Time to face up to the fat facts of life
Published at 11:27, Monday, 11 June 2012
Caroline Scott stresses that everyone is different. Men and women cannot be pigeon-holed according to their gender.
But having said that... Caroline has noticed certain trends in her role as Slimming World consultant for Brampton and Gretna.
How do men and women react if they put on weight?
“If a woman goes to the wardrobe and her favourite pair of jeans doesn’t fit, she thinks she needs to lose weight.
“If a man’s jeans don’t fit, he’ll buy a bigger pair of jeans.”
There’s a serious point here. Caroline says women aim to lose weight as soon as they notice minor changes.
Men wait until something drastic has occurred.
They often put off losing weight until a health scare, having ignored or denied the problem until their body shocks them towards reality.
This confirms the popular image of men as reluctant to seek medical advice.
Perhaps it’s fear. Maybe it’s a refusal to accept that there’s a problem.
Or possibly a feeling that their masculinity would be compromised by seeking help.
This is Men’s Health Week, which aims to address all these issues and persuade the male of the species to live more healthily.
The stats suggest men need all the help they can get.
If you’re a man, read ’em and weep.
In the UK women live an average of four years longer than men. Smoking is the biggest single reason.
Then there’s alcohol. In 2008, average weekly alcohol consumption in England was nearly twice as much for men as women.
More men than women are overweight.
The rate of premature death – classed as people under 65 – is one and a half times higher among men.
Forty per cent of men die before the age of 75.
Heart disease is British men’s biggest killer. Men are three times more likely than women to die early from it.
Prevention is better than cure, and good ways to prevent heart disease include a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Colin Lawrence, 67, is proof of how well this policy can work.
Since enrolling in Caroline’s Slimming World class at Brampton Community Centre at the end of January, Colin has lost almost four-and-a-half stone.
Many of Caroline’s male clients arrive after being told to lose weight by their GP, often because they have become diabetic or are at risk of developing diabetes.
Joint and back problems, caused by weight gain or made worse by it, are another common reason for men to try and lose weight.
Four years ago Colin had his left hip replaced. He is now on the waiting list for a knee replacement, which is one reason why he resolved to lose weight.
“I’ve had a lot of trouble with my joints,” he says.
“I was just too big. I was 20 stone and five-and-a-half pounds.
“At my age it is dangerous to weigh so much.”
Colin had been putting on weight since leaving the Army in 1984.
He then used to breed dogs and he’d walk them every day.
But when his hip went he couldn’t walk or work, and the weight piled on until it began affecting his movement.
Colin agrees that he could have faced up to the situation earlier.
“But men put off going to the doctors until the last possible moment.
“When I’m really under the weather I go and see the doctor straight away.
“With little niggles, there’s a tendency to think it will go away. You think it won’t happen to you.”
Colin has changed his lifestyle entirely this year.
As well as joining Slimming World he has also started swimming at The Pools in Carlisle five days a week.
His brother-in-law has also become a Slimming World regular and has lost a stone in a couple of months.
“I feel a lot fitter and I have a lot more energy,” says Colin.
Caroline wishes men would seek help sooner. She feels another reason for delay can be the fear that their new way of life will be worse than it actually is.
“Men think they’re going to have to eat tiny portions and live off salad. It’s not like that at all.
“With women, the support I give is more emotional.
“With men it’s logical. Make things simple and straightforward. They don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen counting calories.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. About 37,000 men are diagnosed every year and approximately 250,000 men are currently living with the disease.
Roger Robson from Ivegill, near Carlisle, was diagnosed about six years ago.
The former teacher and Cumberland wrestling champion says: “It was loss of libido which led me to seek medical advice. I went to the doctor for that. That started the tests and they discovered I had prostate cancer.
“I felt sort of numb. I’m quite a fatalistic sort of person. I don’t know if there’s part of you that doesn’t quite believe it – it’s not going to happen to you.
“I think it affected my wife more than me. She was terribly upset at the thought of me dying, I suppose.
“I was given hormone tablets, which gave me the menopause. I had hot flushes.
“I also had seven weeks of radiotherapy.
“I still have blood tests once a year but everything has been all clear for a while now.”
Roger, 70, agrees that men are often reluctant to seek medical advice.
When he has consulted his GP it has often been after encouragement from the fairer sex.
“I don’t sprint to the doctors but I have tended to get bossed around by the womenfolk in my life.
“About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with a blood condition called polycythaemia.
“It means your body is producing too many red blood cells.
“Your blood becomes like treacle and doesn’t flow properly.
“I was fainting and bruising very easily, which are both symptoms.
“I had a bruise on my arm and my sister said ‘You need to go to the doctor.’ I’d resisted my wife, but my big sister is made of sterner stuff.
“I still have to take capsules every day to limit the production of blood cells.
“The other main medical thing has been an artificial hip.
“You might say I’m unlucky to get these things in the first place. But I’ve been lucky with treatment.”
The medical profession tells us that men can make themselves lucky, in their lifestyle and their willingness to confront their fears and seek advice.
Published by http://www.bramptonlocal.co.uk
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