'Bigorexia' (muscle dysmorphia) - do you have it?

So this morning I caught part of a program on TV that  focused on 'bigorexia' - a term being used for muscle dysmorphia, where someone is always wanting to be bigger, stronger, more muscular, obsessed with their physique. Apparently 1 in 10 men who go to the gym suffer from it.



'Bigorexia' is a little more complex than one just wanting to be bigger. It is actually a mentality issue where someone who is rather muscular and strong, looks at them self as small and weak. The cause of this is unclear - but there is speculation that it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. 'Bigorexia' is something that takes over someone's life, they become obsessed with working out, obsessed with diet, and if they miss a session or a meal, they can react in a bad way. I personally feel that out of those people who suffer from this, a small-ish percent will actually have something wrong - in terms of a chemical imbalance, or something else in the brain that is at the root of the problem. I believe that a lot of people will end up with 'bigorexia' due to a negative past experience - being bullied at school for example, so they switch to the gym to become 'hyper masculine'. Lifting weights, becoming stronger, bigger, it does result in that person becoming a lot more confident, feeling more powerful, feeling more masculine - and that can become addictive, very adictive.

The one main issue that I personally see with bodybuilding, is that 'perfect' is never achievable - your body is a constant 'work in progress'. I'm sure if you ask Arnold Schwarzenegger if he ever reached 'perfection' with his physique, he would tell you no. He may well have reached 99% of what he wanted, but reaching 100%? I doubt it. When you're building your physique, your muscles will all develop at different rates, hence why you'll hear guys say things like - "My upper chest could be a little bigger", "I need to work on my legs more", "My arms aren't as big as I would like them to be". There is always something that you could improve, and as mentioned, it can become addictive.

The thing with the gym, is that it's you against yourself and the weights. Bodybuilders focus on how they look, but they will also focus on the weights they are lifting - they always want to progress, always want to lift heavier. It really is a challenge - trying to beat what you did the previous day/week/month/year. It can consume someone's life fairly easily, but having other interests that take up time can really help. Me? yes I love to train, it's a passion of mine, I want to improve my body, my fitness, but it doesn't take over my life. I am very strict with the routine that I have - my training, my diet, my supplements, sleep, rest, recovery and so on. BUT! because I have a lot of other things going on in my life, I understand that working out is not all that matters - I have my business that I'm building, a lot of online work, clients, research, investments, family, so all of those things keep me grounded. Some people don't have much else to do except workout - so they become obsessed and addicted, which can easily spiral out of control.

I honestly think muscle dysmorphia, or 'bigorexia', is 100% real, and is more common than people think - just on different levels. The sad fact is that it an wreck peoples lives, and in a small number of cases that I have read, it has even lead to fatalities due to suicide.

'Bigorexia' doesn't really get spoken about, and those who suffer from it don't really have anywhere to turn to. A lot of people will look at 'bigorexia' and think "how stupid, you're in good shape, I have no sympathy for you" - it's just not something people relate to as a 'real problem'. Maybe after some media coverage, it will bring about some awareness.

Lee Gregory Fitness 

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