I love the Olympics. It doesn’t matter if it is the Winter or Summer games, it all has to do with competition and the sacrifices individuals and family members make in order for the athletes to participate on this world stage.
As I started watching the first events, Snow Boarding and team Figure Skating (what the heck is up with Team?) the difference between the Winter and Summer games hit me. No, it’s not that one has snow and the other doesn’t!
The difference between the two is that in the Winter games there isn’t one event where the participants are weighed in, not one! In the Summer games there are all kinds of sports that have weight classes; wrestling, weightlifting, boxing and martial arts.
This brought back some fond and funny memories of my Olympic weightlifting days when trying to make weight for competition.
For starters, there is a science to this madness, especially in strength sports. You just can’t go on a crash diet or starvation to make weight. It was a fine balance between losing weight and maintaining strength. So it had to be done in a gradual and methodical way.
I was taught that you wanted to weigh no more than 5% of your target weight class two weeks out before a contest. So for instance, if I was competing in the 198 pound class, I had to be no more than 9.5 pounds above that or 207-208 pounds.
You didn’t do cardio because that would interfere with your strength so you basically started eating a cleaner diet
On the night before the contest, you always weighed yourself on the scale that was used for the competition so you would have an exact reference point of where you were at.
Now you DID NOT want to be in at the desired bodyweight the night before, this meant you lost the weight too fast. It was actually ok to be 3 maybe 4 pounds over the day before. This meant you could have a good meal that night then start shedding water the next day. One quick way was to take a diuretic the morning of. That was always good for a couple of pounds of weight loss.
Where we would get in trouble is when we were still 5-6 pounds away from desired weight the night before. This is what brought back memories!
One of those was when I was a teenager. There were three of us competing in the Teenage Nationals that year. It was somewhere in Kansas City or St. Louis, I forget. All three of us still needed a few pounds to shed that morning before weigh-in. So we did something that was very popular back then, sweat and spit off your weight.
So we got into baggy sweat pants, long sleeved sweat shirt with a coat over that. Got a couple of packs of gum, then we crammed ourselves into the tub shower and closed the door. Placing towels underneath the door so no air could escape, we turned the tub faucet on full blast in the hottest position.
It quickly became a steam room where we could not see each other. There we were, heavily clothed sitting on the tub, holding a cup and chewing gum and spitting into the cup every chance we got. Not a pretty picture.
What we didn’t know was that the maid had entered the room to clean it up since no one answered the door when she knocked. The maid heard the water running in the tub. Whether she knocked or asked if anyone was in there, we do not know because we never heard anything. But when she entered the bathroom, a wall of hot steam came rushing out and almost knocked her on the floor.
A split second later, three teenagers came spilling out of the steam, in full sweat gear and holding cups. She let out a scream as if she was being attacked by vampires! She went running out of the room, never to be seen again!
Now shedding weight was one way to make the bodyweight class you wanted to compete in. But there was also the opposite, gaining weight to avoid competing in a weight class so you move up to the one above it!
The reason for that could be that the competition in the next higher weight class was weaker and you stood a better chance competing in that one than the one you originally intended. Or that that weight class you were entered was extremely tough and you would not even place so you moved up one. Either way, you never really knew until the night before where you saw who was entered in the contest.
So this brings me to another funny weigh-in story that happened to a friend of mine. We were now grown-ups and we were competing in a big state meet. I was competing in the 198 pound class and he was in the 220 class. He was right at or below 220 so he was going to make weight easy.
When we got to the competition site he saw that there were two weightlifters competing that were nationally ranked in his weight class. The best he could do was place 3rd. However in the class above that there was nobody entered that could beat him. So he decided to move up to the 242 pound class. Now that doesn’t mean you have to weigh 242, it just means you have to weigh more than 220.
I have no idea why he thought this would work and even stranger, why no one in his inner circles didn’t advise him against it, but he decided the best way to get above 220 was to eat and drink something heavy, really heavy. So he chose egg nog and bananas!
He bought a gallon of egg nog and a bunch of bananas the night before. After a big dinner he started drinking that stuff while downing banana’s. As if that wasn’t enough he continued the feast that morning since weigh-in was not until noon.
About an hour after finishing off his feast, the trouble began! His stomach was starting to revolt. In fact his whole body was revolting! Not to gross out everyone but he spent the rest of the morning visiting the throne as he was giving back everything he had eaten in the past 24 hours from both directions!
At weigh-in he actually had LOST five pounds. So now he was a very weak and sick 220 pound class lifter! Needless to say he did not fare well against his competition!
Yes, it’s funny how the Winter Olympics can make your mind wander and bring back memories of how not to be….Fit Forlife!