In the Zone…

cf zoneAs some of you know I am currently doing a trial of the Zone Diet. I first heard about Zoning when I did my Level 1 in February, the member of staff who delivered the lecture made it sound very appealing, you didn’t have to eat paleo AND you could achieve incredible results with both body composition and training…what’s the catch?

I spent a week trying to decide if I would give it a go, and probably like most, in that week I made all sorts of assumptions, its not enough food, it will never work for me, ill be tired and hungry and its too much effort to do. I had written off the Zone diet without even trying it…if only I’d listened to the wise words of the that member of seminar staff in February who told me “trust me, you have to try it…”, I’d certainly in a much different position to where I am now…

It took me until very recently to as you all know get back on track with my training with the injury and other factors, but I had got myself back to a good place, although that may have felt like square 1 again, that was a good place to start. I had identified that square 1 was always where I was, I was never able to get past a certain weight, or progress further with training so now was the time to make a drastic change if I wanted big results. I decided to Zone.

So I was ready to take on the challenge, 4 weeks was all I had do to, I’d done the Whole 30 challenge in January and seen some good results so how hard would another 4 week challenge be?

I prepped myself by throughly reading the CrossFit Journal, Article 21. I decided I was a 10 block female ( 10 block female which was broken down to 5 meals of 2 blocks each 2 block of protein, 2 blocks of carbs and 2 blocks of fat) and began converting the measurements on the tables into a handy spreadsheet for me so when I was measuring food it would be a quick process. I did however only convert Paleo foods (mistake number 1…more on that later). I decided to experiment by Zoning a meal I already ate for breakfast, egg, bacon, tomato, avocado. In Zoning terms this would be 1 large egg, 30g bacon, 400g of tomatoes and half an avocado…I measured out the ingredients and this is what it looked like…

photo 1

WOW! I quickly realised that 400g of tomatoes was a huge amount so split the 2 blocks of carbs required between tomatoes (200g) and peppers (218g). This 1 little experiment made me very quickly realise I was MASSIVELY under eating and that all my previous assumptions in February had been blown out the window!

With my epiphany I was fired up and ready for the challenge, I went shopping and armed myself with tupperware…
photo 3

By pure coincidence the day I decided to start Zoning, Jami and a couple of other seminar staff had also decided to try it for 4 weeks, this instantly put me at ease as it meant I wasn’t on my own!

Tip 1: Find an accountability partner(s)

So I’d done my prep, I had brought to 4 of my 5 meals to the gym and worked out what time I needed to eat so it coincided with training. It looked like this….
So much food…I still couldn’t get over how wrong I was about the quantities of food! In that first week I learnt a lot very quickly (with the help of Jami and others). Firstly trying to have 2 blocks of carbs completely made up of vegetables was nearly impossible! Its a hell of a lot of vegetable to try and eat.

Tip 2: Try avoid having 2 blocks of vegetable carbs, you’ll struggle to eat that much!

It meant that I had to get over my fear of eating all the fruit which was being prescribed. This brings me back to my initial mistake I made about trying to do a paleo Zone and fear of fruit sugars. The whole point of Zone is if you eat the prescribed amounts its ok to eat fruit, bread, white potato and drink alcohol.

Tip 3: It’s ok to eat the previously forbidden foods, as long as its the prescribed amount.

So I was getting better at Zoning but one hurdle I hadn’t got over was Zoning on the road, something Jami was already very much accustomed to. The way I was making Zone work for me was by being in my strict routine, however this meant that if anything interrupted the normal daily routine I wouldn’t be able to zone, I had to learn how to get around this or Zoning would become an inconvenience as soon as I wanted to eat a meal out. I tried my first day of Zoning on the road and it was a huge success. I had learnt that 1 apple equaled 2 carb blocks, and conveniently the packs 2 pieces of pre cooked salmon sold in Tesco come in 185g packs which equaled 4 blocks of protein so I knew I could have 1 salmon piece (90g) and then any nuts or half an avocado would make up my fats…finally it was possible to Zone without measuring every piece of food I consumed.

Tip 4:
To zone on the road all you need to do is understand the following:
1 block of protein = 7g
1 block of carbs = 9g
1 block of fats = 3g
Look on the back of the packet and identify if its a protein, fat or carb you are eating and work out how many blocks it is.

One of the other progresses I have made with Zoning is learning how to convert recipes into Zone recipes, when you start to learn how much your allowed of each food this becomes a very quick process. For example, I spotted a recipe for courgette frittata which I really wanted to try but it had too much egg so I adapted the recipe by only using the 2 eggs which was 2 blocks of protein and reduced the amount of courgette required, it was a huge success.

Tip 5: Adapt the recipes you love already to fit with your Zone diet.

One final thing which I have learnt very quickly which may help you with your Zone diet. One day I had forgotten to bring some protein so had to make it up later. This meant eating a meal made up of 4 block protein, 2 blocks carbs, 2 blocks of fat. I noticed nearly instantly the affects of now eating an unbalanced meal and my body did too. I felt sluggish and unsettled as opposed to a very healthy feeling of satisfied after each meal.

Tip 6: Follow the guide with no exceptions, it says equal blocks for a reason!

As I said previously I have learnt so much about how to Zone which has been an exciting experiment. But what I’m yet to mention is the amazing results I have seen so far…
>weight loss (already around 8lbs and about 6.5% body fat)
>increased energy
>increased strength
>increased recovery time (this one is a huge improvement)
>no nagging hunger (after 5 days)

I have already decided that I will continue to Zone until, well I dont need to put an end date on it, the results are so good I don’t need to change a thing. I highly recommend you try the Zone diet, if after 4 weeks it didn’t work for you then fair enough but for some of the sceptics out there, like me you will see big results.

My one final tip to you all. This is something you Americans have known about a long time but us Brits just wont catch on…

Tip 7: Peanut butter goes with EVERYTHING!

Please note this was written around 2-3 weeks into my Zone. I’ve since completed 4 weeks on July 6th and have lost a total of 8lbs and 6.5% I’m really pleased with the results and see no reason to stop zoning now!

Workout of the Day:

A: Zercher Squat – 5 sets of 5 reps.

B: Strength/assistance (For Load & Quality)
5 rounds:
5/5 Box step-ups
-30 secs rest-
10 Ring rows
-30 secs rest-
10 Good mornings
-30sec rest-