Before and After 75 [My] Hard – A Beginner’s Fitness Journey After 4 Kids

Don’t you just love a before and after picture? Instagram knows I love before and afters. When I scroll through my feed there’s always a TON of nasty-looking rooms or houses inviting me to swipe to see the after.

I was scrolling on Instagram one day, as you do, down deep in one of my Insta-holes, when I came across a new hashtag and some different before and after pictures.  They were pictures of bodies – male and female – of all shapes and sizes. All of them had noticeable results from whatever they were doing. I noticed the hashtag – #75Hard.

What I saw intrigued me because of the obvious results from a host of people. So I did a little sleuthing to find out what 75 Hard is. It seemed relatively simple.  I mean, the word hard was in the name of the program, but somehow it just seemed simple.   You know I love simple.

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What is 75 Hard?

75 Hard has six components:

  • Follow a diet – You can follow any diet on planet earth, but you have to follow it exactly – no cheat days. Simple.
  • Read 10 pages of a book each day – They recommend a business or self-help book. Some people choose the Bible as their book. Simple.
  • Drink a gallon of water every day – This one seemed a little hard for me – but OK. Simple.
  • No alcohol. Not a problem – simple.
  • Take a picture of yourself every day – umm… OK. Simple.
  • Work out twice a day for 45 minutes each workout. One of the workouts has to be outside. Oh, so this is why it’s called hard. Not so simple.

It is called 75 Hard because the program requires this list of things to be done each day for 75 days straight.

If you read over the 75 Hard pages and the emails Andy sends you, you’ll discover the program isn’t intended to be a fitness program, so much as it’s intended to be a fortitude program. The list becomes a commitment you make to yourself because you want to push through the barriers of indifference, procrastination, and laziness. Doing everything on the list, every day for 75 days takes all the excuses we make for our failures to commit and says, “Do it anyway.” That indeed is hard.

75 [My] Hard

Looking over this list, I found some places of discomfort, but nothing too hard for me. However, I knew 45 minutes of exercise, twice a day was going to be extremely difficult. I mean, I didn’t work out period. This sudden ramp-up was going to be beyond hard.

I refuse to be slavish about anything. Perfectionism is an enemy I have to fight regularly. Pushing myself to follow some internet program in exacting perfection was just not going to work for me. I knew that going in.

Besides, there were a couple of things that didn’t make a lot of sense to me:

  1. Do you know how many ounces of water are in a gallon? (128!) I believe there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. That is too much water for my body, even during workouts. This standard – the same for hulking men and petite women – doesn’t make sense to me.
  2. Isn’t the requirement of 45-minute workouts a bit arbitrary? If I am going from almost no exercise of any kind to two workouts a day, does it actually matter that they extend to 45 minutes? Never 40 minutes?

As I started to consider doing this program, I knew I would do a couple of things differently. The standards would still be in the category of “hard,” but they would be hard for me – a sort of custom 75 Hard program. Mine looked like this

  • Follow a diet – more on this in a moment.
  • Read 10 pages of a book each day – Check, check and check – I read all day long!
  • Drink a gallon of water adequate water for my body every day
  • Take a picture of yourself every day – I don’t like to do this, but hey, I want to see those results, too.
  • Work out twice a day for 45 minutes each workout. I decided one of my workouts would be walking for 45 minutes around my neighborhood. The other would be dealer’s choice. However, that other workout didn’t have to be exactly 45 minutes. If it was a 30-minute workout, I’d call it good and keep it moving. One of the workouts has to be outside, that’s pretty easy when you live in the land of sunshine.

Eating is Hard

What I thought was relatively easy in the 75 Hard program was the hardest part. Eating is easy. Eating the right things at the right time is hard!

Before I started 75 Hard, I decided on Intermittent Fasting (IF) as my diet of choice. IF can be done a number of ways, but the basic idea of it is to stop eating for a large portion of the day. There are versions of IF which require a 50/50 fast/feast – 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Another option is 16/8 – fast for 16 hours, eat for 8 hours. With IF, the period of eating is referred to as a “window.”

If you don’t know anything about Intermittent Fasting, you might think as I did, that this is a sufficient diet plan. I discovered almost immediately upon starting IF, IF is not a diet, it is a planner for a diet. Think of it as a blank page in your bullet journal or day planner, where you lay out when you are available for a certain activity. It simply sets the work hours for your diet.

Intermittent Fasting doesn’t tell you what to eat in that “window.”

I hit a hard wall about a week into my 75 [My] Hard journey and knew I would need some help with what to eat while intermittently fasting. From living in America all my life, hearing about fad diets, I knew all the things I was NOT supposed to eat – carbs, sugar, fats, dairy, meat. (Honestly, what’s left?) I could follow any number of diets – KETO, Paleo, Jenny Craig, etc. There were plenty of people who had good results on those. But some of them are diametrically opposed to one another when it comes to putting food in one’s mouth. So figuring out what to actually put in my mouth left me baffled.

My 75 [My] Hard Solution

Intermittent Fasting had been on my radar for a while, but I hadn’t done a lot of research before I started 75 Hard. My sister-in-law had invited me into a pop-up Facebook group on the topic about a year before I started this journey. I hadn’t paid much attention back then. Since she was visiting us about 2 weeks into my 75 Hard challenge, I asked her to give me the details on that again.

I finally figured out this diet (and exercise) thing, thanks to the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. I joined the 6-week starter round of FASTer Way to Fat Loss on August 15th, 2021. During their introductory 6-weeks, FASter Way offers all the details I needed for working IF and 75 [My] Hard. In the FASTer Way, I got:

  • Guidance for getting started with Intermittent Fasting
  • Detailed instruction on what’s important when choosing foods – what to look for on the nutrition labels and what to eat during that “window” to fuel my body for fat loss and results.
  • Custom macronutrient goal setting with an emphasis on eating – not deprivation.
  • Daily 30-minute workouts which match up with what I am eating each day.
  • Information on carb-cycling – I knew nothing.
  • Weekly meal plans and an extensive recipe library – I follow these for inspiration
  • Daily encouragement from a personal coach – she actually answers all the questions I have, looks over my nutrition every single day, and teaches me more about fitness and wellness – every single day!

I know lists are hard to read sometimes, we start to scroll and the words run together, but did you notice FASTer Way solved two problems for me, not just one? They offer daily 30-minute workouts! Ding, ding, ding! I no longer had to cobble together a second workout each day for 75 [My] Hard. It was done for me, I just had to do it.

The Before and After

I accidentally deleted the first two pictures from my first two days of doing 75 [My] Hard. Whoops!! But this is the earliest pic I have, alongside the after.

The difference may not be immediately noticeable. Honestly, the biggest changes are all invisible. Looking back on this months later (having progressed much further), it is hard to share these pictures. I saw progress in these pictures, not the finish line. I hope they provide a little encouragement as to what 75 days of hard work can do.

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