Here’s a couple of stories about my experiences on testosterone replacement therapy.  I’ve been on it since almost Halloween 2023.  The results in my life have been epic.

It’s been quite a ride.  Cliff’s Notes:  I’ve gone from 224.x pounds when I started this to 185 today.

“So, you lost weight?”

Yeah, I started carrying a bigger gun (1911 .45 ACP full-size) to take up some of the increasingly slack waist of my pants.  But eventually that failed to keep up with the redistribution of mass in my body.  Today, I’m in a smaller belt, new smaller waist-sized pants (32″) and my shirts are growing tighter and tighter by the day.

Here’s the first series of stories I wrote from the April 2024 issue of GunNews, then I’ll append the latest from the July issue.

 

Self-improvement
Testosterone Replacement Therapy: My experience
Unhappy with loss of muscle, a pear-shaped upper body, trouble concentrating, inability to lose weight or gain muscle mass made me seek help. I’m so glad I did. I feel better now than when I was in my 20s.

When I find something that really works, I like to share the news. After all, not everything works.

Last year, I’ll admit to feeling the effects of age and I’m not talking about the hair loss. I didn’t care for the loss of existing muscle tone and inability to gain new muscle while my weight inched past 220 pounds. Even after I went to the gym, got more sleep and ate better, I didn’t see changes except more weight.

The increasingly pear-shaped upper body and an inability to lose weight really bothered me. I felt old and tired and increasingly looked the same.

So, like the pharma ads to TV tell us to do, I talked to my doctor.

Guys peak in their testosterone production in their late teens and it’s all downhill from there. My insurance wouldn’t cover Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). Unless you’re super low (as in sub-200, mine was just over 400) or a girl who wants to become a boy, health insurance won’t pay for this.

So I went private pay and dove in head first. Doing my research, I settled on Life Plus MD in Bloomington. I’ve been pleased.

The week before Halloween, I started TRT with a shot a week in the butt. Within weeks I saw changes. Now 20 weeks into taking the shots, working out 3-5 times per week and eating better, here are my results.

* I have lost 32 pounds and counting (15% of my body weight).
* I’m going to need to carry a bigger gun or buy a smaller belt soon.
* No more man boobs. I now have pecs.
* I’ve never had a physique this good in my entire life, even admittedly losing some muscle as part of weight loss.
* In short, I no longer feel like an old man. I look and feel better now than when I was in my 20s.

By summer, I expect my weight to settle into the high 170s. At that point, my long-term goal will switch into dedicated muscle building. For that, I’ll have a personal trainer to help me use good technique to avoid injuries while training. I’ll have her help me maintain and improve my flexibility and range of motion too. After all, nobody wants to look like a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal.

I’ve got some protein powder from Transparent Labs that has zero soy to help facilitate muscle growth. Why my dislike of soy? That soy in cheap protein powders metabolizes into estrogen. If you’re a guy, the last thing you want is a lot of extra estrogen unless you want to kill your sperm, grow boobs and get all weepy watching the Hallmark Channel.

I try to visit Crunch in Bloomington for roughly hour-long workouts. The music and the vibe run positive there but I still take my earbuds in case someone puts on music I don’t like. (I recommend a subscription to “Fit Radio” for the win!) In share space with more than a few “seasoned citizens” so I’m not the Lone Ranger with salt and pepper hair among the countless young people.

Is this TRT for you?
If you’re a guy in your 40s or older and you feel chronically fatigued, or unable to lose weight or gain muscle tone, or have other “male” issues, talk with your health care provider about TRT. Get tested and see if it’s for you. You may have to go private pay and spend a couple hundred bucks a month but if you get even half the results I’ve gotten out of it, you’ll lovethe payoff.

A stronger and healthier you will make you happier. It will allow you to better navigate the world with greater confidence and productivity. It’ll also help you live longer and make you harder to kill.

Ladies, they also do microdosing for women. It helps with physique building if you hit the gym along with a gentle boost to your libido. Just tossing that out there…

What are you waiting for?

How did I lose 15% of my body weight?

Yes, I’ve lost weight. Thanks for noticing.

In less than 20 weeks, I’ve lost 32 pounds as of this writing, weighing in at 192 pounds, down from 224 last September – even with holiday feasts and a wife that likes to bake yummy stuff.

First, I knew I couldn’t just starve myself and still build muscle. And I wasn’t up for radical diets or eating turkey and kale all day, everyday.

For me, I started by eliminating all fast foods, soft drinks and juices. I love my orange Mountain Dew, but I love healthy more. Booze consumption has fallen significantly as well. My apologies to ATF about the decline in excise tax receipts.

Next, I cut way back on candy, cookies, and other junk calories. Yeah, I’ll have a chocolate chip cookie with the boys when we would make them as an afternoon project, but just one. I also cut my carbs back to about half of what I would previously eat at a meal. So yes, I still enjoy pasta, pizza and pancakes – just a lot less of them.

At the same time I’ll freely gorge myself on proteins (meats, eggs) without an ounce of guilt.

If I’m not really hungry at a meal sometimes I’ll fast through it or have some fruit. Our bodies don’t need 1000-1500 calorie meals three times a day.

On the other hand, it’s not just about cutting calorie intake. To really shine at this, it requires physical movement. Good news! You don’t have to run or do burpees. Even if it’s just walking, that helps the pounds melt away and helps curtail craving.

Despite knowing that the first rule of the Zombie apocalypse is “Cardio,” I’ll be the first to admit I don’t run. So I shoot well instead. Nevertheless I do some non-running cardio during my gym visits. It’s as much about training to keep up with my twin boys this summer more than burning calories.

I drink lots of water, too.

Am I taking Ozempic or similar drugs? No. The only medication change I’ve made is with the TRT regimen.

How much / what kind of meds am I taking for TRT?

My provider prescribed a 200mg blend of Testosterone Cypionate and Testosterone Enthanate, that I administer weekly by an IM shot in the butt.

In February, she upped me to 240mg after looking at my labs. I also take an estrogen antagonist (anastrozole tablet, 1mg) the day after my shot to counteract the body’s natural reaction to unexpected testosterone. After all, I wanted to get rid of my man-boobs, not grow new ones.

Costs, I’ve learned, can vary widely between providers. At Life Plus MD, the initial lab testing and consults were about $300.  I’m paying $95/month for the meds and another $75/month for access to the doc. Doc access includes “convenient care” type visits unrelated to the TRT at no charge.

Side effects? I expected acne and maybe some other nuisance side effects but those have not materialized. My provider asked me to contact her if I have nipple tenderness or headaches. That hasn’t happened. My bloodwork seems stable so those shouldn’t become an issue.

Sure, there’s no “cure” for low-T. This is potentially a life-long medical treatment to maintain a much improved quality of life. Yes, I can quit anytime I want to go back to the “old” me. But just like those who need thyroid medications or other similar drug treatment regimens to get the most out of life, going back doesn’t interest me in the least. (CPAP machines fall into this category as well…)

Between the much improved strength, mental clarity and elevated happiness, the treatment has made a big, positive transformation in my life. For less than a couple hundred bucks a month, the results speak volumes for money well spent.

It really came together a couple of months ago when my son Owen asked me to let him touch the ceiling as a special reward for doing something awesome.

Hoisting him up, I remember thinking to myself, “Hey this is a lot easier now!” Gone were the times when it required real effort on my behalf to lift 35-40 pounds of squirming boy into the air over my head. But that’s what happens when you wait until you’re 51 to change your first diapers.

 

A lot happened in the time since those stories were printed.  For the updates, here’s the latest from the July issue, then I’ll close with some additional candid thoughts.

Three months ago, I wrote about my Testosterone Replacement Therapy treatment experience. I would characterize it as both incredibly positive and transformative for me.

It has potential for many men as they age and their bodies produce less and less testosterone with each passing year.

Moreover, when coupled with a moderately healthier diet and that dirty word called exercise, the results quickly compound. While I don’t look like the guy in the featured photo at the top of this story (yet), I’m well on my way. In short, I no longer feel like an old man. I’m stronger than ever before and feel like I’m in my 20s again, not the guy getting a senior citizen’s discount at the local meat shop on Wednesdays. Side effects have been effectively non-existent, too.

Symptoms and treatment
For years, I have struggled with the effects of age – and I don’t mean hair loss. Diminishing muscle tone and strength increasingly concerned me, as did the ever-growing pear-shaped upper body. I battled weight gain and chronic fatigue too.

My primary care physician tested me and my “T” came back the low end of “normal.” As such my health insurance wasn’t going to pay for treatments despite my symptoms.

So I went private pay and settled on Life Plus MD in Bloomington. They provide medical supervision, blood testing and guidance. On my end, I self-administer a single shot each week. The initial testing and consult was $299 and the drugs, testing and medical supervision comes in at about $175/month.

Nine months into it, I’m down 36 pounds and a pair of man-boobs. I now wear 32” pants, down from popping buttons open on 34” pants. My body fat has fallen from 28% before I started this to about 17% currently.

As far as diet goes, initially I slashed my calories by ditching fast food, sodas, candies and booze. My trainer (more on him in a moment) prodded me to start using the “My Fitness Pal” smart phone app to track my intake of food and calories. It’s easier than it sounds and allowed me to refine my food intake appropriately.

I supplement my dietary proteins with soy-free protein powder mixes. Why soy-free? That soy in cheap protein powders metabolizes into estrogen. If you’re a guy, the last thing you want is a lot of extra estrogen unless you want to kill your sperm, grow boobs and get all weepy watching the Hallmark Channel.

That dirty word: Exercise.
TRT doesn’t magically create a better you. Just like eating better, you have to do some exercise to maximize your outcome!

For me that happens at the local Crunch gym four to six days a week. Around the first of April I started seeing a new personal trainer and he’s proven incredible. Not only has he balanced me out by hitting muscle groups I didn’t even know I had (and long neglected), he’s steered me away from bad habits and a few older exercises to help me avoid injuries.

Turns out weight training is like shooting… people don’t even know what they don’t know. And personal trainers are like firearms instructors… some barely competent, most are average and a few are exceptionally skilled and can communicate well. I’ve had a half-dozen trainers over the last dozen years and this one puts the rest to shame.

In ten weeks of his help, not only has he helped greatly improve my range-of-motion but he’s dramatically improved my posture with corrective routines, something I never dreamed exercise could do.

Under his tutelage I’m increasing “time under tension” in my reps while dramatically reducing the weight moved. I trusted that he knew what he was doing. The stunning results in the past ten weeks have proven far more impressive than what I’d done in all of the six months prior. If you’re in or near Bloomington, his name is Kyle Seibert. He’s worth the drive to Crunch in Normal.

Good technique with less weight builds muscle faster than you would ever think possible when you’re on TRT. And no, moving more weight with poor technique doesn’t build more muscle… it builds injuries.

Is this TRT for you?
It depends. If you’re a guy in your 30s, 40s or older and you feel chronically fatigued, unable to lose weight or gain muscle tone, and/or have other “male” issues, talk with your health care provider about TRT. Get tested. You may have to go private pay and spend a couple hundred bucks a month but if you get even half the results I’ve gotten out of it, you’ll love the payoff.

A stronger and healthier you will make you happier. It will allow you to more confidently navigate the world with greater strength, agility and productivity. It’ll also help you live longer and make you harder to kill.

What are you waiting for?

The latest:

My goal is to run my blood T levels at about 1000 or maybe 1200 tops.  We’re working on that.  I had some nipple sensitivity about three weeks ago.  I contacted Life Plus MD and within a couple days I got tested.  My estrogen was higher than my norm (50-something, up from very low 40s) but my T was “in excess of 3200”.  The best I can figure out is that I double dosed myself one sleep-deprived weekend.   If that’s true, then clearly taking excess “gear” as they call it has a logarithmic effect on blood testosterone levels, not a linear impact.  In other words, while taking four ibuprofen might give you more pain relief than two tablets with a minimal risk of negative side effects, doing the same with injections of steroids doesn’t seem at all the same.

The doc said I shouldn’t panic.  The body builders in the gym are juicing to 10,000 or more.

I’ve been *much* more careful on my dosing (I make a note of when I inject so I don’t have to wonder if I did so yet on any given weekend) and I feel a lot better.  At the higher levels, I felt tense and on edge, even snarly at times.  What’s more, thinking about sex like a 15-year-old gets old after a while.  I may have had more oily skin, another common side effect along with acne of higher levels of testosterone in the blood, but I’ve always had oily skin thanks to my genes (it’s largely a curse) but haven’t seen much in the way of blemishes.

I’m not sure exactly where my numbers peaked, but in researching this more (see video below), there’s some extreme body builders who run blood T levels as high as 20,000.  I can only imagine the tension and potential for nastiness roiling just under the surface with the one guy they profiled.  To say nothing of the constant nagging thoughts of sex.  Too much of any good thing can become bad.

On the positive side, I finally broke 185 pounds.   I’d struggled in the high 180s for weeks.

I use the gym’s $10,000 Fit3D scanner to measure all sorts of parameters on a regular basis.  Earlier this week, my body fat percentage came in at 14.6%, putting me in the leanest 2% of men my age scanning on Fit3D machines across the nation.  My body “shape” (I’m a little unclear on what that is) has me in the top 5% of men my age.  Even though I don’t know what their “body shape” means, I know present day me is a massive improvement from 224 pounds and a very pear shaped upper body last summer, no doubt.

I’m now eating about 200 calories over my BMR (basal metabolic rate), or 1900 calories.  That’s causing me to lose 2-3 tenths of a pound each day.  My goal is for proteins to run about 50%, carbs 25-30%% and fat 20-25%.  That puts me at or over 238 grams of protein per day.  I get there with a lot of protein powder, typically two scoops at breakfast, two post-workout and two in the evening.  I mix them with cold tapwater to facilitate dissolving the powder, then toss in some ice cubes to make it much colder and tastier.  Originally I mixed with milk, but have stopped that to lop off about 450 calories I didn’t really need.  If I’m doing a lot of physical exertion, it’s easy to add carbs with honey, fruits or even candy and soda.  Carbs are easy to come by.

What other supplements do I use?  Again, I use a lot of soy-free protein powders.  Transparent Labs is my favorite, but Sam’s Club has RAW powder that readily accessible to everyone instead of ordering online.  I also take Transparent Labs’ “NO STIM” pre-workout mix that has no caffeine.  And I take creatine – typically 10-15g per day.  Oh, and don’t forgot my daily vitamin pill or gummy.

 

Troubling.

I’ve heard from two of my friends now about people they know “freelancing” on their “testosterone replacement therapy.”  They’ve seen videos online about the treatment and they read my initial articles in GunNews.  They’re just ordering the drugs online without any medical supervision from professionals who specialize in this.  Not only that but they’re not getting bloodwork done.  Check out the above video for things that can go badly wrong if you’re moving from replacing the “T” your body no longer produces naturally to goosing yourself with a whole lot of steroids to make yourself look like Arnold Schwarzenegger back in his original Terminator movie with a minimal amount of time and effort at the gym.

Don’t be that guy.  It’s not worth it.  And the dosing that works for me may be WAY outside of the dosing that’s ideal for you.

 

Used properly, under medical supervision, TRT offers aging men a chance to look and feel like a younger man again with minimal negative side effects.  However, like many things, it can be abused and lead to unintended and unwanted side effects.

 

3 thoughts on “Testosterone Replacement Therapy: My experience”
    1. Disclaimer. The above reply is not mine, I can’t remember where I read it, but it is true

  1. You’re back!
    Personally, I want to thank you for this. I saw my doc about this after your first article in GunNews a few months ago. I got tested. 195. Now, after two months, I’m closer to 800 and feel like a new man.
    I have started going to the gym too.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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