In part one of this article, we looked at how simplifying your choices through use of a checklist was a viable method of restarting progress when things have stalled.
Plateaus in training are merely feedback that:
- Your efforts are no longer sufficient; try harder, or
- Your efforts are no longer working; try something else!
What the LOSE checklist can do for you is to examine the biggest 10 aspects of a weight loss program, and to help you see if you’re maximizing on all fronts.
(So you don’t waste time, effort, and morale on trying something new if you don’t have to), and to help you determine what areas you can tweak for continued momentum (so you don’t grind away hopelessly, hoping that your progress starts up again someday).
With that said, let’s pick apart the details of each question and create an actionable flowchart from each possibility.
Remember that the unspoken context of each question is:
Am I losing weight? If not, these are the ways I can get things started again.
LOSE: 10-point weight loss checklist
1. Am I executing properly in 90-95% of my weekly feedings?
a. Yes, but I’m not losing weight:
i. Further restrict cheat meals to less than 5% of meals per week (no more than 1 or 2 per week) or omit temporarily (no cheat meals).
ii. Maintain current level of dietary restriction and examine other factors
i. Remind yourself of goals and timeline and work to get yourself to 90-95% of meals eaten with “approved” foods (aka Meat, Leaves, Berries). Make a daily checklist and check off each meal.
2. Am I eating healthful foods but not paying attention to amounts?
i. Pay Attention! Calories matter! Look to pare away foods that contribute little to satiety (fullness) and increase calorie partitioning to favor fats, fiber-containing foods, and proteins.
ii. Reexamine so-called healthfulness of foods. Are your healthy foods comprised of grains, sugars, or starches or other questionable food items? (common offenders: granola, trail mix, low-fat yogurt).
Consider swapping these items out for fats or proteins.
iii. Are the amounts too small? Dropping calories below certain levels (1500 for active males, 1200 for active females) can trigger the body’s starvation mode, slowing metabolism and making it impossible for you to lose body fat.
Recalculate approximate calorie totals and re-partition food as needed.
b. No, I’m portioning properly:
Maintain current level of dietary restriction and examine other factors.
3. Am I drinking excess calories?
i. Switch all fluids over to non-calorie beverages: water, tea, coffee
b. No, all fluids I consume are zero-calorie:
i. Eliminate all diet soda.
ii. Eliminate artificial sweeteners of all kinds (Crystal Light, etc.).
iii. Maintain current level of dietary restriction and examine other factors
4. Is my meal timing in check?
a. No, I eat whenever I can:
i. Get your planner out and reschedule your day around your feedings. Seriously. Make it a meeting in your Outlook and set email reminders.
b. Yes, every 3 hours on the hour:
i. Consider an unusual timing structure such as intermittent fasting to shake up body’s new baseline level.
ii. Maintain current level of dietary restriction and examine other factors.
5. Is my eating plan reflective of my goals?
a. Errr, no?
i. You’ve got to know what you want. Trying to gain muscle on a fat-reducing diet is useless.
Similarly useless is trying to diet down to six-pack abs using a mass-building diet. Figure out what goal you’re aiming for, use the appropriate plan, accomplish the goal, then set another goal.
b. Errr, Yes?
i. You’re useless. Know what you’re trying to accomplish first. Without a clear destination, you can’t even choose a roadmap!
6. Am I doing too much cardio?
a. Yes (more than 17 minutes of HIIT 2x/wk)
i. Stop. It’s not helping you. Limit yourself to twice a week or less (so long as gains are steady or maintained on the weights). If you get weaker week to week, consider eliminating one session of cardio per week or cutting it out entirely until strength stabilizes.
b. No (2x/wk of 17 min HIIT or less)
i. Continue on current track if strength levels are maintained.
ii. If strength levels are dropping (less weight lifted during your strength training workouts), consider eliminating one session of cardio per week or cutting it out entirely.
7. Am I exercising too little?
a. I am just strength training, twice or more per week.
i. You’re ok. Add a bout of HIIT as long as it doesn’t affect strength levels.
b. I am just strength training, once per week.
i. Add another strength training workout each week. You may also add a bout of HIIT if it doesn’t affect strength levels.
ii. If strength levels are maintained or increase, you may add another strength training bout (max of 3) and another bout of HIIT (max 2).
c. I am not strength training, but I am doing (insert activity here).
i. You’re doing it all wrong. Stop whatever other nonsense you think is helping you and start on our beginner strength training program. Add the nonsense back in if it doesn’t affect your strength gains.
8. Am I surrounded by naysayers?
i. Join a community of like-minded individuals (like MCNewsletters, for example) on the web, in forums, social networking etc.
ii. Tell the naysayer(s) that their brand of support is not only unwelcome, it’s unhelpful. Explain to the naysayer why achieving your weight loss goal is important to you.
iii. Review your stated or written goals daily; remind yourself why it’s such a big deal to you to achieve theses goals, and that you refuse to let anyone stand in the way of their completion.
9. Do I have a clear mental picture of my ideal body?
i. Model someone. Clip out a “body stand-in” from a magazine; a celebrity or fitness model (e.g., Brad, Angelina, Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1964…) and post it in a conspicuous place (the same place(s) you posted your written goals).
ii. Create another emotional driver that will motivate you in the same way as an image will.
For example, for swimsuit season, imagining how good your body feels when you slip into the Mediterranean, feeling the sea on your legs and feet, the saline breeze through your hair, the sun stimulating melatonin activity and Vitamin D formation in the skin cells over your right trapezius… you get the idea.
iii. Use different metrics. Rather than a picture, use a number; perhaps a goal weight or body fat percentage.
i. Use the “celeb modeling” method described above, with a twist. Take a snapshot of yourself, dressed similarly to the celeb, and post the two pics right next to one another.
Note the differences and make up your mind to make the two shots look similar. Update your snapshot every week or two.
ii. Use different metrics. Rather than a picture, use a number; perhaps a goal weight or body fat percentage.
iii. Revisit your emotions. Each morning, visualize yourself in ideal condition (as clearly as possible) to get yourself charged up. Use this visualization technique to motivate yourself before workouts as well.
10. Are there any other indicators that I can use as positive reinforcement?
a. Such as?
i. Waist measurement. Measure waist circumference at the bellybutton each morning, after hitting the bathroom.
ii. Clothing fit. Belts are good indicators, as are pant legs and shirt sleeves.
iii. Workout numbers. Is your work capacity going up? You may just be in a lull body-wise and on the cusp of another downshift in body weight.
iv. Body fat. Use calipers to pinch a skinfold (or ask someone who knows how to do this), or use a bio-impedance scale (like Tanita or Taylor). Focus on a relative decrease in number.
The big question: How do I know when to change tactics, and when do I know something’s no longer working?
The simple answer to this complex question:
Follow the LOSE flowchart. If you’re not optimizing a factor, the LOSE will expose it and allow you to make the necessary changes.
If a tactic change is needed, it’s indicated in the choices under that particular category.
Losing weight can be complex, but we try to make it as simple and straightforward a process as possible.
Read the articles freely available for your reference all over the site; they detail the essentials of our fat loss approach.
Put together a program for yourself, and keep yourself motivated with weekly delivery of our newsletter – on the house, just tell us where to send it.
Use the LOSE checklist when fat loss has stopped to see if you’re operating on all cylinders (or if you can still squeeze some progress out of the corners).
Read our Dirty Little Book of Dieting to uncover, bar none, our favorite weight loss tips from over the years. There’s even individual coaching for those of you who want an extra hand in this weight loss stuff.