I woke up on Sunday 16th of July at 82.5kg. That’s the heaviest I have ever been, I’m usually 79-80g. I know: I’m much smaller in real life than people expect.
I don’t really give a crap about my weight. The only thing that interests me about my bodyweight is its implications for my relative strength and power. I’d be happy to lose or gain weight only if I was confident that it would make me more powerful and athletic overall, rather than just stronger in absolute terms. I’d rather have a 225kg deadlift at 75kg than a 280kg deadlift at 100kg, for example.
Aside from that, I generally assess my physical situation by how well I can move, how good and healthy I feel, and how I look. If all those things are on point, bodyweight be damned. On this particular Sunday morning, however, my weight was an issue. It was less than seven days until England’s Strongest Man Under 80kg Novice competition and I needed to hit the weight requirements if I wanted to compete.
2.5kg isn’t a huge amount of weight to lose for a contest, but this was my first competition and I really wanted to be under the weight limit as soon as possible, for the good of my mental health. It would be one less thing to think about on the day.
So this is how I went about cutting weight. It almost certainly isn’t the right process, but it’s what I did. I’ve broken it down into ‘phases’ to make it sound planned and deliberate, rather than the total clusterfuck that it actually was.
Phase One: I cut all carbs from my diet for three days. I did this for two reasons:
1) to discover my carb-depleted bodyweight and establish how much of my bodyweight was necessary as fuel for the day
2) to enter a state of ketosis and thereby burn off some of unnecessary body fat reserves.
During those three days I instructed on a screen combat training course for the British Action Academy, which involved long periods of sustained low-intensity exercise. That dropped me down to 79.8kg by Wednesday. I’m not saying any of that was a good idea, but I did it anyway.
Phase Two: on Thursday I realised that I really shouldn’t be going into the contest carb-depleted, so I reloaded on energy for the next two days (using a combination of solid and liquid meals to keep me light) and drank a LOT of water and coffee. I attempted to avoid all salt on Friday to start the process of gradually dehydrating myself, but I accidentally ate a fistful of beef jerky and a Haggis burger, so utterly screwed that up.
Phase Three: on Saturday I spent 7 hours walking around the Scottish hills drinking nothing except mead and whiskey to top up my ambient levels of glory and remain slightly dehydrated. Keen to totally avoid salt, I ate nothing but sunflower seeds and some scrambled eggs until the evening, when I devoured a beef salad that was – bafflingly – smothered in sea salt. Come the evening I drank a fair number of espressos and ate six pots of Prett’s fruit and oat pots, in a desperate attempt to carb load without taking on any salt or anything too solid.
Phase Four: I consumed nothing at all after 20:00 on Saturday until I weighed in at 09:30 the next morning at a lean and incredibly mean 77.2kg. Thereupon I quaffed a ton of water and ate loads of cakes. Job done.
With hindsight, I could have probably just eaten and drunk normally all week, then cut down on water and solid food the day before. But hey, it was a learning experience and now I know what it feels like to ‘lose’ 5.5kg in 6 days. It feels bad.
Here is me and Simon rambling in the hills the day before the event. It was a damn good way to sweat out some water weight, if a terrible idea for my legs.