E-Notes: On Healthy Choices, Daily Lists, and Simplifying Your Life

Have any of you heard of “75 Hard” or perhaps even completed the program yourself? It was created by a guy named Andy Frisella. (I try to keep things positive on this blog but I cannot stand his website so I refuse to link to it.) Regardless of his website, it is a creative idea and he gets credit for that.

75 Hard has gained tons of attention on TikTok. I’m not cool enough to use TikTok but I’ve noticed several friends have mentioned it on Facebook too. I heard about it the old fashioned way, while talking with a friend back in December (Hi, Laurie!), who said she was going to try it starting January 1st. I was intrigued by the idea and love having an accountabili-buddy any chance I can get one.

(Important: Before attempting any health changes consult your doctor, not TikTok, and keep in mind nothing I am saying is medical advice. I am only sharing my experience. You can definitely make healthy changes without silly TikTok challenges and in consultation with trained professionals.)

The 75 Hard Rules:

For 75 days, you do the following every single day. If you miss anything, you start over at Day 1.

  1. 2 workouts per day (45 minutes outside and 45 minutes anywhere)
  2. Drink a gallon of water
  3. Follow a diet of your choice, no cheats and no alcohol
  4. Read 10 pages of nonfiction
  5. Take a daily progress picture

My friend Laurie did the 75 Hard in its entirety and knocked it out of the park reliably and accurately! I’m incredibly proud of her and so impressed by her effort. I was also far more emotional when she finished her challenge than I was about my own attempt.

But I was no slouch either…I just didn’t officially complete the 75 Hard. Instead I changed my life for the better and that was good enough for me.

When considering my own 75 Hard, I didn’t want to start on January 1st (resolutions, bleh!). I decided to do a trial run for 10 days to test out some of my plans to eat healthy, test my resolve for not drinking, and practice fitting two 45-minute workouts into every day. We had a vacation scheduled after the 10-day trial so I set my start date as January 18th. The trial run went great except for one thing…drinking a gallon of water per day was WAY too much for me.

This is why it is REALLY important to know your body and know if something isn’t right. I was already working out twice a day several days a week so I didn’t feel adding some walks and yoga was going to exhaust me. The water was a significant increase for me and the #1 thing I was worried about. As an ultrarunner, you learn about hypo and hyper-natremia because you need to recognize the symptoms when training and especially racing. Hyponatremia is what I experienced when I drank so much water. Essentially my kidneys couldn’t keep up with the deluge of water and the saltiness of my blood diluted too much. My brain didn’t like it and started showing signs of mild hyponatremia. I backed off the water and aimed for a half gallon instead. I felt better within a day and a half gallon was still a stretch goal for me.

What I Ended Up Doing:

  1. 2 workouts per day (45 minutes outside and 45 minutes anywhere…for 68 days. By then Laurie had finished her challenge and I was no longer accountable to others so I fit both in when I could.
  2. Drink a gallon of water Drink a half gallon of water
  3. Follow a diet of your choice, no cheats and no alcohol – I did a gluten free, no fried foods, no sweets, primal, whole-food focused diet plus egg rolls on special occasions. 75 days is a long time and we had numerous birthday meals at restaurants AND I had a 50k race planned. Egg rolls on those rare special occasions made skipping all the homemade bread, rosemary dipping oil, fries, wings, martinis, wine, brownie sundaes, and post-race beers easier. Technically this wasn’t even “cheating” since the rule is a diet of your choice. The change I most wanted to make was the one I stuck to. I didn’t have any alcohol. And once egg rolls were on the plan, I made it 68 days…and then 6 more days with one slipup on Day 69. The one exception was for a very special slice of birthday cake that I could not refuse and I have zero regrets about eating.
  4. Read 10 pages of nonfiction
  5. Take a daily progress picture I did a before and after picture
  6. I also gave myself bonus points for doing Duolingo lessons, getting 8-10 hours of sleep, and taking my vitamins.

Healthy Choices

So what’s the point? Why am I sharing my unsuccessful, yet still decent attempt to complete the 75 Hard? Because it doesn’t matter that I missed the mark of a made up TikTok challenge. What matters is it helped me adopt new healthy behaviors. I needed extra oomph to get me started which the 75 Hard provided.

I wanted to add more walks in my life, learn yoga, drink more water, drink less alcohol, and eat healthier. I wanted to lose the pandemic pounds that I had put on. I wanted to watch less TV, get more sleep, do my Duolingo, and take my vitamins. From no longer drinking, I gained even more benefits like clearer memories, sleeping better, feeling my emotions without numbing them as Brené Brown calls it, faster recovery and running speed, and increased productivity.

Daily Lists

Take a look at the ideas below from James Altucher, Chase Jarvis, and little ol’ me. What is on your daily list or what would you put on your daily list? You don’t have to try to stick to a 75-day challenge — try something daily for 30 days! Yes, you may break the streak but you can pick right back up the next meal/workout/day.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

On Creative Live’s 30 Days of Genius, James Altucher shared this advice that he gives himself to stay focused on what’s important. Each day, he hopes to check off the following items:

  • Am I doing something for my physical health?
  • Am I doing something for my personal relationships with people?
  • Am I doing something creative?
  • Am I practicing some gratitude?

Then host Chase Jarvis shares that he has a 10 item daily list. He even gets his phone so he can read the full list. He uses the app Habit List to track the following:

  1. 8 hours in bed (with no devices)
  2. Meditate in the morning
  3. Meditate in the evening
  4. Eat clean
  5. Strength train twice a week
  6. Practice visualization and gratitude
  7. Play actively or make something with intention
  8. Move my body
  9. Drink 64 oz of water
  10. Drink 0 to 1 glasses of red wine

Chase added that when he does all of these things each day, he has more good days. Plus when bad things do happen, he’s better able to process and work through the difficulty with significantly easier effort.

I am loving the benefits that I have been experiencing since January 18th. Once my challenge officially ended at 11:59 p.m. on April 2nd, I spent two weeks enjoying whatever I wanted to eat with moderation. I even tried two sips of my husband’s beers. I’m good with not drinking any time soon. I also couldn’t be happier with the NA options available from Athletic Brewing Co and Grüvi (check out my Favorite Things page for info).

I decided to start another 75 days of my own this time. It will run from Easter Sunday to July 1st. Thanks to Chase Jarvis, I looked into custom habit tracker apps for Android and found Loop Habit Tracker. Here’s my new list for each day:

  • Get out of bed earlier
  • 30 sec or longer plank
  • Drink 64 oz of water
  • Follow my training plan
  • Eat clean, no alcohol (and no egg roll exception this time)
  • Read 10 pages (nonfiction ideally)
  • Do my Duolingo
  • Try to be in bed by 9:30 p.m. but definitely on the nights before swim practice
  • 3 cheat passes – one per month with no rollover and only for one item…not whole meals or cheat days

Simplifying Your Life

Today was WAY too much about me. Thank you for your readership and for viewing all of the ideas on this blog with curiosity and wonder with a sprinkling of skepticism.

I’d love to hear what habits you are trying to adopt or improve and I’m happy to be your accountabili-buddy! Send me any ideas, questions, or concerns you might have about your own healthy changes or the blog in general.

Ok, I’m done complicating your life for today. I have one final list to share with you though. In the words of Jon Stewart, “and now your moment of Zen”…

5 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

2 thoughts on “E-Notes: On Healthy Choices, Daily Lists, and Simplifying Your Life

  1. Inspiring post! I’m proud of you for attempting these changes and sharing them with others. I think sleep is a big one-if I don’t get at least 9 hours I feel fuzzy-headed and just don’t perform my best. Having a newborn this has definitely been a challenge, so I’ve been trying to get better at simplifying and being okay with “good” vs “great” and learning to set better boundaries at work (also tough for this former workaholic). I’d love to see a post on how to set boundaries at work (especially with students, committee members, etc), and how that’s helped you as that’s one I continue to struggle with! I want to help everyone and have a hard time saying “no.” Thanks for the great read!


    1. Great idea! I recently read an article about a culture against setting boundaries in higher ed so I will look into that topic for a future post. Also, if you haven’t read Dare to Lead by Brene Brown yet, definitely move it to the top of your list. Boundaries are the “B” in her BRAVING Inventory. You can download a copy of the BRAVING Inventory from the Dare to Lead hub using this link: https://brenebrown.com/resources/the-braving-inventory/ Thanks for reading!


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