The best way to lose weight for women is to lose weight like men. Overall, men have more muscle, have less desire to overeat and have fewer concerns about body image compared to women. All these advantages make it a lot easier for men to drop pounds. Women–on the other hand–tend to have more fat than men, have more cravings and feel more cultural pressures about their appearance. Here are some tips to help you start losing weight like a man.
Start Lifting Weights
By lifting and pumping weights, you’ll build more muscle, which will help you burn more calories. Muscle burns a lot more calories than fat. You’ll also feel and look better. According to WebMd’s article “Weight Loss Wars: Men vs Women,” lifting weights will not only help you burn more calories, it will also strengthen your bones and help prevent osteoporosis–a disease women have more often than men.
Many women tend to avoid strength training because they believe they’re going to get really bulky like a man, but this is a myth. For women to get bulky, they would need to train as if they were professional bodybuilders, they would need to take performance-enhancing supplements like steroids, and they would need to produce testosterone like a man to get really buff, says Karen Asp in “Weighty Truths” published in Natural Health. In fact, states Asp, women who lift weights look smaller.
Be sure to make sure your weights are heavy enough to build muscle effectively. To increase definition and strength, says Asp, “challenge your muscles by choosing weights heavy enough that you can complete only 8 to 12 repetitions per set.” This probably means you’ll have to put your pretty pink three to five pound weights in the closet and purchase some that are 10 pounds or heavier.
Women and Emotional Eating
Women tend to eat more than men because of their emotions. If you’re eating too much because you’re arguing with your significant other or you’re under a lot of stress at work, you should start keeping a food journal and start writing down all the food you eat each day as well as the events going on in your life.
When people write down what they eat each day, it “practically guarantees weight-loss success,” says Linda Knittel in the Natural Health article “Write Yourself Thin.” Studies reveal that people who write down what they eat every day lose a lot more pounds compared to people who don’t keep records of their food intake.
Eating about problems is quite common for women. Unfortunately, your problems will still be there after you’ve finished munching on your favorite binge foods. Overeating about the stress from professional and personal relationships only brings temporary relief at the cost of your self-esteem and health.
Instead of heading for the refrigerator or pantry, it would be more effective if you were to write about the real reasons you’re compulsively overeating. Perhaps you feel fearful to set boundaries and limitations with the people in your relationships. Maybe you feel powerless about your dysfunctional work environment. It could be your self-esteem has sunk so low that you feel obligated to put everyone’s needs before your own. By becoming aware of the real reasons for overeating, you can start to overcome these issues and begin changing your eating habits for the better.
Gender and Cultural Beliefs about Appearance
Cultural pressures may also be fueling your tendency to overeat. In general, women are expected to clean the house, cook dinner, do laundry, bring in additional household income and look beautiful and fresh all day long. Most men don’t have extra household responsibilities or feel as much pressure to look good. In addition, it’s more socially acceptable for men to be overweight than women, and these attitudes put a lot of pressure on women to be thin, which cause them to obsess more about their body image.
Win the War Against Cravings
A lot of women believe that they overeat because their body requires certain vitamins and minerals, but cravings are rarely related to nutrient deficiencies. It’s more likely these urges are brought on by cues in your environment, says Cynthia Bulik, PhD, in Suzanne Havala Hobbs’ Vegetarian Times‘ article “How Can I Conquer Food Cravings.” For example, a specific time of day may trigger a desire to eat something sweet and high in carbohydrates. The sights of restaurants or smells of specific foods can also bring on cravings. You might also associate certain foods with emotional memories. Other times you may crave food simply because you’re feeling tired, angry, stressed or even happy.
The best way to deal with cravings is to try and ride out the wave by distracting yourself with other activities. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with cravings, do something else until the urge passes. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Go shopping or window shopping for clothes. By replacing negative behavior like overeating with positive behavior that promotes good health, you’ll soon make permanent lifestyle changes that override your urges to compulsively munch on fattening foods when cravings strike.
For many women, however, cravings come during specific times of the month when the premenstrual phase makes them prone to overeating. Bulik explains that overeating during the premenstrual phase is “associated with low serotonin activity.” For premenstrual cravings, try snacking on low-fat Greek yogurt or fruit with a serving of cheese, which should reduce hunger hormones. If you absolutely must have chocolate, go for a small one ounce serving of dark chocolate. You could also try exercising more during this time of the month because exercise likely helps increase serotonin levels.
Losing Extra Pounds for Women
The best way to lose weight for women is to lift weights, keep a food diary, address emotional eating and look for alternative ways to boost serotonin levels during the premenstrual phase.
Asp, Karen. “Weighty Truths.” Natural Health. November 2006, Vol. 36 Issue 10, p24-24.
Hobbs, Suzanne Havala. “How Can I Conquer Food Cravings.” Vegetarian Times. February 2007, Issue 347, p31-34.
Knittel, Linda. “Write Yourself Thin.” Natural Health. May/June 2003, Vol. 33 Issue 4, p72.
Zellman, Kathleen M. “Weight Loss Wars: Men vs Women.” WebMd.