At the end of this year I’ll hit 40. A milestone in any person’s life.
All being well, hitting the big four zero means I’m half way through life.
Most people dread getting older. They have a mindset issue. In reality getting older is the best thing that can happen to you. Far better than the alternative.
Our society reveres youth and despises old age. I’ve seen 24 year olds petrified of turning 25 and 50 year olds dressing like they’re 20.
As men age we should seek to preserve vitality and wisdom over youth and beauty. A strong functional body should take priority over a handsome face. A wise mind over a naive view of the world.
Thanks to the information age our knowledge and understanding of what constitutes as good health is growing.
People are beginning to understand that lifting weights is not for meatheads and being ripped with eight percent body fat is not healthy.
Men are understanding the role testosterone plays on their body and mind. How it begins to drop as we age and how that can cause all sorts of issues from increasing body fat to decreasing libido. The scientific term is hypogonadism.
Understanding what your own testosterone levels are has never been easier. A blood test at the doctor or using a consumer based offering will do it. Men’s testosterone levels decrease on average around 1.25% per year.
Some are discovering that their levels are at rock bottom. Explaining why countless hours in the gym and eating a good diet have no bearing on their paunchy belly and low mood.
Increasingly TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) is being used as a way to combat these signs of ageing.
One of the best articles I’ve read on a positive experience of going on TRT see Iron and Tweed’s four-part series on it.
What is TRT?
In a nutshell, TRT means using synthetic (made in a lab) testosterone to increase a man’s testosterone to a considered healthy level.
Unlike bodybuilders who use super-physiological doses (way above what the body can naturally produce) TRT is about increasing a man’s levels to a natural but high state.
TRT is more prominent in the U.S. but is making it’s way over to the U.K. too. Everyone from MMA fighters to company CEOs are espousing TRT. Joe Rogan has been using it for a decade.
If a blood test reveals that your levels are low your doctor may give you the option to go on TRT.
You (or you doctor) will inject yourself periodically via an intravenous needle usually in the leg, shoulder or arse cheek.
For those that don’t like needles the benefits of injecting with the less painful subcutaneous injections using a smaller needle which go into the skin. There’s also a testosterone gel which you put on top of the skin but reports are it’s not good.
There are stories of doctors who are clueless about the process and have been known to make things worse by prescribing too low doses.
While you’re on TRT your doctor will monitor your blood levels to ensure everything is OK. Sometimes an increase in testosterone can also increase the female hormone estrogen. In which case an aromatase inhibitor (or AI) is used stop the enzyme from converting T into E.
Many men online are espousing the health benefits of going on TRT after suffering from the symptoms of low T for many years.
Why I won’t be going on TRT (yet)
The caveat to the headline of this article should be ‘yet’. In truth it should read ‘Why I won’t be going on TRT yet’.
I’ve done my research consuming countless articles and videos on TRT, taking in people’s first-hand experience on using it and the benefits they’ve received from it.
I’ve been tempted on occasion and in the summer of last year I had a testosterone levels checked.
My results were 480ng/dl which is in the low normal range. Two years previously my level was 520ng/dl. This could indicate a drop as I age but testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day so I have to take that into account.
Was I tempted to increase my levels to the upper normal range? Yes, but then giving it more thought I’ve decided against it for now. Here’s why:
Working on mindset can increase testosterone
Stress is a big cause of testosterone reduction. The stress hormone cortisol blocks the production of testosterone so the more stress you feel the less of it your body will produce.
This tends to create a vicious circle. Low testosterone is likely to cause more stress which explains why a traumatic event can make people spiral into anxiety and depression.
Working on your mindset helps boost testosterone. A core positive mindset will help you reduce the amount of cortisol the body produces during stressful events.
A year ago I made the commitment to continually improve my own mindset. To work on it every day and make lifestyle choices to enhance it. Now I have more drive and inner audacity than ever.
I’m still making progress
In the summer of 2015 I was over-worked, over stressed and hadn’t physically pushed myself for a couple of years. I then made a commitment to change that and work myself hard in the gym.
Granted I came from a low baseline but I’m still making progress in reshaping my body. I know that without TRT I can still make progress if I continue to hit the gym, eat good and rest well.
Lifting weights and eating healthy increases testosterone naturally so getting the fundamentals right first and taking a long-term approach (see below) is key.
I’m in it for the long term
Health is a priority for me. In the past I’ve prioritised career and money over health for too long and I felt the negative effects because of it.
Most men don’t have that realisation. I know lots of men in professional jobs who just get fatter each year.
Your health is your wealth and you have to take a long-term perspective. I don’t live hand to mouth with money therefore I can think more long term with my health without worrying about paying bills.
Ultimately we are all on the road to death and there’s nothing I or you or anybody can do about that. But I want to preserve my vitality for as long as possible. Which means having a stake in the game over the long term.
Being proactive about my health. Eating nutrient dense foods. Pushing myself in the gym. Taking time out to rest. Staying up to date with the latest health information. I will do everything I can and within reason to enhance my health before I consider using TRT.
Dr Jeffry Life didn’t go on TRT (and other hormone replacement therapy) until he was 64. If you’re in your 30s and 40s there is lots of time to improve without your body and overall health by taking a long term approach.
Administrating TRT is a ball ache
If you’re injecting testosterone subcutaneously then you’ll probably do it three times a week. Maybe four. That means every time you go away either on holiday or with work you have to prepare and plan. If you forget to bring it with you you’re screwed.
I’m all about decluttering and detoxifying my life. I intend to travel more this year and travel light. I don’t want the responsibility of ensuring my testosterone levels don’t spike and crash. And I don’t want to be constantly self-analysing my mental state and wondering if it’s the TRT.
I have no symptoms of low testosterone
Perhaps most importantly, I have no symptoms of low T.
Sure, I have a layer of fat around my stomach area and a propensity to feel down when I’ve fried my nervous system from overtraining. But other than that I generally feel in good health.
- My ambition and drive is as high as it ever was
- So is my sex drive
- My body is in the best shape it’s been in
- I have a general sense of the best is yet to come in life
Although my testosterone level is in the low normal range and some might argue that I could ‘enhance’ it I don’t feel I need to.
Deciding whether you need TRT or not should be based on symptoms and how you feel. If your test levels say low but you feel good then why would you want to potentially ruin that?
TRT is not an elixir to good health
Reading online I get the feeling some people start TRT as a fix for all their health ills. I get the feeling that some don’t start a regular health regime and general lifestyle improvement before they head to the doctor’s office. They don’t put in the hours in the gym or the good habits in their life before they start TRT.
TRT is not an elixir to good health but a means to help men who are coming to a certain age and who have optimised their life as much as possible.
Will I take it in the future? There’s a good chance I will.
For now though I don’t feel I need to.