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.
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…