You know the saying: If staying in shape was easy, every man would have washboard abs.
Modern life is practically designed to make you fat. But if you’re prepared for the body saboteurs that will come your way every day, you’ll be better equipped to fight them.
Read on to prepare for battle.
1. Working long hours makes you fat
People who work more 40 hours a week are about 8% more likely to be obese, reveals CDC research.
Meanwhile, if you travel extensively for business (more than 20 nights a month away), your odds of being obese are 92% higher than if you hit the road one to six times a month.
How to lose weight despite your hectic schedule
Pretend you’re paying, even if you have an expense account.
In fact, especially if you have an expense account.
“People give themselves permission to be bad – an extra drink, a big steak dinner – because it’s with a client,” says Andrew Rundle, Dr.P.H., an obesity researcher at Columbia.
If you know you’ll be feasting on the company’s dime tonight, have salad or tuna for lunch.
Stand up at your desk or during conferences, schedule walking meetings and find time to exercise during your workday.
Stuck in a hotel room? Do a no-equipment workout.
Working insane overtime can make you so hangry that you’re tempted to eat when you’re not really hungry. Meditation can help.
In a Journal of Consumer Research study, people who practiced mindfulness tended to have less weight fluctuation.
Read more: Motivate yourself to meditate
2. Getting you fired makes you fat
Maybe you spent too many hours in your cubicle listening to Mindfulness Practice, cogitating on the unfairness of life, until somebody from HR rudely disturbed you.
You have lost income – and as a result could start to gain weight, potentially at the rate of 2.5kg a year.
How to lose weight despite getting fired
Sleep well and consistently.
The stress of a sudden job loss can lead to sleepless nights and insomnia, say researchers at Penn State. So promote better sleep through exercise.
In a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, sedentary people who committed to a six-month exercise program fell asleep more quickly at night, felt more rested in the morning and had better-quality sleep than they did before the program.
Their anxiety and depression levels fell too.
Make your lunch.
Prepare a healthy lunch at night, just like you did when you had a job, says dietitian Susan McQuillan, MS, RDN.
Be sure to include protein-rich snacks, such as nuts, hard-boiled eggs and jerky, and keep junk food out of the house.
Form healthy habits.
Keep water handy while you polish your résumé. People in a University of Illinois study who drank more water than other beverages also consumed fewer total calories.
Raise your heart rate and burn energy by standing up every half hour to do two minutes of squats and lunges.
3. Your partner’s cooking makes you fat
Living together brings joy and many potential problems, including a phenomenon known as “dietary convergence”, says Lauren Dinour, Dr.P.H., a professor of nutrition at Montclair State University.
If your housemate’s a broccoli nut, this could be good.
But it’s not so great if she’s a gourmand who lives to eat. When she’s cooking wonderful meals, you’ll feel the love – and that love may end up around your waist.
Most men will pack on 3 to 4 pounds after tying the knot, says Dinour. The same is true for unmarried couples who shack up.
How to lose weight despite your partner’s awesome cooking
Go on a lunch-and-shopping date.
Fill up and then hit the supermarket: An empty belly may make you favor high-calorie options over low-calorie ones.
Count the number of times you chew food before swallowing; then double it. You could eat 15% less food!
The same forces that fuel dietary convergence may also steer your exercise habits. If you become more active, your partner will likely follow and vice versa, American Journal of Epidemiology research finds.
So take the lead; it’ll be a lot less annoying than nagging.
Read more: Do men really sweat more than women?
4. Becoming a father makes you fat
First-time dads gain an average of four and a half pounds after the baby arrives, a Northwestern University study found.
And while you’re fattening up your dad bod, she’s slimming down: Most women lose half their baby weight within the first six weeks following childbirth and the rest in the next several months.
How to lose weight despite becoming a dad
Eat like a man.
New fathers tend to lean more on convenience foods, so they often gain weight, says Helena Laroche, MD, an assistant professor in internal medicine at the University of Iowa.
But you can make better food decisions – for yourself and your child.
Don’t let the kid dictate what you eat.
“People underestimate what children will eat,” says Dr Laroche. “They assume kids will only eat mac and cheese and hot dogs, but that’s wrong.”
Kids are genetically hardwired to be skeptical of new foods, which keeps them from eating dangerous stuff. Fruit is an easy sell.
Play like a child.
Go to the playground with your kid, Dr Laroche suggests, and don’t just watch.
Monkey bars are great for pullups. And let Junior’s nap time serve as your workout time.
Do planks (work up to three 1-minute holds) or pushups (do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 4 minutes) daily to strengthen your core and stabilise your spine, says Michael Wood, CSCS, chief fitness officer for Koko Fit Club, which despite the name has absolutely nothing to do with monkeys.
Sleep like a baby.
Shuteye is critical because you produce the hunger hormone leptin every two hours during your slumber, Dr Laroche says.
When you don’t log that sleep, you’re susceptible to carbohydrate cravings.
Satisfy your urge with an apple or a pear so you don’t reach for something that lacks filling fibre, like doughnuts or potato chips.
5. Holidays make you fat
People can gain up to 3kg on holiday, according to University of Georgia research.
These gains often persist because trips can start you on a path of unhealthy eating that can continue for weeks after.
“You do so much damage in such a short time, you just can’t exercise enough to overcome it,” says study author Jamie Cooper, PhD.
How to lose weight even when you’re on holiday
Take a break from drinking.
Alcohol consumption can double during holiday, Cooper says.
Consider drinking every other day instead of daily. (The CDC recommends no more than two drinks in a single session.)
And drink from a straight glass instead of a curved one – you’ll sip 60% slower, according to British researchers.
Pick one day to eat big.
Want to load up on hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs and pie at Aunt Mary’s birthday bash? Fine.
But don’t binge on leftovers on the following days.
“You can overeat for one day, but what’s more damaging is when you’re overeating for several days over your holiday,” says Cooper. “Overindulging for a week is hard to undo.”
Hit the scale and exercise more.
Both are especially critical during vacation, and even better if you do them daily.
University of North Carolina research suggests that dieters who weigh themselves daily are more likely to lose weight and adopt weight-savvy behaviors.
Consider two-a-days; most people overestimate their exercise calorie burn.
6. Turning 30 makes you fat
From here on in, you’ll be burning five fewer calories a day.
That’s 18 250 calories in a decade, or roughly 2.3kg. If you’re overweight already, your fat burners slow even more.
How to lose weight when you turn 30
Follow the right exercise regimen.
Exercise helps, of course, and if you must choose between cardio and weights, do weights.
Strength training helps you maintain or even increase your metabolism, a Harvard study found, and it burns more fat than cardio alone.
Do at least 20 minutes of strength training a day and, if possible, at least 25 minutes of aerobic exercise as well, says study author Rania Mekary, PhD.
People who did both gained the least belly fat.
Tune in to your hunger cues.
“Get used to eating when you’re reasonably but not too hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied, not when you’re uncomfortable,” says dietitian Chris Mohr, PhD, RD.
Assess your hunger on a scale of zero (famished) to 10 (stuffed). Think about how each level feels. Start eating when you’re around 3 – hungry but not famished. Stop at 7 – satisfied but not full.
7. How turning 40 makes you fat
Now you have another factor to consider: Your testosterone, which tends to peak around age 19, has dropped by 16%, according to British research.
That’s a problem, because testosterone helps you maintain muscle mass and stay energised.
How to lose weight when you turn 40
Find an activity you love.
In a study published in the journal Health Psychology, people were more likely to stick with exercise if they did it for enjoyment.
Read more: These are the 10 best exercises for men
Eat these key foods.
Also, nosh on nuts and beans for T-boosting magnesium, and mushrooms and milk for vitamin D, because D is good for T.
Reform your band of friends.
Guys who lack emotional support are 9% more likely to be obese, according to research in the journal Obesity.
Loneliness can lead to overeating, so prioritise your social life: Make new acquaintances and maintain the friendships you do have.
Steal a trick women use and organise your friends into categories – exercise, culture, music, food, hedonism – and meet up with a different group every week.
8. Turning 50 makes you fat
Your metabolism is heading south, kind of like your butt. As maintaining muscle becomes tougher, your body composition may shift into the danger zone.
For example, the average guy under 40 is 18% fat, according to the British Journal of Nutrition, but the average guy in his 50s is 22% fat.
How to lose weight when you turn 50
Work on your muscle.
Proof: The Pillsbury Doughboy is 51 this year. He’d look better if he pounded protein – 30 to 40g every meal – which stimulates muscle growth, says Men’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, MS.
9. How turning 60 makes you fat
Your naps might be doing you in. For every hour older men spent napping a day, they were 23% more likely to be obese, an International Journal of Obesity study found.
How to lose weight when you turn 60
Cut out your naps during the day.
But if you must snooze, keep them to 30 minutes or less – this length of nap wasn’t linked to any increases in metabolic syndrome, according to a new American College of Cardiology study.
Read more: How this man got his best body at 40
10. How getting injured makes you fat
About 14% of people who suffer a workplace back injury may gain a substantial amount of weight – 7% of their body weight or more – over the following year, a Dartmouth study suggests.
Pain that accompanies everyday functions tends to influence body weight – after all, who wants to exercise when it hurts to move?
But there may also be a complex psychological dance going on, says study author Benjamin Keeney, PhD.
If you think you won’t recover, you probably won’t rebound as fast or as well as you would have if you’d had a better attitude. (The slower your recovery, the more weight you’re likely to add on.) This is also true for surgery.
People’s expectations may shape their recovery quality, according to a study review published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
So if you want to shrink your gut, or at least ensure that it doesn’t expand, you may need to talk to a shrink.
How to lose weight despite getting injured
Take rehab seriously.
Keep in close touch with your surgeon, physical therapist and other providers, and follow their instructions carefully.
The exercises your PT gives you might not be your idea of fun, but positivity can mean a lot.
In a Greek study, knee surgery patients who gave themselves verbal commands like “keep standing” or “bend and stable” during exercises did better on a balance test than those who suffered in silence.
This kind of self-talk can bolster confidence and help you focus on technique, the researchers say.
Build a support team.
While you’re laid up, you might feel overwhelmed trying to manage your weight. Consider seeing a psychologist to talk about how the physical setback affects your mental health. (Find qualified pros at locator.apa.org.)
Men often feel disappointed when they wake up from major surgery and realise that they’re going to feel worse before they feel better, Keeney says. A therapist can help you stay on track.
Make eating right easy.
You need lots of protein – about 30g per meal – to help your tissues heal and regenerate, says Mohr. And aim for 10g of fibre per meal so you’ll feel full – making you less likely to snack as you’re lying around convalescing.
Pain can make it tough to stand for hours in the kitchen prepping food and washing dishes.
This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za
Image credit: iStock