Friday, May 31, 2013

Dysmorphic Body Image

by Kris Pitcher

"Is this yours?" he asked me as he struggled to put on a fleece vest he'd pulled from the closet. He could hardly get his arms through the holes and it was tight across his back. I'm not sure if he could zip it closed. "No," I said, "it's yours." His eyes met mine with distrust. "Are you sure?" he quizzed me.

His clothes don't fit. His shoes are too small. Jackets, pants, they don't fit. Forget about the suit he got married in. He actually did give that up a few years ago. Yet as he continues to grow each year, the man he sees in the mirror is small.

He has bigorexia. Body dysmorphia. In all fairness none of us see what others see when we look at ourselves in the mirror. But those of us on the quest for muscularity often have this dysmorphic view on a whole different level.

Part of it is the changes we make in our physique are slow, and we see ourselves every day. Heck, we don't even have a full length mirror in our house. Dangerous!

We also don't believe we are making the progress those around us outwardly see. We develop this unrealistic, or dysmorphic, disconnected vision of what we look like. It's the same as the anorexic thinking they look fat. The muscular person thinks they look small. They have an image of an age or time of their lives stuck in their head.

In a sport which is hypersensitive to our physicality, it's no wonder we develop this. We hone in on this part, and that part, working to bring one up and round out another. Our focus is constantly fine tuning and also putting on more size. More. More. More.

We look to the mass monsters as our mentors, our role models who have shaped us figuratively and literally as we've followed their protocols. Some of us will have the genetic potential to do a fairly decent job, others will chase dreams. And most of us fall some place in the middle ground.

All the while, we'll struggle with our body image. "Dude! You look FULL!" You might hear. And the response will be, "But I feel SO flat..."

Dysmorphic. An unrealistic view of what someone is actually seeing. And this is where it's smart to have your own coach or advisor you trust to keep you on track. People who will tell you the truth. Someone who can see you objectively.

We all manage body image issues. Being aware of what your triggers are is important. If what people are telling you isn't matching the self talk in your head, you may have dysmorphic tendencies.

Keeping your head clear by focusing on your values and trusting your objective advocates is  important to quieting that negative, or dysmorphic, self talk. It also may be a good idea to write your name in the label of your fleece vest?

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