Have you ever been stuck in a moment that you can’t get out of? Like the U2 song says, “You’ve got to get yourself together, you’ve got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it”.
Like Al Bundy, forever living the high school football years, or the Olympians reliving a painful fall or coming short of first place or third place by a shred of a second, I have been stuck. The biggest problem is that I have been stuck for years. Just stuck. Like Vinny Gambini’s 1960’s convertible Cadillac being stuck in the Alabama red mud, I. Have. Been. Stuck.
The hardest part to grasp is that I was a prisoner of my own device. Yes, I have had a lot of life events the last few years, and it has been extremely difficult, but a lot of my stuck-ness has been mine. I have to take responsibility for it, even though on some days, it was difficult to do anything. Literally, anything.
Slowly but surely, I faced the unrecognizable face in the mirror and decided that I had had enough. I need a change. But I didn’t know what to do or how to go about doing it. It’s a weird feeling since I’m the type of person who looks at a challenge in the face and says, “Bring it”. I’m an Ironman and four-time Boston qualifier, a former business owner, plus I’ve been married for over 22 years to the same person. I know what dedication is. I know what hard work and grit are. But I didn’t pull the trigger. Over and over, I kept skipping workouts, watching weight gain, unhappiness, unsettlement.
On January 11th, along with some others that I know mostly on an acquaintance level, I started the 75 HARD program. The week before, I saw a post from Chad, the catalyst of the group, telling people he was starting 75 Hard and if anyone wanted to join, join in the fun. If there’s anything I knew I needed, it was accountability. I looked into it, and I made some negotiations in my head about joining.
The rules of 75 Hard are five simple rules to follow each day. If you miss any of the elements on any day, you have to start over. No ifs, ands, or buts, you start over. The rules are 1) Follow a diet – no cheat days and no alcohol, 2) Read 10 pages of a self-help or non-fiction book, 3) Take a progress picture, 4) Drink one gallon of plain water per day, and 5) Two 45-minute workouts per day, one outside, no exceptions.
I looked through these rules and tried to negotiate that I wouldn’t take a progress picture because no, and I was going to give myself an allocation of drinks per week and I figured a gallon per day was easy when you add Crystal Light or make tea with it. Then I listened to the Podcast by the author and creator of 75 Hard, and I quickly realized that breaking the rules intentionally and even prior to starting the program would completely ruin the reason of the program itself and also, I would be cheating myself of the true progress that could be made by following every step as instructed. And there was plenty of progress that needed to be made.
Fast forward. People, I’m almost half way done with 75 Hard. I’m on day 36, two days away from half-way. I have not cheated on any of the elements of the program. And I have felt the shift within, the one I assume the creator was talking about in his podcast. I see myself in the mirror again. I recognize who I used to be and who I will be in just a few more weeks. It’s weird that it took so long to get here, to realize how simple the solution was. Timing is everything. No more missed workouts, no more wine, no more excuses. There are none. Whatever the missing clasp was, it’s missing no longer. It’s about repairing at this point.
One of my favorite song lyrics:
Don’t wanna be the parenthetical, hypothetical
Working onto something that I’m proud of, out of the box
An epoxy to the world and the vision we’ve lost
I’m an apostrophe
I’m just a symbol to remind you that there’s more to see
I’m just a product of the system, a catastrophe
And yet a masterpiece….
If you would have told me three years ago that I would be in the middle of Hard 75, brought on by a severe case of “I don’t care” and weight gain, I would have laughed until I peed. But it was little by little, tip toe by tip toe, and the step became a slide.
The best part about this is that I don’t make excuses anymore. I have accountability buddies now, including my boys. I get it, more than I have gotten it in a while.
I was running with a good friend last year, and I was trying to explain my feelings of being stuck. She didn’t know me when I was at my athletic best, when I was working multiple jobs with little kids. But she said some words to me that resonated. “It’s just not your time.” There really never were better words to describe it, the situation as a whole. My personal problem is that I didn’t know what actions to take to make it my time, to stop being in a rut, to get un-stuck. Well friends, it took one Facebook post that caught my attention and a year of sinking more into the stuck-ness to find the light at the end of the tunnel, to actually see myself, the real me looking back in the mirror. And on January 11th, 2022, the journey started. My dog has really enjoyed the days when I walk, that’s for sure.
They say it takes three weeks for an action to become habit. When you add enough weeks to total eleven, those habits become even more ingrained (I cannot, for the life of me, determine if this should be “ingrained” or “engrained” HELP). As much as I have wanted to have a cheat drink or skip a workout, or the few times I’ve chugged my water at 9:30 pm while reading my last few pages, I wanted to wake up the next morning knowing full well that I did what it took to achieve my goal. My goals.
I have a few activities along the way, before I finish the Hard 75, like finishing my first half marathon in years. I’ve done more half marathons than I can count, and I actually PR’d my half eight years ago today, at 1:40. Wow, I can’t imagine running a mile in less than eight minutes, let alone 13 of them in a row, but there’s time for that later. First thing’s first, let’s do this 75 Hard.