I ignored the first few irregular heart beats.. None the less I started my day with some C4 pre-workout. This truly delicious beverage, packing the flavor of a blueberry sweet tart, was a staple to my pre-workout regiment. With the added long sleepless nights (being a new father) the drink was a must have. Just prior to my scoops of C-4, I had taken the recommended 3 pills of Cellucor’s P6 Black, a testosterone booster with added stimulates to jack you all sorts of up. The 19 year old at GNC claimed “That’s a solid stack brah”, so it had to be good. I plowed through the workout and began my shift. A tall blue Monster energy drink welcomed me into the first hour. Still having a hard time staying awake, a few hours later I added a little Red Bull to the concoction brewing in my body. Yes, intelligence was lacking on my part, in a huge way; but, I was attempting to compensate for the lack of sleep. Well, a short time later I found myself in the ER as nurses looked in horror at my heartbeat. Beating forward, backward and then taking a little pause. Yes, having a doctor tell you your heart is stopping for a fraction of a second is terrifying. And, once they heard the hundreds of grams of caffeine which I had driven into my body not a single person could resist the much deserved eye roll. “Well, that’s your problem dummy”, said the grizzled veteran nurse.
Now, no one is to blame for the caffeine overload consumed that day but me; however, it seems we often use supplements to fill voids instead of being used to “supplement” our already healthy lifestyle. What was I compensating for? Well, the obvious answer was my lack of sleep. As fathers we find sleep to be in short supply. Sometimes getting 4 hours a night, when waking with a new-born, seems sufficient. So, yes I wasn’t getting much sleep. With all this lack of sleep my gym performance was lacking. Of course it would, without sleep you can’t keep up with a training program with out running yourself ragged. So, I needed to start taking something to amp me up before a workout.
In comes pre-work out supplements. All of which have super hardcore names such as “NO Xplode”, “C4”, or “HemoRage”. I mean with names like that this stuff should make you bend bars and scarf down a whole bowl of rusty nails. In hind sight the rusty nails may have been a better option. I began with one scoop of my selected pre-workout, C4. Now, one scoop did the trick. But, I wanted to truly “rage” out at the gym. In comes 2 scoops, packing in nearly 300mg of caffeine and what ever else they put in this stuff. Wow, this has me going and before I know it the lack of sleep seems more like a nuisance than a health issue. Now, two scoops of the stuff is crazy. The sample packets at GNC have a two scoop serving. It seems the supplement company wants you to do two scoops, even though they advise against it.
Supplement companies know us all to well. I mean, they are probably mostly human, so why wouldn’t they? They know how we operate. We look for the quick fix. The magic pill. The powder concoction that will relieve all our issues. Photos of incredibly jacked dudes endorsing the elixir. Look, you can’t blame them, they are in the business of making money and they know what we want. They have it down to science. And, I have fallen for it time and time again, as I am sure you have or maybe will.
What we need to realize is supplementation with the right supplements can be a good thing; however, we can’t be replacing healthy habits with pills and powders, it just doesn’t work that way. There are many daily action you can take to fill those holes in your diet or habits that don’t require supplementation.
This is a tough one, especially for parents. Studies have shown 7-8 hours a night to be the benchmark for healthy living. If you add intense training sessions, this can jump up to 9-10 hours to fuel recovery. As a father, I know I will get 5-6 hours a night on most days. Of course this isn’t ideal. But, you can make the best of your sleep. Shut down all electronics 2 hours before bed, so don’t “thumb it” on Facebook while getting ready to fall asleep. Relax before bed. Don’t go thinking about bills or answering work emails. Meditation can also help. Also, try to read before bed. Not on a kindle or iPad, but an old-fashioned paper book. Now, you still wont get all the sleep you need, but realize that and cater your training to your new sleep schedule. Give yourself more rest days and cut back on intensity, since the 9-10 hours a sleep a night is damn near impossible.
Drink more water:
Dehydration is one of the most common factors in feeling sluggish and tired. Drink more water! Just old-fashioned H2o will do. None of this fancy flavored drinks out there. If you don’t like plain water, check to see if you’re an adult and not a 5-year-old chugging a juice box. Men should be consuming 13 cups of water a day for a sedentary lifestyle. If your active, shoot for 20 cups a day. While working out consume 6-12 ounces of fluids for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.
Eat Good Foods:
This could be an article in if itself; however, make sure your putting good fuel into your body. Slamming cake, hotdogs and Twizzlers all day will not assist in your energy levels, at least not after the crash.
Prime Your Body:
One of the newest techniques I have thrown into my regiment is priming my body before a workout. This is basically a set of dynamic and active movements which get you ready to move. They also help your mobility. These movements amp you up without the need for pre-workout drinks. Check out MindPump Media’s MAPS PRIME program. A program designed to prime your body before, during and after your workouts. Look them up at MINDPUMP
Know What Your putting into your body:
Many of these supplement companies use sneaky ways to hide what they really have in their stuff. They call them “proprietary blends”. Concoctions so formidable they don’t list what they are; however, give them witty names such as “AndropumpOxygen” …… Damn, that sounds legit. All the fantastic stuff hidden in that label is what can jack your heart up two ways from Tuesday. For example, Cellucor’s C-4 pre-workout has 150 grams of Caffeine Anhydrous per scoop. Caffeine Anhydrous is a type of stimulants made in a lab. This stuff is much more potent than the stuff you find in your cup of “joe”. If you need supplements stick to companies that list all their ingredients and use only what you need. No fancy fillers and chemicals. I have used PureWod’s “pre”, all the ingredients are listed and it really only has a few, compared to nearly 50 out of Cellucor’s C-4. Here’s a list of reputable companies
I can’t place all blame in the C-4 pre-workout. I mean the additional energy drinks did me in. It’s a dangerous thing to play with the amount of chemicals we can put into our bodies. As human beings, we like to push that envelope. We are stimulant junkies, one might say. If we take something that makes us feel good, we double it. Hoping that some how it will make us feel better. What happened to me that day is a cognitive reset. I realized that I was driving a chemical into my body for a temporary feeling, at the cost of long-term health. The quick fix to my sleepy state could have cost me, big time. You know, you often hear fathers say they will do “anything” for their kids. All the while puffing on a cigarette, or driving energy drinks down their throats. There isn’t much you can do for your kids if you’re not around. So,tread lightly in the world of supplements. Don’t replace your unhealthy actions with supplements. You’ll never know where that can take you.