I am frequently writing about how baffled I am that more men are not taking advantage of bariatric surgery. As I might have mentioned before, the most recent numbers I have suggest that over 80% of bariatric surgery patients are female. Obesity, though, is not related to sex: it is pretty evenly divided across the spectrum. However, two conversations I’ve had in recent history have given me some new perspective on the whole issue…
The Feminine Outlook
I had a conversation with a woman recently who is concerned about her current weight. Two years out from bariatric surgery, she feels like she just isn’t succeeding. She remains 15 pounds away from her goal weight and “nothing is working.” Whenever she looks in the mirror she sees nothing but fat. She has no familial support, and what she feels more than anything is alone.
Her weight loss sin? She has “only” lost 95 pounds and kept it off for two years.
Give that a moment to sink in. This woman dropped 100 pounds and kept it off for two years, and considers herself a failure.
Needless to say, I encouraged her and told her the truth: she’s doing great. Goal weights are tools, nothing is set in stone, etc. But, all the while, I couldn’t help thinking about how I will feel if I successfully keep 100 pounds of weight off for two years.
Hint: I won’t be disappointed.
The Male Perspective
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a man whose wife reads Misdirected. She was “on his ass” about weight loss, and he wanted to share his opinions with me.
Just looking at him it was obvious that there was a problem here. This guy was, at a minimum, 70 pounds overweight. In fact, his build was almost identical to mine a year ago. Climbing a few steps from his entryway into his house left him winded. However, once he and I got settled in his man cave, he had a few things to say about the subject of his health.
Men in his family have always been heavy, he told me. He was active – he didn’t need to go to a gym! He could maybe stand to lose a few pounds, but surgery was just a stupid idea. No offense to me, of course.
All this while he worked his way through 4 beers in less than an hour. (I politely declined.) At lunch, he annihilated a plate twice the size of his wife’s in a couple minutes then began picking off her plate. Shortly thereafter I thanked him for his time and opinions and went on my way.
Somehow he remained blissfully ignorant that there might be a problem or two that needed to be addressed here. And I couldn’t help but think: This is me before last February, isn’t it?
The Can Gap
The sociology of why women believe they are overweight and men believe they are fit is beyond the scope of Misdirected. Many very intelligent people have looked into the issue and even they can’t arrive at a consensus.
But, the fact remains: we, as a species, are not seeing ourselves realistically. Women who have gone through lifestyle changes including bariatric surgery are thinking they have not done enough. Men who have given up wearing anything but 3x sweatpants are still flexing in front of mirrors.
So, instead of tackling this from a “body awareness” standpoint, or pulling out BMI charts, I want you to ask yourself a simple question.
Does your body allow you to do everything you want to do?
If the answer is no, you have a problem that should be met head-on. Stop making excuses and start making changes. Go talk to your doctor. Make an appointment with a nutritionist. Sign up for a session with a personal trainer. But do something that will point you towards what you really wish you could be doing.
If the answer is yes: Go do it. Stop looking in the mirror, stop worrying about sizes, stop obsessing over what people might think. Instead, go do the things you want to. Go sign up for dance lessons, climb that mountain, take that vacation. There is no “perfect body”. There are only bodies that can, or that can’t.
Make sure you are in the “Can” line.
Still Working On Moving Into The Can-Can Line,