Friday, September 25, 2009

DO NOT Mess With My Food

This was pretty much my attitude when I started CrossFit a couple of years ago. I mean, really. How was I supposed to seriously take the advice of a young, athletic, male who probably never had a weight problem IN HIS LIFE. At 46, I was a VETERAN of nearly every possible diet out there. Sure, none of them worked. That is why I had decided to go the exercise route. I would do enough sit ups, etc. to get my fat middle under control.

So, that was the plan. I worked hard at working out and getting "back into shape." I did moderate my food intake. I did lose about 10 pounds. I did look better. But then I was stuck. I knew there was more. So I finally decided to trust my trainer and my world turned upside down.

Before I get in to the diet specifics, let me tell you that I am NOT a cook. The only kind of cooking I like to do is baking, which is problematic considering the following paragraphs. I go for convenience with my meals, and I eat out. A lot. Yes, it would be cheaper if I prepared every meal from scratch. Yes, I would have much more variety. The fact is, that is not me. I've been successful anyway. There are no excuses.

I began following the Zone Diet. 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. That's it. I learned to think of meals in terms of "blocks". No longer would I get a plain salad for lunch. I began to make sure I had about 3 oz. of protein to go along with that salad. My previous dieting life had generally consisted of a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a salad (no meat) for lunch, and if I ate dinner, it would be a chicken breast with another salad. I was so deficient in protein that it is no wonder I couldn't stick with this plan for very long. I always slid back to my Number 2 meal (with Diet Coke of course!) at McDonad's, and dinner that always included bread AND pasta.

To be most successful, you really need to write down your food and weigh and measure everything. I admit that I only do this sometimes. In general, I eyeball everything, and that seems to work just fine. If I find myself gaining weight, I'll go back to writing down and weighing my food. I think you will find the following chart very useful: Zone Block Chart.

Boiled down to the very simplest terms, here's what you need to know:
  • Avoid grains of any kind; bread, cereal, pasta, rice, etc. Hard to do? YES. But this is the biggest thing you can do to ensure success. You DO NOT need grains, even whole grains. Get over it.
  • Avoid sugar.
  • Eat your full amount of protein--if you are a "11 block female", you need about 11 oz. of meat in a day. I have found that if I eat enough protein in a day, I am not hungry for sugar and bread.
  • Get enough fat. Yes. I said it. Fat is NOT the enemy. I usually get my fat from nuts, but I also get it in salad dressing and butter. Don't sweat it. You need it.
  • Get your carbohydrates from lots of vegetables and some fruit.
  • Allow yourself a cheat meal every week.

Honestly, this has been the easiest diet I have EVER followed. It is just life. Sure, I cheat. I sneak in some chips and salsa or a dinner roll every now and then. When I do cheat, I make sure it is WELL WORTH IT. I try to never have the taboo things unless they are out of this world delicious. If a place I go to eat is known for their dessert--of course I have one. Certain places have outstanding bread--I cover it in butter and scarf it down. But these are rare times. For every day--I stick close to the favorable foods list.

Why does this diet of 40-30-30 work? From the CrossFit Journal, written by Greg Amundson:

The first great effect is that this ratio of nutrients causes
the release of moderate amounts of the hormones insulin
and glycagon, which together trigger the release of a
flood of feel-good chemicals called eicosanoids, which
do a bunch of good things: protect your heart, open the
bronchi of the lungs, and the biggie, reduce inflammation.
The release of eicosanoids is literally ”the Zone”
that Sears talks about.

But as good as eicosanoids are for your long-term
health, CrossFitters may notice a secondary effect of
the 40-30-30 ratio even faster: fat loss. That’s because
moderating carb intake will moderate the levels of insulin,
whose job it is to store fat. On top of that, Sears found
that a body in caloric balance is more efficient at burning
fat. That’s why CrossFitters lean out fast on this diet.

Still saying "Don't mess with my food?" I hope not. Give it a try for a couple of weeks. I have not known a single person who has given this diet an honest try who has been unsuccessful. NOT A SINGLE PERSON!!!! This is THE healthy way to eat and live.

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