Setting a six-month deadline for a 60-pound weight loss is ambitious, but doable for some people. The more weight you have to lose, the easier this loss will be. Consider your current fitness level, the time you have to commit to physical activity and your eating habits. This relatively quick 60-pound loss requires big changes to all these aspects of your lifestyle. You'll have to lose 10 pounds per month pretty consistently, which requires extraordinary dedication and effort.
Understanding Weight Loss
Weight loss requires you to eat less and move more. This process creates a calorie deficit, so you then tap into fat stores for energy and lose weight as a result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend making this deficit equal to 500 to 1,000 calories per day. At this rate, though, you'll only lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week, or 24 to 48 pounds in six months. Make a caloric deficit equal to about 1,250 calories per day to yield 2.5 pounds of loss per week to reach your goal. During the first few weeks you make dramatic changes to your eating and exercise schedule, you may experience slightly faster loss. Your weight-loss totals will even out as you progress.
Determine your daily calorie needs with an online calculator, or consult with a dietitian. This number is dependent on your age, gender, size and activity level. Use this number as the base from which you create your deficit.
Cutting 1,250 calories from your daily intake is not possible for most people. You need to consume a minimum of 1,200 calories for a woman and 1,600 calories for a man. Otherwise, you'll need to be on a specially prescribed medical weight-loss plan. Cut back on calories but also add exercise to boost caloric burn so you can successfully create the 1,250-calorie deficit and achieve your goal. For example, you could trim 600 calories from your diet and plan to burn off 650 calories daily with activity.
Dietary Steps to Lose 60 Pounds in Six Months
After figuring out your calorie needs, divide them over at least three meals that contain nutrient-dense foods, such as lean proteins, fresh vegetables and moderate servings of whole grains. Sample meals that contain these foods include eggs with peppers and an orange for breakfast; a green salad topped with grilled chicken, lemon juice and olive oil for lunch; and broiled flank steak, brown rice and steamed green beans for dinner. Snacks may help you stay on track by providing energy during the day. Fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and cut-up vegetables fit into a relatively restrictive plan.
To meet your ambitious goal, you don't have room for "junk" calories such as sweets, soda, refined white bread and pasta, or alcohol. You'll also have to measure portion sizes to make sure you're not underestimating the amount of calories you're eating. Don't skip meals, as this can leave you overly hungry, increasing your chances of binging at your next meal.
Create a Larger Deficit with Exercise
Include at least 250 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio in your routine each week to lose weight, advises the American College of Sports Medicine. A brisk walk or a game of doubles tennis qualifies as moderate intensity.
An even longer workout commitment may be required to notably increase your calorie burn daily. For example, if your goal is to burn 600 to 650 extra calories per day, jog an 11.5-minute mile pace for 45 minutes, ride a stationary cycle at a moderate pace for 60 minutes or do 50 minutes of circuit training. These burn rates are for someone who weighs 205 pounds. If you weigh more, you'll burn more calories.
Strength training is also important as you lose weight. It helps mitigate the loss of muscle that inevitably accompanies an aggressive weight-loss plan. When you lose muscle, your metabolism slows -- making it harder for you to drop the 60 pounds. Do at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise for each major muscle group. Plan on at least two strength-based workouts per week on non-consecutive days.
To meet your daily deficit goal of 1,250 calories, you'll have to perform some sort of activity each day. Take at least one "active rest" day each week where you do low-impact exercise, such as walking briskly at 4 mph for 75 minutes, to burn calories. These active rest days keep you active for weight loss, but they give your muscles a chance to recover and prevent overtraining, which might otherwise hurt your weight-loss efforts.
Hitting a Weight-Loss Plateau
When trying to lose 60 pounds, you'll likely hit a weight-loss plateau during which your weight loss stalls. This is likely to happen after you've lost 20 to 30 pounds, and your caloric needs have reduced to match your shrinking size. For every 5 pounds you lose, your caloric maintenance needs decrease by 25 to 50 calories. You may have been able to eat 1,600 calories at the beginning of your plan and lost weight readily. To continue to lose weight, you'll have to reduce calories more or exercise more to maintain your aggressive deficit.
Over the course of six months, you'll probably encounter a vacation, holidays, celebrations or illness that puts a damper on your weight-loss schedule. It may be hard to stick to your eating plan and workout schedule perfectly every day for an entire six months. Consider whether you could settle for a less ambitious goal -- perhaps lose the 60 pounds in eight to 10 months -- instead. This allows you to be a little less restrictive with your diet and more permissive with exercise, which may make you more successful in the long term.
- Shape: Ask the Diet Doctor: Is Losing 10 Pounds a Week Safe?
- National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Very-Low-Calorie Diets
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010: Chapter 2: Balancing Calories to Manage Your Weight
- National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:Weight-Loss and Nutrition Myths
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- Nutristrategy: Calories Burned During Exercise, Activities, Sports and Work
- Ask the Dietitian: Overweight and Weight Loss