When it comes to exercise and weight loss, the same rules apply whether you're a man or a woman - you have to burn more calories than you eat to lose weight. How we exercise is often the same as well, although women tend to prefer more cardio then men and they sometimes shy away from heavy weights (even though they shouldn't).
However, there are differences in how our bodies store and lose body fat and differences in how are bodies respond to exercise. Many of my clients have noticed this. In fact, I was training one couple together and, at one point, the wife informed said, "I workout with you for 3 weeks, I eat grass and tree bark and I lose 2 pounds. My husband does a few pushups, jogs around the block, eats an entire pizza in one sitting and loses 10 pounds."
She was exaggerating (mostly), but she's right that men tend to lose weight faster than women. Men have more muscle, which helps them lose weight more quickly, and they often respond to their workouts faster then women do. Experts have even found that women have a different heart rate response to exercise than men. All of this means that women have to work harder to get the same results as their male counterparts.
For these reasons, it's a good idea to avoid comparing results if you're losing weight as a couple. This means that a husband shouldn't say, "Na-nanny-boo-boo, I lost 4 more pounds than you," when getting his weight measured during a training session. Similarly, a wife shouldn't threaten to sneak extra butter and fat into her husband's meals in revenge (both things I've heard clients say to one another).
What about you? Have you gone through this with your spouse, friend or loved one? How do you handle it if one of you loses faster than the other? Leave a comment and tell me about your experiences.
David Corder NSCA-CPT
Owner and Lead Personal Trainer at Perfect Fit Wellness Center.