Dead or Alive: Rodger’s Incredible Story

In this article I interviewed Rodger Padgett. Rodger’s is a story of a man who wrestled with addiction and battled significant health problems. These things alone would have defeated lesser men. 

Rodger beat them all and completely turned life around – thanks in no small part to optimal testosterone levels and a great lifestyle to go with it! What’s more, he’s in his mid-60s and has the kind of physique men half his age would kill for it.

Rodger, please tell us a little bit about you and your background?

I was born on December 7th, 1951 in Eugene, Oregon. I was the youngest of twins and one of six boys in my family!  Growing up, I wasn’t athletic. I also wasn’t an athlete in school. And in the last year of high school I developed a drug dependency.

This continued for some years after, and I became dependent on methamphetamines and hallucinogens. Most of that stopped when I joined the U.S. Army in 1972 – except for the meth.  

Solider military

After getting assigned to my first duty station in Fort Hood, Texas, my meth habit came to an abrupt end. But not in the way I intended – I came down with hepatitis B and spent 30 days in ward “W” (a drug and alcohol recovery ward.) 

While I was there, one of my roommates was visited by a friend. It later turned out that this was actually a drug delivery. After his friend left, my roommate went into the toilet and was later found dead.

He had overdosed on heroin.

The visit was unlucky for him, but a major wake up call for me. I was 23 and decided I wanted to live to be 60. If I kept going like that I knew I wouldn’t make it to 24.

I spent the next year in drug and alcohol rehabilitation counseling. During my time in rehab, I learned to substitute healthy habits (running) for bad habits that had been plaguing me (drugs). 

I developed a newfound love for running and tackled it with the same enthusiasm I have with other things in my life. I trained for and ran 5, 10 and 15 km road races. I’ve also run 15 marathons, and clocked 14 of them in under three hours! 

I applied myself with renewed enthusiasm to the physical life in the army. Most soldiers would usually look to get by and meet the minimum physical standards – not me! I could do 100 push ups in 2 minutes, 100 sit-ups in 2 minutes and 1-mile run in less than 7 minutes. In July 2004 I retired after 32 years in the Army and stayed active until 2008. That’s when I began to have health issues.

You are in exceptional shape for your age. What drives you to maintain this level of health & fitness, at an age when most men have given up?

In October 2008 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had been suffering from frequent migraines and developed several autoimmune conditions. The worst of which was psoriasis ( a skin condition) over a significant portion of my body.  

The neurologist I was seeing sent me for a CAT scan of my neck to investigate. This resulted in a diagnosis of arthritis in my cervical spine, which explained the migraines. 

They also discovered lumps in my thyroid believed to be cancerous. The doctors moved quickly and I had my thyroid removed on December 23rd, 2008. 

That December marked my slow descent into the physical condition I had ever been in. After surgery energy levels were at an all-time low. I was overeating carbohydrates and quickly became overweight. Over the next four years I put on a whopping of 75 lbs (34 kg).

In October 2011 I was notified that my two oldest brothers went into the same hospital for the same thing, i.e. congestive heart failure, on the same day. A family affair you could say. One of them was overweight and sedentary, the other still had a drug problem. 

At the time I was a sloopy 245 lbs (111 kg) and on a similar path to my brothers. And I knew that if I didn’t do something about it I would share the same fate as them.

Nowadays people try to make health more complicated than it is. They obsess over complex macronutrient calculations and read countless books. At some point though you simply have to take action!

Sometimes, all it takes is a resolve to change and determination to do whatever it takes to see it through. 

Testosterone before and after

Before and after: How Rodger looks today

I began by totally revamping my nutrition and following a low-carb diet. I knew enough to appreciate that insulin resistance is associated with virtually every chronic disease. The idea of the new diet was to address my insulin resistance, balance my blood sugar, and above all lose weight! 

I also started taking metformin, which helps increase insulin sensitivity. Studies also demonstrate that testosterone increases your insulin sensitivity. If there’s one thing you can do for a longer, healthier life, it’s increase your insulin sensitivity!

In other words, the less circulating insulin you have in your bloodstream, the less toxicity you have in your body. 

In addition, I underwent a regular exercise program at the gym that was mostly functional and movement based. I did get to do multiple, multi-hour cardio sessions that year. 

 Over the next seven months I continued to drop body fat and gain lean muscle mass! The more muscle I gained, the better I felt. 

I hired a fitness coach to help me with my goals and it was the best decision I ever made! I would probably be six feet under by the time I figured it out myself. 

Working with a coach eliminated the confusion about what, when and why of nutrition and exercise to achieve the kind of health and body I always desired. 

I learned a lot more than “bro” science. I learned to challenge my muscles rather than lift weights. I also learned more can be accomplished with less damage to tendons and connective tissue. Whereas many people assume you have to beat your body into submission to get results!

What drives me to maintain my fitness now? A few things. First, it would have been a terrible waste of effort to fall back on bad habits. Second, I feel so much better mentally and physically with this lifestyle. Finally, I want to live my best life in the best body I ever had!

Why do you think that most men your age let their health deteriorate?

I think it’s a combination of factors. They’ve accepted they’re getting older and their physical condition has changed. Their responsibilities pile up; family, kids, work, etc, and they become ‘too busy’ to workout. Although in truth, being busy is usually a code word for ‘it’s not a priority.’

Many simply become complacent. They don’t realize they have hormonal issues and it’s wreaking havoc with their health. Instead, put it down to ‘age.’ Why does this happen? Because the never have their hormones checked!

Apart from this, some men are just plain lazy! Workout? That’s too hard! But I get it – the gym is not for everyone. You can achieve a lot simply by changing your diet and walking at a good pace for 30-45 minutes a day!

Can you tell us a little bit about your current lifestyle, training, nutrition and supplementation?

 In August 2018 my total (serum) testosterone plummeted to 45 ng/dL (1.6 nmol/L) – basically non-existent. My estrogen (E2) was even higher at 65 pg/mL. In October of the same year, after wrestling with depression and the myriad symptoms related to low T, I found a local doctor who prescribed me testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). 

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I haven’t looked back since! My health transformation didn’t stop there. I also cleaned up my diet. Big time. 

I want to stress that if you do take testosterone, it’s no magic bullet. You still need a solid nutrition plan and lifestyle if you want to live a Fully Optimized Life

Over the past 12 months I’ve experimented with a few different dietary approaches. This included the keto diet and I even went full carnivore for 12 weeks. 

I feel many men over 50. They don’t take up new hobbies or try new things and they lose their zest for life. One day morphs into the next and everything becomes a blur.

Henry David Thoreau summed up best this condition with his famous quote:

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them."

I think a lot of this malaise and indifference in older age stems from low testosterone.

It’s no secret that men’s testosterone levels drop as they age. After the age of 30, testosterone levels decline by as much as 1% per year!

At 67 I’m as energetic and as driven as I’ve ever been! 

And I know that much of it has to do with hormonal balance and the lifestyle I lead.

I’ve learned over the past few years that like everything else in life, change is what I respond to best. My training routine changes every six to eight weeks based on what my stimulus was the last period and what I think I need next.

What would you say to men in their 50s and 60s who look at you now and want to achieve something similar?

 Most older men are defeated before they start. They have limiting beliefs and think their age means they can’t have great health and a top-notch physique. Nonsense! I am proof positive of this. 

As I said, most people use ‘age’ as an excuse. In truth, they’re scared of the work it takes to get results! 

Getting into great shape, at any age, requires discipline, hard work and sacrifice – it’s nowhere near as much as people are led to believe. 

There seems to be this notion today that success in both health and life are mutually exclusive. That is, if you are going to have great health then you must give up everything else to focus on it. 

I’m here to tell you: 

You can have it all – a successful great, wonderful relationship AND incredible health. 

It simply requires an intelligent approach, much like my own story. 

If you put in the effort into your health – regardless of your age – you will be rewarded with a stronger body (invaluable to me while in recovery) and a longer life!

Final Thoughts

Rodger’s story is incredibly inspiring – not only to his peers but men of any age. It just goes to show, if you want the health and body of your dreams bad enough, then you’ll put in the work to make it happen. 

Now, if you’re an older man and you’re looking to get an edge in life do you need to take testosterone replacement therapy? Not necessarily, most men would do well to fix their poor nutrition and lifestyle habits first. Rather than expect testosterone to fix everything for them.

But if you’re a man over 50 who’s got his health and lifestyle otherwise dialed in? Then it can be a very positive adjunct to your life. However, in my experience these types of men are few and far between. 

The best testosterone booster is a great diet. I hope Rodger’s story inspired you to take action in your life. Let me know what you think in the comments below.