If you follow me on social media, you would have seen that from Dec 27th 2020 until March 11th 2021 I completed the 75 Hard Challenge – and have lived to tell the tale!
If you haven’t heard, the 75 Hard Challenge is (surprise surprise) a 75 day long challenge to test both your physical and mental strength. This challenge was developed by fitness enthusiast Andy Frisella and was designed to change your life, starting from the inside.
While I don’t totally agree with everything Andy stands for, the 75 Hard Challenge caught my eye when I saw one of my friends, and fellow Team Canada athlete, Kevin Remple begin the challenge. I was intrigued and wanted to give this thing a go.
The concept is simple. The execution? Not so much. For 75 days, you commit to: completing two 45 minute workouts (one of which must be outside), drinking a gallon of water, reading 10 pages of a book, and sticking to no cheat meals (You decide the definition of “cheat meal” and I decided mine would be no sugar).
As an athlete and motivational speaker, I’m always looking for ways to push myself and become stronger (both physically and mentally). I thought this challenge would be the perfect way to kick me back into gear and motivate me, especially during a pandemic when motivation has been at an all time low.
When I think back to when I was so excited and prepping to get started, I want to yell “HELLO! You’re about to commit to outdoor workouts every single day during the WINTER! It’s going to be cold and dark and awful! Duh!”.
Not only did I not realize I was committing to doing this challenge at the absolute worst time of year (who in their right mind agrees to no sugar during the holidays?!), but I hadn’t gone this long without sugar since my days in competitive sport. During the height of the pandemic last year, I set a personal record of eating ice cream every single day from May 1st 2020 to December 27th 2020 when I started this challenge. Who wasn’t treating themselves a little extra when the world shut down, right?! I was addicted to the hard stuff (mint-chip) and had no idea how tough cutting it out was going to be.
3 THINGS I LEARNED
75 days later, and I am so proud to say that I completed the challenge. I’ll spare you the messy (sweaty) details, but I learned so much in the process and wanted to share my three biggest takeaways.
1. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
I won’t lie to you – I was surprised that I saw as much progress as I did at the end of the 75 days. I knew there would be no way my workouts were going to be as intense as what I used to do during my training for the Olympics, so how much change was I really going to see?
Despite doing easier workouts than I’ve pushed myself to do in the past, I saw so much progress and improvement not only in how I looked, but how I felt. The consistency was so crucial. Doing a little bit every day was proving to create more change than I expected, and these results kept me moving.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the biggest staples in my daily ‘routine’ were to make dinner, eat ice cream (mint-chip, duh), and go to bed. There were so many aspects of the 75 Hard Challenge that had to be incorporated into every day, that it forced me to create a new routine.
This new routine kept me so busy and helped to keep me away from temptations (looking at you, Häagen-Dazs) by distracting me with healthier and more productive tasks and activities. Creating new daily staples made it way easier to stay on track. I knew what my next steps were, because they were the same as the day before, and the day before that.
The protocol: Wake up – Drink my first bottle of water – eat – get outside for my first workout – drink – eat – work – drink – snack – do my second workout – drink – eat – drink – work – snack – read – bed. (Yea, you have to eat and drink a lot!)
3. IF IT’S A PRIORITY, YOU’LL MAKE IT ONE
When you have a goal that you want badly enough, you will do whatever it takes to find ways to make it work.
In the midst of the challenge, I caught myself complaining about not having enough time in the day to complete all of the tasks the challenge asks you to do. Things were picking up at work, the novelty of the new routine was wearing off, and some days it seemed impossible.
But I really wanted this. I really wanted to complete it, and have the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t give up. And after all – I was able to fit it all in yesterday, so it’s entirely possible to do it again today. So I found time. I made time. I prioritized my tasks because it was important to me that I finish them.
Shortly after finishing the challenge, I was somehow finding it hard to squeeze in just one workout a day, yet I just went 75 days straight with two – that proved to me that we make the time! When it was my priority it happened. So if you want it, make the time because it’s possible!
NOT ALL GOOD
Now I’m not going to say it was all sunshine and rainbows that I took away at the end. I learned a lot, I’m proud I did it, but I also haven’t been able to run for weeks because my body feels like it has yet to recover. My knee took a lot of impact, and that was probably not the best move. It turns out 75 days x two 45 min workouts is a lot on your body. I do think I went too hard and I actually encourage you to be very careful if you take this on, because it is a bit much. I don’t regret doing the challenge, but I think I could have been more aware and conscious of how much impact I was doing. Just want that to be known so if you do plan to do it, you’re aware too.
So in conclusion, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you need to complete the 75 Hard Challenge in order to learn something. You might be reading this and thinking “Good for you Sarah, but this is SO not my thing” and that is totally okay (although I promise to be your biggest cheerleader if you decide to take it on!)
My hope is that the sweat, blood and tears (mostly sweat) I put into this challenge can help to show someone else that your goals are achievable, as long as you commit to them.
How can you find ways to implement these learnings into your life? Where can you be more consistent, build better routines or commit yourself to a goal?
Whatever your goal is, no matter how big or small, I’m willing to bet that these small steps will have greater impact than you might think.