Losing 30 pounds in four months is a reasonable goal, as it only requires losing approximately 2 pounds a week, but achieving it will take plenty of dedication. By reducing food intake and increasing physical activity, you can successfully create the calorie deficit you need to shed the weight. Once you've reached your goal, stick to a healthy eating and exercise program to help ensure the weight stays off for good.
By the Numbers
A pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, so you'll need to create a deficit of about 105,000 calories to lose 30 pounds. That may sound like a lot, but over four months it works out to a deficit of 26,250 calories per month, or about 875 calories per day. Of course, this number only matters if you know how many calories you usually burn for weight maintenance. To estimate this figure, moderately active people should multiply their weight by 15. For example, a 160-pound person typically burns 2,400 calories per day and will lose 30 pounds in four months by eating 1,525 calories each day.
Mix It Up
Although you could lose the weight by cutting calories alone, a healthier option is to also increase exercise. For example, a 160-pound man may cut 450 calories from his diet and then go for an hour-long walk at 4 miles per hour to burn an additional 425 calories. Weight management will be easier if you perform cardio exercises such as walking or jogging most days of the week and also perform strength-training exercises such as lifting weights or doing push-ups and squats twice weekly. The strength-training exercises will increase your metabolism as you build muscle mass, helping you keep the weight off for good.
Four months is a long time to feel hungry. Fortunately, you can stay satisfied on fewer calories with the help of low-energy-density foods, which provide bulk to fill your stomach but won't break the calorie bank. Fruits and vegetables are classic examples, so snack on carrots, snap peas and apples. Whole grains such as popcorn and whole-wheat bread also provide lasting fullness, as do lean protein sources such as reduced-fat cheese, beans and tofu.
Write It Down
It's easy to lose track of calories, and even minor calculation errors over the course of four months can seriously diminish your chances of losing the weight. That's where journaling comes in. By writing down what you eat for each meal and snack, you'll be better equipped to meet your calorie goals each day, improving the odds of success. Keep a notebook in the kitchen, or carry a small pad in your purse, and jot down all foods that pass through your lips.