By the time you reach your goal, you may decide to continue walking for fun.
You might not have started your weight loss program just yet, but simply knowing that you want to lose 20 pounds over the next nine months is a good first step. Creating a clear, measurable goal is one factor that can contribute to weight loss success, says MayoClinic.com. You have a decent length of time to meet your goal, but you'll still need to be methodical and check in on your progress on a regular basis.
Clear an hour of time, six days a week for walking. That is a large chunk, so if necessary break the sessions into smaller increments. You might carve out 30 minutes in the morning and then plan to take another 30 minutes over your lunch break, for example.
Divide your weight loss into measurable weekly goals. There are roughly 38 weeks in 9 months, so that means you'll need to try to lose a little more than a half-pound per week to meet your goal.
Wear a pedometer or use a mobile phone app that tracks the number of steps you take during your walks. This will help you track your speed. When it comes to burning as many calories as possible, the amount of time you spend walking will matter -- but intensity is also important. If you're taking 110 to 120 steps per minute, you're walking at approximately 3 miles per hour. Taking 125 to 135 steps per minute equates to 4 miles per hour.
Create a paper or electronic calendar that is devoted specifically to your weight loss goal. Weigh yourself before you begin, and at the end of each week weigh yourself again and write down your weight. Each day you walk, write down how long you walked and estimate your calories burned. Your weight makes a difference in how many calories you burn. A 200-pound person walking at a pace of 3.5 miles per hour will burn about 391 calories; a 160-pound person will burn about 314 calories. Walking six days a week for an hour, then, will burn 2,346 or 1,884 calories per week, respectively. Since you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound, that walking schedule will have you on track to lose roughly 1 pound every two weeks.
Look for ways to make your walks more challenging. When you first start out, walking for an hour at a moderate pace may be all you can do, but as you gain strength and get in better shape you may be able to hit a challenging hill or speed up to a faster pace. Ask a friend to join you and then challenge each other to walk faster or longer. When you're exercising harder, you may be able to reduce your walks to four or five days a week and still meet your weekly goal.
Check in with your goals calendar on a regular basis so you know when you need to increase your efforts. If you're not losing as much weight as you'd hoped simply by walking, look at what you're eating. If you've increased your caloric intake as a result of all that walking, you're not creating the calorie deficit you might have thought. Consider cutting calories by eliminating sweets, simple carbs, alcohol and high-fat foods.
Items you will need
Pedometer or mobile phone app
While calorie estimators are just that -- estimations -- you can get a more accurate count of the number of calories you burned during a session by using any number of online calorie calculators that factor in your weight, age and exercise intensity. If you decide to restrict your diet, you'll also find calculators that help you determine how many calories your body requires, helping you figure out many calories to cut.
As with any exercise program, talk to your doctor before you start -- especially if you have any chronic health issues.