health

'I tried 75 Hard for a day. This is what happened.'

This post may be triggering to some readers.

I regret everything.

It all started with TikTok. In between videos of dogs and random television moments from the early 2000s (I don't know how the TikTok algorithm deciphered who I am so perfectly but it... did), I noticed something strange. 

'DAY 34,' an exhausted woman yelled.

???? 

Day 34 of what, lady?

Immediately, I thought of my good friend Rohit Roy, who kindly kept us all updated about how many days he'd gone without fizzy drink. 

But I knew this woman was talking about something... else. Indeed, upon closer inspection she had posted every day for 34 days about 75 Hard.

75 Hard is a challenge for psychopaths. OK, sorry, that's inappropriate. But it is silly

The first thing to know about 75 Hard, according to its creator Andy Frisella, is that it's NOT a fitness challenge. Which is bizarre, given it involves two 45 minute workouts per day for 75 days. Like... if I'm dedicating that much time to exercise, I probably want it to be a fitness challenge?? But in the words of Frisella, it's better described as a "transformative mental toughness program".

The entrepreneur and bestselling author of 75 Hard: A Tactical Guide to Winning the War with Yourself describes the challenge as an "ironman for your brain," allowing you to "take complete control of your life in only 75 days". 

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Frisella claims on his website that 75 Hard is the "only program that can permanently change your life". He promises that if you follow the program perfectly and without compromise, you can make huge advances in your career, feel confident about yourself and your actions, learn how to get more done, develop better relationships and be in the best physical shape of your life. 

So just tell me what I have to do, sir. 

It's quite simple. So simple, in fact, it fits perfectly in the format of an Instagram tile. 

Image: Medium 

Five rules. That's it. For a BETTER LIFE. And a solution to ALL MY PROBLEMS.

What those rules fail to mention, however, are two caveats: 

1. No alcohol or cheat meals whatsoever.

2. If you stuff up one day (say your second exercise session only goes for 42 minutes, or you only drink 2.8 litres of water, god forbid), you go back to day one.

Why. That feels... unnecessary. 

On his website, Frisella writes that "every possible thing you could say to object to starting the program right now is really just an excuse you are making to get out of doing the work". He also, rather paradoxically, includes a disclaimer at the bottom of the page that you should consult your physician before starting 75 Hard and not to start it if your health care provider advises against it. 

BUT IS THAT JUST AN EXCUSE I DON'T KNOW.

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I don't know anything anymore. 

So without seeing my 'physician', I thought I'd give it a go. But only for one day. For reasons that are outlined... below. 

75 Hard: Day 1 (of... 1).

I get up at 7.30am (honestly super impressive for me) and waddle into the shower. While I'm standing there, I try to calculate exactly how I'm going to fit in TWO exercise sessions of 45 minutes each. As a human with no kids, no caretaking responsibilities, and a sickening amount of time on my hands, I still feel like it's a lot??? Also, I have questions.

- What if it rains, Mr Andy? Surely I can't be exercising in the rain?

- What if there's lightning?

- What if it's really hot?

- What if I don't want to? (OK, this one feels like a 'me' problem)

- Can my diet just be my current diet? Or maybe my current diet plus some extra chocolate, perhaps?

- Why does my reading have to be an entrepreneur book? It seems oddly specific and not at all relevant to me, personally. 

- The amount of water I'm being asked to drink far exceeds all health guidelines which seems... odd. 

- Less of a question and more of a comment: no. 

Nonetheless, I got out of the shower, put on some activewear that doesn't at all resemble that worn by people on Instagram, and took a... photo.

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Good morning? Idk.  

Sorry. About that.

It's time for my first 45 minutes of exercise, but there's an issue: I don't quite have 45 minutes. I have like... 33 minutes before I start work. Andy doesn't specify whether it's okay to break up your exercise sessions but I'm assuming not, and that even asking the question qualifies as me coming up with 'excuses'. Which is my 'problem,' generally.

I go for a walk so gentle that my Apple Watch refuses to count it towards my exercise minutes for the day. Cool. I ask my partner to take a photo of me for this story and this is what he does:

What? No.  

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He's fired. Effective immediately. 

I return home uncertain of whether I've achieved anything moderately related to the 75 Hard challenge yet. But what I can do at this point is drink a silly amount of water. 

Why is there so much of you.  

You're everywhere.  

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I urinate for the majority of my morning and it's disruptive.

Then it's brunch time. And that's when I do the very thing Andy Frisella predicted I'd do. 

I quit. 

You didn't even do a day... lazy gewl.

At first, I thought trying 75 Hard would be funny. A ridiculous experiment to show just how unachievable and arbitrary the challenge is. 

It took only a few hours for it to no longer be funny.

Even with a cynical attitude, the 'rules' around exercise and food became increasingly uncomfortable. Why should I feel like a failure for exercising for less than 45 minutes? Why should I drink an excessive amount of water, arbitrarily dictated by a man with no qualifications in health and no knowledge about my body or lifestyle? Why are we still talking about 'diets' when we know what they do to our eating behaviours? We know that restriction leads to binge eating which leads to further restriction, and we know it's a cycle that's debilitating - particularly for women. 

WHY THE FOCUS ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP? Is learning about business the only way to become mentally tough? What is 'mental toughness' anyway? 

If this challenge is primarily about the internal changes, why is it necessary to take a progress photo every day? What do progress photos really say to the people looking at them? 

My progress pic. 

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Why are we so tempted to follow 'rules' set by strangers on the internet?

"I see people trying to change or modify the program..." Frisella writes on his website. "That's the WHOLE PROBLEM OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.

"You constantly modify your plans and goals so you can say you completed them. By doing that, you never achieve what you're actually capable of, and you'll end up feeling worse about yourself, because you know deep down you cheated. You don't accomplish anything great by changing the rules in your favour just to check the box."

I would argue that's exactly how you accomplish anything. By being able to sit in the tension of knowing you've done something good, but not something perfect. And by finding the 'rules' that work for you, and align with your values. 

For me, one of those rules is that I refuse to let a man on the internet tell me how to live my life. 

For more from Clare Stephens, you can follow her on Instagram or TikTok

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected] 

You can also visit their website, here.

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