Putting on too much muscle can be a sign of a problem

Some can take exercise too far, beyond just being healthy

DETROIT - Working out and exercise should help people feel better, but some bodybuilders can take it beyond just being healthy or having the necessary endurance for their job.

For some, it can become a behavior pattern that interferes with other activities and possibly putting their health at risk.

Harold Chery, 46, is a professional bodybuilder and trainer. He enjoys exercising.

"I just like the way it makes me feel. Especially with kids they usually like 'look at this, like he's a superhero,'" said Chery.

Chery admits he didn't always look or feel like a superhero. It had a lasting impact when a coach in high school told him he was too small.

"When I started at 105, like I'd say I want to be at 150, get to 150, no that's not big enough. I want to be 180. One eighty, not big, (enough,) I want to be 200," said Chery.

Eventually, the muscle added up.

"It's almost addicting when you don't train. You feel like really bad when you don't go. Even if you're sick and don't go. Sometimes you come back, you feel better," said Chery.

Chery said he sees it all the time. Guys who are out of control, never building enough muscle.

He is referring to something called muscle dysmorphia or bigorexia. Also called reverse anorexia, it can affect hundreds of thousands of people.

"You're pre-occupied with working out and your body and muscle mass," said Theresa Finer, a therapist.

Bigorexia is something that affects mostly men. Signs of it include excessively looking in the mirror, overly strict diets, constantly comparing oneself to others, low self-esteem and spending hours at the gym.

"Actually, they're very shy. Most of them are not ones that will go out and take their shirts off in front of people," said Finer.

Some people with bigorexia can miss work or important events, and they could put their lives in danger.

"They'll still continue to try to build their muscle masse, and even with a broken bone. They'll even break bones," said Finer.

The other concern, according to Local 4 Medical Expert Dr. Frank McGeorge, is that as the obsession grows, many people are driving to aggressively alter their diets, use unnecessary supplements or worse, use dangerous steroids.

Chery exercises for his job. He has as many as 10 clients a day, and devotes about 90 minutes a day to himself.

"Now, I'm ok with my size," said Chery.

Chery said he keeps on track by knowing his body and no matter how powerful his muscles get, he values brain power and being safe the most.

It's unclear exactly what causes bigorexia. Some suggest movies and popular culture that tends to idolize big, buff bodies can play a role.

Treatment can range from behavioral therapy to medication to help with some of the underlying conditions like anxiety or depression.

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