The phenomenon, created by motivational speaker Andy Frisella, is described as a way to increase your mental toughness, boost your self-worth and improve yourself esteem.
Essentially, the challenge involves following six hard and fast rules for 75 days straight. It’s popularity is quickly skyrocketing, with close to 563 million views on TikTok alone. But is it actually good for you, or just plain silly? Here’s my verdict on each of these ‘rules’.
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Rule 1: Follow ANY diet you wish.
Say hello to red flag number one. While this might sound contradictory, as a dietitian, I’m no fan of diets. They spruik a quick-fix, are usually unsustainable and, more often than not, leave you worse off than when you started.
Most diets exclude some food groups in one way or another (vegan = no meat, paleo = no grains, etc.) which is another pet peeve of mine, because unnecessarily excluding a food group can result in a nutritionally inadequate diet. As far as I’m concerned, the ‘best diet’ is the one you don’t even know you’re on – it should be enjoyed, varied and balanced, and include foods from all five food groups.
Rule 2: Drink 3.7 litres of water a day
Drinking enough water is incredibly important for good health. It helps to keep your blood steam fluid, controls your temperature, transports nutrients to your cells, helps to remove waste from your body and assists with digestion – just to name a few perks. But 3.7 litres per day is *a lot* of water (it’s about 15 cups!), and some people simply won’t be able to manage it comfortably.
As a rule of thumb, eight to ten cups per day is the blanket recommendation for the average Joe, but of course, some people need more depending on their activity level and the climate they are in. The best way to tell if you’re actually hydrated is to look at the colour of your urine – if it’s pale yellow, you’re on the right track and there’s no need to overdo your water intake just for the sake of it.
Rule 3: Do not drink any alcohol or have any cheat meals
This is simply far too restrictive for my liking. Don’t get me wrong – alcohol is in no way a health food (it actually has great potential to hinder your health), so if you’re a non-drinker, that’s a really good thing. But if you are partial to a vino or two, going cold-turkey for such a long period of time isn’t the answer. Same goes for chocolate, hot chips, burgers and anything else one might class as a ‘cheat meal’.
As boring as it sounds, moderation truly is king, and if you wish to include these extras in your diet sometimes and in small portions, that’s okay. Completely restricting them will only leave you craving them to the nth degree – which will either make you completely overcompensate with other vices, or you’ll give in to the temptation and feel bad about yourself. Neither outcomes are good in my opinion.
Rule 4: Do two 45-minute workouts a day
Yes exercise is essential for good health and wellbeing – but again, this ‘rule’ is a little extreme and could be simply unattainable for some people, at least some of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being as active as possible, but being healthy isn’t about doing an hour and a half of gruelling exercise day in and day out without fail. Capiche?
Rule 5: Read ten pages of non-fiction a day
As a dietitian, this is not my area of expertise, so I’m going to skip over this one…
Rule 6: Take a photo of yourself every single day
Last but not least, I’m definitely not a fan of this final ‘rule’. Why? Eating well and exercising does far more than change the way you look in the mirror. Sure, it can help you shed some kilos if that’s what you’re after – but it should never (and I mean never) be the sole reason to lead a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re looking to improve your wellbeing, you’d be far better off focusing on all of the other benefits of eating healthily and moving your body, like feeling more energised, being in a better mood and sleeping better. Shifting your focus to these outcomes will boost your intrinsic motivation and help you to stick with it, for good.
As you can probably tell, my review of the 75 Hard Challenge isn’t five stars. All in all, I think it’s far too extreme and has great potential to kickstart you on the inevitable dieting cycle (where you over-restrict, give in after a while, feel guilty and start again – on repeat). If boosting your health is on your radar, I’d encourage you to focus on progress, not perfection, and I guarantee it’ll pay better dividends in the long haul.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.