Are you up for a challenge? Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you climb the country’s highest peaks, commando crawl through fields of mud, or run a marathon. There are plenty of challenges you can take on that are much more manageable - and which will launch you towards your personal weight-loss goal. While we can’t promise a medal or a commemorative T-shirt, what you can win for yourself are some great health, fitness and confidence-boosting benefits. Here are seven ways to rise to the occasion!
Challenge #1: Do something new each week
Think of this as a mini bucket list – it’s all about setting yourself small challenges. ‘It could be as simple as trying out a new Food Optimizing recipe and inviting your mates round to test-drive it,’ suggests nutritionist Jenny Barber. ‘Experiment with ingredients you’ve never cooked with before, make a veggie version of one of your favorite dishes, like chilli, or finally give that showstopper recipe a go.’ While trying new foods is a great way to keep you excited about your weight loss, it’s good to add things to your list that go beyond what you eat, too.
Maybe there’s something you would never have been able to do, or just didn’t want to do, before you started losing weight? It could be going for a walk in a countryside spot you’ve always wanted to explore, or jumping into the local swimming pool with your kids on a Saturday morning, rather than sitting on the side watching them have all the fun. Not only will it give you a physical boost, you’ll also get a psychological one. Whether you love new experiences or prefer to stay in your comfort zone, tackling different challenges builds confidence and positivity that spills out into other parts of our lives, too.
Challenge #2: Join the team
According to survey of more than 1,500 overweight men and women, even fasting diets and protein shakes were seen by men as more socially acceptable ways to lose weight than attending a slimming group. ‘Men often imagine it’s a woman’s world and that they’ll be the only man there.’ In reality, there are now an average of three men at every group – and even if your group’s not average, that’s by no means a barrier to getting the most from group support.
Actually, it seems that men have the advantage: a 2015 study found that while women lost an average 4.3% of their body weight in three months, men lost an even more impressive 5.7%. This amount of weight loss can have a major health impact, reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Matt Boothman agreed to join the group to support his wife - and kick-started his own 4st 12lb weight loss. ‘It just didn’t seem like my kind of thing. When I lost 7lbs in my first week, though, and saw how chuffed everyone was, I was hooked!’
Challenge #3: Fill a third of your plate with veggies
Here’s a challenge you can nail every time you sit down for a meal. ‘Filling at least one-third of your plate with Speed Foods – fruit and veg that are very low in energy density – means you get a lovely big plate of grub while naturally reducing the number of calories you’re consuming,’ explains Jenny Barber. ‘Serve up a crisp salad with your jacket potato, or make a stir-fry with tons of peppers, bean sprouts and mangetout.’ You can even meet the challenge when you have your cooked breakfast by including lots of grilled mushrooms and tomatoes. You’ll help boost your weight loss and be well on track to eating the recommended portions of fruit and veg each day.
Challenging yourself to try something new each week builds confidence and positivity that spills out into other parts of your life.
Challenge #4: Reorganize your bedtime routine
From staying up until the wee small hours for the big fight, to mindlessly scrolling through social media for hours when we’d planned to get an early night – there are so many ways we can sabotage our own efforts to get a good night’s sleep. And this can have an impact on your weight loss. More than a third of the slimmers who took the survey said they struggled to make healthy food choices when they were feeling tired and that they were less likely to cook their meals from scratch.
One of the best ways to ensure that you get the kip you deserve is to make your bedroom a no-phone zone. Not only will this stop you from endlessly checking your Twitter feed, you won’t be woken up later by message and email alerts, either. And watch out for the weekend lie-in: mornings spent under the duvet can disrupt the sleep cycle, leaving you with ‘social jet lag’ on Mondays, and making you more likely to reach for high Syn snacks as a result. To max your get-up-and-go, stick to a consistent routine, going to bed and getting up at around the same time – even on Sundays.
Challenge #5: Start moving more
Remember when being ‘sporty’ required you to be good at football, rugby, cricket, tennis or hockey? If you didn’t enjoy any of those, it was easy to lose interest and stop doing any kind of exercise at all. Thankfully, the goalposts have shifted now – along with the stumps, the net and the hockey sticks.
You don’t have to join a club, buy expensive equipment or even commit to a particular time - you are encouraged to find ways of easing some extra activity into your day. So, it could be a slightly longer walk to the shop, getting the garden ready for spring, or going to the park with the kids and a Frisbee. If you haven’t been exercising and you start doing some Body Magic, you’ll begin to lower the risks associated with being inactive almost immediately. This means you don’t need to jump into the deep end straight away. Building up gradually, at a pace and frequency that you’re comfortable with, will start bringing benefits well before you reach the long-term goal of doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, five times a week.
Challenge #6: Clear out your drawers
If you’re a way along your journey, start to finally clear out your bedroom and take all those threads that you’ve worked so hard to slim out of down to the charity shop. Result? A feel-good boost from knowing you’ve done something to help others and a reminder of just how far you’ve come... Added bonus: you’ll be making room to fill your wardrobe with sharp, new styles in your smaller size. Treating yourself to a new T-shirt, shirt or pair of jeans – wherever you are with your weight loss – can be great motivation.
Challenge #7: Be more selfish
No, we’re not talking about hogging the remote or using the last of the toilet paper and not replacing the roll. This is all about the advantages to be had from making some time for yourself – whether it’s taking your full lunch break to go for a walk, or something a bit more involved, like going to a luxury barber shop for a proper old-school shaving experience.
Men are generally very communal creatures - some might say tribal! – and our time is often taken up doing things with our mates or family. Spending some time building a better relationship with yourself, though, has been shown to be a great self-esteem booster. It gives you a chance to reconnect with many of the positive things about yourself and makes you feel more self-sufficient, so you can be your own force for change.
And the knock-on effect is gaining the confidence to get that weight loss you’ve always wanted. That’s what we call a win-win!
9 Tips for Faster Fat Loss: Are You Serious About Losing Weight Fast?