in: Health, Health & Fitness, Podcast

• Last updated: September 30, 2021

Podcast #520: The Surprising Origins and Prevalence of Bigorexia and Male Body Image Issues

We typically associate body image issues with women. But my guest today says that a quarter of people with eating disorders are male and that there are millions of men in America silently struggling with and obsessing over how they look — even to the detriment of their health, careers, and relationships. His name is Dr. Roberto Olivardia. He’s a professor of clinical psychology at Harvard and the co-author of the book The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys. We begin our conversation discussing how the “Adonis Complex” manifests itself in men and why male body image disorders are a fairly recent phenomenon. Roberto and I then dig into how the ideal male body has changed over the past few decades and how we’ve seen these inflated standards of male attractiveness show up in advertising, movies, and even action figures. Roberto then shares possible causes of male body image issues, which include, interestingly enough, increasing gender egalitarianism in the West. 

We then dig into specific ways body image issues appear in men, including “bigorexia” or muscle dysmorphia, in which super jacked dudes think they’re still too scrawny. Roberto then explains how eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia manifest themselves differently in men compared to women. 

We end our conversation discussing the line between caring about how you look in a healthy way, and having a disorder, what to do if you’re having problems with body image issues, and what parents can do to inoculate their sons from the Adonis Complex.

Show Highlights

  • What is the Adonis Complex?
  • How Roberto got started studying eating disorders in men 
  • How many men are affected by various body image and eating disorders?
  • What has changed in our culture to cause the uptick in men experiencing these problems?
  • Body image and men in other cultures 
  • The reality about guys who look jacked in movies, underwear ads, etc. 
  • The negative influence of social media 
  • How action figures have changed in the last handful of decades 
  • What do men and women see as the ideal male body?
  • Muscle dysmorphia 
  • How are these body image problems treated?
  • How eating disorders manifest differently in men and women 
  • The problems caused by steroids
  • Why every man should indeed care about how they look, and finding the right balance
  • What parents can do to help boys who might be struggling with body image 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Now, we typically associate body image issues with women. My guest today says that a quarter of people with eating disorders are male, and that there are millions of men in America silently struggling with obsessing over how they look even to the detriment of their health, careers, and relationships.

His name is Dr. Roberto Olivardia, a professor of clinical psychology at Harvard and the co-author of the book, The Adonis Complex, how to identify, treat, and prevent body obsession in men and boys. We begin our conversation discussing how the Adonis Complex manifests itself in men, and why male body image disorders are a fairly recent phenomenon. Roberto and I then dig into how the ideal male body has changed over the past few decades, and how we’ve seen these inflated standards of male attractiveness show up in advertising, movies, and even action figures.

Roberto then shares possible causes of male body image issues which include interestingly enough, increasing gender egalitarianism in the west. We then dig into specific ways body image issues appear in men including bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia, in which super jacked dudes think they’re still too scrawny. Roberta then explains how eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia manifest themselves differently in men compared to women. And we end our conversation discussing the line between caring about how you look in a healthy way and having a disorder. What to do if you’re having problems with body image issues, and what parents can do to inoculate their sons from the Adonis complex. After the show’s over, check out our show notes at Roberto joins me now via

Dr. Roberto Olivardia, welcome to the show.

Dr. Olivardia: Well, thank you for having me.

Brett McKay: So you co-authored a book about … It came out almost 20 years ago.

Dr. Olivardia: I know.

Brett McKay: It’s been a while. It’s called The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys. I remember seeing this book when it first came out. I thought it was interesting because it’s all about body issues that men have, but that’s something we typically associate with women. So let’s talk about the Adonis complex. How do you all define what it is on a big picture view in the book?

Dr. Olivardia: Sure. So as researchers and as clinicians, I specialize in the treatment of working with boys and men with Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, men who use anabolic steroids because they feel like they can’t get big enough.

And when we were thinking of a title of the book, we were trying to think of something that encapsulated all of those manifestations. And Adonis is this mythological Greek character. He was half man, half God, and he represented the ideal in masculine beauty and strength, and in appearance. So he thought to call it Adonis Complex to represent all of the ways that men are striving in this pursuit of the ideal male body.

And it is strange to think that was almost 20 years ago that that book came out. And I remember when it did come out, there was so many people that said, “Do boys and men even struggle with this? Is this a rarity?” And unfortunately, it is not a rarity. So our purpose really in getting that book out was to take what we were knowing from the research we were doing and clinically what we were seeing and letting people know this is a big problem with males as well as with women and girls.

Brett McKay: So I remember in the eighties and nineties watching PSAs about anorexia or binge eating, but it was always geared towards girls.

Dr. Olivardia: Yes.

Brett McKay: So there was an awareness that was happening with women and young women. When did you and your colleagues started noticing it with men? Is this a fairly recent phenomenon?

Dr. Olivardia: Fairly. So probably in the late ’70s, early ’80s, if you look in the scientific literature, that’s when we started to see eating disorders in males studies start to pop up. But they were very limited samples and they were men who are primarily in treatment programs or were hospitalized.

When I was a senior in college, I went to Tufts University, I’m from the Boston area. And I had known actually a couple of male students who independent of each other, had disclosed to me that they were struggling with the eating disorders and were completely shameful about it. They said they had never told anybody about it. They were silently suffering. And I thought this would be something interesting to study.

So I actually ended up doing a thesis on it. And as part of it, I told my thesis committee I’m going to place ads in basically every college in the Massachusetts area, which we have many in Massachusetts. Just to recruit these men. And at that time, unbeknownst to me at that time, that was the first study that had recruited men from a community sample. So not men who were patients in hospitals or treatment centers, but men who most of whom may never have sought treatment for it.

And I remember my committee saying, “Well, you probably want a plan B because you may not get a lot of men respond to this ad.” Well, I didn’t need a plan B. I actually had many men. I remember my answering machine tape was full by the end of a couple of days of men saying, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re studying this. I thought I was the only one.” And when we brought these men in and interviewed them, questionnaires, the overwhelming majority of them had never sought treatment for the eating disorder. And in fact, there were some men in that sample who were in treatment for depression, for substance abuse. And even in the context of that therapy, never disclosed to their therapist that they might’ve been binging or purging, or compulsively exercising, because of the stigma that they felt they had, that they would be seen as less masculine, as weak. That people would question their sexuality, because there was a stereotype that it was only something that affected women.

Brett McKay: So this book was published 20 years ago, and you all provide numbers. But I imagine those numbers have changed since then. Do we have an idea of how many men are dealing with some sort of body issue, whether it’s an eating disorder, they’re trying to lose a lot of weight, or they’re spending a lot of time in the gym trying to get bigger? Do you have any concrete numbers there?

Dr. Olivardia: So generally, and part of it is that from the bottom up, males in particular are still heavily under-researched. In fact, less than 1% of research on eating disorders is focused on male subjects. So we still need a lot more work in even identifying these individuals.

But generally speaking, the statistics say about anywhere from 10 to 15 million men in the US are affected by eating disorders like Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder. About anywhere from 2 to 3 million men have something called body dysmorphic disorder, which is where you are preoccupied with a part of your body. It could be your nose, it could be your penis size, it could be your hair, your muscularity. To a point that really gets, is significantly interfering in their lives, and in which they obsess and often avoid situations because of their negative body image.

And then when you include what we call subclinical body image and eating disorders, so people that might not meet the clinical criteria but are close to it. That amount’s actually anywhere from five to 10 million men. And in fact, a lot of men might fall right under that radar where even in research studies or in treatment samples might not be picked up because maybe they’re not … because again, a lot of the criteria of how we even define some of these, particularly with eating disorders, was almost exclusively based on women. Even the studies, if you look at some of the very popular eating disorder questionnaires and surveys, there’ll be items like, “I don’t like my thighs,” and you have to rate your level of agreement with that. “I don’t like my butt, I don’t like my breasts.” Terms that men don’t really relate to the concept of thighs.

Now if your were word that to say, “I don’t like my quads. I’m not satisfied with my fitness shape,” or things like that, or my muscle size, then you’re going to have a different endorsement of how men respond to that. So there’s still a lot more work in identifying.

But I know just clinically with the majority of men that I treat who struggle with these things, I am one of few, if not the only person that knows that they struggle with it. It’s still something that’s very, very shameful. Now with the boys that I treat, obviously their parents and family members know. I have been seeing a trend where there’s better identification now and people are coming into treatment earlier, which is a good thing. And at the same time, I’ve also seen an increase in these problems with boys and men.

Brett McKay: So let’s talk about what’s going on there. As you highlight in the book, this really wasn’t a problem let’s say from my grandfather’s generation, that World War II generation. But you started seeing it happening in the ’70s and ’80s. What changed, what’s going on that’s causing this uptick?

Dr. Olivardia: Yes. So that’s absolutely true. So historically, we can document eating disorders in women to the 160s. It’s historically for spiritual, religious media, pop culture, all of those reasons. With men, we really didn’t see it so much until again, those late ’70s early ’80s. And we attribute a couple things to that.

So one is that we’ve done studies looking at even advertising and media, that somebody had the brilliant idea of probably realizing we have half the population hating their bodies and profiting off of that. Why don’t we make the other half of the population not like the way they look and profit off of that?

So we started to see particularly in the early ’80s, this rush advertising featuring half nude male models, things like designer underwear. Think about it. Would our grandfathers have cared about designer underwear like Calvin Klein or Armani? Absolutely not. It would have been Fruit of the Loom or Haynes, something just very functional. So the idea of men even thinking about those things started to become much more advertised a for them.

Also if you think about the early eighties, in Hollywood you have people like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and actors who clearly, rather their bodies were these issues of commodity and currency for them as opposed to the Hollywood actors in the ’40s and the ’50s. But also we started to see a whole tide changing in a very positive way around how women and men started to see themselves.

And obviously in the late ’60s and in the ’70s, we had the women’s liberation movement and feminist movement, which we talk about in the book, as being a very positive cultural change. And in that change, it changed the way that women saw their gender roles and the roles that they took.

Up until that point, men pretty much defined themselves in their masculinity by how strong they were, how much money they made. When that is shared more with women, which again, I highlight is a positive thing. But I think one of the ways that now came from that is that men had to figure out what it meant to be a man if it wasn’t being the breadwinner, when maybe your spouse was making more money than you are, or being the strongest person when there could be women in positions of strength and power.

And the easiest, I guess the most concrete way to do that is through the body. That men really, you started to see bodybuilding becoming much more the rage, from Pumping Iron and that documentary. Also anabolic steroid use became much more accessible to the average man. It wasn’t just relegated to elite bodybuilding circles that you in the ’50s that you would see.

So all of that together I think create this way of like how to build a body that is representative of being masculine. And a lot of the men that I work with who struggle with eating disorders, that issue of masculinity often comes up.

Brett McKay: So that’s interesting point. Because I’ve read similar studies in anthropology research about when countries that have high levels of gender egalitarianism, you actually see this weird thing where the genders start accentuating their differences even more.

Dr. Olivardia: Correct.

Brett McKay: They want to find a way, we’re same this way, but how are we different? And so in this case, men, they can put on a lot of muscle and get the big shoulders. Something women, they can but not as well as men because men have androgen receptors in those muscles, creates more testosterone.

But yeah, in some countries women, they act more feminine even though they can do everything else that a man can do. They’re just trying to differentiate themselves.

Dr. Olivardia: Right. It’s interesting because one of the anthropological studies we came across was research of this tribe in Africa called the [inaudible] tribe. And this is a tribe where women have a lot of, a great degree of sexual liberation. If they decide that their husband is unattractive, they could have an extra marital affair. And that is sanctioned in the tribe, in that culture.

So men, what we also see is that men in this tribe are very, very astute to their body image. They adorn themselves with certain colors, and feathers, and costumes, and it all actually culminates in the ceremony called the [inaudible] ceremony, which is basically a male beauty pageant. Where men will show off their teeth, and their height, and their bodies, and adorn themselves again with clothing. And women will judge them, and they’ll mock and humiliate the men that are not up to par. And the men who are seen as more attractive are applauded and might be getting some sex that night.

So it’s interesting that in this culture now, it doesn’t mean that it’s a completely egalitarian culture, but at least sexually it is, that there’s a great degree of sexual liberation. And that certainly came about in the ’70s and eighties ’80s with the invention of the birth control pill, and again shifting gender roles. And women being seen as individuals who could have sexual satisfaction and are entitled to that. It did shift this way. And even now, it’s so interesting with just how gender is talked about and gender fluidity and everything. What we’re going to see, and how that impacts the way that body image gets looked at even today.

Brett McKay: It is interesting. I think that, I was talking to my wife about that, the studies you guys talked about, about how egalitarianism has led to differentiation. That explains like when you go to the toy store now, there’s a pink aisle and then there’s the blue aisle. Growing up in the ’80s there wasn’t that. There was Legos, and that was it. There weren’t pink Legos, it’s just you had legos. It’s just weird that that’s happened.

Dr. Olivardia: Yes, definitely.

Brett McKay: Yeah. So there’s a combination of things going here, egalitarianism. So men are trying to find a way to differentiate themselves so they’re putting on muscle. There’s the change in advertising that’s been going on. We’ve attributed the problem with female body image disorders with the the Photoshop fakeness of beauty advertising. And you talk about movie stars, movie stars now, they’re all jacked. Like Hugh Jackman is literally jacked. But if you go back to the ’50s, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, right? They just looked like regular dudes. They weren’t super huge or super jacked.

Dr. Olivardia: Absolutely. Even with cigarette ads featuring the Marlboro man, who is this rough and tumble masculine dude that he didn’t have a six pack. That’s all it took. You had to have a certain level of this air and confidence about you. All of those actors of yesteryear certainly had a certain confidence and a certain way about them, but it was not connected to their bodies. It wasn’t connected. They were seen as attractive men are handsome men by people. But a lot of times, even the way we think of what we find attractive is often linked to what we find in other attributes. If somebody is confident, we tend to find more confident people attractive. So it was a very stark change compared to you’re right, what we see now. With Hugh Jackman.

I remember when Fight Club when that movie came out and so many of my patients, that was one of those movies that all of them responded to. This idea that was a shift actually too where it became less about being just big and muscular, the pumping iron, but more about looking ripped and looking lean. And I remember that movie getting a lot of attention around that. This idea that Brad Pitt had this just cut body. And that was the beginning I felt of that shift and that trend to not always being this big muscle and fitness guy in the room, but still being very fit and being very defined.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I remember that. That’s that scene where that first thing, he has his shirt off and he’s carved from wood. I guess it was this … yeah. People saw and they’re like, “I want that.” But what they forget is that Brad Pitt probably hadn’t eaten anything in a day. Was probably hyper dehydrated to get all the fluid out so he looked like that.

Dr. Olivardia: Without a doubt. In Adonis Complex, some of which gotten the book, but some of the stuff that didn’t get in the book was interviews are people that I had met who talk about … I remember this one woman I met with who was an underwear model stylist and photographer. So her job was to photograph men in famous underwear ads. And she said that basically they have men wear underwear that is two to three sizes too small for them, and perhaps multiple of those underwear. They’ll often enhance their bulge with everything from WonderBread to sexual toys, anything. Because she says if you can convince a guy that he’s going to have a bigger penis wearing an underwear, then he’s going to buy it. Or the women in their lives or the other men in their lives, in the case of gay men, will buy it for them.

So she says there’s so much that she says gets manipulated. You can manipulate abs. I talked to a makeup artist who said that she could draw abs in four men that just don’t have a six pack, but she could draw them in in a way that could look, you wouldn’t even know the difference.

So there is so much of that manipulation that we know happens. But I think again there’s a lot of attention … it’s not about taking the attention away from women, but also understanding to put men in the dialogue as well, and understanding because there are lots of boys and men who are suffering. And I’m seeing it younger also. I’ve worked with boys as young as nine who struggle with significant body image and eating disorders.

Brett McKay: And I imagine social media has only amplified this even more.

Dr. Olivardia: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Now that’s something that I’ve always thought if we ever do this revised or updated edition of Adonis Complex, we’d have to have a whole chapter just on social media. Because I have a teenage son who’s 14, I have a daughter who’s 12. And there’s no question. He actually showed me an app. I was giving a presentation. He said, “Oh dad, you should talk about” … I think it was called Facetune. And he said, “There’s this app where people take a picture and by a couple clicks, you can remove all your acne off the … you can whiten your teeth.”

And when you go on, I think it was on the website, there were just as many before and afters of males as there were to females. They market to both teenage boys and to teenage girls, to basically enhance their appearance. And I think it’s so destructive because so okay, you have this picture now of what your ideal, what you have now seen as your ideal self. And now you put that where? You put that on Facebook, on Instagram, but you don’t really look like that. So what is that going to do? It’s just a set up to just feel even worse about yourself.

I’ve worked with adult men who are in the dating scene and will put a picture in their dating profile that is photoshopped, is enhanced, is using that kind of app. And then are they’re frighteningly anxious about meeting the person on the first date because they don’t 100% look that way. It’s so I find it very destructive. Which is why right now my kids don’t have any social media and I’m going to try to have it be that way until they’re in college. I mean honestly. I think there are a lot of issues with it. I think it can be very helpful in terms of in other areas and venues. But for body image, I’ve seen it be nothing but a very negative influence.

Brett McKay: And also on social media, particularly Instagram, a lot of the influencers there, they make their money peddling products that improve your appearance. Right? So weight loss teas supplements, teeth whitening, whatever. That’s how a lot of those guys make their money.

Dr. Olivardia: Without a doubt. And for people to understand how manipulative and how … it sounds very conspiracy, but it’s true because I had an experience with, it was a very popular men’s magazine, I won’t name the magazine. But it was a very popular men’s magazine. They did an article when The Adonis Complex came out. And one of the things I talked about in the article were all the supplements that are out there. And I said some of them are useless, some of them are actually harmful for you. And maybe there are some that might have proven could increase muscle mass by very, very small percentage. And I basically went on to slam them, and got a call from the editor of the magazine said, “We really want to run this and we want this to be the cover story, but a lot of our advertisers are those supplements that you trashed. Would you be willing to say something different about it?”

And I said, “No, I feel how I feel about it.” Then basically the whole conversation changed where maybe they wouldn’t run the article. And I said, “Well then don’t run the article. I’m not going to say something different.” So they ended up running it. It wasn’t as prominently featured as it was originally intended to, but they deleted everything that I said about supplements. And I thought, “Wow, isn’t this interesting that here’s information that I’m sharing with the public, and they have a right to edit.” It’s their magazine. However, it is motivated from profit. It’s motivated because these companies basically said we don’t like this. And we are trying to sell this product. So the public is not getting sometimes the right information.

Brett McKay: So another way that body image has changed for men, you guys show this to, you guys do a great job. You guys became amateur toy collectors in the process of writing this book. You show a GI Joe from the 1960s to a GI Joe from the late ’90s. And ’60s GI Joe, just looked like a regular guy, but 90s GI Joe, he’s got biceps that are half the size of his waist.

Dr. Olivardia: Right.

Brett McKay: So that’s changed as well?

Dr. Olivardia: Yeah. Oh my gosh, without a doubt. That was actually a very fun paper that we wrote. We were actually surprised by how big of a disparity the measurements would be. That’s inspired by the very famous Barbie doll study that was done in 1980 which showed that if Barbie were a real life human female, that her dimensions would be completely unrealistic. You just couldn’t create that body. And you may have heard that for years, Mattel was getting a lot of pressure from moms groups, and from feminist groups, and body image advocacy groups, and they refused to change. And then eventually they did start to change Barbie’s proportions. So technically she is, it’s doable to have that body if you were severely underweight with breast implants, pretty much.

So we thought, what would be the analogy to that? And I thought I used to play with action figures when I was a kid. So I went to a toy store and with the permission of parents I said, “Can I ask your kid what kind of action figures they would like?” And they pulled them out, and I bought them all, and we measured them. And that’s exactly what we found. If Batman today the action figure was not Adam West from the TV show. But what was striking, the most striking about that where the Star Wars action figures.

Because unlike GI Joe, which you could argue that the GI Joe in the 1960 is a different character than the GI Joe in 1990. And yes, even though the GI Joes now are much more muscular and ripped, and just leaner.

But with Star Wars, so Star Wars came out in the 70s as you know. And then in the mid to late ’90s when we were doing this study, it was re-released in the theaters because it was digitally remastered. So they rereleased the action figure line. So now these are based on the same character. Mark Hamill. Luke Skywalker is the same character from the 1970s movies, 1990s. And those action figures, if you see anyone can Google it, it’s probably online. Is so strikingly different it’s almost laughable that. Even Mark Hamill, the actor was quoted as saying, “Oh my God, they put me on steroids,” when he saw the new action figure. It doesn’t even look like him.

His waist size is dramatically smaller. His pectoral muscles are defined with his robe open more to show more chest. Han Solo looks like he’s been at the gym significantly over the 20 years. And that was shocking to us because we’re like, “Why are you changing that?” It’s not like they made it look more realistic. It actually looks more further away from what those characters look like in the film.

Brett McKay: And so this has all led to a change in how a lot of American or western men picture the ideal male body. You talk about these interesting research studies you did with different types of people, different ages, where you asked them to pick their ideal body. And you asked this to men who were younger, women who were younger, and older men.

And I thought it was interesting is a lot of times men focus working on their bodies, they think what a woman wants is a super muscular shredded guy. But when you ask women their ideal body, it wasn’t that.

Dr. Olivardia: Right. So that was a great study. That was my dissertation actually from getting my PhD. So we developed this computer program called the somatomorphic matrix. And when you go on the computer, you’re presented with an image that is corresponds to a certain percent of body fat, and a certain percent of muscularity. So unlike women with body image generally that most women being overweight and being over fat are the same thing. So women, they step on a scale. If they see a number that’s too high, they don’t like that if they feel that they’re overweight.

With men, what made those studies often invalid is that a lot of those earlier studies when they would do for men, because with women they would present them with different images, not on a computer but on a piece of paper. And they would say, “What’s your ideal? How do you perceive yourself?” And for heterosexual women, “How do you think, what are men’s ideal of the women’s body?” And invariably, what you find is women prefer an image that is very underweight, often restrictive. They see themselves as fatter than they actually are. And they think that men want them to be thinner than men actually want them to be.

So when those studies were done with men, they said well men aren’t really dissatisfied because some men want to lose weight, some and to gain weight. And so it cancels each other out. Well, what they weren’t accounting for was muscle mass and muscularity. Because most of the men that I work with, they don’t mind if they’re are 250 pounds, let’s say, when they’re quote unquote supposed to be 200 as long as they’re all muscle. So being overweight really is less integral to their body image, is seeing themselves as being over fat.

So when we did that study, and these were college men who had to pick what is their ideal body, how do they see themselves? And these are heterosexual men? How do you think a woman your age wants, what she prefers? And we found that men preferred a body image that was about eight pounds less body fat, which was actually not that significant. However, that had 25 pounds more muscle, which was statistically significant. And then when we actually pulled women and had women take the study, the survey, we found that women preferred a less muscular body than what men thought women preferred. And what was actually the very interesting to me was I had hypothesized that men’s ideal body would match what he thought that women would prefer. And in fact, that wasn’t true, that in fact men preferred a body that was even bigger than what they thought the average woman even preferred. But the factor that really shone through was how big they thought the average guy was. So there was something very important about men being bigger than other men, even if that was to the exclusion of what women actually preferred.

Now one could argue, maybe if you’re the biggest guy in the room, you have your choice of any partner in the room, or you have the best options. But the fact that that variable didn’t even pan out where it really didn’t even matter what women preferred. It just mattered how big they were as compared to other men.

Brett McKay: When I read that, I wonder if it’s like are men really doing it for women, or are they just trying to compete with other men? It’s like there’s that saying, I think I’ve heard. Women don’t dress for men, they dress for other women. Right? There’s an intrasexual competition going on between men.

Dr. Olivardia: I think so. Yeah. I think there’s definitely something, the idea of men in a locker room comparing penis size and men in the gym looking at their muscles and who’s bench pressing. And we see it with women as you mentioned as well. There have been studies that have asked men how attractive they find women wearing makeup is. And actually a lot of men prefer less makeup than more for women.

So there’s definitely this intrasexual competition going on. Now, whether that’s for this ultimate goal of again, having the most options to who you mate with and whatnot. That remains to be seen. But without a doubt, a lot of the men that I work with, particularly the ones who are obsessed with their muscle size and muscularity, they’re more concerned about how weak they feel they look in comparison to other men. And they’re constantly comparing themselves to, is that guy bigger than me? Is he more muscular than me?

And part of it is that what makes body image problems so difficult for people is that it doesn’t really have to do with the body, it’s more around what we feel we get by having an ideal buddy. So it’s if I have this ideal body, then I’m going to be more confident. I’m going to be more powerful, I’m going to be seen as more attractive. It’s all of that, that we have to break down and unpack in working with these boys and men.

Brett McKay: Well, one more thing with the studies you did. Not only did you pull college age men and women, you also pulled older men and women in their 50s or 60s. And why that was interesting there, there was no difference between men and women on what they thought the ideal male body was.

Dr. Olivardia: Right. Yeah. With body image, we do see changes developmentally. Although I work with men in their 40s and 50s who either struggle with eating disorders or who have body dysmorphic disorder. They don’t want to have wrinkles, and they don’t want their hair to go gray, or they don’t want to lose their hair. And I’ve been seeing more of that. But typically in previous body image research, people tend to get more satisfied with their body image as they age. Which is interesting because we associate being older with not liking our bodies. But actually I think part of that is when you get older, you value health a lot more. You become much more aware of your mortality. So you realize that there’s almost something very trivial about worrying about how other people see you when you have a more fully lived experience. But it’s very normative for us to worry about that when we’re younger.

And again, it’s not just around, “I want people to like my skin and my hair, my body. But I want to be accepted, I want to have connections, I want to have relationships.” And unfortunately, there’s a cultural script around a way to get that is by looking good, or the only way to get that is by looking a certain way.

Brett McKay: So let’s delve in deeper to some of these different ways the Adonis complex manifests itself. So you mentioned muscle dysmorphia, or body dysmorphia, one of that ways. You guys call this bigorexia, which you introduced a whole new word of the lexicon.

So this idea that, so it’s the opposite of anorexia where someone thinks they’re fatter than they really are. Bigorexia is someone is not as muscular as they think they really are.

Dr. Olivardia: Right. Their fear is that they’re not as muscular as, in fact that they can be. I mean some of the men I work with muscle … so you’re right. So it was first we called it bigorexia and then we changed it to a more clinical name of muscle dysmorphia. And some of these men I work with are very muscular guys. They’re objectively big guys, muscular guys, but they don’t see it. Just like the 80 pound woman with anorexia who really thinks she’s fat.

So these are not the guys that you would see at Venice beach with their shirts off pumping, even though they might have those bodies. They come to my office on a 90 degree day and they have long sleeve shirts on because they fear that someone might see their “scrawny legs,” “scrawny arms.” They might be wearing pants because they don’t want people to see their scrawny, puny legs. They work out incessantly. A lot of them do steroids.

So it is very much like everything you see with anorexia, but just almost as if the pendulum is just swinging in the other direction. And in fact, studies that I’ve done that have compared men with anorexia with men with muscle dysmorphia find that they actually look more similar than different in a lot of profiles. We see it as just the same thing. It’s just different variants of the same thing.

Brett McKay: So you mentioned the extreme cases where people are wearing baggy clothes. But you also highlight in this book people that you saw, and you saw that their muscle dysmorphia got in the way of their career. They got fired from their job because they’re spending too much time at the gym. Got in the way of healthy relationships because instead of spending time with their significant other, they were spending time at the gym or they’re just bugging their significant other like, “Am I big enough? Am I big enough? Am I big enough?” For some people, that insecurity is unattractive.

Dr. Olivardia: Absolutely. When we started talking about this and doing research, unfortunately it didn’t garner any sympathy from people because people were like, “Bodybuilders, they’re so vain and they’re so arrogant,” and all that. But this is not that. This is not vanity any more than an eating disorder is about vanity. We shouldn’t look at someone with anorexia and think, “They’re just doing that for attention. It’s all about vanity.” It’s a serious, serious issue. And with the men that I work with, they really feel like they’re almost, their survivals depends upon the way their body is. And so they will do anything.

I’ve had calls from, I remember a call from a dad I got years ago whose son, he was 18 struggled with this. And he said it started with his son asking, “Dad, do I look as muscular today as I did yesterday? Is that guy across the street, does he look bigger than I do? Does my bicep look as big as it did yesterday?” And he said it started out maybe three to four times a day, and it got to a point where he literally counted, it was up to 80 to 90 times a day his son was asking for reassurance. He said it was almost delusional. It’s this incredible anxiety around it. And instead of going to functions that they’re supposed to be going to, school or work, they were at the gym working out. They felt compelled to do it.

These are men who are boys and men who if there was, in the Boston area, we get blizzard sometimes in the winter and gyms will close. That they will have serious panic attacks. Some of them will feel suicidal if they feel like they’re losing muscle mass. It seems very strange probably to a lot of people to hear. But if we think about it, if we flip it to eating disorders, 15 to 20% of men and women with eating disorders will die. And of that 15 to 20%, half are due to suicide, and the other half are due to the medical complications of the eating disorder.

But there is a high suicide rate in this population, and body dysmorphic disorder or BDD of which muscle dysmorphia is a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder. It has outside of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and depression, has one of the highest suicide rates. So this is not, again, somebody who is just vain. It’s much more serious than that.

Brett McKay: As you talked about in the book, there’s an element of obsessive compulsive disorder going on there. Someone who would compulsively wash their hands are probably more likely to obsessively work out at the gym if they caught that bug for whatever reason.

Dr. Olivardia: Yeah. So in psychiatric disorders, we can group them almost in different families so to speak. And one of the families that share a genetic and underlying genetic predisposition is what we call the obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders. That includes OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorders. In that there could be generalized anxiety disorder. Trichotillomania, which is compulsive hair pulling. Certain variants of panic disorder that all have this genetic, at least in doing family history studies … Anorexia would certainly be in there, that you might find runs in families as well, that a lot of the people that I’ve treated for muscle dysmorphia, you’ll often see a family member that might not have muscle dysmorphia but will likely have OCD, a history of Anorexia, something of that.You’ll often see it run in families.

Brett McKay: So what’s the treatment for muscle dysmorphia like? For extreme cases?

Dr. Olivardia: Yes. So typically, the men that I see with muscle dysmorphia, they come into my office. They never say, “I want to come in and stop working out.” They often come in because their lives have hit a real bottom. They’ve gotten fired from their third job because they are late constantly because they’re at the gym. Their wife is divorcing them because they are chronically obsessed with this and they won’t leave the house let’s say for social functions, because they feel that they don’t look good enough.

So in that treatment, is a combination of what we would call cognitive behavioral therapy, which would include really looking at their cognitions or their thoughts. Things like if I lose muscle mass, then nobody will like me. If I go out in public and people see me as weak. And you try to examine with them the evidence for that. How accurate are these thoughts? And most of them are not. There’s a very, almost this level of delusionality that you’ll see in individuals with body dysmorphic disorder where they’ll say, “That person is looking at me clearly because they think I look ugly or they think I look too skinny.” And it’s like no, they’re looking at you because you just walked in the room. Or they could be looking at you because you look like their brother, or because you have this cool shirt on. There are many other reasons someone could be looking at you. Or they might think you’re attractive.

So you try to really work at deconstructing those thoughts. And then the behavioral part is anything that they’re avoiding, you expose them to something called exposure plus response prevention therapy, which is the hallmark of treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder.

So if somebody for example, has contamination fears and they’re avoiding touching doorknobs and shaking people’s hands, the best and really only way that you can treat that is having the person touch doorknobs, and not only touch doorknobs and other people’s hands, but touching dirty toilet seats and not washing their hands for an hour or two. And basically have them get used to the anxiety. We call it the process of habituation, that they’re habituating to the anxiety and recognizing that the anxiety will come and go. What goes up must come down. And when it goes, you realize that that feeling that you have that compels you to do the compulsion or to avoid a situation. That if we just stick through the emotion, get through it, that we realize that nothing bad is actually happening. That it’s our mind thinking that way.

And then with muscle dysmorphia, I’ll work on things. A lot of the men that I’ve treated with muscle dysmorphia also tend to have social anxiety, other conditions and disorders that I think feed into it. So we might do some assertiveness skills and social skills. Some of them have histories of trauma, of sexual or physical abuse, which makes sense. Building a big body becomes a way of defending yourself and not looking weak.

If in the case, I’ve worked with gay men who have muscle dysmorphia, who have used their bodies as a way to fight against this homophobic stance that gay men are inherently less masculine than heterosexual men, which isn’t necessarily true. And there are gay men and straight men that whose gender identity is very different than their sexual orientation.

But I’ve worked with a number of gay men who really got into building their bodies as a way of no one questioning their masculinity, because unfortunately gay men have to defend their masculinity because of their sexual orientation.

So there are a lot of different causes that can feed into it. So we try to address those roots. But most importantly, honestly is just getting them to do these behaviors. If they’re weighing themselves 20 times a day, we’ve removed the scale, and how do you tolerate not knowing what your weight is, and still going out that day, and not wearing the long sleeve shirts when it’s 90 degree weather? And I’ll do these kinds of exposures where I’ll walk outside my office with the patient, and they have to wear short sleeves, and shorts, and we walk in a crowded place. And it works, if someone can tolerate that.

Brett McKay: One part of the Adonis complex is bigorexia, muscle dysmorphia. Another part you mentioned is men with eating disorders, and it’s something we typically associate with women. Thanks for those PSAs in the ’80s and ’90s. Here’s a question. Is there a difference between the way men and women manifest or experience eating disorders? They do it differently? That question make sense?

Dr. Olivardia: Sure, absolutely. So for the most part, it can look very similar. I would say that the main difference is if you take with anorexia, the overwhelming certainly any woman I’ve ever treated with anorexia, their goal is to look skinny and to look very thin. That’s their straightforward goal with the majority of boys and men that I’ve treated for anorexia, that they don’t identify with the word skinny. They don’t want to be skinny, they want to be lean. And they’ll still say to you, and they say to me all the time, “I know that I look really thin.” So in some ways, they actually have a clearer perception of what their body looks like. “However, I am so fearful of being fat and gaining weight that I’m stuck in this. If you told me that every bite of food that I ate would immediately convert into muscle in my body, then I wouldn’t have a problem eating.”

And of course, and what I tell these boys is in order to create muscle, you need to have fat. Your body isn’t going to just create muscle without having fat. And so there is that bridge where you have to eat, and you’re going to need to have a certain amount of body fat, and your body has to trust that you’re going to hold on to a certain amount of body fat. Because if you have no body fat, you will die. Your body won’t be able to survive.

So a lot of the males I treat … and what’s interesting is that this actually almost becomes a helpful factor in the treatment because they’re not totally wedded in this ideal of being skinny. But for them it’s the fear of that bridge.

Now a lot of times, these men can lapse into muscle dysmorphia. So when they start to gain weight and they’re so fearful of gaining fat that they lapse into this muscle dysmorphia paradigm. So we try to prevent that. So that’s a big difference.

With bulimia nervosa, which is a binge eating coupled with compensating behaviors like self-induced vomiting or laxative use, compulsive exercise. Generally speaking, we don’t see as much laxative use with men as we would see with women. I would say I see just as much self induced vomiting. But certainly the overexercise is probably more common as a purging method. Whereas with women, you’ll see the self induced vomiting or fasting. So women who might binge eat and then don’t eat for two days. And then bing eat, almost a coupling of anorexia and bulimia.

And then with binge eating disorder, which basically just got recognized since the mid to late nineties, that unlike anorexia and bulimia which certainly affect more women than men. But binge eating disorder is almost at about a 50/50 gender distribution.

Now having said that, what’s very important for people to know is that about 25% of people who struggle with eating disorders are male. And that is something that years ago, it would have been maybe less than 1% of individuals with eating disorders are male. And studies have shown that if you look in treatment centers, about perhaps 1/16 to 1/20 eating disorder patients are male. But in the community it’s about 1/4 people with an eating disorder are male, which means there are a lot of men out there who never come through treatment doors.

Now part of that is a lot of treatment centers don’t accept men. A lot of eating disorder programs are just exclusively for women. Then again, some of that comes from just men themselves not having a hard time seeking treatment.

Brett McKay: Something you also have talked about in the book when it comes to eating disorders in men. For a lot of these men, it starts off in high school if they were a wrestler. It requires that cutting weight, and they do these extreme measures to get as much body weight off of them as possible. And then after wrestling’s over, it’s still with them.

Dr. Olivardia: Yes. That was the very first study I did actually on eating disorders in men. I got calls actually from a lot of wrestlers who … I didn’t have a wrestling team in my high school. I didn’t know any wrestlers when I was younger. Who said, “I could gain and lose 20 pounds in two to three days.” And I thought, how is that even possible for someone to do that? But then I got many calls from various wrestlers, from various colleges talking about these practices. The men that I included in the study were men who engage in these behaviors even after wrestling season. But it opened my eyes to this practice of cutting your way down, and then binging and putting the weight back on.

And interestingly, there are sports, ballet dancing or wrestling, or football, where weight is an integral variable. However, what I found in general and in patients that I work with is yes, the engaging in these sports can sometimes trigger and creating eating disorders in individuals, particularly if you don’t have healthy modeling from coaches or peers. However, a lot of the patients that I work with who had eating disorders sometimes will gravitate to sports that emphasize keeping and maintaining a certain body weight. Almost like it’s fueling something that was already there to begin with, but then it absolutely exponentially makes it worse.

That’s a tough population in general too because I’ve worked with college students who are highly, highly competitive athletes. Whose college scholarships are because of their sport, who some of them could be Olympic athletes. And to them, they see their eating disorder as something that’s almost integral to their success.

And the fear of being of not engaging in these behaviors mean well maybe I’m not going to be as good of an athlete, then I’ll lose my scholarship. And I’m going to disappoint everyone. I won’t make these goals. And it’s a much harder navigation to that. But it still comes down to, and what it ultimately comes down to in recovery for these people is they’ve had to choose living, or doing well in these sports. Because I’ve worked with men who are 20, 21 who have had heart attacks because of their bulimia. It’s very, very dangerous. We are not meant to treat our bodies this way. And your body will do very, very strange things when you’re making yourself vomit all the time. When you’re not eating when you should be. It can really mess up the way your heart regulates itself and your other parts of your body functions, your organ functions work. And I’ve seen it happen. It’s disturbing. So that’s what, I think people have to recognize this as a public health issue.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And then the side irony is you said not only can cause these extreme health complications. But it’s also, even if that doesn’t happen to you, it’s probably hindering the athlete’s performance, right? Because that extreme weight loss can wreak havoc on your hormones for sure.

Dr. Olivardia: Without, absolutely. And then when you bring in hormones into all of this, the interesting thing with particularly the men with muscle dysmorphia who use anabolic steroids. Of which about, I would say about 50% of the men that I’ve worked with who have muscle dysmorphia will use steroids, and it makes sense. Steroids are quick and easy way to gain muscle except that it has so many adverse medical effects to it.

But one of which is that when you inject or bring in testosterone into your body, your body stops producing its own natural testosterone because it basically says, “We’re getting it from somewhere else. We don’t need to make it anymore.” So it can actually create these feminizing effects of gynecomastia, which is breast enlargement, testicular shrinkage, impotence. All of these things that of course go against what any man would want, and can actually create a dependence on steroids.

So it’s not a dependence in the same way that we would talk about with cocaine for example. But it’s a physiological dependence in that when men who do steroids for a period of time and they stop doing them, and their bodies are not just going to kick right back into producing testosterone. Their bodies will lose that muscle mass and sometimes create these feminizing effects because now they’re not getting this free range of testosterone in their body.

And then what that does to them mentally, the concept of roid rage, of being incredibly aggressive, low frustration tolerance. I’ve absolutely seen that happen. That is a real thing. Some people would say it’s a myth. It is not a myth. It’s been scientifically proven. It wreaks havoc on all of those things. And especially if you’re a teenager who’s struggling with these things, these are particularly the boys I work with. It is a critical, critical window. And some of the habits that they’re doing and the ways that they might be very destructive in their bodies could literally affect them the rest of their life. So that’s why it’s so important to get treatment as quickly as possible, and specifically during those developmental windows.

But quickly to go back to the athletes that when I have worked with athletes who have recovered, all of them will say, “Oh my gosh, it is so much better and I’m so much a better athlete being healthy.” It’s similar to a lot of musicians who when I worked with who are sober from drug addiction, who have attributed their creativity to drug use. They realize no, I’m still a creative person. I can still write good songs, and I can still be artistic, and just actually be more mentally stable and mentally sane.

Brett McKay: So I think a point we should make, which we haven’t, but I think it’s been implicit. You’re not talking about not caring about how you look at all. That’s not the solution. You should of course be fit, exercise, basic grooming. You want to put out, that’s all good. It’s when it becomes all consuming and it ruins other aspects of your life. That’s when it’s a problem.

Dr. Olivardia: Correct. And I’m glad you brought that up because that is something that we get accused of a lot, is saying that we are promoting the Pillsbury Doughboy. I’ve done radio shows where callers call in and they think, “You just want everyone to be obese and not care about the way they look.” No, that’s not at all.

First and foremost, I want people to be healthy. I want people to be physically healthy, psychologically healthy. And at the same time, I want you to have a healthy body image. And part of body image is to feel good about the way you look. I wear certain clothes that I feel fit me well and that I feel good about, and express who I am. I style my hair in a certain way, and I go to the gym and I run.

So it’s not that I do that for health reasons, but I also do it for body image reasons. But like you said, it doesn’t dominate me. I usually water it down to the line, when people ask me what’s that line that gets crossed over. And to me it’s are you doing something that’s destructive or that’s unhealthy? So if you’re engaging in purging behavior, in restrictive eating, in anabolic steroid use, in substance abuse that’s meant to lose weight, that’s not healthy. If your self esteem is primarily rested upon the way you look, you’re headed for disaster. Because there’s one thing I can guarantee you is you will look different five years from now than you do from now. Our bodies are changing, we age. Can you feel good about the way you look and that represent some of your self esteem? Sure. But if the majority of your self esteem is built on that, or built on honestly anything that has any comparative effect.

If primarily your self esteem is based on let’s say your academic performance, that can be very tricky too because there are people that could be getting better grades than you do, and people who are higher ranked than you are. But if you base your self esteem on your intellect, well that’s something that’s going to carry with you the rest of your life. And it doesn’t depend upon other people. It doesn’t depend upon the approval of other people. If your self esteem is on your sense of humor, is on the way you treat people, those are consistent factors.

But when it’s something on body image, it’s dangerous territory because then it means that there’s a fragility around that self esteem. Because your body image today, even if we look at trends in what is even considered attractive, it could be totally different 10 years from now. And so where does that leave people?

And if it’s impairing or getting in the way of your life functioning, your social functioning, your relationships, your jobs, your careers, then it’s a problem. That’s when okay, wait a minute. If the whole goal is to be happy and the pursuit of this is actually getting in the way of my marriage, is getting in the way of my friendships, then how is that fulfilling that goal of being happy? Something is off there.

So absolutely. I want people to celebrate their body image and to have a good relationship with it. Go to the gym, be healthy, eat well. But it’s more around not crossing that line, which can get very dangerous.

Brett McKay: And so if you feel like you have crossed that line, it sounds like you should probably get professional help. Not something you probably can do on your own.

Dr. Olivardia: Correct. Absolutely. I highly recommend it. And especially for men who in general are less likely to seek therapy, to know that there are people who really do understand it. A lot of the men that I work with will say, they come to see me because they know I wrote Adonis Complex or they saw something and they thought, I’m clearly not the first person that this psychologist has seen with this. There are many people who have experience with this. So to absolutely seek treatment because it can be a very, very tormenting disorder. Eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder. It can get quite, quite severe. So please, I just urge people to seek help if it crosses that line.

Brett McKay: And if you’re a parent of a boy, as you say, a lot of the people you see are young men like boys and teenagers. Something you can start doing I guess is having that conversation with them when they start bringing things up like, “Hey dad, am I more muscular than yesterday?” Doesn’t mean he has body dysmorphic disorder, but it’s a time where you can have that conversation about it, right? It’s like hey, what’s going on there? Why are you concerned about that? Whatever.

Dr. Olivardia: Absolutely. It’s very normative. I remember being a teenager, it’s very normative to be insecure and to be insecure about your body image, especially when you’re going through puberty. I would not want to go through puberty again. So I tell parents, don’t be alarmed that when you hear someone even say, “I hate my body. I hate the way this looks.” That’s normative. But, you definitely want to engage in it because I wouldn’t dismiss it as just normative either. So I don’t overestimate it, but don’t underestimate it either. Just have conversations and notice if he’s saying, “I hate the way I look,” but he’s not going out with his friends that night because his hair doesn’t look right, then that’s more concerning. Versus he might say, “I don’t like this acne,” but he’s still going out, and he still has friends and having a good time. That’s more normative.

So definitely keep your eye out, especially for boys because we’re taught to be aware of how we talk about body and food with our daughters, as we should be. But we don’t think about our sons in this. Many parents that I work will often feel very guilty and I tell them not to. Because as parents, we all do the best that we can do and we don’t know what we don’t know all the time. But they’ll say, “It never occurred to me to be aware of how I talk about my own body.” And this is for moms or dads, “Around my son.” Or, “It didn’t even occur to me to say to my son, ‘Hey, you look a little chubby there.'” That that could really produce a problem, whereas no one, or hopefully people aren’t talking to their daughters that way.

So that’s another part that we just want to get awareness out there is that especially nowadays where with social media and everything, you’re out there. Think about it as a teenager. You could be at a party and a picture could be taken of you, and let’s say you don’t look your best and now it’s all over social media. It’s just there’s the more of an exposure in general to these young people to have to put a certain pressure on them to look a certain way.

Brett McKay: Yeah. I think it’s also, you can have that conversation that you’ve had with young girls about that picture of the model in the ad has probably been photo-shopped etc. Have that same conversation with your boys, “Hey, that men’s self cover model, he’s probably been fasting and cutting weight. It’s probably been photo-shopped. It’s not possible to look like that all the time.” I’ve had that conversation with my son, he’s eight. He’ll see some really jacked dude and he’s like, because I power lift. And he’s like, “Dad, why don’t you look like that guy?” And the guy of course is super ripped. I don’t look like that. And I had to explain to him, well just because your muscles are ripped, doesn’t mean you’re actually strong, and healthy. It’s been good. He’s eight, but he gets it. I think sometimes we underestimate what our kids can understand.

Dr. Olivardia: That’s absolutely true. I 100% agree with that, and I have those same conversations with my son around that and around also just with celebrities. This is their career. If The Rock suddenly lost all of his muscle mass, he’d lose his career for the most part. His career is built upon that body. Now, could he act in movies without that body? I’m sure. But he certainly wouldn’t be getting the roles he’s getting now.

So his livelihood is dependent upon that. So he has to go to the gym, and he has to be super aware of his diet. And that’s his job in that way. I’m not even commenting on whether it’s healthy or not, but just for people to understand, it’s easier when your livelihood is dependent on that.

Even though, and again, I’m not even saying that that’s always a healthy thing. But when the average ordinary individual looks at someone and says, “I want it to look like that,” it’s like but that person is spending hours upon hours to look that way. And that’s even assuming that everything you’re seeing is not photo-shopped. But they have a trainer that they work four hours a day, and they have a cook that’s making … but absolutely. I’ve had those same conversations even when my son was young. He could, they could absorb it a lot more than we think they can.

Brett McKay: You explained they look like that at that moment. They probably didn’t look like that the next day. Like Brad Pitt. He doesn’t look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club in that one scene anymore.

Dr. Olivardia: Exactly.

Brett McKay: He’s a 50 year old guy now. Well Roberto, this has been a great conversation. Is there someplace people can go to learn more about what you’re doing, your work?

Dr. Olivardia: So unfortunately, I don’t have any social media and I don’t have a website. I usually just urge people, if you Google my name, you’ll see articles, you’ll see YouTube videos from different outfits and platforms of whether it’s in this topic of eating disorders in men, or I also specialize in working with individuals with ADHD and learning disabilities. So you’ll see my name associated in that field as well. But yeah, if you Google my name, you’ll see YouTube videos or things like that, documentaries around this particular issue.

Brett McKay: Well Roberto Olivardia, thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Dr. Olivardia: Oh, absolutely. It’s been a great pleasure for me as well.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Dr. Roberto Olivardia. He’s the coauthor of the book The Adonis Complex. It’s available on and bookstores everywhere. You can check out our show notes at where you find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Well that wraps up another edition of the AOM podcast. Check out our website at where you’ll find our podcast archives as well as thousands of articles we’ve written over the years off physical fitness, how to be a better husband, better father, personal finance. You name it, we’ve got it. And if you’d like to enjoy ad free episodes of the Art of Manliness, you can do so on Stitcher premium. For a free month of Stitcher premium, sign up at and use promo code “Manliness” to get one free month. After you sign up, you can download the stitcher app on iOS or android and start enjoying ad free Art of Manliness episodes. Again, promo code “Manliness.”

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