Men and Slimming World (or just men and “dieting” in general)

I had intended to do another of the “what new bargains have I found” posts today – alas the stores aren’t co-operating and besides maybe the Linda McCartney sausage offers (Plain are now half price at £1 a pack, Chorizo style are now 25% off at £1.50 a pack (both of which are half a syn each) and the Red Onion & Rosemary ones have remained at full price) in Tesco, there was nothing particularly “new” today from last week‘s offerings.  So instead I thought I’d put some thoughts to paper about “Men and Slimming World”.

“Hi Ladies” – A common opening line on web-based forums dedicated to Slimming World. Which seems to be accepted as the “norm”. Us men though would be labelled as sexist if we started a general discussion on a Slimming World forum with the words “Hi Gents” (unless it was a male specific question).

Yes – men are definitely out numbered when it comes to weight loss groups.

I’ve often been the sole man in the room before. But times are changing and it is being seen as more acceptable for men to go to weight loss groups. Slimming World has moved from having a token man in the magazine to having a men’s section in the magazine. Is the change happening fast enough? No, not in my opinion.

Why is it that men struggle to accept that they need help with managing their weight? There is certainly a degree of stubbornness – “I can do it myself, I don’t need a group to tell me how to do it”, and a lad’s night out of as much beer as you can drink before the pub shuts followed by a kebab and chips probably isn’t much help and not wanting to have to “give that up”.

Weight management/loss done properly though doesn’t mean having to give things up, maybe cut back on them, but not give them up. It certainly doesn’t mean having to eat “rabbit food” of salads, and such forth. Slimming World particularly promotes being able to eat hearty meals – just cooked in a healthy way.

But all this is known about, but still men seem to struggle to accept that sometimes they need help and that groups such as Slimming World – can be that help. Yes, it’s daunting as a bloke walking into a room that you know is going to be filled mainly with women. It’s daunting enough to walk through those doors and having to admit that you need help – whatever gender you are. It’s probably the equivalent of a lone female going into a bar full of men – but it happens and they manage it – why can’t us guys do the same at a weight loss group?

Only once in my long history of being a member have I felt unwelcome in a group as a bloke but only because in general – us men do it better when we set our minds to it (guess it’s that male stubbornness kicking in again). As a general rule though – once through those doors and sat down – no-one really gives a toss about your gender – and it tends to be forgotten about – I’ve heard too many discussions about “women’s things” – only part way through the person talking remembering that there’s a bloke in the room, apologising, and then continuing. That’s how comfortable most people are in that room – gender just gets forgotten about.

No, I can’t personally directly relate to someone dropping from a size 18 to a size 12, I can relate though in terms of dropping from a 54″ waist to a 36″ inch waist though. I can relate to someone though who struggles with wanting to eat chocolate, or get a takeaway. I can relate to struggling to know what to cook instead.

And yes – I will walk into a weight loss group knowing that I may be the only man in the room – because at the end of the day – gender doesn’t matter.

We’re there for the same reason, and have decided upon doing that particular offering (be it Slimming World or a.n.other plan) as being the best way forward for us. I walk into that room because I want to be a better version of myself, the same as every other person in that room – whatever gender identity, young or old, 7lb to lose, or 7st to lose. We’re all wanting the same – to be a better version of ourselves – a healthier version; able to do more than we currently can. Surely that’s what matters at the end of the day – not our gender identity but our aims?

So why are men in such a minority when it comes to going to a Slimming World group? We’re stubborn – but that can work in our favour in this regards; We like our food – but we don’t need to necessarily change the food – just how it’s prepared; We, maybe, like a pint or two – but we still can do that (just not every night); We’re scared that we’ll be the only bloke in the room – but there’s only one way to change that surely? We don’t like being seen as “asking for help”. Slimming World (or other organisations) just provide the building blocks.  How you use them is up to you.

There is no shame in asking for help. There is no shame at being the sole man in the room. We all need help in our lives from time to time. Go and get it. Us men are just as welcome at Slimming World as the women are. Let’s turn the tables and add to the numbers.

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