From Big Dumb American to 75Hard acolyte
I don’t want to write this. I really don’t. But, if one person out there that needs a push can benefit, here you go.
My heaviest weight was 307 pounds. That’s a big boy right there. Obese doesn’t even begin to describe it. The BMI (body mass index) of 40 or greater is classified as “morbidly obese”. That was me. BMI of 44. Yup. 44. I was unhappy. No, I was miserable but not motivated to change. I had dress shirts with a 20 inch neck and jackets of 52 regular that fit me just fine. And, I didn’t look horrible in those dress clothes. But I felt horrible.
I like food; bad food and good drink. Or maybe it’s the other way. I’m not going to get into the why’s of how I got that big. In reality, they are slightly relevant, just not right now. I was a fat guy and didn’t want to be. So how did I finally decide to get off my backside and head down a different road?
There was no light switch moment. I know some who’ve had that, it just isn’t my story. This change was at least two years in the making. Most likely, it needed to be that way. I was flying to the UK and was in one of those “I’m too big to fly” moods. It happens when you have to ask for the seatbelt extension. Flying is generally enjoyable for me, even that big. It gives me time to think, read, and catch up on movies. This particular flight I had bookmarked for a Penn Jillette book called Presto. It was Jillette’s story of his own weight loss.
Presto is not a diet book. Nor is it a guide to “how you too can lose weight.” In fact, the magician goes to great pains to explain how his lawyers want you to know that Mr. Jillette is NOT a dietician. Well, duh. However, the one comment that Penn made that has still stuck with me involved a very personal choice. Penn Jillette was fat, pushing 60, and was sick. So sick, in fact, that his doctor recommended gastric bypass surgery as a way to get his weight to a healthy level. (side note: this is not a commentary on this surgery, if it works for you that’s great) Jillette writes that he wanted to give losing weight on his own a swing. If his doctors were willing to do “something as crazy as cutting him open and performing surgery to lose weight, he could try something equally as crazy”.
Off I set to try my own crazy. At first I did follow Jillette’s program which is basically vegan/vegetarian. I couldn’t follow it but did cut back on the carbs and most meats. And then the world came to a screeching halt. March and April of 2020 were some of the most difficult for all of us; emotionally and financially. Back on came the weight I had worked to take off and then some.
Around the end of June my doctor says I’m borderline high blood pressure and am pushing some other health issues. Between my weight, my age (46) and other factors I was a prime candidate to not only catch COVID but not make it through. It was the final push I needed.
At first I focused on sweating. I walked every day for 45 minutes. When my local gym opened back up I switched to elliptical for an hour. My heart rate was my main goal, trying to keep it within the fat burning zone for my age. After doing this for two months I was down about 15 pounds. It was respectable, consistent, and safe. But then Chris Neto does what he regularly does to me; turns it up to 11.
Chris had also been quietly working out as well and for many of the same reasons. During these workouts he’d listen to podcasts and one he hit on was by Andy Frisella. Frisella is the CEO of 1st Phorm supplements and Supplement Superstore. Come to find out, he’s in my backyard of St. Louis. During one of Andy’s podcasts he lays out a new challenge, a program, for mental toughness called 75 Hard. Here are the basic pieces.
Two 45 workouts per day (one has to be outdoors)
- Drink a gallon of water daily
- Pick a diet and stick to it (no cheat meals/cheat days)
- No alcohol
- Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book, preferably self-improvement
- Take a progressive pic – this not only keeps you honest with yourself you will also be glad you did as you’re able to watch the transformation
These daily tasks for 75 consecutive days. No days off, no rest days, no nothing. This for 75 days. If you miss something on a day you start over. And I did it. Now, if you work out twice daily and eat cleanly for 75 days you’re going to lose weight but that wasn’t the point. It was about building mental toughness. To sit down and say “ok, what HAS to be done today to be successful”. And it got done.
For those who ask about extremeness or excessiveness I go back to Penn’s quote. Doctors were willing to do something as crazy as cut him open to help him lose weight, I can work out two-a-days for a couple of months.
As I write this I’ve gone back into the 75 Hard world. Frisella has three additional phases. Each one is 30 days and includes various other tasks. I did not make it all the way through Phase 1 but I am going back to it. These last six months has taught me more about myself, my weakness, and my strengths.
The final tally of the tape is 70 pounds lost to date. My waist went from 52 to 42 and neck from 20 to 16. What’s most important is the mindset I’ve gained. I’ve developed both mental and physical habits. You do anything for two and a half months and you’ll miss it once you don’t. Whether it’s the workouts or even the eating, they have become part of my daily routine. The other is the personal accountability. When you’re in this for your own betterment you don’t lie to yourself, there’s no point, nothing to gain. Learning that health is a journey that is never over is huge. It’s a mind shift for me. If you can grab onto that idea, it can be a life changer for you as well.
I’ve had people tell me I’m inspirational or brave. Those are very kind words and I appreciate them. We all get inspiration from others and if my story can help someone else out, take what you need and move forward.
So, here I am and here I go. At 46 years old, my mid-life crisis was weight loss, mental toughness, and a transformation that I’ve just begun to uncover. It’s certainly cheaper than a Corvette. My advice to anyone looking to make a life change is to truly take it one day at a time. Set your goal, your dream, and figure out what must happen daily for you to achieve that goal. It’s what we consistently do that adds up to the ultimate transformation for which we are reaching.