Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just an Observation

I often read articles in the Health section of the New York Times. Most of the them end up parroting today's received wisdom: "eat less move more"...even though we know that usually it doesn't work, especially in the long run. But once in awhile, there are some interesting, thought-provoking articles.

I also read a lot of the comments to these articles and there's a trend that I've noticed. Now, what I'm about to say is anecdotal. I have no scientific studies to back up what is purely an observation on my part. Here's what I've noticed:

Inevitably, one, two, or several people write in to say that they--or someone they know--have lost significant amounts of weight by simply cutting down ever so slightly on the amount of food they eat while adding a bit more moderate exercise to their daily lives. Aside from the apparent effortlessness of this weight loss, there's something else all these writers have in common: they're all men (or women, reporting on their husband's weight loss success).

Well, you can add me to that list.

Last year, after several years of gentle prodding, I finally convinced my husband to go to my GP for a general check-up. His resistance had nothing to do with cost. Since we live in Canada, a medical check-up is covered under our universal health care system. No, he was just lazy and perhaps a little reticent to hear what the doctor might have to say.

He came home from this visit with a prescription for a low dose of blood pressure medication. He didn't tell me anything else that the doctor had said except that she wanted to see him back in a month, presumably to check on his BP.

A month later, he went back. When he came home, he told me that he'd lost 11 pounds. Now, my husband is neither a tall nor a very heavy man. Yes, he does have a bit of a paunch, but we're not talking huge. Eleven pounds was a pretty impressive number.

Over the course of the past year, I started noticing that he'd changed a few habits. Nothing radical, mind you. Just a few little habits. He used to have a small glass of unsweetened fruit juice in the evening. That was gone, to be replaced by one or two large glasses of water. He used to take second helpings at supper quite often. This stopped, though he continued to fill his plate with one generous helping of food. He started using the elliptical trainer in the basement while watching sports on TV, maybe two or three times a week, for 1/2 hour at a time. He continued to walk about 45 minutes, 5-6 times a week. No change there.

Yesterday, he went back for his annual doctor's check-up. She said he looked ten years younger. She forgot to weigh him, though he and I both agree that he's probably lost another 15-20 pounds. (He still refuses to weigh himself.)

My husband doesn't have to wear a suit to work. Recently, he had to wear a suit to some sort of event and the pants were so big on him that he had to cinch his belt to the point where he looked a bit like a homeless man who was given someone's cast-off clothing. Fortunately, the suit jacket hid how badly the pants now fit.

Over the course of the year, my husband has not made a peep about the various small changes he's instituted in his life. His just does what he does. And no, he doesn't deny himself the odd dessert or treat. His life hasn't changed that much. Yet he's lost a lot of weight. It seems to be a guy thing. Oh well...

And BTW, he's still on the BP medication. Some things don't change.


  1. A great example of how our experiences differ. The problem always arises when we assume that everyone's body responds the same way.

  2. Very interesting observations. I never saw my spouse as fat, maybe I don't think that way, or he just "carried it well" (being tall) and evenly spread. Recently, though, our family doctor commented on his 50 lb loss over the last 3-4 years. I was floored. First, because I never thought dh was "fat" (overweight or obese), and second because I haven't noticed many changes in his exercise (except occasional swimming for relaxation and post-op repair)and he switched from a desk job to one that he walks around more in a supervisory way--and he eats more than ever. Especially more fat! (We were both on a crazy no/low fat diet for YEARS...almost destroyed my health, thank goodness he secretly ate doughnuts at work. LOL). ANYWAY. We both seem to be defying prevailing medical "science" in terms of our eating/exercise patterns and our respective weights. I've run out of theories (none seem to *fit* accepted science for these modern, a-new-idea-every-other-minute days.) :)

  3. I worked with a guy once who told me that whenever his weight started to creep up, he just ate one less piece of toast in the morning. I almost threw something at him. My ex just cuts back on fried stuff. Possibly some of this is that it's easier to stop weight creeping up, as opposed to losing it once it's on, especially for men, whose hormones don't encourage as much fat accumulation.

  4. It would be nice if the NWCR would look at this notion. That would be one thing they could contribute to the conversation, but instead, their bias is that "we identify maintainers and their behaviors, then ANYONE (male, female, whatever) can become one by replicating what they do." They control who is accepted, even when they are qualified -- they accept or deny based on what they want the composition of the database to look like. It would be interesting to see whether more men than women qualify. Though, too, I would guess that women may be more likely to sign up for the database. I think the NWCR gets more press in women's magazine's and other media than men's.

  5. Le sigh... Hubby is finally on board w/the dietary modifications I'm trying to make (more primal/paleo style, modified low did I mention anything about giving up chocolate?!? Hell no!)- mainly bcz he would like to get off his BP meds. This may be a lost cause (hello, genes!) but I support him nonetheless.