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Is bulking up killing you?

Posted: August 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

You’ve probably never heard of bigorexia, but according to CBS New York, it’s a growing health hazard, affecting as many as 45 percent of men at some point in their lives.

Bigorexia (or muscle dysmorphia or Adonis syndrome) occurs in men who possess an unshakable negative image of their physique and become obsessed with the workouts, dietary restrictions, and supplement intake required for “bulking up” and becoming “buff.”

The condition can lead to angry outbursts (referred to as “’roid rage” by some), depression, paranoia, mania, absences from work, dumped girlfriends, ruptured disks, organ failure and suicide.

According to “The Times of Malta,” bigorexia was identified as a distinct eating disorder by American psychiatrists two years ago.

I cannot bring myself to take cheap shots at individuals who are (or should be) clinically diagnosed with such a serious ailment. They need the intervention of friends and medical assistance of trained professionals.

But I don’t feel obligated to go easy on the “bigorexia lite” people who are merely garden-variety narcissistic knuckleheads. Here are some telltale signs that you’ve gone overboard and need help:

- You choose your dentist based on whether he provides bottomless protein shakes during root canals.

- You hang out with super villains just so you can be called “muscle-bound oaf” on a regular basis.

- You have to liquefy your friend’s outlandish story before you can swallow it.

- When you hear the biblical admonition, “Bodily exercise profiteth little,” you want to tear apart Saint Paul (not the apostle, the city).

- If your efforts actually help you “get the girl,” you climb the Empire State Building with her and fight off airplanes.

Knuckleheads can be quite defensive about their condition. In their “Well, at least it’s better than...” world view, either you make the extreme sacrifices necessary for broad shoulders and six-pack abs, or you’re a “girly man” couch potato doomed to diabetes.

There’s no middle ground. (“Moderation? Oh, isn’t that the trendy new bicep-building supplement from Denmark? I wonder if you can buy it by the tanker load?”)

Knuckleheads believe all the naysayers are just jealous. I might as well confess. The cat’s out of the bag. Forget about Donald Trump’s money or Michael Jordan’s basketball prowess. I’ve always secretly lusted after veins so big the World War II French Resistance could have used them for tunnels.

I try to empathize with the knuckleheads, but it’s not easy. Change is hard for them because the poor guys have been conditioned by all those unrealistic physiques in bodybuilding magazines.

Hey, I’m exposed to “O” magazine every time I go to the checkout lane, but you don’t see me working 24-7 to become a multimillionaire African-American woman. (Surveillance tapes don’t count.)

I used to dread playing “shirts and skins” in Physical Education class as much as the next guy, but you get on with your life.

Bodybuilding fanatics, even if you develop enough lumpy muscles to avoid humiliation in the gym locker room, there will always be somebody with cooler Underoos or a bigger collection of Matchbox cars.

Okay, I get it. You don’t want bullies kicking sand in your face. But if you don’t adopt a more sensible regimen of diet and exercise, you could soon have undertakers shoveling dirt in your face.

Copyright 2013 Danny Tyree. Tyree welcomes reader e-mail responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com.

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