Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and THE ZONE....

If you are a regular around here, you may have noticed a few things change recently. I've been changing up my blog a little bit and doing some things differently, including adding a few more friends to my blog list. Sean has come onboard the Katie train, and I've found a new blog that I like to follow called Byers Get Diesel. I have to say, I love Melissa's style of writing and she posts a lot of really great stuff. She had an article in the journal this month about Zoning, and had some related posts that really got me to start thinking about the Zone.

Last year, I posted my CrossFit story. It wound up on the affiliate page and was read over 2,000 times. I had tons of great emails and comments, and was glad that despite how scary it was to put my life out there, it resonated with people and they could associate with it. My story was a success! I had lost weight, improved my times, my weights, and my overall lifestyle. Last August, as CF and I celebrated our one year anniversary, I posted a link to a video I made showing just how far I'd come in one year. People were AMAZED that one year with a program could do so much for a person. I was Zoning, my weight was good, my weights were good, and I felt pretty invincible.

But flash forward to now. Real life has sunk in. I'm working three jobs, trying to find a new one, and feeling like there is a lot going on in my life. The Zone has all but fallen away, and I'm left here holding the broken pieces of that woman who existed in months past. I jumped on the scale the other day, and that was all it took. Nevermind the fact that I can deadlift over 200lbs, that I can do chest to bar pull-ups, that I can OHS 140lbs, that I can jerk 140. None of that mattered. I saw that number and nothing else mattered. I felt awful, and my immediate response to get to back in the Zone.

I started Zoning, pretty strictly, last March. There were lots of really good things about the Zone. By April I was seeing changes and noticing gains at CF, and those gains encouraged me to keep going. The motivation to lose weight and feel better about myself kept me eating well. The Zone was great for giving me parameters and for helping me see the light about eating well. I had more energy, felt good about myself, and really wanted to continue to do it.

But, as time went, it took me in a very negative direction. There were times when I was so obsessed with what I was putting in my mouth, that the Zone actually became another added stressor. It wasn't helpful, it wasn't beneficial, and it was actually more harmful for me. I developed a sense of guilt for eating outside of the Zone. I remember being on a WONDERFUL trip to Chicago, and Georgia telling me that I NEEDED to have cheat days and allow myself to try things while I was there. Pretty scary to live your life that much in fear of a few extra calories/carbs.

The Zone became a bit of a monster for me. Shortly after my race last October I hit some pretty big speed bumps in my personal life, and fell off the Zone completely because I was, to be honest, only eating once a day. There were days where I went without eating an actual meal AT ALL. Talk about a very dangerous mix for a CrossFitter and someone who has long had weight issues. Since then, life has just gotten crazy. Three jobs have kicked in, and blah blah blah. And now, I find myself not Zoning for a few different reasons. Some of them being the reasons I loved the Zone before.

I loved the Zone before because it gave me parameters and really gave me some structure for eating. Now, I find it constrictive. I don't want to go out with friends and need to be difficult about everything that I order so that I can stay in the Zone. I don't want to have to avoid things that I love because they don't belong in the Zone. I am disgusted with myself as I look in the mirror and see pockets of fat where two months ago there were none, but I get frustrated with the idea of going back to the Zone because I don't want it to not allow me to have my own life. I can't spend time blocking, and planning, and counting. Melissa makes a great point on her blog and talks about finding a balance. I agree with that wholeheartedly, but here is where I run into my big "BAD" point on the Zone.

To say I'm very busy right now is pretty accurate. A lot of days I don't get home until 8 or 9, sometimes even later when I'm working the other job, which means that I only have about an hour to finish any work I need, cook dinner, pack bags for the next day, and pack all my meals and snacks. And I'll be honest, there have been a lot of nights lately where, I just don't have the energy to do it all. The Zone has gone out the window because my solution is to simply stop and get something to eat on the way to school the next day or call out for dinner. I simply cannot strict Zone sometimes. So basically, since I've had so many days like that lately, I've said F U to the Zone and have just been going on a feeding frenzy.

I know the motivation to Zone must be internal, but here's where I struggle. For the people like me who sometimes just CAN'T get all the blocking and planning and measuring down, what can we do? Why isn't there a sort of "Eat This, Not That" for Zoners like me? People who care, people who want to, but people who are so wrapped up in so many things that it seems like adding one more thing will make the house of cards collapse. I'm not saying I should be able to get results without doing work. I'm not looking for a cheat, but I'm looking for the best alternatives when I can't do it in my own kitchen. The book, "Eat This, Not That", shows you how to save calories if you're going to eat something. If you must have ice cream, eat Bryers. It has the most all natural ingredients, and is therefore, the most Zone friendly ice cream if such a thing exists. These sorts of things save you calories in the long run.

I'd love a Zone book like this, because sometimes the choices I think aren't bad, really are. I didn't think that Yogurt was that bad for you, but now I understand that it has a lot of sugar. It's deceptive. So, what are the best alternatives for Zoners when they can't stand in their kitchen and do the weighing and measuring themselves?

I am a girl who will forever have weight issues. The Zone has helped me to lose some long needed weight, but at the same time, I need to be careful not to let it run my life. There are good things about the Zone, and there are bad things about the Zone. If it's going to work for me a second time, I need to find a balance.


tami said...

Have you ever tried Paleo? No weighing or measuring, you just eat whole, natural foods. Meat, veggies, a little fruit, nuts, seeds. No legumes, dairy, grains or sugar. It's pretty simple. Mark's Daily Apple and Free the Animal have some great tips on eating Primal/Paleo.

I've also done the Anabolic diet. There's an interesting thread on that on the main site message boards. I was humming along with that until about a month ago when my life got busy too, but I'm going to get back on it.

There is also a great post on Marks Daily Apple about people who go overboard and develop an eating disorder by eating TOO clean. Basically his point was if you are obsessed with food, whether it's good food or bad food, you are still letting it control your life.

Don't stress on it too much. Every day and every meal is a new opportunity to do better.

Justa said...

I agree that trying to follow something like The Zone can become burdensome. Obsession can lead to burnout, which isn't a very good thing.

What may work is trying to compile a list of Zone friendly meals and organize it around those you need time to cook/prepare and those that can be a quick grab and go. Then you don't really have to think to much. You can just grab something and be on your way.

The other think is that you really CAN treat yourself once in a while. There are a lot of plans (BFL, Precision Nutrition) that allow for cheat meals. In fact, one cheat day per week is PART of the BFL plan.

Now, if only I took my own advice...

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