To lose about 20 pounds in five to six months, you will need to lose slightly more than 3 pounds a month. Evaluate your motivations for losing weight and understand that weight loss is a slow process, but one worth your effort. As you lose weight, be prepared to think about the emotions surrounding your food choices and overcome the negative associations. Think of losing weight as making a positive change in your life.
Lose one to pounds a week by cutting 500 to 1000 calories from your diet a day. Keep in mind that men should never eat less than 1500 calories per day and women, no less than 1200. If you're exercising daily that number will have to be adjusted upward to maintain your energy level. Reduce your calories by avoiding fried foods, high-fat cheeses and choosing foods that have less than 30 percent of their calories from fat. Eat low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, particularly those high in fiber, protein and water content, since they tend to be more filling. Record the food you eat every day in your journal.
Exercise aerobically at least 150 to 300 minutes a week and use weights or resistance bands to strength train for 20 minutes at least two days a week when you are losing weight. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, exercising builds strong muscles that burn calories faster than fat cells. This will increase your metabolism.
Begin by making small changes to your lifestyle. Avoid eating while watching television, park farther away when you shop or go to your office, and take the stairs when possible. Cut down on the number of restaurant meals you eat by packing your lunch or planning your meals ahead of time. Cut up vegetables and fruit when you return from the store so you always have a healthy snack available.
Do not change anything for several days once you reach your goal weight. Then, add back in 100 calories of food a day, weigh yourself every day and record your weight. If you lose weight, add in another 100 calories each week until you are eating enough food to neither lose nor gain weight, but maintain.
Continue your exercise program to maintain your weight loss. Members of The National Weight Control Registry have maintained a minimum weight loss of 30 pounds for at least one year. Ninety percent of the members exercise about one hour a day. Vary your exercise routine to avoid boredom.
Use regular weigh-ins or a good-fitting pair of pants as an accountability partner. If the number on the scale goes up by 5 pounds or the pants feel tight, immediately cut your calories back to your weight loss level until the extra pounds come off.