Bigger Smaller Bigger

by with John Berardi & Martin Rooney

What I Learned (Plus, A Rant)

My crazy weight manipulation experiment taught me a lot about myself.

It gave me an appreciation for self-experimentation. And it made me never want to cut weight again in my life. (Once is enough, thank you.)

Here’s some stuff I learned.

The body can withstand some wild stuff.

I ate as much as I could for 28 days straight. I fasted for a full 24 hours multiple times. I purposefully dehydrated myself and robbed my body of water. I lifted heavy weights and sprinted as fast as I could.

My body stood up to all of that, which is pretty incredible.

But it didn’t just lie down and take the punishment. It let me know what it was feeling. My body practiced damage control.

When I first increased my food, it was tough on my gag reflex, my intestines, and my poor unfortunate ass.

But eventually it acclimated. In fact, I started to get hungry between meals on my high carb days.

And when I decreased my water consumption, my energy levels dropped significantly and I didn’t want to do much more than lie on the couch. That was my body’s way of trying to conserve precious energy.

My body was trying to keep me alive.

My body — and for that matter, your body — is an uber-smart system.

It makes me want to take good care of it for the rest of my life.

So unless I absolutely have to, I won’t starve it of food and water for crazy amounts of time or gorge it with unreasonable amounts of food either. Sure, I’ll still fast occasionally. And there will be times where I want to gain muscle again, and I’ll bump up the calories.

But if my body is gonna take a beating like that and still take care of me, I need to show it some respect and keep it in tip-top shape.

Learning how to manipulate your body at will is a great skill to have.

Some guys talk about losing “that last 10 pounds” of fat – or gaining 10 pounds of muscle – their whole lives. And they never figure out how to do it. It’s a shame.

I learned how to gain muscle, strength, and power at breakneck speed, without steroids (although I bet they’d be easier). Some guys talk about building muscle for years and never gain a pound of quality weight. I gained 20 pounds in a few short weeks.

I also learned how to drop 20 pounds in no time flat. Sure, I don’t recommend dropping weight this way as it’s not healthy or sustainable. But if I needed to cut weight for any reason, I know I can do it. In fact, I remember JB telling me the story of how he helped a prominent TV personality drop 15 pounds in 3 days to get a job as an Olympic commentator. And I think that’s pretty cool.

I also learned how MMA fighters can gain muscle during short camps, cut water for weigh-in, and gain it all back so they’re fresh for their fight.

I had heard stories of this but never thought I could do it.

Now I know I can.

When you hit a wall, the easiest thing you can do is quit. It’s also the hardest thing to do.

I’m thinking of the Hurricane Sprints here. Those awful Tuesdays. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I wanted to give up after every sprint. In fact, one time I did. I stopped the treadmill and told myself I was through.

But as I powered down the treadmill, my pride got the better of me. The voice in my head came loud and clear.

This isn’t who you are. You don’t give up on shit.

So I started the treadmill back up and finished my sprints.

And even though I collapsed at the end, tired and breathless, I saw it through. I didn’t give up. And that made me feel good and powerful.

The ability to bounce back or stick to something when it gets tough is called resilience. And I sure as hell built a lot of it during this past month.

I think it’ll serve me well in other parts of my life and I’m glad I got the opportunity to test myself.

Having a coach is crucial to success.

I knew this from working with clients in our S2B Coaching Program, but this was the first time I got to see it from the other side, as a client.

JB and Martin were amazing.

They kept things super simple for me and took care of all the science and details. I simply showed up and put in the work.

And that’s what a good coach does. They hold you accountable. They’re around when you need them. They help push you to be better.

In fact, if there’s one thing I want to emphasize here it’s that no matter what you do, find yourself a coach or a mentor.

Professional athletes have coaches and trainers. Successful entrepreneurs have mentors. We all had teachers and professors growing up.

There’s definitely something to it.

I can honestly say I don’t think I would have been able to do this on my own. And really, what’s the fun in doing something by yourself anyway?

Surrounding yourself with good people makes life better.

Along with having a coach or a mentor, you have to find a good support system.

They make you laugh when you’re pissed off. They motivate you when you’re down and ready to quit.

My girlfriend Richelle was amazing through all of this. (She routinely helped me make my toast in the morning, and wouldn’t let me get up from my chair if I hadn’t finished it all.)

Even though my parents thought the experiment was stupid, they were still supportive. They still asked how everything was going and let me know they loved me.

My family, my friends, and even the people I talked with at grocery stores and coffee shops were all interested and encouraging.

It’s nice to have positive people in your world, people who are genuine, smart, and caring.

It makes a huge difference.

A Final Note From Nate

All right, so here we are. The wrap-up. The part where I talk about how amazing the whole experiment was and then leave you with a couple paragraphs of witty text. That’s a lot of pressure, actually.

I really don’t even know how to end this. So I guess I’ll go on a small rant instead.

Lots of guys start working out to look better. They want to impress girls or attract a mate or instill a little respect into the guys they come in contact with every day. Of course, those are all worthy goals. (I’m guilty of all of them.) And spending time in the gym is a good way to work on yourself.

But building a muscular, athletic body is only half of the puzzle.

The other half, as I see it, is working on building a remarkable life, too. A bigger life. The kind where you call the shots and do what you want. The kind that has meaning. The life you get excited to live every day.

The guys who base their entire identity around the gym often stunt their personal growth by obsessing about growing bigger muscles. They may have a good body or be able to bench press 300 pounds, but they miss out on everything else that’s not contained in the four walls of a fitness center.

That sucks. And it’s no way to spend a life.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: It’s admirable to get in the gym and work on your body. This experiment was my opportunity to train hard and push myself.

But as much work as you put into training, eating, and trying to look good, you need to put an equal amount of time into building a good life for yourself and becoming the best man you can be.

There are lots of dudes out there with six-packs and broad shoulders, lots of guys whose entire identities are wrapped up in their bodies and physical performance.

But without anything of substance underneath — without a strong value system, a will to improve, a desire to learn, empathy for others, and lots and lots of optimism and hunger to create an awesome life — their body is simply a shell.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be more than that.

So while I’ll continue to work out and eat healthy — it’s part of who I am, after all — I’m also gonna spend more time with the people I love, and more time creating fun things to share with other people. Like this book.

So, thanks for reading. I hope you picked up some useful stuff or at least got a good laugh or two.

But now I want you to go do something awesome, something fun and challenging and rewarding. I don’t know what that is, of course. Use your imagination and don’t hurt yourself.

But whatever you try, do me a favor: Take some notes and come share it with the rest of us. You’ve got a lot of guys here who want to live bigger, better lives too.

We’ll be waiting.

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