Mom Hospitalized After Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day for ’75 Hard’ Fitness Challenge

TikToker Michelle Fairburn was hospitalized for what her doctor believed was severe sodium deficiency after participating in the 75 Hard challenge, which calls for drinking a gallon of water per day


A woman opening a bottle of water

A TikToker was hospitalized after participating in a viral fitness challenge that calls for drinking a gallon of water per day.

Michelle Fairburn opened up on the social media platform about taking on the 75 Hard challenge, detailing how her health was impacted from drinking excessive water.

“I’m doing the 75 Hard, so I’m drinking an excessive amount of water. I don’t know what to do,” she told her 49K followers on Monday, speculating that she might have gotten “water poisoning” from the challenge. “I don’t want to go back to day 1. I cannot drink another gallon of water today.”

The 75 Hard challenge was created in 2019 by Andy Frisella, a podcaster and CEO of a supplement company, who calls it a “transformative mental toughness program.”

To complete the challenge, every day — for 75 consecutive days — participants must follow a strict diet of choice, complete two 45-minute workouts (one of which must be outdoors), drink one gallon of water, read 10 pages of a book, and take a progression picture.

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On day 12 of the challenge, Fairburn said she started to feel nauseous and weak, noting that she kept using the bathroom frequently the night before.

“I woke up in the morning, I had major diarrhea and I had this band of fire that was just getting increasingly bad in my abdomen and my lower back,” she explained, comparing the pain to being in labor. “And just general flu-like symptoms like nausea, my skin was just so sensitive to touch, headache, fever, and just feeling like crap. I couldn’t eat, I was too scared to drink any fluids and I had like two little nibbles of bread with vegan butter.”

“I knew something was wrong, I am really in tune with my body,” she continued. “I was really emotional. I was crying. I do have health anxiety so I get really emotional about these things.”

Fairburn said she initially didn’t think it was too serious so she visited her doctor instead of going to the emergency room. However, after a series of tests her doctor suspected she had severe sodium deficiency. Drinking too much water can dilute sodium levels, which can lead to complications like seizures, comas and death, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“I have severe sodium deficiency, which actually can be fatal,” she said. “So now I’m going to the hospital and they’re going to check everything and then apparently they can raise my sodium gradually. I’m still gonna do the 75 hard challenge, I’m not gonna give up, but he says I have to drink less than half a liter of water a day. I cannot believe this is actually happening.”

By the time she got to the hospital, Fairburn said the results of her blood work were inconclusive and she has since been gradually improving. She noted that the challenge was “not for the faint-hearted.”

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On the official website for the 75 Hard Challenge, a disclaimer urges people to consult with their physician or other healthcare professionals before participating in the program in order to determine if it is right for their needs.

Fairburn also stressed to her TikTok followers that she doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with any online fitness challenges, but warned others to “listen to your body” and not be influenced by others.

“These challenges are not for everyone. Don’t take it too seriously,” she said. “Pivot when you need to pivot. Stop when you need to stop. Obviously you’re not a failure…if you need to stop.”

“I am gonna continue with the 75 Hard challenge but I am gonna be sticking to my doctor’s recommendations and I will not be doing the water portion of the challenge,” Fairburn added.

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