By CHESHIRE QUE
In a world that is fighting for gender equality, there is one aspect where women tend to be on the losing end compared to men—weight. When it comes to weight loss, men lose weight faster than women even if they don’t make much effort. The reason behind this is that they have higher muscle mass. Thus, they have a higher resting metabolic rate. This makes men burn more energy compared to women. Women have to put in extra effort to shed those unwanted pounds off. To make matters worse, women gain belly fat faster than men. Being female doubles the risk of being overweight and increases the likelihood of dying from weight-related illnesses than men, according to a study published in Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.
For one too many reasons, studies have shown that women are more prone to emotional eating and tend to diet more than men. Emotional eaters crave comfort food. These are yummy yet unhealthy choices that create a cycle of highs and lows in mood. No one has reached for a bowl of salad or fresh fruits when feeling down. We like calorie-laden, sugar-loaded, salty treats that get our “feel good” hormones up. And just like a rollercoaster, our mood crashes faster than we can burn those excess calories.
Another factor involved in a woman’s weight struggle is the hormone estrogen. Estradiol, a form of estrogen hormone, decreases after menopause. This renders women vulnerable to weight gain. Estradiol plays a role in metabolism and weight management.
Women easily fall prey to fad diets or any program that promises quick fixes. Call it desperation or an obsession to achieve that elusive perfect body that this cruel world portrays. This unrealistic goal destroys a lot of women from within. They feel unworthy, ugly, and imperfect. They feel less of a person simply because their identity is based on the numbers reflected by the weighing scale.
How can women end their weight-related woes? Diet and exercise would be on top of the list but do they ever work? Yes and no. Yes, they work because that’s how the body was programmed. You follow a balanced diet that is the right amount for your body’s needs, you pair it with regular exercise, calories in less than calories out, you lose weight. But oftentimes, it does not work because unfortunately, losing weight is more complex. It involves hormones, emotions, external factors that could influence a woman’s eating pattern, exercise pattern, and even coping pattern. Sleep and stress also impact weight. Very low calorie and restrictive diets, as well as strenuous exercises, can in fact jeopardize weight loss. A deprived, overworked, and stressed body will produce cortisol, a stress hormone that stimulates the body to produce and store more fat leading to weight gain.
If you’re a woman struggling with difficulty losing weight despite adhering to proper diet and exercise, it’s time to delve deeper into the root cause of your weight problems. Examine these three factors:
- Sleep: How much sleep do you get? Do you wake up feeling rested? Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you wake up in the middle of the night? If you think you have sleep problems, consult a sleep specialist or if you know that there is something mentally and emotionally troubling you, and it’s keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep, share your struggles with someone who can help you address this problem.
- Emotions: Be attuned to how you feel whenever you catch yourself reaching out for comfort food. What prompted you to eat? Identify circumstances, people, and things that lead you to be an emotional eater. Think of ways on how you can avoid these triggers. If you can’t totally avoid them, think of ways on how you can get control of your emotions by doing more productive or relaxing things that do not involve food. Mindful breathing, drinking a glass of water, and delayed gratification will help a lot. It takes practice though so don’t expect immediate results.
- Motives: Why do you want to lose weight? Is it because you want to feel good about yourself or is it because you want to feel accepted? Is it wanting to compete with other women or do you just want to be healthy and be a blessing to your family? Are you doing this for yourself or for others? Your reason behind losing weight at the beginning of your weight loss journey is important. It will direct your path and it will also determine whether you appreciate every little progress and take every failure as another opportunity to learn and get going.
When it comes to losing weight, remember that it is multifactorial. While diet and exercise play a huge role, sleep, emotions, motives, and the environment must always be taken into consideration.
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Author: MB Lifestyle