I was at the gym yesterday, just like any other day. I was doing some squatting and I between sets I just sorta hang out at the squat rack, scanning the gym. I’ll glance at whatever game is on TV, then I take a quick look at the clock to see how much rest I have left, then I scan all of the other people in the gym. I can’t help it, I’m always observing everyone else. I guess this is a normal human reaction…perhaps I’m a bit more judgmental than others. But I like to think that I don’t ‘judge’ as much as I ‘label’.
In any event, on this particular day I found that my observant eye kept coming back to a particular girl in our gym. She is a rather muscular girl, too muscular, as in drug induced muscle. Now I’ve seen this person 100 times before and she’s a perfectly nice girl but for some reason today her presence seemed to stick out.
What I noticed was that she seemed to be training harder than everyone else, I noticed the expression on her face during each rep of each set…and the expression wasn’t want I expected. It wasn’t an inspiring look, I wouldn’t describe it as determination, or an expression of serious focus or effort…it almost looked…desperate.
Then I started looking at her overall presence and actions, and I couldn’t help but perceive her as a totally desperate person (again this is my own perception).
I’m not sure why I felt this way, but I think it had something to do with the fact that she is clearly using steroids and has long since past any feminine or even fitness model level shape, she now looks much more like a man than a woman. Her determination and exhausting effort to build muscle seemed like a vain attempt to change or fix some other issue in her life.
It actually made me want to leave the gym because for a moment I wondered if I also looked so desperate, and as I type this I realize why it bothered me so much.
It reminds me of my former steroid days when I must have looked equally desperate. I was over 250lbs lifting as much weight as I could and never satisfied, always wanting to lift more and be bigger…nothing was ever enough. And now I look at this girl doing the same thing…and I wonder, when will she figure it out? When will she realize she is already too big, and already past what looks good, or what is healthy? When will it ever be enough for her?
Some people may look at her as a beacon of drive and determination and an example of dedication and discipline, but all I see is a desperate person who will never be satisfied with their body.
I guess the moral of the story is that working out can become an unhealthy obsession if you find your way into one of it’s bizarre subcultures.
I’m not suggesting that this happens to all people who compete, or take bodybuilding or powerlifting seriously…BUT it can if you let it.
As with anything, there is a sweet spot that is just right, and then there is a level that simply becomes too much that ceases to be healthy.
At some point you have to be honest with yourself to know if you’ve crossed the line from healthy exercise habits to an obsessive compulsion.
Knowing where to draw the line and creating a healthy balance is one of the keys to adopting exercise and weight training as part of a lifelong strategy for health and well being. The point is you must always be in control if it, and not let it control you.