I know I know…no one can possibly stay in top shape without drugs. Blah blah blah. I’ve heard it a million times … and then some.
Obviously, I’ve heard a lot of bullshit in my life.
With this as background noise, I train at a health club filled with educated and successful older men and women who are in complete denial about anything involving aging.
Their motto is “If I can afford to avoid it, I’m all in.”
What they’re referring to is pharmaceutical grade testosterone, dispensed by a circle of multimillionaire physicians in Houston who know their clientele better than they know themselves, which is not saying much, but whatever. Life’s a food chain and somebody always loses even when they think they’re winning.
These physicians know that vanity is what drives this train, and by pandering to this affliction they acquire “lifers” who are patients until the day they die, which is usually sooner than later.
Death notwithstanding, it’s still a good business decision.
REASONS TO USE
The most common reasons people take these drugs are to acquire [and/or maintain] lean mass, build strength and acquire stamina – without having to beat the living crap out of themselves in the gym. If these are your goals, and side-effects are irrelevant given the fact that you’re only in it for the here and now, drugs are the way to go.
But what happens when a middle-aged man opts out of testosterone supplementation?
Does he fall apart?
Does his sex life automatically fail?
Does depression stomp him to oblivion?
Actually, none of the above.
Note: Some men do suffer from a medical condition known as hypogonadism, which requires treatment, including testosterone supplementation. Conditions known to cause hypogonadism are obesity, diabetes [type 2], liver or kidney disease, hormonal disorders or infections. In such patients, testosterone therapy is recommended. For everyone else, it’s recommended when they have the ability to pay for it.
If you want to stay fit, lean and strong without drugs, you will have to do the following without fail, which includes adjusting your expectations.
Have your blood drawn to determine your testosterone levels [Note: You may have to have the test run a couple of times to get a solid baseline].
After the results are in, your physician [if he’s reputable] will tell you whether or not you fall into the “normal” range. If so, he will NOT prescribe testosterone.
This particular step is bypassed altogether by less than scrupulous physicians who simply ask you how you feel.
If you say something along the lines of “I’ve been feeling a bit lethargic lately, or “My sex drive isn’t what it was at 17,” you get a scrip and designer syringe pouch.
Hire a personal trainer.
If you’re not a veteran gym rat, you’ll need help getting started. Even if you’ve spent the better part of your life under the iron, you’ll need someone to keep an eye on your form and to motivate you when you get down on yourself for not performing the way you did 30 years ago.
This is what you pay the big bucks for and why it’s worth it no matter how much it is.
Then tell your trainer exactly what your goals are so that he or she can tell you whether or not you’re out of your mind.
This is a crucial first step in any successful relationship as any psychiatrist will corroborate.
My regimen is 5 days on, two off.
Monday-Wednesday-Friday: Strength training weights and cross fit style movements.
I train – with my trainer – for an hour. Then I do stretching, rolling and abs on my own for another 30 minutes.
Tuesday-Thursday: Mixed cardio, stretching, and foam rolling for an hour, total.
So we’re talking about 6 1/2 to 7 hours a week of training. No big deal. Really.
Eating healthy is a pain in the ass, but the way it makes you look and feel more than make up for what it’s become: Fuel and nothing more. You can allow yourself a few indulgences here and there, but understand that whatever you take in you have to kick out.
Rest and Recovery
As most of us know too well, days off are usually depressing. The reason for this is simple: We don’t feel the highs.
In the absence of endorphin, our bodies feel sluggish.
Some describe it as blood like molasses.
This is normal, but over time you will be able to conquer your withdrawal symptoms, though I’ve yet to do it.
Understand that addiction is what it is for a reason.
This is one of the most difficult hurdles for anyone in the fitness game because it’s so nebulous.
In layman’s terms, balance means having a life outside of the gym.
It may involve spending time with family and friends, going to a museum, taking in a sporting event –– anything that doesn’t involve the gym or working out, including discussions about the gym or working out.
Note: Workout addicts find themselves unable to discuss anything that doesn’t involve working out because it’s their only frame of reference, and because discussing it while not actually doing it is better than nothing at all.
You will never look the way you did at 25, drugs or no drugs. Aging is a natural part of life. While many people think that we should all age backwards, I’ve yet to see anyone accomplish this.
The best we can do is find peace through the combination of acceptance and challenge.
As a Baby Boomer, I have to get real about where I am in life no matter how far outside the two standard deviations I may be.
I am still mortal, and no drugs are going to change it.
I could be leaner, veins spread out like a squid across my fat-depleted arms, abs and chest.
Some have described the look as something out of a Marvel Comic, which is where culture [and reality, in general] is headed within a certain demographic.
Some have postulated that Hollywood actors who appear to put on massive amounts of muscle for their movies in a very short amount of time are able to accomplish this through extreme diet and lighting. But i can absolutely, positively assure you that for anyone over the age of 50, putting on that much lean mass while losing weight is impossible without help from your local pharmacy.