It’s time to talk about my 72-hour water fast. I know Men’s Health recently did a piece where they explicitly cautioned against doing them, but I see these columns as an open forum. I'm not talking to you like I'm an expert – because I'm not. I'm searching for what works and what doesn’t, just like a lot of you are.
Last year I trained for about ten weeks to get ready for my Men's Health photo shoot. When I was doing that I had something to work towards. The question now is: what’s next? What’s my 2024 going to look like? I need to find something to train for, and the water fast was just a little short-term challenge to keep me going.
It all started as a conversation with my Dad. He saw the Dana White water-fast stuff and was like, ‘Do you think you could do that? You couldn't do that.’ I was like, I'll try it tomorrow, and that was it.
I actually spoke to Dana before I started. He said he was glad I told him and reminded me to have a protein shake after and look at how my body changes during the process.
But I really didn't do the fast for my weight. I did it for the mental challenge, and it's definitely opened my mind a little bit about the way I eat, which is good for me because I think my diet is still something I struggle with. I see it as me continuing my journey and learning what works for me and what doesn't work for me. It's been interesting.
Other people have found it interesting too. I always get a big response on the fitness stuff, but I've had more messages about this fast than I've had about anything else I've done. People asking, ‘Can you have this?’ ‘Can you have that?’ ‘I'm doing this.’ ‘How is it to train?’ ‘How do you feel at work?’
The main question that I got a lot was people asking how I'm feeling. The hardest part of the fast was probably zero to 12 hours. I started the fast at 7:30pm on a Saturday, and I was in the Caribbean at the time. Three hours later I got on an eight-hour flight. They were serving the food and one of my favourite things to do on a flight is eat. I could smell pasta and curry, and I was thinking I’m starving, but I managed to avoid it.
I kept getting up to go to the toilet and on BA they've got these baskets with snacks in, and they had a whole basket full of Lindor chocolates, which are one of my favourites. I thought to myself, fuck it, you're only three hours in, just try it again another day. Then it came into my mind that no one would know if you just had a couple of chocolates, but I thought no, you can't do that. I managed to abstain, and for the whole 72 hours, I just had water with zero-calorie electrolytes in.
Now that it’s done, I’m thinking about my next challenges for 2024. I really want to become more flexible and agile. I want to stretch more because at 44 I am getting a few little niggles. Part of me still wants to look at a Half Ironman too, but I’m coming round to the idea that the main challenge is to just keep training.
I look back at my cover pictures and they’re just the beginning. One of my mates called it the finest achievement of my life, but I'm not in the shape I always dreamed of being. I'm in a lot better shape than I was, but I'm still miles off.
When I walk into a room or a meeting with my suit on I want to feel like a million dollars, and right now, I'm half a million dollars, but we're going to get there.
What I’ve learned is you’ve got to stay with it. No excuses. Some guy was saying to me how he worked on a building site from nine until five and he would have to put his weights in his car to work out. I'm like, nine to five is almost a blessing for me. I know I don't lift heavy machinery at work, but fuck me, I knock my absolute bollocks out every day. I don't rest. I work across time zones. I travel. I go straight to meetings. Sometimes I don't sleep at all.
What I’m trying to say is everything is hard. Working on a building site in the cold is really hard. Driving a lorry up and down the country is really hard. Working in a hospital at all hours is really hard. But there’s no excuse. You can do it, and you cannot say, I don't have the time or I don't have the energy, because it's bullshit.
For me, fitness is a bit like the fast. So many people have medium and long-term goals, but they never get past the first hurdle. And actually, if you focus on the short-term goals those medium and long-term goals become so much more achievable because it's just literally day by day and hour by hour. That's how you overcome stuff. So in my fitness journey, I'm in the first 12 hours of a 72-hour fast.
Any diet protocol comes with its risks, we strongly recommend that you contact your GP or medical professional before embarking on significant changes to your nutrition. Prolonged water fasts like Hearn's should only be completed with medical supervision.
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