation, and on other days he leaned into me. We encouraged each other, supported each other, and ultimately grew closer because of it. The old concept of iron sharpening iron absolutely proved itself to be true here, and I think we would both agree our relationship is stronger now because of it.
I could write pages upon pages of things I learned or took away from the program, but for the sake of brevity, I will share my top 3.
- There will ALWAYS be reasons to not start something like this. Holidays, weddings, trips, football season, winter weather…the list goes on. So the best time to start is now. If you keep waiting for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever. And speaking from experience, while it was difficult to go through the holidays without getting to partake in the wine or Christmas cookies, it was pretty damn great to make it to the new year and not feel my usual icky sluggishness from over-indulging. There is so much to be said about sacrificing in the moment for future benefit and delayed gratification.
- There is SO MUCH time in the day. The most common excuse on the planet is “I don’t have time”. But the reality is that we all have the same amount of time in a day, and it ultimately comes down to our choices. I own a business and maintain a very busy schedule throughout the day, so I knew if I was going to get everything done, I had to be efficient and plan ahead. My alarm went off at 4:30am every morning to get that first workout in. I of all people understand being busy, but that should never be a good enough reason for not working toward your goals. And if it is, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.
- Consistency, consistency, consistency. There is a reason this program is 75 days instead of three weeks or 30 days. Anyone can do anything for 30 days and instantly revert to old habits afterwards. But it’s pretty tough to make it through 75 days of discipline and come out on the other side unchanged. In fact, I remember being mind-blown that I started noticing the biggest changes, both mental and physical, around day 40. I had never committed to something that long before, and I was used to quitting before I even got to the good stuff. There is so much to be found on the other side of struggle.
After finishing, what’s next?
There was a ton of satisfaction in completing that 75th day. And you best believe we treated ourselves to a big ol’ cheat meal, complete with lots of wine and dessert. But I honestly felt horrible after (duh), and the very next day I got right back on track doing my daily tasks. I loved the lifestyle, the structure, and the discipline of 75 Hard and have decided to keep doing it for the time being. I have become obsessed with feeling sharp, clear, and strong—it makes everything in my life better and makes me think twice about compromising. I’m obviously still human and will have days where I choose to go to happy hour or eat pizza, but overall those old, bad habits no longer serve me or have a place in my life, and I want to continue on the path of refining myself.
I can’t recommend this program enough. If you’re looking to elevate your habits and get out of your own way, this is the perfect way to do it. I’ll include links to Andy’s podcast and other resources for those looking to learn more. And as always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you need an accountability buddy. 🙂