It looked so easy.
Earlier this month, Mark Wahlberg posted on Instagram what he said was his “typical daily schedule.” It was unreal, but it was doable. He gets up at 2:30 a.m, he says. He prays. He takes a 90-minute shower. He plays golf for a half hour. He gets cryo chamber recovery. He has an item on his schedule titled “family time/meetings/work calls.” I could do this.
The press covered his schedule far and wide. “I thought I wanted to be a body Transformer, but after seeing what it took, that desire Departed,” Elle wrote. “Is the guy superhuman?” Men’s Health asked. “Like, is Mark Wahlberg just a large colicky baby?” Vanity Fair wondered. CNBC even covered his workout regimen.
I was intrigued, though. Mark Wahlberg is a famous Hollywood actor and, according to Elle, successful Instagram supplement salesman. Maybe I could taste some small portion of his success by following his schedule? Let’s find out.
7:30 p.m., the night before: Bed
Mark Wahlberg wakes up at 2:30 in the morning. In order to do that, I had to follow his schedule starting the night before. It is hard. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep at 7:30 p.m. in my life. I drink NyQuil. I conk out.
2:30 a.m.: Wake up
Whew! I’m up. My fiancée sleeps soundly next to me. I take care not to wake her up and begin my day. It is dark out. My friends on the West Coast are still awake. I am up, and ready to live life like Mark Wahlberg.
2:45 a.m.: Prayer
I spent 12 years in Catholic school. But it has been a long time since I prayed, let alone prayed for a full half hour—that’s like two-thirds of a mass!—so I figured I’d need some help: I found a website called Come, Pray the Rosary that allows visitors to pray along with a video of a priest leading his congregation. I picked the Glorious Mysteries, hoping it would make my day glorious as well. Much like I’d be getting my reps in workouts later in the day, I get my reps of Our Fathers and Hail Marys in that morning. A full rosary set takes about 20 minutes, so I say some general intercessions for the final 10 minutes. If you’re a friend of mine and something good happens to you soon, you can thank me for my prayers.
3:15 a.m.: Breakfast
I have some toast. I wanted to follow Wahlberg’s schedule, not his eating habits. Also, by 3:30 a.m. I am confused and tired and cursing myself for doing this stupid idea for a story when I knew other people were going to do it too. One hour in and already I hate living like Mark Wahlberg.
3:40 a.m.–5:15 a.m.: Workout
This is the only part of Wahlberg’s schedule that gives a full time frame. He works out for precisely 95 minutes every morning before the sun even rises. Despite being a fat guy, I run pretty regularly. I decided to start my workout with a nice long run. I picked my five-mile course and went at it.
Running in the dead of night/early morning is weird. It’s eerily quiet, except when I pass a park or other tree-lined area. Those areas buzz with the sound of crickets and other creatures in their brief time as rulers of the city. As I finish my run home, I feel good. I’m slow, I’m overly sweaty, I’m still a fat guy, but I am well on my way to being Mark Wahlberg.
I put my legs up on the wall for 10 minutes after my run. That’s a standard part of all of my runs; I don’t really think it does anything, but it feels good in the moment. I spend the rest of my workout doing yoga poses, push-ups and crunches. It might not be Mark Wahlberg–level fitness, but I feel good.
6:00 a.m.: Shower
Here is where things start to get tricky. The next item on the list after this is golf at 7:30. Does Mark Wahlberg take an hour-and-a-half shower? I decide to try to take as long of a shower as I can. I rinse, I lather, and—oh yes—I repeat. I wash with a bar of soap. I wash with Dr. Bronner’s. I even use that in-shower wash-off lotion I bought once and never use. I keep the shower temperature low to stretch the hot water and feel cleaner that I ever have when I decide I’m finally done.
I check the time: It’s only been 23 minutes. I proceed to dawdle around in the shower for as long as I feel like I can. At 43 minutes, when the hot water is gone and I’m shivering, I finally call it quits. Mark Wahlberg must have one of those on-demand hot water heaters. And, maybe extra body parts? I’m not entirely sure.
7:30 a.m.: Golf
Did you know that Philadelphia has municipal golf courses? Better than that: Did you know Philadelphia has municipal golf courses that open basically at dawn? I found that out while researching the important topic “where the hell can I play golf at seven-thirty in the morning?”
I decide on the golf course closest to my place, FDR Golf club in South Philadelphia. It has low Yelp reviews but an incredible logo, and I thought it was pretty great. Of course, the pro shop was closed because of roof problems, and the “driving range” I went to was basically just a large patch of grass. But you get to watch the planes fly low overhead and it was $27 for a large bucket of balls and a set of golf clubs. Golf is cheaper than I thought!
I have never golfed before in my life. I hadn’t even been to a driving range since high school. But I played enough Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 senior year of college to know how to swing the club. Or not, really, since my first few shots don’t even make it into the air. But after 20 minutes and most of my large bucket of balls, I start to make solid contact. My shot hooks a bit, but by the end I feel like I’m getting more consistent. Mark Wahlberg, here I come!
8:00 a.m.: Snack
In honor of Mark Wahlberg’s Boston upbringing, I go to Dunkin’ Donuts on the way back from the golf club. Outside, several people are arguing over whether the famous soccer player is named Pelé or Polo. I do not interject. I figure they’ll get it eventually. I enjoy my donut on the drive back home.
9:30 a.m.: Cryo chamber recovery
This was the one concession I made: I had to push this back a half hour, because there was no Cryo chamber place in Philadelphia that is open at 9:30 a.m. There used to be one, but it pivoted to a teeth-whitening place sometime over the summer. No matter: C.R.Y.O Philadelphia takes my appointment. The technician, a very nice woman named Ashley, asks me why I’m here. I sheepishly respond: “Uhh… I’m living like Mark Wahlberg for a day?”
She thinks it’s a good idea, at least. I ask her if it’s possible to spend an hour in a cryo chamber, as Mark Wahlberg seems to do. She says no. She says you can only spend a max of three minutes in one—and it’s actually unsafe to spend more time, especially on your first time. Maybe Wahlberg’s daily trips to the cryo chamber have made him impervious to cold?
To prep for the cryo chamber, I’m told to put on wool socks and a pair of Ugg boots. I also get gloves and a robe; once I’m in the chamber I disrobe. My body is cooled down to minus-220 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels neat. Since I’m the first customer of the day, it takes a little while to get the machine properly cooled; I spent a total of four minutes in the cryo chamber. I don’t know if this does anything, but when I leave my Ugg boots are covered in frost and my one pinky is a little numb. No matter.
There’s not much data on whole body cryo chamber recovery, but I feel refreshed afterward. Maybe it’s psychosomatic. Maybe I just like the cold. I don’t have much time to dwell, because there is a schedule to keep to.
10:30 a.m.: Snack
How much does Mark Wahlberg eat? His whole day is just random activities to break up the eating. I have some peanut butter crackers. I’m already kind of full. How is Wahlberg is better shape than me? Wait, I think I know the answer to that question.
11 a.m.: Family time/meetings/work calls
Ah, yes, that popular trio—especially at 11 a.m., when your family may not be around. And, indeed, just like Mark Wahlberg’s kids are likely at school at this time, my fiancée is out at 11 a.m. I play with my cat for a while. Then, when she’s tired of chasing a laser pointer around the living room (this is family time and a meeting!), I make some work calls. I also try to have a work meeting, but my Deadspin colleagues inform me they do not want to take a pointless meeting. I settle for screwing around in Slack chat for a bit.
1 p.m.: Lunch
What the hell, Mark Wahlberg? How does he eat this much? Is the wind scene in The Happening just Wahlberg’s flatulence from all this eating? I decide to keep it simple and have two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I don’t want to eat again today, and yet I know I’m going to have to do it 20–30 more times.
2 p.m.: Meetings/work calls
My fiancée is home by now, but I cannot talk to her: This is “meetings/work calls” time, not “family time/meetings/work calls.”
I basically spend the next hour working on stories, taking notes on what it is like to live like Mark Wahlberg, and preparing myself mentally for more food. I never thought it would be this hard to eat. My pinky is still numb.
3 p.m.: Pick up kids at school
One difference between Mark Wahlberg and me, besides everything about our normal daily schedules, is that I do not have children. Were this a normal day, I would pick up my fiancée from school; she’s a high school teacher. But schools were closed the day I lived like Wahlberg, and so I have to improvise: I pick up my cat. Like, literally. I lift her into the air and she makes some cute cat noises. I put her down and give her some treats. Hey, this was the easiest (and cutest) part of the schedule.
3:30 p.m.: Snack
You have got to be kidding me. Fortunately, I make this tolerable by eating one of my favorite foods: A Philadelphia soft pretzel. I think I understand why Wahlberg and I have different physiques now. I think feeling has returned to my left pinky, though I can’t be sure.
4 p.m.: Workout
A second workout! It had been a while since I did two workouts in one day, but I was ready for it. I stretched a bit. I did more yoga poses. And then I went to play basketball, which I decided counts. I shoot around by myself and play some pick-up games with random kids at the court. I’ve recently started playing basketball again, and I’m happy to report I am still an excellent shooter when there is no pressure and a terrible shooter when there is someone within three feet of me. But I even hit an open three (well, a two) in my pick-up game. Can Mark Wahlberg do that? I doubt it. I challenge Mark Wahlberg to a game of one-on-one.
5 p.m.: Shower
Despite the second workout, I still kind of feel clean from my earlier 43-minute shower. Still, I settled in for a full half hour of cleaning my body. By 5:30 p.m., my hair and body are possibly cleaner than they’ve ever been.
5:30 p.m.: Dinner/family time
Finally! I talk to my fiancée for the first time since “family time/meetings/work calls.” She had a nice day off, she says. We make a pizza together for dinner, literally combining the two activities on Wahlberg’s schedule. It was great. I plowed through my lack of hunger to eat pizza.
7:30 p.m.: Bed
I tried, my friends. I drink NyQuil. I take melatonin. I try to relax and meditate. But I cannot fall asleep at 7:30 p.m. again. Living like Mark Wahlberg for a day has broken me. I end up giving up, rising out of bed and doing more work. I end up working on things until 2:30 a.m.—right when the real Wahlberg is just getting up.
I shall never live like Mark Wahlberg again. Still, I did enjoy that early-morning run, and my family time/meetings/work calls.