I started lifting weights during the era of Joe Weider, that bastard. (Sorry, but I can't help but add "that bastard" any time I mention Joe Weider... that bastard.)

Back then, Joe (that bastard) put out the flashiest magazines and all the best bodybuilders had contracts with him. When newbies like me wanted to learn about lifting, we read his mags, but we were incredibly naive back then.

Hardly any one knew or believed that pro bodybuilders used steroids. In fact, it wasn't until later when one of the magazines I worked for started talking about steroid use among the pros that people wised up. All over the country, bubbles loudly burst. Joe – that bastard – even called me up at home once to complain about how I was destroying the image of health he'd so carefully tried to construct.

But prior to that, the rest of us poor schlubs in Kansas, or wherever, thought that we too could look like all those "natural" pros, if we just trained the same way they did.

Oh, and Joe Weider, that bastard, was really magnanimous in divulging the training programs used by the top bodybuilders. The trouble was, their steroid-fueled routines lasted at least two hours and they trained like that 6 days a week. So we all thought that we had to train two hours a day, 6 days a week, never realizing that that kind of program, without the aid of steroids, would do more to tear us down than build us up.

And That's How I Took Fitness Too Far

I virtually lived in the gym. I turned down social event after social event because I had to train. I missed weddings, funerals, concerts, and multiple movies and dinners with friends. When I got married, my wife and I went straight to the gym.

It wasn't until a few years later that all of us realized the charade he'd pulled on us. We then realized that we didn't need to live in the gym, that shorter, less frequent workouts would serve us all much better.

But it was too late. We all lost big chunks of our lives because of Joe Weider, that bastard, and for no reason.

Luckily, I was able to de-program myself, but I still find myself missing big life events because I "have" to go to the gym. What I'm occasionally able to do, though, is say something ridiculous to myself to knock me out of that mindset.

For instance, I might say, "Oh well, I'll come in third instead of second at this year's Mr. Olympia contest," and then go do whatever it was I planned on doing or was invited to do and try to enjoy the hell out of myself, without any guilt.

Related:  The Dark Side of Fitness

Related:  Honest Advice About Steroids