By Tom Venuto, lifetime natural bodybuilder
Many people choose not to take drugs for fear of health consequences. Although this may be a legitimate concern depending on the degree and duration of drug use, this is not the reason I chose to stay natural. In fact, I believe that the dangers of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are probably exaggerated greatly and sensationalized by the media. In my opinion, scare tactics like, “You’re going to get a brain tumor and liver cancer” aren’t really accurate or effective. If this were an effective approach, then drug use wouldn’t be so widespread today.
It’s not a matter of morals, ethics or cheating either. How does one define “moral behavior?” I believe the only definition of moral behavior that most people will agree on is that “moral” means you never do anything to hurt another human being or infringe on their right to do what they want with their lives. As long as you’re not hurting or infringing on others, then who’s to judge what’s right or wrong? Few people would disagree that it shows questionable morals and a lack of character to take drugs, lie about it and compete in a drug tested competition, but as long as everyone is on a level playing field, then morality is probably not a valid argument.
My prime motivation for staying natural is not a matter of right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy. My motivation is different: What I want is the joy and fulfillment that only comes from becoming the best I can be without using any artificial assistance. I want to fully express the possibilities of the human body, mind and spirit. I want to actualize my full potential. If I take drugs, then I won’t really know what my true potential is; I’ll never know whether it’s the drugs or me.
The real joy in athletics or bodybuilding is not in having a beautiful body or a 1st place award; the joy is in earning it. The joy is in working hard and seeing the type of person you become in pursuit of your goals. The joy is in watching yourself become a real winner and a true champion – on the inside. Earning it makes you into a better human being. You develop character, integrity, persistence, determination and a strong work ethic – all positive qualities that transfer to other areas of your life. There’s no true and lasting joy or fulfillment in results that are artificially produced. Using drugs is like going to the store and buying the trophy. There’s no joy in that – you didn’t earn that!
Suppose you took a “magic pill” and developed an incredible body in a very short period of time. Do you really think you’re going to feel happy, proud and fulfilled? Do you think your self-esteem is going to increase? I don’t think so. I think that despite the way you’d look on the outside, and despite some fleeting and superficial satisfaction, deep on the inside you’d feel that your “victory” was hollow. In the long run, I think your self-esteem would go down! Especially when your illusory gains quickly vanish as soon as your crutch is removed.
If you’re using drugs and winning competitions, no matter how good you think it feels, I guarantee you’re not feeling the same thing I’m feeling. I cannot even put into words the feelings of exhilaration and pride and joy that come from achieving a goal on the merits of your own hard work and belief in yourself. And this feeling is going to last me a lifetime. I did it. I created it. I earned it. On my own.
I don’t believe in drugs. I believe in myself.
I also believe in a power greater than myself. And the reason I believe in myself is because I believe that this great power is not separate from me but is inside of me. Although most people are asleep to their potential and don’t realize it, everyone has inner power that is spiritual in nature. By looking inside and tapping into it, every one of us can achieve more than we ever dreamed possible. Discovering and using your inner power is more important than any diet, training routine, supplement or steroid drug ever conceived by man. I believe that looking for anything outside of yourself does not make you stronger – it only makes you weaker. Real strength does not come out of a bottle or a needle. Real strength comes from within.
The mind is powerful. I believe that too many people set mental limits on what’s possible naturally and that’s the very reason they fail to get very far without some kind of enhancement. If you look at a drug free bodybuilder with a great physique and you say, “There’s no way that guy is natural,” you’re setting limitations on your own growth. Your subconscious mind will take that accusation literally and prevent you from ever reaching that level of development naturally.
I am not anti-steroid. I would prefer to call myself pro-natural. I don’t think being anti-anything is a good position to take. There’s a big difference between being pro-natural and being anti-steroid. Motivational author Dr. Wayne Dyer once wrote, “Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you.” During the Vietnam war, a group of protesters asked mother Teresa if she would join them in their march against the war and she replied “No, I won’t march against the war with you, but if you have a march for peace, I’ll be there.” Natural athletes and bodybuilders need a change of attitude. Trying to fight a war against drugs is a losing battle and a waste of valuable time and energy. Instead we must focus on promoting the positive aspects of staying natural, as they far outweigh anything positive that might come from using drugs.
I’m not trying to wage a war on drugs or push anyone into doing anything or not doing anything. There are certain things in life that people must discover for themselves. Unfortunately many people discover life’s lessons the hard way. One of my mentors taught me that a person’s life can serve as either a warning or an example. My hope is to serve as a positive example. I would like to help people open their minds, raise their standards and expand their beliefs of what’s possible. I’d like to help others realize that there are more rewards in being natural than in being artificial.
Although I’ve been referring primarily to steroids, the very same reasoning applies to any drug or artificial aid whatsoever, be it for weight loss, cosmetic improvement or performance enhancement. If you build your body or win a competition with artificial aids, you’re a phony. And you’ll never enjoy all the incredible rewards that come from being a real champion.
THE NATURAL WAY IS THE ONLY TRUE PATH TO SUCCESS, PRIDE, JOY, HAPPINESS, LONG TERM FULFILLMENT AND SELF-ESTEEM!
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