2021 was a benchmark year for me. Most notably for the context of this story, it ushered in my 40th trip around the sun. While it may not resonate with the younger audience, I know that I’m not alone in my reaction to this milestone.
My arrival at midlife hasn’t delivered a crisis, per se, but I have been hit with an overwhelming desire to maximize my mental and physical potential while I’m still creating “good old days.”
Rather than amassing a list of overwhelming and long-range resolutions, every New Year’s Eve my wife Ange and I typically drop a bad habit (or three) for a period of 30 days. Sometimes they stick (I haven’t had alcohol in two years) and sometimes they don’t (I’m still a big pastry fan), but we always enjoy a healthful and clear start to the year.
This year, Ange upped the ante when she told me she wanted to try 75 Hard. I was sold immediately. If you’re not familiar, 75 Hard is a set of 6 “rules” to follow every day for 75 days. Created by Andy Frisella, the list is simple at first glance. But the compounding difficulty of sticking to the script for 75 straight days with no breaks has proven to be a huge and rewarding challenge.
I mention it specifically here because much of what I outline below are the direct results of this challenge. If any rule is broken, you immediately go back to Day 1:
I began following these rules on December 26th, because… Christmas dinner? Here are my personal protocols in more detail, along with a few additions that I added in voluntarily:
While I have substantially affected body composition and weight on the scale, the result that is the most compelling to me is my improved WHOOP recovery–in spite of an increased workload and unchanged hours of sleep.
You can see in the graphic above, shortly after I began implementing these changes I’ve spent a great deal of time in the green.
I’ve also recently set a personal best for my heart rate variability (60 ms), which I didn’t know was possible.
Not only that, but my resting heart rate has trended dramatically in a positive direction too, dropping from an average of roughly 60 bpm to the high 40s.
Additionally, I’ve posted lower strain scores in spite of elevated workloads. I’m getting faster at CrossFit and my strain is staying steady or decreasing–it’s getting easier.
Oh, and one more thing, I feel fantastic.
Check out Rory’s episode of the WHOOP Podcast.
Top photo credit Ginny Coleman Photography