365 Days Of Live Hard: 75 Hard, Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3

HEADS-UP…A LOT OF INFO INCOMING!

Wow! There honestly is no other word that better sums up what I’ve experienced in the last 365 days…except…WOW!

Committing to the Live Hard Program this past year has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted…and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever endured. Beginning with 75 Hard way back on May 15, 2022…all the way through completing Phase 1 (January 2023), Phase 2 (March 2023), and (as of 12 A.M. yesterday morning…March 15, 2023) Phase 3. But it has been a blessing in disguise. 

A quick recap of the events that led up to me starting 75 Hard. 

For a deep dive into the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of what led to me taking on Andy Fisella’s 75 Hard Program and Live Hard Lifestyle, I encourage you to read Pivot Then Live It Part 1, Part2, Part 3, and Part 4. To sum it up…in March of 2022, I was on a flight to (and from) Las Vegas where we were going to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday. On the flight out to Vegas, I had to switch seats MULTIPLE TIMES until I got to a seat that could fit my 450-pound body AND didn’t violate FCC regulations (i.e. not an aisle seat). I was finally able to find a seat, BUT…in doing so, I was separated from my family AND I split up a family that had purchased seats together as well. All because I couldn’t fit into a “standard airline seat”. The trip home from Vegas was the exact same. It was ridiculous. I was embarrassed. I was in pain (the seats cut into my thighs). I felt horrible for having to split up families and for not being able to visit with my family during the flight. Something had to change.

In addition to my “girth” issues, I was on high blood-pressure meds, as well as high cholesterol meds, and I was in the beginning stages of diabetes. The trifecta of Fat Boy syndrome. I was a cheeseburger away from a heart attack. At 51 years of age, it was pretty much a given that I was not going to be on the planet much longer. Something had to change.

As soon as the wheels of the plane touched down in Austin, I was online researching how to get healthy. I knew I wanted to make changes that would result in lifelong change which meant a total change of all the unhealthy habits I had learned over the course of the past 25(ish) years. My wife and I had already been discussing getting rid of processed foods and preservatives, so I knew going in that I wanted to approach “healthy living” from that standpoint. That’s when I FOUND IT!

The 75 Hard Program

I honestly can’t remember what I typed into the search engine or on what website I first discovered Andy’s 75 Hard Program…but I did. It was a God thang. From that moment on, I tore the interwebs apart looking for any and all information I could about 75 Hard. Then I discovered The Real AF podcast…specifically…episode 208. 

After learning as much as I could about the 75 Hard Program, deciding what “diet” I was going to follow (healthy foods, counting calories), and determining what exercise I wanted to do (cardio=walking), I was ready to go! Andy is big on “Start Now!” but I needed to get through end-of-year testing (I’m a teacher) and all of the stresses that go along with that (sorry Andy). So on May 15, 2022…I was off.

For the following 75 days, I worked my @$$ off. I kept to a strict diet, maintained a regimented workout schedule, read my books, drank my water, didn’t drink any alcohol, and took my daily selfies. At the end of those initial 75 days…I had lost 89 pounds. BUT…more than the weight loss, I had read books that began to reignite my passion for following Christ’s plan for my life. I had instilled habits back into my life that I hadn’t incorporated in decades. I was able to get off meds that I had been taking for years. And most importantly…I was an example for my wife and daughters. 

Throughout those first 75 days, my wife decided it was time for her to start getting back to living a healthy lifestyle. Because of my new health-conscious diet, Courtney (my wife) started eating like me. She decided to start walking once a day with me. And over the course of those 75 days of summer…she lost around 20(ish) pounds. By the time we reported back to school (she’s a teacher too), our lives had drastically changed…for the better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about the “Live Hard” program (the 365-day program) until December 2022. Where most people spread out the 4 separate phases throughout the year, the majority of Live Hard was done at the end of my 365-day journey because I started Phase 1 so late.

For those who aren’t aware (like I was), after finishing 75 Hard, participants have the option to continue their personal development journey for the rest of the year (ending exactly one year from the day they started 75 Hard). Phase 1 is a 30-day version of 75 Hard with the added tasks of: 1) taking a cold shower every day; 2) 10 minutes of visualization a day; and 3) 3 “Power Tasks” (things you need to complete for the day) per day. Phase 2 is simply the same tasks from 75 Hard…but for 30 days. And Phase 3 includes all of the daily tasks from 75 Hard, PLUS…1) a random act of kindness; 2) a cold shower; 3) 3 Power Tasks; 4) and you must talk to a complete stranger every day (actual conversations…not “Hi”). Phase 3 must be completed over the course of the last 30 days of the year from the time you start 75 Hard.

Phase 1

Phase 1 was brutal. It was the dead of winter, and where a typical Central Texas winter is in the ’40s-’50s…this year was crazy cold. So a lot of our workouts were in freezing rain (or sleet) and 20-degree weather. For this phase, I had to add a cold shower…which is not a big deal since I always take cold showers after a workout…something I picked up playing sports in high school. 

I also had to include 3 Power List tasks in my daily routine. This was actually awesome. Adding three items to your action list helps to build much-needed habits…healthy positive habits. One aspect of our personal development journey we’ve focused on the entire time has been that of creating positive habits that will keep us moving forward spiritually, mentally, and physically. The Power List tasks helped in that area tremendously. 

Another additional daily routine that you have to do during Phase 1 is 10 minutes of self-visualization. I’m a daydreamer, so I feel like I do this quite a bit…BUT…I made it a point to be specific. I visualized what I wanted my life to look like in the next year. Where I wanted to be in my job, my relationships, and my personal life. It was actually a very beneficial and rewarding practice. Even if you’re not taking part in the Live Hard Program, I encourage you to do this. The process actually helps you create a roadmap that you need to follow to accomplish the milestones and goals you want to attain in life. 

Phase 2

The daily tasks associated with Phase 2 are identical to the daily tasks performed in 75 Hard: 2 workouts a day (one has to be outside); follow a diet; read 10 pages of a self-help book; drink 1 gallon of water a day; no alcohol; take a progress picture; NO CHEATING OR START OVER.

Phase 2 has to be started 30 days after Phase 1. The idea behind Phase 2 is to acclimate your mind and body to the process of MOMENTUM! Constantly building upon the habits and processes that you built through 75 Hard and Phase 1. For me…it did just that. The overarching benefit from this entire process has been getting rid of bad habits, and replacing them with healthy habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life. 

In all honesty, coming out of high school and college, I had healthy habits. Really healthy habits. I was working out constantly. I was eating healthy. I played basketball almost every day. I was building and cultivating relationships. I was doing all the right things. BUT…somewhere along the way, I became complacent…lazy…a slug. All of my healthy habits were replaced by extremely unhealthy habits which lead to me being morbidly obese, financially strapped, and extremely lacking in the area of spiritual growth. IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST OF US! The good news is…we can pivot from a life of stagnant growth to a life of continuous improvement. I can’t express how thankful I am that I discovered 75 Hard!!!

Phase 3

This brings us to Phase 3. The fourth and final stage of the Live Hard Program. 30 days ago (April 15, 2023) I began this final leg of my yearlong journey. This last step includes all of the daily tasks performed in 75 Hard…PLUS… we gotta take that cold shower, we have to talk to a random stranger (daily), AND we have to perform a random act of kindness. 

I actually love the addition of talking to a stranger and random acts of kindness as I make it a point to do this as often as I can. Being in ministry for many, MANY years, this has honestly become second nature. In fact, when I explained the whole process to my pastor, he immediately wanted to know how we could implement this into our outreach efforts. #WorkingOnIt

By this point, the books I was reading had shifted (from biblical expectations of men and the impact we can have on our family, our community, and the world as a whole when we strive to seek and follow God’s plan for our life) to biblical principles of finance and business. Courtney and I are currently walking through starting a business (actually multiple) and we are researching as much as we can about starting a Christ-centered business. I have to be honest…I’ve read more in the last 365 days than I ever did in the previous 51 years of my life. For years I allowed the excuse of being dyslexic keep me from reading. I put that “B*tch Voice” (as Andy calls it) to rest!

RESULTS

So, what impact has implementing positive life changes (with reference to spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being) had on my life? Here are a few of the results I’ve identified…

  1. Mental Focus- I’m more focused and driven than ever before. I’m able to create a strategy to accomplish a task, put the strategy to work…and succeed. This is huge seeing as how I’m a bit ADHD. Squirrel!
  2. Confidence- I’ve always been pretty confident, but now…I know when I walk into a room, I’ve accomplished something very few people have ever done.
  3. Less Stress- Increased physical activity is great for lowering stress. It’s given me a better mood and it’s a great way to distract me from the stupid crap that happens on the daily in America and around the world.
  4. Increased Knowledge- I’ve read 10 books since starting this new healthy lifestyle thanks to the Live Hard Program. I’ve learned more in the last 365 days than I did when I was getting my Master’s degree and pursuing my Doctorate.
  5. Inches- My waist has gone from a size 56 to a size 38-40 (depending on the brand). This makes finding britches a whole lot easier…and less expensive.
  6. Not As Extra- My shirts have gone from 6XL to 2X-3X (depending on the brand). Again…makes shopping for clothes simpler (since I can find these sizes anywhere) and less expensive (fewer materials equals cheaper cost).
  7. Say No To Drugs- Because of my healthy diet and the weight loss that has come with it…I’m no longer on Blood Pressure meds, High Cholesterol meds, and I’m not knocking on the door of diabetes.
  8. I Fit In- I can now fit in “normal” chairs, restaurant booths, and stadium seating. I can’t wait to fly next to see how well I fit in airline chairs (without the seatbelt extension)!
  9. New Improved Diet- Our diet now consists of all-natural beef, pork, and chicken. The majority of our fruits and vegetables are straight from the garden (via farmers markets and produce stands). And processed crap and foods heavy on preservatives are pretty much GONE! It’s been amazing…and delicious! The food we purchase is more expensive because we choose to support mom-and-pop farms and ranches, BUT our overall grocery costs are around the same as they were because we are no longer spending hundreds of dollars a month on CRAP like chips, cookies, candy, and sodas. We eat good y’all!
  10. Lighten Up- Over the course of the last 365 days, I’ve lost 197 pounds. I can now run up and down stairs. I can take a walk from here to there without being out of breath. I’m not always hot…which will save money on the electricity bill over the summer months. And I’m able to use “regular” items like folding chairs without worrying about them breaking under my weight…or avoiding them altogether.
  11. GROWTH MINDSET- The BIGGIE! This overall experience has given me a new mental stance. I no longer see defeat…I see a challenge that I can overcome. I no longer make excuses…I make a plan and I accomplish my milestones and goals. I no longer see completion in goals…I see goals as milestones to achieve before MOVING ON! My heart to serve others has grown exponentially because I truly want to help others achieve what Courtney and I have achieved…and continue to achieve. This whole experience has been a complete blessing. I can’t wait to see what the next 365 days have in store!

Bottom Line Y’all…

My 75 Hard and Live Hard experience has been AWESOME!!! Where there was once a lazy fat man who was afraid to tackle even the smallest challenges now stands a healthy, fit, confident man who is ready to conquer the world. I have no doubt that if a challenge arises over the course of the rest of my life…I’ll be able to meet the challenge head-on…and CRUSH IT!

Move Forward! Don’t Suck! Every Day!

~Mitch

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