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Mental Toughness and 75Hard - (day 46 of 75)

There is a “challenge” going around known as “75Hard.” It is said to be a Mental Toughness challenge. If you take on 75Hard you are committing yourself for 75 days in a row to:

  • Drink a Gallon of plain water a day

  • Follow a diet (of your choice) – No Alcohol nor cheat foods

  • Two 45 minute workouts a day- one MUST be outside

  • Take a progress picture each day

  • Read 10 pages of self-development (non-fiction book)

You must complete all tasks each day. No substitutions, no excuses for anything and no “almost did it” either. “Water” means plain water, no mixes. “Read a book” means paper book in hand, not an audio book; and “outside” means in the sun/rain/elements and not under a roof.

As I write this, I’m starting day 46 which means 47 days ago I heard April talking about how she planned to start the 75Hard challenge the next day and so figuring I could always use some toughening up, I volunteered to join her. Perhaps after this, I’ll go looking for a “listen and think first challenge” :). Seriously though, I’m glad I took it on. I was loosely aware of 75Hard but didn’t know much prior to that day. In fact, I was thinking it was a fitness challenge not a Mental Toughness development event when I opted-in. For me it's been a revisit to the world of personal discipline and planning and any improvement there helps me in all things personally and professionally.

So now that I’m over halfway through, do I think this is making me Mentally Tougher. Yes, without a doubt.

To get yourself out of your comfort zone requires a degree of mental toughness. Discipline and consistency are tremendous qualities to possess and I do feel the challenge is helping me there. To do this challenge Time Management is first order. You have to plan for the time to do the workouts and usually have to consider the day’s weather as part of that; you have to start drinking water from the minute you wake and stay on track and you have to learn/know where every bathroom is throughout your day - I’m serious. Of course you need to have proper diet related foods on hand as well as your book(s). And, like regular life you have to adapt and conquer on a daily basis.

For me, the mental toughness comes about through the commitment to routine and doing the same things repeatedly in order to build new better habits. A big part is also over coming/ignoring all the internal nay-saying and negative self-talk in your head, as you go about succeeding and accomplishing the daily tasks. You can't “win the day” if can’t control the internal assassin voice trying to knock you off track. So get tougher as needed.

Drink a gallon of water each day:

Strangely enough, this is the hardest part for me. I believe in and know the value of proper hydration but this is a fixed volume that has nothing to do with the various individuals doing the challenge so it is not my favorite requirement. Ok, venting done I do it because it is 75Hard and not 75Hardish.

Follow a diet (of your choice) – No Alcohol nor cheat foods

This can be any type of diet as long as you stick to it. I was most worried about this to start but have started using a Fitlife Foods prepared meals to ease the food prep and planning burden. I’m following a macro diet of 30% carb, 30% protein and 40% fat. I had started to move away from my normal diet of “eating like a jackass” a few months prior and had already quit eating sweets at night (that one change alone eliminated all of my migraines!). Honestly, with this massive increase in daily water consumption, eating hardly crosses my mind throughout the day. Another point to mention, I was an impressive binge drinker in the past but cut-out all alcohol a few years back (I can’t handle the hangovers). I don’t miss it at all so the “no drinking and no cheat foods” are easy requirements for me but I know that is not true for all.

Two 45 minute workouts a day- one MUST be outside

This would seem to be the easiest task for a gym owner like me but it has not been so easy. When I jumped on this joy ride, I was only doing about 2 or 3 CrossFit workouts a week (I was still in my recovery/take-it-easy time after doing Wodapalooza) so to then step-up to two separate 45-minute workouts each day was really a big change for me. Not just at the exertion level but time management and the get-your-shit-together levels. Since I’m old and I need more muscle not less, I opted to start doing a strength/weight training program along with active recovery sessions of yoga and romwod for recovery as my main indoor workouts. Outdoor workouts range from 45+ minute dog walk, usually with 20# weight vest, I’ve gone kayaking and frequently take 6-10 mile bike rides. One of the best things about this challenge is the outdoor requirement.

Take a progress picture each day

Take a selfie in the mirror each day. It’s an annoying thing for me but it’s also good to have “an easy win” in the daily tasks. (I’m ready to deleted them all though)

Read 10 pages of self-development (non-fiction book)

It’s been cool to start reading again. I read the required 10 pages each day and put the book down till next day. So far. I’ve finished David Goggins “Can’t Hurt Me” (he is Mr. Mental Toughness and this autobiography spells that out) and am now reading two others, The Fifth Agreement and The Toltec Art of Life and Death by Don Miguel Ruiz. In addition to the book reading, I've been consuming audio books rapidly during my workouts, bike rides and walks. Thus far I’ve heard-

  • The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

  • The Mastery of Life by Don Miguel Ruiz

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Klyosaki (in progress)

  • The Mastery of Self by Don Miguel Ruiz

  • Beyond Fear by Miguel Angel Ruiz (in progress)

  • What the Dog Saw by Malcom Gladwell (in progress)

(Yes, I’ve found interest in the Toltec’s and their civilization and way of thinking).

So, what are my mid-point takeaways from 75Hard???

Overall, I think it has been good for me and I look forward to continuing it. The way it is delivering mental toughness for me is by re-enforcing discipline, routine and consistency in my days. One needs to stay focused, to start working at the beginning of the day, to be aware of downtime as it relates to any unfulfilled 75Hard tasks ahead and to stay ahead of the clock. And to know that one day feeds the next.

Challenge Pros: staying active, being outside every day, reading, planning, being well hydrated

Challenge Cons: no rest days for proper recovery. The gallon water thing should not be a one-sze size fits all but I’m not an “influencer,” just a doer, so I drink (and pee a lot).

Coming up - Look for Coach April's 75Hard write-up - to come in about 30+ days from now.

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