In January, I took on the 75 Hard Challenge. For 75 days in a row, absolutely no days off and no missing anything, no cheating, no anything off the plan, I was to do a list of 5 simple things. If you fail one thing, you’re done, you fail, you’re done and you start over.
- Read 10 pages of a non-fiction/self-help book
- Take a selfie for progress
- Exercise 90 minutes, 45 of it outside, no matter what
- Drink 1 gallon of water. Just water in that gallon but otherwise, no alcohol at all.
I started knowing I needed a reset. I needed something to kick me into gear. I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t understand what needed to be changed, but I knew in my gut something needed to change. One thing I knew needed changed was the weight gain. I needed to figure that out. Ten pounds isn’t much until you carry it around all day for over a year. It’s not good and it’s not fun.
When I started the plan, I was hell bent on making it work. A gallon is a lot of water to drink every day, especially in winter when you typically don’t drink as much as summer. Ninety minutes of exercise per day when you work full time and have baseball games to attend in the evening is a lot of time. But I took on the challenge knowing I would have to just make it work.
Week one was adjustment. I walked a lot with my dog, I drank my water, I made little non-alcoholic spritzers after I was done with my gallon of water. My favorite spitzer was a Lime Bubbly with Crystal Lite Raspberry and then added fresh raspberries. Yum. I found out that restaurants serve club soda where I could add my Crystal Lite.
The weeks started to pass, and I was doing it. I missed my off days and I missing having a beer here and there. I noticed a little weight coming off and the general puffiness from having extra weight and a not-as-clean-as-it-should diet. Let me tell you, it is really hard to lose weight when you’re a woman in her upper 40’s who works a sedentary job. It is just difficult. Not impossible of course, but walking maybe even just 100 steps over 8 hours is not a healthy way to go about your day. I craved my spritzers after work since I was just tired of all the water. I had pee anxiety since I always had to go, and traveling wasn’t very fun because I always had to go. But I made it work.
I loved the books I was reading. I absorbed what they were saying, and I felt almost like they were speaking to me directly in a way. I felt like I was getting my mojo back. I didn’t miss my workouts like I had made a habit of since the pandemic in March of 2020. I would get up at 4:30 to get them in, even if I had insomnia, because I knew I needed to just get it done. I recognized my old self coming out, being determined and sassy, and doing what I needed to do, even if it seemed difficult. The change was that I didn’t feel like it was too much, like I had for so many months. Getting face to face with depression, even just a mild version, and then coming out of it, seeing how hard things were after the fact gives you a sense of compassion and a sense of urgency – I don’t want to go back there. But now I understand how it feels.
I would often do a 45 minute bike inside (it was still cold out) or I would run, then I would go for a walk for the remainder of the 90 minutes. I would listen to a podcast and think a lot. And we visited our kid at Clemson a few times. This was the game changer. After the baseball games, they play the Clemson alma mater. Tyler knows it and he sways when they sway, and he holds his hands up and plays invisible piano with his fingers when they do. I just loved it. I was feeling really unsettled that day. I couldn’t figure out why, but I was just on edge, I just wanted a beer (I didn’t), and I did NOT want to spend 90 minutes working out, I just wanted to hang out with my kids and husband and drink coffee while watching the sun rise. That being said, on one of those forced workouts, I did see one of the prettiest sunrises ever over Lake Hartwell with the Clemson campus as the backdrop. Just beautiful.
ANYWAY, I couldn’t put my finger on why I was just itchy…. Then I asked Tyler if I could go to Clemson too because I wanted an alma mater that I had a connection to. Sorry, UNI, I just don’t have a connection to you – never did and never will, unfortunately. What if I took grad school classes or got another degree, then I could be a Tiger too!!! How cool would that be?? I knew I wanted more, I knew the job I had was a good one, but I knew my time there was going to be a lot less than I had thought coming into it. I sit at a computer all day stressing over things that I cannot control to make other people a huge amount of money. Yes, I made good money, but I realized that I needed something else. I just wasn’t sure what it was. Yet.
When I was walking the next week after bringing up going to Clemson, it came to me. GO BACK TO GRAD SCHOOL AND FINISH YOUR MASTERS DEGREE AND DO WHAT YOU HAVE WANTED TO DO SINCE YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL.
Huh. Seems fairly simple, doesn’t it? Because there’s restrictions on how many years you have from when you start to when you graduate and I just wasn’t sure how my return would be received, I reached out to the professor who was head of the department at the time, and during our call, she welcomed me back with wide open arms, also telling me that I was one who was born to be a counselor. Humbled, I re-registered and was enrolled within a few weeks. Boom.
I had asked my boss to catch up a few times, and that just never happened, so I never told her what my plans were. At that time, in February, I was planning to continue working full time (you can’t work that job part time, it’s just not set up for that at all) until I graduated. Plenty of people do it, so I could as well.
I have to mention, I found a lot of my old self in this process. I wasn’t depressed anymore, I was sassier, I was happier, and I put up with a LOT less shit than I had the prior year. Every few weeks that went by, I realized that I was not going to be able to stay at my job. When talked to in a demeaning or accusatory way, instead of bowing my head and crying or being upset (WHAT CAN I DO BETTER???), I slowly Got. Over. It. EFFFFFF YOUUUUUUUUU. Do not talk to me that wayyyyy….. It wasn’t worth it to me.
On June 15th, I resigned. I didn’t tell the entire story to my boss, because I truly didn’t think my story telling of feeling like I was treated like a second class citizen half the time while not getting the credit for the great things I was doing would ever change. I spoke up when I could, and I refused to do one task that I was told to do “for the company” and still refused to do it. But we usually just kept our heads down and did our work. Many times other people got the credit for what I was doing. Infuriating to me.
You teach people how to treat you. And I was done. My last day was to be mid-July.
On a Monday, I walked out of that building with my head held high after being accused of something I did not do and for being berated for not doing something that I couldn’t do.
I was done.
I HAVE to believe this was all due to 75 Hard. All of it. The mental changes, the thought processes that morphed, the belief in myself that I didn’t have to take any shit anymore. Which is weird because I’ve usually been known as the person who says it like it is. I had missed that girl, somewhere she emerged again. But I’d had enough at work. I didn’t do anything disrespectfully, and actually, surprisingly, I did get some sort of compliment and apology from my boss after it was all said and done. I don’t think anything will change, but that’s up to those who are there now, not me.
Did I finish 75 Hard? No, I didn’t. I made it over half way. I had a glass of wine on a Monday, and then I was so exhausted after my first half marathon in a very long time, I forgot to read my pages. I made it over half way. Which is something pretty good. And I got to meet a few people along the way.
I failed. But I failed knowing that really, truly, I won.
Coming January 2023, 75 Hard. This time, it’s going down. Chad? You in? Anyone else?