'Bigorexia': When Body Obsession Becomes Dangerous

First Posted: Aug 19, 2013 02:05 PM EDT

Bodybuilders, beware. Your need to pump iron all day in the gym may actually be the sign of body image problem, according to a recent term that scientists are coining as "bigorexia."

A compulsive need to bulk up and become more 'masculine' no matter the consequences could leave a detrimental mark on your health.

According to an official at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, it's noted that as many as as 45 percent of men are dissatisfied with their body image, a thing that could potentially lead to muscle dismorphia, a counterpart of anorexia.

CBS New York discusses personal trainer Alfonson Moretti, who shared his story of obsession when his body building workouts began to escalate out of control.

"It takes over your life. Every decision you make becomes the workout and how your body looks. I used to track and weigh every single ounce of food that went in my body. I used to wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning to drink protein shakes. I never missed a workout, ever, ever, ever," he said, via the news organization. "I can remember as young as 13 or 14, looking at some of these muscle magazines, and I was conditioned to think that's what a man looked like. Big shoulders, big legs, just big muscles with veins everywhere,"

One of the main characteristics of the disorder can also be the amount of time spent thinking about body image. For instance, statistics show that while normal weightlifters report spending up to 40 minutes a day thinking about body development, men with this problem may be preoccupied 5 or more hours a day thinking that their bodies are under-developed.

When Moretti underwent surgery due to a bodybuilding injury, he said it was a wakeup call. Now, he helps other men who may be suffering from the same problem achieve healthy and realistic goals for their body.

"I look back now and I see those pictures and I'm like 'wow,' like I would never want to look like that guy," he said.

Cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medication can be helpful as a treatment for the problem. 

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