So the last time I posted, I wrote briefly about starting the Zone diet. I'm still doing it and it's worked pretty well for me - after a few hiccoughs here and there. I've been on it for just about 7 weeks and it's worked really well for me. So far I've lost a total of 8 pounds and 6 total inches off my waist and hips. It took some getting used to, and since I've stopped logging these past two weeks I've been more apt to fall off the wagon, but it's getting easier to get back on it. If you're thinking of trying it, or have just started, here are a few tips that have worked for me, as well as a few things I've learned along the way.
1. Give yourself options. I've only got 10 blocks to eat every day, and I figured I'd be hungry all the time. So I planned for bulky carbs and proteins. This was a huge mistake. There were some days where I just wasn't that hungry but I'd still have to get all this food in. So even if you think you'll be hungry all the time because x-amount of block is just not near enough, trust me. There will be times you're just not that hungry and having a date with an ounce of cheese and a couple nuts is about all you can fathom eating.
2. EAT ALL YOUR BLOCKS. During the first 4 weeks I lost almost a pound of muscle. The Zone is meant to maintain lean body mass - as long as you stick to what you're supposed to do. I struggled a lot during the first couple weeks and my meals weren't exactly balanced. I'd be off in my calculations and be missing a few carbs or have too much protein or forget the fat all together. And while I did lose 5 pounds in the first 4 weeks, one of those pounds was muscle. And I work too damn hard in the box to be losing muscle.
3. Start slow. Eat the same thing for breakfast every day and the same thing for lunch every day. It'll make prepping easier and shopping. Pick a couple things to have for dinner and alternate. When you get the hang of that add some variety to dinner or lunch or breakfast, but not all at the same time. You'll get overwhelmed with trying to prep everything and making sure you have all the block covered.
4. Focus on one thing a week you'd like to change or make better. For me the first week was just getting used to the zone and figuring out what worked for me. The second week was planning better and the third I focused on prepping. I've gotten away from focusing on things, so this coming week I'm going to focus on getting stricter with myself. I no longer have to reach out to my accountability partner daily, and I no longer have the pressure of public logging to keep my focused.
5. Quest bars will save your life. You can plan your meals down to the minute, but something will come up where you're not going to be able to eat what you've planned for some reason. Or maybe you walked out the door and spaced on grabbing your cooler. When you go shopping every week make sure you grab a couple to keep in the car or your purse for emergencies. Because trust me, staring at a salad bar and trying to figure out how to block out 3 blocks is intimidating and people look at you strange if you freak out because you just cannot remember how many cups of lettuce is in a block and what the hell does three cups of lettuce look like?!
6. Find some way to make planning and prepping fun. Prepping can take over an hour. I've put on some music and just jammed out while cooking. I've also brought my tablet into the kitchen and caught up on some Netflix.
7. You don't have to go crazy prepping. I spend a few minutes a week prepping because I usually eat the same things every day. And I'm not much of a meat eater so most of my protein comes from cheese. It doesn't take long to cut a block of cheese into one ounce servings. And trust me, one ounce of cheese is a lot more than you think it is. Ricotta is another good protein, two ounces is one block and you can add some peppers and other veggies with some Italian herbs and a splash of balsamic vinegar for a savory option, or add some berries for carbs and plain cream cheese for fat and you've got a sweet breakfast of desert. Once you know what a block of apples or broccoli or really anything looks like, it's easy and quick to throw stuff together.
8. You don't always have to get it right. The pressure of being perfect or getting it perfectly right all the time can cause you to just not do it anymore. Forgive yourself. Expect mistakes. Reach out when you've made a mistake and you'll find 10 people reaching back telling you they've done the same thing and how they overcame it. When you trip do you lay down on the ground for the rest of your life and say fuck it? I fell and I'm done forever and ever? No, you get up and you keep moving. This is just like that. Accept that at some point you're going to be tired and overwhelmed with everything going on in your life and reaching for a frozen pizza is about all the energy you have to spare. Get up the next day and get back on it. You're human and you're going to mess up. When you understand that it'll be easier to get back on it when you make a mistake.
9. Be the treat meal Nazi. Trust me. When you've been looking forward to this meal ALL FUCKING WEEK and something happens and you end up at a gross Chinese food buffet where they bring you your wine in a fucking coffee cup all because someone messed up and didn't do the research into the restaurant they heard was good but was filled with old people and you're there with your two little kids. You're going to be pissed and it's going to make the next week all that much longer because you've had a crappy treat meal and you're not getting another one for another 7 long days. Take total control of your treat meal. Even if you leave your husband at home and go to Cheesecake Factory by your own damn self. Although, I'm pretty sure there will be about 7 other ZoneThugs willing to make that trip with you!
So do what you will with these ideas. They're just some things that I've learned along the way. This journey will be yours and what works for me may not work for you. The best piece of advice I can give you is to figure out what works for YOU. It's the only way you're going to stick with it.