Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Close Banner
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

What Is The 75 Soft Challenge? Plus, How To Make It Your Own

Hannah Frye
Author:
February 29, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
February 29, 2024
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

Like clockwork, the first day of January always arrives with a strong “New Year, New Me" energy. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with using a new year to your advantage and riding the high of collective motivation to start new habits. 

However, there is a danger in expecting the same exact diet, exercise regimen, and morning journal directive to work just as well for you as it did for the group of unusually productive influencers on social media. 

Amongst the many wellness fads that spike in popularity with a new calendar comes the 75 Hard challenge—and the newer, more realistic version, the 75 Soft.

To come, a guide to completing the 75 Soft challenge, how it differs from 75 Hard, and what health experts think of it (read: should you try it?). 

The need-to-knows

  • The 75 Soft challenge is more realistic than the 75 Hard: It allows you to define what “eating well” and “drinking socially” means to you. It also cuts the amount of daily exercise in half (though it's still 45 minutes). 
  • Health experts recommend tailoring 75 Soft: Fitting the health challenge to your your personal needs and preferences will make it easier to commit to and more beneficial in the long run.
  • Some people shouldn’t try it: Those with diagnosed physical or mental health conditions, pregnant women, elderly folks, and anyone who’s prone to perfectionism may want to skip challenge, as it may become too stressful (thus, not making you healthier or happier). 

What is the 75 Soft challenge?

75 Soft is a health challenge that is popular on social media outlets like TikTok and Instagram—especially at the start of the new year.

It involves eating healthily, limiting alcohol, drinking plenty of water, reading a book, and doing 45 minutes of movement every day for 75 days.

The challenge may sound a bit formulaic, but psychology experts actually say that's part of its appeal. “From a neurological perspective, the human brain likes structure more than chaos, so any way for a person to create a plan with structure such as the 75 Soft is likely going to lead to increased completion of goals,” says clinical psychologist Kendal Maxwell, Ph.D.

She adds that, “Any time we can have small goals for our day or week, we may begin to cultivate a sense of accomplishment which also leads to increased esteem and feelings of purpose in life.” 

The key is to keep those goals realistic and, most importantly, tailored to your schedule and personal preferences. 

The rules of the 75 Soft Challenge

The rules for 75 Soft are as follows:

  • Eat well and only consume alcohol during social occasions
  • Work out for 45 minutes per day with one day of active recovery each week. (Think: going for a long walk, stretching, doing a gentle hike, foam rolling your sore muscles, etc.)
  • Drink three liters of water each day
  • Read 10 pages of any book each day
  • If you skip any of these challenges one day, just keep going

75 Soft vs. 75 Hard

The rules of the 75 Hard challenge are more rigid and include: 

  • Complete two daily workouts at 45 minutes each (one must be outdoors)
  • Drink a gallon of water daily
  • Pick a diet to follow with no alcohol or cheat meals
  • Read 10 pages per day of a non-fiction book
  • Take a daily progress photo
  • If you skip a day for any of the above rules, you must start over at day one

As you can see, the 75 Soft is a fairly reasonable challenge with wiggle room for personalization, especially when compared to its predecessor, the 75 Hard. 

“The guidelines in 75 Soft take the pressure off of perfection and allow individuals to determine what's best for them. By defining for themselves what ‘eating well’ looks like and having the flexibility to drink socially, participants are better equipped to transition their new habits into life after the challenge more seamlessly,” notes certified nutritional therapy practitioner Michele Fuller.

The guidelines in 75 Soft take the pressure off of perfection and allow individuals to determine what's best for them.

—certified nutritional therapy practitioner Michele Fuller

Plus, there’s no need to call it quits if you slip up. Instead, you just keep going and do your best to stick to the routine. This is a particularly nice edit to the original challenge and one that makes it more attractive to people with busy schedules or other barriers to a full day of wellness to-dos. 

Criticisms of the 75 Soft Challenge

The thing is, what’s considered “soft” and realistic for some people may be a huge lifestyle shift for others, so take that into consideration before committing.

“Goals need to feel achievable, and if they are too difficult to maintain through the other hardships of life that will inevitably happen in a 75-day period, a lot of people end up just feeling a sense of shame and disappointment in themselves for not meeting the goals,” Maxwell says. “This usually leads to people giving up after the first moment of not completing all the goals that they have.” 

Hence, why many experts like Maxwell instead suggest implementing one or two goals at a time and building on those once they become habitual. 

How to make it work for you

While you can certainly take the 75 Soft at face value and try it out as-is, experts recommend personalizing it and making it your own. This can help you reach a place where you want to do these things every day and thus, find they become second nature. 

After all, why build a to-do list that you hate? Here are some ways to edit, elevate, and personalize your 75 Soft challenge.

Tips to make the challenge more approachable:

  1. Start with 1-2 new habits a week and build from there
  2. Try working out 3 days a week for the first month, then add more if you feel like it
  3. Try this challenge with a friend or family member for more support
  4. Make weekly goals, rather than daily goals

Ideas for personalizing your challenge:

CategoryAlternative options
Physcial fitnessWorkout 3x a weekGo on 2 walks dailyTry a new workout class every week until you find one you love
Nutrition Eat 30+ plants a weekGet 100g+ protein each dayEat more whole foods & less processed foods
AlcoholLimit yourself to 1-2 drinks per occasionSub in mocktails here and thereOnly drink 1-2x per week
Personal developmentJournal for 10 minutes each daySpend 5 minutes meditatingListen to one educational podcast every day

Defining what 'eat well' and 'drink socially' mean to you:

As for the kindly vague “eat well” and “drink socially,” directives, you may benefit from a tad more structure if it feels too murky. 

“The important thing here is to be very clear about what eating well looks like and what determines a social occasion,” Fuller says. “Is a social occasion an event with three or more people? What about a date night with your partner? Deciding your version of the rules ahead of time will set you up for success,” she says. 

And remember: If you get a few weeks into the challenge and begin to feel stressed out or seriously dread the activities on your list, it’s time to pivot and find another plan that suits your preferences and your goals. 

Who should skip 75 Soft?

“Overall, the 75 Soft is a reasonable challenge for almost anyone, as long as you're considering your unique needs and challenges,” Fuller says. 

However, there are groups of people who should likely avoid the challenge altogether, or consult a mental or physical health professional before trying it. They include: 

  • Perfectionists may put too much pressure on themselves: “Individuals who should avoid challenges such as the 75 hard or 75 Soft include people who have issues surrounding perfectionism because utilizing something like this can lead to great feelings of shame if they do not succeed with everything and they may become too fixated on this challenge while sacrificing other aspects of their life or relationships,” Maxwell says. 
  • Those with ADHD should approach with caution: “I would also state that individuals with ADHD (either subtype) may wish to take a step back prior to engaging in challenges like this and ask themselves how they will reduce the urge to become hyper-focused on the tasks, because again, they too may sacrifice other aspects of their life to maintain these goals,” Maxwell notes. 
  • Anyone with a history of disordered eating should take note: As with any health challenge, Maxwell suggests anyone with a history of disordered eating should be cautious. “These types of challenges may lead to too much focus on their diet and body that can lead to relapsing with maladaptive habits or increased feelings of shame and guilt for a variety of reasons,” she says. 
  • Those with a diagnosed health condition should ask their doctor: “If you have a pre-existing health condition, especially those affecting physical activity or nutrition requirements, you should consult a healthcare professional before beginning 75 Soft,” Fuller says. 
  • Pregnant & elderly people shouldn’t overcommit: Fuller cautions against pregnant women and elderly folks from auto-committing to the 75 hard, given their particular health needs.

And this list is by no means exhaustive. At the end of the day, the 75 Soft is intended to boost your physical and mental health. If you have a feeling it will actually deter from either of the well-being categories, it’s probably best to skip it. 

The mindbodygreen POV

Health challenges provide structure and accountability to your well-being goals—and some people find them super helpful. The 75 Hard and 75 Soft challenges prove this: these structured plans took off on social media because people appreciate having specific goals to strive for each day.

That said, within the innate structure of these plans, there's room to play! Use the 75 Soft challenge as a framework to set your own personal health goals and build a schedule that actually excites you. Swap out reading 10 pages a day with journaling if you're a writer, set a goal to cook more at home in lieu of healthy eating, etc. By making the 75 Soft challenge more personal to you, you'll be more likely to find some joyful new health habits to stick with long term—and isn't that the whole point?

—Emma Loewe, mindbodygreen health & sustainability director

FAQ

What is the 75 Soft Challenge?

The 75 Soft Challenge is a daily checklist designed to improve your physical and mental well-being. Every day, you eat well and only consume alcohol during social occasions, work out for 45 minutes (with one day of active recovery each week), drink three liters of water, and read 10 pages of any book. 75 Soft takes a softer, more realistic approach to the 75 Hard Challenge popularized on social media.

What does active recovery mean 75 soft?

An active recovery day means skipping your typical workout (strength training, pilates, cycling, etc.) and instead gently moving your body to encourage recovery without complete stillness. Some ways to engage in active recovery include going for a long walk, stretching, gentle hiking, foam rolling your sore muscles, etc.

The takeaway

Overall, the 75 Soft Challenge is a great way to kickstart healthy habits without forcing yourself to abide by a super strict regimen like the 75 Hard. Experts recommend personalizing it to fit your needs and personal preferences thus making it more enjoyable and easier to stick with. Those with chronic health conditions, including physical or mental health, pregnant women, and elderly folks should consult their physician before trying this or any health routine.

Want something a tad simpler, but still sure to help you get healthier? Consider the 30+ plants challenge—here’s the 101

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

What Is Meditation?

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Light Watkins

Box Breathing

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

What Breathwork Can Address

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

Nutrition | Rich Roll

What to Eat Before a Workout

Nutrition | Rich Roll

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Nutrition | Sahara Rose

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Love Languages

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Related Videos (10)

What Is Meditation?

Box Breathing

What Breathwork Can Address

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

What to Eat Before a Workout

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love Languages

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

More On This Topic

more Health
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.