Ms Fitness and
Body 4 Life -
when obsession rules

Along with the advent of the ‘gym and fitness craze’ come s a lot of compulsive over-exercising.  Exercising that consumes your life.  Movements such as Cross-fit, Ms Fitness, Body for Life are often where we find people struggling (often unknowingly) with bigorexia (muscle dysmorphia) and  exercise bulimia (exercise being used to burn up calories) which all revolve around being taut, toned, fit and muscular. Often, the bigger and tauter - the better!

The story of Natz and her journey with Ms Fitness illustrates this (thanks Natz for being willing to share this story so others can benefits from your experience)... this what she says:

I always admired the Ms. Fitness competitors like Monica Brant! With lots of free time on my hands after my divorce, I put my goals into action and started preparing for competition!

(In a similar way, body 4 life participants work towards a competition based on musculature)


It took 2 years before I did my first competition during which time I had 4 coaches (Gymnastics coach, Resistance Training and Posing Coach, Dance Coach and Ms Fitness Coach). I also had a "Diet Coach" who monitored and guided me about which foods to eat. I spent 4-5 hours a day in the gym. On a good day would only get home at 22h30 and then have to prepare meals for the next day.

You may be thinking - that sounds so robotic!!! YES it was, but it was really great for me at the time because I had no time to deal with my divorce and of course I was getting mega attention from men all the time… so why would I have stopped!

It seems that for Ms Fitness, obsession isn’t a word it very easily becomes a lifestyle! Participants live, eat, sleep and urinate Ms Fitness.


Just like Body 4 Life, it can totally consume your life, including your social life because when you’re invited out you tend to decline because you’re scared that people might force you to eat something that might jeopardize all your hard work.

Compulsion is the rule! Everything about Ms Fitness and body 4 live can become compulsive: from the food to the training to the competitions and mostly your physical appearance! I even had a boob job because I had to look as feminine as possible (well as feminine as you can with 9% body fat).

Symptoms of over exercising

I did lose my menses and my Dr advised me that i should not do the sport for too long because of the danger of losing my bone density and developing osteoporosis. But, even knowing that wasn’t enough to get me to stop.

What is a shocker is you realize that you become so consumed by it all that you start making life changing decisions based on how they will affect your sport! Like in my case how many wonderful men I dumped because they started moaning about my hours in the gym!

You’ll even use every last cent to support your "habit", much like an addict! Some of the competitors even sold houses to support their habit! I didn’t get to that but it was very close!

So you probably asking yourself, what made me stop! Well here it is:

  • After my first competition I came 8th and all my coaches said the only way to get 1st or 2nd is to start taking steroids! I then realized that I really didn’t want to do the sport if it came to that, I tried really hard to do it naturally but I had to face facts!!! All the girls were using.
  • Besides what for ... the highest prize money at that time was a R5000 (about $650)! That didn’t even cover the cost of my supplements in the season! I’d already had a boob job and now drugs, what next???? NOOOOO THANK YOU!
  • My family (especially my mom) started telling me that I was no longer myself and I had become cold and judgmental of others. When you’re at that level you think your better than other people and you can’t believe how people can be fat. I mean, it’s a simple Equation: diet and exercise, how hard can it be? They must all just be so lazy.
  • I was so lonely, an my friends just couldn’t put up with me talking about Ms Fitness ALL the time.
  • My finances started looking really bad and I knew something had to give.
  • The world of Ms Fitness is a very fickle and superficial one! Nobody is real, all the competitors and coaches are out to get something! You could not trust anyone! I mean at competitions you had to take someone with you to guard your stuff just incase one of the other competitors broke your shoes or tore your bikini!
  • I’d just got to a point where I just couldn’t put myself through all the torture anymore! Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was what I developed (I can see that now). I would do mirror work all day, every day. I would beat myself up about eating just one chocolate. I would binge and take laxatives, I would binge and vomit (Ms Fitness and Body 4 Life are a type of exercise bulimia as well) - I WAS TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL! I knew in my sane mind I just had to stop! BUT WHEN IT ENDS.... But in the long term, the horrible thing is that you do turn to flab!!!! Its a human impossiblity for a woman to stay at 9% body fat for long, so in between competitions many competitors put on weight just to get their menses back and then around 3 months before the competition they all start dieting again. 

Click here to calculate your % body fat And of course ... they put on more weight than what they should because that’s what happens when you’re recovering from a very restrictive diet (so restrictive that you can’ even use salt and most spices and herbs on food). So they rebel and eat frantically over the rest of the year and many struggle with yo-yo’ing weight! Sound familiar????? DIET CITY GALORE! Then I met my current husband, and he had just done the Body 4 Life Program which has a lot in common with Ms Fitness. He felt almost the same as what I did! We both realized that its not the life we wanted.

We both hardly go to gym and to the things we used to do! I even stopped teaching aerobics and spinning for a year just so that I could get out of the scene! Now yes I’m flabby, and I guess I can understand why the other girls are too! I guess they are still in recovery like me! Even fours years after I stopped, it still a lot to overcome and I think I’m still in the beginning stages of it all! The hardest thing for me is to see myself in the mirror and not recognize myself! I don’t know this flabby girl who looks like me! I feel the fat all over my body and I just don’t feel that it’s mine! How can it be! I wear clothes that I don’t recognize, I see the weight on the scale that is way above what it was, it can’t be my weight! So it’s safe to say that Ms Fitness has taken me to hell and back), but I also know I can never go back to it all because the cost is far too HIGH.
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