Getting Started

Prior to Week 1 of the 12-Week Plan, you’ll need to get yourself—and your kitchen— prepared. Below we’ve outlined the steps you should take to ensure you’re ready to begin “living it down,.

1. Set your sights.

Make sure you’ve taken the quiz starting on Click here and that you know your LDL goal. You should also determine with your doctor whether you need to start on medication even as you start on the Plan.

2. Purchase a pedometer.

Your pedometer will not only help you keep track of how much you walk, it will also motivate you to fit more physical activity into your daily life by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to nearby errands, and getting up during commercials, And you know it’s always counting! Refer back to our chart on click here to help you choose the right model. Once you have your pedometer, be sure to follow the instructions for entering your stride length.

3. Clean out your kitchen,

You’ll be stocking your refrigerator and cabinets with some of the staples you need on the Plan, But first, to make room—and remove temptation—get rid of items you won’t be using anymore, Here are a few examples of what to toss: 

  • Soda. 
  • Butter (or throw it in the freezer for emergencies).
  • Margarine made with hydrogenated oi! 
  • Frozen ground beef.
  • Any frozen fried or breaded foods—fish sticks, fried chicken, etc. 
  • Full-fat frozen desserts. 
  • Chips, packaged cookies, and cakes. 
  • “Cream of” soups. 
  • Hard taco shells. 
  • Refried beans (the fat-free kind is okay).

4. Have the tools you need.

Heart-healthy cooking is infinitely easier when you have the right tools on hand. We suggest the following: 

  • Nonstick frying pan. 
  • Indoor grill—great for getting out the fat when it’s too nasty or cold to cook outside. 
  • Vegetable steamer.
  • Crock-Pot—thanks to slow, moist heat, this cooking requires little fat. 
  • Bread machine for making your own whole grain breads.
  • Wok—stir-frying is an oxymoron; there’s very little fat involved. 
  • Blender for fruit smoothies.
  • Plastic or metal strainer to skim fat from stews and soups. 
  • A truit bowl—studies show that people who keep fruit in plain sight are more likely to eat it.

5. Go Shopping,

Forget your former throw-whatever-looksgood-into-the-cart approach. Follow the shopping list and tips.

The Shopping List


For the cupboard 

  • Canned beans, such as black, white, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney.* 
  • Dried fruits, such as figs, raisins, prunes, apricots, and dates. 
  • Whole wheat flour for baking. 
  • Apple sauce for baking.*
  • A good bottle of virgin or extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Canola oil. 
  • Canned salmon and water-packed tuna.*
  • Canned clams.* 
  • Canned sardines.*
  • Canned fruit packed in its own juices or in light syrup.* 
  • Quick-cooking or old-fashioned oatmeal, but not the instant kind. 
  • Whole grain mix for pancakes and waffles. 
  • Cans of chopped tomatoes flavored with herbs, onions, or garlic for tossing with pasta.” 
  • Peanut butter (the natural kind, made without hydrogenated oil or added sugar).* 
  • Jarred artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and flavorful spreads, all of which can add pizzazz to pasta, rice, couscous, or other grains.* 

*Refrigerate after opening

For the fridge 

  • Low-fat mayonnaise. 
  • Hard, flavorful cheeses like Romano or Parmesan. 
  • A sterol-based spread such as Benecol or Take Control, or a margarine free of trans fats (such as Smart Balance).

For the freezer 

  • Frozen veggie or soy burgers. 
  • Frozen turkey meatballs. 
  • Frozen vegetables in bags.
  • Frozen berries. 
  • Fillets of frozen fish, not breaded (slip unthawed pieces into simmering poaching liquid for a fast meal).


Fruits and vegetables 

  • At least one fruit or vegetable of every color: red, green, orange, and yellow, 
  • Avocados. 
  • Garlic. 
  • Eggplant and mushrooms (for meatless meals). 
  • Bags of prewashed lettuce. 
  • Bags of baby carrots.
  • Precut vegetables. 
  • Something new for you, like mango, star fruit, jicama, or bok choy.

Breads and grains 

  • Bread with the word “whole” in the first ingredient. 
  • Cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. 
  • Brown rice (regular or Minute Rice). 
  • Other grains, such as bulgur, barley, and quinoa. 
  • Whole wheat pasta. 
  • For a splurge, buy fresh-baked rounds of sourdough, rosemary, or olive bread for dipping in olive oil.

Meat and poultry 

  • Extra lean loin and round cuts.
  • Chicken breasts, 
  • Ground turkey. 
  • Free-range meats, if you can find them (they’re generally lower in fat).
  • Game meats.


  • Fresh fish, especially salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
  • Fresh shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, or mussels.


  • Low-fat cheese.
  • Eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.  
  • Nonfat milk (low-fat is okay if you’re not ready to drop all the way to nonfat just yet).
  • Nonfat or low-fat yogurt. feta. 
  • Strong-flavored cheeses like blue and feta.


  • Firm tofu.
  • Soy crumbles (found in the frozen food section).
  • Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds.
  • Flaxseed, available in health food stores and some grocery stores,
  • Wheat germ.


  • Capers.
  • Hot sauces.
  • Spicy mustard.
  • Prechopped garlic and ginger.
  • Low-fat vinegar-based salad dressings and marinades.
  • Plum sauce, black bean sauce, and other Asian sauces for vegetable stir-fries.


  • Vegetable juice or 100 percent fruit juice.
  • Green or black tea.
  • Wine.

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