At 36, Glena Avila is just beginning to embark on her dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter. It's no easy venture.
A new documentary, "Glena," which aired on Showtime Thursday night, captured some of the extreme lengths such athletes go to. One segment showed Avila, a single mother, trying to shed one pound in 20 minutes to make the 116-pound weight class at a competition.
Overseen by her trainer, Avila boxes, runs, jump ropes and spits, all in an exhausting effort to slim down.
"I'm still so dizzy," she says to her trainer.
"It's almost over, in 20 minutes you're going to be drinking water," says an onlooker.
Making weight for competition weigh-ins is a problematic process that has found many professional boxers, fighters and wrestlers taking drastic measures. To shed water weight quickly, athletes have been known to wear garbage bags while exercising and alternate between a combination of hot baths and saunas to temporarily lose weight through sweat. Emptying bowels via laxatives or colonics is also a common practice.
Many of these practices are very dangerous.
"Unhealthy weight-cutting methods often start in the amateur ranks, where youthful boxers routinely binge and purge, a habit that can quickly become a full-blown eating disorder and carry over into their pro careers," writes ESPN's Nigel Collins.
"The improper use of diuretics and laxatives can also be extremely detrimental to metabolism and body chemistry, as are extended stints in the steam room. It's a dangerous game, and fighters who practice extreme weight-cutting techniques are literally flirting with death," Collins adds.
Watch the trailer for "Glena" below: