The Zone | Week 84 Weight Loss

Athena Perez
by 

August 30, 2018

Day 609. 228 pounds lost (as of the 14th of Aug).

First, I want to thank every single one of you that is reaching out with Zone questions. Since there have been so many questions, I decided to write a post on it because wow, I can’t keep up! 

My journey started back in January 2017. I changed my diet so that I was only consuming lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits, very little starch, and no sugar. I didn’t count calories; instead, I focused only on eating these right foods. It worked. By the end of my first year and with the help of CrossFit, I was down 186 pounds. Sometime around April or May of this year, I hit a very frustrating plateau I couldn’t seem to shake. I wasn’t losing any more weight; my cycles seemed to be off, my hormones were doing weird things, my face was blotchy. I couldn’t figure it out. I was ready to toss in the towel.

When I attended my Level 1 course in June, I was introduced to something called the “Zone.” For any of you with a Level 1 coursebook, you can find this section on pages 53-70.  For those of you who do not have it, download it here. Do that right now because you are going to need it!

“Our clinical experience leads us to believe that Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet closely models optimal nutrition.” (Level 1 Training Guide, CrossFit Training, p. 53). It wasn’t until I took the course that I realized what the problem was. It was not the foods I was eating. I was doing that part correctly. The part I was executing incorrectly was portion sizes and proper balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. I was eating entirely too many fruits which was putting too much insulin in the body. This is why I wasn’t losing weight. I will admit I was a little intimidated by the Zone. There was a mathematical equation process to figure out how many blocks I should be eating and then what the hell was a block? Ehh…. It was too much information for me. Or….. was it?

Let’s start with the basics. The Zone (food blocks method) is designed to produce meals at a ratio of 40% Carbs: 30% Protein: 30% Fat. Got it? Now keep in mind this ratio is intended for someone hoping to lose body fat. If you don’t want to lose weight, you may have to eat more fat, which will change this ratio. Again, this is just a guide to get you started. I am focusing on those reaching out telling me they want to lose weight. 

So how many blocks should you be eating? This all depends on how big and how active you are.  I’ve done quite a bit of calculations for people, and it usually ends up at 11-13 blocks for women and 15-18 blocks for men.  Page 56 of the Level 1 Training guide has a simple block prescription based on sex and body type. Find your body type first. 

If you’re more precise, here’s the calculation:  Your zone block prescription= lean body mass (lbs) x activity level (g/lb) of lean body mass / 7 (g protein/block).

For tonight’s conversation lets keep the example simple; I am calculated at 12 blocks per day. How I divide up those 12 blocks are completely up to me. I prefer to eat three solid meals per day; I wouldn’t say I like a ton of snacks. For me, this means my meals are 4-block meals (4 blocks x 3 meals per day = 12 blocks).  

Still with me?

Awesome! Now what? Let’s make sure you understand what a block is. One “block” represents 7 grams of protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 3 grams of fat. You need all three of these to build one block.  The tables on pages 57 – 59 represents all the foods (not exclusive, just examples) in one block portions. Say for instance I need to build a 1 block meal.

Use your tables pg 57 – 59.

I need to pick a protein (pg 57) I choose chicken! 1 block of protein equals 1 oz. Now I need to pick a fat (pg 57) I choose almonds. 1 block of fat = 3 almonds. Now I need a carbohydrate (pg 58-59) I chose an apple. 1 block of carbohydrates = ½ apple.

This is what that 1 block meal would look like:

1 oz chicken

3 almonds

½ apple

I’m not sure about you guys, but this is not enough for me. I like my meals hearty.  I like 3 meals a day at 4 blocks each = total of 12 blocks per day.

Using the same example above, let’s make this a 4 block meal instead. It would look like this!

4 oz chicken

12 almonds

2 apples

Do you see how I got that? I multiplied each block by four because I am eating a 4-block meal.

You can get as creative as you want. Say you didn’t want two apples and wanted to break this up different. Not a problem!

4 oz chicken

12 almonds

(1 whole cucumber, ½ apple, 1 cup strawberries, 1 plum).

See what I just did there? That’s still a 4-block meal. It all depends on how you want to break the foods up.

Okay, let’s use a real-world Athena example. I’m going to build a 4-block lunch for myself. Here we go. It’s around noon – I’m famished and HANGRY! A nice big salad sounds good. Let’s start with protein. Hmm… what kind of salad do I want? Salmon. Oohhhh….

1.5 oz of salmon per protein block ( times 4) =  6 oz salmon.

Ok – next! I need fats. Avocado sounds yummy. Let’s add that.

1 tbsp of avocado per fat block (times 4) = 4 tbsp avocado. Cool. I just chopped it up and threw it in my salad bowl.

So now we have our 4 blocks of proteins, 4 blocks of fats.

Okay moving on! Now let’s build out the rest of the salad with our 4 blocks of carbohydrates. I can’t have a salad without lettuce! Let’s add some romaine lettuce.

6 cups of romaine lettuce per carbohydrate block.

We get three more carbohydrate blocks.  I pick cucumber, tomatoes, and blueberries.

This means I get one whole cucumber, 1 cup of tomatoes, and 0.5 cups blueberries.

By the time you’ve got all this stuff in a bowl – it’s a massive salad. I hope you’re hungry. {{laughing}}.

We just built a 4-block lunch.

I thought you said this was hard!!

Here are more of my real-world examples:

4-block breakfast

Two slices turkey bacon, two eggs, 1 cup raspberry blackberries mix with fresh mint, 2/3 cup steel oatmeal with a dribble of almond milk and some sprinkles of cinnamon.

 

 

4-block lunch

4 oz of grilled chicken, 58 grams white sweet potato, 1/4 cup kidney beans, 1 cup bell pepper, 1 cup portobello mushrooms, 1.3 tsp olive oil

– – – – – – – 

By the end of your 3rd day if not sooner, you’ll have it wired and you will start getting creative with your combinations.

Since I started the zone in July, I am down 17 lbs (as of Aug 14). My face and skin cleared up and glows like a firefly, my endurance is increasing, my cycles resumed to a normal schedule, I don’t have the desire to snack, and almost zero desire for processed carbohydrates.

How I meal plan, shop for the week, prep – folks, I will have to break this up into a couple of posts. Chew on this first ????

I love the fact that so many of you are interested. If you need help, reach out.  Will this work for everyone? Maybe not. However, for me, this will be my permanent way of life going forward. I for one can’t get enough ????. I FREAKING love it…..

Whoa…. Hey! Whoa… hey!

Lovingly,

Bean

Love,

Athena

Comments

  1. Nicole Grace says:

    I am still trying to read up on this because I can’t get my brain around it. haha

  2. Rachel Phillips says:

    My box is starting a nutrition challenge and you inspired my to try the Zone. I’m a little intimidated by the minimal calories that the block translates into. I CrossFit 4-5x/wk and coach 6 classes a week, I’m concerned that my performance will suffer? Do you find you are hungry or that your workouts lacking?

    • Bean says:

      Hi Rachel! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 My best advice first is to make sure you are on the right amount of blocks for your activity level. I am on 12 blocks because my goal is weight loss. That is not the same amount of blocks you’d be on. Calories (despite popular opinion) does not translate to hunger. Let me give you an example. I love eating zucchini as one of my blocks. In a 4 block breakfast, for instance, I get 4 carbohydrate blocks. 1 block is equivalent to 3 cups of zucchini. If for some reason I chose to eat all my carbohydrate blocks of just zucchini, I would be eating 12 cups for breakfast. I’m trying to figure out after eating 12 cups of zucchini how you would feel hungry…. *tapping head thinking*. It boils down to what choices you are making. You can have 12 tablespoons of rice… or… 12 cups of zucchini. You can have 1.3 cups of oatmeal or….. 1 cup of strawberries, 1/3 of a banana, 1 tangerine and 1/2 orange. Chose wisely 🙂 DO I feel hungry? Nope… not at all. In fact, most times I have trouble eating a full 4 block meal. Does my performance suffer? No, It has only gotten better. *wink*. Carefully asses the right amount of blocks for your body type and activity level, and chose your foods wisely. If you need more help, reach out anytime!

  3. Jai Gervin says:

    Athena, Athena, Athena,
    I found you by a fluke, or maybe by divine intervention. ???? I am in awe of your grit, beauty, determination, faith and preserverance. Thank you for inspiring the world, even unintentionally. I found crossfit after excessive amounts of weight gain, grief, depression and anger. I am a work in progress. Your Instagram page inspired me to do the Open this year. I am trying to “follow” this zone method, but I am ….lost. As a vegetarian, I struggle with being “full” and staying away from processed foods and carbs. Can we work through some vegetarian samples?

    • Bean says:

      Jai! Im so happy to have received this, sorry for my long delay! I would love to help you. I will send you over an email so we can communicate directly. Thank you for such unbelievably kind words. I’m so happy that you did the open! WOW, what a great accomplishment!!!! We are both a work in progress wouldn’t you know *grin*.

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