I have been receiving a lot of questions about the best way to lose 15-20 pounds :) There is no magic fix, but there are a few sound principles you can incorporate that will get you on your way! Here is my response to my most recent inquiry...I hope that it inspires you on your journey towards health!
So, consistency is really the key. There are a TON of amazing programs out there you just really have to pick one and stick with it. Give yourself at east 12 weeks on one program before you give up or move on. You say you have about 15-20 pounds to lose...if you are aiming to loose 2-3 lbs per week (that's the safe way to lose and keep it off) then you are looking at 10-12 weeks of being consistent! YOU CAN DO IT!
Here is my advice-
1) Stick with the BIG THREE...Cardio, strength training, eating clean
I recommend doing cardio 5-6 times per week for weight loss for a minimum of 45 minutes. I am a fan on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) because you get so much more out of your time (I also LOVE being efficient in the gym)!! Go to a spin class (intervals already built in for you), get on the stepmill (1 min fast as you can, 1 min slow), bike (30 seconds ALL OUT, 30 seconds slower), or eliptical (high resistance for 45 sec, 15 sec low resistance). You can really do HIIT with any machine.
For strength training, find a workout series that hit every major muscle group and space your workouts appropriately. You can be aiming to strength train 4-5 times per week. Start with working with a weight that allows you to complete 12-15 reps. I have found AWESOME strength training workouts in OXYGEN magazine. I think they just did a "your best body now" series or something and those were great. Bodybuilding.com also has a workout data base that I find really helpful! Here is an example of a training split that I like- Day 1:Legs, Day 2: Back/Biceps, Day 3:Rest, Day 4:Legs, Day 5:Chest/Triceps/Shoulders, Day 6:Abs, Day 7: Rest. Get your plan, get a log (memoryminder is a great log to use), write it all down and be consistent.
As far as eating, cut out as much processed food as possible and make your lunch bag/cooler your new best friend!!!! Organization and preparation are keys to success! Focus on lean sources of protein (egg whites, chicken breast, fresh or ground turkey breast, tilapia, cod, white ruffy, ahi tuna, salmon, bison, lean cuts of beef, etc), fresh fruits and fresh veggies (list is endless) and complex carbs (whole grains, oats, quinoa, yams, lentils, black bean, chickpeas, wheat pasta, ezekiel bread, etc.). Do your best to eat small meals every 3 hours :) Remember that a good portion should fit in the palm of your hand for just about everything. Cut out as much sodium as possible from your diet and replace salt with spices and fresh herbs. My favorites are Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, fresh cilantro, cumin, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh basil and oregano. I add combinations of these spices to just about everything and I don't miss the salt at all. Cut out sugar and use Stevia to sweeten your tea/coffee. Cut out soda and minimize juices. DRINK A TON OF WATER!!! Aim for minimum of 3 liters per day but you can always drink more :)
2) Enjoy the Process...it's a BAKE not a MICROWAVE
Realize that this is the first day of your journey and that your journey will take some time. Take it day by day and be determined to do each day well. Celebrate the little victories along the way like that fact that you skipped the sample section in Costco or passed on the brownie at work! You are changing your life and your health one decision at a time!! At the end of each day, literally take time to get excited about your successes for that day. Have a party with yourself!!! Then, rest, and when you wake up the next day, do it all again and do it well.
I also recommend having a "treat meal" or "reward meal" once a week! This is something that allows you to go from "dieting" and living feeling restricted and deprived to living a healthy lifestyle!! You want to have a balance, so having this "reward meal" once a week is a great way to live healthy but still enjoy a treat :)
3) Track your Progress...get that camera OUT!
I recommend that you document your journey with some pictures! It can be a little scary, but go ahead and take those before pics in your bikini or booty shorts!!! Remember, this is your start and you have to be aware of where you started in order to see how far you have come. I have my clients take new pictures at the end of each month. Most keep their pictures in a private photo book and will keep motivational notes, words, etc., in the same place.
Have a wonderful day!!!