Do You Have a Body Image Disorder?

When I was 12-years-old, my dad brought home a set of 10-pound dumbbells from the local sporting goods store. I had no clue how to use them, but I remember grabbing them from his room one day, taking them into my bedroom, lying face-down on the edge of the bed, and attempting a teenage boy’s version of biceps curls until I couldn’t lift those weights anymore..

I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. But one thing I did know for certain: the next day my arms were very, very sore. And – perhaps a little bigger? Just like many boys, I flexed my muscles in the mirror, and it certainly did seem like my arms grew a bit. Not only did that mean these dumbbells might make me stronger or faster, but they might make me look better too – and at that time in my life, that meant two things: girls looking at me and guys being jealous of me.

Through high school I continued to lift weights and actually got what I (and others) would describe as  And yes, I kept on flexing in the mirror to check out my muscles every now and again to make sure nothing seemed out of place. Abs toned? Check. Arms not looking too small? Check. Calves getting out of toothpick mode? Check.

In college, while studying exercise science (no surprises there, right?) I learned about , and added that tracking parameter into the mix – every week hopping on a scale to make sure I never saw any double digits (which somewhere in the back of my mind meant I could be risking not looking good in my swim trunks or increasingly tight t-shirts). I also began to fret endlessly over food – not in an anorexic, caloric-restriction kind of way – but more in a fat-phobic, extreme calorie counter, have complete control over every bit of food that goes in my mouth kind of way.

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