Sports and competition have always been a part of my life as I have always enjoyed the challenge of competing. I have competed as a collegiate scholarship athlete in both basketball and track & field. If you have spent any time within competitive athletics or even just recreational weight lifting or fitness, you know that taking supplements to improve performance is a common thing. Some take supplements to try and get an extra edge in competitive sports and others simply take it to try and obtain a certain physique. I want to offer 3 reasons to be cautious about taking performance enhancing supplements/drugs based off of my own personal experience.
- The first reason is the mental aspect. I’m a firm believer that taking supplements to get stronger makes you mentally weaker. There is no way around it, once you start taking supplements regularly before workouts and/or after workouts to help recover more quickly, you develop a dependence on the supplements. Your confidence becomes more in the effectiveness of the supplements you’re taking than in your own ability to work hard and smart, to achieve the results you want. That’s why when people start down this road it’s hard for them to stop, as they don’t believe they can achieve what they want to without them. Never underestimate the mental aspect of athletics, competition, and life.
- The second reason is the side effects. What I took when experimenting with supplements would be considered very tame. Probably the most potent think I took personally was a concentrated form of creatine. Other than that I took two different forms of protein powders (whey and casein). But I would lift and work out at least 5 days a week and would take each of these each day. The creatine makes your sweat stickier and nasty along with a more potent body odor. And just from taking those three things 5 days a week I developed a weak heart, which ignited other health problems as well. Once I quit taking the supplements my heart problems went away. Too much of any thing can be bad and at the very least you need to be cautious about the amount you take and be aware that there are side effects even to the more tame supplemental options.
- The third thing to consider; is it really necessary? For one, it’s an additional expense you’re taking on. Usually this turns into a long term venture as most don’t just take supplements for a month or two, so you have to ask yourself if this is really important enough to spend your hard earned money on. Additionally, is trying to obtain a certain physique or level of performance really worth obsessing over? In my personal experience, even when I was getting stronger while taking supplements, it was never enough, or I could never see gains in myself enough to make me happy, so it was just an endless pursuit that was never satisfying.
I will admit that supplements can improve strength, performance, and your ability to recover faster, but that’s not the whole story. I am much more content not using performance enhancing supplements, as what started out as an experiment for me turned into an obsession. I still enjoy working out and lifting weights, but it no longer controls my life. You can still gain strength and increase your fitness and health just by smart exercising and a good diet. And there are so many things that are more important than having a perfect physique and obsessing over athletic performance. The pursuit of these two things will never truly be satisfying. There is value in exercise and fitness but these pursuits should never be allowed to become obsessions that become more important than your faith in God and your relationships with your family and friends.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8