Thursday, February 28, 2013

Men vs. Women

Recently my brother and his wife jumped on the weight loss wagon along with my mom and one of my sisters. It's so nice to be able to support each other, even long distance. After the first week a couple of them reported how many pounds they have already lost, and of course my brother had lost more than the others. This can be frustrating to the women in the family who are working hard to lose weight, but the fact is that men lose weight faster and easier than women.

Is that true? Really true? Or is that a myth? Well I have always thought it was true. It is what I have experienced in my own life. My husband can lose weight twice as fast as I do without even trying. Now if you looked at the last post you will notice that he is still overweight, and if you read the captions under the pictures you know that he has pretty much maintained his weight over the years. However, during the years that we have been married he has tried periodically to cut back on his serving sizes and to eat healthier. Whenever he does this he drops pounds so fast I get envious. He doesn't stick with it though so those pounds come back slowly.

So I did a little research to see if it was just my perception or if there is truth to this. I found 4 articles immediately that back up the theory that men lose weight faster and easier than women. Here is what I found.

  • The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn. The simple fact is that generally speaking men have more muscle mass than women. Shape reports that since men have more muscle mass they burn about 20 percent more calories than women, even when they aren't doing anything at all! Genetically men are created to have more muscle and carry less fat due to their testosterone levels. According to the estrogen in a woman's body works to retain fat, making it easier for her to get pregnant. Therefore women retain more fat and have less muscle mass than men. My personal doctors have told me that one reason women genetically retain more fat is because that is where estrogen is stored in the body. 
  • Because of this difference in muscle mass a man's body reacts differently to exercise than a woman's body does. Men naturally shed fat and build muscle faster than women when exercising. The article in Discover Good Nutrition reports that "every pound of lean body mass you have burns about 14 calories a day, while every pound of fat you have only burns about 2 calories.  So, the more muscle you carry (and the less fat) the greater your daily calorie burn."
  • Women and men look at food differently. According to Web MD, Katherine Tallmadge, RD the author of Diet Simple says, "Men love their meat, and women are attached to carbohydrates". So men and women make different food choices when hungry. If a man has a food craving it is usually for some form of meat, or protein. On the other hand, a woman usually craves a carbohydrate and that carbohydrate is usually sweet!

  • Not only are the food choices different but the way a man's brain reacts to food compared to the way a woman's brain reacts to food is different too. Shape sited a study done analyzing brain activity in men and women after they fasted for 20 hours and were then shown their favorite foods. They were not allowed to eat the food however, just look at it. Afterwards the women's brains still reacted as if they were hungry while the men's did not. What does that mean? Apparently women's hormones interact with the part of the brain that triggers and suppresses hunger differently than men's hormones do. So there are literal differences in our brains regarding hunger and food.

So yes, as frustrating as it may be for women, men do lose weight faster than women. And yes, it does appear to be easier for them. So if you are a woman, don't compare your weight loss to a man's weight loss! The same goes for men. Don't compare your weight loss to a woman's and let your head get big or get all egotistical just because you will probably see faster and more drastic results. Just be supportive of each other and remember your bodies are different, they are genetically different and weight loss is going to go at different rates. This is true of anyone, not just between men and woman. Every weight loss story is unique to that person and comparing yourself to anyone else is not a good idea.

A good tip I read in the article in Shape is this "Eating with a guy is like going shopping with a friend who makes a lot more money than you - maybe you can't spend as much, but you can still enjoy the experience, and if you make peace with the fact that you don't have the same budget it can be very freeing rather than causing you angst." It's the same idea for weight loss. Everyone has a different budget, but you can still enjoy the experience and be successful within yours.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Almost a year and a half ago we moved to a new town. About a month after we moved I finally hit my goal weight so the people here never knew me when I was overweight. I realized the other day as I was sharing my blog with someone that I haven't really posted many before and after pictures. So today I thought I would just share some pictures.

 1995 or maybe early 1996. Me holding a friend's new baby. I was about 30-40 pounds overweight here.

 Bowling with my sister in 1998. I was probably about 60-65 pounds overweight here.

In 2002. I had to zoom in and crop the picture so it's not very high quality but I was about 90 pounds overweight in this picture.

 On my wedding day in 2003. I was at my top weight here at over 200 pounds.
This is in 2005 at my sister's wedding. That is my husband next to me holding our son who was only 5 months old. I actually weighed about 20 pounds less than my wedding picture 2 years earlier, but only because my son apparently has a very fast metabolism so I lost weight while pregnant and nursing.

This is later that same year at a friend's wedding. I was maintaining the same weight and was pretty happy about it.

This is in 2007 only 9 months after our 2nd son was born. Before getting pregnant with him I had regained 10 of the 20 pounds I lost with our first son, but again I lost 20 pounds during my pregnancy and while nursing. So in total I was down about 30 pounds from my wedding weight.
*edit~ I originally had this picture dated as 1997, but my lovely sister pointed out my typo. It is now correct*

After losing weight while pregnant with each boy I was not thrilled to find that while pregnant with my daughter I gained everything back. This is in 2008, holding our little girl who was 7 months old. I was back to my wedding weight by then.

This was in 2009, about 7 months before I started my weight loss journey. I was still maintaining my wedding weight which I took to mean I was just supposed to be that weight. You can read more about the emotions that brought me to this weight and what made me want to change here.
This was in 2010 about 3 months into my journey. I had lost 25 pounds and I was so excited! Looking at the picture I don't think you can really tell, but my family and friends said they could tell.

This was about 4 months later and I had lost about a total of 40 pounds. I was at my half way point.

I'm not sure exactly when this was. I was past my half way point. My kids were so excited to do the Wii with me that they would drag cushions off the chairs and couches to use as their balance boards. Then they would grab toys to use as remotes. It was actually pretty motivating for me to have them pretend to exercise with me. And I think it's cute. I wore the same exercise clothes until after I hit my goal weight. It helped me see the progress I was making.

This was about 6 months before I hit my goal. I was struggling with the last 15 pounds. They just didn't want to come off! I was all dressed up for a talent show I was performing in but I thought the picture showed that I actually had a waist line again!

This is my husband and I just 2 months later. I was still battling those pounds. He had maintained the same weight from our wedding so here I think you can really see  how much I had changed.

 This is in 2012, a few months after hitting my goal weight, 2 years after starting my journey.

 And this was a couple months later, for my birthday. Still at my goal weight.

As I went looking for pictures to include in this post I found that I still don't have many pictures of myself. I had thought I was subconsciously avoiding the camera because of my weight, but in reality I have always avoided the camera! Even now that I'm not overweight anymore I am still the one behind the camera most of the time!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm still alive....are you?

Well I disappeared for a few weeks...sorry! I got sick on the 1st and it just kept morphing. The fever only lasted about 3 days, but then the congestion and exhaustion set in. After that was the horrible cough that served no purpose at all! I was lacking energy to do anything! Usually I can still muster up some energy to do at least a little exercise and then that helps to push whatever virus I have gotten out of my system. This time I just couldn't do it. I know, bad me. When the congestion set in it brought such a horrible sinus headache that the thought of exercising made my head spin! When I finally got rid of the sinus headache I started coughing any time I tried to exercise.

So I was bad and took a break. I am back now though! I'm feeling much better and even got in a workout yesterday and today! I'm getting back on track, are you still on track? Tell me how you're doing!