An Inside Look: Bodybuilding And Body Dysmorphia

An Inside Look: Bodybuilding And Body Dysmorphia

The dark side of physique competition prep.
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There's not much regarding competitive bodybuilding that isn't extreme. You spend 12-20 weeks dieting to ridiculously low body-fat levels, seclude yourself from tempting social outings, and spend hours in the gym analyzing your every move. Every week, you send progress pictures to your coach for them to assess whether you keep going, or you modify your plan moving forward. As athletes who compete in a sport solely based around our outward appearance, we can't help but have our own thoughts and opinions on our physique as we progress closer to a contest. Sometimes these thoughts are positive, but usually they're more detrimental and negative than anything.

When you're preparing for a bodybuilding contest, you pick yourself apart. You find every flaw in your appearance and notice things that only a trained eye could ever pick up. You're not big enough. You're not lean enough. Your legs won't lean out. You're holding water. You're not vascular enough. You're too vascular. The idea of being "ready" for a show is ingrained so deeply in your mind and you're consistently aspiring to get closer and closer to the Holy Grail of "ready" as each day passes. You do everything in your power to reach it. Even when you've nailed your diet and training every day for weeks on end, you're still going to wish you had more this and less that. Even when your body fat is at it's lowest, you'll still think you need to be tighter and more conditioned. Even when you've spent years molding and crafting your physique, you'll still think it's never enough.

Your vision is skewed and you view yourself through tinted glass. Your self-assessment isn't trustworthy and your perspective is off. Clarity is blurred by a standard that keeps moving higher and higher. Every day is a struggle to love your body. You stop appreciating what it does for you (things like keeping you alive, pushing you through grueling sessions, and every day life) and start obsessing over what it looks like. You suffer from body dysmorphia.

But any seasoned athlete knows all too well you don't even realize you suffer from body dysmorphia until afterwards. The show day "high" wears off, the spray tan fades, and you put on a healthy amount of body fat. It's not until you enter a more normal and sustainable way of living (AKA off-season) that you really see how off your mind was all along.

Eventually, you feel an itch to pull yourself out of your off-season and jump into another dieting phase to prepare for a show. You love the grind of prep. You love the commitment, energy, and effort it requires. You find yourself reminiscing and looking back through your Camera Roll at old check-in photos and posing footage from your last prep. And then in your head you're thinking, "Holy wow, I looked so good. I was so conditioned. I was so ready. How was I ever unhappy with this package? How could I ever find the justification to cry over how 'awful' I looked in these photos?" You sit there in awe of how you could have ever doubted yourself.

Body dysmorphia is real and it's common--don't ever think you're the only person experiencing it. Find comfort in knowing that every time you compete and transition into an off-season, you become more aware of your bias. You hold a better perspective each time you push through the preparations for your next contest.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I Drank Lemon Water For A Week And Here's What Happened

It has already changed my life.

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There are so many health crazes out there now, it's hard to tell what actually works and what doesn't; or more importantly what is healthy and what is making your body worse. I read about simply drinking lemon water and I figured that didn't sound gross or bad for me so I figured I would give it a try. I've been drinking it consistently for a week and a half and I already notice some results.

I've never been a fan of lemon in my water, I always refuse it at restaurants. You definitely have to find your sweet spot in lemon to water ratio, in what tastes good to you. I personally cut the lemon into quarters and use on quarter per day. I put the lemon quarter in the bottle and then continuously fill with water throughout the day. I still get the yummy lemon flavor all day because I do not squeeze the lemon. It took about a bottle or two to get used to the lemon flavor, and now I just crave it.

Lemon water is supposed to speed up your metabolism. Obviously, a week is not long enough to tell if this is fact or fiction but I have noticed a change in appetite. I feel like I do not get hungry as often as I did before. I saw this effect within 24-48 hours of starting the experiment. This seems opposite to a fast metabolism but we'll see.

I definitely feel more hydrated with lemon water. I drink a lot of water anyways, about 80 oz a day but for some reason with the lemon, it makes me feel better. I don't feel as sluggish, I'm not getting hot as easily, and my skin feels amazing. I am slightly skeptical though because the lemon almost makes my tongue dry requiring me to drink more water, so I have upped my intake by about 20oz. I'm unsure if the hydration is due to the extra water, the lemon, or both!

My face is clearing up and feels so much softer too, in only a week! I have not gotten a new pimple since I have started my lemon water kick, may be coincidence but I'm not going to argue with it.

I also feel skinnier as I feel like I'm not holding as much water weight. I only exercise lightly, for the most part, walking around a mile or two a day so we can eliminate exercise factor to the slender feeling.

I have a messy stomach. Everything upsets it, and even though lemons are very acidic, they have not affected me in a negative way at all. It almost seems like the lemon water is helping me digest the difficult foods that my stomach doesn't like. I'm nowhere near a doctor so don't trust my word but it seems to be working for me.

From the effects I've felt so far, it also seems like lemon water may be a great hangover cure! I haven't tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I can't say a negative thing about drinking lemon water so far expect you have to buy the lemons! If you try this for yourself though just make sure you are using an enamel saving mouthwash or toothpaste since lemons aren't so great for your teeth.

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Trying Something New May Be Scary But It's OK

One night when eating Chinese food, I was offered a fortune cookie. The fortune that was inside the cookie said, "Try something new and different, you'll like the results."

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Have you ever felt like something was not meant for you or were you too scared to try something? Yeah, me too. Sometimes in life trying something new can be beneficial or just something to learn from.

I have tried a lot of new things since I've started college. When I was in high school, I thought I would never stay out past 1 on the weekdays, well look at me now barely awake at my 8 am class after going out Tuesday night. My best friend and I are livid for Tuesday nights, it's our favorite day of the week. So, staying out late is something new I have tried. It can be tough sometimes, but I am still managing school well.

I joined a sorority and I thought it was not for me. But, I stepped out of my comfort zone and meet some of my new best friends and I am loving every bit of it so far. I think this decision of joining a sorority will be very beneficial to me while in college. I am so so excited for the adventures to come with my sorority sisters.

My advice is if you are afraid of trying something new just do it if you think it will benefit you. If the outcome is bad, then you will learn from it. Life, as I have learned, is all about decisions and sometimes you have to live a little to discover if something is right for you. Make a decision for yourself, not for someone else. You put your happiness first and do something new for a change because you might like the results.

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