My intestines came out of my stomach, says the world’s biggest bodybuilder

WITH his bulging biceps and rock-hard abs, bodybuilding champion PhilHeath has a frame that only the Terminator can match.

Weighing over 20lbs of pure muscle at his peak, the 44-year-old has won Mr Olympia, the world’s biggest bodybuilding competition, seven times, equaling Arnold Schwarzenegger’s incredible record.


Phil Heath has won seven Mr Olympia titlesCredit: Alamy
His record is equal to that of Arnold Schwarzenegger


His record is equal to that of Arnold SchwarzeneggerCredit: Instagram
Wife Shurie cooked him fresh meals every two hours, seven times a day, during the competition season


Wife Shurie cooked him fresh meals every two hours, seven times a day, during the competition seasonCredit: Instagram

But this success has come at a price and once almost cost Phil his life when his intestines ‘exploded’ on the operating table during surgery for what he initially thought was a hernia.

Now, the American has opened up about his mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting life for a new documentary, which explores the dangerous reality of extreme eating and dieting for months on end.

In the Breaking Olympia documentary, available to stream from today, the champion reveals how he and his competitors would spend around SEVEN hours a day eating in the four months leading up to Mr Olympia.

Phil explains: When I train, it’s do or die. You have to have tunnel vision, stay focused, stay in the pocket.

He adds: I’ve struggled psychologically, having an emotional attachment to food and understanding that it’s different now.

I’m eating to live, I’m not living to eat and go compete, and that’s definitely a very different stress.”

With famous friends like Dwayne Johnson, Arnie and most recently Piers Morgan, Phil has become accustomed to living the high life of a champion. However, that wasn’t always the plan.

Growing up in Seattle, he dreamed of becoming a basketball star, but after struggling to get his degree, he switched to bodybuilding in 2002 and never looked back.

Winning every Mr Olympia competition from 2011 to 2017, her secret weapon was not a tortuous training regime, which usually involved working out five or six days a week, but a very patient woman.

Phil’s partner Shurie explains in the documentary how she cooked him fresh meals every two hours, every day during competition time, as nothing was ever reheated.

I’m a real-life Goliath ‘Neckzilla’ with the biggest neck in bodybuilding
Phil dreamed of being a basketball star


Phil dreamed of being a basketball starCredit: Instagram
He opens up his life for a new documentary


He opens up his life for a new documentaryCredit: Rex
Piers Morgan and Phil fight on Talk TV


Piers Morgan and Phil fight on Talk TVCredit: Instagram

Hell sit there for hours and just chew,” he explains. I’m patting myself on the shoulder; It’s 10 p.m., the gym is finally closed, let’s train.

Hell pushes himself to the limit until he limps out of the gym exhausted.

It’s 35 minutes to get home, then have another meal and digest, so our day doesn’t end until 3am.

Then it’s the routine of doing it day after day without any distractions.

Those late nights turn into early mornings, and that goes on for months.

‘Intestines exploded’

Behind the macho facade of bodybuilding, Phil was struggling deeply with his mental health.

Mourning the death of her father, who died weeks before lifting her third Mr Olympia title in 2014, she was also battling body image issues and the shock of training injuries gone dangerously wrong.

In 2017, when he won his last title, Phil was suffering from a hernia which he trained for.

When he went in for surgery a few days after his win, he found out it was actually an intestinal strangulation, which can cut off your blood supply and kill you if they don’t operate on it quickly enough.

Speaking shortly after the operation, Phil explained: When the surgeon cut me open, my intestines exploded. It was a nightmare.

Phil’s daily diet for Mr. Olympia

After waking up Drink with vitamins

1. 230 g chicken breasts, 1.5 cup egg whites, vitamin drink

2. 340 g beef, 225 g sweet potato

3. 340 g of tilapia (fish), steamed asparagus and 1.5 cups of white rice

4. 340 g chicken breast, 225 g roasted potatoes, 2 servings of vitamin drinks

5. 340 g of tilapia, steamed broccoli and 1 cup of white rice

6. After training drink 2xprotein, vitamin drinks

7. 340 g beef with steamed spinach

8. 2 cups egg whites, 2 whole eggs and steamed spinach

Before sleeping Vitamin drink

To get through the painful surgery and recovery, she says she turned to an unlikely past time: journaling.

What drove me was more about how the ending would be, he tells The Sun.

There would come a point in time when things would get better, so when something was going wrong, I would tell myself to stop thinking about the problem and work harder to create a solution.

I would literally be talking to myself, asking myself, how would it feel to go through this? Oh, I feel cheerful. And then I started writing down how I would feel and the steps I was going to take to get to that feeling.

You just have to be positive and work at it.

Phil has struggled with his image since retiring from bodybuilding


Phil has struggled with his image since retiring from bodybuildingCredit: Instagram
At his peak, he weighed more than 20 pounds of pure muscle


At his peak, he weighed more than 20 pounds of pure muscleCredit: Alamy

Body battles

With his weight constantly fluctuating between competition seasons, Phil also struggled with body dysmorphia, a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.

After retiring in 2020, his demons intensified as he lost around 2.5 compared to his usual “off-season” weight.

Normally, in the off-season, he would be close to 280 pounds (20st), he says. And right now I’m 245 pounds (17.5) and psychologically dealing with body dysmorphia has been a challenge.

Of course, you’re always known to be the biggest guy, the most muscular guy around, and now, in some cases, when I’m at a bodybuilding expo, that’s not the case.

But I have to remind myself that I’m not in competition mode, so that’s how this part of life will be.

Sometimes I sit back and realize Man, you’ve done amazing things.” I’m tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Phil Heath

Unsurprisingly, considering how strict his eating habits have been for so many years, Philhas struggled to maintain his physique, even though he wasn’t working out to the same extent as before.

He says: If I decide to eat five times a day, my body will say, “Oh, it’s preparing for another competition, and my body will start to lean and the muscles will start to get bigger, so that I’ve been fighting.” this is because i am trying to stay within a certain weight range.

So there are days when I won’t eat as much and that can be frustrating as well.

Living the dream

Despite his ongoing battle with body dysmorphia, Philsays feels much happier now, looking back on his career, especially considering that his original dreams of being an NBA basketball player were dashed due to a injury at university.

He says: When you come full circle and realize you got into this sport because you didn’t have the career you wanted in basketball, and you ended up becoming one of the greatest of all time, I’m tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger!”

Sometimes I sit back and realize, Man, you did amazing things, not only on the Olympia stage, but through the events you’ve appeared in, the shows, and even having Breaking Olympia.

I have a lot of gratitude. Why wouldn’t he be smiling?

Body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a serious condition, and the NHS warns: BDD can seriously affect your daily life, including your work, social life and relationships.

BDD can also lead to depression, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.

Some of the telltale signs are detailed such as:

  • Worry a lot about a specific area of ​​the body (especially the face)
  • Spending a lot of time comparing your looks to other people’s
  • Looking in mirrors a lot or avoiding mirrors altogether
  • Going to great lengths to hide flaws, for example, spending a lot of time doing hair, makeup, or choosing clothes.
  • Gather the skin to make it “smooth”

If you think you have BDD, you should see your GP.

There are a variety of treatments available for BDD, some of which you can try at home.

Shurie is all smiles, too, with the couple finally tying the knot in November 2022 after seven and a half years of engagement, opting for a shotgun wedding at her uncles’ church in Texas.

Phil says: We were engaged for quite some time and as a man I felt I had to make money to make sure she could have everything she wanted.

But we didn’t want to wait any longer, and it was Covid that taught us to live life in the moment, and not try to plan too far ahead like oh, it has to be perfect.

We woke up one day and said, Why don’t we get in the car, drive our family to Texas, his uncle is a pastor who leads a church, we’ll get married there?

And Phil thinks it’s Shurie who’s keeping him happy these days.

He says, I just wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be the man smiling so hard if it wasn’t for my wife.

He’d be a champion, but he’d probably still have demons and bitterness and still wear a mask that can never be taken off.

I am going through this. This is the best side. This is the side I know, the world always needed. And I am very grateful that my wife has supported me and has supported me and continues to do so and I will do the same unconditionally.

Breaking Olympia: ThePhilHeathStory is now available on digital platforms including Amazon and Sky Store

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