“Um, hey, can I ask you guys a question?”

My lifting partners and I turned to face the questioner. It was a man, middle aged, wearing bike shorts and a sweatshirt.

“Sure,” I chirped, figuring he was going to ask me to spot him on the bench press ’cause, you know, I’m just what you want standing between you and total annhilation by a 400-lb barbell.

“Um…” he squirmed. And not just squirmed in an I’m-wearing-really-tight-shorts-in-front-of-three-young-attractive (well, I think so!) – girls. He squirmed as if he were embarrassed.

The three of us waited. I smiled and then quickly stopped in case he was working up to asking one us out (sorry, all married!).

“So,” he took a deep breath, “do my legs look, you know, small?” I coughed. Allison choked on her water bottle. Forging right on he added, “Because I think I’ve been doing too much cardio lately.” He paused to laugh nervously. Nope, scratch that. It was a giggle. High-pitched, breathy. The whole bit. “I mean, I lift and I think my upper body is pretty built but I’m worried my legs are too…”

“Chicken-y?” I didn’t say it. I almost said it though.

Instead we all answered in unison, “Oh no! You look great! Keep up the good work!!” And then turned away before we suffocated from holding in gales of laughter.

Now I don’t want you to think that we were mocking him. It takes a really secure man to walk around in bike shorts. And to approach three girls while wearing said bike shorts.

It was just so funny because he’s a man and men just aren’t supposed to care about stuff like that, right?

Any given day I’ll hear women at my gym asking each other (or random strangers) “Are my thighs too big for these pants?” or “I can’t do the block in kickboxing because it makes my underarm fat wave like it’s sending off a sailor for 5 years at sea.” But to hear a man admit his insecurities in such a public manner – and then to be so comforted by our knee-jerk responses (we didn’t even look at his legs before we started reassuring) – now that was something.

I shouldn’t be surprised though, according to a new study of American teenagers, 24% of boys reported dieting and an additional 37% said they “exercised vigorously” as a way to control their weight. 4% used diet drugs and 3% purged. Boys stats are still much lower than girls (54% of girls diet, 10% use diet drugs, 8% purge and a whopping 67% exercise vigorously) but the interesting fact about the boys was that the prevalence of these behaviors rose every single year over the 10-year study.

It’s already insane what we’ve done to our girls. And now the boys are falling too.

Boys may not cry but they do diet.

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