Men Don't Diet
Three Man Lessons for Weight Loss
June 13, 2013
Men think about weight loss differently. The three "man lessons" below helped shape how we work with our clients at Retrofit to achieve their weight loss goals.
1. Men Don't "Diet"
"Dieting" is a dirty word for most men. Nobody likes unmasculine things like eating "rabbit food" and always being hungry. Men don't talk or even think in terms of dieting. And this is a huge advantage because many diets are just as problematic as they are effective at driving really short-term results that don't last. Men naturally recognize that self-deprivation is not fun or enjoyable, and we know it is also generally ineffective.
So it's no surprise that men are nearly absent from the formal weight loss market - Weight Watchers is often quoted as having 90% women. Working at eDiets, I observed a similar 90/10 split. Most of the men who did use eDiets were drawn to the Atkins plan. They liked that they wouldn't have to implement radical change or give up "man food," especially steak. There is something to their disdain for "dieting"– unpleasant self-deprivation – should be avoided because it will never stick long term.
They succeeded because we helped them look at what they were eating to make relevant changes that were maintainable, changes they knew would stick. That's a great lesson for any of us who are tempted to skip meals or try to subsist on grapefruit or cabbage soup as a quick route to diet success. We aren't rabbits or birds and eating like this isn't sustainable.
2. Guys like their weight-loss programs online and digital
Men gravitate to online weight-loss programs instead of group-oriented methods. Views expressed at an all-male focus group on wellness explain this preference; individual performance is the priority. In fact, group support detracts from a weight-loss program. Men worry about what poor health prevents them from doing, and data is essential to effective weight loss so they can see a return to higher performance levels. When they talk about their health, the conversation centers on how they have seen physical abilities decline or how they are afraid of losing the ability to do things, to compete and keep up in a range of physical activities. Stories shared include guys who went from playing singles tennis to doubles or stopped playing basketball with the guys because they couldn't keep up.
Since it's all about results, they prefer visual performance metrics. The clear charts, graphs, and data that online programs offer make it easier to evaluate their weight loss success and support the focus on performance. There are two lessons here. First, the strategy that makes sense to you is important, be it data-driven or something else. Second; fitness and weight loss, and their opposites being in bad shape and having an overweight body, impact your performance in life and the things you want to do.
Men comprise roughly half our audience at Retrofit. We like to think it's because we are oriented towards getting and tracking results. Forbes.com called us a front-runner in harnessing wireless and remote technology in the field of "data-driven weight loss." We use science and data to help our clients achieve their weight-loss goals and return to past performance levels.
3. Gadgets or bust
Men love a good gadget as much they like to track, evaluate, and tweak their strategies. Men are the biggest spenders on convenient gadgets: digital range-finders for the golf course and shoes with a pedometer that integrates with your iPhone and heart-rate-monitor watch to track all your biometrics for example.
The data that the right technology can collect about your body is especially fun. When you open the Retrofit box, you see a wi-fi scale. This is a seriously cool piece of technology. It measures your weight and checks your lean-mass-to-fat-mass ratio by sending an imperceptible electrical impulse up through your feet. And it also calculates your BMI and sends all this information to your computer so you can watch these numbers change over time. Next is a wireless activity tracker. This inconspicuous little toy collects data about your steps, flights of stairs you climb, estimated calories burned, and how you've been sleeping. So you can also track your activities to identify easy lifestyle changes that will improve weight loss. And then you can see what effect those changes have had based on data from the wi-fi scale. Men love these gadgets and toys because they're fun to use, they make things easier, and they give you powerful information that you can use to make better decisions and track your successes. The lesson; the more you can do to make weight loss and fitness enjoyable, easy aspects of your life, the better.
So let's learn from our men. Don't diet. Change your life in little ways that enhance your daily performance. Prioritize goals that have a real impact on your daily life and what you want to do. And don't forget to make it fun.
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