Men on Diets
Move over, ladies -- the men are dieting too.
By Chris Colin WebMd
Among Bill Clinton's post-White
House ventures, one of the more striking is his campaign to reverse trends in childhood obesity. It's been remarkable for
its ambition, and for the scope of its potential benefits. But perhaps most of all, it's been remarkable to see someone of
Clinton's typically diet-oblivious gender speak publicly about laying off the cheeseburgers.
Diets aren’t just for women – Men diet too
Since his quadruple heart
bypass surgery in 2004, the former McDonald's-lover-in-chief has been strikingly candid about his relationship to food - candid
not just for a former world leader, but candid for any man. "I was a fat band boy," he writes in My Life (a hefty volume, ironically, weighing nearly three-and-a-half pounds).
book, he discusses his weight fluctuations and admits to experimenting with a kind
of homespun precursor to the Atkins diet. This past October, he told the New York Times that he weighs himself daily.
Famously America's "first black president," Clinton might well become America's first female ex-president.
Indeed, the vast universe
of dieting has been a kind of private (and grim) clubhouse for women. A realm of Jenny Craig and egg whites, Weight Watchers and fat-free yogurt, it's historically been glimpsed by men only from across the dinner table. But increasingly, the unfairer sex is beginning to find
a corner in that realm all its own.
are becoming more conscious of health, and with that, weight," says Betsy Klein, a registered dietician in Miami.
"Being overweight is becoming such a marker for diabetes and heart disease."
Diet and masculinity
Of course the health risks
of a bad diet are just part of men's motivation for changing how they eat -- we also care about how we look.
"Males of all ages are being
affected by our highly body-conscious culture now," says registered dietician and exercise physiologist Samantha Heller. "Body
dysmorphia - an unhealthy view of the body - is also increasing in men as well as women.” She tells WebMD that for men,
these issues manifest differently than with women. “They tend to work out a lot, and many turn to anabolic steroids.
And more and more, they're dieting while they do this."
Or at least they're doing
something while they do this. Venturing into territory traditionally reserved for women isn't always easy for men,
and they tend to couch their involvement in it differently - starting with the language they use.
"They don't always call it
'dieting,'" Heller says. "'Dieting' and 'slim' don't resonate well with men. Their goals are more to feel strong and masculine. Not only does the term dieting sound feminine, but dieting also causes them to worry
they'll lose muscle mass in the process."
"Fine with me that they don't
like that word,” Klein says, “I don't either. To me, dieting implies a beginning and an end, as opposed to the
full lifestyle change that they need."
So what ideas do put
men in front of healthier plates? Visions of brawniness, it would seem. As Klein, Heller, and a multibillion-dollar dietary
supplement industry attest, it's an interest in bodybuilding, stamina, and other hallmarks of masculinity that really get
guys to be food-conscious. If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, the way to his stomach is apparently through his biceps.
The male comfort zone -- How men choose diets
"Men are drawn to diets that
promise to make them better at sports or to increase their energy," Heller says. "The supplement market is geared toward men
who want more mass and less fat. Problem is those protein shakes don't do anything. We get plenty of protein. Exercise is
all that will build muscle. There's no way around that."
Indeed, men don't always know
what they're doing in the diet department. And to be fair, there are simpler departments to navigate. Men will order a piece
of grilled fish and think they're being healthy, Klein offers as an example. “The fish may be a wise choice,” she says. “But the sauce or marinade will get you.”
Thwarted by such complexities,
many men seek refuge in more well-marked terrain. The Atkins diet, Heller tells WebMD, is particularly popular with men.
"They're more comfortable
with [Atkins'] all-or-nothing thing for some reason. And a steak is more
masculine than a chicken salad. But it's not a healthy diet in the end," she says.
Of course that last point
is endlessly disputed. A recent Stanford study threw a little ammunition to the Atkins advocates. In a year long study comparing
four popular diets, overweight women lost the most weight on Atkins and had slightly better cholesterol and blood pressure
Though the women-only study
also has implications for male Atkins dieters, the lead author, Stanford researcher Christopher Gardner, says neither sex
should take the results as a total vindication of the popular diet.
"This is just a 12-month study,"
he says. "As a health professional, I'd be concerned about what a high-saturated fat, high-protein diet would mean over the
course of a lifetime."
Gardner argues that refined
carbohydrates are the most important foods for both women and men to avoid. White bread, white rice, soda, starchy junk food
- it's these, he suspects, that are responsible for the increase in the country's caloric intake over the last couple decades.
Good carbs such as fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat breads and pastas, on the other hand, shouldn't
Tips for men on diets -- How to avoid diet pitfalls
Just knowing the score on
different foods isn't always enough. In tailoring nutrition lessons for me, Klein zeroes in on some common vulnerabilities even among those who know cookies from kale.
"Travel is an issue for a
lot of men because many are often away from home because of work," she says. "Learning how to eat healthy on the road is important.
On planes, I say to bring four or five packages of instant oatmeal - they'll give you the hot water. Also, boxes of dry cereal.
Cheerios, but not Honey Nut Cheerios."
Klein also advises travelers
to book their hotel rooms on the sixth floor and walk up. Another tip: Get the taxi to drop you off a mile from where you're
staying and hoof it the rest of the way.
Back at home, men are also
world-class breakfast-skippers -- terrible habit, Klein says. "We go into a kind of starvation mode when we sleep, so if you
wait until lunch to eat again, the body thinks, 'Hey, I'd better save this as reserves. Who knows when this guy's going to
eat next?' So it gets stored as fat. Take five minutes to have a high-fiber cereal or even peanut butter on whole wheat toast.
Small changes make big differences."
One last directive from Klein,
who says Americans eat way more than we need:
Cut those portions in half. It's the quickest change a man can make in his eating habits - even if it is hard to swallow.
source site: WebMd If you'd like to know more about a lifestyle change in diet - WebMd has some great information on their site! Simply click
the above underlined link for the source site and you'll see it!
Read whatever your partner in life is reading!
The 7 Steps to Happily Ever After
WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine
By Marjorie Ingall
What makes love last a lifetime? Affection? Yep. Respect? Sure. But a great marriage is not just about what you have. It's about what you do to make a relationship
stronger, safer, more caring and committed. Here's how to make your "forever" fantastic.
Marriage is a home, a refuge against the outside storms. And like any house, it requires a strong, lasting foundation.
To build one, every couple needs to take certain steps - seven, to be precise - that turn the two of you into not just you and me but we.
You may not move through all the steps in order, and you may circle back to complete certain steps again (and again and again). But if you make it through them all, you'll be well on your way toward
creating a marriage that will be your shelter as long as you both shall live.
Step 1: Find a shared dream for your life together.
It's easy to get caught up
in the small stuff of married life: What's for dinner tonight? Whose turn is it to clean the litter box? Did you pay the electric
bill? But the best partners never lose sight of the fact that they're working together to achieve the same big dreams.
"Successful couples quickly develop a mindfulness of 'us,' of being coupled," says REDBOOK Love Network expert Jane Greer,
Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in New York City. "They have a shared vision, saying things like, 'We want to plan
to buy a house, we want to take a vacation to such-and-such a place, we like to do X, we think we want to start a family at
This kind of dream-sharing starts early. "Couples love to tell the story of how they met," points out Julie Holland, M.D., a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and
a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. "It's like telling a fairy tale.
But happy couples will go on creating folklore and history, with the meet-cute forming the bedrock of the narrative." As you write
and rewrite your love story ("our hardest challenge was X, our dream for retirement is Y"),
you continually remind yourselves and each other that you're a team with shared values and goals. And P.S.: When you share
a dream, you're a heck of a lot more likely to make that dream come true.
Step 2: Ignite (and reignite)
a sexual connection.
In any good relationship,
sex is way more than just a physical act. It's crucial for the health of your emotional connection, too: It's something only the two of you share; it makes you both feel warm and loved; it draws you back together when you're drifting apart. And did I mention that it's a whole lot of fun?
Striking up those sparks when you first meet is easy. Nurturing a strong, steady flame? That's the hard part. When you've got a mortgage, a potbelly, and a decade or two of togetherness
under your belts, it can be hard to muster up the fire you felt when you first got together. That's when it's even more important
to protect your sex life and make it a priority. "You have to keep working to create allure and seduction for each other or
your sex life will become lackluster," Greer points out. "Who wants the same turkey sandwich over and over? You want it on
whole wheat! On toast! As turkey salad! On a roll!" (And now I will imagine my husband
covered with Russian dressing. Thanks, Dr. Greer.)
As the years go
by, you'll keep revisiting and realigning and reimagining the passion you have for each other. And if you keep at it, you'll
have a sex life that transcends your marriage's lack of newness, the stresses of family and work, the physical changes that
come with aging. Now that's something worth holding on to.
Step 3: Choose each other as your first family.
For years, you were primarily
a member of one family: the one in which you grew up. Then you got married, and suddenly you became the foundation of a new
family, one in which husband and wife are the A-team. It can be tough to shift your identity like this, but it's also an important
part of building your self-image as a duo (and maybe, eventually, as three or four or...).
For me, making this transition meant stopping the incessant bitching to my mom when I was mad
at my husband - my behavior was disloyal, and I had to learn to talk to Jonathan, not about him. My friend Lynn tells
the story of her mother's reaction to a trip to the Middle East she and her then-boyfriend (now
husband) had planned. Her mother hit the roof, calling incessantly to urge Lynn not to go. Eventually, Lynn's
boyfriend got on the phone with Mom and explained why they were excited to share this experience. "It was clear then that we were the team," Lynn says now. "Not teaming up against
my mother, but teaming up together to deal with her issues."
Whatever your challenges - an overprotective mom? an overly critical father-in-law? - you have to outline together the boundaries between you
and all of the families connected to you. Not only will you feel stronger as a united front but when you stick to your shared rules, all that family baggage
will weigh on you a lot less.
Step 4: Learn how to fight right.
I'm embarrassed to think of how I coped with conflict early in my relationship with Jonathan. I stormed out - a lot. I once threw an apple at his head. Hard. (Don't worry, I missed - on purpose.) I had a terrible habit of threatening divorce
at the slightest provocation. But eventually I figured that this was pretty moronic. I didn't want out, and I knew that pelting
someone with fruit was not a long-term marital strategy.
"Fighting is the
big problem every couple has to deal with," says Daniel B. Wile, Ph.D., a psychologist and couples therapist in Oakland, CA,
and author of After the Fight. That's because fights will always come up, so every couple needs to learn how to fight without tearing each other apart.
Fighting right doesn't just
mean not throwing produce; it means staying focused on the issue at hand and respecting each other's perspective. Couples
that fight right also find ways to defuse the tension, says Wile - often with humor. "Whenever one of us wants the other to listen up, we mime hitting the TV remote, a thumb pressing down on an invisible mute
button," says Nancy, 52, an event producer in San Francisco. "It cracks us up, in part because it must look insane to others."
Even if you fight a lot, when you can find a way to turn fights toward the positive - with a smile, a quick apology, an expression of appreciation for the other person - the storm blows away fast, and that's what matters.
Step 5: Find a balance between time for two and time for you.
Jonathan and I both work at
home. This frequently leads to murderous impulses. Though I'm typing away in the bedroom and he's talking to his consulting
clients in our small home office, most days it really feels like too much intimacy for me.
that's my bias. When it comes to togetherness, every couple has its own unique sweet spot. "There are couples that are never
apart and there are couples that see each other only on weekends," Greer says. With the right balance, neither partner feels
slighted or smothered. You have enough non-shared experiences to fire you up and help you maintain a sense of yourself outside
the relationship - not to mention give you something to talk about at the dinner table. But you also have enough time together
to feel your connection as a strong tie rather than as a loose thread.
needs will also change over time, so you'll have to shift your balance accordingly. "My husband and I spend a lot of time together,
but it's almost all family time," says Katie, 40, a mom of two in San Leandro, CA. "We realized a few months ago that we hadn't
had a conversation that didn't involve the kids or our to-do lists in ages, so we committed to a weekly date. We were so happy just to go to the movies and hold hands, something we hadn't done in ages. It felt like we were dating again!"
Step 6: Build a best friendship.
Think about the things that
make your closest friendships irreplaceable: the trust that comes with true intimacy, the willingness to be vulnerable, the confidence that the friendship can withstand some conflict. Don't those sound like good things to have in your marriage, too?
are each other's haven," says Holland. "They can count on the other person to listen and try to meet their needs." Greer adds, "When you're true friends, you acknowledge and respect what the other person is; you don't try to control or change them. This creates a sense of safety and security when you're together - you know you're valued for who you are and you see the value in your partner."
Then there's the way, when you've been with someone a while, that
you become almost a mind reader. You have a shared history and inside jokes. Your guy knows what you'll find funny, you forward
him links to articles you know he'll enjoy, and best of all, you two can make eye contact at a given moment and say volumes
without opening your mouths. And is there anything more pleasurable than sharing the newspaper with someone?
Sitting in companionable silence,
absorbed in your respective reading, sipping coffee, occasionally reading something out loud, but mostly just lazing happily together, communing without needing to speak? Ahh....
Step 7: Face down a major challenge together.
You're sailing along through
life, and suddenly you hit a huge bump. A serious illness. Unemployment. The loss of a home. A death in the family. How do
The truth is, you never know how strong your relationship is until it's tested. All too often, the stress of a crisis can pull a couple apart. But the good news is, when you do make it through in one piece, you might just find
yourselves tighter than ever.
"What didn't happen to us?" says Daryl, 28,
a preschool teacher in Harrisburg, PA. "My husband lost his job and took a minimum-wage job he was way overqualified for just
to make ends meet. He was offered a better job in a mountain town outside San Diego, so we moved. Then during the California
wildfires several years ago, our house burned down and we lost everything. We were living in a one-room converted garage
with no running water and a newborn. But we found that this chaos somehow brought us even closer together. We took turns losing it. We really kept each other sane."
is no roll in the hay. It's tough, real work. But the reward, the edifice you build together that will shelter you through
years of tough times, is more than worth the effort. The small, friendly cottage you build - decorated with your shared history and stories, filled with color
and laughter - will be the warmest and safest retreat you can imagine.
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