Sunday, October 15, 2023

75 Day Challenge Summary


I finished the 75 Hard Challenge yesterday. As I’ve stated previously, I was already in pretty good shape (for an old guy) when I began this program, having spent the previous 22 months tracking macros, working out regularly and working on improving sleep and eliminating stress whenever possible. That said, I have been amazed by the progress I’ve made in just 75 days on this transformative mental toughness program. Before I summarize the results, let me share the daily rules required to be successful with this challenge:


·       Take a progress picture.

·       Follow a diet. No alcohol or cheat meals.

·       Drink a gallon of water.

·       Read 10 pages of an entrepreneurship or self-improvement book.

·       Two 45-minute workouts, one of which has to be performed outside.


When I initially started this program, I told my two accountability partners that I doubted I would be able to finish, but had finished reading the 75 Hard book and was tired of kicking the can down the road. However, as with most things positive, momentum kicked in and, like that snowball rolling down the hill, I kept making more and more progress as time went on. Additionally, instead of just reluctantly trudging along, I made a few of the steps harder, just to avoid the possibility of mis-stepping. For example, I added a third workout on most days consisting of dead-hangs and planks to keep my surgically repaired shoulders limber and my core strong to handle the constant workouts. Instead of just reading, I highlighted what I read, then went back and took notes of the highlights, which I kept in a running email to track my takeaways from each day. In addition to my diet, which was to consume real food, with the only exceptions being protein drinks and bars, I tracked macros along the way and made adjustments to my protein, carbohydrate and fat consumption based on how I was progressing. For example, for the previous 22 months, I had adhered to mostly a high protein, moderate fat, low carbohydrate diet. During 75 Hard, I realized my abs became more visible after a few days of consuming lower amount of fat. And after I really dialed in my macros, I discovered my true overall daily maintenance calories was less than I previously had thought.


Contrary to what me and some buddies thought would be the most difficult part of the challenge, consuming a gallon of straight water ended up being the biggest pain for me. It’s just so boring. And if I drop the ball early, I end up paying the price late, getting up numerous times each night to pee, which has an adverse effect on my sleep. I also really started feeling the long hill hikes in my low back, hips and knees the last half of the challenge. However, the benefits far outweighed the complaints at the end of the day.


Onto the results, which follows:

·       I lost 10.6 pounds overall

·       I added 4.6 pounds of muscle and lost 15+ pounds of body fat

·       My body fat percentage improved by 6.7%

·       I lost 2.5 inches off my waist and added ¼ inch to each arm

·       I got stronger in all of my lifts, both in low and moderate rep counts, which implies that both my strength and endurance improved

·       My pull-up, push-up and plank maxes all increased

·       My average and resting heart rates both improved


Some lessons learned from the 75 Hard Challenge:

·       Avoid monotony by always having contingency plans. My go-to workouts when I was away from home and couldn’t get to a gym included body weight squats or extra hikes. And I kept protein drinks and bars on hand in the event there weren’t any good options for food.

·       Find something to do to feel in the times previously spent doing things not allowed during the challenge (drinking, binge-eating, etc.).

·       Track everything. While the daily progress pic is meant to provide ongoing motivation, tracking my macros, workouts and reading allowed me to gain motivation from progress there as well.

·       Build in some recuperation time throughout the routine, especially if you are older (mid-50s for me), or, like me, have bulging discs and a lot of joint and muscle pain to deal with. I’m looking into cold showers, cold-plunging and some yoga/stretching coming out of this challenge.


Going Forward


I consider this a huge accomplishment. What makes me feel better is that those closest to me, like my wife, children and best friend, all told me they never doubted me because they consider me to be highly disciplined. When I was told that, my imposter-syndrome immediately jumped to the surface, which reflects that this is something I need to work on, as it is likely holding me back.


Previously, I had decided on going directly into Phase 1 of the challenge, which is an additional 30 days of the same 5 main tasks, but with 3 additional requirements. However, an opportunity has presented itself which will require me to push Phase 1 back a bit. I’m very excited to get to work with an organization I did some volunteer work with before in a paid consultant/project management position or a period of 5-6 weeks. One of my goals during this challenge was to use the self-reflection and self-improvement readings to come up with a business idea or potential career opportunity and really believe that this situation is a direct result of all of the work I’ve put into this program.


During the time between now and beginning this seasonal work project, I will continue to follow most of the principle required for the 75 Hard Challenge, although I’ll likely go back to one workout per day, along with some recuperative efforts to heal up this old body some. I’ll also likely decrease the amount of straight water I consume, although not by much. I’ll probably read even more, as I need to develop a new management strategy more in line with the responsibilities I’ll be undertaking. Additionally, I’ll continue to work on sleep quality, as this is one area I didn’t make the progress I was hoping to during this challenge.


God-willing, more to follow….Stay Strong…

Saturday, September 30, 2023

75 Hard - Day 60 Update


Yesterday was Day 60 of the 75 Hard Program for me, meaning I’ve now completed 80% of the initial phase of the LiveHard Program.


To say that I’ve benefitted from this challenge would be a huge understatement, as I believe I am becoming a totally different person the longer I stick to the program. To date, I have lost 8 pounds and 2-1/4 inches off my waist, which, according to previous work I’ve done on myself, should mean that I’ve lost 9 pounds of body fat and gained a pound of muscle. I will find out for sure what this breakdown is the day after I finish the program, as I have a DEXA scan scheduled for October 15, which I will compare to the one I had done 1-1/2 months before starting 75 Hard. And while 8 pounds in 2 months might not sound like a lot, keep in mind that I was already in pretty good shape for a guy in his mid-50s when I started.


To recap the daily, non-negotiable rules of 75 Hard:

·       Take a progress picture

·       Read 10 pages of a personal development or entrepreneurship book

·       Complete two 45 minute workouts, and one has to be done outside

·       Follow a diet – no cheat meals or alcohol

·       Drink a gallon of water


When I started this program, I gave myself very little chance of success. I started mainly because I had talked about it to my tribe and got tired of kicking the can down the road after reading the book 75 Hard by Andy Frisella, the creator of the challenge. However, not only do I believe I have thrived on this program, but I have actually looked for opportunities to make it even more difficult, such as the following:

·       In addition to the daily required reading, I am highlighting keys points and then using a running email to journal lessons I am picking up, then occasionally going back to reread.

·       The diet I chose was pretty simple: no junk food or sugar, with an emphasis on real food and protein supplementation. To take this a step further, I have tracked every macro since starting the program, which I will detail once I have completed this initial phase.

·       I have chronic sinusitis and insomnia. Previously, I rarely went longer than a week without requiring some Nyquil to help me sleep. However, knowing that alcohol isn’t permitted during this challenge, I’ve avoided it. And guess what – I lived…

·       Additional workouts: As if doing two 45-minute workouts a day wasn’t hard enough, I occasionally add mini-workouts (ala Mark Sisson) consisting of functional strength activities such as dead hangs, planks and other mobility exercises.

·       Two weeks ago, seeing that I had hit a fat-loss plateau, I reduced my calories by another 200 calories per day, which was almost all fat (180 grams/90% of total calorie restriction) and have continued to watch my waist get smaller and my abs become more visible.


As I mentioned earlier, I started this program with a lot of self-doubt, not being sure if I had what it was going to take to complete 2-1/2 months of such a strict challenge. However, as I enter the last 2 weeks of 75 Hard, the question is no longer whether I will finish, but whether I will go directly into Phase 1 of the LiveHard program, which is 30 additional days of the same program, along with a few more daily tasks added in. I also have a big opportunity that has come about related to the internal work this program has me doing….stay tuned…. more to follow….

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

75 Hard - Day 50 Update


Yesterday I completed day 50 of the 75 Hard Challenge. When I started this program, I initially didn’t give myself much of a chance to complete it, but I was tired of kicking the proverbial can down the road and made the decision to give it a shot. To say that I have both impressed myself and been impressed with this challenge is an understatement. I’ll detail some of the results to date below…


Although weight loss itself wasn’t a specific goal, I am down 7 pounds since Day 1. I am also down 1.75” off of my waist, which implies that all of the weight I have lost so far is body fat, as I know from prior experience that a pound of fat usually equates to about ¼” on my gut. More importantly, I like the results in the mirror and the way I am feeling as well. Additionally, I am getting stronger in my core lifts, despite working around various old injuries, slipped discs, surgical repairs, etc., which I have to be careful with.  


In addition to the physical aspects of the challenge, I have read more than 600 pages from self-improvement and entrepreneurial books, having completed The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Trejo’s Tacos by Danny Trejo, in addition to starting the classic: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I am also reading daily excerpts of The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class by Steve Siebold. To ensure that I am actually learning from these reading sessions, I am journaling key points each day and keeping both a written and electronic log of the highlights.


Some recent changes I’ve made within the program has been to lower my caloric intake to really increase fat loss and to focus more on getting more sleep, as my insomnia has decreased the quality and overall amount of sleep the past couple of weeks. This may or may not be due to my overactive mind as a result of all that I am reading, so I will also focus on getting my reading knocked out early each day to see if that works.


See you again in 10 days with another update, God-willing….

75 Day Challenge Summary

  I finished the 75 Hard Challenge yesterday. As I’ve stated previously, I was already in pretty good shape (for an old guy) when I began ...