There’s no shortage of dubious weight-loss methods on the Internet: miracle cleanses, one-minute workouts, and even treatments involving human feces. So what really works? We turned to regular guys who have actually succeeded to find out.
The following 10 men face the same obstacles we all do: busy careers and family lives, cravings, bum knees. But they all managed to lose between 15 and 302 pounds. Here are the strategies they say were instrumental in moving the needle on the scale.
1/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF BEN WHALEN
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #1: USE AN APP TO TRACK YOUR DIET
Name: Ben Whalen
Weight lost: 165 pounds in 9 months
Using an app to log his diet was a game changer for Ben Whalen. He says seeing the calories add up as he entered his meals held him accountable, which helped him stay motivated and on track.
He used Livestrong’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker app, which is free, but there are countless similar apps out there.
When Whalen thinks about a cheat meal, he says he sometimes plugs it into the app in order to kill the craving. One night, he was hankering for macaroni and cheese.
“A one-cup serving came out to I think about 500 calories,” he says. “That’s all it took to make me not have any.”
2/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF XAN BARKSDALE
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #2: KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS ON HAND
Name: Xan Barksdale
Weight lost: 26 pounds in 2 years
Too much time on the road led former Atlanta Braves catcher Xan Barksdale to pack on the pounds.
After leaving the professional game to become a coach, Barksdale found himself working 80-hour weeks and resorting to fast food all too often.
“It’s easy to do what’s convenient,” says Barksdale. “But what’s convenient isn’t usually the right thing.”
Barksdale figured out a way to make healthy options almost as convenient as the drive thru, though: He keeps a cooler full of chicken breasts, hard-boiled eggs, bananas, and protein bars in his truck at all times.
Nutritious options are always within reach, so he’s never tempted to hit up the fast-food chains.
(You can still get a decent bite at a fast-food joint in a pinch. Just try one of these 10 Smartest Fast-Food Meals For Men.)
3/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF LIONELL DIXON
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #3: FIND A WORKOUT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE DOING
Name: Lionell Dixon
Weight loss: 145 pounds in 15 months
When Lionell Dixon first started heading to the gym, he didn’t know where to start.
He tried cardio machines like the StairMaster, elliptical, and treadmill. But he wasn’t getting the results he wanted.
It wasn’t until he enlisted the help of a gym-rat friend that Dixon started trying new things like weightlifting and jumping rope. His body began to change.
“Jump rope is one of my favorites,” says Dixon. “Sometimes I’ll speed it up for 30 seconds or a minute straight, then rest for 10 to 20 seconds and hop back into it.”
It took Dixon over a year to find his groove in the gym, but he says he’s finally found a routine he looks forward to doing every day. Aside from jump rope, Dixon also lifts weights and hits a heavy bag.
(For an intense 30-minute fat-burning workout you can do right in your living room, try RIPTENSITY, the latest fitness program from Men’s Health.)
4/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF PATRICK HOLLINGSWORTH
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #4: SET A CONCRETE GOAL
Name: Patrick Hollingsworth
Weight lost: 15 pounds in 6 months
Patrick Hollingsworth had just gotten married when he was deployed to Thule Air Base in Greenland for one year away from his wife.
The separation bummed him out and drained his motivation to stay healthy. He put on weight.
When he realized he would see his wife again in 6 months, he snapped back into action. The idea of being reunited with her pushed him to get in the gym and start shedding the weight during the second half of his year at Thule.
“I didn’t want her to see me like this,” Hollingsworth says.
By the time he returned home, he was a new man—in a good way.
5/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF JONATHAN COFFMAN
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #5: CHANGE ONE SMALL THING AT A TIME
Name: Jonathan Coffman
Weight lost: 302 pounds in 2 years
Jonathan Coffman’s heart doctor said he’d be surprised if Coffman made it to age 35 because of his weight. Coffman clocked in at 510 pounds at the time.
Coffman had tried to lose weight before, but this time, he started small.
“I used to have a candy apple dipped in caramel and chocolate a few times a week,” says Coffman. “I quit doing that, and I saw the scale go down.”
After that, he gradually cut out other indulgences like mayo, pizza, and pasta one at a time. Now, he has yogurt and fruit for breakfast, a protein shake for lunch, and a salad for dinner.
Those incremental dietary changes, combined with running, helped Coffman drop more than 300 pounds during the course of two years.
6/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF KENNETH FRIERSON
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #6: USE THE POWER OF MEAL PREP
Name: Kenneth Frierson
Weight lost: 100 pounds in 14 months
When Kenneth Frierson made the decision that he’d do whatever it took to lose weight, a health-nut friend introduced him to a myriad of tricks. The one that had the biggest impact: Meal prep.
“Meal prep allows you to be on top of your diet,” he says.
Every Sunday, Frierson prepares a week’s worth of meals that usually include chicken, broccoli, and rice. Then, in the morning, he just puts it in a bag and ships off to work.
Frierson often works 10-hour shifts, so having his meals ready to eat makes the difference between a healthy dinner and a quick, calorie-laden fix.
7/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF JOSHUA KING
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #7: VARY YOUR WORKOUTS
Name: Joshua King
Weight lost: 175 pounds in 1 year
When Joshua King decided to start losing weight, he began with 15 minutes on a stationary bike and 5 minutes on a treadmill.
He kept that regimen going for about a month, but eventually, he got bored.
To keep his motivation level high, King started varying his routine: Now he rotates through different workouts such as running, basketball, stair-climbing, and step classes.
“It keeps it fresh,” he says. “It keeps my body going.”
8/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF MIKE BRISCOE
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #8: DITCH THE DAILY DRINKING
Name: Mike Briscoe
Weight lost: 76 pounds in 9 months
Mike Briscoe used to come home after work and have three or four beers. Then he’d have a glass of wine late at night with dessert.
That’s about 703 calories every day from alcohol alone.
“Now, I don’t drink every day,” says Briscoe. “If I do drink, I have a glass of wine with my wife at dinner.”
Briscoe says putting away his self-proclaimed “party animal” past was the most important step toward ditching 76 pounds in 9 months.
9/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF DAVID STEELE
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #9: FIND YOUR MOTIVATION
Name: David Steele
Weight lost: 33 pounds in 1 year
After his daughter died just one day after her birth, David Steele had a hard time. His go-to coping mechanism: food.
To find the motivation to take care of himself, he made his workouts a time to remember his daughter. He’d pull her picture up on his phone and keep it in view and listen to a song that reminded him of her while he exercised.
“That’s my time with her,” Steele says. “I look at her and blow her kisses. We know she’s in heaven.”
Steele makes it his goal to burn 528 calories each workout in honor of the day his daughter was born: May 28.
10/10 IMAGE COURTESY OF ANTHONY FLORES
WEIGHT-LOSS TIP #10: START WITH SMALL GOALS AND WORK YOUR WAY UP
Name: Anthony Flores
Weight lost: 90 pounds in 1 year
One day, Anthony Flores was trying to climb a staircase when he found himself having a hard time breathing. That was his turning point.
The next day, he went to the local YMCA and started running.
“I lasted 10 minutes,” he says. “I would never run during the daytime. I didn’t want to be seen.”
But he pushed himself to improve bit by bit.
He signed up for 5K “fun runs” and watched the other runners to see how he could get better.
“I would mimic what they always did,” he says. “I turned out to be pretty fast.”
Eventually, Flores worked his way up to participating in official races. Now he’s competed in several big-name races, including the USA Triathlon.