Zone Progress Photos

30 Days of Zone Eating from The Ascent Blog

First of all, it occurs to me that I probably should have posted these with yesterday’s post, but I didn’t take them until last night. So oh well.

Second of all, if you follow me on Facebook, you have already seen this! But since posting it on FB last night I have received a LOT of questions about the specifics of how I’ve been doing Zone/Paleo, how I’ve been eating and meal prepping, and where I got my information. So I thought I would do a quick little FAQ!

1. Yes, this really is the difference over just 30 days. In the first photo, however, keep in mind that I was coming off about 2 weeks of the Standard American Diet (including corn flake casserole and oreo pie on Christmas and a few treats on New Year’s as well), so I am pretty puffed up.

2. To get started on The Zone Diet, I listened to the Zone Diet audiobook during my commute one night (well, I sort of audio-skimmed it to get the feel for it), but this CrossFit Journal article has been my main lifeline.

3. In addition to following the Zone Diet structure for my meals, I have also been eating pretty strict paleo (no added sugar, no grains, no dairy, no alcohol, no legumes). I do eat cheese for maybe 2 or 3 blocks a week (so a total of 2 or 3 ounces) and still cook with butter, and over the past 4 weeks I have had probably 3 or 4 extreme cheat meals… Like nachos at the ice climbing festival and cupcakes and ice cream at my grandma’s birthday. Gotta live a little!

4. My block structure has been roughly 3-3-2-3-1 (Sorry if that sounds like gibberish to most of you, it’s Zone “code” for my meal portions). Sometimes if I am really hungry I will eat 4 blocks instead of 3 for dinner or 2 blocks instead of 1 for my evening snack. In most of my 3 block (or larger) meals, I replace 1 block of carbs with 3 blocks of fat, so it ends up being 2 blocks carbs, 3 blocks protein, 6 blocks fat. I also drink a scoop of Gamma Labs PTF before each WOD and 1.5 scoops of Progenex More Muscle after each WOD.

5. Speaking of WODs, I typically do 3-5 WODs a week. Outside of CrossFit, my daily life is fairly sedentary. I sit in the car for 2+ hours a day commuting, and I sit in front of a computer for my job. On the weekends I try to be active but overall don’t do any other formal training like yoga or running (though I probably should start with this whole half marathon thing coming up…)

6. I have touched on this in past posts, but my meal planning really has not been that complicated. I tried pre-making all my meals but then I would feel guilty when I wasn’t in the mood for whatever I was “supposed” to eat that day, so I have found that the way that works best for me is to make a lot of basic food at the beginning of the week–usually a few pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, a pound or two of ground bison that is lightly seasoned, a dozen hardboiled eggs, a big thing of mashed sweet potatoes, and maybe a spaghetti squash–and then try to have some raw easy-to-add components on hand as well like bacon, kale and spinach, and fruit. That way I hardly have an excuse when I am packing lunch in the morning or when I come home at night because the hard-to-cook parts are already made and I just have to add one or two easy pieces and some sauce or spices into the equation.

7. My favorite go-to meals are bacon and kale (I count 1 slice of bacon as both a block of protein and a block of fat), apples with almond butter and a hardboiled egg, and a chicken thigh with mashed sweet potatoes with melted butter. Yum yum yum.

8. Overall, I was really shocked by these results. I was not expecting to see this dramatic of a change. In my almost-year of CrossFit, this is by far the most dramatic change I have had in any given month… so it just goes to show that no matter how much you kill yourself in the gym, you really won’t start to see results until you clean up your diet.

Update: I recently created a weekly shopping list broken down by carbs/proteins/fats and block structure to help you get started zoning! You can check it out here.

  • Linnéa i Colorado

    Wow! It is awesome to see results after committing to something!

    • clairechapman

      Haha seriously! How is your sugar detox coming along?

  • Simone

    Whoa!! That is inspirational! Like you, I’ve been doing crossfit for a year, though only 2 days/week (martial arts and yoga take up 3 more days). This month I started adding in other mini-WOD days and went back to about 75% paleo. My Jan 1 picture would probably be very close to yours – amazing that it only took you one month to get those results! You’ve inspired me to step it up for February. Keep it up! :)

    How do you tend to make your “in-advance” chicken, may I ask?

    • clairechapman

      I typically make boneless skinless chicken thighs in a glass baking dish, tossed in a little bit of salt and garlic powder with just enough coconut oil to keep them from sticking to the dish. Then I bake them upside-down for 15 minutes at about 375, then I flip them over in the dish and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes.


    Great job! That is a huge transformation! Keep it up!

    • clairechapman

      Thanks, Greg!

  • Merlin

    YEAH BABY!!!!!!!

    • clairechapman

      Haha thanks :)

  • Theresa

    The Zone looks good on you!

    • clairechapman

      Haha thanks! Turns out it was working a little better than I thought…

  • Angie

    You are doing awesome!

    • clairechapman

      Thanks Angie!

  • Mikayla

    Looks awesome! Congrats!

  • Melissa

    Amazing results! I was going to start Crossfit this month, but my gym has a waiting list for it :-/ Maybe next month.

    Also, are you from/in Colorado? I’m from Colorado, but live on the East Coast now. I’ve connected with so many Colorado peeps lately and it’s kinda driving me bonkers! Miss seeing mountains so much.

  • Jennifer

    You look amazing, Claire!! So excited that this is working for you :)
    I should send you what I like to eat and you can build my blocks for me… hehe.

    • clairechapman

      You should try it!! It really is NOT that hard once you get the hang of it, and I am learning more and more every day that diet is the #1 X factor in how you feel and how you look. Who knew…

      • Jennifer

        I totally agree that diet makes all the difference; but planning in detail I guess isn’t a huge priority of mine right now.. baby steps!

  • Jodi

    You look amazing.. I should really look into the zone diet. Did you weight change?

    • clairechapman

      I lost about 2 pounds–nothing drastic. Overall I think that I was able to swap a lot of body fat for lean muscle mass, and I obviously deflated quite a bit.

  • Kristin

    Damn girl, amazing pictures! Keep up the good work.

    • clairechapman

      Thanks! Workin on keeping it up, didn’t do great this week but back at it for next week!

  • Emma

    You rock! :)

    • clairechapman

      Hey thanks! :)

  • Sandi

    This is seriously the boost I needed to get my CrossFit game to the next level. Thank you SO FREAKING MUCH.

    • clairechapman

      You’re so freakin welcome!!

  • Alex

    amazing results – trying adding smoothies to your diet it really helped me slim down and cut my calorie intake.

  • Pingback: A Promise to My Mind and Body – My Whole Life Challenge « Ninja Nomers

  • Kay

    DO you have videos of your workout? I don’t know what half the stuff is!!! :(


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: