Hopefully you all won't be upset with me putting in a couple cents even though I'm not part of the challenge.
I currently am down 45 lbs in the last 6 months.
I used a lot of "lose fast" diets and it always came back just as fast. I did a TON of research online with different diets and exercise ideas and what's healthy and ... well everything.
The first month you can expect to lose a LARGE chunk of weight if you start doing what you need. This is mainly due to water weight, most of us have a huge amount of excess water weight, and you lose this fast in the first month or so. After that you can safely lose a couple pounds a week by just using normal deals.
My successful tips:
#1 Be realistic.. if you're all excited about losing weight and getting in shape and being "sexy" then I could tell you that you need to work out for 1-2 hours 5 days a week.... and there's a good chance if you're motivated enough you'll do it.... for a month. Then after that you'll crash. Reality is most of us are not in shape, and putting ourselves through GRUELING work outs day after day will show some fast results, but will burn you out.
My suggestion, start small. If you aren't doing any workout at all, start with a simple 1/2 hour workout a week!! (YES one a week) This isn't even a do or die all out sweat fest. This is a walk through the neighborhood even.. use it to get your family out with you or loved one, or even just a little time alone. After you get to walking around for a 1/2 hour doesn't bother you anymore do 1/2 hour twice a week... or even 1 hour twice a week. The better shape your body gets into the easier it takes the more stressful exercise. By the time you're done you could be working out 5 days a week anyway, but you'll feel better and you're body will be conditioned.
#2 I'm sure most of you know it, but eat often!!! Your body is meant to be fed every 3-4 hours! This is the hardest thing for me because I have a high paced stressful job, and it's hard to stop and eat a little something. But I'm managing, and it's the best thing I've done. If your body is not fed for 4 hours it automatically goes into starvation mode. It thinks "I haven't eaten for 4 hours, I'm stranded in the jungle and I'm going to die!!!!" so it starts storing any and all foods still in your system straight to fat. Then after 4 hours you're possessed to eat MORE than you should, and your body still being in "I'm going to DIE mode" it stores it to fat.
Eat every 2-3 hours if you can, no more than 4 hours. Don't need to be much, a string cheese, a health bar, a small serving of fruit.
#3 Watch your carbs, I don't agree with the "Atkins" diet, but it's obvious that carbs are something that need to be moderated. Try to stick with Complex Carbs rather than Simple Carbs. (breads, sauces, treats and goodies are all simple carbs) Now here's a REAL interesting fact. Fruit and Vegetables are carbs, but they're complex carbs which are good... BUT if you cook or steam your vegetables, they turn into simple carbs! Vegetables are free game in any diet if they're raw. Eat raw veggies all day long if you wish, but limit the amount of cooked veggies you eat with your meals.
#4 Sodium!!! I'm a salt lover!.. or at least I was. As I was saying about water weight, sodium is the biggest factor in storing water, and if you're even slightly overweight, you probably have 20-30 pounds of excess water weight on you. Think of losing 20-30 pounds just by dropping excess water, not an ounce of fat included in that weight! So stay away from heavy sodium and no more salt farms on top of your foods. Being a salt lover what did I do? Mrs Dash is my hero now, Mrs Dash seasonings are sodium free, and there is some AWESOME flavors. Southwest Chipolte on my eggs in the morning.. just spicy and flavorful enough to get me to eat my eggs every morning (I don't really like eggs, but with mushrooms, peppers, Mrs Dash and Cheese, it's delicious)
#5 Always moderation. Here's the thing, if you're eating every 3-4 hours you won't be so hungry all the time, you'll actually find yourself looking at the clock and going "WOW, it's been 3 hours already, I'm not even hungry" you may not even want to eat because you don't feel like it. DO IT ANYWAY! But, you won't have these huge hunger strikes. But guess what's going to happen when you see the candy bars, or the deserts at a get together... oh you're gonna want some. HAVE SOME!.. "SOME" being the key word. If you can beat the craving and it doesn't matter to you, don't eat it just to eat it, but if you find yourself dieing for a piece of that chocolate cake, dish up a small piece of that cake! (small) satisfy that craving and let it go. If you don't have a small piece now, you'll eat the whole freaking cake tomorrow! Trust me!
#6 Soda! Here's another one of my faults. I've been a huge soda drinker since I was a kid. After married I'd drink upwards of 6-7 cans of soda a day easy. I cut to diet soda because looking at the nutrition facts it's a lot better right? no calories, no carbs, no sugar... cool right? NOPE! Upon my searching, carbonation is proven to reduce and cut off the flow of oxygen to your vital organs, and this ladies and gentlemen, slows down your metabolism. So cut out soda "ALL TOGETHER". But I hate water... what do I do? My savior in this process. Crystal Light (or various generic brands)!!! Cherry or Cherry Limeaid! It has nothing bad for you, but it makes water drinkable for me! I love it, and now I get maybe a gallon of water in me a day! There's all kinds of flavors, try them out and find what you like. Even mix them. I'll mix a cherry and apple in a gallon pitcher. It's good stuff.
#7 Support! This is the MOST important! Your family, friends and surroundings need to be there to support you. My family still has goodies and treats in the house, but they're well hidden. They don't have to get rid of the goodies, but having them off in a cupboard that you never look in means you don't see it. You're likely to grab a cookie if you're walking past and their sitting there on the counter. If you don't see them, it's not the instinctive urge to grab one and eat it. Have your family help you by just keeping them "out of sight, out of mind"
One last thing I forgot to mention with the eating every 3-4 hours, eat as soon as you can after waking up. I try to get my eggs cooking right after I'm up and showered, so I'm eating within 1/2 to 1 hour from waking up. Get an eating schedule down and try to stick to it.
An example of how an average day goes for me.
Wake up around 5:30,
eating breakfast by 6:30 (usually my egg madness)
9:30 half an apple or other fruit and some cashews
11:00 string cheese or small snack
12:30 Turkey sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce, mayo, mustard, cheese etc. some cottage cheese etc.
3:30 protein bar (south beach living bars are good, only ones I can stand to eat)
5:30 exercise and weights
6:30 Chicken/Steak/Pork as my main for meat, salad with dressing wheat bread w/margarine.
2 last points, try NOT to eat at least 4 hours before bed. If you hit the sack around 10PM, have your dinner around 6 and nothing but drinks after that, if you feel a hunger pain before bed try drinking water (crystal light) and see if it helps, if not have a string cheese or something light, 2nd thing, if you exercise or lift weights try and eat a good source of protein right afterwards (the sooner the better). For me it sucks because it might mean having to eat dinner after exercising before I get a shower in, but protein is HUGE for rebuilding your muscles, and the longer you wait after exercising the less good it does you.
If anyone has any questions feel free to let me know, I've spent a lot of time and money on trying to figure out a good way of doing this, and I feel great about what I'm doing now.
Sorry again if I'm intruding, just hope I could offer some help to someone so they could feel the great sensation of success like I do now. It's not about winning a competition, it's about changing your life and making you feel better in your day to day life!