Weight loss for women, muscle tone for men

by William Lewandowski

lewandowwi@mnstate.edu

Everywhere you look, there is some sort of advertisement for a diet. On television, magazines, billboards, in stores and pharmacies; even doctors’ offices have pamphlets on ways to lose weight. But there’s one thing that for most goes unnoticed about nearly every single ad for weight loss programs: where are the men?

I was researching infused waters one day at work, and the majority of them were focused on women. So, I got to thinking, “Why do only women get to diet?” I began to dig deeper into what I’ve seen on television. 

Dr. Oz is an informational heath show supposedly encouraging its viewer to better one’s self to a healthier way of life. Despite being hosted by a man,  the show only focuses on women’s health.

Think of all the programs — Jenny Craig, Nutrasystem, Weight Watchers. In the majority of commercials, the spokespeople, and before and after photos, are females. This has me wondering: why can’t guys diet too?

Dieting is a tough battle. When you’re getting a salad, no croutons, dressing on the side and a glass of water with a lemon, and your friends all have greasy, dripping, delicious hamburgers and salty french fries, going on a diet may seem like a punishment. Along with exercise, it’s definitely a chore.

In dieting programs like Jenny Craig, participants are given meals that help cut down eating with delicious food, but men aren’t going to sign up for Jenny Craig because it’s for women.

For men, according to the media, exercising is the way to go. Who needs dieting? If you exercise more, it doesn’t really matter what you eat, right? Well, with programs like Insanity, that’s the idea: work out until you pass out. Although that may be OK for some, it definitely isn’t with everyone.

I did some research on other programs. I went to Jillian Michaels’ website, a trainer who appeared on The Biggest Loser, to see how she designed her website. Yet again, nearly all people represented were female, with a few minor exceptions on the before and after page.

For us men, it’s difficult to find dieting pointers or help that isn’t female-focused. The media shows us that protein shakes, certain exercise equipment and different performance supplements are the only way to help our weight problem, and that doesn’t even help — it’s just focused on making greater muscle.

Female programs are geared toward women being thin. This is how society perceives women’s attractiveness; a woman with a little extra weight on her thighs or stomach isn’t attractive. Though completely false, this idea that ‘thin is sexy’ is what female-orientated programs are saying.

What if women want to be strong, have some muscle or take on a “manly” exercise program? She’s labeled negatively.

The same goes for men. Male programs display buff, muscular, testosterone-fueled guys showing men that’s how they should be. If a man is fat or not muscular or toned, he is not attractive or desirable, which is also completely false.

What if a man wants to shed a pound or 20 without having a workout that is going to break him in two or give him a toned body? That makes him weak or lazy.

As media and society perceive it, dieting is mainly for women, whereas exercising programs are mostly for men. Is society right? Is the media right?

As people, we have to find what makes each of us individuals. Whether a guy wants to solely diet without having to go to the gym four times a week, or a woman wants to do Insanity workouts every other day; what’s the problem with that?

The problem is society’s norms and values. Society values and glorifies men who are fit and strong and women who are thin and slender, but not everyone fits those standards. Because of these viewpoints, diets are mainly shown as a feminine action for weight loss, and exercise and muscle tone are mainly aimed at men. But does it have to always be that way?

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