Oh My Gosh, That Girl’s On Steroids!

I have a confession to make: this is not just another fitness blog. Yes, I lift weights. Big weights. And take steroids. And lots and lots of other pills. Hey, wait a second. Can you get any more mundane than that? Another roid head babbling about gym, blood, sweat and tears, Arnold and their supplement cabinet. Why the heck should you read any further? I’ll give you a few reasons.

Firstly, I’m a woman. That’s a bit rare. And I actually look like one – no weird facial hair or anything, promise. (Of course, that gal could very well be my neighbor and I could resemble a shot putter from East Germany for all you know – this is internet :))

Secondly, the steroids I take are corticosteroids. And without them, I would die. Not in a flashy, movie-kind of way, mind you. Nothing sexy about that. I’d simply wither away slowly in comatose state in a week or so. Earlier I’d suffer from terrible headaches, nausea and vomiting,  hypoglycemia, low blood pressure and fainting spells. Before my diagnosis, I actually did faint a couple of times at the gym. Waking up with a bump on your head, covered in your own vomit – nothing sexy about that, either.

I have secondary adrenal insufficiency. It’s a very rare disease, only affecting around 150-280 people per million. Primary adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s disease, is even more rare; it’s prevalence is only 93-144 per million. Lucky us! The most ironic thing is, I got this potentially life-threatening and debilitating disease due to the treatment of another disease.

I’m a walking encyclopedia of diagnoses. Severe asthma, immunodeficiency, hypothyroidism, thoracic scoliosis, lumbar spondylolysis and olisthesis, the list goes on. See why I’m popping more pills a day than your grandma? During the years my peers partied and fellow wannabe-fitness athletes busted their asses in the gym, I was coughing out my lungs and sweating off yet another fever due to concurrent viral and bacterial infections.

Thanks to modern medicine, at least my asthma was treatable. With steroids. I inhale them every day. I also took corticosteroid pills in heaps. So much, that my HPA- as in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis got so messed up my adrenal glands went to sleep. Like, forever. Now all the stress hormone cortisol my body needs comes from a pillbox.

Normally you wouldn’t think of it, but even getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth is a stressor to your body. Now try juggling a demanding job as a physician, a busy personal life and training – not so easy anymore. Sometimes I think I’d be better off using a crystal ball to predict my daily cortisone needs than my usual guesstimates. There are good days when I feel almost invincible, and then there are bad days when it’s a fight to stay upright.

So why work out? Why fight? Why not just give up? I guess I’m simply too stubborn for that. And too ADHD to lay on the sofa and watch soap operas and reality TV. And yes, I’m an addict. I’m addicted to exercise. The adrenaline rush I get from working out is simply mind-blowing. I love a variety of sports. Having tried almost everything from basketball and track to ballet and show dance, my biggest affection has always been lifting weights. A late addition to my collection of sweaty hobbies is krav maga, an Israeli self defence / martial art. Nothing beats kicking a guy in the nuts after a stressful day at the office!

With all my health issues I probably won’t become a professional figure competitor or even a world class powerlifter. My focus is on getting better and stronger and being the best version of myself I can be. With my powerlifting coach, one day I might be seen taking part in a meet – who knows?

I want to show on this blog that it’s possible to live a full life, train, have fun and be an athlete even with chronic illnesses complicating things. IIFYM aka “if it fits your macros” is my diet religion so occasional food porn may follow. I might even get wild and post about my home life with my pet hamster Tara, and my little taller but only a bit less hairier (of course in a very burly, manly way) fiance. Stay tuned for more!




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