Get fit fast, or throw a fit fast?
75 reasons to check what you’re about to put yourself through
“You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.” “You will never succeed if you don’t try.” “Try, and if you fail, try again.”
In many cases, these statements push people to step outside their comfort zone and grow as individuals. However, pushing too far past your comfort zone without support and diving headlong into a seemingly simple challenge can ruin your plans to get fit.
The 75 Hard Challenge was developed by Andy Frisella, a motivational speaker, podcaster, author, and supplement company owner. It was first marketed as a “mental toughness program” by the 75 Hard website and has since been misinterpreted by mass media as a fitness challenge. This is in stark contrast to the original program, where the 75 Hard website states in bold, capital letters, “This is not a fitness challenge.”
The rules for the challenge appear in various news outlets, but do not appear on the 75 Hard website. As noted by Forbes Health, the program’s welcome email contains the rules. Lasting for 75 days, with an automatic restart if a participant misses a day, the rules are “Follow a diet, […] Complete two 45-minute workouts, […] Take a progress picture. Drink 1 gallon of water. Read 10 pages of a book.”
Additionally, the diet is chosen by the participant but must have a structured eating plan, and no alcohol or meals outside the diet are allowed. One of the 45-minute workouts must be outdoors, and audiobooks are not counted as reading material.
While challenging, Frisella claims on his website that the program is designed to fit with a person’s existing lifestyle. He claims the rules are firm enough to provide structure for a person’s workout but flexible enough to allow a range of activity levels and work with existing fitness and diet programs.
However, while the program is flexible and offers choices, the benefits promised by Frisella are not backed up by scientific evidence. According to Rachel Evans, a psychologist and eating disorder specialist who spoke with Women’s Health Magazine, “Frisella doesn’t provide scientific evidence for how the components in the programme develop or prove mental toughness, so it’s really a collection of arbitrary rules to follow each day.”
Besides the uncertain benefits, the rules of the program are a breeding ground for injuries and eating disorders. Sticking to a diet with no “cheat meals” can severely restrict a person’s sense of fulfilment and impact their relationship with food. Additionally, the rules of the program state that once you start with a diet, you must stick with it for 75 days.
There are numerous fad diets floating around the internet, and choosing one on a whim and forcing yourself to stick with it could cause unintended health consequences.
Evans also added that the flexibility could be a negative point instead. Diets that restrict calorie intake and demonize particular foods or food groups make the diet incredibly difficult to adhere to for long periods of time, and impact the dieter’s relationship with food.
“This is an issue because it might lead some people to drastically reduce their calorie intake or cut out a whole food group,” Evans said. “This could be dangerous for their health, especially if they’ve increased the amount of exercise they’re doing as part of the challenge.”
Since 75 Hard received so much backlash from professionals and participants who failed to complete the program, an easier version arose. 75 Soft, where the rules are adjusted to promote the development and maintenance of sustainable, healthy habits.
The rules for 75 Soft, according to a Cleveland Clinic article, are, “Eat well in general and avoid alcohol except for social occasions. Exercise once for 45 minutes each day, with one day of active recovery each week. Drink 3 litres of water daily, [and] read 10 pages of any book each day.”
While much more vague than 75 Hard, the increased flexibility of 75 Soft’s rules is supportive of healthy habit acquisition. 75 Hard is a challenge indeed, and sometimes the risks outweigh the rewards.