It’s a touchy subject.
Even for me, the word “steroid” conjures up images of brick shithouses, WWE Superstars and tarnished homerun records. There are also those posters in your high school’s hallway asserting ligament damage, increased unsightly body hair and also baldness (ironic) if you indulge in the S-word.
That said, I have allowed myself to think about steroids in the past.
It’s no secret I’ve spent a great portion of the past six or seven years lifting heavy things, setting them down, rinsing and repeating. I’ve done all this because I wanted to look lean, muscular, and healthy.
At the innocent age of 5, my favorite Disney movie was Hercules. In fact, it’s still my favorite Disney movie. Yes, Tarzan has the best soundtrack, but my opinion is unwavering.
Hercules, of course, was my favorite character. Childish as it may be, that character played a large role in the genesis of my gym time. I knew I couldn’t maintain that olive tan, but maybe my silhouette might bear resemblance.
Clearly, to this point I’ve failed. And don’t even get me started on Zeus.
Anyway. . .
The point is that I’ll likely never reach the level of physicality I thought possible or that I thought I wanted, at least not naturally. So, that’s where the S-word crept into my mind.
I remember reading a study that put things into perspective. Here's a summary.
A cohort of young, moderately built men was recruited, and they were separated into two groups. One group performed a pretty rigorous weightlifting routine and ate lots of protein while the other did no such thing.
Instead, the other group was given a low dose of exogenous testosterone (steroids) and I suppose were told to spend an hour watching The Office instead of lifting.
As it turned out, the group given the drugs got bigger, stronger, and leaner than did the weightlifting group. Though this is just one study (buyer beware), it was a punch to the gut.
I work so hard; having spent thousands of hours lifting, learning, and setting myself up for success that it hurts to be aware there’s a mountaintop I’ll never summit.
Then I look at pictures of myself at 20 years old, and I’m reminded how much progress my body has shown.
I think about my values at 19 and 20, and I’m reminded of the level of growth I’ve experienced as a human being.
The mountaintop is not finite or concrete but a moving target. It’s a game that doesn’t crown a winner but instead rewards those who continue to play. It rewards those not only with physical benefits but also with more fulfilling work, relationships and ambitions.
I harbor no ill will or moral predispositions toward those who use steroids. But personally, I understand that regardless of how fast my car is moving, the destination will never be reached because in truth there is no destination at all. Instead, it’s about making my drive as valuable as possible.
I work so hard; having spent thousands of hours lifting, learning, and setting myself up for success, and that's pretty cool.
Thanks for reading.