I was very young when I learnt this difference. Health for men was more easily available than for women.
I learnt this by observing the family dynamics at my home.
My father would wake up early and work out. Then he’d have his breakfast and leave for work. All my life I’d seen him follow this routine religiously.
During the school holidays, I would join him for a walk or cycling session.
However, my mother would wake up at the same time as my father but would dedicate her mornings to household chores, getting breakfast and lunch cooked and having the kids ready for school before heading to work.
To my young mind, it felt like the norm because that’s what I had grown-up observing everywhere I went.
Though, I vividly remember feeling queasy about my father not sharing the load of household chores or cooking with my mum. But I soon made peace with it because I was constantly assured that THIS was how it’s done all over the world.
Years went by, and I could still not make peace with the idea that why was it okay for my mother to not ask my father to share her workload at home.
Living in India, I am well aware of the privileges of having easy access to household help. Yes, our home was no different. In my teens and later years, our home even had a cook, but still, I never saw my mother care for herself or her health in the ways my father did.
To my immature mind, it felt like a CHOICE my mother had consciously made. To some extent, it actually was. But it took me a long time to understand the reality behind the puzzle my mind had been trying to solve.
I was in medical school when I first had the chance to meet students from different parts of the country and learn about the diverse ways families functioned. I was somewhat relieved to learn that there existed many households where men and women both shared the load of household chores.
That learning was just the beginning of my decade-long journey of questioning what made health differences between men and women so stark.
The study of human physiology, psychology and hormonal makeup offers some guidance around why weight loss and maintenance of overall fitness is easier for men than women.
However, the one aspect that is often ignored or talked least about its societal influence.
Something that to my understanding plays a HUGE role in why women struggle to get healthier, struggle to stay consistent in their weight loss journeys, and why women struggle with body image issues so strongly.
I am not denying or diminishing the existence of these struggles in the lives of men.
Here, I am trying to shine a light on why women feel so stuck in their weight struggles.
1. The lack of time:
It’s often stated that everyone has the same 24 hours. It is a lie. Women who single-handedly shoulder most of the household responsibilities (irrespective of their relationship status) including cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of children and having a full-time job struggle not only with finding time but also energy to make room for fitness activities.
2. The lack of motivation:
Being depleted in energy, and running short of time, it is only natural for women to struggle to find the motivation to add one more task to their already lengthy to-do list. Working on creating a healthy life is a distant dream for more women than I can count.
It is something I constantly hear to be something that they intend to pursue once they get some breathing room (which is the code for post-retirement or when the kids shall be all grown up and independent).
3. Feeling taking care of themselves is selfish:
Most women (including myself) were raised with the conditioning that they are the carers, and nurturers of the world. Taking care of others and serving the family and society is revered and respected.
It is only natural for women to identify themselves as givers and feel uncomfortable sparing time, energy or thought for their own needs.
4. High levels of stress:
Women often have greater stress in their lives than men. This is related to work, childcare, and doing things around the house. Having higher levels of stress makes women need to take better care of their health, though the reality couldn’t be further from it.
It’s heartbreaking how few women that I know personally (all of whom are very well-educated and hold high rungs in their career) have never had their blood work done outside any immediate causes.
5. Poor sleep:
Hormonal changes and cycles play a role in this, however, the high levels of stress faced by women are one of the leading causes of chronic poor sleep in women. If you have ever worked with a fitness trainer or a weight loss coach, you’d be well aware of how important is sleep quality and duration to overall health and any efforts to lose weight.
Another big obstacle to getting enough sleep is the sheer workload and the demands of being caregivers to the children and the elderly in the family.
6. The pressure to look, weigh and act a certain way:
Women clearly face high pressure from their early years to look their prettiest, be their lightest weight and act submissive at every turn and corner. The diet culture thrives on insecurity, the societal pressures breed in the hearts of women.
Anyone who has ever dieted, knows well in their heart how restrictive, hurtful and futile dieting is. You might shed some weight in the initial few weeks, but sooner or later you’ll tire and will go back to the intense desire to lead a “normal” life. And that’s when all the lost weight and some more shall return.
7. Lack of autonomy:
Be it the freedom around what they do with their body, how they care for it, how they spend their time and finances, to what they would like to do or not do as part of their life, is still in today’s day and age up for negotiation in many families.
None of these factors are an absolute.
And none of them is something that can’t be dealt with by modern women.
However, awareness and acknowledgement of the existence of these are key to understanding that women’s struggle to create a HEALTHY LIFE is real.
Being a woman, a single parent and caretaker of my elderly parents, I can vouch for each of these factors being stumbling blocks in the path of even the most determined, health-conscious women.
At the start of my own health journey, I struggled to overcome these obstacles.
But it didn’t take me long to realise, that once I have identified the obstacles in my path, I can find a way to overcome them with patience, perseverance and due diligence.
How can women overcome these obstacles?
It took me a while to figure out that the single most effective step towards starting my health journey that eventually led to my losing 60 pounds and comfortably maintaining it for 5 years and counting was –making the decision to take care of my health.
Here, by health I mean the holistic- mind, body and emotional well-being.
It was as simple as that. And from that day onwards, at every step, I would ask myself-
How would the choice I am making impact my long-term health?
Would it contribute towards improving my health, or would it hamper my progress?
The first step is the realization that by taking care of our own needs and prioritising our health we are not being selfish.
It is an act of working on ourselves so that we can show up as our best selves in all areas of life. Including our relationship with our dear ones.
How would the lives of your family be impacted if-
- you started working on creating a healthier lifestyle
- took care of eating healthy foods, moved your body in ways that helped you feel better
- lighter and in a better mood and made time for rest and activities that help you feel fulfilled.
Undoubtedly it shall have a ripple effect in every area part of your life. It would benefit the people around you and over time, they’ll love being with the more energetic, more active, calmer, more confident you.
BONUS: Get a glimpse of the decisions I made at that time that has helped me evolve into my current self.
If you’re at the start of your weight loss journey, begin with the strategies that have helped me lose 60 pounds that I teach my coaching clients to achieve sustainable results. Take the FREE Weight Loss Ownership Course.
If you feel that’s too much work or thinking to do on your own, ASK FOR HELP.
Seek help from someone who can help make these decisions, can help you plan your action steps effortlessly, can support you as you design your own solutions to your life’s demanding situations and has the passion to cheer you on as you pave your way to the long-term health you deeply desire.
If losing weight is an essential element of your long-term health, consider hiring a weight loss coach.
A personal weight loss coach can guide you around how to navigate your personal challenges and lifestyle requirements.
Weight Loss Coaching is not about telling women how much they should weigh (your healthy life, your decision!)
In my personal weight loss coaching program, Be Healthy To Be You, I equip women to be fully empowered about their weight and able to:
- Decide & get clarity on the weight goal that is perfect for them.
- Feel empowered and able to create the weight loss results they’ve decided they want.
- Know exactly what to do to finally experience results they’ve always dreamed of: in a way that feels great today and in the years to come.
- Let go of feelings of deprivation, guilt, shame, worry, impossibility (& more) surrounding their weight.
- Experience weight loss results they love, PLUS the peace & freedom of a HEALTHY LIFE that is about so much more than just worrying about weight or food.
- Lose the extra weight & finally put an end to the weight struggle.
- Maintain the results with confidence.
- You get healthier without losing the true essence of what makes you, YOU.
A different kind of morning.
A weekday when you wake up to the knowledge of having all the meals for the day planned ahead of time.
You feel a rush of calm fill your mind because you feel well-rested.
You walk to the kitchen, confident, what’s the plan for breakfast for you and for the family.
You quickly get your kids ready for school and feel energized to navigate the day with a plan that has eliminated all the detours, and all the marginal wins that just give tiny or one-off blips but never truly move the needle in weight loss success.
You find yourself navigating meetings or networking events and more without the temptation to eat the chocolates, cake slices, doughnuts and more just because they are there.
Your evenings need not be spent giving into food cravings to take the edge off life.
You don’t have to spend years figuring this out like I did.
You certainly don’t have to spend time reading every latest research paper and book on weight loss.
You don’t have to feel stuck, stalled, or alone, dreading the onset of the many diseases that run in your family.
You don’t have to surrender your career, your ambition, or your vision of a Healthy Life to the whims of your work schedule or the cravings you happen to encounter along life’s journey.
You can take control of your health and weight — right now.
I’ve distilled everything down and refined it into a powerful program.
A program that’s designed to be founded on the principles of brain science and is driven by the deep desire to offer a simple, realistic, doable approach to weight loss and lasting good health to help women design life on their own terms.
Apply here to join the Priority Waitlist of the Be Healthy Be You Program – The 1:1 weight loss coaching program for women to help them end their weight struggle, overcome emotional eating and comfortably maintain the lost weight for the rest of their life.
Related post: How to ask for help and why it is a life skill every parent must teach their child
2 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why It’s Harder for Women to Lose Weight (and How Women Can Achieve Lasting Weight Loss)”
Great insights on the obstacles and societal influences that make it difficult for women to prioritize their health and well-being. Empowering message on the importance of taking control of one’s health and overcoming obstacles with perseverance and patience.
I am glad the post resonated with you, Joanne.
Thank you 🙂