There’s a sad misconception in this country that cannabis is only for the lazy. Ask the average American to describe a cannabis user and they’ll more than likely paint a picture of some doughy twenty-something in a crumb covered Rasta drug-rug sunk halfway into a sofa and stuffing their face with under-baked Bagel Bites. Which, okay of course is true, but not the norm anymore.

In fact, a lot of people are now using cannabis and cannabis products to achieve exactly the opposite effect.

Because of the nation’s obsession with image, weight loss products have become a dime a dozen. Pills that slim off the soft spots, powder mixes that replace actual food, programs that feed you pre-packaged meals devoid of any real nutrients … the list is endless.

But for good reason: weight loss product consumers are ballooning in America. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that a staggering 40 percent of American adults and 20 percent of adolescents are obese.

Over 300,000 people die every year from obesity related complications.

But there is one simple, natural supplement (currently listed as a schedule 1 substance by the federal government) that can actually be used to suppress one’s appetite; one that can help the mind prepare for workout, and help the body recover afterwards. It’s a wonder flower, with no negative side effects. And it is rapidly growing in popularity among health and fitness experts.

Cannabis, the drug stigmatized as something that only makes people sloth-like and only causes out-of-control appetites, can also be used for fitness and weight management. At least, that’s according to the experts and people who have successfully done it.

Jennessa Lea is the owner of Fit Cannabis Girl and Break the Stigma Fitness in Denver, Colorado (Denver’s only marijuana gym). She’s also a public speaker, cannabis activist, advocate, entrepreneur, model and sponsored cannabis athlete. “Cannabis can most definitely be used as a fitness supplement!” she proclaims, excitedly. “It alleviates pain, aids in muscle recovery, is a bronchodilator, can be used to help get you into a pre-workout mood and allows you to have a better muscle-mind connection.”

[Jennessa Lea, via Facebook]

Now, no one is going to make the argument marijuana doesn’t ever give you the munchies, or end up in a couch-locked 10-hour Super Smash Bros binge … it does. But that’s far from the only thing this special substance is capable of being used for. In reality, it all depends on the strain you’re using and your mentality going into it.

“I can say that mindset has a lot to do with how functional you can be while using cannabis, and finding the right strain can even aid in energy and suppress appetite,” explains Lea.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is the cannabinoid attributed with that special quality — producing the opposite effect of the munchies. And, almost always, THCV is found in sativa strains, which produce those “active highs” that are so good for boosting energy. Depending on the strain, you can find excellent options to use before, during and post-workout.

“A favorite strain of mine to medicate with before getting active is Tangie,” says Lea. “I love the flavor and the energy it gives me! During and after my workouts, I enjoy medicating with a high CBD strain like Harlequin to help calm any inflammation I may be having and to aid in muscle recovery. I also really enjoy some gassy Gorilla Glue #4 to ease pain and help me relax after getting chronically fit.”

Lea isn’t alone in using cannabis as a fitness and health supplement, either. Fitness trainers around the state are beginning to use and recommend both THC and CBD strains for endurance activities like running or cycling. World-class athletes are also using it as a type of performance enhancing drug. There’s even products on the market now like hemp protein powder and cannabis protein bites. It’s a dank new way for athletes and other active individuals to prepare for their workouts.

So, if you’re looking for a diet and exercise supplement, ask your local budtender about a THCV-high sativa strain, and help break the lazy stoner stigma unfairly affixed to cannabis. Your belts will thank you.