In LA, pre-pandemic, I was working out high daily. Flash forward a year later, and I’ve managed to continue my workouts going strong into 2021. Smoking weed or taking an edible before a workout kept me focused during reps. But it wasn’t always this way.
I’m an Operation Iraqi Freedom (or the Iraq War), United States Marine Corps veteran. I was injured throughout my service physically and mentally. After getting out of the service, I blew up to 265 pounds. I stopped looking at the scale. My doctor gave me the — “If you don’t get in shape, you’re gonna die,” spill and prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.
I was working out high, but on prescription drugs.
At the beginning of my fitness journey, I fought through excruciating pain. This went on for years. I was starting to lose weight, but I was constantly in pain.
From Eight Vicodin A Day To None
I wouldn’t say that I was addicted to pain medication, but I was using up to eight Vicodins a day. I knew what I had to do to lose weight, but I was caught in a vicious cycle. I needed to workout to lose weight, but I didn’t have any energy because I was doped up.
If I didn’t take the pills, I could barely walk. My days started at five in the morning. I crawled to the bathroom to take the pills. I’d lay on the couch, waiting for the pills to take their effect, sometimes falling asleep. Some days, I’d find myself crawling to the bathroom a second time to take more pills. I couldn’t go about my day until the pain subsided.
This was no way to live.
Discovering Cali Bud
Eight years ago, I moved to Los Angeles to finish film school. I was still struggling with pain issues and pill dependency. Dealing with the Veterans Affairs system, there was a lag with the transfer of my medical information. Hence, I ran out of pills. On my second day leading into my third day without the pain killers, I was in bad shape. I started to experience withdrawal symptoms from the Vicodin and re-injured my back working on the set of a film.
My roommate saw me crawling around the apartment and suggested smoking some a joint for the pain. Being a vet, smoking weed was a big “no-no” in our circles. Weed was for “losers,” — it’s what they told us when I was in the service. For some reason or another, weed was “bad”, but pills were acceptable.
According to a 2014 study, nearly one in four active-duty military personnel showed signs of a mental health condition and replaced opioids with cannabis or consumed cannabis as a way to manage mental health and anxiety (1). Pride made me resist cannabis. But where was my pride after peeing myself trying to crawl to the bathroom? That was my lowest point. I had to do something.
On day three without Vicodin, my roommate rolled up a joint of Pineapple Express. The relief was instant, but I was high as a telephone wire. There was no way that I could function normally smoking something that strong, but I knew it had the potential to help me. Once the high wore off, I tried edibles for the first time. I didn’t know how to properly dose, so I ate the whole brownie — the experience was more extreme. It was a rough few hours, but it was better than the pills.
First Day In A Decade — No Pain
I woke up the next morning with a ton of energy. For the first time, in almost a decade, I woke up pain-free. I couldn’t believe how well it worked. I spent years avoiding cannabis from the stigma, and the whole time it was the answer.
That morning I drove to Venice to get my first medical marijuana card. I was still skeptical. I explained my situation to the doctor. I didn’t want to exchange one drug for another. I also wanted to function on it. He told me cannabis wasn’t habit-forming. He educated me on the different strains that I use during the day that would help me with pain and my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues.
After getting my card, I shopped and picked up Sativa dominant hybrids to try over the week. I liked how the different strains had different effects. They had diverse experiences — giggly to super focused. It took a while for me to find the correct strain, but it was an enjoyable experience.
The Cannabis Pre-Workout Routine
Later on that week, my roommate put me onto the Coco Diaz and Joe Rogan podcasts. Particularly an episode on how they work out high. At this point, I didn’t know people were hitting the gym high. I imagined working out high was a crazy concept. But I also thought it was crazy I was getting high.
I figured, “What was the worst that could happen?”
I found a gym close by, and when I got there, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who had the idea, because the parking lot was heavily weed scented, I felt comfortable. I sparked a joint of Sour Diesel in the parking lot before stepping into the gym.
For the next three hours, I did everything at the gym, including working out high. I went from lifting to running and swimming. I don’t even like swimming. Smoking gave me the focus to work out, and the time just blew by. It was lunchtime before I even knew it. I had a fantastic workout. I wasn’t in pain, for the first time in years.
The Ultimate Results
It took some trial and error over the years. I tried different strains and methods. However, what works for me every morning is to start the day with a sativa strain and then work out. It’s been a rite of passage and I’m constantly trying to improve my cannabis routine, health and wellness. I couldn’t have done it without working out high and integrating into my pre-workout routine.
- Denning LA, Meisnere M, Warner KE, editors. Preventing Psychological Disorders in Service Members and Their Families: An Assessment of Programs. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2014 Feb 11. 3, UNDERSTANDING PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH IN THE MILITARY: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222167/