'Bigorexia' is a little more complex than one just wanting to be bigger. It is in fact a mentality issue where someone who is rather muscular and strong, looks at them self as small and weak. The cause of this is unclear, but there is speculation that it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. 'Bigorexia' is something that takes over someone's life, they become obsessed with working out, obsessed with diet, and if they miss a session or a meal, they can react in a bad way. I believe that a lot of people could end up with 'bigorexia' due to a negative experience – a guy being bullied at school for example, so they switch to the gym to become 'hyper masculine'. Lifting weights to become stronger and bigger can result in that person becoming a lot more confident, feeling more powerful, and that can become addictive, very addictive.
The one main issue that I personally see with bodybuilding, is that 'perfect' is never achievable - your body is a constant 'work in progress'. Someone may look at your physique and think “you look perfect, can’t see how you could improve”, whereas you will look at yourself and see flaws and room for improvement. I'm sure if you ask Arnold Schwarzenegger if he ever reached 'perfection' with his physique, he would tell you no. He may well have reached 99.9% of what he wanted, but reaching 100%? I doubt it. When you're building your physique, your muscles will all develop at different rates, hence why you'll hear guys say things like - "My upper chest could be a little bigger", "I need to work on my legs more", "My arms aren't as big as I would like them to be". There is always something that you could improve, and as mentioned, it can become very addictive.
When it comes to the gym. it's you against yourself and the weights. Bodybuilders do focus on how they look, but they also focus heavily on the weights they are lifting - they always want to progress, always want to lift more. It really is a challenge trying to beat what you did the previous day/week/month/year. It can consume someone's life fairly easily, but having other interests that take up time can really help. Me? yes I love to train, it's a passion of mine, I want to improve my body, my fitness, but it doesn't take over my life. I am very strict with the routine that I have - my training, my diet, my supplements, sleep, rest, recovery and so on. However, because I have a lot of other things going on in my life, I understand that working out is not all that matters. You need to ensure you have hobbies and other interests outside of the gym – not only will this help your overall health and wellbeing, but it will also help to avoid an ‘over addiction’ of the gym.
I honestly think muscle dysmorphia, or 'bigorexia', is 100% real, and is more common than people think - just on different levels. The sad fact is that it can wreck people’s lives, and in a small number of cases that I have read, it has caused severe depression and has even lead to fatalities due to suicide.
'Bigorexia' doesn't really get spoken about, and those who suffer from it don't really have anywhere to turn to. A lot of people will look at someone who suffers from 'bigorexia' and think "how stupid, you're in good shape, I have no sympathy for you" - it's just not something people relate to as a 'real problem'. Maybe after some media coverage it will bring about some awareness. Don’t let your love of the gym go ‘over the line’ where it can really begin to affect your personal life. Some people will put the gym before anything else – seeing friends, family occasions, special events, even work.