Hi and welcome to the Belly Off Reader Challenge!

With two weeks to go before the start of the programme, over 500 readers have signed up. We are totally blown away by the response and will be with you every step of the way.

You haven’t just joined a club, you’ve drawn a line in the sand for yourself and signaled your intentions. It’s not easy admitting you’re out of shape and posting an unflattering photo of yourself for all to see, but you’ve overcome a big hurdle: recognizing you need to lose your gut and doing something about it.

So here’s how it works: we’re still in the sign-up phase. Guys are joining every day till the end of February. The programme starts on 1 March. From now on you’ll get a weekly update and from 1 March you’ll receive a weekly newsletter. Until then, here are some warm-up tips to get you going:

Write down your goals

Sounds obvious, but give yourself a realistic goal to shoot for.

Get a physical

Get a full physical assessment from a fitness professional or trainer at your local gym. This will give you an idea of how far to push yourself. Here’s a quick fitness test.

Get a buddy

Training alone is fine, but training with a friend will keep you on track. You’re more likely to get up at 6am when you know someone’s waiting for you.

Start looking at your diet

We’ll send through some do’s and don’ts, but start tapering your alcohol and refined foods intake (yes, pizza and pasta). You need to get your metabolism ticking over, so rather eat smaller meals more regularly. Check herefor some nutrition basics.

You can start off slow

Here are a few beginner warm-ups to get your started:

Once the programme has started, your weekly newsletter will include your workout and eating plan. All you need to do is download, print and follow it. Then, (NB!) post a photo each week. This is your motivation. If you stick to the plan, you’ll start to see results.

Got a question? Send us a mail to bellyoff@media24.com. Or keep up with the guys on the Belly Off site. Remember to get your friends and family to keep supporting by clicking on the button above your pics. If you’re on Twitter, keep us updated with your progress using the #BellyOff hashtag.

Right now, the entire Men’s Health team are in Week 2 of our the staff challenge. Last year the guys got some serious results . This year, we’re all following our workouts but with the single goal of building our best bodies. As for me, I wouldn’t mind looking like I did at 27! I’m getting my butt kicked, but can already feel the results of changing my routine with regular exercise and a tighter eating plan. My motivation? Knowing I’ll have to take my shirt off for the follow-up story! Follow our progress at http://blog.mh.co.za/ or #Mhteamfit on Twitter.

Good luck!

Jason Brown, Editor