Men vs. Women: Dieting, Exercise, and Losing Weight

Category: Men vs. Women Series, Weekly Columns

DietingWell, it seems perfect to take on dieting and losing weight early in the year since it is the NUMBER ONE resolution most people make every New Year! But, like every column in this ongoing series, men and women approach diet, weight loss, and exercise quite differently. And, like every column in this series, I will be making many generalizations, which often and usually have exceptions. And, I will do my best to annoy any Women’s Studies professors and/or students!

I must confess that I’m currently having my own struggle losing weight for the first time in my adult life. I always weighed 175 lbs, give or take five, until a ski accident with a head injury a few years ago. Even though I was able to exercise soon afterward, I began to gain weight at an unusually alarmingly quick pace. There was no explanation. One doctor thought – as out there as it may be – that my head injury (there was considerable bleeding in my brain in spite of wearing a helmet which the neurologist said saved my life) may have re-set my metabolism’s rate to slower.

I’ve gone so far as to fully alter my diet – becoming largely vegan – in my efforts to lose this gut I’ve developed. Thankfully, the weight is finally coming off, but it’s given me sympathy that I never really had for the struggles men and women go through trying to lose a few.

However, herewith my thoughts on our differences approaching this topic:

~~ Women like Exercise Classes
Women like exercise classes, which probably all began with Jane Fonda back in the Flashdance era of saggy socks and lousy music. Look at the DVD shelves of exercise videos and how many are clearly directed to women.

~~ Men like Sports
Men prefer to sweat with a purpose. In other words, play a sport. There’s something about getting together and throwing a ball around that is comforting for men while that comfort comes for women when they shop.

~~ Women like Yoga
An extension of this exercise class thing is the current yoga fad. I actually went to the infamous Bikram classes when he had just become a star after stealing Raquel Welch’s video for his own. The room was heated so hot that it was almost a sauna. Since there were mostly women in view I really didn’t mind since “my view” was often excellent. But, when Bikram would point out the scrawniest guy as the epitome of (yoga) fitness, I finally wised up and switched to kickboxing.

~~ Men like to Hit Things
How’s that for a seque? Men like to hit, throw, bump, and otherwise wrestle if we’re exercising. Getting extra dirty in the process is a plus. Granted, I may be an exception since I chose a sport where my opponent and I were separated by a net when I played tennis. But, when I played racquetball it was quite different. Back in my showbiz days, I used to go up to Farah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal’s house and play with Ryan on his private court. That ended when we got up, close, and too personal on a particular rally: details in my next tell-all book.

~~ Women like Support – in ALL things they do
Well, what women really like are the exercise clothes and sports bras. We guys like the sports bras too. But, the point is that women really like the camaraderie and help of doing it in groups. You know, sort of like how they can’t go to the bathroom alone!

~~ Men think they can do it alone!
Men actually think they know how to exercise and don’t need the support or help of other men. I don’t know if this is true, but I bet private trainers have women as clients at a 2-to-1 ratio to men. The sad part is we guys clearly don’t know how to do it alone or we’d all look like a young Ahnold.

~~ Women will try diet fads sooner than men
Women want to believe whatever is the newest diet is really one that works. Why do women’s magazines always have diet secrets? Hmmm, if they were really secrets would they be published so regularly? Men believe a “light” beer is dieting.

~~ Men will delude themselves sooner than women
Men look in the mirror and see themselves as they may have once been – fit, trim, full head of hair, and irresistible. Women’s mirrors are like the fun house mirrors since women see themselves distorted and unrealistically. I will just cite my wife’s own self-image. She’s an undeniable TEN, but no matter how much I tell her so, she’s always expressing some part of her that needs improvement.

So, have I got you or your partner right? Where have I missed the truth of how men and women approach these things? Please weigh in…get it!

Please read and/or comment on any of the other columns in the Men vs. Women series.

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  • Sam HaveSippy

    it’s incredibly hard for most women to look good and stay fit- and women are judged much more harshly then men. not everyone had great model genes. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      I totally agree @google-e5e4ac9f2f52ad2813b87d7ecb88b581:disqus …that is why I told my boys for ages that “Life is NOT Fair.” However, women have other advantages over men…topic for another column!

  • JasonBruce

    I always tell my wife that women like to look good and attractive while working out in the gym while men don’t care too much on how they look.

    • Bruce Sallan

      SO true @JasonBruce:twitter – I get such a kick out of seeing women all primped up in the gym!

  • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    Hey Bruce, Well, I may not be the typical gal. I can’t stand exercise classes. Racquetball is my exercise of choice. I love that I don’t have to think about how hard I’m working to flex my muscles.  But I’ve never played with Ryan O’Neal.

    • Bruce Sallan

      @WonderofTech:twitter – okay, that settles it Carolyn – we are meeting on the Racquetball Court – I love ALL racquet sports!

  • Arlee Bird

    Good generalizations that I agree with.  Personally I think about my weight and physical condition but I don’t do much about it.  As long as I’m not gaining weight that’s good.  I check my weight daily to see if I’m losing any, but it stays fairly consistent.  More exercise is what I need to lose the 20 or 30 pounds that I need to lose, but what can I say.  At least I don’t eat as much as I used to when I was younger.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Checking your weight daily is supposedly NOT a good thing…I just check how tight my pants are!

  • Ellen Bremen

    Ugh. This is a sticky wicket as someone who has a history of morbid obesity and a familial history with it, too. I was doing half marathons and eating 1300 calories a day and suddenly was found to have an insulin resistance problem. Excuse me, but WTF? I learned from a physician who is on the scientific front lines of this problem throughout the country that hormones, insulin, and genetics sadly play a role for many, many of us out there. It really stinks. Take my 9 y/o daughter: Involved in roller derby, hip hop, and Parkour (rock climbing/gymnastics mixture). We eat pretty darned healthy in our house. She has a belly and is “squishy.” It’s so damned unfair! She is going to get my genetics and it just sucks–so we keep her super active. My husband weighs 140 lbs. He can eat what he wants and his body will never have the same propensity. Damned him. I need to go now. I can’t believe I decided to start commenting on your blog again on THIS topic. Hugs… 🙂 Ellen

    • Bruce Sallan

      I fully agree that in this area, life is often VERY unfair, Ellen!

  • ThinkNewMedia

    I’ve spent most of my adult life around 165. All of sudden in the last 6 months I’ve gained about 15 lbs. Bye bye high metabolism. I agree with all of the generalizations you present here Bruce. My wife’s a TEN in my opinion, but is on a Weight Watchers routine. I’m now attempting to join her and begin to exercise more. I thinks it’s the best plan Ive seen so far, but I’m also researching PX90. Am I crazy? 

  • David Weber

    I got lucky with respect to genetics. I could lose somewhere between 5-25 and would be the better for it, but I can get along all right as is. I tend to eat healthfully. I could use more exercise.  For years I avoided sugar in most forms, but in my early forties, I did this thing called go to grad school to earn a doctorate.  My habits did not quite fall apart completely, but suddenly I was drinking much more coffee, eating much more ice cream and, literally for the first time in my life, consuming soft drinks … not many and not too often, but often enough that drinking a can or two of Coke per year was a thing of the past.

    • Bruce Sallan

      I still remember you as the rail-thin teenager I know waaaayyyyyy “back in the day!”

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