Is a 30 day strict Zone diet even possible? I’m sure you’ve asked yourself that very question before. We talk about it all the time via our daily Butter Bit at the whiteboard. Sure, you’ve dabbled with 3-4 days in a row before. Maybe you’ve even gone the two week minimum once or twice. But 30 days? Talk about a completely different monster. For most people the answer is a resounding “‘no”. The cravings and addictions are too strong to resist for that long. Besides, what’s wrong with hopping off of the Zone wagon every once in a while if you get back on it soon after? A lot, actually. Though it isn’t exactly obvious. More than just your performance and your aesthetics are on the line here. For the sake of argument, let’s even put health on the back-burner for just a second (though it goes without saying health is the most important reason of all). What about your sense of pride in being in complete control of your life? Let’s think about it for a second. From the moment we start to experience puberty we crave freedom. At first it’s freedom from our parents. Then it’s the freedom to drive. To vote. To live on our own. To earn and spend money however we want. On the surface, it would appear that we are indeed free, but anyone incapable of, or unwilling to, kick their cravings for dangerous food items is still only pretending. Food has a power over people unlike any other; until it’s mastered, we’ll never be completely free.
Like everyone else on this planet, up until June of 2014, Shawn Gorham wasn’t free. He fell victim to his sugar addictions every night (Shawn is a notorious ice cream lover). Instead of battling against them he embraced them. “I’m not going to the games”, he’d say. “Why do I have to Zone?” To his credit, he’s been a long time Paleo observer. In fact, he’s lost 42 lbs since switching over to eating clean. Still, weighing and measuring just never made the cut. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Shawn at the box before you also know that he’s the last person at the gym we’d ever expect to make the change. Well, myself and the other CFK trainers are happy and super proud to announce that Shawn went on a strict Zone diet for the entire month of June! That’s 30+ straight days of weighing and measure people. If he can do it, you can too.
Here’s Shawn’s story:
Q: Why the sudden change, Shawn?
A: I did it because I was gaining a little weight and I did not have the time to hit the daily WOD’s due to work and general life business. I figured diet is more important than working out if you had to choose one. I was also dealing with serious addictions to sugar. We’re talking desert every night. (Shawn is a sucker for ice cream)
Q: How did you do it?
A: I did it one day at a time…one meal at a time. Consciously choosing to eat the right food in the correct portion. My wife also did 30 days perfect zone, so when I was weak she was strong, and vice versa. If I knew I was busy the next day I packed the night before for the day. I tried to never be without food or a plan. I knew anything was possible for 30 days…it was just a matter of how badly I wanted it. I can be pretty competitive and I was not going to let my body/mind win.
Q: Was it easy/hard?
A: It was FU*#ING HARD! Dark shadow talked me off the cliff every single weekend. The worst was when my mom made my favorite chocolate cake for a graduation party and I couldn’t have any
Q: What kind of results have you seen?
A: I have lost about 11 lbs in a month.
Q: Did you ever come close to breaking zone?
A: Yes, but I stayed strong. Though I did have a donut on the 4th of July (after my 30 days). I didn’t like it though. It’s incredible how much my taste buds have changed since starting a perfect Zone. I got right back on the Zone plan afterwards.
Q: What did you learn about yourself during the 30 days?
A: I learned that I reward myself with food, mainly desert. I learned I felt like I deserved to eat bad on the weekend because I was so “good” staying strict Monday through Friday. I learned that certain foods triggered a desire in me to pair it with another food item that wasn’t so good. For example, when I eat Mexican fajitas I want chips and salsa. When I have black coffee in the afternoon I want it with chocolate. On Saturday mornings I want my black coffee with a donut. Weekends at the beach triggered an intense desire for an ice cream cone.
I learned to recognize the specific triggers that set me off. Knowing them in advance taught me how to better respond to them. Mexican food still makes me want chips and salsa, but knowing that ahead of time helps me portion things so much better. Once I knew in my mind the rules they were easy to follow. It’s so easy now and we have the system down.
Q: Now that the 30 days are over, what now?
A: It’s so easy now and we have the system down. We’re gonna keep going!
Q: Is there one key factory that will help make others successful too?
A: My wife, Melissa, has also been on Zone with me. She’s been super supportive the entire time. We share the same goals and we’re on the same plan. We also feed our kids Paleo-Zone, so we don’t bring any crap/temptation into the house most of the time. If everyone in the house is doing it things are so much easier.
What To Take From Shawn’s Experience
Hearing Shawn’s story is super inspiring. It means that even the most staunch opponent of weighing and measuring can open their eyes to the amazing benefits of specific portion control. It also goes to show that, yes, 30 straight days is possible. 30 straight days of a strict Paleo-Zone diet isn’t a feat reserved only for your trainers.
Below is a list of the major points from Shawn’s experience. Do they sound familiar?
- Keep it simple. One meal at a time.
- Get somebody to do it with you. It’s always easier that way. Per Shawn: “when I was weak she was strong, and vice versa”
- Admit that you have an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s okay. We all do. Use it as motivation to take back control.
- It’s freaking hard! Then again, nothing worth doing is ever easy. He regularly conversed with a trainer for motivation to keep him on track.
- You will see amazing results. It’s impossible not to. Shawn lost 11 lbs in a month having hardly worked out. Imagine where’d he’d be with 3-5 workouts per week.
We aren’t reinventing the wheel here. Shawn merely committed to the rules we’ve preached since day 1. He decided he was tired of not being in control and he took the necessary steps to reclaiming his life. The crazy part is we don’t even know the effects of the Zone on his workout performances yet because he’s still been super busy with work. My guess is he’s got a ton of PRs coming his way.
The Gorhams can truly say that they are now in complete control of every aspect of their lives. Can you?