Leaner. Stronger. Happier. 
The MH staff road-tested 
these LIFE-CHANGING strategies 
to jumpstart the new year

Swore of snacks with sugar


Chocoholic guy in his 40s carrying an extra 4.5kg


Beat a 2 500kJ-a-day addiction to sugary snacks.“Extra sugar in your diet simply adds unused kilojoules, which accumulate as fat storage,” says Alan Aragon, Men’s Health nutrition advisor.


(1) “Complete deprivation can lead to a host of eating disorders, so 10 to 20% of your diet can be anything you want,” says Aragon. (2) Boost your fruit intake for a more natural sweet fix. (3) As for resisting temptations, Aragon recommends two tricks. First, carry a photo on your phone of yourself shirtless. Before you succumb to a snack, give the pic a gander and ask yourself whether or not that snack is going to improve things. Ouch! Second, every time you reach for a snack, give your gut a quick grab and ask the same question. Ouch!


“I steadily redefined what I deemed to be a reward. The triumph of passing up a snack gradually became more satisfying than the pleasure of eating it. I didn’t punish myself for the occasional indulgence, and I still lost three kilos, with no extra exercise.” – ERIC ADAMS

Switched to a 
stand-up desk?


Notorious sloucher stuck in a sedentary routine and working long hours


Slump less and boost productivity. “Standing more is the single healthiest change most desk jockeys can make,” says Mark Benden, Ph.D., an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M’s health science center. “You burn 20 percent to 25 percent more calories versus sitting, and it can improve your posture.”


(1) Use a stand-biased desk instead of a sit-stand desk; you’ll spend more time on your feet this way. Stand-biased desks (see geekdesk.com or ergotron.com) are higher than regular desks, and they pair with appropriately tall stools for times you want to sit. (2) Start with 15-minute blasts and progress toward 45-minute sessions. (3) Try a foot platform: It allows you to shift your body weight and attain better posture.


“I switched slowly, graduating to 30-minute sessions after 2 weeks. I had some foot pain, but now I spend more than half of the working day on my feet. My posture is straighter and I feel more alert and productive.” CLINT CARTER

Phone a friend every day for 30 days

The Tester

50-year-old exec and family man

The GoaL

To feel happier by expressing gratitude in various ways. “This is an effective strategy, because gratitude is incompatible with negative emotions,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor 
of psychology and the author of The How of Happiness (R137, kalahari.com).

The Prescription

You can make a significant impact on your happiness through an intentional activity, like phoning a friend, writing a letter to someone who influenced you or noting three things you’re grateful for before going to bed, 
says Lyubomirsky.

The Verdict

“Happiness takes practice! In the first week I reconnected with a bunch of old buddies on the phone, got invited to a cool party and learned about a former teacher who’d been sick. But making small talk on the phone has never come easy to me, so I switched to keeping a gratitude journal, and every few days I wrote down three things I felt thankful for. That had an immediate impact on my mood. It actually made me feel embarrassed for dwelling on negatives. I’m truly blessed! This led me to try writing a gratitude letter to my uncle Byron, who was my scoutmaster when I was a kid. I didn’t get far in Scouts, but I learned things from my uncle, a woodsman and a gentleman, that I use every day. This was a powerful exercise. I was in tears writing it.” –JEFF CSATARI