Just as the media creates a culture where women believe their power is in their looks, media messages aimed at men tell us our power is in our physical strength. Body image is not just a women’s issue – research shows that 45% of men are dissatisfied with their bodies, and one in ten people diagnosed with an eating disorder is male. Unhealthy acceptance of the media’s skewed messages can cause us guys a lot of undue stress and potentially even some serious health problems.g-hlt-010313-gym-441p_grid-6x2

Beware: Bigorexia! This undue stress is causing an unhealthy obsession with muscle building called “muscle dysmorphia” or “bigorexia.” If you find that you are counting every single calorie you eat and many decision you make are about how your body looks, it is time to take a step back. To see the impact of bigorexia, check out personal trainer Alfonso Moretti’s story here: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?id=9260783

Now I’m not saying stop lifting weights. I love to lift as much as all of you guys. Lifting weights is a great way to increase size and strength, but also reduce stress and boost your mood and confidence! It’s important to lift for the right reasons and not let “getting big” consume your lives.

Here are some tips from an experienced lifter for building your body up without giving into bigorexia:
■  First and foremost, don’t worry about being the biggest guy in the gym.
■  Shy away from excessive supplements and “pre-workouts.” In the absence of a balanced diet, supplements can actually cause kidney and liver failure. If you want to add some protein to your diet in the form of a powder or a shake, that’s fine.
■  Do not ego lift! If a weight feels too heavy to the point you think you might hurt yourself, it’s just too heavy. Never sacrifice good lifting form for a heavier weight.
■  Don’t count your calories – just eat to grow. The formula for building muscle is simple: workout and intake more calories than you burn. A balanced muscle-building diet consists of proteins, carbohydrates, and yes, even fats.

Written by Stephen Clark, Peer Educator