Note: Below is a detailed article of my experience of the #75Hard Challenge. It is a longer read, ideal for those who are considering taking on the challenge.
If you would like the highlights of my lessons learned, feel free to skip to the bottom of this article for my Top 5 Takeaways.
I wrote this as an “interview with myself” to get straight to the point of answering many questions that have arisen while people followed me throughout the challenge in hopes to make it easier for you to consume.
To begin, let’s start with “What is the #75Hard Challenge”?
The #75Hard challenge was created by Andy Frisella, the founder of the 1stPhorm supplement company in America. He has one of the top podcasts in the world, REAL AF (previously called The MFCEO Project).
During this interview with “The Iron Cowboy”, James Lawrence, an ironman athlete who competed in 50 Iron Mans in 50 Days in 50 states, Andy had a moment or realization about what breeds mental toughness.
Which is… DOING HARD THINGS!
Then, in conjunction with a side bet he had with his friend to become fit within 75 days from an upcoming event, #75Hard was born.
What does the #75Hard Challenge entail?
- Two 45 minute workouts per day
- One must be outside
- Drink a gallon of water
- Take a progress picture everyday
- Read 10 pages of a nonfiction book
- Follow a diet
- No cheat meals, no alcohol
Are you excited yet?
Why do the #75Hard Challenge?
Personally, I had heard about it for several months but had no desire to actually try it. Then, three things happened.
First, I saw two people I look up to, Dan Martell and Taki Moore, had started the challenge and that inspired me to reconsider it. (Read about Dan’s recap here)
Second, I was going through some pretty serious depression for a couple of days back in November, and I saw the challenge as something to help pull me Get Out of a Funk.
I won’t get into the details in this article, but click here if you’d like to watch a video update I shared on Instagram about the challenges I have faced throughout COVID trying to maintain my mental resilience while showing up to deliver The Hero Mindset keynote and inspire others.
Trying to lead others when you aren’t feeling at your best is incredibly difficult to do.
Third, I have an autoimmune disorder where my sinuses plug up from food. I saw this FULL commitment to my diet as an opportunity to hopefully resolve this once and for all.
To give you context of how severe is has been for me:
- I have had two surgeries for a deviated septum (which resulted in no better breathing than prior to surgery, only to learn it was not the cause)
- I have had 32 pin pricks on my arm to test for allergies
- I have done blood work testing 220 different foods, which helped me narrow down gluten, wheat, dairy, and much more as obvious triggers
- I have tried food elimination diets before, but this was going to be “the one”
How did it go?
Well, in my first attempt, I failed!
That’s right. I only made it to day 20 and had to quit.
There were three major things I was doing was not working for me:
- I was working out in the morning for sometimes 60 minutes or more (vs. the 45 minutes that’s required)
- I wasn’t eating enough food, feeling constantly hungry and depleted of energy
- I wasn’t getting enough rest
Then again, something happened…
One, I was sitting with my friend, Ryan Hawkes, founder of Athletic Kulture, discussing our upcoming sessions of The Resilience Toolbox, and during our chat me made a comment to me along the lines of “You’re teaching The Resilience Toolbox, but you couldn’t complete 75 Hard?”.
Now, let me preface, I know that I do not want to let my ego get in the way and rule my life.
However, there was definitely a sting when I heard that from Ryan (you can watch my video here on Instagram from the Day 1 restart of my second attempt), but what really happened inside of me was that I KNEW I would not be able to sleep until I DID complete the program.
This was something that I had to do for ME.
I wanted to do this.
So I readjusted…
- I started to focus on doing what was required, and no more so I could conserve my energy for the next day
- I started to eat more
- I started to sleep more
- I started to “let things go” that were not important to create more available time available in my calendar for the challenge.
At the end of the day, my goal was to complete the program, not do 100 other things I don’t need to do.
Do you really need to be that hard on yourself to be resilient?
No. Definitely not.
In fact, if you watched that video of my restart, I strongly encourage that you should not need to talk to yourself that way.
I have been doing a lot of work on myself over the last several months, including learning How To Forgive Yourself and Stop Feeling Guilty, and also How to Destroy Negative Thoughts. It’s all been a process for me, and I try to be transparent about my journey in learning how to be kinder to myself.
Ego and drive can help us do a lot of positive things, but it can also destroy us. For me, I’ve definitely been learning over the last few years how to balance both.
So, how did the second round go?
Much better! I finished! lol
Did you want to quit again?
Yes! I did have moments where I wanted to quit again.
On my first attempt, I quit on day 20. When I was approaching day 20 on my second attempt, my head started to talk negatively around day 17/18, leading back up to 20, but after I got over that hump it was good.
Then, around days 45 – 47 I started to severely struggle again. I had done a few workouts really hard, general fatigue was setting in as well, and truthfully I was inches from quitting again.
Thankfully, I had friends to call upon who helped me adjust my approach and start to include active recovery days. Prior to that time, I hadn’t incorporated any, and that made it possible for me to continue.
What were your results?
Well, as you can see below, here are my physical results after a total of 98 days since my first attempt starting the challenge.
I do have better photos from days like Day 66, but on the final day of my challenge, this is how I looked.
Did you solve your autoimmune disorder?
Not yet. Since I was nearing the end of challenge and still experiencing major reactions to so many different foods, I decided on January 25th to switch to the carnivore diet.
This did significantly impact my energy levels in my last two weeks of the challenge, but in two weeks it HAS cleared up my sinuses! I CAN breathe right now, and it is developing a new baseline for me to gauge foods off of to determine what is giving me a reaction.
Honestly, I’d really like to go into some more detail about what I learned in my diet, but in summary, I have finally discovered that there are so many ingreedients deep down inside labels that I never have even realized.
Things like soy, sulphites, nuts, have plagues me for years, and one of the biggest surprises I found is that there is even gluten in Gyro meat from Pita Pit. (There’s a little fun fact for ya!)
SO, WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 LESSONS, KEV!?
Here’s a quick recap of my top five lessons.
- You learn to prioritize time differently.
Because you are forced to do two workouts a day, which can be incredibly inconvenient, you have less time in the day, and so you must prioritize your time and your day differently.
For me, that meant I was more purposeful in getting things done, because I had less time.
It meant I was more accountable to my schedule, because I had less time.
It meant I further valued what I chose to do in my spare time, because I had less time.
It meant I chose to shift my focus from two to three social media platforms, to primarily focusing on my LinkedIn profile, because I had less time.
Less time makes you prioritize things differently, which helped accelerate my effectiveness, make quicker decisions, and helped produce stronger business results.
- You are stronger than you think.
Throughout my journey recovering from my spinal cord injury, there have been multiple times I thought I had plateaued in my recovery, and yet, this was another experience that taught me I have much more inside of me to do more and grow more, if I continue to push myself.
Not only did I find a new level in my physical fitness, but I also discovered another level of mental toughness.
The number of times that I caught myself wanting to talk myself out of something, and then finding the strength by reframing my inner dialogue to keep going forward – it taught me a lot about how many times we want to make an excuse, and in reality, we can get something done if we simply set our minds to it.
- Learn what to “let go” of.
For me, this was Instagram. I had to “let go” of posting on my Instagram.
Stepping away from Instagram to focus on LinkedIn meant I felt less connected to my “comfort zone”.
But, that’s where my primary market is – serving B2B clients through keynote speaking and workshops using tools inside of The Resilience Toolbox.
The number of times I was sitting, staring at my phone trying to upload something that wasn’t of high importance in the big picture of my day or my business, only to see time slipping away right before my eyes when I already had less time available to me… made it an easy decision.
If I need to be most effective in my day and in my business with less time, I needed to let something go.
- Purpose + difficulty = Happiness
Going back to the start of this blog post, I mentioned that I was dealing with some fairly depressive days in November, and although this was intimidating to start, it was exactly what I needed to find happiness amidst the struggle in today’s Covid reality.
During the last 10 months, it has been interesting the number of calls that I have received for keynotes to help people in developing their resilience. It’s as though by default in our brain we want to be resilient without having to go through hard things
For how much we want to avoid struggle, we must always remember that during the struggle, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW – that THIS Is Where Resilience Is Developed.
You grow stronger THROUGH adversity!
And I encourage you to pause and think about what you are experiencing right now, or if you are thinking about taking on this challenge, that you will become STRONGER because of your STRUGGLES, and when you embrace difficulty with the purpose of growing stronger, as a result, you find the happiness you are searching for.
- Get ‘er done!
Lastly, I will go back to an old strategy that my trainer, Jeremy Steinbach, used to say to me at the gym when I would show up and not want to work out (or have “the juice” to).
He used to look at me and just say “Well! I guess this will be a “Get’er done day!”.
And that’s what it was. A “Get’er done day”!
It wasn’t about doing a perfect workout as much as it was just about “gettin’er done”.
The same principle applied to when I was writing my autobiography, Still Standing, When You Have Every Reason to Give Up, Keep Going, and my book coach said to me, “Done is better than perfect”.
I was caught up on minor details and my book wasn’t getting published, when what I needed to do was to “let go” of imperfections and simply “Get’er done”.
Any final thoughts or words of advice?
Buy the #75Hard book.
For me, it helped bring a lot of perspective to see how this truly is a challenge of you vs. you.
YOU set your diet.
YOU set your exercise routine.
YOU determine what is “a cheat” and what isn’t.
Because at the end of the day, if you lie to yourself, in the end, you’re only cheating yourself. The true benefits come when you stick to the program and do the HARD THINGS.
That’s where life’s biggest lessons are learned. When you DO HARD THINGS.
Also, I would encourage you to pace yourself. I almost burned out completely on two occasions which had me (once) quit.
I know that there are some people, like Dan Martell, who even ran a marathon mid challenge, but for myself, living with a spinal cord injury, my body was hitting the ceiling constantly and I needed to have gas left in the tank to take on the next day.
And finally, do not wait for the perfect time to start. I started this challenge heading into the wintertime, and that was the BEST TIME to do this challenge.
Yes, it was -12, -16, even -19 outside a couple of days! But this challenge forced me to get outside of my house on a daily basis, and I know for a fact that my mental health is in excellent shape, simply because of that. If that was the only benefit I had experienced from the entire challenge, that would have been worth it’s weight in gold.
And so, there you have it! I know that’s a bit of a long and detailed explanation for my experience, but after spending nearly 100 days of my life trying to fight this challenge, I wanted to share the “ins and outs” with you to help give you some insight to the journey, and so many of the benefits.
If you decide to take it on, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you.
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