Recently, a mechanical fitter, Ross Batten, made headlines when he came clean about his struggle with a mental disorder called bigorexia. Earlier, in September, a documentary on fitness trainer Pradeep Bala revealed details about his struggle with the same disorder.
In an effort to keep up with society’s rising standard of good looks, men are increasingly falling prey to this particular disorder, in which one is never ‘big enough’ or ‘buff enough’.
“Bigorexia is the other end of anorexia. In the latter, you feel you are too fat or too big; in bigorexia, you feel that you are not big muscular enough. The person who suffers from it, almost always a man, feels that he needs to put on more muscle, even though he may be in the range that I’d consider ‘normal’,” says Dr Kersi Chavda, consultant in psychiatric medicine, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar (W).
How it affects
“In bigorexia, there is a tendency to eat too much of the ‘right food’ (protein) which can damage the kidney. Excessive exercising can also lead to overstrained muscles and tendons, which may lead to injuries or fractures,” says Dr Chavda. The personal life of bigorexics also suffers as they compromise on spending time with family and friends and spend most of their time in the gym instead. During work hours, they are highly anxious, anticipating the time they would reach the gym and start working out.
Bigorexics need to be dealt with tactfully. Talking it out and making those affected understand the condition, is important. If they are still adamant, reassure them. It is important to deal with them patiently as they may be easily irritable. Make them aware of the pros and cons of excessive exercising through their trainers at the gym. In such cases, most people trust their gym trainers.
In extreme situations, the patient might need hospitalisation, especially if there are physical issues. Counselling, treatment of primary issues related to body-image problems, and the occasional use of anti-obsessive medication might help in such cases.
— With inputs from Dr Prakash M Doshi, chief of orthopaedics and traumatology, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle (W) and Dr Rohann Bokdawala, MD psychiatry, Shriya Polyclinic, Marine Lines
Shruti Kadam, fitness expert, Gold’s Gym India, says, “There is no thumb rule to know if a person has reached his or her own limit. As we get fitter, we need to work harder to maintain the same level of fitness. Ideally, a person shouldn’t cross the limit of 22-25 sets per workout, which can be completed in 45-50 minutes. Exceeding this amount of weight-training time is considered to be overtraining. This must be avoided as it leads to ‘atrophy’, a condition in which you drop your lean muscle mass insteadof gaining lean tissue, something we look for when it comes to strength