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75 Soft Challenge: A Complete Guide to the Healthiest, Simplest Alternative to 75 Hard and 75 Strong

We all hit those times in life where we’ve fallen into a routine that gets us through the day, through the week, or through work, but that we feel doesn’t quite add up to supporting the kind of person we want to be. 

Whether you desire to be healthier, more fit happier, or more productive, figuring out exactly what changes to make and how to make it can be extremely difficult.  Luckily, the newest challenge – the 75 Soft challenge – is perfectly adapted to help you slide into a newer, better daily life in a manageable way.

Table of Contents for This Guide to the 75 Soft Challenge

Understanding what to change in your life, finding the motivation to start the change, and finding the diligence to stick to that plan is “tough” at best.  Luckily, the new trend of 75-day challenges aimed at breaking into a better life are spreading, and with good reason.

The problem with this potential solution of a 75-day challenge is the current ones – 75Hard and 75 Strong – can at best be too much to take on with an already busy and stressful life (like the 75 Strong challenge) and at worst be spur potentially unhealthy decisions (like the 75 Hard challenge).

A universal solution is the 75 Soft approach, a healthy, simple alternative to the 75 Hard and 75 Strong challenges

75 Soft Challenge

What is the 75 Soft Challenge?

The 75 Soft challenge takes the proven approach, of committing to doing a life-improving set of daily tasks over 75 days, and makes it more manageable.

Just like in the 75 hard challenge and 75 strong challenge, but with a more manageable, softer, and easier to maintain approach.

Instead of committing to doing all 10 of the daily tasks from 75 Strong, we instead commit to doing 2 to 4 tasks, any 2 to 4 tasks, from the list each day.  They can be the same tasks each day.  They can be different tasks from the list each day.  In any case, the end goal is committing to doing a manageable few life-improving actions each day and continuing that path for 75 days.

Our end goal is to softly grow into building space in our day for positive actions that improve our physical health, emotional health, happiness, productivity, and outlook on life.  Exactly which positive actions we fill that space (time) with don’t matter too much yet, but the significance of building in the general habit is a soft approach to making positive improvements over 75 days.

So, here’s how 75 Soft works

In the 75 Soft Challenge, for 75 days we commit to doing 2 to 4 of the following optional actions every day:

  • 1. Practice Thankfulness: List 20 Things You Are Thankful For
  • 2. Appreciate Yourself: List 20 Things You Admire About Yourself
  • 3. Be Still: Sit Quietly or Meditate For 15 Minutes
  • 4. Move and Mobilize: Exercise or Stretch
  • 5. Eat Healthily
  • 6. Skip Alcohol
  • 7. Read A Non-Fiction Book for 15 Minutes
  • 8. Learn A New Concept or Skill for 15 Minutes
  • 9. Do Something You’re Passionate About For 15 Minutes
  • 10. Record the Process & Acknowledging Your Efforts

Every single one of these actions is scientifically proven to create a happier, healthier, more positive life.

Our goals in this 75 Soft challenge are:

  1. To build in time and a daily habit of doing self-care and self-improving activities
  2. To (eventually) build in these 10 actions as daily healthy habits in our lives (but that comes later)

So, the 75 Soft challenge is all about building in daily habits revolving around self-care, personal growth, and self-improvement in a way that benefits us and our relationships in the long term.

A long-term goal I hope you’ll take on later, after doing 75 Soft, is to take on the 75 Strong challenge, which is doing all 10 actions for 75 days straight.

For now, let’s dig into the 75 Soft challenge, it’s inspiration, why we want to do it, and how to do it.

75 Soft Challenge

The 75 Soft challenge is a manageable 75 day challenge to improving your life and building positive habits.

Over 75 days, every morning you choose 2 to 4 tasks from our list of 10 actions scientifically proven to be positive for your life in the short term and long term.

We find 2 to 4 tasks to be the “sweet spot” of a manageable number of actions daily for the average person to do per day, without feeling demotivated or overwhelmed over the course of 75 days.

Additionally, we found that most of our participants in the 75 Strong challenge found 2 to 4 of the tasks on our list of 10 optional daily activities to be extremely beneficial, motivating, and exponentially more worthwhile to invest in than the other 6 to 8 tasks.

To respond to this insight, and help encourage people to focus on doing what works best for them as individuals, and discard the rest, we introduced this 75 Soft Challenge.

The 75 Hard challenge, and why we don’t want to do it.

The original inspiration for all of the 75 day challenges, and this challenge was the 75 Hard challenge. The 75 hard challenge (also known as 75Hard) was a challenge started by entrepreneur Andy Frisella that took Tik Tok and the internet by storm as a 75 day self-improvement challenge showcasing before, during, and after photos.

The 5 Daily Rules for 75 Hard

75 Hard consisted of doing the following tasks every day, for 75 days:

  1. Follow a diet
  2. Workout twice a day for at least 45 minutes, with one workout outside
  3. Drink 4 liters of water
  4. Read 10 pages of nonfiction each day
  5. Take a progress picture each day

If you missed any of these tasks on any day, you restart at day 1, according to the rules of the 75 hard challenge.

Now, any attempt at self-improvement is respectable, however, the 75 hard challenge incorporates some elements that may be potentially dangerous and unhealthy for some individuals, especially if they have not been active or training for quite some time.

Additionally, if we are going to dedicate 75 days to self-improvement, there is a lot more we could accomplish with minimal effort, in order to make the improvements we experience in that 75 days holistic – including the physical, mental, emotional, and social health in our lives.

The primary issues in that 75-day challenge are as follows:

  1. Following a diet, and why you shouldn’t: Doing a “diet” is too vague and leaves opportunity to follow a “trendy eating plan” (think Keto, Paleo, Atkins) for the wrong reasons and ultimately not reaching our personal health goals at best, and at worst putting our health at risk. (**)
  2. Working out twice a day, and why you shouldn’t: Two workouts a day for 75 days in hopes of physical fitness and health gains is not recommended for anyone, especially those who haven’t trained in a very long time.  Fitness plans of one workout a day for two days and then taking one day of rest, 5 days of workouts and two days rest, as commonly recommended by certified strength and condition coaches, or following the generally American Heart Association recommendation of targeting 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week is far more preferable.  (Source) Additionally, any fitness plan should include a stretching, active recovery and mobility component to combat the effects of overtraining and aging.
  3. Drinking 4 liters of water a day and why (maybe) you shouldn’t: Recommended water recommendations per day vary by gender, activity level, bodyweight, and diet.  Smaller than average individuals risk hyponatremia if consuming too much water not accompanied with the right electrolytes and nutrients.  A better option is consuming .5 per pound of bodyweight, with a diet including healthy salts (think sea salts) and healthy sources of electrolytes (think coconut water).
  4. Reading 10 pages of non-fiction, and why you should be open to doing more: Reading non-fiction daily is fantastic, however, not many of us have the time to sit down and read.  However, studies have shown audiobooks and well researched podcasts (think TED or “documentary podcasts”) to be equally enriching, and possible to do on your daily commute.
  5. Taking a progress pic daily, posting it social media, and why you shouldn’t: Taking a progress picture each day may showcase your progress, however, it, and the implied sharing on social media that it involves, perpetuates a current trend in society of seeking what looks like its working instead of diligently and graciously trusting the process – by moving, eating healthy, and then moving on.  Additionally, the implied act of seeking external gratification that comes from posting such a vulnerable picture on social media, can feed the unhealthy trend of social media dependency and reaction to the attention (or lack of it) that we receive.  There is an opportunity to embrace the process and be happy with it, without external approval

Can I modify 75 Hard? Yes, and the healthy result of the modified idea is 75 Strong…and 75 Soft

The beauty of 75 Hard is that it was a challenge purely dedicated to self-improvement.  I can get behind that.

Being the creative people that self improvers are, of course, we can adapt this ingenious idea (75 days toward self-improvement) to create something that is a more accessible alternative and that fits our life and ambitions.  So, we have created, the 75 Strong challenge, a flexible challenge that, instead of building mental toughness, aims to program 10 positive habits into our lives in a positive life-improving way.

Then the 75 Soft challenge aims to be a more effective alternative by taking a softer approach, avoiding the extreme lifestyle changes, and is more suitable for busy lives filled with commitments and a hardcore daily routine, and allows us to gradually absorb the habits and ideas that are most important for us at the pace we choose.

We still build the discipline and mental strength that come with diligently and consciously planning positive decisions daily and building positive new habits, but without the unnecessary stress that comes with amped-up social media-based “challenges.”

So, let’s get into it.  What exactly is the 75 Soft Challenge?

What is the 75 Soft Challenge and What Are Our Goals and Rules for 75 Soft?

The 75 Soft Challenge is a 75 day challenge to, each day, choose 2 to 4 of the following positive habits, and simply do them.

Our 10 tasks (and future habits) to choose from each day in our 75 day Soft challenge are as follows:

  • 1. Practice Thankfulness: List 20 Things You Are Thankful For, written or out loud
  • 2. Appreciate Yourself: List 20 Things You Admire About Yourself, written or out loud
  • 3. Be Still: Sit Quietly or Meditate For 15 Minutes
  • 4. Move and Mobilize: Exercise or Stretch everyday, aiming for 2 days of exercise for every 1 day of active rest to use, recover, and move your body everyday
  • 5. Eat Healthily in a way that fits your body and preferences
  • 6. Skip Alcohol
  • 7. Read A Non-Fiction Book for 15 Minutes, or alternatively listen to an audiobook or educational podcast
  • 8. Learn A New Concept or Skill for 15 Minutes
  • 9. Do Something You’re Passionate About For 15 Minutes
  • 10. Record the Process & Acknowledging Your Efforts

(Click here for a full walkthrough of our 10 daily tasks)

How do you do a 75 Soft?

To do the 75 Soft challenge, each morning, choose 2 to 4 of the actions from our list of 10 target habits (above) and do it.  Repeat that action, doing 2 to 4 of our positive habits, everyday for 75 days.

75 Soft Is Ultimately a Healthier Alternative to 75Hard, and a More Manageable Alternative to 75 Strong

In our writeup of the 75 Hard Challenge, you can read that though respect the intentions of committing to the challenge’s activities over 75 days, from the perspective of a Crossfit Trainer, Personal Fitness Trainer, and former Marine, the challenge carries more risks for most people than benefits and wastes an opportunity to roll the effort and ambition from that 75 day period into a sustainable life.

As a result, we researched and refined an idea of a challenge to focus on building healthy habits sustainable indefinitely, and a challenge to ingrain those habits in a way that would help people continue the positive habits after the initial challenge.

The result was 75 Strong, calculated as 75 days because, according to scientific research, that is the minimum number of days to repeat an action and make it a habit while accounting for human error and life in general. You can read more about the 75 Strong challenge here.

The 75 Strong challenge was received by our readers with great success – from helping our readers give up alcohol indefinitely, to programming new healthy lifestyles with their partners, to helping people reignite neglected passions and ambitions.

However, there was a trend that some of the people in the challenge decided around day 21 to not fo all of the 10 recommended tasks, and instead stick to the 2 to 4 tasks that resonated with them, that they were proud of, and that they felt the most benefits from doing. Personally, I loved this adaption!

I believe that focusing on adding 2 to 4 beneficial actions daily that you believe in and are passionate about is far more worthwhile than simply doing a list of 10 tasks because it is on a list…written by someone else who has never met you. You know you, and the approach you feel is best, is likely best.

Thus, the 75 Soft Challenge was born.

75 “soft” because the approach to programming in new positive habits over 75 days (just like in the 75 Strong challenge) is instead done by starting little by little, in a softer, easier to manage way. In the long term, we get to the same place – building a foundation of positive habits that leads to the life you want – without the excess and hype of the other challenges.

Perfect.

75 Soft Resources: 75 Strong, the inspiration

If you are curious where the direct inspiration comes from, I recommend you read up on the 75 Strong challenge.  The 75 Strong challenge is our source list for our 10 target habits.  This information page lists everything you need to know about why we chose these tasks and future habits to invest 75 days in, how to do that challenge, and great tips for maintaining the improvements in your life after the challenge.

We also recommend reading the book, 75 Strong

The inspiration to do the challenge (by accident) and the scientific research that helped in sculpting the version of the 75 Strong challenge that we share couldn’t be captured in a single article.  So, we wrote a whole book on the challenge, sharing what we’re doing in the challenge, why, and what next.

Even if you are doing the 75 Soft (which is amazing!) reading to understand the source of the challenge will help not only in staying motivated, but in choosing what is right for you.

Available on Amazon in paperback and kindle download

Eating healthily and recommendations on how to do it

You should only take diet advice from three people: your physician, a registered dietician, and yourself.  Take any other “diet advice” with a grain of salt.

With that, I will share a view and approach to healthy eating that I practice and encourage.

Healthy eating involves the sustainable  patterns of eating food that reduces risk of disease, helps your body perform at its peak (in physical and mental activity), suits your preferred lifestyle, and supports you maintaining a healthy weight.  I used to share this perspective constantly with my personal training clients.

The odds of a new fad diet fitting all of those goals and making you look like a super model while not being angry that you’re starving is low.

A better approach to developing long term sustainable healthy eating practices for you is by learning your eating needs, the foods that work for you, the foods that don’t and the amounts that work for your health and goals.

To do this I highly recommend two tools (not diets) to discuss with your registered dietician or physician:

Ideas for healthy eating guidelines

  • 1. The elimination diet
  • 2. Intermittent fasting
  • 3. Eating veggies, nutrient dense foods, water rich foods, and planning in the health and essential food groups daily

The elimination diet is a tool for assessing what foods cause inflammation, allergic reactions, or generally negative reactions in your body so you can avoid them, and assessing which foods supercharge your body.  The “diet” is accomplished by intermittent fasting and eating a very “clean” (low inflammation-inducing) diet over 21 days, then watching as you add foods back. 

I recommend either reading this book to learn more and discussing with your physician or dietician.

Personally, I “recalibrate” my knowledge of my aging body, and what is “healthy” for me by doing the Elimination Diet once every year or two to rediscover what is great for my body and what to avoid as both lists are ever changing. If you’re a nomad like me and are constantly exposed to new climates, foods, and lifestyle elements, this reassessment every couple of years is even more useful to you,, but you have to commit to it for 21 days to reap the

Secondarily, intermittent fasting is a great way (at least for me) to break the eating habits common in western societies that may run contradictory to the needs of our bodies.  In my experience, the primary between of maintaining an “eating window” of time, and maintaining a long period wherein our stomachs are empty is that we control and limit the hormonal spikes that happen when we eat food (especially unhealthy sugary foods) to a window and give our bodies’ (and immune systems) times to focus on curing and recovering from something other than our last meal.

Mind you, you can definitely consume the same number of calories with a reasonable eating window and still gain the benefits of limited hormone spikes.

Last, your mom used to tell you to eat your veggies simply because it was a good idea – so lets do it.

Adding more vitamin, mineral, and nutrient dense foods to your diet that don’t bog down digestion is always a good idea.

Yes, weight loss may be an appropriate goal for some, but eating and living healthy is an appropriate goal for everyone, and will lead to the right amount of weight loss in the long term.

For the workout portion of our challenge, any healthy movement is good movement.  Even if you’re just walking or running daily, that’s fantastic.

If you want to level up – burning more calories, building strength, and building a healthy heart – I recommend High Intensity Interval Training.  You’ll be able to get in a life changing workout (in the long term) dedicating 15 minutes a day 5 days per week.

These lists have 100+ HIIT workouts you can do at home, with minimal equipment, and without an instructor:

If you have a gym nearby, try on these workouts for size to effectively get in your HIIT workout

For off days, run through a light stretching routine or yoga routine for 10 minutes to feel exponentially better by 75 and in the long term.

If you don’t now where to start, 30 days of Yoga with Adriene is an excellent start point.

Additionally, if you have nagging injuries from Crossfit and HIIT training before, starting at day 1 of Kelly Starret’s Mobility WOD (now branded “The Ready State”) is an excellent place to start

Interested in learning more about the 75 Strong Challenge?

If you are intimidated by the 75 Hard and 75 Strong challenges, I highly recommend taking the 75 Soft approach.

However, if you are curious about the 75 Strong challenge, why we chose these 10 tasks, and how doing them will benefit your life in the short term and long term, I highly recommend checking out my book – 75 Strong.

The 75 Soft Challenge, a great alternative to the 75 Strong Challenge and 75 Hard Challenge

In this book, the 75 Strong Challenge book we examine our approach to building habits (90% task completion over 75 days) and share the research as to why these 10 habits are worth programming into your life.

The book is available on Kindle for Amazon, in paperback, and downloadable in a free pdf in the A Brother Abroad bookstore (on this site).

Don’t forget to download your free printable 75 day challenge checklist and journal download [PDF] as well.

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