Losing 20 pounds in 60 days is a lofty goal! After all, you'll have to lose a little more than two pounds a week to make it happen. To lose one pound a week, you need to eliminate 3,500 calories, either through eating less or exercising more. So to lose two pounds a week, you'll need a 7,000-calorie deficit. That might not be feasible given your current diet and exercise routine, but if you eat healthy foods, exercise on a regular basis and take care of yourself, your body will start to drop the extra weight. Here are eight simple steps to help you get started.
1. Track What You Eat
Get into the habit of recording the food you eat and how many calories you consumed after each meal and snack. Start consuming the right amount of calories for your height and weight to lose weight. If you're not sure how many calories you should be eating each day, try a tracking app like LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate, which helps you determine your caloric requirements for the day, given how much weight you want to lose. Then you can also input everything you eat each day to find out if you're eating too much or not enough.
2. Fill Up on Whole Foods
If you want to lose weight, you need to be committed to cleaning up what you eat. Fill your plate with foods that are nutritious and will keep you satisfied. Pass on white breads, pastas, processed foods and refined sugars. Instead, choose brown rice and whole wheat pastas and breads. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal and snack, and make sure you're getting enough lean, healthy protein like chicken, fish and beans.
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3. Start With a Salad
Before you dig into a big bowl of pasta or nosh on that big, juicy steak, have a small salad with a variety of colorful vegetables. Or if you're not feeling the salad, try a light, broth-based soup, like a vegetable and lentil soup. That way, you'll eat less of your entree, because you're already partly full on healthy foods.
4. Take Time to Eat
No matter how busy or hungry you are, don't rush through your meals. Instead, take time to enjoy your food, chewing each bite throughly. And once you've finished with your first helping, skip seconds unless it's been at least 20 minutes and you're still really hungry. It takes about 20 minutes for you to feel full after you eat, so enjoy your food and wait to get more.
5. Avoid High-Calorie Drinks
One of the easiest ways to cut calories from your diet is to stop or cut back on your consumption of high-calorie beverages like sodas, juices and alcohol. The calories you consume from these types of drinks are empty calories nutritionally, and drinking alcohol usually entices you to eat more unhealthy foods than you would if you weren't drinking (yes, drunk munchies are a thing).
6. Get (and Stay) Active
Get moving every day. You should be exercising almost every day of the week if you want to lose 20 pounds in 60 days. Buy a pedometer and aim to walk 10,000 steps each day. This means that you need to be walking about 4 1/2 to 5 miles each day. Additionally, you'll want to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily in order to keep you calorie clock ticking.
7. Start Weight Lifting
In addition to your 10,000-step goal, add weight lifting into your exercise routine two to three days a week. When you lift weights, your body continues to burn fat hours after you've stopped to fuel your muscle recovery. You can get hand weights and follow along with an exercise DVD, find exercises on the web or lift at the gym. Your best bet are full-body exercises like burpees and squat and press or compound exercises like lunge with biceps curls or glute bridge chest press.
8. Amp Up Your Cardio
After a few weeks on your new routine, you might start to plateau or feel your workouts getting easier. Once that happens, it's time to take it to the next level. Start jogging or running instead of walking. It's one of the most accessible ways to burn calories and elevate your heart rate. If you hate jogging, substitute it with a cardio activity that will elevate your heart rate. Or if you're looking for even more, try a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you trying to lose weight? What's your strategy at the moment? What does your diet look like? How are you fitting in physical activity and exercise? Are you following any of the advice on this list? Do you think you'll incorporate any of these tips into your plan going forward? Share your stories, suggestions and questions in the comments below!