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Linda Misleh Wagner: Future Former Fatty

The Differences in How Men & Women Approach Weight Loss – FFF #254

As women struggling to lose weight, how frustrated are we when we see the men in our lives drop weight pretty easily. We struggle to drop an ounce while they drop a pound. We are elated when we drop five pounds as we watch our man lose fifteen. It seems like a man just has to eat a little less and move a little more, and within no time they are strutting around in smaller waist-sized jeans.

Meanwhile, we will spend weeks and maybe even months, trying to lose the same amount of weight and pound the pavement walking or running, jumping up and down in a Jazzercise class, or gyrating to Zumba, working up a sweat and snacking on celery sticks. Do you ever wonder if men worry about their weight in the same way as women?

Men think about losing weight as much as women do. They just think about it differently. Women tend to be emotional and stress eaters. Although many men will tell you they are emotional and stress eaters, and they are, men tend to not dwell on the problem as much as women. Women over analyze everything. Men, being more pragmatic, just decide to lose weight and get to it.

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Men tend to want things quick, easy, and convenient, meaning not taking too much of their time. They usually don’t want to think about what they need to do in changing their diet. Instead, men will cut back on junk food and start an exercise program. It’s simple and to the point.

Women will analyze every diet, or even order multiple diets after a vulnerable night of watching weight loss infomercials (well, some of us anyways). We will spend hours planning, shopping, and cooking healthy meals to help us lose weight. We put a tremendous amount of time, planning, preparing, and cooking to help ourselves lose weight. This is in part because in most homes, women are still the primary grocery shopper and family cook.

On the other hand, a man will get up one day and decide he needs to lose weight. He doesn’t put too much thought into what he is going to eat. Instead, he puts more thought into what he is going to stop eating. No more chips, pizza, and nachos. No more beer or at the very least, less beer. Less sodas and donuts and junk food. Less potatoes and pasta. It’s that simple to man.

The other major difference between men and women regarding weight loss is men’s body physiology is different than women. Men who have a body fat percentage between 10 to 18% are considered within a healthy weight range versus women, whose body fat percentage should be within the 20 to 25% range. Women require more fat on our bodies because we bear babies and our hormones affect us differently from men. Men simply do not have the hormonal influences we have and need as women.

The real question is, do overweight men worry about their thicker waistline in the same way as overweight women? I think they do. With that said, I personally feel the American culture is far kinder and accepting and more forgiving toward men who carry excess weight, even if it means the men have a few bulges around their waistline.

Men do assess other men, and if a man is too heavy, other men will feel free to point out the belly or make fat jokes face to face. Women tend to make comments behind one another’s backs.

In the work place, heavy men may be passed over for promotion. An overweight person may be perceived as having no self-control or as a good representative of the company. Overweight men may not be taken seriously, especially if they use too much humor to be more likable. An overweight man could be the hardest working person in the company, but instead he is seen as a good guy, less worthy than the guy who is in shape.

I have known a few men who have confided that they gained weight to repel women after going through a bad relationship. I asked if it worked. The answer was no, every time. Many women are able to see beyond the belly.

Studies reveal that both sexes struggle to stick with a diet, feel the same insecurities about their bodies, and battle the same emotional and stressful situations. While women will define themselves by the number on the scale and by the size of their clothing, and some men do too, men will define themselves by how their weight is affecting their lives. It may be they cannot participate fully with family activities, or they are not taken seriously in the workplace. Men lose weight because there comes a day they feel enough is enough. It’s time to lose weight.

Should a man gain back a few pounds, so what. He will lose weight again when he is ready and wants too. If a woman gains a few pounds, it’s a sign to her that she is out of control and can’t be attractive.

This is not to say that dieting is easier for men than it is for women. I feel they go through many of the same emotional food withdrawals as women. I think men just look at losing weight more as a problem that they need to address. Men don’t put too much emotion into it. They just get straight down to business.

Regardless, whether man or woman, changing our relationship with food, learning the value of eating for nutrition versus for any other reason, learning to enjoy exercise and seeing exercise as a valuable tool to get and stay healthy, is what matters. For both sexes, it is all about commitment and perseverance. It’s about valuing and appreciating the benefits of a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Until we meet again, this is Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty.

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