July 20, 2020

75 Hard: A Mental Toughness Challenge

I swore I wasn't going to post about this for a while because you all know me... I start things and only finish them about 10% of the time. It sounds like a terrible track record, but if I had given up what I started before reaching every accomplishment in my life, I never would have achieved some of my proudest moments.

  • I tried to lose weight about 10 trillion times before I was finally successful.
  • I tried to give up alcohol for 30 days (and failed) lots of times before I finally decided to give it up for a YEAR in 2019 and was successful.
  • I tried to make a blogging streak of 30, 60, 90+ days several times, and failed. Right now, I've blogged every single day since January 1st (I made the goal to blog daily for a year)

My point is that I'm going to try a lot of things in life and fail. Over and over. Until one day, maybe I'll have a win.

My other point is that it's embarrassing to post "I'm going to do _______!!" and then a week later, admitting that I failed. This has happened numerous times--over the last few years, especially. So each time I post something like this, I'm nervous that it'll be just another of those times.

Which is exactly why I didn't want to share this just yet. It's just another new challenge that appealed to me and I'd like to try it. Will I succeed? I have no idea. Will I learn from it? Probably. Will it be harmful to at least give it a whirl? Nope.

But I decided to post it because I think that MOST people try and fail over and over until they have a win. I don't think many people achieve everything that they say they are going to do. So I'm not alone in that (at least I don't think so).

That right there is the only reason I keep trying new things, new challenges, new ways of doing things. Most of the time, I fail to achieve what I set out for; but a small percentage of the time, I kick ass. And MAYBE this will be one of those times that I kick ass and I can feel really good about it.

When Adam was over a couple of days ago, he told me about a challenge he is doing called 75 Hard.

I could make this post a trillion times longer than my other posts, but I'll try to keep it brief and then give you a couple of resources to check out for yourself.

75 Hard is basically a plan for mental toughness--something I've been lacking REALLY badly lately. There are some physical aspects to it, yes, but the entire point of it is to make yourself extremely disciplined so that you DON'T quit your goals and you DON'T make excuses not to do things. To quote Andy Frisella, the creator the plan:
"This is not a physical challenge. It is a mental challenge, designed to develop all of the characteristics you lack in life that have landed you where you are at. The physical transformations that occur are just the by-product of the mental transformations you will make."
I used to feel mentally tough. Sometimes, when I put my mind to something, nothing can stop me. But other times, I talk myself out of the steps I need to take in order to hit my goals. I really want to feel that mental toughness again!

The plan is 75 days long, and it consists of five components:

1) Follow a diet. This can be any diet you choose. Again, the point is not a "physical fitness" plan, but a mental toughness plan. So, before you start, you choose whatever diet you'd like to follow. Personally, I'm going to go with intermittent fasting. I've been dabbling with it lately and I'd really like to give it a good, hard try. I think 75 days should be a good amount of time.

Following a diet also includes giving up alcohol (this is a rule of the 75 Hard challenge). And there are NO cheat meals allowed (like people who eat clean six days a week and then have a cheat day, etc.)

2) Workout for 45 minutes twice a day, and one must be outside. Adam totally lost me at this. I said no way! But then he explained that it doesn't have to be running, or cross fit, or Insanity, or anything like that. I could choose to do walking, riding a bike, aqua jogging if the pool ever opens, yoga, lifting weights, whatever. As long as I do two 45-minute workouts a day, it counts.

The workouts cannot be together, like a 90 minute workout. They have to be done separately. AND one of them has to be done outdoors. The reason for this is because you can't always control your environment. Sometimes you might have to workout in the rain, snow, excessive heat or cold, or other miserable conditions. This toughens you up mentally because you just have to get it done, regardless of the circumstances. No excuses.

3) Take a progress picture every single day. I am doing simple mirror selfies. The reason for the progress photos is again, to develop a habit--no excuses. Also, it's because people usually hate having their picture taken and mental toughness is built on stepping out of your comfort zone. Finally, even if you don't see a difference on a daily basis, you can eventually flip through the pictures and notice the changes.

4) Drink one gallon of water every day. This doesn't really require an explanation. The point isn't just because water is healthy, but because it's a habit to form, and habits require mental strength. Also, people tend to focus on the big changes rather than the "easy" ones, but the "easy" ones like drinking water are just as important in mental toughness.

5) Read 10 pages of a non-fiction, self-development book every day. Reading 10 pages sounds like nothing, but it's one of those "easy goals" that can get overlooked. It's easy to say, "Oh, I'll just read 20 pages tomorrow". But that's not acceptable for 75 Hard.

So, the huge kicker is that if you fail or modify ANY of these for any reason, even just something tiny, then you have to start over again from Day 1.

When Adam showed me the rules of the challenge, I really focused on what he was saying and thought that it was do-able. The hardest part for me will be the diet and exercise (which is probably the hardest for everyone). However, I REALLY want to develop mental toughness--I used to be very mentally tough, and I know that I can be if I want it badly enough.

Also, I've already been working on intermittent fasting and on the Cookies Summer Challenge, so this will just solidify that. And add a few more things.

When I decided to lose 30 pounds and run a 10K PR (starting in 2015; my race was in April of 2016) I felt a fire inside of me that could not be extinguished for ANYTHING. I wanted that PR so badly and I worked my ass off for it. And I can't even describe how good it felt to go for something that seemed impossible and actually DO IT. I miss that discipline, that determination.

So, today was Day 1 of 75 Hard for me. Miraculously, my knee felt 100% back to normal when I woke up this morning--so weird!--so I went for a walk. While I walked, I listened to an excellent podcast that describes this whole 75 Hard challenge and the meaning behind each of the components. Remember, it's not about physical fitness--it's a challenge for mental toughness.

The podcast episode can be found here on iTunes or here on Spotify. (Just FYI, there is very explicit language throughout). If you want a clean explanation, there is one on his website.

I drank my gallon of water, I took my progress photo, I read 10 pages of a book, and I went for a bike ride as my second workout of the day (I had to dust off my bike and put air in the tires... I can't even remember the last time I rode it!). And as long as I don't eat anything else before bed, then I will have stuck with the intermittent fasting. So, Day 1 was a success! Just 74 more to go ;)


  1. Good luck to you Katie

  2. I've been looking at trying this again too. I got to day 14 last time and messed up on my water intake!!

  3. Interesting! I’ll have to look into this more. Two 45 min might be hard for me right not since I’m still recovering from hip surgery. But i can at least look into this!

  4. Good luck Katie, this sounds like the type of challenge that will be so satisfying & rewarding to complete. You’ve inspired me to listen to the podcast to find out more.

  5. My doctor's appointment is just about 75 days from now. I'm going to do this. I love a challenge.

    1. Holly when are you starting? Accountability partner? I'm thinking of starting on Sunday

    2. I would love that! Email me at imawalker2(at)gmail(dot)com.

  6. I can SOOO relate to this. Training for triathlon in years past (2011 to about 2016) had me in a good routine with discipline and mental toughness that I seem to have lost in the last few years (which has made my depression really bad). I want to find my "grit" again and I think sometimes doing hard things and really challenging ourselves is the only way to do it. This sounds so great. Not sure I'm ready to tackle it, but I like your point that sometimes even just trying and failing is better than not trying at all.

  7. We don't know each other, but I've been reading your blog and we are very alike. My moods cycle too. I have been in a funk lately and finding it very difficult to get out of it so I am going to do this challenge with you and will post a comment here with my progress whenever you write a post about this challenge. I modified the rules a bit to fit my personal goals/life better but I wrote 7 of them down and will follow each one for 75 days, starting today. I won't quit and I hope you don't either!

  8. Good luck! The zero cheat meals kills it for me. I don't ever feel like I'm being deprived, and that would feel like deprivation for me, which would result in an inevitable binge. The rest sounds interesting. Two workouts a day is a lot too, but probably manageable. Have fun with this one, I'll be following :)

  9. I am going to try--no not try--I am going to do this with you as well. I used to be very disciplined, running on a schedule, lifting weights and eating healthy. I slowly allowed myself to get out of that routine, making excuses for myself. I want to be mentally tough again. BTW, I love your blog.

  10. Man, so many people jumping on the 75 hard train. Let’s do this!!!!!

  11. This is so cool—I haven’t heard about it before, and you’re inspiring me to try.

  12. I'm so lazy I immediately was like "nope"! But good for you for doing it! I'm struggling with mental toughness too but this is TOO mentally tough for me! Is there a baby mental toughness plan? LOL...

  13. I like this challenge, i just started it today, End of year goal ;) for any fed workers out there that get the joke..


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