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In an age where the government is trying to encourage more people to hit the gym, lose weight and get healthy, the number of people taking this to the other extreme and obsessing over working out is growing.

The name might make you laugh initially, but “bigorexia” could potentially be damaging your health.

While anorexia – the eating disorder characterized by an aversion to food and eating, due to an innate fear of gaining weight, getting fat and disdain of ones body image – is well recognized as a serious mental condition, bigorexia is still widely dismissed.

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Perhaps it’s because the consequences and symptoms of bigorexia are less severe, but let’s first take a look at what it is.

While there is no set definition of bixorexia, you could describe it as an obsession with training and improving your body image in a win at all costs, or rather a big at all costs attitude.

Though it’s not a recognized medical condition, those suffering from bigorexia will have a distorted view of their appearance and want to spend as much time improving their bodies as possible. This means foregoing social events and meals out, preferring instead to spend the time training and being meticulous about food intake.

Anorexia is most commonly associated with women, and while some women may be familiar with bigorexia, it generally affects men more. Likewise, anorexia is seen as an obsessive desire to lose weight, while bigorexia, as the name suggests, is based around wanting to gain as much muscle mass as humanly possible.

Whether you believe that this is a serious condition or not, there’s no doubting that many guys (and potentially girls too) take some potentially dangerous steps in their quest for the ultimate bodybuilder physique.

As stated above, these can be fairly minor to begin with. You might get invited out for drinks with colleagues, but decide that you’ve not trained enough this week, so pass on the invite and hit the weights room instead. Or perhaps you’re asked to attend a meal with family at a restaurant that doesn’t meet your usual dietary standards. Rather than taking the supposedly “normal” option of going along, having fun and deciding that you’ll be moderate with your intake, you make up an excuse as to why you can’t go, and stick to your traditional bodybuilding fare instead.

At first this might not seem like a big deal, and at times, we’ve all felt extra dedicated to the cause of getting in shape and sacrificed social events, parties and work outings, deciding to be healthy and head to the gym instead.

But when you start doing this on a regular basis, and begin losing friends, it’s time to start taking a closer look at your habits.

Another potential issue involves diet alterations, and the lengths you’ll go to to achieve your dream physique.

The obvious example of this is anabolic steroids. Once the sole domain of professional, non-tested bodybuilders, steroids are now part of everyday gym culture, and whether you’re well educated in steroid use or not, they do pose a health risk.

To another extent, many bodybuilders use drastic dietary tactics, particularly when approaching contest or photo shoot. Dehydration, sodium depletion and loading and the use of diuretics are all commonplace and once again, carry risks.

If any of this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from a case of bigorexia. So is this a big deal, and if so, how do you fix it?

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