Bodybuilding And Insecurity
My own journey into bodybuilding innocently started out as a way to overcome a common teenage insecurity. This need to be bigger, stronger, and thus «more masculine» was coupled with a new found confidence that I could produce a desirable outcome in my life by progressive weight training.
As a teenager and a young adult seeing changes in my body exerted an influence as powerful as any drug because there was so much in my life I could not control. The gym served a two-fold drive. One to overcome an insecurity: and two, to become SELF-Directed as previous mentioned.
But here is where things went awry if you will.
After my first bodybuilding contest and then after grinding out another 3 more years of intense effort I came to the realization that I would not be able to be «successful» in competitive bodybuilding unless I started to use steroids. Note this is not a commentary on whether steroid is good or bad etc. I am using this to illustrate the «changing psychology» and the rationalizations that sprung up within myself.
Even though I had built an impressive physique form my efforts I was not satisfied. You see, once I started competing, I began comparing myself to others, and it was this comparison that got me into the sport in the first place.
It appears my own insecurity was only masked by a few muscles and had allowed me to succumb to the bombardment of fabricated ideologies propagated in muscle magazines about the value of winning a bodybuilding show, or better yet, reaching the pinnacle of human development and winning the Mr. Universe.
Of course I would have to start out, and work through the ranks to become like my Idol Arnold. Basically, my mind finally took the bait and I bought in as my «value system had been compromised».
My First Steroid Guru – Bill Phillips
I then set about «educating» myself about these drugs. I remember my excitement when I purchased my first copy of the «Underground Steroid Handbook 6th Edition» written by Bill Phillips. Yes the same Bill Phillips that brought us EAS and Body For Life.
To Bill’s credit the book was pretty good and certainly helped me understand the need to safely inject myself. It also provided numerous, graphs, charts, theories, and definitions as to what steroids did what, how to use them, side effects, counterfeits, and how to locate legitimate products at reasonable prices.
After hanging around the gym and «getting to know» some of the bigger guys who were competing I inquired about how I might obtain some of these drugs to enhance my own chances of bodybuilding success. It wasn’t long before I made friends with a local bodybuilding champion who took it upon himself to show me the ropes.
After the requisite exchange of cash, and the «duffel bag drop» off in the locker room I was in with the «Big Boys». I went home in a state of euphoria and nervousness as I took my new found «magic potion» to my apartment. I fumbled with the vials nervously for almost an hour before I figured out how to get the drugs out of the tiny vial.
Before you know it I managed to take my first injection of «Primobolan», Arnold’s favorite drug of choice according to our good friend and steroid advisor Bill Phillips. I also ingested a couple of «Dianabol» tablets a day for the next 8 weeks according to the diamond pattern recommended by the Guru.
I gained 25lbs on my first cycle drugs… it all seemed to easy. When I eventually came off the drugs I lost about 15 pounds and had a curious pain in my shoulder. The individual who sold me the drugs assured me this was normal. His reasoning I had just pushed to hard as my strength shot up so fast my tendons couldn’t keep up to my gains.
He advised me to be careful about lifting so heavy when I did my next cycle. Which came all too soon.
Drugs And My First Bodybuilding Championships
I took my first two cycles and experienced tremendous results with almost no apparent side effects other than a bit of acne, water retention, and some hardness under my nipples which of course was the dreaded «gynocomastia» commonly called «bitch tits». I had a predisposition to the condition as I had gone to my doctor as a teenager with the budding condition. Since it’s common in adolescent males my doctor assured me that I was okay.
Still it wasn’t serious and I was gaining size at a rapid rate so it seemed well worth the risk. Besides the magazine writers stated most of the pros simply get the tumors cut out as they advance up the ranks. Some of my newfound bodybuilding friends assured me that it was not big deal and just part of the process of «Getting Huge». I conceded to the opinions of my friends.
In just a year and a half my efforts were rewarded as I won my first ever Bodybuilding Show, which included the Heavyweight Title and The Overall Provincial Championships. My ego soared; «it was all working out as planned and I was on my way to becoming the next Arnold». Boy, it’s amazing how delusional a person can become when fueled by the ego gratification of a cheering crowd.
Booze, Bars, And Babes –
Finally I Was Living The Bodybuilding Dream
During this time I worked as a Door Man at a local nightclub as this was one arena that my newfound brawn qualified me for. It was also a great place to vent my increasing testosterone fueled aggression on unruly patrons.
In between bouts with the local drunks I discovered my muscles gave me the confidence to approach even the «hottest girls» in the club who were seemingly impressed or amused as I alternated between throwing out cheesy one liners, and «out of line assholes» from the fine establishment I patrolled like a Spartan Sentinel on red alert.
I felt unstoppable as I experienced the all too familiar rush of testosterone fueled adrenaline coursing through my veins whether I was in the gym, the bar or out on the town with my latest sexual conquest.
I defended the use of steroids, and would openly discuss them to anyone willing to listen. I justified my position and spent time with those who agreed with me. I learned everything I could about drugs, dieting, and carefully saved my dollars diligently as I prepared for my next show.
My whole life revolved around becoming bigger, leaner, and more powerful and bodybuilding became the driving force in my life. What I didn’t realize is how the drugs, the muscles, and the titles only masked the insecurities of the scrawny teenager who first picked up the Weider weight set.
Like so many before me my unsuspecting spiral into the underground steroid subculture had begun and my growing ego began to envision bodybuilding stardom. Still I knew very little about what I was doing (all to true with most athletes and bodybuilders) but I then discovered you could hire a professional coach.
Fortunately, I hired the best in the business Scott Abel.
I Meet My Mentor Scott Abel
After attending the 97 Nationals and seeing that the athletes had achieved a greater level of physical conditioning and size then myself I decided to hire Scott, as his athletes seemed to better than all the others on stage.
Even today almost 10 years later I can still remember my first letter from Scott, hand written as he was in the middle of a move. I won’t get into the details but I will share the line that had the biggest impact on me:
Scott said, «Your training is amateurish, your diet is not doing your body justice, and your «Drug Stack» is a joke. Good thing you got with me because you’re really spinning your wheels.» I was Elated because after 10 years at grasping at straws I had now graduated to the «big leagues».
I trained all year as always and followed Scott’s training to the tee although I could not afford «pharmaceuticals» until the last 14 weeks before the 98 Nationals. I worked three jobs, alienated my friends, and my family, and «sacrificed» everything for the ultimate… a pro card and a trip to fame and fortune… LOL Yep I was pretty naive.
Anyways the long grueling months of dieting, training, and endless posing sessions paid off as I achieved what then was my ideal condition. I remember specifically 3 days before the show posing in the basement of the then World’s gym on Yonge Street near Bloor in Toronto, Ontario.
I remember being filled with excitement as I stared at the rippling muscular body looking back at me in the mirror. I had finally achieved the look I had dreamed of for over 10 years. I secretly expected I just might be crowned the winner. The skinny teenager seeking the approval of others was still lurking behind the muscular shell I had created but I for one could not see him.
The Nationals – NOT What You Might Expect
Scott didn’t pull any punches when I went to see him the day before the show. He straight out told me that I might make top five in my class. He was right, I came something like 6th in the light-heavyweight division.
Backstage the show was a circus, and we were herded around like cattle set for slaughter.
Dye stained towels and half opened bottles of posing oil littered the floor along with the assorted bodybuilders lying around dehydrated, dazed and half dead, encased in several tracksuits while they listened to their posing music on headphones.
The smell of sweat, oil, and chocolate bars filled the air as one by one the classes are filed into the «pump room» at the regular and periodic cry of the stage hand stuck with job of organizing the motley crew of walking muscle zombies into some semblance of order.
The «pump room» might well have been a scene out of Gladiator. Bronzed men and women, with sunken cheeks and eyes, glanced nervously at each other while they pumped and flexed their muscles with reckless abandon. Hoping against hope to squeeze every ounce of potential improvement they could in these last seconds before they went onstage.
It was here in the few fleeting moments before there physique would be mercilessly pitted against the lights, their rivals, and most of all the critical eyes of the judges that the insecurities become exposed from beneath the mountains of muscle encasing the souls of the latest crew of «Arnold Hopefuls».
Each athlete knew the potential retribution that would be rained upon him from the lips of the audience members who are all too quick to point out the smallest flaw in any competitors physique. Competitive bodybuilding can be a cruel and unforgiving world.
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