Gotta Get Those Gains Bro!
Bigorexia was officially recognized in 1997. Alternate names for the condition are “muscle dysmorphia” and “reverse anorexia.” The main characteristic is a misguided belief that the body is never muscular enough. Normal weightlifters admit to spending 40 minutes a day thinking about body development; men and women with bigorexia report body-related preoccupations of 5 or more hours a day. Though the underlying causes are not known, research indicates bigorexia is a combination of obsessive-compulsive behavior and social pressure.
While anorexia drives the relentless pursuit of thinness, bigorexia causes an altered self-image and obsessive yearning for bigger and better muscles. A person suffering from this disorder doesn’t look at himself or herself and see a muscular physique. Instead, they see an image that is unremarkable, weak and puny.
The mental obsession about diet, exercise, weight, and body image navigates a loves/hate relationship with the mirror. The average person who suffers from this will check to see how they are achieving results 10-40 times a day.
It is no wonder this being called “reverse anorexia.” Although bigorexic is primarily identified in men, women bodybuilders suffer as well. A high percentage undergoes the pressure to take steroids or HGH (Human Growth Hormones). Unfortunately this usually ends with diagnoses of anxiety disorder, ODC, and or mental disorders. Statically the odds of the person getting help aren’t good. This is usually because they are unwilling to see there is a problem.
I read one article where one man was unwilling to make love to his wife because it would waste too much energy. Energy he needed for the gym. So she left him and although he was upset, he wasn’t willing to stop, “ his routine.” Sadly, this is the definition of addiction. Addiction is the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.
It is crazy that there is a rise of “orexia’s”. I’ve heard drunkorexic (I have identified has one), manorexic, brideorexic, and there is more cute/lame names. Is it getting trendy to be sick? Or just more socially acceptable?
Orthorexia is it a eating disorder?
Let’s start with a brief description of what orthorexia is: “Having orthorexia nervosa not only means that people are obsessed with eating “healthily,” but also that they have a specific attitude to food, they prepare their food in a certain way as well as avoid consumption of some foods or all of a some group of foods since they consider them to be harmful for their health. The quality of the foods they consume is more important than personal values, interpersonal relationships, career plans, and social relationships. In fact, the desire to consume healthy foods is not a disturbing behavior in and of itself, and it is only defined as orthorexia nervosa when it causes a person to give up his or her normal lifestyle. Orthorexia nervosa could not be labeled as a new eating disorder because it does not include the most characteristic symptoms of anorexia and bulimia nervosa that is immense fear of be- coming fat, extreme weight-control behavior, as well as overvaluation of shape and weight. However, since orthorexia involves disturbance of eating habits it ought to be treated as a disorder concerning abnormal eating behavior inseparably linked with obsessive-compulsive symptoms (on account of paying too much attention to consuming healthy food and constant thinking about the quality of food intake).”(Brytek-Matera, 2012)
So, if the debate centers on the fact that orthorexia behaviors are generally not driven by body image concerns, then it would be easy to make the argument that orthorexia shouldn’t be paired with anorexia and bulimia. However, I don’t know if I agree. The mental obsession around food and what is or “isn’t” going into their bodies is as elevated as a person suffering from anorexia and bulimia.
It also brings up another great question. Are eating disorders defined only when the person has a fear of becoming fat? I have to say a big Fat No from my experience. I had a client tell me the other day that her eating disorder was a direct way to recreate trauma. In my opinion, eating disorders do not have to do with weight or body image at all. They may become a symptom of a fear, but the drive to cope with pain is usually the main trigger.
So why is it important that we discuss this at all? Eating disorder recovery is where alcoholism was 20 years ago. The media is starting to shine a brighter light on it. Mental health is being discussed on bigger platforms and with this new wave comes new awareness, addiction titles, and addiction diagnoses. (Look at the growth of the definitions, and treatment communities.)
When it comes to orthorexia, it seems to be a socially acceptable behavior. On the outside it looks “healthy”. If one were to go on Pintrest or Google and look up holistic eating, mindful eating, gluten free, paleo, macros, really, the list would go on and on. The nation is obsessed with these “so called healthy” lifestyles. While, it isn’t unhealthy to want to eat well and take care of your body, it is a problem when it becomes the solution to your pain. When it becomes, obsessive and takes control of everything you once cared about, it becomes an addiction.
When I was younger, I loved to eat out with my family. We would go to a mom and pop Italian restaurant down the street. As my eating disorder grew, I eventually stopped going with my family. I claimed there wasn’t anything “healthy or clean on the menu”. Now that I have 3 years in recovery I will go and enjoy myself. Knowing that it wasn’t the food I was running from. It was the pain and trauma the food represented. I was using an eating disorder as a way to cope with trauma and I got addicted to the behavior.
Not all eating disorders or mental illnesses can be put in the same box. The recovery and treatment for one should be based on the individual experience. I’m relieved we are in a period where we are examining and discussing these issues head on. I went to treatment in the 90’s and eating disorders had a huge stigma behind them. Getting help for one was very “hush hush” and recovery was treated more like a phase. And I didn’t grow out of it until 2014.
The purpose for the blog is because I have been asked a couple interesting questions. One client asked me if it was ok to take HGH (human growth hormone). His claim was that it is ok because it’s considered “California Sober” to be overly muscular. That didn’t make sense, so I asked for an explanation. He replied that being obsessed with size or muscle mass is a trend in the sober male community.
Another question I got was, “Am I in danger of a Eating Disorder if all I eat is clean food? I eat every meal, but I won’t eat anything that isn’t pure or organic. The thought of unclean food totally disgusts me.”
After hearing these questions, in the past few days, I’ve seen several news articles about Orthorexia and Bigorexia. Aside from the personal agony they can cause, there also seems to be a current cultural obsession.
Many of the news articles write that Orthorexia is a “newly recognized” eating disorder, even if it isn’t in the DSM (psychiatry’s Bible). I hear a lot more about Orthorexia now then when it was first diagnosed (1997), that’s for sure. Especially with the growth of smartphones and features like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and other platforms, Orthorexia has become more frequently discussed. A person (male or female but statically more females) suffering with Othorexia will obsess over clean eating and maintain the perfect diet. They fixate (obsessively and compulsively) on foods; supplements and ingredients that make them feel pure. Rarely do they eat out, distrusting anything that isn’t prepared in a “clean” way.
Bigorexia, better know as Muscle Dysmorphia, is a disorder that causes a person (men or women but statically more males) suffering it to constantly obsess and/or worry about being small, underdeveloped, and/or underweight. Typically those who have Muscle Dysmorphia are not frail or underdeveloped at all, and actually have large muscle mass. They obsess about having the perfect physique and believe their muscles are inadequate. This disorder is another form of Body Dysmorphia and is closely related to OCD.
However, can we actually call it a new disorder? In other words, is it an eating disorder in different clothing? Or could it be more related to obsessive-compulsive disorder than eating disorders? This question will be the subject of my next posts.
“It is in the Shit where the most Beautiful flowers grow.” –Tanya
The feeling of rejection is nothing new to me. I have been rejected by lovers, employers, friends, even my dog left me for my dad but those rejections happened when I was a drunk, anorexic/bulimic bitch. Not to say they weren’t painful but my disease had a big part on why I got tossed to the side. The type of rejection I am trying to process now is hard. Well, it’s not harder but it’s far more painful.
You see, I got sober in December of 2014 and in Aug 2015 I met a boy, I say boy because that is the truth. I thought I met a man, but he hadn’t grown out of the selfish little boy stage. I fell deeply in love. At the time, I was the very best version of myself that I had ever been. My life had taken a big turn into the spiritual world. I was learning to love my physical, mental, and spiritual self for the first time. Sharing this newfound love and spirituality with someone else was exciting and sexy. After being involved with several Narcissist, I was very careful to communicate my wants and needs. I set boundaries for myself. I tried to be very honest about my beliefs and values. Something at 34, I hadn’t considered in my past relationships.
If it sounds like therapy, it was. Before meeting this boy, I had undergone 6 months of relationship therapy on my own. I was determined to not repeat my mistakes of the past. I was going to Achieve relationship greatness. So, I thought!
After 10 months of dating, we decided to move in together and get engaged. The proposal was something out of a dream. It took place on a local beach that was a favorite of mine. Our friends and my family watched. The photographer, a family friend, hid on the hill and took pictures of the whole thing. It was truly a magical day. I was so happy and couldn’t believe that this was my new life and future. Only seven months prior, I had hit my rock bottom and thought my life wasn’t worth living. Now, I was going to marry the “man” of my dreams, my life partner.
We moved into the condo that my family had owned since my last divorce. I had been married before but that story will need to wait. During that period, I was defiantly not the best version of myself. After moving in together, we started to plan the wedding. I started to nest like crazy. I had wanted badly to share my home with someone I loved. I was so excited. Maybe too excited. I wanted to do all the perfect wifely things; make breakfast, send my man to work with lunch, have him come home to beautiful home, and a warm homemade meal. I worked at my job, being a sponsor, and attending meetings while still being that perfect wife-to-be. I thought I had achieved my dream. Then, he started to work more and travel more. He began to resent me for the clean house and nice meals. I tried harder; thinking this was what he wanted. He continued to push me away. The rejection was like a knife to my sober little heart.
I didn’t understand. I wasn’t acting out my Eating Disorder. I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t being a bitch. Those were the reasons I was rejected in the past. I kept going to meetings, working with others, praying, and meditating. All the tools I knew that made me the best me weren’t working. I had to get in solution! So I asked my mentor/sponsor/angel Rebecca what could I do? Thinking she was going to give me relationship advise.
She said “Lara, what are you Passionate about?”
“What?” I thought. “I am passionate about not getting dumped.”
“No what are YOU Passionate about?” she repeated.
“Crap!” I hadn’t thought about me in while. I was only thinking about him, and my perfect dream life.
I meditated on what Rebecca had asked and this is what fell out of my heart. I want to help men and women with Eating Disorders find themselves and learn to love their bodies and value themselves. She told me to lean into my Passion. She told me to write about it and send her what I had written. I focused on this assignment. It was like God was guiding me back on to my path. I wasn’t so focused on what the boy was or wasn’t doing. I had integrity, a passion. I gave her what I had written. She called me a few days later asking if I would be interested in training to be a Holistic Health Coach for her new business adventure. Heck, yes I would! When I excitedly told my partner, he said cool and went on his way.
Our home life never got messy with fights or yelling matches, but there were a lot of tears on my part. I remained confused about the value of my being an honest, forthright person. He eventually said simply “I don’t have the same beliefs and values and as you,” and walked out.
Once more I was rejected! This time I was rejected when I was strong and healthy. My first thought wasn’t to drink or binge and purge. It was to lean into my recovery toolbox and my passions. These new growths were painful and confusing, but I know now I have integrity. My beliefs and values have never faltered during “hurting” period. They have only grown stronger. The pain of being rejected at a time when I thought I was at my best still stings. However, I see now my Creator has bigger, better, and more important plans for me.
Another year of transforming my Ego into Spirit (35-36)
The middle of last year was terrible! My beloved 27-year-old fiancé left me because he somehow figured out 3 months after proposing, “that we had different beliefs and values.” Ahhhh, hello, that is the shit you think about before you pop the question, Dumbass. I had believed him when he said he, “valued my beliefs and wanted the same things in the future.” Liar, Liar, pants on fire. I should have taken more time to get know I was with a narcissistic liar before I decided to marry one. Those masks usually come off around year 2.
Well, enough of that rant. What I am really thankful for is that at the end, he did have the courage to get honest break it off and go away. After he moved his stuff out, he even got rid of his precious kitty.
After this painful experience, something amazing started happening to me. Rebecca Cooper (the Boss) ask me what I was passionate about? My reply had been Eating Disorder Recovery, Spiritual Studies, and being sober. She told me to write about, and she would get back to me. The amazing moment was when she offered me a job assisting her with her up and coming project called DietQ. It wouldn’t be easy. I would have to be trained as a Holistic Health Coach and certified. Since I have always been in fear about my reading ability (due to dyslexia), I really had to think before taking this commitment. Up in till then I believed my only talents where being athletic, stylish, and a good hairstylist. None of those were going to help me study.
What does a girl like me do? Ask her mom (who is a teacher for help). Did I mention I just turned 35? Anyways once the academic ball was rolling, I started to enjoy my inner nerd. I took a Science of the Mind course through my church. If you haven’t seen that book, let me tell you, it is HUGE!!!!! But I didn’t stop there. I decided to start reading and working out of The Artist Way.
For the next 6 months ya I was grieving and growing from the loss of my relationship but I was gaining so much. The work Rebecca and I were and are still are doing was shaping me for a new career and allowing me to work in a field I was passionate for. At church, learning more about Ernst Holmes philosophies only enhanced my spiritual life. It also went hand in hand with some of the work Rebecca had given me to study. And the Artist Way, oh, sweet Julia Cameron how do I love thee. I don’t know if I will ever fully finish The Artist Way. It’s like the Bible or the Big Book you always go back to it. This amazing piece of litituare gave me the confidence to write, to do videos, to paint, and to face my past with silliness and creativity.
Yes, it has now been a year, but that was only the half of it. With my new found tools and new passions in place, I live! I am proud to say that. In the past, I hadn’t really valued my life, and I wasn’t living life passionately. If I felt passion, it was false “Ego” passion. This type of passion makes you rely on someone else to give you positive strokes. Now, I am creating my own passion. I am living my spiritual path. I am grateful for this new source of strength.
I mention the word synchronicity often in my post. To me it is a spiritual believe as real as karma. I wrote a pray in January asking God to bring to me spiritual friendships. I wanted relationships that are likeminded, spiritual, and playful. Those friends were already in my life, but our journey together has forks in the path as each of us changes and grows. If I wasn’t such a spiritual nerd, I say it was odd but it is God.
I needed them during the last week before my 36-birth day. my Love, my Light, my Safe spot, my dog, Jack, passed away suddenly and went to doggy heaven. For a moment, I felt like I lost my love, and again I needed to grieve. Instead what, I gained has been far more powerful. Jack passing opened my eyes to the spiritual meaning of Love. When I surrender my ego (doubts) and live in my passions, I am Love.
Love can heal.
Love can renew.
Love can make us safe.
Love can inspire us with its power.
Why Do We Value Thinness?
First: We have to ask ourselves why we value “thinness” so much. What does “thin” really mean?
If “fat” is “bad,” then it logically follows that we are associating a whole lot of “good” into “thin.” Have you ever stopped and thought about that?
But what is it that we really think thin means?
Do we believe thinness as a symbol of beauty? Do we equate being thin to being successful, being popular or being disciplined? Did being thin mean earning the approval of parents? Did being thin mean getting the attention of a certain boy?
Second: Why do we value “thin” and fear the opposite?
That’s a question we have to work out in our brains, in our hearts, and with our Creator.
Personally, I viewed thinness as a status symbol. In my brain, the “thin” girls always got the guys, had the best clothes, they never failed, would find their prince charming, and they won all the awards. The “thin” girls also had this freedom that I craved–they didn’t have to watch what they ate. (Or at least that’s what I believed.) Identifying what we believe about being thin is vital to understanding any associated fears.
FAT= Failure and Loneliness
Third: Next, identifying who shaped that value can also help us come to a new understanding of where the value derived. Did a male figure make negative comments about overweight people? Did your mom only seem happy when she was dieting to get thin? Did a certain boy pay attention to you only after you lost the weight? These behaviors and words have a powerful influence on our belief systems.
By becoming aware of 1-2-3, now we have the knowledge and truth about how to change our thinking and actions.