Weight loss can be difficult no matter who you are, however, women really do have the short end of the stick in this area. If you’ve ever known a couple who diets together, or been part of such a couple, you know exactly how different it is. It is just infuriating how men don’t seem to have to work nearly as hard or struggle as much to drop those annoying extra pounds.
While there are female specific challenges, they can be overcome, and the first step is to identify those that you as a woman face when trying to drop the pounds.
Understanding The Numbers
So let’s talk numbers and see if we can’t simplify things a little. The total calories you burn in a day is all about crunching the numbers. Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories you burn when at rest. It may be surprising to learn that on average about 70% of the calories that are burned during the day are burned just to keep your body functioning. This is what you will use even if all you do is sit on the sofa all day. So, in order to lose weight you have eat less than you burn, which results in a calorie deficiency that results in weight loss. Of course, when you add physical activity to the equation, you can eat more calories and still lose weight.
Figuring out how many calories you should eat each day based on your activity levels will help you to begin. There are many online calculators that will determine the right number based on your weight, age, and activity levels.
Of course, this part is simple. Now, let’s talk about some of the real challenges that you as a woman face that your male counterparts usually don’t.
Women are highly critical of themselves. Even if you could ignore all of the outside issues you face, you’re more likely to judge yourself harshly than you are to give yourself credit for the good things you do and all your great physical features.
Pressures Of Society
The magazine rack at the supermarket is a mirror of what society expects women to look like. Anorexic super models and size-one actresses have become the model of a women’s ideal figure. This type of unrealistic view of what a “real woman” should look like puts excess pressure on women to reach unreal ideals. Real women have curves, something that is forgotten in a society obsessed with hard bodies and size zero waifs on the covers of magazines.
Eating Out And Portions
If the overriding obsession with women’s weight and its connection to their attractiveness wasn’t enough to be a problem the whole of the health industry is still focused on men. One area where this is extra apparent is when it comes to portion sizes.
Women are bombarded with portion sizes. Consider restaurants for instance. That indulgent dish at your favorite pasta place might add up to be more than double your daily caloric requirements, where for a man it might just be dinner. Moreover, while you might think you’ll know when to push the plate away, it’s easy to keep eating, because it’s still on your plate and that’s what we’re trained to do.
Marketing goes further to market fitness differently to women than it does to men. Women are pushed to female style activities, ones that are deemed to be proper and model an almost 50s view of the world, where girls are told to do spin classes, and running and buy those brightly colored free weights.
Women should be aggressively strength training just like their male counterparts because lean muscle tone burns fat and increases metabolism. More lean muscle tone is one of the main reasons men naturally burn more calories and lose weight faster than women can.
Your Hormones Are Working Against You
Women also have to face an onslaught of hormones that fluctuate throughout the month and change significantly through the aging process. With this comes the fact that during your cycle you can retain water. This water retention can be a huge obstacle when you are getting on the scale. It can make it seem like even when you are working your hardest, you step on the scale and instead of dropping weight you’ve gained two pounds. This is not only disappointing it makes it hard to feel positive about all the work you’ve been doing.
Hormones can also interfere with weight loss efforts, such as estrogen that causes weight gain and fatty tissue cells to grow.
Women fall victim to this issue much more than men, and it is often difficult to overcome. Do you reach for cookies and ice cream when you are upset or depressed? How many movies show the cliché of the woman who just broke up with her boyfriend reaching for a tub of ice cream to heal her wounds?
Emotional eating is using food to deal with feelings. This not only leads to weight gain, but also is a vicious cycle that propagates depressions, low self-esteem, and pain that leads to more overeating.
Learning healthy ways to deal with emotions and getting in touch with your body to identify real hunger versus emotional hunger are the best ways to begin the road to recovery from this unhealthy behavior.
Dealing With The Challenges
The first step in moving forward is to stop being so mean to yourself. You are your own worst critic, and when you start to give yourself just a little kindness and acknowledge your accomplishments rather than notice only failures you will see improvement.
Stay off the scale. Keep your time on the scale limited to once or twice a month rather than constantly or obsessively weighing yourself. Since weight fluctuates, this will help keep you from feeling bad when you’re retaining water due to your hormones.
Don’t just run, lift. Strength training is key to getting fit, join the men at the gym who are lifting and work right alongside. Avoid any workout program or fitness information that supposedly caters particularly to women but excludes any kind of strength training.
Look to the right kind of idols. Don’t focus on those anorexic magazine models as your example of fitness; instead find real women who have overcome similar difficulties you face each day. This will help you make goals that are more realistic and accomplish them.
Even when you slip, even when you fall, you can reach the goals you want with hard work and treating yourself better.