Today, I am happy to welcome the writer behind the blog Real Men Don’t Diet guest blogging about his personal diet and health struggles. I now understand that women are not alone, men ALSO deal with body image and food issues.
According to an article from ABC News, 108 million people in the United States dieted in 2012, but only 15% of them were men. I was one of those 15%. In fact, I’ve been on a diet at least once a year for the past 25 years, with varying levels of success. I am a 43 year old married professional, and I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I am significantly overweight, and I struggle every day with eating right. There are many men just like me, but for some reason most do not seek help with their weight issues. Evidently, real men don’t diet. Of course, I am being ironic with this notion. It takes a real man to admit when he needs help and to seek it out.
I wasn’t always overweight. While never an athlete, I was an active kid whose parents put healthy food on the table and made me eat my vegetables (despite my protestations). Things fell apart for me when I went off to college. The combination of a slowing metabolism combined with freedom from parental control and, well, let’s be honest, a lot of beer resulted in packing on the pounds freshman year. For many personal reasons, my college years were quite stressful, and I continued to turn to food for comfort and soothing. Since those days, it’s been just more of the same. I go on a diet, lose some weight, and feel good. Inevitably, something ‘bad’ happens and I reach out for the one thing that is always there to make me feel better: food. Then, of course, comes the guilt the next day. And the cycle continues.
It’s strange how certain vices grab hold of some people and not others. I was out with friends the other night at a local wine bar, and as I sipped on a delicious Pinot, I joked to my companions, “man, this is awesome, I need to drink more!” My quip receive a chuckle from the group, but I really do forget how much I enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer. I can go weeks without a drop. Alcohol just holds no sway over me. Even back in college, drinking large quantities of beer was just a social thing that I did because I was young and dumb; I soon grew out of that foolishness. I don’t smoke or do drugs. I’m not a shopaholic. I have control over most of my life, at least the things that I can control, but food is my Achilles heel.
I have sought help for my struggles with food over the years. Name the diet program, and I’ve been on it, and to tell the truth, all reasonable diets work. Reduce the calories taken in and increase the calories burned via exercise, and you will lose weight. I have also been to support groups and enlisted the aid of nutritional and lifestyle counselors, and it has all helped. Despite my current situation, I know that things would be much worse without the help of family, friends, and the dedicated professionals that I have encountered over the years during my struggles. The fact that I’m writing this blog post is a testament to my desire to not give up and to hold on to hope. Despite all my ups and downs, both emotionally and weight-wise, I am still optimistic that I will be able to one day get back to a healthy relationship with food and be more like that active kid that I once was.