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Anorexia Athletcia Exercise Obsession Syndrome

3826 words - 16 pages

Anorexia Athletica (Compulsive Exercising)Sociologists say we live in an age of narcissism, and self-absorption; preoccupied with our looks and bodies, unrealistic expectations become the norm. Both men and women are expected to achieve perfect or near-perfect bodies: slim, toned, strong, agile, and aesthetically appealing. The closer people get to the cultural ideal, the more they notice the flaws that remain.We want to live to a hundred, never be sick, keep all our hair, have unlined faces and flat bellies, be forever attractive to romantic partners, be strong, quick, and admirably competent. Paradoxically, as increasing affluence and improving healthcare has enabled more and more people ...view middle of the document...

From here anorexia, bulimia, etc are a short step.It usually develops in the 'subclinical anorexic' strongly committed to their sport, undertaking extreme weight loss as a means of improving their chances of success. Eventually, the dieting and maintenance of an unrealistically low body fat are no longer the means to an end (i.e., athletic success), but become the end in itself, Smith, 'Excessive weight loss and food aversion in athletes simulating anorexia nervosa', Paediatrics Vol 66(1), ppl39-142. More recently, a Norwegian nutritionist has proposed a set of distinguishing features of a form of subclinical anorexia she refers to as 'anorexia athletica', Sundgot-Borgen, 'Prevalence of eating disorders in elite female athletes', Int J Sport Nut Vol3 pp29-40. In women it's also being called the "female athlete triad"; intensive training leads to disordered eating, amenorrhoea and ultimately osteoporosis.Many people who are preoccupied with food and weight exercise compulsively in attempts to control weight. From research it's apparent that the real issues are not weight and performance excellence, but rather power, control, and self-respect, with the anorexia athletica sufferer going beyond the norm in their exercise regimen to achieve these."The first locus of control in life is food intake," says Karen Freeman, a clinical instructor at the University of California-San Diego, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, "and for an athlete seeking to gain control of his or her life, diminished eating combined with increased physical activity reinforces a feeling of control."An avid runner put it this way:"It means much more than just keeping my body in shape. Running is the major focus of my life. It is the one thing I have complete control over. Every day I can count on my run for a quiet time alone when I can be outside moving, breathing hard. It fills me with a sense of power and confidence as I move quickly through the streets. After the run, I feel very relaxed, confident, satisfied, and in my own world."On the psychological side, some investigators point out that what make athletes and exercisers feel good are not some brain chemicals, but are an increased sense of self-confidence and an improved self-image, the above quote would partly support this. Many people reported that by being physically active they feel stronger, slimmer, firmer, more in control, and more together.Anorexia athletica becomes a fanatical obsession about diet and exercise, stealing time from relationships and life to exercise extensively, defining their worth in terms of sporting success- rarely being pleased, and denying that they have a problem by using phrases such as "I am an athlete" or "Exercise is healthy". This supports the view of some experts who've proposed that eating disorders are best conceptualised as a spectrum, e.g., Fries, Monograph, Acta Psychiatr. Scand Vol 248 (suppl), proposed a continuum hypothesis of eating/dieting behaviour which suggests...

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