General Question

nmguy's avatar

How do I lose 20 pounds in 6 months?

Asked by nmguy (528points) June 28th, 2014

Went in for my annual physical last week and the doc said I was fat and needed to lose 20 pounds before my next appointment six months hence. Any suggestions for how to do this in a humane way?

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25 Answers

janbb's avatar

Eat half of what you normally eat but try to go easier on the greasy stuff and heavier on the veggies and fruits and lean proteins. Exercise for about half an hour a day. Weigh yourself. You should be able to lose 20 pounds in six months. It’s not an unrealistic goal.

livelaughlove21's avatar


That’s about .8lb/week, which is doable if you’re overweight.

Weight loss isn’t easy, but it is simple. Calories in vs. Calories out. Go here, put in your info with a 20% fat loss goal, and eat the amount of calories it tells you to eat. That should result in a 1 lb/week loss. Exercise is fine, but weight loss happens in the kitchen. You don’t have to eat “clean” either – you don’t need to munch on carrots and celery all day to lose weight. Eat whatever you want as long as it fits into your calorie limit.

This means you’ll have to keep track of what you eat, and measure everything (no guessing on portion sizes). Don’t starve yourself by eating way less than you should, as that would be setting yourself up for failure. Don’t cut out any food group – carbs are not the enemy, nor is fat.

Some people claim to lose weight by simply “cutting out soda,” “cutting portion sizes in half,” “eating on a smaller plate,” or “avoiding fast food.” That’s all fine and good, but if it works it’s because you’re consuming less calories, not because you cut out processed foods, carbonated drinks, and sodium. I’ve lost 24 lbs without eating tiny portions or going hungry – imagine that. You can try making simple changes like that and see if it works if you refuse to count calories (though I find it quite simple), but my point is that it’s calories above all, whether you’re counting them or not.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

cut down on Carbs and sugar. Don’t do anything crazy since crazy diets don’t last. Do a little walking. I wouldn’t join an actual GYM since most people join and then drop out. also drink lots of water. Most people don’t realize how important drinking water is when they are trying to lose weight. good luck, 20 pounds isn’t so bad you can do it.

CWMcCall's avatar

Eat less to no carbs, drink more and only water, eat 5 small high protein/veggie meals a day and exercise at high intensity for 30 minutes or more a day, EVERY day and you will lose that 20 lbs. No snack or booze either.

kevbo's avatar

I did 30 lbs in about the same amount of time from July to November of last year.

The main catalyst for me was stumbling into a new meditation practice, and the main benefit of that practice is that I was as to diminish my emotional or habitual attachments to food. For example, there was a period where I constantly had thoughts that I should eat something, and I was able to counter those thoughts with a “check in” and subsequent awareness that I was not at that moment truly hungry. This could happen dozens of times between meals.

I also realized that I wasn’t going to starve, so I made a point to eat just enough to get to the next meal. I didn’t worry about getting hungry in between meals, because if I did, then I would eat just enough to get to the next meal. So no matter what the food fed body hunger and not much else.

I changed my food prep routine. Generally, I cooked everything ahead of time and kept it ready to eat or reheat in the fridge. That way, I didnt have to wait or do much work when I was ready to eat. My diet was really clean—all organic veggies, fruit, brown rice, beans, nuts, eggs, butter and milk. I tossed the veggies in oil (olive, grapeseed or macadamia nut) and roasted them in the oven, or I’d sauté or steam leafy greens. I stopped seasoning, but that was more for simplicity, so I only used butter, salt and oil. To drink, I had milk or sparkling water.

I cut out sugar and wheat, except maybe for honey if I really needed something sweet. Sugar begets sugar and it’s difficult to stop that craving. After not eating wheat for a couple of weeks, I found that wheat was causing my abdomen to swell and created GI unpleasantries that disappeared if I didn’t eat it.

I did no physical exercise during this period, yet amazingly I would regularly wake up a half pound lighter than the day before, and this seemed to happen most days of the week.

One other notable thing that happened was that my appetite changed. I no longer had a crazy crashing hunger that had to be sated immediately. Instead, I developed a mild and pleasant sense of hunger that could be sated now or even and hour from now. That was trippy. Also, I started getting full on less food. In fact, I would be stuffed at my old halfway point.

Good luck!

livelaughlove21's avatar

Oh boy, I gotta get out of this thread before my head explodes…

…off to eat some carbs and still lose weight.

janbb's avatar

I think you may get lots of advice and the main point is find what works for you that minimizes your calorie intake, maximizes your calorie output and that you can stick with and not feel deprived. If you start feeling deprived, you will break out but if you do that only occasionally, it’s not a disaster.

When I had a lot to lose, I found WeightWatchers to be a very sensible plan that still gave me choice and pleasure in what I ate.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

In this order:

1. Sleep well. A good night’s sleep (at least 8 hours, with at least 2 hours before midnight) will do more than almost anything else to help your body gain and maintain a healthy equilibrium.
2. Eat well. I’d recommend loosely sticking to paleo principles. If it is highly processed, or it wasn’t around 100 years ago, don’t eat it. If it is more or less what our ancestors ate, it will be good.
3. Do strength exercises. Cardio is all well and good, but it is not as good at stimulating loss of body fat as strength work. Strength training will burn calories not just while you work, but for the next few days while your body rebuilds your muscles and joints better and stronger than before. This adds up to a greater total than cardio. Strength training also teaches your body to recover the energy deficit in your diet from fat stores, rather than breaking down muscle. If you do light exercise with a good diet, you will lose both fat and muscle.

Remember what you are looking for here is not less weight – your doctor phrased it that way because it is what most people understand. What you want is less body fat. When you start working out, your weight will likely increase before it decreases. Don’t worry, this is just your body increasing its water content in preparation for the next time you exercise. Soon enough the fat will start dropping off, to be replaced by lean muscle.

When you do strength conditioning, make sure you do compound exercises. And because you have a reasonably strict time frame, don’t bother with technique intensive exercises such as the olympic lift or the dead lift, unless you are prepared to invest a lot of time long term. Rather go for pull ups (from a full hang, assisted if need be), box jumps, push ups (with legs raised, or a clap as you improve), dips, seated rows, and dumbell squats.

Pandora's avatar

Lift weights and build muscles. Concentrate more on the large thigh muscles since they are bigger and will burn more calories.
Cut back on fats. (If your really want to cut back, make sure you don’t eat fast food.)
Cook whole foods and stay away from prepackage food as much as possible.
Avoid high fructose corn syrup, it is way worse for you than regular sugar. So read labels and don’t purchase things with fructose corn syrup. (In most sodas and even some fruit drinks)
Work out at least 4 days a week.
Limit your meals. Cut your plate in thirds. One portion, meat, one veg/fruit, one carbohydrates. But do not over load your plate.. If you think you are going to get hungry quickly than, have 6 small meals. Have your heaviest meal at lunch and whatever you do don’t have sweets at night.
If you want sweets have them with lunch. Sweets at night will increase your hunger after dinner, because your sugar will spike and crash before you go to bed and you body will signal that you are hungry.
Eat dinner no later than 630.
Get 8 hours of sleep a night. The earlier the better.
Drink plenty of water.

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SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Your goal is for approximately 1 lb. per week, which means cutting 500 calories per day. That’s a very realistic plan, and you don’t need to do anything radical or severe.

- Avoid sweets and greasy foods, which are packed with calories. A cup of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla has 460; a grab-bag size of potato chips has 275. If you eat such calorie-laden items, you can succeed by simply avoiding them.

- Read about true portion sizes and the calories they contain. For anyone who’s grown up with enormous, American restaurant meals, an education in portion sizes and nutritional needs can be a real eye-opener.

- Eat only when you’re hungry, chew each bite thoroughly, and put down your fork between bites. Have a mouthful of water before you take another bite. Stop eating when you no longer feel hungry.

- Exercise regularly. Walking briskly for 30–60 minutes is good. You’ll lose weight more quickly, get in good physical shape, and improve your overall health.

- No grazing. Put food on a plate and sit down to eat it. Grazed calories add up but are unsatisfying and quickly forgotten.

- Alcohol is incredibly caloric. An occasional glass of wine or beer won’t derail your efforts, regular drinking will.

- Don’t fall for the promises of fads and gimmicks. The latest craze is gluten-free; unless you’re sensitive to gluten and it makes you ill, gluten’s a good part of a sensible eating plan. One fad diet will tell you that carbohydrates are evil and to restrict yourself to high-fat foods; another will tell you to avoid all fat and load-up on carbs; both are equally fallacious. At the end of the day, it’s good ol’ common sense that works.

Good luck!

livelaughlove21's avatar

“Don’t fall for the promises of fads and gimmicks. The latest craze is gluten-free; unless you’re sensitive to gluten and it makes you ill, gluten’s a good part of a sensible eating plan. One fad diet will tell you that carbohydrates are evil and to restrict yourself to high-fat foods; another will tell you to avoid all fat and load-up on carbs; both are equally fallacious. At the end of the day, it’s good ol’ common sense that works.”

Finally some sensible advice.

kritiper's avatar

Quit eating junk. Walk 3 miles a day. Eat 2 eggs for breakfast, nothing else if possible. and eat lots and lots of vegetables.

flip86's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Hit it right on the head. I lost 50 pounds the exact way they describe. I ate whatever I wanted. Limited myself to 1500 calories(calorie amount is different for everyone), weighed portions, figured out the calories for everything. I documented each recipe with all the calories. I went all out. It was worth it. Went from 210 to 160 and have kept it off for 2 years.

I also cut out all the junk. You tend to do that when limiting yourself to 1500 calories. You want every one of those calories to satiate your hunger.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@flip86 “Went from 210 to 160 and have kept it off for 2 years…also cut out all the junk.”

Congratulations! And, as a bonus to your 50-lb weight loss, didn’t you start feeling great after you’d replaced junk food with healthful food? Hydrogenated fats, excess salt, high fructose corn syrup…those things just drag down a person’s body and mental state.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Can anyone tell me how to lose 20 lbs. in 10 minutes? :-)

flip86's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul I used to use Country Crock and after going on that diet, I ditched it and stick strictly to butter. I also avoid HFCS whenever I can. No more cream in coffee and I limit sugar. I like splenda. It takes less time to get used to than other sweeteners and tastes ten times better.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Everyone is different in terms of what method for losing weight works for them. The simple truth is you need to eat less calories. As @livelaughlove21 said, if you want to eat a piece of cake or some fries, that’s fine, as long as you don’t exceed your calorie allowance for the day. If you want to eat mostly veggies and limit the starches, that’s okay too. Eat a balanced but reduced calorie diet (and my personal preference is to follow a more paleo diet and avoid processed foods).

Exercise is particularly effective at removing visceral fat. It also makes you feel better and you’ll be developing your muscles. All good stuff.

So cut back your calories and get some exercise each day. Let us know how you go.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@livelaughlove21 “Cut off a limb.”

Great suggestion! I’m thinking, maybe my head? That would get rid of at least 20 lbs. of ugly fat.

Esedess's avatar

Eat once a day. Something like a bed of rice with sashimi and seaweed salad on top. It’s very filling and good for you (most Japanese cafe type places will have this on the menu for $10). Trade out beer (if you drink it) for whiskey or your favorite liquor. And run 1–3 miles at least 3 times a week. It’s ok if you can’t run that far straight without stopping, but try; and where you can’t, keep walking until you can start running again.

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