Most of the Conditions Discussed in this Section will be in relation to People who Gravitate to the Fitness Industry. Individuals who enjoy Recreational or Competitive Body Building or simply fall in the “Gym Rat” Category. None of these Behaviors will directly cause Harm to the Body, but rather Indirect Harm through Positive Re-Enforcement of certain Behaviors that come along with Body Building or being involved with Fitness in General.
These Behaviors are then Combined with the Abuse of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) to acquire a certain Physique, which is often Developed to cover an Insecurity or Personality Disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a Type of Mental Illness. People with OCD can either have Obsessive Thoughts & Urges or Compulsive & Repetitive Behaviors. Some People have both Obsessions & Compulsions, which can severely affect their Job, Education, Relationships as their Thoughts & Actions are beyond their Control.
Obsessive-Compulsive Habits might include performing a Task for a Certain Amount of Time, like washing your Hands 5 Times after touching something which you consider to be Dirty. Or the Desire to order your Wardrobe by Color, Size & Length after each Laundry Session.
Certain Classifications of OCD are the most Common Behavioral Disorder that Body Builders portray. Partially due to the Repetitiveness of the Actions needed to be Successful in Body Building;
• Eating the same Meals
• Performing Fasted Cardio
• Training to Failure with Weights that could Potentially cause Injury
• Taking a Boat Load of Supplements & PED’s
Repeated Day after Day until the Body looks Aesthetically Pleasing!
The Re-Enforcement that comes with Performing these Minute Tasks on a Daily Basis, which all Contribute to a Larger Product of Developing Ones Physique to a certain Standard in Body Building, eventually turns into a Form of OCD and starts to Detract from other Aspects in Life. Relationships, Sources of Income, Education, Family, etc. All get put aside while the Body Builder or Fitness Enthusiast, carefully Focuses on the Tasks he or she can Control.
While you might feel Compulsively Forced to do these Tasks in a Certain Order and can’t perform one Task without Completing several (Important) Tasks Prior, before being able to Proceed to the next Tasks. Like eating a Pre-Workout Meal, followed by GH & Insulin Injections, followed by Pre-Workout Shake with Pre-Workout Supplements, followed by the Actual Workout with Post-Workout Nutrition right after to make use of the ever so Important “Anabolic Window” !!
Without Balance of Body Building and other Important Tasks like loving your Partner, earning Money to Pay Bills, Learning for Perpetual Self-Improvement (besides Body Building) and spending Time with your Parents, Siblings, etc. This OCD Behavior will completely consume the Body Builder or Fitness Enthusiast, until the point there’s only Body Building, and nothing but Body Building (and Bills)…
That being said, the Body Builders with Extreme Forms of OCD are usually the most Successful, at least in Terms of their Physical Development. If you learn to spread the OCD out over Relationships, Business, Self-Improvement & Family, then you can have Equal Success in most of these Aspects of Life, without really sacrificing one for the other.
You’ll need to allocate Time for each and use your OCD Tendencies on each Aspects of your Life, only for that Specific Time Slot. For Example; Work from 9AM to 5PM, Learn on the Job on your Bosses Time, Train from 5:30PM to 7PM, Relationship Time from 7:30PM till Bedtime and Allocate the Entire Saturday or Sunday for your Partner, Close Friends & Family.
During these Time Slots you don’t Overlap other Aspects, Focusing entirely on what you Allocated your Time for! This way you’ll never lose Balance and you’ll get everything done with Maximum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder-like Efficiency, while keeping Positive Re-Enforcement going after you Perform each Minute Task for that Dopamine Reward!
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) / Bigorexia
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) or Body Dysmorphia is a Type of Mental Illness where a Person spends a lot of Time worrying about Flaws in their Appearance. These Flaws are often completely Unnoticeable to Others. It’s most common in Female Teenagers & Young Adults, but it can affect People of all Age Groups & Sexes.
People might worry about a Specific Area of their Face or Body, compare their Looks to Others (often to Famous or more Popular People of their Social Circle), spend a lot of Time looking in the Mirror or avoid them Altogether and go to Extraordinary Lengths to hide their Perceived Flaws. BDD usually leads to Depression, Self-Harm or Suicidal Thoughts or Actions.
This Disorder of Self-Reflection often leads to the Biggest Issues of Drug Abuse in Body Building. When you Suffer from “Bigorexia”, you never see yourself Big Enough and always compare yourself to People who you Imagine to be Bigger than you. The Boundaries in Relation to your Health get pushed aside as you slowly Spiral into Drug Abuse aiming to get Bigger & Bigger, usually until your Break Internally or Tear a few Muscles in the Process.
Supermodels or Divas have a similar Issue, while they don’t need to be the Biggest, they certainly need to be the Prettiest & Most Desired Person in the Room. Once their Looks are declining, often due to Age, Models & Diva’s will resort to Plastic Surgery, more Extravagant Dresses, more Extravagant Behavior, all to get People’s Attention & Validation. It usually gets worse over Time, resulting in “Attention Whore”-Type Behavior!
There isn’t really a Cure for Bigorexia or Body Dysmorphia, unless you take away all the Mirrors, Camera’s or anything else that can Contribute to the Warped Sense of your own Body Composition. When you’re never happy with your Appearance, always thinking you’re too Small or Smaller than other People, there’s an underlying Insecurity that Manifests itself by the Desire to be the Biggest Person in the Room at ALL TIME! This Insecurity needs to be addressed before you can take Charge of your BDD.
It takes a Strong & Dedicated Partner to help Body Builders with Bigorexia to stop in their Self-Destructive Behavior; Food Abuse, Drug Abuse, Over Training, OCD Tendencies, etc. As long as the Partner can Consistently Re-Assure them that they are indeed, Big Enough, Good Enough, Strong Enough, or anything else that Solidifies their Ego with Words, without the Self-Destructive Behavioral Problems, that will often be enough to reduce the Warped Self-Perception that comes along with Body Dysmorphia.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
The Defining Feature of Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia, is intense Fear & Anxiety of being Judged, Negatively Evaluated or Rejected by others, often in a Social Setting or Performance Situation. People with Social Anxiety Disorder may also worry about their Acting or Appearing Visibly Anxious, or being Viewed as Stupid, Awkward or Boring. As a result, they often avoid Social Situations or Interactions with other People altogether.
Something People also Experience Strong Physical Symptoms; Rapid Heart Beat, Nausea, Sweating or Panic / Anxiety Attach when Confronted with a Social Situation. Although most People Recognize that their Fear is Excessive & Unreasonable, they often feel Powerless against their Anxiety, regarding how their being Perceived by Other People.
While it’s not very common among Recreational Body Builders & Gym Rats to suffer from SAD, as most Body Builders generally Enjoy the Attention they receive from Other People, especially when they perceive themselves to be Big, Ripped & Vascular.
Competitive Body Builder do sometimes Suffer from this Disorder as they’re Stepping on Stage to be Judged, according to their Physique and the Work they’ve done to bring a Certain Package to the Stage. Sometimes this Package is meant to be Competitive, and doesn’t necessarily Reflect how they prefer to Look, but rather bring a Package that can win the Show, based on the Judges Criteria.
This often leads to Severe Social Anxiety as the Competitive Body Builder gets increasingly Fearful of not Winning or not Placing in the Top 3 or Top 5, considering they put an Incredible Amount of Effort into the Show for an Appearance that lasts, at most, 60 Minutes on Stage.
I’ve seen Competitive Body Builders go from Extremely Confident, to Completely Introverted & Reclusive in the Matter of Minutes, after they’ve received a Comment from a Judge or Rival Competitor, which Completely Shattered their Ego in the Process. This often causes them to completely ruin their Physique with a Film of Water, from Stress, Doubts & Anxiety.
Competitive Body Building is the Most Subjective Sport you can Possibly Participate in, you need a Strong Mind & Unbreakable Confidence in order to be Competitive and allow yourself to be Judged & Compared to others.
Codependency is a Behavioral Condition in a Relationship where one Person enables another Person’s Addiction, Poor Mental Health, Immaturity, Irresponsibility or Under-Achievement. Among the Core Characteristics of Codependency is an Excessive Reliance on other People for Approval and a Sense of Identity.
Definitions of Codependency Syndrome vary, but it is generally Defined as a Sub-Clinical, Situational and/or an Episodic Behavioral Condition similar to that of Dependent Personality Disorder. The Term is less Individually Diagnostic and more Descriptive of a Relationship Dynamics.
In the Fitness Industry the Codependency Syndrome is often seen in the Coach-Client Relationship. Where the Client Hires a Coach they Admire and also seek Validation from, often slowly Requesting the Coach to Enable & Confirm their Self-Destructive Behavior of Drug Abuse & Poor Self-Reflection. Often the Codependent completely relies on the Enabler to Validate their Addiction, being able to Justify it because their Coach (Enabler) is recommending them to use certain PED’s during the Off Season or Contest Prep.
It’s an incredibly Weird Relationship Dynamic, as the Coach might not realize what’s going on until Full Codependency has been Irreversibly Established. At this Point the Client will rely on the Coach to Validate Decisions in other Aspects of their Lives, like Relationships, Finances, which Education to Choose, etc.
This is more common than you might think, People are lonely and are willing to pay to have an Enabler, Father Figure or Friend in their Lives…
While not a Diagnosed Mental Disorder, Seeking Reassurance or Validation is usually an Extension of Social Anxiety Disorder, where the Person Desperately needs Approval & Validation of Worth from other People.
Most Body Builders & People in the Fitness Industry Typically fall under this Umbrella of Behavioral Types, as they not only need Attention & Validation by their Peers of the Fitness Industry, they also require Constant Affirmation of their Vanity & Appearance in order to keep going with their OCD Tendencies to manage their Physique.
This Behavior is particularly noticeable on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and other Social Media Platforms, where the reach to others far exceeds that of their Direct Social Circle. Nowadays People measure their Self-Worth in the Amount of Followers, Subscribers & Likes they receive, beside the Compliments, Selfie Requests and Stares they get from People in the Real Worlds.
It almost become an Addiction, where the Search for Validation by others becomes a Constant Necessity in their Lives. Consistently Posting Body Update Pictures, wearing revealing Clothes (even though the Weather doesn’t really permit it), obsessively giving others Compliments in order to get them in Return…
I think most Body Builders don’t even realize they are doing it, as they’re all incredibly involved with their own Physical Development, thinking they’re doing it for themselves, when in Reality, they’re merely doing it for Validation.
The Constant need for Validation has lead the Majority of the People who make some sort of income from Social Media, to remain on Cycle the entire Year. As they feel they would lose Respect, Likes, Subscribers, Followers, etc. if they come off the Steroids and they lose their Impressive Looks in the Process. You can’t blame them for this as People in the Spotlight get Judged 24/7, going down to 50-75% of their usual Physique is always met with Scrutiny & Drama by the People who they constantly seek Validation from.
Thus they decide to stay on Steroids until they get a few Health Scares or Injuries, after which they’re forced to go Off Cycle, get Healthy and lose some, or most of their Shape in the Process. At that Point Social Anxiety Disorder might Manifest, causing them to disappear from Social Media Completely, at least until they Regain their old Physique back, which makes them seek Validation once again!
Gateway Abuse to other Drugs
To be Honest it’s more common for Body Builder to come from a Background of Recreational Drug use, then it is for them to start using Recreational Drugs after they’ve become Body Builders. People who Enjoyed going to Clubs or Festivals in their Younger Years, often Resort to Steroids and other PEDs earlier than those who we’re not Exposed to Party Drugs before they started Body Building. Most likely this is due to the Fact that the Recreational Drug user already make the Decision to take Illegal Substances in the Past and no longer sees Legality as an Obstacle. It could also be that these People simply have a reduced Respect for their own Body, depending on how they treated their own use of Recreational Drugs, either by Abusing them Frequently or Enjoying them Sparingly.
From what I’ve seen in my Years in the Fitness Industry, those with Past Experiences with Recreational Drugs, often resort to PEDs within the First Year of Training, which is way too early. It takes a few Years to Master Training & Nutrition, allowing you to make the Most out of a little Amount of PEDs, reducing the Negative Effects on your Health.
What I’ve also Noticed with “Retired” Recreational Drug users, is that Body Building or Fitness is just a Phase in their Lives, not a Passion. Much like Partying was a Phase, Body Building is now the new Phase and they’ll do anything to belong among the Fitness Crowd, as soon as they possibly can with the use of PEDs.
They usually last 3-5 Years, at which Point they Realize that they didn’t Acquire the Skills or Work Ethic Required to Develop a Quality Physique. Which might not even be Possible due to Decline Health from Years of Recreational & Performance Enhancing Drug Abuse…
On the other Side, some Body Builders who got Injured or Suffering from Pain due to the Increasingly Demanding Workouts as you Progress in Size & Strength, might Resort to Marijuana, Kratom, NSAIDs, Pain Killers, Opiates, Sleeping Pills, etc. In order to numb the Pain or make Contest Prep more Tolerable.
Since the Threshold of Legality has already been taking away by the Decision to use PEDs, turning to Recreational Drugs or Off-Label use of Medication can be the next Seemingly Logical Step for some Body Builders or Fitness Enthusiasts…
While it often starts with good Intentions, simply to suppress the Feeling of Pain, Hunger, Boredom, Depression, etc. it might lead to Frequent Use and Develop into Addiction of left Unmanaged.
In most Cases, there are Underlying Triggers for Addiction & Relapses, which usually requires the Supervision of a Medical Professional and a Sponsor to help the Person take control of the Addiction and allow them to recover!