Battle of the belly
"Most men have weight loss on the list somewhere between cleaning the gutters and fixing the trampoline." Photo: James Brickwood
Here in Australia we have more land to roam and ocean to swim in than any other country in the world, but still our waistlines continue to bulge.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2012 based on self-reported BMI, 63 per cent of Australian males are overweight or obese. And Australian women? 48 per cent are overweight or obese. It's no longer a schoolyard taunt; it's a health fact – the girls are faring better than the boys, and it's time to do something about it.
Here's the news, guys - a BMI of 25+ is considered overweight. So, if you are a 178cm man weighing 81kg or more (barring you're built like an NRL player with serious muscle mass), you are in the overweight category. Not many men realise they are in this category, but the measurements are standard and simple.
And let's face it - men have no excuse. Genetically, it's easier for men to lose weight, as men are more likely to build muscle due to much higher levels of testosterone in the body. And traditionally, men have held more physically active jobs than women, which means calorie burn throughout the day.
So why are women winning the battle of the bulge?
Given most men have weight loss on the list somewhere between cleaning the gutters and fixing the trampoline – they will get around to it one of these days.
Dr Wayne Dyer once said 'Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today,' and this quote holds true when it comes to weight gain and doing something about it. Men see the bulging waistline of today, but remember the glory years of school rugby and still think of themselves as somewhat fit, strong, or athletic.
Kathleen Alleaume, nutritionist, contributor to government health campaigns, and author of What's Eating You, notices the difference in her office every day. She said 'Women seek advice for a healthy lifestyle or disease prevention, whereas men procrastinate. They only come in when their doctor advises them to do so or something has gone seriously wrong with their health.'
Is it okay for us guys to be fat? From the Simpsons' Homer coupled with Marge to Family Guy's Peter and slim-Lois…to the movie Hitch (Kevin James anybody)? The Hollywood message is it's okay to be a big man; you can still get the slim, hot girl.
Even in the business world, it is likely people would be more accepting of a 120kg male chief executive than a similarly framed female leader.
'It's Not a Problem'
Male depression was a taboo topic just a few years ago. The 'I can deal with it' mentality persisted, but thankfully it's changing. Weight issues and depression are different, but the same 'I can handle it' mentality is what's deterring men's weight loss for one simple reason - men are less likely to seek out help. Overeating can be about feelings and emotions, and us blokes don't like to face up and talk about those things.
Chad Timmermans , a sport and exercise psychologist said: "Female body image has been researched for over 30 years whereas this subject is still new in scientific arenas as it relates to men. Women are more open with their feelings, so body issues are topics of interest in magazines, talk shows, and within blogs – women engage in such discussions. Men are exhibiting the same self-esteem and body image issues as women, but they are keeping them closeted."
Peer and Beer Pressure
Imagine a night out with mates, and you're the guy that says: "No beer and pub steak and chips for me,boys. I'm having the tuna nicoise with a soda water and lemon." Among women, this scenario might turn into chat about weight loss, dieting, feeling better, and emotional eating. But for the blokes, the ribbing would start right there.
Ultimately, the weight loss solution is an easy one for men, because it's a manly one – lift weights. Exercise more. Play fewer video games and eat less childish sugary snacks. Eat healthier meals with protein and vegetables.
Men, we all need to man up. Is it challenging? Yes. But a real man doesn't wait for a heart attack, diabetes, or a stroke before he takes action.
Michael Jarosky is the founder of Droptober , a fundraising event in its second year aimed at helping people to lose weight throughout October.