My Hard 75 experience by Brian Matthews

If you are any bit involved in the health and fitness industry whether as a client, coach or any measure of a fitness professional, you have probably at one point or another heard of the “Hard 75 Challenge”. 

If not, let me explain. 

The Hard 75 Challenge was a concept created by a man named Andy Frisella. He put together this challenge that is meant to go for a full 75 days. No stops. No rest. All in with no cheating. 

The Hard 75 Challenge Rules: 

  1. 2 Workouts a day; 45’ inside, 45’ outside 
  2. Follow a nutrition/ diet plan/ meal plan. 
  3. No alcohol. 
  4. No cheat meals. 
  5. Read 10 physical pages a day (no audiobooks!) 
  6. 1 progress picture a day. 
  7. 1 gallon of water a day. 
  8. Finally, there are no cheat days or cheat meals!

This sounds borderline psychotic and practically impossible to most. And that is exactly what I needed. Where I was at in my life, I knew I was about to endure a lot of change. I was about to go down a difficult path that I knew if not handled correctly, could easily be supplemented and filled with drugs, alcohol, and life habits that could alter my future in a very detrimental way. 

However, I created a plan and I executed. I needed radical change in my life and knowing how I think, if it wasn't radical, chances are I wouldn't stick to it. But I KNEW I needed to do this. After completing my first Hard 75, I felt motivated to share with those who might also be where I was and share with you my tips, tricks and ways I made it through. I hope this inspires you to change your life for the best! 

Why I Chose To Do The Hard 75 Challenge

As stated above, I was about to embark on a difficult journey in my life. A lot of things were about to change for me and considering what those things were, I knew that these kinds of changes lead people to detrimental addictions. I didn’t want to go down that route. 

I knew there were a lot of things I needed to change. For one, I absolutely needed a restart on my health. As a fitness professional, I had lost sight of what it meant to lead by example. Eating out, poor preparation, drinking more than usual, all lead to me feeling constantly lethargic, tired, unmotivated and most importantly I lost the fire to influence others like I used to. This left me feeling like I failed as a leader, a man and a fitness manager. 

Second, I lost a lot of respect for myself. I often questioned my ability to lead and impact others’ lives. I got into the industry to make a difference and at many times I barely recognized who I was. 

Change was needed and I was ready. 

The Plan

For myself, there were a few things I was already doing well. If you know me, then you know I am an AVID reader. I read every morning practically because it starts my day right. Reading 10 pages a day? Check. Water intake was another low hanging fruit. I'm typically good with my water intake, so getting a gallon in a day didn’t take much convincing to do either. Another check. 

When I have set my mind on a goal, I am very driven and very few things can distract me from obtaining these goals. If that means eliminating potential obstacles, then I don’t hesitate. Therefore, cutting out alcohol wasn’t much of an issue either. There were the occasional moments when I would go to a family function or see friends and get offered a drink, but after explaining to them the challenge I was on, they all respected it and wouldn't press the issue. 

TIP #1: You will likely face criticism from your peers when you choose to do this challenge. Not because of who you are, but usually because they can’t see themselves doing this challenge. It's easier to pull people down than up. So surround yourself with those who will push you to not quit on this challenge.

The toughest part however were the two workouts a day. You may think that since I am a fitness manager at a personal training studio, this would be the easiest. But it wasn’t. For a lot of fitness professionals, handling your own fitness can be a tedious task. Think “the plumber with leaky faucets.” After a plumber works on pipes and sewers all day, the last thing he wants to do is fix his own faucets and drains. Same can go for many coaches. 

However, I stuck to what I loved doing which was traditional strength work. Push, pull, squat, hinge, core work and cardio here and there. 

TIP #2: if you're considering this challenge, think long term consistency, not short term intensity. 

I’ll explain. 

For my outside workouts, I just focused on getting a 45’ walk in every single day.

This wasn’t just easy in theory, but also something I knew I could repeat every day considering I would be doing this continually for 75 days with no stops. I did not want to burn myself out! 

This was tedious at first, but it quickly became my absolute favorite part of my day. It didn’t matter how long my day was, I looked forward to my walks at the end. It was during these walks I would talk to God, think about my day ahead and my goals I had set out for myself as well as who I wanted to become. On Sunday’s especially, my mom and I would go grab an early morning coffee, cruise down to Laguna Beach, walk, talk, and share some great laughs. This became one of my favorite routines. Eventually, on Sunday's, my outside workout turned into an hour of ocean swim which was beyond therapeutic. 

TIP #3: On the weekends, my inside workout consisted of yoga. 75 days of any fitness regimen is very strenuous on the body. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY DURING THIS CHALLENGE. 

I can’t stress this enough! The change I saw was great and I loved it, and I learned to listen to my body exceptionally well. I knew that the weekends were my opportunity to stretch, mobilize and recover from the work I had put in. Don’t think yoga is a walk in the park either… That was insanely tough the first month or so. 

Nutrition

 I am sure many of you are wondering about the nutrition plan I chose. And If you're wondering what plan you should stick to, this is my biggest piece of advice: 

TIP #4: The best nutrition plan you can choose is the one you will stick to. No exceptions to this rule.

Knowing my body and what I am capable of, I chose a more dramatic plan which was a strict calorie counting method. I only consumed whole foods (2-3 ingredients or less) and I would monitor my weight every 2 weeks to see if I was moving in the right direction. I never ate fast food, and if I went to a restaurant, I would choose a salad or a whole protein like steak or chicken. No burgers, fries or pretty much any of the fun stuff. I stuck to this religiously and although I’ll admit there were many tempting moments, I never waivered. 

Now here’s the thing: nutrition plans aren’t always sexy or fun. I get it. And if they were, the health and fitness field wouldn’t be a 13 billion dollar industry. 

But you know what is sexy? Results. The question truly becomes, are you willing to give up what you want now for what you want down the road? Can you give up temporary satisfaction for long term gratification? You face these choices every day. However, most people are too weak spirited and give in on most opportunities to slip up and have a treat or two. 

The Results

So what did I gain from this? 

First off, physically I was in the best shape in my life since my wrestling days. I went from being 212lbs and 17.7% body fat, to 193lbs and 9.7% body fat. Better yet, my energy was through the roof. I found myself taking much fewer naps throughout my week. Coming from a guy who’s usually up around 3-3:30am most mornings, this is saying a lot! 

I also gained confidence in myself I hadn’t had in who knows how long. I was able to relate to my clients on a deeper level and felt more qualified to coach as well as hold them accountable without any guilt because I was now leading by example. 

My finances made a huge improvement as well. I started to tackle my debt like never before which not only boosted my credit score but also eliminated this lingering stress that I had big debts that needed to be handled. Currently my goal is to be completely debt free by my birthday in March which I never thought to be realistic before this.  

Most importantly my relationships had the biggest improvement. 

My relationship with God was stronger than ever which for myself, made everything else in life feel more at peace. 

My relationship with my fiance was strengthened and we’ve bonded more than ever. 

My relationship with money has drastically improved and not only do I look and manage money effectively, but I am almost debt free.  

Is the Hard 75 Challenge for you? 

Do you need to make a big change to your life? This could be for you. 

Want to see what kind of mental grit and ability you have? This could be for you. 

Are you tired of being disappointed in who you see in the mirror each morning? This could be for you.

Regardless of where you are currently at in life, this challenge can strengthen so much more than just your health and fitness. 

If you think you can or cannot, you are correct.

Challenge yourself and see what you’ve got!

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