Back in 1983 when dieting, for me, was a bad word (the letters d i e glared me in the face !) I found that during my monthly female cycle I would gain and lose no less than five pounds and was rather alarmed at the circumstance. It didn’t just make me uncomfortable but I felt that people could visibly see the difference because I could see the difference. It never occurred to me that it could be hormonal in nature because so many women complained about a similar problem. The catch was that many of them were either much older than myself or seemed to have other physical problems which were exacerbating their respective situations. Being basically healthy and active, otherwise, it seemed to me that I needed to get to the root of the problem.
I read several books and decided to look into a low-sodium diet even though it seemed better suited to people of the geriatric crowd. Many of my co-workers cajoled and clucked over my self-made diet which wasn’t really a diet in the strictest sense of the word but when some started to remark rather shockingly, “You look….. healthy!” I knew I was onto something and kept right up with my regimen. Well, the effect was exactly what I wanted. I noticed a marked difference in my periods within half a year which no longer made my weight fluctuate so erratically. In addition, I dropped two dress sizes within a year. I was jazzed. Furthermore, I felt it was an easy diet since checking to see how much sodium items contained was so easy. I never felt even once that I was being deprived and I never missed the excessive amounts of salt. After awhile I knew if there was too much sodium or salt contained in any food because actual table salt made my mouth burn. Extreme? Yes, but it worked.
In 1998 I began to experience some new problems with my menses which seemed unusual and I consulted doctors who considered my juvenile-like cramping as par for the course. First, they said it was nothing. When I continued to experience some embarrassing situations one female doctor prescribed Aleve during my periods and sent me on my way. All I knew for sure was that instead of my hormones waning it was more like they were raging- like a teenager would experience. I checked out the Zone Diet because it claimed one thing that appealed to me. Dr. Sears, the inventor of the diet and an MIT researcher, promised that it would balance my hormone and insulin levels. My instincts told me that was the key to solving my problem.
I have never looked back and I changed one thing in particular. I stopped worrying about sodium. The Zone food pyramid is exactly the opposite of the USDA Food pyramid and with dramatic results. It puts fats on a short list replacing most of them with monounsaturated fats, keeps proteins, dairy, fruits and vegetables as the primary largest food source and replaces most breads, grains, starches and pasta with plain and simple H2O (Water). Most people will say, “Zone Diet? Don’t you have to eat pre-packaged meals and nothing else like all those other weight-loss plans in magazines?” It’s about as far from those expensive deals as it could possibly be and it also gives you the opportunity to have pre-packaged meals when convenience is an issue.
Before anyone starts buying products I would urge them to do one important thing first. Buy the book by Barry Sears, titled, Enter The Zone. The explanation of how the non-diet works is laid out in a little over 200 pages and you’ll never have to wonder what exactly it is you’re doing. It simplifies the world of losing weight down to some sound principles and helps you get control over your appetite, weight and your body. Basically, the diet puts your metabolism back in balance and is very helpful to people dealing with all kinds of ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, PMS, chronic fatigue, depression and cancer and even helps alleviate the more painful symptoms of diseases such as MS, HIV and other autoimmune issues.
This plan has been embraced by high-performance athletes- such as the team Garmin-Cervélo at the 2011 Tour de France, many Hollywood actors and celebrities also endorse the products and plan even though they are not paid to be spokespersons. The Zone basically sells itself to anyone who earnestly uses its principles and sticks to the plan. Today they are calling it the Neo-Paleolithic diet but what kept me on the diet, besides my determination was the basic zone principle: Even if you eat one meal or snack that strays from the plan you’re only one meal away from getting back in the zone.
The Zone is a food plan for those who have never been able to stick to a diet and especially great for those who refuse to go on a diet. Check it out because it’ll change the way you feel about food forever and you’ll still love to eat. What could be better than that ? I highly recommend buying any of the cookbooks. You learn more about the portion control part of this plan that way and the variety and level of the cuisine is phenomenal !
Even though Dr. Sears does not stress exercise in any way I feel that working out has also been a life saver for me in the form of fast walking, yoga and doing occasional sprints which involve such things as quick runs, tossing a basketball around for ten minutes or sweeping a fifty feet square space. These were not random exercise choices but diligently and carefully selected after years- 28 to be exact- of searching out viable choices which could be fit into my busy travel and work schedule. During my college years, which I started seven years into my original career, walking was all I could fit in and very early in the morning. I added yoga a little later as a stretch routine and found it was much more than stretching. I added sprints after reading a ground-breaking book written by Covert Bailey titled Smart Exercise. Covert is the Fit or Fat guru who had a show on PBS by the same name in the early 90s. The entire book is a goldmine of information about how to get the most out of exercise but I would especially impress the sections about how muscles work and the information about wind sprints in the training section. Once again, it’s not a long book at 282 pages but the information is essential to understanding how to get the most out of a fitness and exercise routine. It also explains in easy and fun terms why exercise works in reducing your actual weight- not your water retention or food energy which is essential to helping you lose weight.