Fitness is a status symbol these days, and bodybuilding allows women to have higher confidence once they attain a physique they feel comfortable competing with.
Becoming healthier through exercise does have its benefits: increased energy, better sleep, and of course, a better looking body. It’s the aesthetic rewards of exercise that can cause people to take working out and bodybuilding to the extreme. Especially for bodybuilding competitors, the image is everything. Unlike athletes, who need to prioritize performance, bodybuilding is all about body image. Some of the Bodybuilders don’t mind pushing their body under the needle to achieve results.
Steroid use, extreme dieting and excessive exercising can put competitors at risk for serious health complications, including heart attacks. Women who lack proper guidance and coaching can experience other health issues.
Women can end up without a period for many years. Their metabolism can slow down and they can experience excessive weight gain postshow. It can also be hard psychologically to return to a body that is higher in body fat during the off season.”
But competitors say they’re out to prove that a fit physique is fabulous. “Who wants to be skinny and frail and starve themselves?” says two-time grandmaster figure competitor Mary Dinner, 52. A grandmother of six, the Brantford, Ont.-based personal trainer started competing two years ago. “I want to look feminine and muscular, fit and athletic at the same time. I want to inspire others. My family thinks grandma rocks.”
- Steroid Use: Flooding the body with testosterone can also lead to temperament issues that are far beyond the help of anger management courses. Dubbed “roid rage,” it can cause violent outbursts that can lead to serious actions, much like Sally McNeil, who shot and killed her husband in a bout of roid rage, and is now serving a life sentence in prison.
- Diuretics is another issue in bodybuilding. In sports divided into weight classes, athletes, spurred by weight loss motivation, may briefly use diuretics to remove as much water out of their bodies as possible, to help them make a certain weight class. In bodybuilding, competitors will try and stay dehydrated throughout the competition, as it can lead to better muscle definition and vascularity when the body is dried out. This can lead to serious health risks as well, and competitors have collapsed on stage. In 2009 bodybuilder Gary Himing had a heart attack on stage and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
- Extreme Dieting: Preparing and measuring meals takes hours every week. The portions are small, everything is weighed, and cooked with little salt or sauce. To avoid this, have all your meals prepped and ready to go at the beginning of each week. Preparing your meals for the week can save you time and energy. The more prepared you are for your day the better off you will be. You will be less likely to cheat knowing you have all your meals cooked and ready to go.
- Risk for your Heart: There is ongoing research that links certain proteins to an increase of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is a known factor for cardiovascular disease. The protein source is question is not the type you derive from vegetables. The type of protein consumed that increases homocysteine is from animal sources. A bodybuilder that wants muscle gain needs protein to feed those muscles. At the same time, to keep your overall calorie count in check you probably try to avoid eating tons of meat and choose to supplement your required protein intake with milk-based protein. Or, a protein shake in the morning is a lot more convenient than cooking up a steak. While many of these dietary supplements are in fact safe and give you the results you’re looking for, without the full nutritional story you could be setting yourself up for health and heart problems in the future.
- Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance. Many female competitors struggle with body dysmorphia, and since the end to the sport’s means usually involves a competition, its athletes tend to be hypercritical.
- Stay Aloof: There are people who become introverted and resign themselves from the social scene because it’s really hard to go out with friends and turn down cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Planning ahead will keep you focused but it’s also a dangerous time.
On Stage Tip
Always appear confident onstage. Smile as much as possible and make eye contact with the judges and audience. Keep your head up, maintain perfect posture at all times, including walking on and off the stage. Keep your muscles tensed at all times while onstage. There will be plenty of time to relax after the show, during the contest give it your best.