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 to be better nourished and healthy; nearing these goals, our satisfaction with our health and appearance has decreased.
Lay people know it as compulsive exercising; it's the latest disorder to emerge from the psychological & behavioural morass of modern living. The athlete seems addicted to their sport, which is often running or another intense aerobic regimen, feels obliged to pursue an excessive routine in spite of injuries, damaged relationships, and too much time off work.
Medical professionals are beginning to call it Exercise Addiction or Anorexia Athletica.
Ironically, sports that are supposed to be about health and fitness, sometimes lead to dangerous patterns in diet and exercise. The pressure for athletes to control their body weight can be intense, especially if overzealous coaches stress the need to be lean and place winning ahead of health. For an athlete an interest in what they eat aiming to optimise performance is natural, but for some it develops into an unhealthy obsession with food, calories and body weight. They worry continuously about what they are going to eat, when and where they're going to eat, how much weight they'll put on if they go out for...