Summer has ended, Winter is in. You reflect about all the “beach bods” you saw, “maybe it’s time to join a gym” you think, “get into shape”, you join and love it. A few years of classes, weight lifting and gym go by. You finish a great “pump sesh” and you love how you look; however, you look over and another gym goer catches your attention. their more muscular and larger than you, and that great feeling seems to turn to “why can’t I be like that”. You’d been steadily bulking up thanks to an intense seven-days-a-week training regimen and a strict diet of grilled chicken and brown rice, so why do I feel like this?
Being a gym goer, going several times a week (maybe too much), to relieve some stress from my studies, work life or life in general, I have often reflected on my body and physique during my workouts. My experience with the gym has been extremely positives, but with that I do sometimes weigh up these positives with the negatives, I hear about having such a lifestyle.
A strong negative I hear about is Bigorexia; also known as Body or Muscle Dysmorphia, or the Adonis complex, is fast becoming a well-known disorder in the youth of society. Like all disorders they are horrible to those affected by what is this disorder? This disorder is related to body image, much like anorexia, however the person suffering from it becomes obsessed with the belief that they’re not muscular enough. In a study, The Adonis complex : The secret crisis of male body obsession, the claim that “Individuals with muscle dysmorphia differ from normal weight-lifting men on the basis of measures such as body dissatisfaction, eating attitudes and a prevalence of anabolic steroid use”.
“If you’re picturing a biceps-kissing egomaniac, you’ve got the wrong guy. Bigorexics dislike their bodies so much that they often hide them in shame.” – clinical psychologist Dr Stuart Murray
The disorder itself has led to the rise of performance enhancing drugs such as steroids as gym goers and Bigorexics chase their desired physique. Data from the latest Australian Needle Syringe Program survey showed almost three-quarters of new needle drug users in NSW took image and performance enhancing drugs, predominantly steroids.These drugs aren’t healthy and only fuel damaging nature of some gym goers and Bigorexics.
Of course, being aware and understanding this is the first step to overcome this issue. I, myself, have had some body dissatisfaction as well as friends of mine being affected by it as well. And as studies have shown and from personal experience, I have to say working out with mates can be fun way to help overcome this and even allows an increase in intensity as I compete with them or have them help and spot me on larger weights, no need for performance enhancing drugs. And although the negatives of gym going are apparent I choose to focus on the positives that are equally as helpful.
We all know that exercise can helps fight against heart disease, diabetes, builds strong bones and boost the immune system, generally just helping the body physically but it can also help mentally. In a study by the Harvard Medical School they found that the effects of just 30 mins to an hour, at least 3 days a week, of gym and exercise can Lifts spirits by releasing mood-lifting hormones and relieving stress. Exercising regularly has helped ease mild to moderate depression as effectively as medications. My main reason for going to the gym, relaxation weirdly enough.
“Treat the gym like the spa.” – Terry Crews, muscly dude from Old Spice commercials.
Now, I’m going to say you need to work out or you shouldn’t. But being aware of the positives and negatives of any activity, further creates understanding and through understanding we can find a balance of our many different lifestyles.