Many of us judge the success of a dietary program based on the number we see on the scale rather than how we feel. When starting the Zone, some of the benefits you’ll begin to notice are appetite suppression for 4-6 hours, good mental focus, increased physical energy and a significant decrease in your carbohydrate cravings. It’s important to remember that you can begin experiencing these changes over the course of a day, long before the scale will change. I always suggest taking measurements prior to starting the Zone, as there’s a good chance you might be losing inches off your waist, hips, arms or legs without the scale changing. Forget to measure, no worries. Just use your favorite pair of jeans or the notch on your belt to gauge how snug or loose things are fitting.
If you’ve been on the Zone for a while and feel like you’ve hit a plateau, here are a few things to consider. Remember, weight-loss plateaus are common, and sometimes it’s just switching things up or refocusing your efforts that can make all the difference.
- Consume small, frequent meals: Small, frequent meals help to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. If you are following the block method and say, for example, you have 11 blocks per day, try 3 3-block meals and 2 1-block snacks or if you want smaller meals, try 5 2-block meals and a 1-block snack prior to bed. For more information on the block method, check out the Zone Food Block Guide.
- Focus on favorable carbohydrates: We always suggest the bulk of your carbohydrates come from fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, as we age, especially for women, even the sugars in fruits can be too much for our bodies to handle. Try to make vegetables the majority of your carbohydrate choices and limit fruit to 1-2 servings per day, preferably lower-glycemic choices (e.g. berries), if you are struggling to see change.
- Consider a food journal: A food journal is a good way to evaluate whether your portion sizes have increased, starchy carbohydrates have begun sneaking into your diet, or habits like stress eating or eating at night are sabotaging your efforts. Track your intake for a few days during the week and a weekend day to see if you notice any trends. Weighing and measuring your portions can also be insightful as overestimating can take place over time.
- Check your levels: Consider taking the AA/EPA blood test to determine whether your levels of inflammation are in the optimal range. This will let you know whether you are doing a good job controlling inflammation through your diet and if your level of omega-3 supplementation is right for you.
- Physical Activity: Consider adding in walking or another activity you enjoy. If you’ve been doing the same activity for a few months, switch it up as your body can become very efficient at doing the same thing over time.
And remember, the best way to know whether you are reaping all the anti-inflammatory benefits of the Zone Diet isn’t the number on the scale but how you feel!