Bigger Smaller Bigger

by with John Berardi & Martin Rooney

Sweating My Life Away, Drop by Drop


I was so naive. So stupid.

I really thought this was going to be easy. I thought the hard part was gaining all the weight.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Aside from the immersion bath, they were all fine.

But now I’m in holy-fuck-I’m-gonna-die mode.

I just spent 30 continuous minutes in a dry sauna, sweating out my precious water — 3 pounds in total — watching it run down my skin and knowing I wasn’t going to be able to replenish any of it when I got out.

And the water fountain outside of the sauna — oh my god, it was better than sex. I let the cold water hit my lips and cheeks, but I couldn’t drink any of it. Not a drop. I had no idea you could get blue balls from a water fountain.

I’m down to one liter of water for the day — that’s 4 measly cups of liquid — and I’m officially freaking out.

Well, not quite. Perhaps if I had more energy I’d freak out.

Instead, I’m like a zombie, ambling around the house. I can’t read or do any actual work — I’m way too tired for that shit — so I just sit on the couch in a hooded sweatshirt and watch TV till Richelle comes home.

I hate everything.

Hey! I’m home! she says when she walks in the front door at 5:30 PM.

I don’t reply.

She comes into the living room and sees me packed into the corner of the couch.

How you doing?

I look at her but don’t say anything.

That bad, huh?

I shrug my shoulders.

I’m worried about you. But it’s none of my business. I’ll just be glad when this is all over and you’re back to normal.

I shrug my shoulders again and hold out my hand for her to come join me on the couch.

My pathetic excuse for a meal.

Later, I watch her make dinner for herself while I eat a ridiculously small amount of ground beef and a cabbage salad.

I maybe say 50 words the entire evening.

My official weigh-in is tomorrow at 5:00 PM and I need to be 170 lb or below. Right now — at 8:00 PM — I weigh 175.2 pounds.

Fuck my life.

Other highlights from Day 32

  • Sending a text to Martin this morning that said 7 pounds to go and him replying, That’s just two sauna sessions and some balls away, son.

Knowledge Bomb!

Don’t Worry, This Is Normal

JB always does this thing. Whenever someone’s freaking out – about work, about training, about life – he asks them a few questions about their experience, pauses, then says Don’t worry, this is completely normal. He then goes on to give some advice on how to cope.

So, when I tell him about my suffering, JB tells me this is how I’m supposed to feel. Actually, he tells me, it’s going to get a little worse before it gets better.

I remember flying to Las Vegas for a bodybuilding contest, he says. Dehydrated for the show, I was stumbling around, dragging my carry-on luggage over people’s toes and knocking over small children. I remember not knowing where I was and not feeling strong enough to pull my wheeled luggage through the airport. I even tried to get on the wrong plane.

Dehydration is a bitch.

When we lose so much body water, we also lose electrolytes like sodium and potassium. These are essential for cell communication and function. That’s one reason our brains, nervous systems, and muscles stop working right when we cut weight. Just getting up off the couch feels like a max rep squat.

But there’s also the water part. When body water drops, so does our blood volume. Our blood is over 90% water. With less blood volume, our hearts have to work hard for normal circulation and to pump oxygen to where it’s needed. Forget endurance; walking to the toilet feels like a half marathon.

Really, though, dehydration is no joke.

Dehydrate yourself by 1% and you experience temporary strain on your heart and a short-term drop in aerobic endurance.

Dehydrate yourself by 5% and you experience reduced muscle endurance, strength, and motor skills. This is also when heat cramps, heat exhaustion, fatigue, and reduced mental capacity kick in.

Dehydrate yourself by 10% of body weight you experience physical exhaustion, heatstroke, and hallucinations.

And, according to the textbooks, if you go any much further than this, and the dehydration is prolonged, you risk slipping into a coma and death.

If I make weight this week, I’ll have dehydrated myself by 10.5%. A little nervous would be an understatement.

I’m just happy to have JB and Martin in my corner. And, if it gets real bad, a big glass of water is just 10 steps away.

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