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13 Point Check-List for Weight Loss (part 1)
copyright 2006 by Greg Landry, M.S.





Greg: Tonight, we are going to run through a checklist. I have about 14 items - a 14-point checklist for weight loss. These are just the primary factors that I have seen that are most important in helping people to be successful at losing weight. I think if you can check off at least most of these then you are on a good path to being successful with weight loss.

Number 1: Develop a healthy food list.

I think the best way to do this is when you have an hour or two that you can spend at your grocery store, to go there with a pad and pen and literally walk through the aisles as you do shopping, in the same order. Take time and make a list of every food in that grocery store that you believe is a healthy choice. We won’t spend much time on how to determine that. I think that most of you who have called have probably been through that. But you want to look at the SQ factor and divide calories by grams of fiber. Ideally, we want that answer to be under 60, the lower the better. That’s a good start. 

You want to be careful of course with added fat and sugar. You want it to be as close to its most natural state as possible. We talked about not having artificial sweeteners added to it. So the bottom line, the two most important things probably are, “Is it as close to its most natural state as possible?” 

I always like to use the example of a vegetable, let’s say broccoli. Broccoli in its absolutely most natural state would be raw, fresh and in the produce department. Perhaps a step down from that would be broccoli with something added, maybe in a casserole in the frozen foods section, but still fairly healthy. Then maybe another casserole that is loaded with added cheese and fat. So it’s still broccoli, it has just been adulterated along the way. So with any food, grain, fruit, vegetable, if it’s in its most natural state once we start adding things to it, it becomes further and further away from that most natural state and generally more unhealthy and not as good for both weight management and health.

So walk through your grocery store. Make a list of everything that you would consider a healthy food. This list helps you to make better food choices. It helps you at home when you are planning what you will shop for. It helps you in the grocery store. What a lot of people do is, they go through the grocery store and over and over again make the choices, “Is this a good choice, is this a healthy food?” That list really helps as a direct reference and to have you thinking about those foods and realizing, “These are my best choices. These are what I am going to choose from.” So, develop your own healthy food list based on your grocery store.

Number 2: Most of you have heard me talk about this before, but I really want to emphasize it. It seems like practically every week more and more research comes out about the importance of fiber and weight loss.

Obviously we have known that fiber is good and healthy for you. It makes sense that it would also be important for weight loss because fiber is the bulk in your diet. It is what gets you full, keeps you full and (and I think this is neat too)—We don’t think about this, but it acts as sort of a natural "fat and sugar blocker". You know, they sell these fat blockers and starch blockers. Well, fiber is sort of a natural form of this. We are not talking to a large degree here, but when you eat fiber and you eat fat or any type of carbohydrate with it, some of it is absorbed by the fiber. Then it releases some of it slowly into your bloodstream. But some of it, it never releases and it is just passed out of your body before ever being absorbed into your bloodstream. 

So, lots of good reasons, both for health and for weight management to get lots of fiber in your diet. I recommend that you shoot for 50 grams of fiber a day. Now, that’s a lot of fiber, but if your diet is concentrated on fruits, vegetables and whole grains you’ll have no trouble getting 50 grams of fiber a day. We know that there is a direct relationship between how much fiber someone consumes and how successful they are at weight loss. More fiber, more weight loss, less fiber, less weight loss.

One of the reasons that I encourage people to really focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to only moderately, if at all, consume animal products, is that EVERY animal product (beef, chicken, fish, butter, cheese) anything that comes from an animal, has absolutely no fiber at all. Everything that comes from fruits, vegetables and whole grains has fiber, some more than others, but they all have some fiber. So that is another reason to really focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 

Number 3: Include intervals within your aerobic exercise.

This is one of the most powerful things that I have seen to increase basal metabolic rate and increase your fitness level and the way your body handles fat. Intervals, most of you know, are just one minute of more intense exercise once every five minutes throughout your workout. I want you to think of this as sort of “pushing the envelope”, making your body do just a little bit more than it is comfortable with. Your body responds by raising your fitness level and raising your metabolism, because it says, “Hey! Janet is trying to do more than she is capable of for a long period of time!” 

Now, you are only doing this for a minute and it is something that you couldn’t do for five or ten minutes. You are going just above the line of what your body is comfortable with and capable of for a longer period of time. So your body says, “Hey! Janet is trying to do more than we’re capable of. We need to push this up a little bit!” So your body responds by pushing your fitness level up, by pushing your anaerobic threshold up and by raising your metabolism. So it forces your body to respond to your demands, which is to push the envelope a little bit. 

Intervals are important. If you are not doing intervals right now, I would really encourage you to start. You don’t have to start with them every five minutes, but add one or two throughout your workout and gradually increase that. Ideally, we are shooting for one, one-minute interval once every five minutes throughout your workout. Intervals should be included in about 75 percent of your workouts. So if you are doing something aerobic, walking, rowing, whatever, say 5, 6, 7 days a week then roughly three or four of those days should include intervals.

Number 4: I meant to cover this before we got into exercise. Create your own personal calorie and fat gram list. 

Keeping up with what you eat and the caloric content is important, at least for a few weeks, to really know where you are. Some people like to do it long term because of the accountability of knowing exactly how many calories they are consuming and fat grams. But it can be tedious, especially early on. However, there is something that makes it easier, and that is to create your own personal list. 

Now the people that study this tell us that most of us eat the same 10 to 15 meals over and over again. So it’s not like we have a huge variety of food. We tend to eat the same things over and over. So the first week or so, looking up the caloric and fat content for those foods can be tedious. But look them up and put them on a piece of paper. Do it on your computer and alphabetize it so that it’s an easy reference. After a week or two, you will have the calories and fat grams for most of the foods that you eat on a regular basis. Then, looking it up becomes simple. You have this one sheet of paper that has everything that you eat in alphabetical order with calorie and fat content. So, create your own fat gram and calorie list.

Number 5: Log your eating and exercise.

Writing things down helps for a few reasons. Number one: There is a degree of accountability, as I mentioned earlier, that is for eating and for exercise. Specifically, with exercise, I think it helps with a feeling of accomplishment. If you go out and take a 30-minute walk tomorrow morning, you will benefit from it. You will burn some calories, you will affect your metabolism and you will feel better. But once it’s over, you really don’t have anything concrete to show for it unless it’s on paper. I think there is a feeling of accomplishment in being able to write down, April 8th, 7:30 a.m. – Walked for 30 minutes. 

You can keep an ongoing account of your minutes. It is kind of like putting money in the bank, putting those minutes in there, and you can actually see it on paper. So there is a feeling of accomplishment and you can actually see what you did. And it’s nice to look back over and the month and see, “I’ve done 900 minutes this month.” 

For eating, there is the accountability of having to write it down. There is also the importance of actually knowing what you’re consuming. I can’t tell you how many people come to me and say, “I’m not losing weight. I’m at a plateau.” The first thing I usually ask is, “Do you know that you have a caloric deficit?” Because if you don’t actually know that, then chances are you don’t have enough of a caloric deficit to lose weight. And in that case, it is even more important to know exactly what you’re consuming.

Number 6: You should be weight training, ideally two to three days per week. 

A lot of people, even people who are consistent aerobic exercisers, do not weight train. It’s unfortunate, because the benefit you get from the time you put in the weight training exceeds even that of aerobic exercise. By that I mean, for an hour or aerobic exercise you certainly get benefit, but an hour of weight training gives you much more benefit. And, it doesn’t take that much. In fact, you can spend as little as 20 minutes three days per week and get all the benefit that we’re looking for. By that, I mean primarily muscle tone and affecting basal metabolic rate. So, 20 minutes three days a week, it doesn’t need to be every day and in fact, it shouldn’t be every day. And you can accomplish great things. 

Because the combination of aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise like weight training is a powerful one-two punch. Together, they are much stronger than either of them are without the other. So most people are doing some type of aerobic exercise but not weight training and they are really missing out on a lot of benefit, primarily to basal metabolic rate, that they could be achieving with just three days of weight training a week.

Number 7: Use the proper weights.

With weight training, one thing you really want to be sure of that can make the difference between really seeing success with weight training or not is that you are using the proper weight. Most people are using a weight that is too light. They go to a gym and maybe somebody says, “Okay, do 12 repetitions.” They have no idea what weight to use. They use a weight that is too light. They stop at 12, but maybe they could have done 20 or 30 repetitions. So the muscle has to be stressed appropriately for it to respond. The way you do that is to use a weight that fatigues you just about to failure, somewhere between 12 and 15 repetitions. You determine that through trial and error. If you are doing an exercise and you can do 20 or 25 reps, that tells you that the weight is too light. Conversely, if you have a weight where you can do only 8 or 10 repetitions, that tells you that it is a little too heavy. So you adjust the weight until it fatigues you just about to failure somewhere between 12 and 15 repetitions. That is very important.




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