We asked guys who are members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their stories about losing weight and transforming their lifestyles. We got tons of submissions from guys who changed their lives in huge and inspiring ways. Here are the best tips from 15 men who made a sustainable lifestyle change that resulted in a 50-pound (or greater) weight loss.
1. Seek balance, not a total life overhaul.
"Early on, I missed food — a lot. Replacing fast food everyday with asparagus and lean proteins made me miserable. So, once a week (sometimes even more) I would have a small splurge. I love cheese fries — like, I really love cheese fries — so if I wanted them, I would build them into my schedule.
"It isn’t balanced to think you can go from eating two double cheeseburgers and fries to eating 'healthy' overnight; it also isn’t balanced to do away with junk food forever. Take it as it comes and commit to creating small changes over time.
"I want the weight loss to be something I continue to maintain — I know that, for me, the only way to do that is to have a balanced lifestyle where there are no real exclusions."
—Phillip Wagner (lost about 135 pounds in a little over a year)
2. Make sure your expectations are realistic.
"I thought about quitting a bunch of times because I knew that my body would simply never be perfect. I knew that I would never have the 'model type of body' that they showed on TV and in ads, but once I accepted that it became easier for me to just focus on the best I could be.
"Today I'm glad I didn't quit because I'm pretty close to where I always wanted to be."
—Vitor Barin (lost about 67 pounds in a year)
3. Don't give up on eating out with friends, just choose places with extensive menus so everyone is happy.
"When you go out for dinner choose places with a big menu. You need to go somewhere that serves ribs and chocolate cake, as well as salad.
"If your friends aren't trying to lose weight, you can't expect them to change their diet for you."
—Ed Fox (lost 90 pounds in six months)
4. For every 25 pounds you lose, treat yourself to new, better-fitting clothes.
"Don't settle for the trashbag pants look or the oversize Talking Heads–style suit.
"Lose weight, shop to fit, repeat. It's a reward and feels great to see the waist and shirt size shrink."
—Matthew Franklin (lost 150 pounds in a year)
5. When it comes to your diet, change one small thing at a time.
"It’s so easy to be that guy on December 31 before the new year rolls around. The guy who says, 'Starting tomorrow, I’m going to clean up my eating and go to the gym every day.' That guy gives up after four weeks because he thinks he failed because he had a pizza and four beers last Friday.
"My small steps were the things I knew I could do today, integrate into my lifestyle, and never turn back. Could I stop eating a Snickers bar every afternoon? Oh yes. A few weeks later, could I stop having a PBJ sandwich every day during lunch? Yep!
"Small changes like this didn’t change my life on day one. I didn’t drop 92 pounds because I stopped eating a Snickers every day. That was one small step that brought me closer to success. Many small steps just like that over time came together to make me an endurance athlete."
—Andrew Carter (lost 92 pounds over five years)
6. Use apps, books, and other resources to help you learn healthier habits.
"Couch to 5K is awesome. I used to hate doing anything physical, so the thought of running even for 30 seconds seemed impossible to me. Couch to 5K helps you get over that hump and really helps ease you into longer run times.
"Quick Weight Loss Center really taught me how to pay attention to everything that I was putting on my plate and in my body. They also helped me realize how accountability could be such a huge helper in meeting my goals.
"Also, the book It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig is a fantastic read. It taught me how to pay attention to what ingredients are positively and negatively affecting my body."
—Mark Pereira (lost 100 pounds in seven months)
7. Know that hardcore exercise isn't for everyone, but finding a fitness practice you enjoy is incredibly helpful.
"I learned early on that doing a lot of exercise (running, weightlifting) made me very hungry and it made it hard for me to stay on my diet. In terms of weight loss your diet is the most important part.
"I did however find that going for walks was a great way to add some exercise to my routine. It's also great way to clear your head and relieve some stress. I am very much an emotional eater, so going for walks was a great way to deal with the stress of life that didn't involve eating."
—Jon Elordi (lost 60 pounds in seven months)
8. If the scale or mirror is stressing you out, take a break from them.
9. Surround yourself with people who are rooting for you.
10. Don't compare yourself to other guys.
"I knew there were others on the same journey as me who were losing MORE weight than me, at a FASTER pace. I had to put those comparisons out of my head. I'd see a guy next to me at the gym lifting triple the weight I was lifting, and it took me a while to tell myself 'He has different goals than me. Shoulder pressing hundreds of pounds is not practical for my day-to-day life.'
"When you focus on you, your progress changes."
—Jerry Kavouras (lost 86 pounds over eight years)
11. Have a strong "why."
"My kids think I'm a hero, I wanted to be the best hero I could be for them. I wanted to do things I couldn't as an overweight person, i.e. rock climbing, kayaking, hiking. I wanted to get fit enough to try out for American Ninja Warrior for my kids."
—Willis Miller (lost 110 pounds in seven months)
12. Don't let the occasional "cheat" derail you entirely.
13. Have some go-to healthy meals that you love and learn how to mix them up.
"My staple during my diet was chicken, rice, and veggies. I had, and still have, that in some form everyday. I would switch up the veggies, and cook my chicken differently or with different seasoning — sometimes bread it with whole wheat saltines and bake it. I did fine for a long time eating the exact same thing over and over, but you do need to be able to mix it up every once and a while.
"Having a staple group of foods also helps when you are out at restaurants or parties. You don’t control what goes into them, but for the most part if you get your staples at a restaurant that aren’t slathered in an unknown sauce then you should be fine."
—Paul Lopez (lost 115 pounds in 15 months)
14. Start slowly, get fitter in phases, and let the results motivate you to push harder.
"I started walking the two miles to and from work... When I got down to ~300 pounds I started the really fun part of my journey: starting to lift stuff up and put it down again. I focused on phases of strength work... After four to six months of this I would [work on building] muscle mass and ... really fire up my metabolism.
"This doubled the love and addiction I have for this journey; I could see results in weight dropping, fat levels depleting, and I could see my muscles growing..."
—Tigran Khamoian (lost 156 pounds in four and a half years)
15. And if you want a light beer, have a light beer.
"I didn’t drink at all during my weight loss but now that I’ve reached my ideal weight, I can afford to relax and have a few beers. Cutting yourself off from social situations is not healthy for your mind. Guys will poke fun saying you’re just drinking water but let them..."
—Nathan Wong (lost 95 pounds in nine months)
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Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.