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4 Ways the STRONGER Challenge Will Make Summer 2016 Your Fittest Yet

author image Jess Barron
Jess Barron is head of editorial at LIVESTRONG.COM.She has appeared on MSNBC's "The Most," ABC News Now, and XM satellite radio. Barron's writing has appeared on Wired.com, Yahoo! and Poprocks.com.
4 Ways the STRONGER Challenge Will Make Summer 2016 Your Fittest Yet
Nick Holender's STRONGER challenge will make you sweat like it's nobody's business. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

If you want to lose weight and get fit for summer, you might be wondering "How do I get started? Where is my motivation? What do I need to do?"

A crucial component that has been integral to my weight loss and overall fitness over the past several years has been being a part of a fitness challenge group.

The encouragement, support, friendly competition (and let’s be honest — the kick in the butt) that a fitness challenge group provides is what I need to kick-start and stick with my diet and fitness resolutions.

I know this from experience.

Over the past few years, I was lucky enough to participate in two different Beachbody test groups. In 2011, I participated in the RevAbs test group and lost 15 pounds in three months.

In the summer of 2012, I was a member of the Les Mills Combat test group, and I lost 20 pounds in 60 days. (See my BEFORE and AFTER photos.) And in 2014, I lost eight pounds doing the eight-week STRONGER Challenge with the LIVESTRONG.COM team.

We’re starting an eight-week STRONGER Fitness Challenge for summer 2016 on Monday, May 9, 2016, and we’re inviting you and all of our readers to join us. We made it our resolution to try to help as many other people as possible get fit. This is why we made our new STRONGER premium fitness program COMPLETELY FREE for everyone. (Signing up for STRONGER is quick, and did I mention it's FREE?) Plus, you can join our STRONGER Challenge Group on Facebook.

You can view the Day 1 Stronger videos in their entirety below in this post.

Members of the LIVESTRONG team with STRONGER trainer Nicky Holender.
Members of the LIVESTRONG team with STRONGER trainer Nicky Holender. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

We'll be blogging and tweeting about our experiences day-by-day, and we'd love to have our audience along for the wild ride. You can tweet at us @LIVESTRONG_COM using the hashtag #Stronger2016.

We created the STRONGER workout program in 2013 working with celeb trainer and former professional soccer player, Nicky Holender. The daily workouts are all about 30 minutes long and require no equipment at all. This way, you can do the STRONGER workouts in your living room, bedroom, office, hotel room, or anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. So, there are no excuses! Here’s the full calendar of STRONGER workouts.

And we'll be right there alongside you every day in our STRONGER Challenge Group on Facebook.

Four Things That Helped Me Lose Weight and Stay Committed:

1. Daily words of motivation from top trainers.

Most of us find it too expensive to hire a personal trainer — never mind a celebrity trainer — to provide support and those words of wisdom. I realize that I have been lucky to work with top trainers in my past challenge groups.

In the RevAbs test group, Brett Hoebel gave us in-person pep talks and video updates to keep us motivated. In the Les Mills Combat test group, we received video updates from Dan Cohen, Rachael Newsham, and our in-person trainers.

During the eight-week STRONGER Challenge, you'll get daily video motivation from Nicky Holender. Nicky is an expert trainer and motivator with celebrity and athlete clients including Gordon Ramsay, Robbie Williams, Mel B, Gerard Butler, Salomon Kalou and more.

What does a daily motivational video from Nicky look like? Here's your Day 1 motivation to get you fired up to do your first 30-minute HIIT workout:

2. Daily exercise routines prescribed by a professional trainer.

Left to my own devices, I would just do a yoga class or head to the gym and jump on the elliptical and watch TV. But those types of self-guided workouts — even when I did them five or six times a week — NEVER got me to lose 15 or 20 pounds. In fact, choosing my own daily workout routine never even got me to lose five pounds.

This is how I understand and know from experience that fitness challenge groups offer something that is truly an advantage over regular old self-directed gym routines.

The fitness challenge groups that helped me lose weight consisted of different daily workouts programmed for the group by professional trainers that involved high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, plyometrics, and core work. The workouts don't need to be long, they simply need to challenge you and provide variety that keeps you coming back for more.

Want to see an example of a daily workout video from STRONGER? Press “play” to check out the FIRE high intensity interval training HIIT workout:

3. A simple daily meal plan created by a professional dietitian.

Most of us can’t afford consultation with a nutritionist or dietician to come up with a meal plan that supports our diet and fitness goals.

As I mentioned again and again, I’ve achieved my best success as a part of fitness challenge groups. In those groups an essential component was the meal plan and sticking to it.

In creating STRONGER, we decided to work with nationally-recognized nutritionist, author, and LIVESTRONG blogger Keri Glassman to develop daily meal plans for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and a gluten-free option as well. These are all included in the STRONGER program.

The best part: if you decide to eat something different (say a burrito at Chipotle), it’s quick and easy to track because the STRONGER meal plan is built on top of the LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Calorie Tracker platform which already contains over one million popular foods that are in your grocery store and restaurants nationwide.

Getting a flexible easy-to-prepare daily meal plan complete with recipes and grocery shopping lists emailed to me is yet another reason why I’m looking forward to starting the STRONGER Challenge.

4. Encouragement, support and friendly competition from a group of people.

During the two challenge groups I participated in, getting through day 1, day 15, day 30, day 45 and so on, was not always easy. Some days were particularly harder than others. Whenever I needed motivation, I turned to my online group of fellow test group participants who started with me on day one.

You can join our STRONGER Challenge Facebook group to get this kind of motivation and support. We share our accomplishments with each other via social media and we also share our challenges, such as going to birthday parties and not being able to eat any cake.

That way we can offer each other the inspiration needed to keep going and make it through the next day’s workout. It makes it tougher to quit when you have online peers checking in on you. Also, friendly competition can be a great motivator.

Trying to lose the most weight or get the best BEFORE and AFTER photo transformation of the group can help some people to strive to greater success for themselves. (By the way, here's how to take your BEFORE and AFTER photos, demonstrated by STRONGER castmembers Sam and Frankie.)

STRONGER offers a vibrant online community complete with conversations about the STRONGER workouts and a Facebook group to share progress and questions with the other STRONGER Challenge participants and the LIVESTRONG team.

If you want to lose up to 30 pounds in eight weeks, sign up for STRONGER and select a start date of Monday, May 9.

If you're already a member of LIVESTRONG using MyPlate, you can view the STRONGER videos by selecting the Workouts tab. We'll be there online to support you along the way! Here’s the complete calendar of STRONGER workouts.

How to Sign Up for STRONGER and View the Workouts and Meal Plan

1. Are you already a registered LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate user? If not, go here to sign up for STRONGER. Once you are signed up, log in to MyPlate and click on the Workouts tab to access each day’s workout, and click on the track tab to view the meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and to track what you actually ate.

TIP: To view the full recipes in MyPlate, click on the hyperlinked food name, such as Zucchini Veggie Burger.

2. If you are already a registered MyPlate user, log in to MyPlate and make sure you are using the ALL-NEW version of MyPlate. If you are using the old version, you will see a banner that looks like this:

If you are using the old version, you will see this banner.
If you are using the old version, you will see this banner. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

Click on it to go to the new MyPlate. Then click on the Workouts tab. On the right hand side of the page, you should see a box that says “Join STRONGER Now.” Select the start date of next Monday (or whenever you want to start), and then check the boxes to receive the meal plan and the daily STRONGER emails. (If you want those options.)

Then press the “Join STRONGER” button. After that, click on the Workouts tab to access each day’s workout, and click on the Track tab to view the meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner and to track what you actually ate.

When you click on the Track tab, the meal plan will look like:

Preview of a meal plan.
Preview of a meal plan. Photo Credit LIVESTRONG.COM

To view the full recipes in MyPlate, click on the hyperlinked food name, such as Zucchini Veggie Burger.

Add me on Twitter and feel free to send me a tweet to let me know what your resolutions are this year. I’d love to hear about them.

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