Why you should live like a bloke

ADOPTING a few of your man’s lifestyle philosophies could actually make you happier, healthier and even thinner.

They drink beer, play footy and can pass an evening in each other’s company without exchanging more than 10 words.

While women are usually overly stressed, juggling numerous roles and constantly dieting, men are generally quite happy with their lot – even if the washing hasn’t been put away and the vacuuming hasn’t been done. We look at how women could benefit from a bit of “bloke health”.

Join a team sport to alleviate worry

Most women give up on participating in team sports once they’ve left school and usually join a gym instead, says psychologist Lydia Ievleva from Sydney.

“Yet men don’t really consider their weekly game a workout: it’s a social event for them,” she says.

Being part of a team can help a woman’s health emotionally and physically. According to the University of Copenhagen, women who participated in soccer became less self-focused and more team-oriented.

Any team sport will do. “When we’re stressed, we experience an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which also increases our need for comfort and friendship,” says Ievleva. “When women are stressed, they tend to isolate themselves, rather than seeking support. Any sport which involves friendship will help women feel less alone, rather than languishing in their worries.”

Stop cleaning up and stress less

Ever noticed how men will ignore the mess and read the Sunday papers instead? It’s not that they’re lazy, it’s because they’re not focused on a specific household task at the time, says wellness coach Fiona Cosgrove.

“Women tend to view keeping a clean and tidy home as one of their main tasks of the day, compared with men’s priority of doing outdoor tasks,” she says. “Women don’t need to take everything on their shoulders, but they may need to learn how to ask for help without it coming across as nagging.”

Cosgrove suggests getting into the habit of saying, “What I would like is…” rather than “You never help out”, which puts the other person on the defensive. And be sure to give a reason. “This will appeal to men’s logical and cognitive way of thinking. Ultimately, try to avoid the blame game.”

Trust your own decisions and simplify your life 

How often do you hear a man confiding in their friends? Never, right? It may drive women mad, but men’s tendency to keep their emotions close to their chest may not be such a bad thing. A study at Columbia University’s Teachers College found that those who kept their emotions in check were better adjusted and became less distressed by events.

According to Melbourne-based psychologist Dr Elizabeth Celi, women process their thoughts and problems externally and bring in as many opinions as they can, getting lost in too many details. Men, on the other hand, process internally and weigh up the facts with less emotional “contamination”.

“They get to the point, keep it real and keep it simple,” says Dr Celi.

Next time you’re in a conundrum, try mulling the problem over for a while yourself, without asking your friends’ opinions.
“You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll come to a decision,” says Dr Celi.

Do one thing at a time and be more productive

While women simultaneously iron, cook dinner and talk on the phone, men focus on doing one job at a time, which can drive women to distraction.

According to research from the University of California, this is because the area connecting the right part of the brain to the left is thicker in women, allowing more ideas to flow.

Dr Celi says men set boundaries and focus completely on the task at hand. “They’ll reach a resolution quickly, with time left over for the next task,” she says. “For some women, combining multi-tasking with a superwoman mentality is a recipe for going mad!”

In order to get things done, men and women should try to work together. “Women’s contextual awareness and multi-tasking tendencies can complement a man’s pinpointed processing and focused decision-making, to achieve combined goals,” says Dr Celi.

Lose the guilt about food and eat better 

“If a man needs to lose weight he’ll cut down on what he eats, but he probably won’t consider himself to be ‘dieting’,” says Dr Tim Gill, principal research fellow and scientific programs manager at the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Sydney.

“If a man has a day when he eats too much, he’ll probably shrug and begin his eating plan again the next day. Whereas women tend to feel that they’ve ruined their chances at weight loss if they ‘slip up’.”

Instead of lamenting that lamington, “just get back to your routine as soon as possible”.

Stop emotional eating to lose weight

Blame our hormones or the kids, but women eat three times more sweets than men. A Cornell University study found women eat sweet treats if they’re feeling down, whereas men tuck into a piece of steak. Therein lies the secret.

“Steak is protein, so you feel fuller for longer,” says Dr Gill. “Anything sugary will just spike your insulin levels, leading to abdominal fat, an unsatisfied appetite and excess kilojoule intake.”

Our hormones are also responsible for emotional eating. “The menstrual cycle does drive women to the bread bin, so you become a slave to carbohydrates to improve your mood,” says Dr Gill. He suggests sticking to three meals a day and banishing tempting treats from the house. “If you need an emotional pick-me-up, exercise is a better solution,” he says.

Commit to a goal and achieve more

Been trying to give up smoking or start exercising? If you’re a man you’re more likely to achieve your goals. In a study reported in the American Journal Of Health Behavior, men are more likely to adopt healthy changes as permanent habits.

“This may be because when a man commits to a goal, he’ll stick to it, whereas women tend to find excuses to put off lifestyle changes,” says Dr Gill.

“Write down your health goals,” says Cosgrove. “Lists appeal to a woman’s sense of responsibility, so you’ll be more likely to follow through.”

Work the weights to maintain muscle

“We’re not just getting fatter, we’re becoming less muscular,” says Dr Tim Gill.

Maintaining muscle mass is important to keep you slim, as well as preventing osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. “As you get older, maintaining muscle mass helps to keep you stable, prevent falls and keep you mobile for longer.”

For women wanting to increase their muscle tone, it’s not necessary to lift dumbbells at the gym. “Using your own body weight is ideal,” says Dr Gill. “Try sit-ups, push-ups and hill or stair walking to build your muscle mass.”