Confessions of a Supplement Junkie
The cycle usually goes something like this: A half hour in you start to feel the brain-bleed, where you can actually feel the neuro-transmitters in your brain moving faster through your synapses. Next your eyes become large and you begin to do everything faster. Soon you feel the need to move. If you are working out, about an hour in you will “blow up,” and every set you do or every step you run is the most intense and electrifying you have ever experienced. This lasts about 15 minutes, then you settle in to state of increased energy for about another two hours. Towards the end you begin to look a little strung out, mouth open, eyes sagging. At this point, once you sit down you will only be able to stare straight ahead and not say much of anything. Then comes the Drop, You immediately feel the need to take nap or lie down. If you are seated or lying down, you will probably dose off for about ten minutes. After you wake up, you will be extremely hungry. Once you eat, you will have concluded the Cycle, except for your increased body temperature. If you go to sleep right after you take it, you will most likely sweat through your sheets.
AHH, XENADRINE. HOW WE MISS YOU...
What am I describing? Coke? Speed? Ecstasy? Some undefined chemical concoction of household cleaners and cold medication? No, what I am talking about is ephedra. Remember ephedra? The “weight-loss” herb derived from the Ma Huang plant that was all the rage at the turn of the millennium. Used by college students, girls with body-image issues, truck drivers and athletes of all levels? Yes, that wonder drug. The king of all these products was Xenadrine RFA-1, perhaps the closest thing to legalized speed that will ever exist. This was the only endorsement contract Edgerrin James ever got as far as I can remember, and how appropriate that a guy who grew up watching people smoke crack in Immokalee should be endorsing a product that will triple your heart rate.
Back in the day you could get 120 capsules for about $24. A good Xena-Trip required two capsules, three sent you into Euphoria, four downright cracked you out. So, for about forty to eighty cents, you could have an experience that was, as my drug expert friend Russ said after popping some and doing three miles on the treadmill, akin to low-grade ecstasy. Although I have had some ecstasy that was far less enjoyable than a good Xena-Trip. We used to take it and go to South Beach, drinking only water and Red Bull all night. I used to take it before 8 AM classes after a night of drinking. I even tried taking it before sex once, but that was not a good idea (ephedra, apparently, is a vasoconstrictor. Draw your own conclusions). I have taken two to four capsules of Xenadrine, or something like it, for almost every workout I have participated in since 2000. That is probably around 1300 workouts. At an average of 30 mg per workout, that is about 40 grams of pure ephedra over 5+ years.
Working out on ephedra is one of the most intense experiences I have ever had. Pure adrenaline mixed with increased blood flow and energy. With the right music and proper rest, you feel unbeatable for the entire duration of your trip to the gym. Everyone is your friend. You are the most in-shape person in the building. Nobody can touch you in this place. Working out without it now is kind of like going to a bar and drinking water all night.
But wait, you say! Wasn’t ephedra banned two years ago by the FDA because they found it to be unsafe? Two words for you, my friend: E BAY (outbid me on this and I kill you). And ephedra is only unsafe if you are overweight with a heart/liver condition and take it while working out in a sweatsuit outdoors in Florida in March. The idiots ruin it for the rest of us.
People have tried to get me to stop. I had neighbors in Newport who did cocaine like it was 1985 and used to look at my bottles of Ripped Fuel and say, “Oh, no, I’m not fucking with that shit.” This confused me on so many levels, but it just shows what negative media attention will do. My old boss tried to get me on an ephedra cessation program. Perhaps if they come out with the ephedra patch I will try that approach. I have days now where my head is full of cobwebs until I pop my little grey capsules, which is probably not a good thing. But the same could be said for people who have to have their morning coffee, or their cigarettes. So don’t judge me. We all have our vices. Mine is a dietary supplement.