Invictus Members See Success with 75 Hard Challenge
Written by Kim McLaughlin

Remember January 1st?  Remember that New Year’s resolution you made?  How’s it going – still sticking with it? Three of our members, Dan Gubaton, Sarah Milot, and Andrew Podgorny set a goal in the beginning of the year to do the “75 Hard” challenge and they just finished their 75th day on March 16th.

For anyone who is not familiar with the 75 Hard Challenge, it’s a program that claims to be a “transitional mental toughness program” developed by the CEO of 1st Phorm, a multi-million dollar supplement company, Andy Frisella.  He is also the mastermind behind the podcasts: International MFCEO Project and the Real AF Podcast.

There are five rules that must be adhered to daily:

Stick to a diet planThis can be any diet (keto, macros, paleo, low fat, carnivore, etc)There are no cheat meals or daysNo alcoholTwo 45-minute workouts per dayOne must be outside no matter the weatherOne gallon of water per dayTake a daily progress photoRead 10 pages of a non-fiction book

If you miss any one of these rules at any point during the 75 days, you must start the challenge over at day one.

The 75 Hard Challenge was developed in 2019 but started gaining in popularity in 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. If someone makes it all 75 days, the website claims the following will increase: confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief, fortitude, grittiness, and discipline.

So…. What was the experience like for these three?

Why did you want to do the 75 Hard Challenge in the first place?

Daniel: I have always heard of this challenge and wanted to prove to myself I could complete this in its entirety. This would mean sacrificing weekend beers and burgers but knowing it’s temporary gave light to this whole endeavor. Being mindful of alcohol intake and healthy eating seemed like a good idea and could potentially help in the gym too.

Andrew: What I do like about this challenge is that it is a bit personal to everyone and can be tackled for different reasons. Personally, I wanted to challenge myself mentally. There were many times where I had zero interest in reading after work or just wanted to watch Netflix instead of going for a walk. I think the 75 Hard Challenge gave me the foundation to push through. I also wanted to use this time as an opportunity to cut back on alcohol. It is so easy to just have one or two each weekend.

Sarah: I decided to do the 75 hard challenge because I found myself falling into poor habits at the end of last year. I was getting lazy about going to the gym and not being mindful with my diet. I knew that I needed to make a change and I wanted to do something challenging that would forces into building better habits for a healthier lifestyle.  

What were some of the things you learned about yourself during the 75 days?

Daniel: Learned to appreciate meal prepping. This has always been such a chore but your friends are a great resource for some delicious recipes. Mid-week I’d compile those recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, order grocery pick-up Saturday, cook Sunday. Learned that  sufficient recovery meant getting to bed at a consistent time each night. A struggle initially, but created a wind-down routine that included light yoga and required reading of 10 pages.

Andrew: I found it to be a good habit building exercise. It is easy to start something and then fall off. I felt that having a set time period kept me committed. As part of the challenge, I also committed to doing an ice bath each morning. That is a habit that I have continued.

Sarah: The biggest thing I learned about myself is that I am capable of doing much more than I thought! My body is resilient, and even when I am tired or feeling low motivation, I can get a lot done. I learned that I actually do enjoy afternoon workouts, even though I have been a morning workout person for the past couple of years. 

What was the hardest part?

Daniel: Definitely completing the second outdoor workout. This was tough due to work schedule and not fully recovering from the morning Crossfit session.

Andrew: The two workouts per day. It is just a large time commitment with an otherwise busy schedule.

Sarah: The hardest part definitely had to be getting the outdoor workout in daily!! By the second half of the challenge, I was always excited to get my second workout in-but it would be a struggle to get outside, especially when it would be cold and rainy!

What was the easiest part?

Daniel: Surprisingly, saying no to a beer was quite easy and I still enjoyed time out with friends. Drinking is a big part of socializing and dinners, but Athletic Brewing made outings more enjoyable. Athletic Brewing makes non-alcoholic beers and gives back to communities by protecting and restoring local trails (San Diego Mountain Bike Association, for example).

Andrew: Not drinking alcohol. I felt that even in social situations it was much easier to pass on when I had a “why” to tell people.

Sarah: To me, the easiest part turned out to be drinking a gallon of water daily. It was more of a challenge in the first few days, but once I got into the habit of it- I loved it because drinking more water makes me feel great!  

Do you think any of the following things “increased” as a result of the challenge: confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief, fortitude, grittiness, and discipline?

Daniel: Yes to all 7 attributes! Most notably self-belief, grit, and discipline. The first few weeks was about finding a suitable routine and sticking with that but also modifying where necessary. Finding that stability helped me believe this was doable. Grit definitely increased as some days were harder than others but pushed through when motivation was low. This was also due in part to completing the Goggin’s 4x4x48 Challenge. Being a creature of habit, discipline came naturally. What helped was going through this challenge with Andrew and Sarah!

Andrew: For me, I think self-belief and discipline definitely did. It will be valuable going forward to be able to draw back on this experience if I am going through something difficult where I want to quit.

Sarah:  I would say all of the above!! I honestly surprised myself with how much I am capable of accomplishing when I stick to strict guidelines. I have become more confident in myself and my abilities, am better at making healthier choices for my body, and I am MUCH more disciplined with prioritizing my health. 

Would you do the challenge again, why or why not? Do you think it was beneficial? If so, how?

Daniel: Possibly in the future as I have enjoyed the structure and gained discipline. Doing this after the Holidays months (November and December) was a great way to reset and focus on those New Year’s resolutions.

Andrew: I would consider it, but don’t have any plans to. I would be open for a different challenge though! I thought it was beneficial and something that I am glad I did. I can often get complacent in life and it is good to have opportunities to step outside your comfort zone and push yourself. Life can be difficult and having that mental resilience helps me get through the tough times.

It was also great to have friends who both participated and supported myself and others in doing the challenge. Shout out to the 6am Crew!

Sarah: I think I may even do the challenge again at some point this year! I have been keeping up with a lot of the habits like working out daily, drinking a gallon, and following a set nutrition plan on most days. But I’m finding myself somewhat missing the daily structure! This challenge was so beneficial to my life as a way to build better habits, gain confidence in myself, and improve my overall health.  

The 75 Hard is an extreme challenge that is not sustainable for most people long term, so what’s your plan moving forward?

Daniel: Moving forward I plan to stick with the healthy habits gained throughout this challenge. Those of which are meal prepping weekly, choosing a mocktail over a cocktail (sometimes), one workout a day, and reading more often (this is called 75 Soft haha).

Andrew: Right now I have been enjoying eating cookies and ice cream again! I don’t have anything similar that I plan on doing, but some of us from 6am are doing a Spartan race in May and a half-triathlon later this year. Both will be firsts for me.

Sarah: Like I talked about above, I have been keeping up with a lot of the tasks as I was during the challenge! Mostly, I am planning to take the confidence, discipline, and improved choices with me for life ::