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Monday, January 11, 2010

Men vs. Women: Weight Loss

I have been married to ad man hub for 3 1/2 years. We dated for a year before marriage and I worked with him prior to that for about 2 1/2 years. So that means I have been a sweet, shining light in his life for 7 years. In that time I have always been an exercise nut and very conscious about eating healthy. Meanwhile, he has lived on a steady diet of Taco Bell, pizza, frito chili pie, Haagen Dasz and beer. The kicker is that he looks great. Always has. He has that amazing metabolism that has him looking as though he hits the gym daily, when in fact that is far from the truth. I think Baby Elvis will inherit that clever metabolism and will in turn eat as his father does. Men are just like that darn it.

I can see it now [insert dream sequence music] Hub and Baby Elvis (who is no longer a baby and is in fact a 22 year old strapping young man) are hanging out in the living room watching football and gobbling copious amounts of chili, queso, guacamole, and swilling beer. They look svelte, of course. Then there’s me. In the corner. Nibbling the corner of a rice cake in workout clothes about to hit the gym for my third workout of the day (so that the rice cake doesn’t go to my hips). But I look good (in this dream). I’ve had a boob job and botox. And perhaps I’m taller…

My point is men suck. They have quicker metabolisms and age more gracefully. Damn them.

You know the saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? Well it is true of horses and hubs. You'd think that after 7 years some of my subtle healthy tips and suggestions would rub off, but it has all fallen on deaf ears. I think he actually ignores me really. But despite this kickin' metabolism, hub has put on a few pounds in the past year or so. (I can tell you this because he doesn't read the blog). So the horse, I mean hub, has decided to go on a diet as of January 1. And I'll tell you a man on a diet is unstoppable.

The commitment is quite remarkable. When a woman decides she is on a diet, she whines and agonizes over the fact that she CAN'T have a cookie. While a man thinks about the fact that he CAN have one beer tonight and still keep within check on calories. Hub doesn't go over his allocated calorie count at all. A man on a mission. Maybe it's the one track mind at work here, but he's doing great! Now if he can hit the gym I believe he will see some serious results within a month.

Men do a lot of things differently and getting healthy is no exception. I did a little digging on how men lose weight versus women and wanted to share. We've all sat by and watched our male counterparts drop weight just by changing a few simple habits and it is frustrating. The below info is excerpted from an article Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD and it outlines the reasons why they lose weight as they do and offers some suggestions.

One big difference between the sexes lies in food preferences, according to Katherine Tallmadge, RD, the author of Diet Simple. "Men love their meat, and women are attached to carbohydrates," she says. "As soon as the men start paying attention to healthier food choices, they tend to get quick results," says Tallmadge. Call it beginner's luck!

There are some weight loss tricks that work equally well for both sexes, though. Both women and men who have been skipping breakfast usually get quick results when they add a healthy breakfast into their plan, observes Tallmadge. "I also advise everyone to divide their eating plans equally so that one-third of their calories is eaten before lunch."

Let's Get Physical
The simple truth is that men are larger and have more muscle than women due to the hormone testosterone. They are genetically designed to have a higher percentage of muscle and less fat -- which works in favor of keeping them fit and allowing them to eat more calories.

But with a little work, women can even up the odds a bit. To build more muscle and get your engine revving, pick up some weights and start pumping. You'll increase your muscle mass and decrease your fat stores by doing strength training at least twice a week.

Not only will strength training build muscle mass and help you burn more calories, but it will also strengthens your bones, preventing osteoporosis -- a disease primarily of women. (And, of course, it gives you a more shapely physique.)

There is at least one area where women have the edge, weight-wise. When men deposit fat, it most often goes to their middles, while women's excess weight tends to settle below the belt and in the middle. And it turns out that the "pear-shaped" body has a health advantage over the "apple": Those who carry extra fat mostly around their middles are at higher risk of developing heart disease than those who are bottom-heavy.

Who's Minding the Kitchen?
Many women come home from work and head straight to the kitchen to prepare dinner. I'm often one of them -- and, as I imagine many men do, my husband usually enjoys the newspaper until he is called for dinner.

Even in this day and age, women are primarily responsible for family meals. Planning menus, grocery shopping, and preparing meals is a lot of work, not to mention the extra temptation to nibble, taste, and eat more calories.

Try to equalize the workload and minimize the temptations by getting your partner and/or the kids involved in preparing quick and healthy meals. They will all benefit, and so will you!

Attitude Is Everything
Chances are, when you hear someone worrying that they are "too fat" or complaining about their clothing size, it's a woman doing the talking.

As a general rule, women tend to be more vocal about their feelings and more focused on their physical forms (we can probably thank our society's emphasis on women's appearance for much of this). Many guys, on the other hand, seem oblivious about their appearance.

This is an area where women could learn a thing or two from the men. Being positive about the way we look is especially important around children -- girls in particular. Eating disorders start with dieting and obsessions over appearance. You certainly don't want to model unhealthy behaviors for your impressionable young daughters to mimic.

Whether we're male or female, we need to make peace with our bodies. It's important to see weight management as a route to better health, rather than physical perfection.

Keep It in Perspective
In my experience, I've noticed that many men just see the numbers on the scale creeping upward and make a decision to correct it. Plain and simple, they decide to increase their activity and decrease their food intake.

But I've seen some women beat themselves up over a few extra pounds, even though this does little more than destroy their self-worth. Berating yourself will not help motivate you to control your weight and improve your health. So the next time those negative thoughts creep into your head, recognize them for what they are and replace them with positive ones.

The road to permanent weight control is a very personal journey. Individualized plans, tailor-made for either sex, are fundamental.

But while we are all different, we all have the same goal -- successful weight management. Whether or not you believe that "men are from Mars and women are from Venus," we can learn from one another and have some fun along the way.

That's just what hub did. He decided to lose weight and now he's doing it. I will post a "before" pic of him soon...

For the full article from Zelman, click here:


Nikki said...

I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting on my blog. I really appreciate your advice! I am going to pick up resistance bands this week.

Meghan said...

That's awesome Nikki! Resistance bands are great! There are lots of great workouts to find on the web, too. Just google it :)

Let's keep in touch!