If you’ve read my story, you know that I’m a big fan of slow, steady progress.
I’m an advocate of learning how to eat responsibly and incorporating it into your lifestyle.
I’ve been through the whole extreme dieting rollercoaster, and I would never recommend it to anyone.
So it might seem like I’m contradicting myself by writing an article about how to lose a huge amount of weight QUICKLY.
BUT. There’s a difference between extreme dieting and aggressive dieting.
The former involves doing something that’s completely and totally unsustainable in the long run.
It may involve doing things like restricting a huge number of food choices and severely limiting what you can eat.
It may involve the entire elimination of one specific macronutrient from your diet.
It may involve restricting your calories to near starvation levels.
This is NOT what aggressive dieting is.
Aggressive dieting involves restricting the AMOUNT of food you can eat to a level where you still feel good…but NO MORE than that.
And in my opinion, the best time to go about this is in the beginning- go hard for a short period of time when you’re first getting started- and then gradually ease off the gas the further along you get.
The reason that I advocate this is simple- momentum.
The toughest part about dieting is getting started. Because as long as you’re doing it properly, after the first few weeks, it just becomes routine (all the more reason to start now).
But you’ll never get to that point if you don’t get the ball rolling. Those first few weeks can be rough. But in my experience, the thing makes most people quit during this time period isn’t so much the diet itself.
It’s the fact that they’re not seeing any progress.
And that, my friends…THAT is absolutely infuriating.
I know. I’ve been there. And that’s why I think when you’re starting, you should go hard.
It’s a hell of a lot easier to stay motivated when you look on the scale at the end of your first week and see that you’ve lost 3 pounds than it is when you’ve only lost half a pound- or worse, nothing at all.
The reason that I titled this post How To Lose 20 Pounds In 6 Weeks is because that’s what I actually did.
You see, way back in the summer of 2009, I was a little over 200 pounds (which at 5’6 is gargantuan).
Determined to change that, and determined that I was finally going to lose this weight, I embarked on what I would consider an “aggressive diet”.
And it worked. By the middle of August, I was down to just under 185 pounds (183 if I remember correctly).
And I was able to do it without starving myself and becoming a social pariah that lived in the gym.
So, just know that all of this comes from personal experience using what I did that summer as a case-study.
The reason I’m putting the disclaimer up is this:
Weight loss (specifically fat loss) is all relative to how big you already are, both in terms of your height and how much fat you’re already carrying.
Take me where I’m at now, or even two years ago. At this stage of the game, if I lose 3.5 pounds in a week, that would be highly unusual.
If I were to do that for 6 weeks straight and lose 21 pounds, that would just be INSANE (and would probably mean I have a medical condition).
Remember, I’m 5’6, which is pretty short. A few pounds of fat on me (even when I was heavy) makes a difference).
Now take a guy that’s 6’2 and 320 pounds (mostly of fat).
Let’s say he lost 2 pounds in a week. That would probably be a bit of a letdown.
And if he were to lose 8 pounds over the course of a month, he may not even notice it’s gone when he looks in the mirror.
It’s all proportional. People tend to forget this. If you’re a 5’2 women who’s already in decent shape, you may lose less than 10 pounds.
If you’re a man who’s 6’4 and obese, you may lose 40.
Either way, it doesn’t matter- in both cases it’ll be substantial and noticeable.
Don’t get hung up on the number.
1. Audit Yourself And Find Out How Much You’re Eating
People love to make fat loss more complicated than it needs to be. “You need to eat fats and carbs separately”. “You need to eat six times a day”. “You need to do cardio on an empty stomach”.
Those things can be important if you’re all ready lean and need to lose that last little bit. But the bottom line is this- the vast majority of your fat loss is going to come down to calories.
Are you consuming less than you’re using? If the answer is yes, you’ll lose weight.
If the answer is no, you won’t.
That said, it can sometimes be difficult to put an exact number on how many calories per day you need to burn fat. Things fluctuate. Some days you’re more active than others.
So, the first step is to find out how much you’re eating in an average week. Back in 2009, before everyone had a smartphone, I just kept track of what I was eating in my head.
Fortunately, it’s 2016, and we have a lot more tools at our disposal.
So here’s what recommend you do. I want you to take your phone, and for one week, I want you to take a picture of everything you put in your mouth. Everything.
Don’t try to eat less (for now). You just want to get an accurate representation of what you eat in an average week.
Once the week is over, sit down and go over the photos. Try to get an estimation of how many calories are in each photo.
This is NOT an exact science, but you should be able to get closer than you think. Use an app like MyFitnessPal, or just google “how many calories in x“.
If you eat out a lot, you should just be able to look online and figure out how many calories were in your meal.
Remember- be liberal with your estimates. It’s better to overestimate your calories than underestimate them.
Now, here’s the part where we take action. Beginning the following week…
2. Eat 25% Less Than You’re Eating Now
Back in 2009 (before I started really keeping track of calories), I went by feel. I knew that I needed to be consuming less, and, consciously or unconsciously, I figured that I needed to eat about 25% less than I was currently eating.
It worked out for me, because I had years and years of “food obsession”. I more or less knew the damage any given meal could do my waistline.
For you guys, I’d recommend getting a little more scientific with it and count calories. I know this is a pain in the ass, but it’s really a valuable life skill that will pay dividends later.
A lot of people like using MyFitnessPal. I always just use the notepad on my iPhone. Nowadays I can even just do the math in my head.
That’s pretty much it. A 25% deficit is substantial, and will result in some serious weight loss if you stick with it.
But I’m not gonna leave you guys hanging there. There’s a way to go about cutting out those calories without losing your shit and still enjoying your food.
3. Cut Out The Food That Does Nothing For You
As you’re going through and looking at your pictures of all the food you ate in the last week, I want you to look at each picture, and I want you to stop and think, “was it REALLY that good”.
Really think about that question. Did you TRULY enjoy what you were eating?
If the answer is yes, then I have some good news. You can eat that for the next six weeks. You might have to eat LESS of it. But you can eat it.
Chances are though, if you’re like most people, you’ll find a lot in there that, when you stop to think about it, you really didn’t enjoy all that much. You just ate it because it was around and tasted reasonably good.
To give you an example of this, back in 2009, one of the things I effectively cut out of my diet were potato chips. I still allowed myself to eat chocolate and candy though.
Why? It’s not that potato chips are inherently more unhealthy or higher in calories than chocolate or candy, it’s just that I really didn’t (and still don’t) like potato chips all that much.
Furthermore, I really didn’t really give a rats ass that I couldn’t eat them anymore.
Think of it like spring cleaning for your diet.
4. Eliminate Liquid Calories
This is HUGE diet hack. Liquid calories do nothing for you. Nothing. They don’t keep you feeling full.
Hell, in a lot of cases they just make you hungry.
What do I mean by liquid calories? It’s simple. Anything you drink that has calories in it (duh).
Pop, juice, milk, gatorade, 90% of the Starbucks drink menu- all that shit. Just get it out of your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. Learn to drink water when you’re thirsty.
This includes so-called “healthy drinks” like orange juice.
No, orange juice is not a healthy drink. It’s orange flavoured sugar water.
You’d be SHOCKED how many calories you’ll cut out by doing this.
You can still have coffee and tea, just don’t add anything to it. If you’d like a splash of skim milk and a bit of sugar, that’s fine. Just make sure you don’t drink cup after cup of the stuff.
For those of you that like going out and being social, you can have a few drinks on the weekend. Just make sure they’re accounted for.
5. Lift Heavy Weights
This one should be incredibly self explanatory, but in case you haven’t gotten the memo yet, I’ll fill you in.
There’s no reason not to lift weights. Period. Not only will you look better, you’ll feel better, have more energy, and have an easier time burning fat (the more lean muscle tissue you have, the easier it is to burn fat).
It’s also fantastic for keeping you motivated. As the fat rapidly falls off your body, you’ll start to quickly see your newly developed muscles.
No, you won’t have a six pack after your first week, but you really will notice the small changes.
Now, notice how I underlines heavy weights. Heavy’s where it’s at.
Although my lifting routine back in 2009 wasn’t optimal, it did have me moving around some bigger weights, and it did have me doing big, compound lifts, and it’s one of the reasons I was successful.
Put the baby weights down.
I’d recommend for you guys who are new to lifting weights (or are new to lifting heavy) to stick with the basic moves. Learn the bench press, overhead press, chinup, squat and deadlift (there are a million tutorials online).
For total newbies, start with doing 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions for each exercise (give yourself at least 3 minutes rest between sets).
For guys (and girls) with some experience, jump straight into 5 sets of 5 repetitions. Do each exercise once per weeks. 2-3 days per week in the gym.
NOTE: Some people find training a bit lighter at a higher rep range optimal (8-12 reps). I would personally recommend you at least give 5×5 a shot when you’re first getting into this.
That said, personal experience is KING. If you find you’re getting better results training with higher reps, by all means, keep at it.
6. Find Some Form Of Intense Cardio You Enjoy
Lately there’s been a trend in the fitness industry away from doing cardio. A lot of guru’s will have you believe that cardio won’t help you burn fat, and you should let your diet do all the work.
I completely disagree. While your diet is 80% of successful weight loss, doing intense cardio will help tremendously to burn fat.
The emphasis is on intense. I’m not talking about going for a jog. I’m talking about a workout that leaves you drenched in sweat and feeling like you’re going to pass out (ok that’s hyperbole, but you get the idea).
For me, that workout was Muay Thai.
For those of you who have never tried it before, let me tell you- it’s no joke. Estimates vary, but an hour of good, hard Muay Thai training can burn 800 calories or more.
That’s substantial. And when you take into consideration the fact that I was training at minimum 3 times per week, those extra calories burned really added up.
The trick is to find some form of intense training that you actually like (or at least something that you can tolerate for 6 weeks).
I love training Muay Thai. Another option would be doing something like CrossFit (just be careful). Or training for a Tough Mudder. Whatever it is, make sure it’s intense.
7. Have An Urgent Short Term Reason To Lose Weight
I’m a huge fan of introspection, and I think everyone should think really hard about why they want to get lean. This means taking a step back and thinking about the long-term, big picture reason you want to do this.
That said, having little, mini, short-term reasons why you want to lose this particular amount of weight at this particular time is powerful, and it’s a great way to get the ball rolling.
So what was my short-term reason for wanting to lean up back in 2009? Well, as much as I cringe looking back on it now, the reason for me back then was a girl.
I’ll spare you the details, because frankly it’s a pretty common story. I was 23, inexperienced, had zero confidence, and I really liked this one girl in my group of friends.
Rather than do what I should have done (i.e. man up and ask her out), I decided that if I just lost enough weight and looked better, she’d magically just end up in my bed.
When I did finally ask her out (9 months later), I was told, in the nicest possible way she could, that we should “just stay friends”.
HOWEVER- regardless of the result, from a motivational standpoint, it worked. It provided just enough of the push to get me to start losing weight, and I used it as leverage over myself when things got tough and I thought about quitting the diet.
Bottom line- short term goals (no matter how stupid and shallow they may be) are really effective.
So, think about something you can use as leverage.
If you have the time/money to make it happen, maybe consider booking a vacation somewhere warm with a beach.
If you’re into fashion and style, buy a really kick ass outfit that’s a size smaller than you are now.
Anything carrot you can dangle in front of your face.
Losing large amounts of weight rapidly isn’t sustainable for most people.
But if done correctly, and for a short amount of time, it can be a great way to start off your fat loss journey.
These are all techniques that I’ve personally done and that I know work. If you start following these steps, trust me, in 6 weeks, people WILL comment on how awesome you look.