The rich and famous are always under a microscope: from who they’re dating, to what they’re wearing and of course what they weigh. We’ve all seen those ‘Best Beach Bodies’ cover stories and constant speculation of who’s packing on the pounds – and whose fading away…
This week though, it seems as though there’s been even more interest in celebrities’ weight issues, due to Demi Lovato and Portia De Rossi and their respective battles with eating disorders (Demi’s is still a rumor). Over the years we’ve seen Tori Spelling, Amy Winehouse, Lindsey Lohan and a whole bunch of other women in the news being accused of having disorders themselves.
However, what slips through the cracks is that men also suffer from disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Not much research has been done yet, but the estimates are for every 6 women, 1 man has this same issue. Although I believe this number is much higher due to many men not coming forward, and the fact that most help groups are geared towards women. Dennis Quaid admitted to developing an issue with food while preparing for his role as Doc Holiday in Wyatt Earp years ago, and I suspect that a number of other male actors have also had similar issues (remember by Movie Madness posting).
I think eating disorders in general are looked at as a “female” issue, making men feel uncomfortable and embarrassed to admit they have the problem. I can tell you that in my experience in bodybuilding it’s much more of an issue than anyone would admit.
I have first hand experience of seeing male bodybuilders purge themselves of a bad food binge while they’re dieting for a competition. And I’ve heard numerous stories of other athletes like gymnasts and wrestlers who also have supposedly developed a disorder. The pressure to look your best, or what you think is your best, can just be too much for people to deal with. When you’re in the spotlight, trying to get a role, make weight for a meet, or drop body fat to absurdly low levels rational thinking goes out the window.
People who suffer from eating disorders sometimes lose perception of reality, as people with anorexia still may think that they are fat, and bodybuilders can suffer from something called Bigorexia, where no matter how big they get they always see a small person in the mirror.
Personally I can attest to developing an unhealthy view of food years ago and I became extremely critical of my own body. Eating became torturous, methodical and excessively routine as did my workouts. To say my life was structured is an understatement. By allowing myself to be judged, I only exaggerated my existing self-esteem issues by trying to seek approval elsewhere. And I feel actors, and professional athletes can suffer from the same reasoning. Food issues no matter what they are, in my opinion are about control, or lack thereof. And I believe it all equates to your mental health. In our “perfection” based culture the drive to be number 1 and have everyone look at you is an issue in itself, and people who feel the need to be at the top need to take a look at why this need exists in them.
Eating disorders are extremely serious and the health implications reach much further than being too skinny. Some possible symptoms are esophogial cancer, rotten teeth, TMJ (misaligned jaw), and most everything else associated with lack of proper nutrition. Of course in the most severe cases, death can be the final result. Interestingly it was while I was in recovery from neck surgery that I realized who I really was. I was so used to being the “trainer” or the “guy with muscles”, that once I couldn’t exercise anymore I felt worthless. I felt like I wasn’t worthy any longer as I didn’t look and feel like I had in years previous. One of my dear clients, Sally, said “you are more than just muscles, you have so much more to offer”, and a light bulb went off in my head. I started to think of myself as a complete person, not just my outward appearance.
A quest to look fit and be healthy should be fun and exciting. It’s not about looking better than the next person, but improving upon your own body if you so desire. Our society places too much weight on what we look like and not enough on what’s inside. Until we realize that not getting the role, not making weight, or in my case, not winning a competition isn’t the end of the world, we all will continue to suffer.