30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

As engineers with ten years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss, backed by science and numbers. Therefore, we created this 30-day weight loss challenge. Our goal is to strip away the fluff and help you focus on tracking numbers related to weight loss for 30 days. 

This challenge is for the analytical person who is willing to crunch some numbers, record data in the 30-day weight loss challenge tracker, and invest time to remove the mystery behind weight loss. 

As we always say, you can’t improve if you don’t know where you began. For us as engineers, that always starts with tracking numbers.

30-day weight loss challenge

Who Is This For?

My wife, Alex, and I are both engineers. We left our corporate jobs to travel and pursue a business aligned with our passion — leading couples to engineer their best lives. Now, we call ourselves “happiness engineers.”

As happiness engineers, we spend our days researching and self-experimenting ways to engineer our best lives and optimize our health. This 30-day weight loss challenge includes our tried-and-true metrics (backed by science) that will help you lose weight.

The 30-day challenge is for you if you are willing to track and record five numbers every day. Yes, just five. These numbers (we’ll explain all five in detail below) will help you understand weight loss and how your body loses weight.

No Restrictions In This 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

This 30-day weight loss challenge is as simple as possible. The goal is for you to lose weight, but, just as necessary, to understand why you are losing weight so that it’s sustainable. And with 80% of dieters regaining the weight they lost, it’s critical to avoid the vicious diet cycle.

Too many weight loss challenges involve a long list of what you can’t do, can’t eat, an in-depth meal plan, and recommended exercises. With our 30-day weight loss challenge, you get none of that. Instead, we’ve reduced the overwhelm by only asking you to track five numbers a day.

Therefore, there is only one rule, and that’s to hit each number target daily. There are no exercises, meal plans, or definitions about what is or is not junk food.

You can do whatever you want, diet and fitness-wise, to achieve the five number targets. We’re confident that these numbers will hold you accountable and keep you on track to losing weight. For example, when tracking calories, you’ll quickly learn that the can of soda or beer isn’t doing you any favors. 

What Does This Weight Loss Challenge Include?

This 30-day weight loss challenge includes five number targets for you to hit daily (or weekly in some cases). The free, downloadable 30-day weight loss tracker will help you record your numbers daily. Again, the only rule is that you hit the five number targets every day. We’ll instruct you on how to collect or calculate the five number targets in the article below.

The number on the scale matters for weight loss, but other numbers are significantly more important. In this 30-day weight loss challenge, we’ll focus on the numbers that give you the highest return for sustainable weight loss.

What You’ll Need

You need a device that counts your steps at the minimum.

Also, a wearable that tracks calories, like an Apple Watch or Fitbit, will make your life much easier. Not to mention, the data will be more accurate.  

You’ll also need access the free MyFitnessPal app through your phone or computer.

Getting Started 

In the following article, we are going to outline the numbers that you’ll be tracking during the 30-day weight loss challenge. We’ll talk about why these numbers are important to weight loss, and how to track them. There is some math involved. However, no, you don’t need to be an engineer to do any of this. 

To get started, download the 30-day weight loss tracker sheet below. You’ll be sent a printable PDF to manually record your numbers or a link to access the electronic, editable version in Google Spreadsheets. One of these trackers will be used daily to record your numbers. 

30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

As engineers with ten years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss. The number on the scale matters for weight loss, but other numbers are significantly more important. 

Too many weight loss challenges involve a long list of what you can, cannot, and need to do every day. We’ve reduced the overwhelm and only require you to track five numbers a day — calories, steps, fiber, sleep, waistline. In this 30-day weight loss challenge, you’ll track five numbers daily to give you the highest return for sustainable weight loss.

30-day weight loss challenge numbers – an engineer’s approach

Everybody is unique. And every body is unique.

That’s a significant contributor to why weight loss is confusing, complicated, and mysterious. Ages, gender, body composition are influential variables. Then there’s fitness level, food preferences, physical limitations, and an increasingly hectic lifestyle. 

So, when we talk to couples about their weight loss goals, where do we begin? It’s not all about replacing processed foods with more vegetables. Or, cutting out the simple carbohydrates to eat more carbs loaded with fiber. Of course, we recommend a structured exercise program, but that’s not where to begin either.

Where do we begin? We have to start with the numbers. Afterall, math is the only universal language. Despite all of our age, gender, and body composition differences, we all have this in common.

To lose one pound, we need to create a deficit of 3500 calories.

When you follow the number targets in this 30-day weight loss challenge, you will lose weight. So, let’s dive into the numbers. 

Number 1 = Calories

Why it’s important:

Since your goal is to lose weight, your must know your calories. To lose a pound, you have to create a deficit of 3500 calories. Conversely, to gain a pound, you need to eat 3500 calories more than your body burns.

Did you know that an excess of 200 calories per day adds up to 20 pounds in one year? That’s why it’s so important to know your calories. Calculating your calories is the most challenging component of our 30-day weight loss challenge, so bear with us. 

How to track it:

1. Calories In

First, track calories in, or your Daily Caloric Intake (DCI). The best way to do this is through the MyFitnessPal mobile app. You’ll need this app to measure fiber intake as well, so it’s highly useful.

Open up the free MyFitnessPal app, and start keeping of daily diary of everything you eat and drink. Use this calculator to determine your target calories. The MyFitnessPal app will output your actual calories in, or, DCI. Record that number daily and make sure you’re close to the target you calculated.

In the picture below, I would record 2,803 calories in.

2. Calories Out

Secondly, we need to track calories out. These are calories burned to sustain life (your Basal Metabolic Rate), plus calories burned from exercise.

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) + calories burned from exercise = calories out

Option 1: Without using Apple Watch or FitBit (less accurate)

You can calculate your BMR here. Take that value and add the number of calories you burned during a workout. If you don’t have a way of tracking calories during your workout, like calorie burn from a treadmill or chest strap heart rate monitor, use this calculator for a rough estimate.

Option 2: Using Apple Watch or FitBit (more accurate)

Both Apple Watch and Fitbit will tell you how many “Total Calories” you burned in 24 hours. With Apple Watch, open the Activity app on your phone and swipe right under the Move Ring goal. Then, you’ll see “Active Calories” and “Total Calories.”

3. Calorie Deficit/Surplus

Calorie deficit or calorie surplus is the critical number to track in your 30-day weight loss challenge. If you have a deficit, you’re on your way to losing weight. However, if you have a surplus, you need to course correct. 

Option 1 (using calculators):

Calories in – (BMR + calorie burn estimate) =  calorie deficit/surplus

Option 2 (using Apple Watch or FitBit):

Calories in – Total Calories = calorie deficit/surplus

Record your calorie deficit or surplus on your weight loss challenge tracker. For example, let’s say your BMR is 2000 calories, and you burn 600 calories during your workout. Your total calories are 2600. If you want to lose 1 pound per week, that’s 3,500 calories/7 days which is a deficit of 500 calories per day.

Calories in – 2600 total calories = -500

Solve that equation, and you can determine that your calories in or DCI should be 2100 calories. For this 30-day weight loss challenge target a calorie deficit of 500 calories.

In the picture below, you can see that my Total calories out equal 2,581.

So I would do the following math.

2,803 (calories in) – 2,581 (total calories) = 222 (a calories surplus).

If my goal was to lose weight, I didn’t achieve it on August 11th. I would have had to eat less or move more to hit my -500 calorie target. Fortunately, my goal was to maintain or gain weight so this is right on target.

 4. Helpful calorie guidelines

– Never consume fewer calories than your BMR requirements, or you’ll destroy your metabolism and gain weight. This is the problem with a lot of fad diets.

– As mentioned in our article on managing your diets as a couple, women should consume (DCI) no less than 1200 calories and men no less than 1600 calories. If you’re below those thresholds, you will not lose weight. We repeat: you will not lose weight. Instead, your body will preserve calories in the form of body fat. The most common cause of a weight loss plateau is not eating enough calories.

Number 2 = Steps

Why it’s important:

Activity is essential. When we sit for 90 minutes, our bodies go into a state of hibernation. Even if you work out for an hour, 7-days a week, you won’t undo the damage of inactivity.

During the 30-day weight loss challenge, your target is 12,000 steps. A recent study published in the journal, The Obesity Society, concluded that adult dieters who lost 30 pounds and maintained or continued to lose weight tracked 12,000 steps per day. Overweight adults only tracked 6,500 steps.

Your 12,000 steps are about 6 miles. We still encourage you to exercise, but, rest assured, if you hit your 12,000 step target, you are on track to lose weight.

Please, no cheating and strapping your watch to the dog. 

How to track it:

We have Apple Watches to track our steps. Of course, a Fitbit or pedometer works fine too. Before we had our Apple Watches, we used this low cost, accurate Mi Band 3 Fitness Tracker. If you don’t have a step-counting device, we highly recommend the $26 investment in a Mi Band

Number 3 = Fiber

Why it’s important:

Most unhealthy foods don’t contain fiber. What’s more, 97% of US adults are fiber deficient. A 2018 study concluded that adult dieters who consumed 30 grams of fiber per day lost 5 pounds without making other lifestyle changes.

Fiber is important for weight loss because you can eat fewer calories without feeling hungry. This fiber target ensures that you are eating healthier foods. It’s also great for digestion.

Read more: Need better digestion? Poop Health 101.

How to track it?

Since we’re already using MyFitnessPal to track daily calories from food, this is easy. Using the free version of MyFitnessPal, you can see your grams of fiber. 

In our 30-day weight loss challenge, the target is 30 grams for men and 25 grams for women. But don’t stop there. Get as much fiber as you can and look to vegetables, complex carbohydrates (containing 1 gram of fiber per 10 grams of carbohydrates), and beans.

In the picture below, you can see that I consumed 63 total grams of fiber. Well above the target of 30 grams. 

Number 4 = Sleep

Why it’s important:

Sleep and weight loss are closely linked. There’s a lot of science on why we need sleep to be healthy. To sum it up bluntly, you’re screwed if you are sleep deprived and trying to lose weight. Sleep is critical to your success in this 30-day weight loss challenge.

When you’re tired, your mind and body crave an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Your body wants to sit on the couch and watch TV, and your mind craves convenient snacks that are loaded with sugar or salt and high in calories.

If you need more data (we’re glad you like data as much as us), this study makes my above point clear. One 2-week study had randomized, dieting adults to sleep either 5.5 or 8.5 hours each night. Subjects who slept 8.5 hours lost 55% more body fat and gained 60% more lean body mass (aka muscle) than subjects who only slept 5.5 hours.

Read more: Processes and products that will help you sleep better.

How to track it:

It’s easy to track the number of hours you sleep. So, make sure you record it on your weight loss challenge tracker. 

If you have an Apple Watch, download and sync to the free Pillow App. When you forget to count the hours you slept, the app keeps a history of that. It also rates your night sleep quality based on time asleep, awake, and in REM sleep.

Remember, your goal is 8 hours or more per night of sleep. If you have the app, also track your sleep quality %.

In the picture below, you can see that I slept 8 hours and 19 minutes, with a quality of 80%.

Number 5 = Waistline

Why it’s important:

No, the act of measuring your waistline will not help you lose weight. But, it’s one of the best ways to measure progress in this 30-day weight loss challenge.

No matter your height or build, if your waist measures more than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women, you’re considered overweight. Not to mention, you’re at higher risk for obesity-related health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, etc.

A scale is useful as well, but inches around your waistline is a more accurate metric to track.

How to track it:

Get yourself a measuring tape or steal one from your mom’s sewing kit. Measure your waistline circumference two inches below your belly button.

Record this number and watch it change during our 30-day weight loss challenge. You can also record your weight on the scale if you have one of those. That is useful data to track as well. However, we feel that the waistline measurement is a more reliable metric. 

 

To get started, download the 30-day weight loss tracker sheet below. You’ll be sent a printable PDF to manually record your numbers or a link to access the electronic, editable version in Google Spreadsheets. One of these trackers will be used daily to record your numbers. 

30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

As engineers with ten years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss. The number on the scale matters for weight loss, but other numbers are significantly more important. 

Too many weight loss challenges involve a long list of what you can, cannot, and need to do every day. We’ve reduced the overwhelm and only require you to track five numbers a day — calories, steps, fiber, sleep, waistline. In this 30-day weight loss challenge, you’ll track five numbers daily to give you the highest return for sustainable weight loss.

30-day weight loss challenge – extra credit

We have three extra credit activities for you to accelerate weight loss during this 30-day fitness challenge. 

1. Track Your Fitness

We designed a fitness test to benchmark your fitness level and measure progress periodically. Take our Fitness Test before starting the 30-day weight loss challenge and then again after. 

2. Lift

Weight lifting increases lean muscle mass, which significantly boosts metabolism and increases your BMR. Ever wonder why it’s harder to lose weight as we age? Yes, that’s because our metabolism is slowing down. But, we can combat that by lifting weights. 

Weight lifting is an excellent way to lose weight, as shown in Alex’s weight lifting transformation story. If you’re not comfortable lifting weights, we highly recommend the streamed workouts we follow.

3. Drink

Not too much alcohol, you have to drink that in moderation during our 30-day weight loss challenge. Instead, drink lots of water. At least 1/2 your body weight (pounds) in ounces. Hydration is so important, and it helps you sleep better too.

sustaining and maintaining weight loss

30 Days Later: Keeping the Weight Off

The goal of this 30-day weight loss challenge is to track progress, not just with stories, photos, or compliments, but by cold, hard numbers. The numbers don’t lie, and, when reading them correctly, can tell you a story.

For example, if you’ve created a calorie deficit but can’t fit into your jeans, you may be retaining water around your menstrual cycle or had a salty meal the night before. If this is the case, check the history of your food journal on MyFitnessPal. Look for patterns of your body disagreeing with a particular type of food.

By going through the exercise of tracking your five daily numbers, you’ll become familiar with the types of food you need to be eating as well as how much activity you need to sustain. All of these are important tools as you work towards nurturing a healthier lifestyle.

After 30 days, we recommend that you continue following your tracker sheet. We don’t check these numbers daily, but we do at least monthly because they will change over time. If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau, would like a recommendation for a new workout routine, or need nutritional guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments below. Or, you can email us at [email protected]

Get Started

To get started, download the 30-day weight loss tracker sheet below. You’ll be sent a printable PDF to manually record your numbers or a link to access the electronic, editable version in Google Spreadsheets. One of these trackers will be used daily to record your numbers. 

30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

As engineers with ten years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss. The number on the scale matters for weight loss, but other numbers are significantly more important. 

Too many weight loss challenges involve a long list of what you can, cannot, and need to do every day. We’ve reduced the overwhelm and only require you to track five numbers a day — calories, steps, fiber, sleep, waistline. In this 30-day weight loss challenge, you’ll track five numbers daily to give you the highest return for sustainable weight loss.

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “happiness engineers.” After eight years working as corporates engineers internationally, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — leading couples to engineer their best lives. The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship, as a couple.

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