Dark Side of Gyms...Muscle Dysmorphia

As odd as it sounds muscle dysmorphia effects bros all across the world. 

    No different than when some individuals, especially women, suffer from body dysmorphia or anorexia, men can have similar dostorted views of themselves. I know this because I have personal experience suffering from muscle dysmorphia.

     Since elementary school I was always fighting a loosing battle. I was never really that big of a kid, and compared to my friends I was always the shortest. Getting picked on for being the small guy ingrained some negative thoughts, that from time to time, still float around in my mind. Though it was fuel for my mission to become more fit and strong, there were repercussions. 

    Even now that I am older, more muscular, and taller I still have the mind game that I don't really appear big at all. That is the basic definition of muscle dysmorphia. Basically someone can look at themselves, even if they are huge, and think they are still small. Bodybuilders are a perfect example of this, hence why so many of them go off the rails with steriod use.   

    In a way I also blame a portion of the fitness industry and social media. We are constantly blasted with photoshop-ed images of fitness models that give everyone a false impression of how the body should appear. When in reality no one can have 4% body fat and look vascular 24/7, without passing out and dying. Yet these are the type of people we see on instagram, youtube, supplement ads, and practically anywhere on the internet when searching the word "fitness."   

    So how did I really come to realize I have this weird view of myself? One day I heard the term in a podcast and decided to look it up. One site had a headline asking, "do you suffer from muscle dysmorphia?" So out of curiosity I clicked the link to the site and filled out a questionnaire. To my surprise majority of my answers pointed a confirmation that I have muscle dysmorphia. Then as I sat back in my chair in disbelieve all of the signs slowly came to me. Over analyzing my diet, counting every single thing I ate, looking at my reflection to see if I even appeared muscular. All were unconscious habits that I formed, some more severe than others. One of the oddest was me pinching my stomach in attempts to calibrate my body fat percentage. I did this randomly throughout the day and sometimes even after meals.

    After I realized this problem I immediately began working towards changing how I viewed myself and being happy with who I am. I'll admit it's not an easy thing to get over, especially working within the fitness industry. But to really get over muscle dysmorphia one has to change their mindset, gain confidence, and become comfortable with who they are. Ignore what other people may think or believe, and do what makes [YOU] happy. Above all don't let the false images of the fitness industry sway how you feel about yourself. I wanted to tell my expeirence just so no one out there feels alone if they're dealing with the same struggle. 

 -"Keep on Keepin' on"
John D. Schaser