- Eating disorders are associated with “young, middle-class white girls” and are often misunderstood among men.
- Muscle dysmorphia experts say it ruins life.
- Men who have been living with malnutrition as a result of sports activities tell Insider about their travels.
Four thousand calories a day. Lift heavy weights. Check power app. Check the muscle definition in the mirror. Check it out again – and again. No pain, no gain – that was Mickey David’s mantra.
It all started with the fact that one day David looked in the mirror and was unhappy with what he saw. Scrolling through social media and drawing inspiration from the incredible bodies of fitness influencers, he decided to gain mass. He began a grueling eight-week fitness regimen. It ended up with his world falling apart.
David suffered from muscle dysmorphia, which controlled his life for months, he told Insider.
“My only fixation was how I look. I thought about this many times throughout the day. I would have panicked if I couldn’t go to the gym, ”he said.
“I had a nutrition app on my phone, so everything I ate was scanned and I could know exactly how much protein I had, how much fat I was consuming. It was an obsession. “
David has always tested himself. “For example, if my shirt didn’t fit my biceps, I would feel very skinny, very thin during the day. I would hate that, ”he said.
Meanwhile, communication has turned into a psychological attack. “If I went to a restaurant or a social event, I would start to panic about what to eat or what to order, whether it would fit into the meal plan. So it’s kind of a constant battle.
“I didn’t borrow these ideas from my parents or family at all. I’ve always been very supportive and stuff like that. It came more from the society that surrounded me. “
To raise awareness of this, David is now film making – swelling – based on his experience with muscle dysmorphia
“This is a story I want to share to encourage more men to talk and hopefully improve their mental health. 10% of men who go to the gym suffer from muscle dysmorphia.… It is a condition that can lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide, ”he said.
“ It makes me feel like a man should feel. ”
For many living in the COVID-19 era, exercise was a lifesaver, a survival mechanism. RunRepeat reports an 88% increase in the number of people who played sports 1-2 times a week before the pandemic, with 60% of men saying their main reason was their mental health.
But for some, the pleasure of being fit and in shape will escalate into an obsession leading to eating disorder and muscle dysmorphia.
When someone, most often a man, suffers from muscle dysmorphia, they become overly obsessed with building muscle and appear “torn” with weight and muscle goals that could ruin their lives. Muscle dysmorphia is a type of body dysmorphism, which is a type of
Professor Jason Ngata, an eating disorder expert and assistant professor of pediatrics in the Department of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Insider, “Many of the patients I care about are involved in a variety of activities. it can actually be even more than five hours a day.
“Exercise becomes dangerous when it distracts from other things people might want to enjoy, such as socializing with friends or family. They become frustrated when this problematic behavior actually diminishes their quality of life. ”
One of the signs of a mental health problem is that a person’s body is prone to feelings of inferiority.
Andrew Walen, founder of DUDE mental health and executive director of the Massachusetts Eating Disorder Treatment Center, considers this a common sign of eating disorder in men.
“Men, unlike women with eating disorders, do not usually seek the perfect body. They are looking for the exceptional. This is part of the male desire for dominance, ”says Valen Insider.
“The thought process is something like, ‘I go to the gym to be strong and to feel strong. I’m really in the gym because it makes me feel what a man should feel. ” And this is where the pathology of an eating disorder comes in.
“This leads to extreme dietary plans that can start with just high protein, then cut out oils and carbohydrates, and then have protein powder in everything. The rigidity of such diets is where we would say it looks like an eating disorder. ., – said Valen.
‘The whole culture was so toxic’
Muscle Dysmorphia and Eating Disorders are not just ordinary men trying to achieve extraordinary physiques at their local gym. He reaches the highest levels of sports.
Max Poplavski, 25, a semi-professional triathlete who represents the GB team in his age groups, said that eating disorders from the inside out are the “open secret” in the world of sports.
“In bodybuilding and weightlifting, body dysmorphia is a very real problem when people don’t like their looks and are obsessively focused on getting bigger rather than getting better. and weight.
“Compared to most, I’m big and heavy. The vast majority of triathletes are very small and very slender. It is quite rare to see a person six feet tall and over 70 kg. a trap in which you say, “Well, I need to get as much light as possible so I can meet the criteria,” rather than focusing on what really works for your body.
This certainly leads to eating disorders, but people think they are less susceptible to it because they are athletes. They can justify it to themselves if they see it as a pursuit of academic excellence. “
“The whole culture was so toxic.”
Poplavsky says he’s still worried about the nutritional culture of competitive sports.
“Yesterday I got on the scale for the first time since I stopped taking my medication, and I was three and a half kilos heavier than I usually expected, and I mentally spun.
“But then I look back at all my workouts in the last month, and all my comments were, ‘I don’t feel so good on my bike,’ ‘Feels incredibly fit.’ There is a huge mismatch between what we know and what we think is important. “
“There is no universal experience”
DAta show that more than 90% of male adolescents report that exercise is mainly aimed at increasing muscle mass or tone, 26% of men report excessive use of strict dietary rules.
According to Iwan Cranswick, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sports and Physical Therapy at the University of Leeds Beckett, who wrote in Talk: “Muscle dysmorphia typically affects men between the ages of 20 and 30, although the average age at onset is 19. Research shows it is most common in weightlifting and bodybuilding communities. “
He added that studies have shown that this is a problem on university campuses and almost 6% of US students is, while in the US army another 12.7% of men in the US army have muscle dysmorphia, also found 4.2% of women.
James Downs, a writer, campaigner and eating disorder researcher who has lived with anorexia since the age of 15, says eating disorders are associated with “young white middle-class girls.”
Now in his 30s, he told Insider: “This image needs to be disassembled because it is simply inaccurate. It also leads to people who do not fit the stereotype feel unable to talk about their experiences or feel that their problem is irrelevant. …
“Eating disorders are increasingly affecting men, non-binary people, the elderly and ethnic minorities. There is no universal experience, but we can show universal compassion for people who can fight. “