Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring and Zone Fever

I have Spring Fever pretty badly today.  I woke up and it was cloudy out... and I overslept because I stayed up late reading the Zone books that came yesterday.  And the closed road is now open.  Before I go riding the bike on it, I want to drive the car on it to see what it is like.  It has bike lanes but with it open, I'm guessing that I can't just turn around like I used to.  By the time we got the girls ready for school and they were heading out the door with Mr. Darcy, it was already 7:40 and I had just finished Day 1 of Week 3 of the Pushup Challenge.

I have to confess that the pushups were hard today.  I did Day 3 of Week 2 with the max out on Sunday, so I think that my arms may be a little tired still from Sunday.  Or it could be that I was 325 calories shy of 1515 yesterday.  I lost all track of time yesterday and my eating suffered a bit.  Then I jumped on the trainer and watched part of the movie "Sabrina" while I did my 1 1/2 hour bike ride at 85-90 cadence.  When I got off the bike, I noticed that the sun had come out, the clouds had moved away and it was a gorgeous day.  I wished I had ridden outside, but at the same time it felt good to have those tight muscles from pedaling for 90 minutes on the trainer in the big ring, medium gears.

I love the Zone books that I read (all 3 of them - granted one of them was a cook book and one was a short book)!  There were things said in the books that made it like Dr. Sears (the author) was talking directly to me.  Lightbulbs were going off in my head.  For example, the book said "If you're eating too much carbohydrate, you can expect the following, even if you're on a judicious program of aerobic exercise: constant hunger, decreased mental alertness, difficulty in losing body fat (if not out-right fat gain), decreased oxygen transfer to the muscle cells and decreased endurance."  I've always felt like something was wrong with me because I GAINED weight while training for my HIM.  And "So if you've been eating a high carbohydrate diet and you find yourself getting more fatigued with less physical energy and more and more body fat, you know why."  It also talks about how some people are insulin resistant and eating higher levels of carbohydrate makes you fat instead of fueling your exercise.  This style of eating (he is quick to point out that it is meant to be a lifestyle change NOT a diet) also takes into account the paleo style of eating to a certain extent but does not go as far as telling you not to eat beans or dairy, although it encourages you to strongly limit your intake of cereals and grains too.  And the irony was that the calculation that determined my lean body mass, was the exact amount I weighed my junior and senior year of high school..  I'm not saying that my goal is to get down to what I weighed back then, I'm just pointing it out.  As I said to Mr. Darcy last night, I had this feeling that I've been eating too much carbohydrate all this time (during the HIM, it was 60% of my diet and in recent months I'd lowered that to 50% of my diet) and he even said that I was eating alot of carbs - not only was I eating fruits and veggies, but I also was eating pasta, bread, rice and potatoes.

And when I talked to my close friend Belle last week (she called, worried about me after reading my post about gaining weight) she and I talked about when my weight gain started and I told her it wasn't until I was doing triathlons.  She said to me that it had to be the exercise then.  And I thought then as I do now that it couldn't be the exercise because that makes you stronger.  But if it wasn't the quantity I was eating, at the time I thought it must just be my body.  And in a way, after reading the Zone, I was right.  It is how my body reacts to the quantity of carbohydrate that I was eating.

So I am switching to the proportions for eating of the Zone diet.  I started with dinner and my snack before bed (which ironically I have to have one of those to take my Niaspan).  The percentage of calories can be a little misleading, but it's 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat.  Now that fat, is good stuff like avocado, nuts, olive or canola oil.  And the system to use is pretty easy although I'm still having to look at a cheat sheet that I've made for myself to help.  7 grams of protein = 1 block of protein.  9 grams of carbohydrate = 1 block of carbohydrate. and  1 1/2 grams of fat = 1 block of fat.  You use a formula that uses your lean body mass and activity level will determine the blocks of protein you need in a day.  Based on that, you allocate your blocks throughout your day at the very least among 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.  So, for example, I have 13.5 blocks of protein each day.  Since I train 1st thing in the morning, I have 2 blocks of protein, carb and fat before I work out.  Then I have 2 after.  I have 3 at lunch and dinner, 2 as an afternoon snack and 1.5 as an evening snack.  And you don't have to cut dairy out of your diet. 

The dairy thing was the part about the Paleo Diet that really bothered me.  My entire life I have been a big dairy person.  In high school (when I was my thinnest... 118 was my "highest" weight before leaving for college and you could see my ribs and hips when I was standing up despite eating like a mad woman), I drank skim milk and ate low fat cheese (including cottage cheese) like I couldn't get enough of it.  I LOVE it.  It counts as a carb and a protein in some forms (i.e. yogurt), but it's still doable.

Anyway, my plan is to paleo eat (so no beans or peas and as few processed foods as possible outside of dairy, although I'm making an exception for black beans on occasion and hummus/chickpeas) but in the Zone system.  And not to worry, I've eaten more this morning.  I made 2 slight miscalculations that I'll fix at lunch or in my afternoon snack, but so far I've eaten an orange and 1/2 a cup of yogurt, 2 cheese sticks, 3 almonds, 3 oz of chicken, and an apple!  That's 6 protein, 4 carb, and 1 fat block.  So I have to lessen my protein blocks by 2 and add an extra fat (so 3 more almonds).  OOPS.  I know where I made the mistake though, and they tell you that you'll mess up at first until you get used to it but that as long as you work it out and get yourself "in the Zone" you'll be fine!  Oh and a 4 oz glass of wine with 1 oz of cheese can be a bed time snack!  Happy Day!

I think the real reason why I'm so excited about this is that for the first time in a long time I feel like I have hope.  Like what I knew in the back of my mind despite the tons of articles about how athletes should eat LOTS of carbs and in the traditional sense of carbs (bread, rice, potato, etc.) instead of from fruits and veggies that something about this didn't work well for my body was right.  The science behind it is interesting too... that food is like a medicine and should be used that way in addition to enjoying eating.  And that this is healthy for the entire family (they even give examples of kids meals in the cook book I bought) so I don't have to try to eat differently from everyone else.  Of course, Mr. Darcy will take some re-programming as he is a traditional carbohydrate boy at heart (his favorite snack - cheezeits) and is one of those lucky ones who doesn't really gain weight no matter what he eats.  I still have the worry that this might not work either.  But at the very least, I'll be able to say I have truly tried everything I could think of (because I can always drop the dairy part out too to be a truly Paleo and Zone eater).

I'm hoping to hit the grocery store during my lunch hour (especially since we are low on food) and stock up on fruits, veggies, lean proteins!  I haven't been excited about eating in a long time.  But I feel excited now!

And I'm looking out the window at this gorgeous day and wishing I didn't have to sit behind a desk.  But sitting behind the desk is worth the paycheck so I'll just have to eat dinner out on the porch again!

PS. My friend Doug is having a tough time with it at the moment with graft vs host disease.  His body appears to be trying to reject the bone marrow transplant.  Please send positive thoughts and/or prayers his way.  You can read about his journey and what he and his family is going through at: http://dougstransplantjourney.webs.com/apps/blog/.  


  1. Sorry I haven't commented in a while...super busy these days, BUT I totally agree with you on the carbs. When I switched from "traditional" carbs to fruits and veggies, I saw a big difference in my body composition and energy levels.

    BTW, I'm headed to Orlando this week and am thinking about doing a Lucky's Lake Swim. Any chance you might be headed there this week?

  2. This is fascinating, thanks for sharing.

  3. wow...I think I can certainly gleam something from what you've shared here!