DH and I have been following the Zo.ne diet for over a year. As I mentioned in my last post, I became familiar with it when I started following the Cross.Fit workouts and began reading their online journal articles. (The CF journal is terrific, by the way. Nutrition is addressed as well as fitness.) Prior to CF, DH and I, for the most part, followed a pretty good diet - I purchased a lot of fresh foods, we ate (still do) mostly at home (we splurge every 6 months or so for a dinner out and go to a really nice restaurant), and my husband packs his lunch. However, we did have lots of snacks lying around, and have been known to have large amounts of ice cream in the freezer. Somehow, it became my mission to put the Ed.y's children through college. What, you too?? :-D
Espresso chip... black raspberry (ooooh)... caramel praline crunch (ahhhh)...
Oh, pardon me. Where was I?
Ah, yes... the Zone. ;)
I think the first article I read was this one: Meal Plans. Pretty soon after, I borrowed En.ter the Zo.ne from the library by Dr. Sea.rs. CF often says their best CF athletes follow the Zo.ne. I'm not trying to be a superwoman (okay, I am. I could get a cool cape), but I am trying to be in shape and eat healthy. DH and I talked about what I was reading and decided to give it a shot. It did seem to make sense, although weighing and measuring food was time-consuming and a pain at first. And - I didn't have any idea of what to cook! After probably about 2 weeks or so of trying it, DH came across his very frustrated wife trying to plan menus and not having much success. He didn't want to see me stressed out about it or not wanting to cook (which I happen to love!) and suggested we bag the whole idea. I thought about it and decided that if we were going to do it - we had to do it "for real". We would weigh and measure everything. During those initial two weeks, I also hadn't been feeling like myself- kind of out of it, somewhat unfocused, and as though I had a headache just waiting to explode. The day after deciding to do it "for real" I looked up carbohydrate withdrawal and found out I wasn't alone! Apparently, it does happen and I knew I had definitely cut way, way back on carbs.
A few more weeks of sticking to it, and I started to feel much better. More focused and I had lots of energy. I wasn't trying to lose weight - but I did lose a few pounds and I liked the new more toned me - yes CF and
those darned squats helped a lot, but I saw even more results by eating differently.
So... how does it work? Every meal and every snack is in the following ratio:
40% carbs / 30 % protein / 30 % healthy fats.
Meals and snacks are broken into blocks: 9 grams is 1 block of carbs, 7 grams is 1 block of protein, and 1.5 grams is 1 block of fat (this assumes that 1.5 grams of fat come from your protein. If you eat a zero fat protein - like Greek yogurt, double your fat.)
In my normal day I eat between 10-12 blocks. I'm not too particular - some days, especially days I work out, I may eat an extra snack. My main meals are almost always 3 block meals. (Occasionally 4, if the meat/protein part is pre-weighed to be a 4-oz cut of something.) Snacks are usually 1 block, but occasionally 2. Its advised that you never go more than 4-6 hours between a meal or snack. (Well, except overnight.) Both DH and I start getting cranky if we go more than 4 hours - it's pretty funny!
It's gotten easier to cook - our meals are pretty simple - a meat and fruit and veggies, eggs and fruit (I like veggies in my eggs) for breakfast, or cottage cheese and fruit, or Greek yogurt (which is much more balanced in the ratio of carbs/protein than regular). Sometimes I have kefir shakes too. We've cut way back on bread products (which helped when I found out I need to be gluten-free), so most of our carbs come from fruits and veggies. Our fat sources are EVOO, butter, sunflower seeds, almonds (DH) and cashews (me).
One of my favorite videos on the CF website included a discussion of what food is. If you look at an apple - it's clearly an apple. If you have to read what is in the box, it's not food. Maybe it was at one time, but it isn't anymore. :) Food is meant to be perishable - not last for months. It just seemed to make sense. I like to know what I'm actually eating.
Now... do I cheat? Yes, definitely. Fridays are my favorite. I stick to the Zo.ne in the morning and at lunch, and at night, it's pizza, movies and snack night. Ice cream, if I like, often popcorn --as it's movie night too. I don't feel guilty at all about it either. The next morning I'm right back in the Zo.ne.
What I've learned... I look at food differently. It's delicious, and I love it, but it serves a purpose. It's fuel. It keeps my body working and I want it to work well! It's not a diet anymore, it's a lifestyle. I enjoy my food - fresh stuff is just so delicious anyway - and feel satisfied after each meal and snack.
Oh, and one other side benefit? I don't get migraines anymore. I started getting them with increasing frequency a few years back, and now, I don't get one unless I cheat too much and start eating too much sugar! My body really can't handle it anymore. I'd much rather be migraine-less so I'm sticking to this!
For further reading - check out the CF journal and look up Zo.ne. Some of the articles/videos are for subscribers only, but others are free. You can also check your local library for Ent.er the Zo.ne.
And if you have any questions, please let me know! I'm happy to talk about it because I really love what it's done for me! :)