T Nation

Negative Self Image: Isn't It Scary?


That’s an interesting post!

You see, these two excerpts relate to the topic at hand, particularly that we are speaking about bodybuilding on a bodybuilding and fitness site.

The main reason is I am interested in this subject is because, well, as one can see from my icon and Leaning Out/Contest prep thread in the BB forum, I became a bodybuilder this past fall and entered and won the overall at my first show and received a natural pro card.

As I said in the thread and elsewhere numerous times, I had absolutely no expectation going into the show regarding placing. In fact, when some people told me, “I think you can do alright,” and even, “I think you might win,” I always responded, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t think so.” Upon being told several times, “Maybe you’ll get a pro card,” I always responded, “Highly unlikely.”

Now, although the organization I competed in is relatively small and newer than others, and I had no expectations upon myself, I had in no way intended to come in soft and out of shape. And when I say out of shape, I mean anything short of being cut to fucking ribbons! I said to myself and friends everyday, “I might not place but there is no goddamn way I am going to embarrass my close friend and coach @The_Mighty_Stu --especially considering his reputation–and other experienced bodybuilder friends who are in attendance for me. Even if I lose to a genetic phenom, this guy is going to look at me and know I did what I had to do given my genes! Everyone there is going to know that I was not happy for a long time! I don’t give a shit if I am not a famous bodybuilder!”

When I was preparing, whether in the gym or utterly miserable during my morning walks with feelings of hunger and fatigue and a constantly aching lower body, I was constantly saying to myself, “these fucking people are going to pay!”

I even became so obsessed that on top of my assigned cardio, I would take stairs at work rather than the elevator, became overly conscientious of my salad servings, and in the last six weeks or so, started becoming concerned over the size of the apples and bananas I bought.

I had sciatic pain and still did squats and bent over rows–albeit very cautiously-- when I shouldn’t have!

There were even times in which if reps in a set were not clean and smooth, I thought to myself, “that’s a set I won’t get back!” And here I was, an experienced lifter going into a show, asking people in the gym on advice on my form, like, “Hey, how did that set look? Was it smooth?”

I worked out in the evenings after morning cardio and a full work day and towards the end, on 60 to 100 grams of carbs and 1900 to 2100 cals per day!

When I was really losing my freaking mind from overwork, a caloric deficit, and over-leanness, I would think of the silliest shit. I once needed my car repaired and thought, “If this thing is not fixed today, I am borrowing someone’s car, walking there (it would be a long walk, lol), or renting a damn cab, no matter how expensive it will be for this one workout today. I am not missing it!”

I said no to several invitations. I brought a food scale and food with me on a road trip and went to a gym as a guest while out there. I under-ate at restaurants there because I couldn’t measure the food.

I even slacked off in something when I could without getting caught to reserve my mental and emotional energy for my workouts (think of a daily obligation most Americans hate tending to), even once not showing up for it (highly unlike me) because I wanted to fit my workout in for the day but was bogged down with another obligation.

My main thesis in all this discussion is that competitive bodybuilding, even natural bodybuilding amongst so-called “no-names” such as myself is inherently compulsive or obsessive or whatever term you prefer for it! If you want to come in shredded and full, and not lose muscle mass in the process of getting there, then prepare to be CONSTANTLY obsessed and stressed the hell out! Bodybuilding readiness is not like a skill. If you have the skill and continue to practice until you need to use it competitively, you should be good. In bodybuilding, if you fall behind, that contest date still holds, and you will never get the time back! So although a missed worked or a missed or botched meal will likely not impede on you, a few too many can have you falling behind. Now that is damn stressful, not to mention the stress the caloric deprivation and leanness does to your mind.

So I am unsure if you, OP, @marcosborne20, understand the nature of all this because your message is sort of incongruent with competitive bodybuilding, something that is inherently compulsive and obsessive. In fact, the whole damn thing is so stressful that I don’t know when I will next be able to fit it into my adult life!


it’s funny, from your posts you don’t come off as someone who does much intimidating or kicks much ass. You sound like someone who lacks confidence and had his ass beat a lot so now you’re trying to overcompensate. I seem to remember a thread about how you were too shy to ask a girl out, too, which would also imply a lack of confidence.

Also, actually wanting to intimidate people makes you a dick, but I think you knew that already.

But keep it up, tough guy. It’s only a matter of time before you give your bravado act to someone who weighs 100lb less than you but carries a knife…


I’m sure that’s true. Passion and determination can look/ be a lot like obsession.

On the positive side, I don’t think I’m driven by anything dark or neurotic in terms of my love for weight training, and ballet, and working toward aesthetic or technical goals.

My philosophy.

Your body is a Ferrari. Don’t spend all your time in first or second gear, lurching around the parking lot. Lift something heavy. Run. Break a sweat. Open up all the cylinders everyday. Someday God is going to ask us why we never appreciated the gift, or had the curiosity to see what it could do. We should be a little bit amazed and grateful everyday.

The human body is a work of art, and just an amazing machine. There’s something so JOYFUL in seeing it in motion, in mastering something that’s really technically difficult. For me, there’s nothing dark in it. I’m just so grateful for my health and for my athleticism.

There’s something dark and scary about going through life and never doing anything with the physical body, not appreciating it, not taking care of it, having a Ferrari and never bothering to learn how to drive.


You are so cute when you are flustered. If you were here I would walk right over to you and give you a big kiss.


I haven’t seen anyone get stabbed on any of my shifts, but I did watch (and intervene in) an instance where someone thought they could intimidate a man of small stature in the parking lot. This gentleman of inflated ego did not realize that his “target” did 9 years in prison (and had five biker buddies inside).

It ended VERY poorly for this fellow when his intimidation act did not go as he imagined it would. I would have felt bad if he wasn’t the biggest asshole I’ve met in the last year.

Getting off of this tangent, I more or less feel the same way as Puff…

Except I’m more like a used 1/2 ton pickup with a gas-guzzling V8. Not terribly nimble or efficient, but plenty of horsepower under the hood. Lots of cargo capacity. Good in the snow. Fun to hammer on. Not very pretty. But a joy to own nevertheless.


These studies seem contradictory. I didn’t go look them up, but I think you’re saying that female athletes experience some positive effects in that they “valued aspects of a functional body more.” This is certainly true in my experience, even though I train mostly for aesthetic goals.

I have seen some studies related to young female athletes being more likely than their male counterparts to worry about how they LOOK while they are competing. You can look at almost any sport and the female uniforms are often much more revealing than the men’s. Watch the summer Olympics.


I love that. Trucks are good too.

It reminded me a little bit of this.


My point summed up but I wouldn’t use the term “mentally stable”. Some people are predisposed to mental illness and social factors are the trigger to the gun. Only creating awareness and coaching a healthy mind as well as a body can change people’s outlooks


You can’t compare your life to that of who are most affected by body dysmorphias. Muscle dysmorphia is most prevalent in adolescent males and the “classical” conditions like Anroexia or Bulimia Nervosa are most prevalent in adolescent females, with some cases seeing the condition show symptoms requiring hospitalisation in girls as young as 5. I think you’re just trying to big up the point that bodybuilding has a lot of self sacrifice but as do all sports. The original post however was to do with how people are reacting to the forcing of the body beautiful down their throats and how this affects the population. I’ve said nothing to disregard bodybuilding so please keep your posts broader and in line with the actual thread, discuss bodybuilding specific matters in the bodybuilding threads


This is just one study, many don’t have any aspect of functionality. There are more findings to this study that I’ve not discussed as it would take far too long, but most comparisons were significant anyway. Functionality was just higher in significance in sporting female athletes. Feel free to read the journal article itself for the full details, hence why I cited the studies


You should have put that in somewhere in the “article” then.


That should be clear if you read it without putting our own opinions into what you’re reading. Hence why it’s a broad discussion, not a review of literature purely in prevalence in specific athletes like gymnasts, bodybuilders or runners. These sports are highly coveted in the literature, so if you wish you can familiarise yourself



You just aren’t that good.



Anyone with a public education and a sense of ignorance would be able to pick out generalisation especially when so many sports and athletes have been mentioned, with so little given to any one particular sport


Not including the main thrust or point of your article in the article is just lazy.

Telling people after the fact that they shuold have gotten a point that you left out and didn’t even allude to is shitty writing.

You committed an act of shitty writing. Get over it. And yourself.


Well that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it but as my opinion is backed by research, it does hold more credibility. I look forward to seeing your efficacious writing capabilities.


There is security in being mentally and physically strong, and Ive found the most complacent people do not desire these securities. I also have found some of the least complacent people have seen or experiences the “other side of the fence” so to speak. Funny, at my old job I worked with about 12,000 other people (10,000 on site) and I never felt more alone during those years in my life. It was eye opening to see most people dont live stressed out lives.


Never gonna happen, because I don’t try to write articles.

And including a couple of citations does not back up your assertion when you forgot to put that assertion in writing, in the article.

I look forward to seeing your efficacious writing capabilities too.


Or they just don’t show it, or suppress that feeling because of social factors. Big sites can be very lonely places. Universities being one of those, as with your workplace and it’s that kind of spark that often sets off larger issues. Mental health is a line of dominos set up on Helter Skelter. Flick the first and it’ll just spiral down out of control


Did you read the studies? I don’t think you did. All but Texeira et al. use adolescents in their sample and all of the studies show great degrees of body concern in certain athletes, with gender differences in how this shows. You can’t formulate a decisive opinion until you’ve purchased the articles and read them and understand them properly, not just dismissing everything because you want to try have a forum argument so please keep any replies in line with the original post