Thursday, March 13, 2008

Whither the Zone . . .

Why, would anyone do the Zone diet, given the negative treatment it's given in the sports and training journals?

My thoughts, and to let you know where I'm coming from, my primary fitness activity BC (before Crossfit), was running. Specifically the mid to long distances. Not super speedy, but have clocked a 36-37 minute 10k in my faster days. I have "raced" at distances up to a marathon, best time in that about 3:38.

I've eaten the high carb diet for a long time.

Two weeks ago I started the zone, the first week wasn't perfectly strict, in the sense that I was still eating some unfavorable carbs: bread, etc. But week two, was bread and sugar free ('cept for one cup of crappy car dealership coffee!! Doh!!).

So, my thoughts all purely anecdotal: From what I gather, most folks don't start seeing actual results for about two weeks.

My first week in the zone was kind of weird. I was a little foggy mentally. Not that anyone might notice, but yeah, a little goofier . . . than normal. :-)

Now, here's another thing: from everything I've read about weight loss etc., fitness, etc., LSD is the greatest thing ever! You can burn fat and get in shape in 20 minutes of moderate exercise! I"m not a fast weight gainer, but when I would run an hour a day 5 times a week, over a year and lose 5 pounds, compared to doing crossfit for 4 months at 20 minutes a day at MOST, 3-5 times a week, and losing 15lbs, well, that kind of got my attention.

Futhermore, my heart rate (just checked) is about 57pm (not resting, after loads of coffee) which is pretty good. If I checked it before getting out of bed, it would be lower, probably 5 bpm. When I was running 45 miles a week, I could get it down to somewhere around 45 bpm, but goodness, 45 miles a week is about 6 hours of running a week. So the trade off, timewise is fine by me, because at most in a week I might have 6 hours of workout "time" but that includes warm up and things like heavy lifting, metcons like Fran, et. al.

So, when I realized that what was supposed to work, really didn't, but crossfit did nearly the same thing, then I realized that the thing crossfit adds to workouts, the hideous intensity, was doing as nearly as much for me as pure aerobic workouts. AND i have upper body strength (so to speak) . . . if you've seen most runners and bike riders, they look like they keep their shoulders at home in the closet. :-)

Now, I thought the zone looked a little flaky too, based on my past "knowledge". But since crossfit was absolutely right about what I could expect physically, why not just take a chance with the diet, right? What have I got to lose.

But still, if the zone was a detrimental diet . . . guys like Greg Amundsen, et. al., wouldnt' get better. They would lose weight, lose muscle. But they continue to perform well if not better than before increase performance.

At the very least, I could conclude that if nothing else, the diet wasn't a hindrance to performance, and why not see if it would benefit me? If it caused me to lose a little weight, well, heck, then I've got less to pull on the pullup bar. I mean, really, what do I have to lose? If it doesn't work, it plain doesn't work.

Now, after two weeks, I've lost about 9 lbs. Did a workout at the gym day before yesterday, and cranked out pullups really well. Was tired at the end, but after 60 negative hspus and 60 pullups, I darn well better have been.

And I wasn't really interested in the zone because of any issues with my weight. What I was more interested in was the idea set out in one of the CFit journals that they thought one reason the diet works so well is not that it improves performance . . . but that it improves recovery, allowing you to come back to push hard next time. And frankly, I hadn't stalled in my cfit goals, but felt that at 42, I could tell I wasn't recovering nearly as fast as I used to. A hard cfit workout could follow me around for days.

In essence, because Crossfit was right about how to do exercise, I'm willing to keep an open mind about the diet.

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