Phase 3 Live Hard: The Ultimate Test

Andy Frisella’s Live Hard program is a game changing mental toughness program designed to turn you into the best version of yourself. In this fourth of a five part podcast series, Rob Cressy is joined by his friend and accountability partner Brendan Pettit as they share their Phase 3 Live Hard experience.

• What was their mindset like for this final 30 day phase compared to the previous ones?
• How did they go about meeting one new person a day and doing a random act of kindness?
• What were the biggest challenges they had to overcome?
• In what areas was the quarantine actually a good thing?
• What new habits or routines were introduced?
• What was it like when they completed Phase 3 and were officially done with the Live Hard program?

If you are interested in becoming the best version of yourself then this episode will share the habits, routines, and lessons learned from our Phase 3 of Live Hard experience. I created both a video and podcast version so you can deep dive into this if you’d like.

We also recorded podcast episodes for each of the previous Phases as a resource to everyone in the community: 75 Hard, Phase 1, Phase 2, Live Hard Results overall.

You can connect with Rob & Brendan on social media and let us know what you think. 

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If you are considering doing 75 Hard then I highly recommend you listen to Andy Frisella’s MFCEO podcast where he talks about the origin of it. It’s straight fire.

What is Phase 3 of Live Hard?

Phase 3 builds off of the lessons learned and dues paid during 75 Hard, Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the program. It is also the final phase of the Live Hard program. Finish it and you complete it. Every day for 30 days you do these 10 tasks with zero compromise.

  • Workout twice a day: 45 minute indoor workout, 45 minute outdoor workout. You can choose whatever fitness program or workouts you want.
  • Follow a diet with no cheat meals and no alcohol. You get to create the diet for yourself.
  • Read 10 pages of a personal development or non-fiction book. Something that makes you better. Note: Audiobooks do not count.
  • Drink a gallon of water.
  • Take a progress picture every single day.
  • 5 minute cold shower.
  • Add 3 critical power list tasks (in addition to your 5 normal power list tasks).
  • 10 minutes of dedicated visualization.
  • 1 random act of kindness (which must be journaled).
  • Talk to a stranger.

What made this Phase unique is that it had to be accomplished exactly 30 days before the 1 year mark of starting the Live Hard program. That just so happened to align with the start of the Coronavirus for me (March 24, 2020). Nothing like layering on a global pandemic on top of a mental toughness program.

Mindset heading into Phase 3

When I first started 75 Hard and the Live Hard program there wasn’t much information about it. Andy Frisella had put out his original 75 Hard podcast, and then he debuted each Phase as he was about to do it. Because of this, when I was doing Phase 2 I had no clue what Phase 3 entailed until Andy created a post about it.

When I saw Andy’s post and all the additional tasks that were included, especially coming off Phase 2 which was like running back 75 Hard, I made an audible grunt. Once again, my bitch voice was making noise. The 5 minute cold showers were back. Any thoughts of coasting to the finish line of this program were immediately thrown out the window.

After I stopped being a bitch I reframed my mindset. I started to get excited. I am very personable so I loved the idea of meeting one new person a day. I also loved the idea of doing a random act of kindness. I was already doing that in some capacity, but this would increase the frequency of it. I started thinking of ideas of what I would do to prepare for both of those tasks. That way I could hit the ground running when it started.

“We’ll see who has really been following the program”

One thing Andy Frisella said about Phase 3 was, “We’ll see who has really been following the program.” This played in a loop in my head. What this meant to me is that I was going to come into this with momentum. I planned on already crushing when Phase 3 started. There would be no ramp up period for me. I was coming in with the Mamba Mentality. This was especially important as it related to my fitness. It’s easy to get comfortable when you are off the program. When I am on the program I am the Terminator. Because of that my workouts were getting extra attention weeks before I started.

The unexpected happens: a global pandemic

As I am getting ready to start Phase 3 and complete the year long mental toughness program the unexpected happens. A global pandemic hits in the form of the Coronavirus and the country was in quarantine. The city of Chicago was shut down except for a few essential businesses, and people were urged to stay at home. This threw every pre-plan I had out the window and completely changed the game.

For a second my bitch voice began making noise again. “It’s hard enough to complete the Live Hard program in perfect conditions, now I’ve got to do it during a global pandemic and quarantine?” Every excuse for why I couldn’t do something started popping into my head.

Thankfully for me, I didn’t come this far to only come this far. I quickly turned what was one of the biggest obstacles the world has ever seen into one of the greatest blessings of my life. One of the foundational principles of Live Hard is “conditions are never perfect.” Well guess what, I am about to put that to test. If I am truly destined for greatness like I know I am, then completing Phase 3 during a quarantine is going to be my ultimate test. Nothing was stopping me from completing the Live Hard program. NOTHING!

Reframed Phase 3 Mindset

One of my favorite books is The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday and one quote from it has been a mantra for me: “What stands in the way becomes the way.” For the last 10+ years my entrepreneurial journey has been filled with a series of obstacles and I’ve had to find a way to overcome them by living in action. I reframed my Phase 3 mindset to channel this. What others see as an obstacle I see as an opportunity. I turned fear and uncertainty into excitement. I was going to run on a different energy than the rest of the world. When the rest of the world is contracting, I will be growing. I am going to see this as the greatest opportunity in my life. The ultimate test that will make me and my business forever.

Knowing that I become the best version of myself when I am on the Live Hard program I started to crave the structure. I wanted it because I knew the benefits of it. I started to count down the days until Phase 3 started. I knew how much of a competitive advantage it would be for me to operate at the highest level of my life during what many saw as the hardest moment of their life. This level of focus and determination is what ran through me each of the final 30 days.

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Tips for completing Phase 3

By the time I got to Phase 3 of Live Hard there was no doubt I was going to complete it. Because of the absolute nature of this Phase, where you have to start over at the beginning if you mess up, my level of focus and attention to detail was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I was triple checking everything I was doing as there was no way I was going to allow a small detail to be my downfall. Here are some tips that I learned on my Phase 3 journey that can help with yours.

Talk to a stranger every day

Because I was completing this Phase during a quarantine I had to be extra vigilant to make sure I completed this task. The second I woke up this task was on my mind, trying to figure out how to meet someone new. There are a few things that I did which contributed to my success at meeting new people.

The first was to Design My Interactions ahead of time. Because there was a stay at home order my options for who to talk to were very small. Because of this I wanted to be prepared for when I came across someone that I could talk to. The way I did this was by having a process and topics already in place before the conversation even started.

The way I knew if I accomplished this task was by:

1. Saying my name to a person (Hi, I’m Rob Cressy)
2. Finding out what their name is (…and what’s your name?)
3. Follow it up with a question (so I learned something about them)

On top of that, to lower their guard and make the conversation more approachable (since the temperature of the world was “stay at home, don’t talk to anyone or do anything”) I used a “straw man” to ask a question (aka a person I am bringing up in conversation that they don’t know). For example, one of the places I had success meeting new people was at the grocery store. More specifically, the guys working behind the meat counter. I’d roll up, introduce myself, ask their name, then say “My friend and I are having a debate and I want to get your take on it. Do you think the Bulls can make the playoffs this year?” Doing this allowed me to bring them into a conversation by asking their input. Because I said “my friend and I” now there is a third party involved, which makes the conversation more credible.

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Be a positive force for good

Another thing I did, on recommendation from my wife, was to ask people something positive that has happened for them during the quarantine. Because there was so much negativity going on in the world, this question became a beacon of light. It helped people focus on gratitude and what they are thankful for. Because the majority of my interactions where at places like the grocery store or Target, it was often with hourly workers. What I found is that many of them were so thankful to still be working and earning a paycheck. Not everyone was fortunate enough to keep their jobs, so the fact that they could really had a positive impact. Upon hearing stories like this over and over again, it ended up making me feel good because I could receive what they are saying and send back a smile and some praise to them.

When you use approaches like these there are an endless amount of topics you can bring to the table to get someone’s opinion on. There are also a ton of ways to spread positivity and make someone else feel better.

Random act of kindness

There are an endless amount of ways in which you can do a random act of kindness to make someone’s day better. The challenge became many of those got taken off the table for me with the stay at home order (ex. buying someone in line behind you at Starbucks a drink). There were fewer people on the streets and fewer businesses open. To be successful at this challenge I needed to be creative.

The first thing I did was find the few local business that were still open and see what I could do help them. This would allow me to meet someone new, plus do a random act of kindness for them. I quickly realized that one way that I could help is with my content creation skills and audience. What I would do is chat with the owner/employee of a business, let them know what I was doing (meeting new people and doing random acts of kindness) then I would take a picture of them to promote their business and post it on my Instagram feed.

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By far the biggest random act of kindness victory was when I decided to go even more digital and more personal. I thought about how I could make someone’s day better and that’s when it hit me. I could send video messages to people in my life letting them know something I love, recognize, or appreciate about them.

The best part of this is these videos would be unexpected for them, which allowed the gesture to have an even greater impact. Once again, with so much negativity going on in the world, receiving a random video message that sends you good vibes is like an immediately jolt of energy and happiness. As if that wasn’t good enough, the messages I received back from people were incredible. They were touching, joyful, and absolutely filled up my heart. Numerous times I heard from people about how my message made their day or how they had something really heavy happen in their life (ex. a death in the family) and this helped them out. Upon receiving that input I knew I had uncovered something that I will be doing for the rest of my life.

The last random act of kindness I did wasn’t sexy, it was picking up trash when I was doing my outdoor runs/walks. Once you bring this to your awareness it is impossible to walk around anywhere and not pick up some trash. It’s a simple way of making your community a better place.

Documenting your random acts of kindness in a journal

I saw meeting new people and doing random acts of kindness as a game I was playing. Because of this I had a light and uplifting energy towards it. Upon doing a random act of kindness I would document it with a photo or video and a written description about what it was. I would then put it in an Evernote file I created that housed all of my good deeds. I would label it by day, that way I could go back at any time and see the positive impact I had made.

Because there is no compromise in the Live Hard program, I triple checked that I documented my journey every day. Even when I knew I had done it, I checked again. Leave nothing to chance.

Phase 3 Challenges

Completing Phase 3 during a quarantine definitely brought a ton of challenges, many that I had never experienced before.

Where to workout?

One of the biggest areas where the Coronavirus had a negative impact on me was with my workouts. My primary method of working out indoors was lifting weight. If I was going to be working out for 45 minutes, I want to do it with intention and effort. That way I see results and get jacked. Because the city was in lockdown all of the gyms were closed. On top of that, all of the weights were sold out online.

With the outdoor workouts, one thing I love to do is play basketball with my friends. This option was removed because the City of Chicago removed the basketball hoops from the courts across the street from my house.

The way I overcame this was by focusing on my cardio. I was fortunate to have purchased a Peloton a few months before so I was able to get in high intensity workouts from home. This was an absolute lifesaver. At the same time, Peloton has an app with various strength training, body weight exercises, and yoga options. I ended up doing workouts in the entry way/foyer to my house, which was very inconvenient because it was small. I was about one foot away from my front door when I was doing these workouts. This was one of the hardest things for me and definitely an area in which I had to overcome my bitch voice.

For the outdoor workouts I did a bunch of running because I was training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Unfortunately the race got cancelled but that didn’t stop me from continuing to train. I committed to running a half marathon so I would do it anyways regardless of location.

5 minute cold showers

100% of the time the 5 minute cold shower was freezing. There was no way around it. I continued to do my same routine of playing music, singing and dancing during my shower. This allowed me to put my mind on something other than the cold water.

One blessing that came from the cold showers was the boost to my immune system. Cold water helps you stay healthier. When you combine this with twice a day workouts, eating clean, and drinking a gallon of water I walked around with a mindset that my health was on point. I wasn’t concerned about getting sick or catching something. I knew the things I was doing were serving me and my health in a way that very few other people were.

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Diet: where did all the food go?

Throughout the Live Hard program following the diet was the most challenging part for me. The reason is because it was always present with temptation. Even when I ate a clean lunch and dinner there was always something around the corner lurking. “Here’s a free desert or a piece of pizza.”

In Phase 3 one of the additional challenges, thanks to the pandemic, was scarcity of food. People were hoarding things at the grocery store so there became shortages on things that I would normally eat as part of my clean diet. This lead to a lack of variety in what I ate (at times).

Additional Power List tasks on the weekends

One of the most challenging parts of Phase 3 for me was the 3 additional tasks added to my Power List. I have been getting down with the 5 Power List tasks ever since listening to Andy Frisella’s podcast about it. It’s a great way to win the day. Even though I am consistent with it, on the weekends I wasn’t batting 100%. When it comes to the Live Hard program 100% is the only acceptable way to go. Because of this, I really had to make a point of finding ways to be intentional and focused about my Power List, and what tasks I could put on it that would move my business or personal life forward.

Ultimately the 8 Power List items ended up becoming one of the absolute best things (and something I still do to this day). My 30 days during Phase 3 were the most productive I have been in my entire life. The reason is because I starved my distractions and had laser focus.

Because sports weren’t on TV all of a sudden I had hours upon hours of free time. On top of that, social media was such a toxic space that I realized it no longer served me. That freed up even more of my attention. I quickly got to the point where I had very little concern for what else was going on in the world other than moving my business and life forward. This allowed me to build next level momentum.

Meeting people in bad weather

One thing that was a challenge is talking to a stranger during a quarantine when it is raining outside. It’s hard enough to get someone to talk to you in perfect conditions none the less in bad weather. Knowing that I had to see an actual human in order to accomplish this task I had to keep an eye on the weather. If it was going to rain I had to make sure to be out in front of it. At the same time, I had to overcome my bitch voice. If it was raining for multiple days in a row, my bitch voice would make noise because of how inconvenient it was.

The blessing that talking to strangers during a pandemic and in bad weather gave me is the being able to be comfortable meeting new people in any situation. There will be no harder time to network and work on this skill than during this time. I now consider myself an expert in the field.

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Social media backlash

Every day I was on the Live Hard program I posted a picture on Instagram documenting my journey. I also used my IG Stories to share real time moments as I was completing the tasks. I did this so I would always have a record of my transformation that I could look back on and be proud of. I also did it as a way of inspiring others to live their best lives. If I can do it so can you.

Throughout 75 Hard, Phase 1, and Phase 2 the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. All of that changed when the pandemic hit and people were told to stay at home. Emotions were heightened and the world was fearful and more sensitive. While I was aware of the current landscape of the world and what was going on, I also was focused on one thing. Completing the Live Hard program, a year long journey that I had given my all towards. Nothing was going to stop me from completing it, including a global pandemic.

When I would post pictures of the new people I met I often received negative backlash in my comments. STAY AT HOME they would say. The impression I got was that people thought I was being reckless and careless, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was very safe and aware. The difference is I was running on determination and positivity, not fear. I did not believe that the happenings of the world meant my life shut down. I was not going to allow the voices of the outside world to take me away from my ultimate goal.

Final days of Phase 3 and Live Hard mindset

When I got into single digit days remaining in Phase 3 and Live Hard my mindset was to finish strong. You don’t limp to the finish line of a mental toughness program, you come in like freaking Hercules. Because of this I was setting personal records everywhere.

I was training for my half marathon so I ran my longest distance (which was over eight miles). I set personal bests in Peloton output in two consecutive days. I continued to have the Mamba mentality from Kobe Bryant where I was constantly pushing. I wanted to be able to look back on this challenge and say that I gave everything I freaking had.

Because that’s what the Live Hard program is teaches you. It’s about earning your confidence and constantly getting better.

I also did it for Andy Frisella, because that’s what he would do.

When the rest of the world is saying, “Oh my God, this is so hard” you say “let’s layer on some more hard stuff. I’m gonna show you what I made of.”

I knew the last few days I was finishing as strong as I conceivably could.

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Phase 3 Results

Completing the Live Hard mental toughness program is one of the best accomplishments of my life. This program changed my life and I am so thankful.

The reason is because I had to pay my dues daily and earn my confidence. No compromise.

When you do this day after day it begins to change you. Rinse and repeat over the course of a year and you build a bulletproof mindset. You walk around with a different swagger because you have the experience to back it up.

While you are getting better every day you can never rest on your laurels. This brings a level of focus and sharpness. You are intentional about what you do.

As you can imagine, when combined with massive action you create growth – in all areas of your life.

It also put me in a position to succeed in the future. I am showing up a certain way and controlling what I can control. That’s incredibly valuable.

It was worth every early morning, freezing cold shower, and twice a day workout.

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Even though Live Hard is a mental toughness challenge, there is a physical component to it.

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The Day After You Finish Live Hard

Day 366, when I officially completed the Live Hard program, was one of the greatest days of my life. The reason is because I was so proud because I know how hard it was. I had paid my dues every single day, without fail. Every twice a day workout, every gallon of water, every five minute cold shower, every micro decision was all worth it. Everything the program said would happen did (and more). I can’t think of another time in my life where I put this much intention on doing something for one year straight.

Thank you to Andy Frisella for creating the Live Hard program and living by example. #DuesPaid

Live Hard Lessons Learned

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