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When I started Andy Frisella’s 75 Hard program on Sunday, 5th April I didn’t realise at the time it would materialise in me preparing for my first ever photoshoot. I’m a big fan of his no BS approach to business & life. 3 weeks into lockdown with more time on my hands than ever before (and also ruled out of football for the full year) I felt the time was right for me to step out of my comfort zone and commit to his challenging program.
Have you ever really wanted to try something out but always put it off for some reason or another until ‘the time was right?’ You’ve been thinking about doing it for a while but convince yourself that you’ll be ready when (insert excuse). Well that thought process was exactly mine after first hearing about the 75 Hard program. What’s involved?
For 75 days in a row you must complete the following tasks before you go to bed at night:
Doesn’t sound too hard right? You probably do some of these things everyday anyways. But the difficult thing is not only doing them all in one day, but doing them consistently every day. That means doing a workout outside when it’s lashing rain, it means not being able to eat Easter eggs on Easter Sunday or not being able to have drinks during any social events.
Sounds pretty tough now doesn’t it? It was! But the reason I did it was to really step outside my comfort zone and see what I was truly capable of. I got to day 42, 7 weeks in and on the 42nd day, I f*cked up. If you read the list of the five tasks above, the most difficult things to do are undoubtedly doing the two workouts and following a rigid diet. The easiest thing? Taking a picture! The reason taking a picture was included was to ensure you pay close attention to the small details. And on that 42nd day, in my mind, I had just completed yet another day. But I didn’t realise until the following day that I had messed up – that I missed the minor detail.
I created a 75 Hard photo album and I moved every picture I took into the album each day. When I took what I thought was my 43rd picture, I realised that for some reason there was only 41 pictures stored in the album. My initial thoughts were I forgot to move the photo into the album but as I searched through my camera roll, I realised the damage had been done. I forgot to take my progress picture on the 42nd day and ultimately, I had f*cked up big time. I never for one second considered continuing on the program and ‘pretending’ that I completed it properly (which some people do). Instead, my instinct was to start the program over again.
But first, came a huge day of binge eating (more on this in a future post) where I easily consumed 8,000-10,000 calories in one day. I (ashamedly) must admit I ate everything from apple tart, to a full tin of biscuits, to bowls of cereal, to chocolates to drinking a latté which I really love! Basically, I ate all of the foods which I restricted myself from having during the program. By the end of the day, after eating clean for 7 weeks straight, I looked like I was pregnant and felt even worse about myself.
(I will discuss why restrictive diets like this don’t work in a future blog post).
75 hard take 2
The following day I didn’t spend time feeling sorry for myself and instead started off fresh (sort of – although I’d a food hangover!) from day 1, ready to make amends for my previous mistake. A goal is a target you want to hit with an end date. And for me, starting 75 Hard for the second time at the end of May meant I’d be finished (all going well) by Monday, August 10th. The first two weeks were mentally demanding and some days I came agonisingly close to quitting. There were days when genuinely the last thing I wanted to do was go on a 45 minute cycle or complete my second workout of the day. Anytime we had visitors, I again had to say no to the cake, to the chocolate & to all the sweet stuff everyone else was indulging on. As tough and all as this was to do, it did help ingrain the concept of being disciplined in my mind and focusing on delayed gratification – sacrificing a short term feeling for a long term gain. Once I got past day 20, I really started to build some momentum. Training was going well, my nutrition was on point, I was having pretty productive days and was confident this time I’d make it count and last the full 75 days.
That was until I got to day 42 again. Yes – the exact same day I f*cked up from my first attempt. Like a lot of people, I thrive of structure and routine. And I had developed a pretty solid routine by week 7. I always did my weights in the morning as my first workout and an outdoor cardio workout in the evening. After every weights workout, I showered and after the shower I’d take my progress picture (because I had a decent pump from the weights!). However, on the 42nd day, my routine was off slightly. I hadn’t access to the gym in the morning because it was being painted so instead I decided to do my outdoor cardio workout first and do weights in the evening when I had access to the gym again. I’m not even exaggerating when I say the weather on that day was the worst I’d even trained outdoors in over my two attempts of trying this program out. Rain was falling from the heavens and there was no let-up in it.
I knew I needed something to get me through the next 45 minutes so coincidentally, I put on Andy Frisella’s podcast on 75 Hard. On the podcast he outlined his thought process behind the program making reference to the Iron Cowboy – an American endurance athlete who completed 50 ironmen on 50 consecutive days in all 50 states in America. The Iron Cowboy referenced how you have to ‘embrace the suck’ to build yourself physically but more importantly mentally. 10 minutes into that cycle, I was ‘in the zone’ and didn’t care about the rain at all. I resonated with the ‘embracing the suck’ concept and felt like I could take on any challenge! When I returned home, my hands were absolutely freezing! They were red from all the moisture and if you ever know the feeling you get when your hands almost feel itchy from getting so damp – that was how I felt. I ran into the shower and the while the warm water helped, the itch in my hands didn’t instantly go away. After spending about 10 minutes in the shower, when I got out of it, my focus was still on getting rid of the irritating itch on my hands – not taking a progress picture!
By now, you can probably guess what happened! The exact same thing as the first time! So when I did take what I thought was my 43rd picture the next day, my heart almost shrunk when I realised there was only 41 photos in my 75 Hard album. When I searched through my camera roll hopelessly for my 42nd photo, I realised I made the same mistake again twice! Heart breaking! What followed that day was yet another binge day of eating where I indulged on everything from a chicken and bacon sub from Supermacs, to ice-cream to my favourite cereals!
The following day, I decided against following the program for a third time. I had completed nearly 90 days of restrictive dieting, completing 2x 45 minute workouts and I just had enough. In that 75 Hard podcast, Andy Frisella does warn against starting the program. He stated that if you start this and do not finish it, it will eat you up inside until you fully complete it! And that’s how I felt and still feel reflecting back on the whole experience. I do hope to start it again but I know for sure, the time isn’t right now because mentally, I’m not ready to go through that whole process again.
What has this got anything to do with preparing for a photshoot? My 2x 45 minute workouts and extremely strict diet did mean I got my bodyfat percentage down to potentially my lowest ever. I was eating in a calorie deficit, looking pretty lean and still managed to improve my lifts in the gym. I decided that I would continue to stay eating in a deficit (although without being as rigid) and continue to train (once instead of twice) like this until the start of August where I’d re-do a strength test I did before starting my gym program. However, training with a fractured ankle did put a slight halt to my progress and I did have to adjust my training accordingly. This meant, I wasn’t able to lift as heavy as I would’ve liked making it unlikely that I’d make huge progress in my future strength test.
However, I still did want to set my targets on a goal for the start of August & that’s when the idea of getting a professional photoshoot done came to mind. I was already in decent shape, it was something I had been thinking about before and thought now would be a good time to get it done. So I got in contact with a photographer (shoutout to Éanna McNamara) and found out I had only five days to prepare myself for it. Panic alert!
Prepping for a photoshoot takes weeks and even months of preparation but I only had 5 days! What did I do to try to get myself as lean as possible in 5 days? I’ll share that in next weeks blog post along with how I trained in the build up to it!
For now, the takeaway is this: A goal is a target you want to hit with an end date. So if you’ve been training at home or in the gym, set yourself a target you’d like to accomplish. Make the goal attainable but at the same time, pick a goal you know you won’t be able to hit too easily. You need to find that balance. Once you decide on your goal, it’s amazing how your mind dives in on it and places all of its focus on hitting that one goal. When you sleep, your subconscious mind will start to work on ways you can move towards your goal and as you wake, your day and training has purpose. While my major goal was to complete 75 Hard – something which I failed at unfortunately! Part of that goal involved getting as lean as possible. While I didn’t reach my big goal, it still wasn’t an ultimate failure as my training and disciplined diet allowed me to tone up and get my bodyweight down to the lowest it’s ever been in about 6 years. This ultimately allowed me to jump at the idea of doing a photoshoot when the opportunity arose. In next weeks post, I’ll address my training routine which allowed me to get lean and in shape for a photoshoot.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. if you’d like some guidance with reaching your own personal training goal & hitting new levels of fitness, claim your free consult call now and we can deep dive into the best possible route to get you there.
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