Tips for Staying on the Zone Diet

Diet

Ten years ago I stood in my bathroom, getting ready to go to an informal Christmas work party. The bathroom had windows on both sides, and for some reason I had never glanced at my back when I was washing my face or applying makeup.

That night I finally looked. My butt was huge. I was shocked. The next day I purchased The Zone by Dr. Barry Sears and started the diet the day after.

Yes, I said the day after. A week before Christmas. I was not only fat, I was not that bright either. But, that being said, the Zone changed my life. Before reading The Zone, I believed that fat was our enemy.

I downed box after box of those awful fatless cookies in the green box that I think Oprah recommended. I ate pasta and rice and agonized over my weight. It wasn’t my fault. Nobody knew.

After being on the Zone for two months (yes, two months) I had lost about 30 pounds. I started at 185. Three months later, I had lost another 20, which is where I slowed down as I was suffering from “lollipop head”; my head was disproportionately larger than my body.

Every woman I worked with or was related to, even one of the ladies who worked the front desk at my apartment complex, went on the Zone. About 15 to 20 women in all. All but one gave up.

Why? It was too hard. And it was. The first Zone book had you doing math at every meal to make sure you were getting the proper balance of protein, carbs and fat. Dr. Sears loosens up a bit in later books, urging you to employ the “eyeball method”.

Please make sure, if you’re interested in the diet, to go to the Zone website or purchase one of Dr. Sears’ books. I just wanted to share a few tips from my success on the Zone.

Snacks

Cottage cheese

Snacks are the most important part of the diet, in my opinion. Before I started the Zone I ate all day long. It would have been very difficult for me to go to a strict 3 meals a day plan. Make sure your snacks are something you enjoy eating.

My favorite is cottage cheese and pineapple. Easy to put together, and I don’t have to cook anything.

I also purchased a low carb bread (ten years ago, no one had gone rabidly anti-carb yet, so there weren’t many choices. I used a “light style” bread, which I think is still good) and deli meat, and made myself a half sandwich for a snack, which worked just fine.

Make sure your snacks are easily made so you can assemble them quickly.

Preparing meals ahead of time

A time saver and a great idea. I cook a mean turkey chili which fits the Zone requirements. I make enough for about 4 days, and stick it in the fridge. That way, I can easily tote it to work or just heat it up at home (and a small bit makes a good snack).

If your lunch is already prepared, you won’t be tempted to eat out or just grab anything from the fridge. This can be a lifesaver.

Have go-to meals

This goes hand in hand with the above. After a while, especially if you’re single, you will get very tired of cooking in the Zone all the time. So, I suggest having a go-to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Particularly something you’ll always have on hand. For example, something frozen or canned.

I loathe making breakfast. There’s something about being domestic before noon that gets my back up. So my breakfasts are always go-to meals. I rotate between three menus, all of which contain foods that I always have around and/or are not as perishable as fresh.

Oatmeal and eggs if I’m feeling housewifey (I think oatmeal’s half-life is 150 years) and a fridge doesn’t look right without eggs in it, so they’re always around.

A breakfast burrito when I’m feeling half housewifey, the whole wheat tortillas can be kept in the freezer and filled with your scrambled eggs then briefly heated in the microwave. And cottage cheese and dried fruit when I’m grouchy and don’t want to look at a stove.

Eat foods you dig

Vegetables

This may seem like a no brainer, but almost all of the women I mentioned above purchased pounds and pounds of vegetables that rotted away because they didn’t like them. Ok, I’m assuming we’re all adults, or close to it.

There has to be ONE vegetable you like. Mine happens to be broccoli. I also like snap peas. If I were a smarter person, I would have invested in a broccoli farm. Alas, I did not.

And the great thing about the Zone is that you can eat anything you like, you just have to eat it in the proper proportions. For example, you can have 2 and a half cups of broccoli, or a quarter cup of rice. Hm.

If you have a family

My husband has a high metabolism. My husband may have the finest example of a metabolism in the Western world. He is beyond the Zone. It’s enough to make a woman who has struggled with her weight her entire life sick.

But I love him and he has to be fed. And he can’t live on broccoli and protein. He needs the pasta and rice, the potatoes and yams.

And all I can say is, you’re going to have to suffer. Unless of course, your husband’s a chub. Unfortunately, most of us will be making spaghetti we never eat, and rice we can only stare at longingly.

But, from experience, I can say that it’s all worth it. You will drop the weight and you will drop it fast.

There’s always tomorrow

The Zone is not the Atkins diet, the grapefruit diet, the soup diet, or that awful crash diet where you have to eat a lot of beets. If you screw up, just eat in the Zone at your next meal. Try not to beat yourself up too badly.

Do what I do, and take it out on your husband and his freakish metabolism.

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