Body Dysmorphia In Bodybuilding – The Truth
In this article I will be discussing a very important topic and that is body dysmorphia in bodybuilding. It is a problem that many bodybuilders suffer from and causes them to experience a decline in their self image. It also can lead to mental health problems and in very severe cases depression and suicide. Therefore it is something that has to be talked about as it can have far reaching implications.
What Is Body Dysmorphia?
Essentially body dysmorphia is a mental health condition where a person is overly preoccupied with how they look and how they are perceived by others. Maybe they feel like they are too fat or too skinny, or not muscular enough. They suffer from a poor self image as a result and it destroys their overall confidence. They don’t feel good enough and don’t want others to see them. They think that everyone is judging them and also shares the same views about their body as they do.
This is a serious problem as it can result in severe depression and stop a person from progressing in life. It will interfere with their life and they will be unable to function optimally. Common treatments for body dysmorphia are therapies and antidepressants.
Many Bodybuilders Have Dysmorphia
It should then come as no surprise that many bodybuilders suffer from body dysmorphia. Bodybuilding is a sport where you are sculpting your body to continually “look” better – more muscular, more vascular and defined, etc. Self improvement in this form has no finish line and therefore there is no limit to how far you can improve your physique.
Many bodybuilders have body dysmorphia as they feel that no matter how much they improve their physique it is still “not good enough” and they are not as big as they would like or as muscular. A good example of this is a friend of mine that trains with me in the gym. His name is Maks, he competes as an amateur bodybuilder and takes steroids. Taking steroids is a decision that I personally don’t think is worth it unless you are a pro bodybuilder or competing at the highest levels in strength sports. It can have serious long term health consequences, however he has chosen to go down that route. Below is a picture of his transformation in bodybuilding from him at 17 years old to him now at 34 years old.
Despite making incredible progress in those 17 years with his physique he still feels “small” for a bodybuilder and believes he needs to build more muscle everywhere. This issue is common with many bodybuilders and can impact their self esteem in a negative way. You should be proud when you make a lot of progress on your goals instead of continuing to feel inadequate.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
A good philosophy to live by and one that would help to reduce incidences of body dysmorphia is to not compare yourself to others. It is detrimental to your self image and confidence. You can always find people that are “better” than you, this doesn’t just apply to fitness but also everything else in life. There are always people that have a better physique than you, more money than you, better cars, more women, etc. However if you don’t compare yourself to anyone else you don’t rob yourself of your own happiness and forward progress.
The only race that is important is the race to be a better version of yourself and to be better than the person you used to be. Therefore it is best to just keep focusing on yourself and your own goals and improving slowly over time. Do not concern yourself with that other people are doing. Unfortunately we live in a day and age where social media use is rife and we are bombarded with other people’s lives all the time. People are only showing their “highlight reels” on social media and it gives people a false idea that everyone else is doing better than they are. In my view, it is best to limit social media use and just concentrate on your own growth.
Are you happy with yourself and the progress you have made? If the answer is yes then great – keep going! If it is no, sit down and think about what you need to do to get to where you want to go. Have goals in place and an action plan and work on getting there over time. It will never be easy but the journey is very rewarding. It is the person that you become along the way that matters the most. Practice being grateful as well for all the things that you do have and all the progress that you have made. Show yourself some love, self love is so important in life and can solve so many problems. Never let others put you down and most importantly don’t put yourself down.
Learning to be content with slow progress is also important. Enjoy the journey and don’t be in too much of a rush to get to the final destination. Otherwise you will put too much pressure on yourself and sabotage your efforts. By learning to be content with making slow progress you will also be less likely to take drastic measures like resorting to PEDs and steroids. Drug use of this form can have serious health consequences long term like increasing the likelihood of suffering from heart attacks as well as other cause mortality.
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To conclude, in this article I have talked about a very important topic – body dysmorphia in bodybuilding. It is a very big problem and one that needs to be addressed. I know that it is easy to compare yourself to others and feel inadequate regardless of how much progress you have made. However this is destructive and will also sabotage your happiness in life. Life is too short to be miserable and suffering from a poor self image, instead we should all strive to improve ourselves in all ways and show ourselves love when we do good things. Celebrate every small bit of progress that you make and never put yourself down. You are you and there is no one else on this planet that is like you. Like they say, be you because everyone else is already taken! If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below, I would love to hear your thoughts. As always, enjoy your training and stay safe!