I dont think I need the full 5 months of aggressive dieting/cardio to shred up, although I have let things slip a little bit in the last few months in a last ditch effort to gain a tad bit of size leading up to this.
January for me is just going to be "phase 0.5" where I just stop eating all the little extra's I've let slip into my diet over the last 6 months or so... extra Peanut Butter/nuts, Christmas cookies, etc... The stuff we all know we shouldnt be eating basically. This alone should be good for 2-3 pounds that month.
Then in February I'll actually start dieting officially (meaning following a set menu), then March I will start with the cardio and cutting calories. That will give me 16 weeks of dieting, with 12 weeks being very focused.
This should be good for 20 pounds total loss, landing me in the low 170's which will be pretty lean for me. I may get a hair up my ass to really take it to the next level at the end though so watch out...