Body building is a competitive sport, whether you are competing against others or trying to improve your personal best. This can make it difficult to differentiate between healthy competition and a true obsession. When it becomes the latter, underlying issues are likely at work. Poor self-esteem, stress, depression and a feeling that aspects of your life are beyond your control can be contributing factors. Body building taken to the extreme can be a form of exercise bulimia and many of the signs are the same as with any other eating disorder.
Do you find yourself spending a large amount of your time worrying over the parts of your body you do not perceive as perfect? Do you feel that, no matter how many hours you log in at the gym you are not getting the desired results? When people give you compliments on your appearance do you shrug them off as just being polite? This could indicate that you have a distorted body image.
Another symptom of exercise bulimia is withdrawal. Those who are obsessed with body building will cancel plans with friends and family to fit in an extra workout. Some might even put workouts before important obligations such as work or school, thereby causing them to grow even more withdrawn and isolated.
Stringent dieting can be another red flag for those who might be taking their body building too far. It is good to eat healthy, but it is normal to splurge once in a while. However, there is a big difference between rewarding yourself with a treat and binge eating. When one engages in binge eating and then uses body building to counteract the effects, they are essentially purging.
People who are addicted to body building will often ignore pain. Our bodies are quick to tell us when we’ve pushed them beyond their limits. Those who would continue to workout beyond this point may experience torn ligaments and back injuries. They may even choose to workout after they have suffered these injuries without allowing the proper healing time.
Of course, a huge sign that body building has become an obsession is the use of steroids or other muscle enhancing drugs. The rule regarding the use of drugs is cut and dry. If you cannot achieve your desired effects naturally, your expectations are unrealistic and you have taken body building too far. Remember,body building is meant to promote health, not compromise it.