Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

Fat burners…Worth the Risk? Here’s what happened to me:

My fingers are tingling. My left arm is feeling numb and the pain in my chest is getting sharper. It’s 4am. I’m one of only 3 people at the gym right now, and I have no idea what to do. I’m starting to panic as I realize that my heart is now beating at a much quicker pace than it should be and the tingling sensation in my fingers is spreading up my arm and becoming more intense. What’s happening? I’m only about 30 minutes into the 2 hour workout I have planned and certainly don’t feel like I have pushed myself too hard. As much as I hate to admit it to myself, it’s getting harder and harder to deny the fact that something is very wrong. What’s even harder to admit, is that it probably has everything to do with the fat burner capsules I took a few hours earlier. The warnings on the bottle cautioned that adverse reactions were possible. I chose to ignore them then, but can’t ignore them now.

The debate begins. Do I push through this discomfort and try to salvage the rest of my workout, or do I pack up my stuff and head to the hospital to get myself checked out? I sit down on the workout bench in front of me and try to figure out which would be harder to deal with, the pain in my chest or guilt from a skipped workout. As much as I want to push through the increasing discomfort I’m feeling to finish what I’ve started, the room has slowly started to spin around me and I realize that I have no choice but to give in. I grab my things, throw them in my car and drive myself to the hospital. I realize that although leaving the gym to seek medical attention is a good idea, getting behind the wheel in this condition to get myself there is probably not. Then again, if I was in the habit of making good decisions, I wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with.

I spend the entire drive there alternating between feeling like an idiot for overreacting to what might be nothing more than a little sleep deprivation and feeling like an idiot for risking my health over the chance at quick weight loss. Either way, I feel like an idiot.

I arrive at the hospital without incident, and find myself sitting across from an intake nurse who wants to know what my problem is. An accurate answer would be that I am suffering from a severe case of insecurity and bad judgment, which has resulted in the ingestion of a fat burning, appetite suppressing herbal concoction sold to me buy some guy named Tyson who had arms the size of my waist and who’s neck was barely visible between 2 grossly oversized shoulders and a bizarrely small head.

The answer I give her is, “My chest hurts.”

While I await my turn in the surprisingly quiet emergency room, I am relieved that my pain seems to be subsiding, and I’m considering retrieving my health card and walking out the door, when I hear my name being called out and I’m escorted to a room at the end of the hall.

As I lie on the bed, barely covered by the paper thin gown I was provided, waiting for the doctor to make his entrance, I can’t help but think about my family. I think about them asleep in their own beds, completely oblivious to the fact that I’m here. I can’t help but wonder, “What kind of mother would put her own vanity before her health? What kind of wife would risk her life for a set of good abdominal muscles?” I am ashamed. My shame only increases when the doctor walks in and I have to explain what brought me here. As much as I want to keep the pills a secret, I know how irresponsible that would be, so I tell him everything.

To be honest, I expect a long, drawn out lecture on the evils of diet products but instead am offered a simple, “That was a dumb thing to do.” He decides to check my heart through an EKG as a precaution before sending me on my way with a condescending smirk and the some advice, “Throw the rest of the pills in the garbage and make better choices.”

A sentiment that my husband is in full agreement with, when I get home to find him getting ready for work and have to come clean about where I’ve been for the last 3 hours. However, he isn’t as blasé about the situation as the ER doctor was. He’s angry. “How could you be so stupid?!” he asks me. Suddenly, I feel like I’m about 6 years old and have been caught with my hand in the cookie jar, only these cookies cost about $60 each and may cause heart failure.

He wants me to hand the bottle over to him, but I assure him that they have already been disposed of. He doesn’t believe me and says sternly, “Give me the pills.” Again, I tell him that I’ve already thrown them away and wouldn’t be stupid enough to try it again.

Fast forward to two weeks later. It’s 11pm. I’m lying in bed, my heart racing, partly because of nerves, partly because I was stupid enough to try it again. I am absolutely terrified that I won’t get off as easy as I did last time. Once is a mistake, twice is a choice. A bad choice. One which has me terrified it could possibly end my life or cause irreparable damage to my health. Rob is furious and can hardly look at me. He calls me a liar, which I suppose I am. More shame. It’s becoming a theme for me. This time he insists I give him the bottle of pills, and he doesn’t believe me when I tell him they’ve been destroyed. He starts rummaging through the house, the drawers, pantries, in my closet, under the bed. I assume this is what a drug addict might feel like. When he’s mostly convinced that they’re gone, he warns me, sternly, that I cannot ever try anything like this again. He will not tolerate it. Then he spends the next hour calming me down by reassuring me that I’m not going to die of a heart attack and helping me get some sleep. He says that he forgives me, but I know better than to ask for his trust.


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