Photo by Alexander Jawfox on Unsplash

Chems are not the answer, so stop asking, will you please?

I blog regularly about health and fitness, especially as it pertains to those of past a Certain Age. At 68, I’ve been a gym rat my entire adult life. It would be fair to say I’ve seen the underbelly of the business over the years. Once Arnold and his ilk got famous and mainstream, the use of steroids, which at that point wasn’t all that publicly known, went quietly crazy. And has gotten worse.

Like fellow movie buff John DeVore I’ve been watching old movies lately. Among them, the original Terminator and Dances with Wolves, which pitted the two biggest movie stars of the early 1990s against each other on my big screen side by side. In both movies we get a brief but significant view of both gentlemen naked. The difference couldn’t have been more stark. Costner’s bare butt scene shows a slim Everyman with the moderate muscle tone of a 35-year-old man who doesn’t lift. Arnold, of course, well.

Costner’s body reminds me of those shots in The Sting showing Paul Newman, THE heartthrob of his day, in a wife beater. Compared to today’s big money stars, he is a stick. A dweeb. The guy who, according to old Weider ads, gets sand kicked in his face at the beach.

Now you wanna look like this guy? Please.

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

I’ve seen three different articles by guys pointing out the problem with Hollywood’s dangerous addiction to strong men, the lies they have to tell to keep their contracts and the impact this has had on our kids. The latest was this from Medium writer Pete Ross:

Is He Natural?
The truth behind male celebrity body transformations (with examples)

First, I love it that my fellow fitness writers are calling bullshit on these guys and their lies. That’s a step in the right direction. Second, those of us who have been in this world for life can attest: nothing replaces consistency of effort. Nothing. Just…nothing.

I agree with a great deal of what Pete writes, but with one proviso. I still lift hard at 68 and I am still cut, and I have never ever EVER touched chemicals of any kind. The piece about age is still conventional wisdom, as anyone who lifts as long as I have can attest. To that I want to share what my buddy Jay Geary has to say about it when he is attacked for taking steroids:

… I’m 70 (at least for three more months) and I’m getting the “steroids” rap regularly. When I get the opportunity to defend myself: “No, assholes: it’s hard, dedicated, disciplined and smart work.” Every setback I’ve had (oh, let’s see, how about throat cancer, rotator cuff surgery, both hips replaced, a “mild” stroke) is the challenge to reframe and go harder. I’m Jay Geary, not Jay Cutler, and that’s just fine. I earned it.

64, nice veins, no drugs. Julia Hubbel

Jay and I are aging athletes. I have also had rotator cuff surgery, am facing another as well as surgery on my thumbs for arthritis. It comes with the territory of aging and years upon years of athletics and gym work. However, we were lifting long before Arnold was a thing, and before the women’s Ms. Olympia contest turned into a freak show for women (and that is MY opinion only).

My entire life after I started seriously lifting and gaining muscle mass, starting with my father, people have accused me of using steroids. Here’s the problem with that. I don’t have any of the issues below, and neither does Jay.

Anabolic steroid misuse might lead to serious, even permanent, health problems such as:

  • kidney problems or failure
  • liver damage and tumors
  • enlarged heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, even in young people
  • increased risk of blood clots

Several other effects are gender- and age-specific:

In men:

  • shrinking testicles
  • decreased sperm count
  • baldness
  • development of breasts
  • increased risk for prostate cancer

In women:

  • growth of facial hair or excess body hair
  • decreased breast size
  • male-pattern baldness
  • changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle
  • enlarged clitoris
  • deepened voice

In teens:

  • stunted growth (when high hormone levels from steroids signal to the body to stop bone growth too early)
  • stunted height (if teens use steroids before their growth spurt)

Some of these physical changes, such as shrinking sex organs in men, can add to mental side effects such as mood disorders.

So effectively two steroid users get together, her clit is bigger than his penis, when they’re together you can’t tell who’s the guy and who’s the girl, and they’re in and out of the hospital for major organ failure. Or jail, for beating each other and others up from ‘roid rage.

Boy, what a tradeoff for bragworthy biceps and a six pack.

Look, Skeezix, if having the biggest biceps on the block is worth all that to you, have at it. But kindly stop asking us badass geezers what kind of chems we’re on as if we’re fellow actors in The Bourne Legacy. The only dope we’re on is dopamine, the kind you get from workouts, the joy of being in shape, and the pleasure of knowing that Every. Single. Bit. of it is natural.

Now if you don’t bloody well mind, I have a workout to finish.