Hi Jen! I agree that 1 pound a week in the home stretch may not be realistic, but here's how you would do the math. I'm not a professional fitness or medical anything, so your Doctor's advice trumps all. I feel more capable and motivated when I feel informed, which is why I think it's important to know the sciencey end of fitness.
It looks a little daunting at first, but once you start writing your numbers out on paper it makes a lot more sense :)
Start by finding your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is how many calories your body burns a day just through your normal bodily functions, ie: what you burn laying in bed all day sleeping.
You can find a calculator here:
Using myself as an example, I'm a 28 year old female who is 5' 7" and weighs 131 pounds, so my BMR is 1408.15.
You then multiply your BMR by a number between 1.1 and 1.4 based on your activity level, 1.1 being completely sedentary, 1.2 moderately active (this is me), 1.3 is highly active like a physical trainer or gym-junkie, 1.4 is extremely active like a professional athlete or construction worker, etc.
So BMR x activity level = approximate daily calorie burn. In my case, 1408.15 x 1.2 = 1689.78 calories that I burn daily going about my normal routine.
One pound of body fat equates to approximately 3500 calories. So if I wanted to lose one pound per week, I would need to create a calorie deficit of 3500 calories per week, or 500 calories per day.
1689.78 calories that I burn daily - 500 calories = 1189.78 calories that I can eat per day to lose 1 pound per week.
Obviously, a larger calorie deficit will result in more weight lost, however, once you start to approach a deficit of 1000 calories per day (this number varies based on your weight. Ask your doctor what a "safe" deficit is for your current weight), you could trigger your metabolism to slow down and go into "starvation mode". This will not only stall your weight loss, but could really be damaging to your metabolism in the long term, so don't do it. This is why crash diets don't work.