Magic Pills & Powders
Back in the early 1990’s I was a member at a gym called Natural Body Health & Fitness. Small place but had everything I needed and was very close to where I was working at the time. The owners were a married couple, Anthony and Sally. Super nice people! Both were very knowledgeable about fitness and nutrition, at least to what was known back in those days. I would talk with Anthony often. One conversion we had stuck in my brain, and I think about it every now and then. That conversation consumed my mind earlier this year in late April.
Anthony and I were talking one day and got onto the topic of nutrition and supplementation. He knew I had a fairly good grasp of the nutrition aspect. What he was concerned about with me was the supplements I was taking. I would often ask him about the new products that were coming out, it seemed like every week.
It’s hard remembering everything I was ingesting back then but it was a lot. Things like amino acid capsules, liver pills, and really shitty tasting protein powders. Creatine was a very new product back then as was, and probably my favorite, Ephedrine.
Ephedrine is a “central nervous system stimulant used to treat breathing problems (as a bronchodilator), nasal congestion (as a decongestant), low blood pressure problems (orthostatic hypotension), or myasthenia gravis.” To me it was legal speed! And it was cheap! You could get a bottle of 30-40 pills for under $10 at a GNC.
At this time, I was in my early to mid-twenties. I would try about anything to get an advantage in the gym. I wanted to get big, strong and look good. We read muscle magazines back then, and of course, there were many ads for different supplements. It never entered my thoughts of what any of this stuff could do to me in the future. I felt ten foot tall and bullet proof! (that’s a saying we used back then!)
I still remember the look on Anthony’s face. Although he was only a couple years older than me, he almost had a fatherly look on him. Like I had no idea what I was doing (I didn’t). A look on his face that may have said “I’m concerned about you…and you’re an idiot”. Does that make sense?
Anthony said, “Are you planning on taking all this all your life? What happens when you stop? You know you are putting chemicals in your body, right?”
Again, I was in my twenties. His questions bounced off me like bullets off Superman. But somehow it stuck with me.
Eventually, Ephedrine was taken off the market. In 2001, football players Rashidi Wheeler, Korey Stringer, Devaughn Darling and Curt Jones collapsed and died. All allegedly from taking Ephedrine. At least a couple of these guys had taken several pills during pre-season practice in the summer heat. As a result, in 2004, it was taken off the market.
I was pissed and needed to find a replacement.
The first pre-workout drink was introduced in 1982. They didn’t become really popular until the 2000’s. Suspiciously after Ephedrine was taken off the market. Hmmm?
I’ll never forget the first time I tried a pre-workout. Early 2000’s. I’m not 100% certain but I think it was Jack3d. I was at a different gym now. They had free sample packets of this thing called “pre-workout” at the front desk. I gave it a try. Holy shit did I have a great workout! A great pump too! Way better than Ephedrine. I had a ton of energy and felt stronger than ever. I had incredible concentration yet felt like I was going out of my mind! It was intense. Unfortunately, after it wore off, I crashed. Also, I would chase that feeling and never truly get to it again, ending the chase this past April.
My morning routine for the last 12+ years has been this: Wake up early and drink 2 cups of coffee. Get ready for the gym and before leaving the house take my vitamins and supplements (sometimes up to 12 pills/capsules) and then my creatine. When I got to the gym, I would walk on the treadmill for 12-15 minutes and drink my pre-workout. I should mention, all of this is on an empty stomach. I don’t eat anything before going to the gym. I then train whichever body part while drinking a half gallon to one gallon of water. Go home and eat.
To make a long story short, early April I started having diarrhea for no apparent reason. This went on for 2 weeks, not every day, but it was very concerning. Week 3 of this ended in an ambulance trip to the hospital. That day not only with the diarrhea but vomiting too. Eventually I seized up. I thought I was having a heart attack. When the paramedics got to me, they said I was completely dehydrated.
After 9 hours in the hospital and many test later, they had no idea what happened to me. They did tell me they saw in one of the MRI’s I had, they estimated 2 gallons of fluid in my intestines! That fluid did come out in the hospital. Felt more like 5 gallons.
Several doctors’ appointments in the following weeks. Several more blood test, fecal test, an upper GI and a colonoscopy. Fun stuff! Still no idea why I had that episode.
I had lost 15 pounds during all this. This, for whatever reason, was a big concern to my doctors.
I also should point out that during this whole period, I only missed going to the gym a few times. Dedication or stupidity?
What I did do was stop everything I was taking. No more vitamins, no protein powders, and definitely no pre-workouts. Just food. It sucked at first. Felt very lethargic in the gym, but eventually it got better. I still have my 2 cups of joe in the morning! And it was only recently I started vitamins again; 1 B complex and 1 vitamin D. I will try taking C again soon. I also started taking creatine again about 2 weeks ago. I think I may cycle that one month on, one month off.
Pretty much back to normal now. Gained back my weight and my strength, which went into the gutter, is coming back as well.
So what started all this? The doctors don’t have an answer. The only idea I have is what I was putting in my body. Like Anthony said, it’s all chemicals. I think my body just said “Enough!” I believe the pre-workout was worst of everything. I will never use that again. When I take vitamins, it’s always after eating.
The moral of the story is simple: Watch what you put in your body. Before this, when I walked by the supplements on the shelves at the gym or went to a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, I looked at the products like they were candy. Now I see chemicals. And yes, some things will help. My motto has always been “everything in moderation”. A motto I wasn’t practicing. If some is good, more will be better, right? Not at all.
Those of us that are gym rats are always looking for that one pill or powder that will gives us that advantage; make us stronger or leaner or help attain whatever goal you have. But deep down we know that only good nutrition and hard work and dedication is the magic pill.
Love & Peace to all,
The Beast Life.
PS. Keep your eyes open for a big sale coming up on all in-stock merch! We're gonna close the year out like a BEAST!