#75Hard is a trending new(ish) challenge that is taking the internet by storm. Tons of people are seeing awesome results from this challenge. But like every internet trend, this one has its naysayers and controversies.
I’m going to brief you on what exactly the 75 Hard Challenge is, some warnings from my extensive research (you’re welcome), and modifications you can make to complete this challenge in a way that is healthy for you.
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, just a journalist who does a lot of research and knows how to use common sense. Take this for what you will, but I think you’ll find I make some valid points.
What is 75 Hard?
75 Hard is a mental toughness challenge that was created by Andy Frisella, host of the Real AF podcast. And despite him saying “this is not your next internet challenge,” it’s totally your next internet challenge. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Frisella created 75 Hard to help people regain control of their lives. The base of the challenge is meant to help individuals gain the skills they need to do hard things. This includes creating healthy habits for all aspects of their life, not just eating right and exercising. But the focus is not on the physical results. The goal is to finish something that is extremely difficult to give you the skills you need to take on any challenge that life throws your way.
Warning: It does contain explicit language, so if you are uncomfortable with swearing, this probably isn’t for you.
The challenge details
The 75 Hard Challenge is comprised of 5 main things that you are supposed to do every day for 75 days.
- *Follow a diet. This is a diet of your choice, but must be structured and planned to improve your physical health. No alcohol and no cheating.
- *Complete two 45-minute workouts each day. One of these must be outdoors.
- *Take a progress picture every day.
- *Drink one gallon of water each day.
- *Read 10 pages of a non-fiction / entrepreneurship / personal development book.
If you mess up, start over from Day 1.
*See my warnings and thoughts about each of these items. Oh, there’s an asterisk on every item? Read on to find out why.
Warnings and how you can/should modify the 75 Hard challenge for yourself
Okay, let’s break these down by each item of the challenge, why people are saying it might be bad for you, and how you can check yourself to make sure that this challenge is a healthy start for you.
Follow a diet. This is a diet of your choice, but must be structured and planned to improve your physical health.
One of the biggest reasons people are saying this is bad is because there’s no structure. That’s the point. It’s supposed to be adaptable to what you need for your health. This challenge was designed so that anyone can do it. There’s really no rule here other than sticking to it and no alcohol or cheating.
Not sure what diet will work for you? Start with something small like cutting out processed foods, soda, or added sugar.
Don’t think that you need to go all in on Keto or Whole30 to be successful at a 75-day diet. This challenge is about improving YOU, so choose something that will help you become better and stick to it.
Another great recommendation here is to talk to your doctor to see what the best diet is for you. Some people may need a low carb diet while others may need a carb-based diet. Learn what kind of diet is right for you before jumping in.
No alcohol I can get behind. I haven’t had a sip of alcohol in my 27 years of life. No cheat meals, now that is where I will struggle. But that’s not a bad thing per se.
The naysayers of 75Hard are saying that when you severely limit the foods that you allow into your diet, it creates a negative association with that food. So, if you do mess up and have a cheat day (or week), you’re more likely to feel guilty about it and fall into a shame cycle of bingeing and restricting.
Well guess what, you get to decide what a cheat meal looks like. Maybe it’s eating out or going above a certain calorie limit or a sugary treat.
No cheating and no alcohol for 75 days is part of the mental toughness challenge. It’s hard to go without your favorite treats or foods for a long period of time, and yes, that can set you up to fail and indulge more than you would otherwise (speaking from experience here). But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a healthy way.
You just need to be constantly checking in with yourself, and if you mess up, that’s okay. Take it one day at a time and keep trying to do better.
Complete two 45-minute workouts each day. One of these must be outdoors.
Going from zero to working out for 90 minutes each day can be tremendously hard on your body, and not in a healthy way. If you are not used to working out regularly or you have a lot of weight bearing down on your joints, you may be setting yourself up for injury by jumping in too quickly.
I’m not saying you can’t workout for 90 minutes a day, but that you should start slow. Talk to your doctor about how much you can and should realistically be exercising each day and what kind of exercises are best for your health.
If you are overweight or haven’t exercised in a long time, it may be good to start with low impact exercises like swimming (this can even be wading through a pool) or beginner yoga.
Even if you are in great shape, 90 minutes of exercise a day can be a difficult challenge to maintain if you have a lot on your plate (parenting, long work days, everyday errands and life).
You can still complete the 75Hard Challenge and see results, both mental and physical, by working out for just 30 minutes each day. You need to find what works for your body and your schedule.
However great your physical results may be with modifying this part of the challenge, if your goal is to gain those mental skills to finish hard things, set a goal here that is a challenge so that you can see those mental results too.
One of your workouts is supposed to be outside. The idea behind this is that you cannot control your circumstances. If there is rain, wind, or it’s a little cold outside, you are supposed to still have an outdoors workout. This is to help you learn to work through conditions that are outside of your control.
The caveat here is to use common sense. Don’t go outside during a lightning storm or extreme temperatures that can have serious consequences. Be safe, but push yourself.
Take a progress picture every day.
I think this is a little silly (yet you know I’m going to do it). I don’t know that a daily progress pic is really necessary. It might even be discouraging because you’re not going to see or notice a difference every day. But week-to-week or even every few days you may notice something.
Of course I’m more interested in seeing the Day 1 and Day 75 pictures next to each other. I think this is part of the journey though. I’m curious about what I’ll find with daily progress pictures. Will I notice myself start to look happier? Will I see physical changes every day? Who knows.
Although, taking a daily progress picture for those of us who aren’t happy with how we look is part of the mental challenge. And you’ll be glad to see the results at the end.
Drink one gallon of water each day.
128 ounces of water every day?? If your body needs it, I say go for it. The thing is, not everyone needs a whole gallon of water each day.
The purpose of drinking water is to keep your body adequately hydrated, and not every person needs a daily gallon to do that. In fact, most people can just drink water to quench their thirst and that does the trick.
There are tons of different rules for drinking water out there: drinking 8 cups a day, drink half your weight in ounces, drink a gallon a day!
But every person’s body is different and requires varying amounts of hydration. An athlete may drink two gallons of water a day where a librarian may be set with 1 liter a day.
The important takeaway here is that you are drinking water as your primary source of hydration. If you can drink an entire gallon and not spend half your day in the bathroom, then great! If your body is good with less, that’s fine too.
But if you are doing this challenge for the mental toughness and not just physical results, set a minimum amount of water for yourself and stick to that.
Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book. Audiobooks don’t count...
I love the idea of reading professional or personal development books. These are great and can be very motivational. But for an audiobook not to count? That’s a little unrealistic for some people. Not all of us have time to sit down and read physical pages of a book each day. Audiobooks while exercising or during your daily commutes are a great way to get in some extra motivation and mood boosting confidence.
Again though, that’s where the mental toughness comes in. Do you have the discipline to give something up to read 10 pages in a day?
I think that you can still gain some of the skills Frisella talks about even if you do modify this to listen to rather than read those 10 pages each day.
If you mess up, start over from Day 1.
This is very important for the whole point of the challenge. If you are doing this challenge to achieve better mental strength and to set yourself up for a lifetime of finishing everything that you set your mind to, then you must follow this rule.
But this can also be very discouraging for most people and is part of the reason why a very small percentage of challenge goers will succeed.
However, if you are doing this challenge just for the physical results, then don’t let a little mess up set you back in your progress. Start over if you can and have the capacity to do so, but if you are just looking for the after pic then keep going.
I’m a very “take it one day at a time” type of person and believe that if you mess up you should just keep moving forward. But I also want to make these improvements and to build the skills to finish tough things and work through anything that comes my way.
What does my 75 Hard Challenge look like?
I do want to give this challenge a try. I do better with rules and structure and checklists, and I need something to get me out of this plateau that I’ve been on. So thank you Andy Frisella for the challenge!
- Follow a low carb diet, with no cheats (modified to include rice and occasional healthy grains and starches)
- Work out twice a day for at least 45 minutes, once outside
- Daily progress pic
- At least 64 ounces of water (This is the only major modification I am making to the challenge. This is still a challenge for me, but if I can drink more I will.)
- Read at least 10 pages of a motivational / entrepreneurship / personal development book
Some of these recommendations and modifications I’ve mentioned may decrease the “hard” part of 75 Hard, and if you’re just trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle and gain physical results, by all means make the modifications that you need to. But if you do want to achieve the mental toughness that Frisella talks about, modify this challenge as little as possible and start over when you mess up.
As with any diet or exercise regime, you need to find what works for you. Don’t jump into #75Hard as is if your body and mind are not ready for it. Make the modifications you need to make so that you can start creating healthy, long-lasting habits that will change your life.
Want some 75 Hard Challenge checklists?
Click the picture to get a printable PDF.