Thoughts from our Monthly Challenge Zoners


Your “Red Pill, Blue Pill” came right in time.  I'm starting to look at things the same waythe characters in The Road looked at the boy and his father, and thinking that cannibalizing a side of pancakes topped with ice cream and sprinkled with cereal is a GREAT idea. I know it’s not, but what is sometimes hard about this (The Zone, The Kick the Sugar Challenge) is that it IS totally against the norm, rebellious almost.  And to reference The Matrix as well, it is like living in a separate world and knowing that I have knowledge that others CHOOSE not to have.  I feel horrible socially sometime though, even though everyone has been so supportive outside of the gym. My co-workers and classmates ask about how I feel and how it is going all the time—yet when they are sharing home-made cake, deserts, buying coffee, or going out to lunch together...I become the one left behind.  I'm that guy that isn't fun to "break bread with".  Luckily I’m entertained by my experiences at the hospital when I eat.  The "check out lady" and I have a great game going of: look how little my meat and vegetables cost in comparison to others "special with bread". I go to the cafeteria with nearly the same people every day from all around the hospital, and they watch me measure things in cups, pour things into tiny spoons, ask to have it measured, and then cross my fingers that the weight I picked is right.  Then with a mass of food, I pay something like $2.98.  The “Lunch Lady” says something like “you did well again today, huh?” and the guy who just spent $7.98 whips his head around because he hears my price and had seen the hog load I was carrying of spinach and beef, and his facial expression is one of my favorites: WHAT THE F$%K!!!  Sometimes the amount of food on the Zone is unbearable to choke down, and sometimes I get caught counting nuts and people think that my quirks have elevated to a degree that is going to need serious therapy.  I think the ups are how I feel, the accountability and commitment, the fight to stay the course, and the knowledge I’ve acquired about food.  The down side is that to be the only person in my daily life kicking it Zone style is alienating, and lonely.  It’s been over a month that I’ve drank anything but black coffee or water, and snack time with friends has turned into a count down for me to rejoin the “normal society”. I know I can’t go all the way back with out feeling like crap, but damn a crunch of cake and a spoon of candy may just convince others that I’m weird again, and not crazy.

1 more week to a cheat day, Cullen!  1 more week!

Good Morning:

So, I'm still working on this whole zone thing! But, since I'm putting the time/effort in I just wanna make sure I'm doing this correctly! Last night and this morning I just felt I had way too much food on my plate, but maybe I'm just picking the right food!

This Morning my plan was to have:
Protein:  2 egg whites and 2 eggs
Carbs: 3 cups strawberry
Fat: 9 almonds

When I started cutting up the strawberries and putting them in the measuring cup, I realized that it was going to be way too many strawberries! So, I decided to have 2 cups strawberries and 1 cup tomato. I don't have a scale, so I do what I can do measure produce at the grocery store, but I also try to measure using a measuring cup as well!

For like a cup of tomato's is it ok to dice the tomato's and throw them in the measuring cup to measure out a cup?

You are doing great! Yes, chopping them up is how to measure that kind of quantity. Choosing the good quality foods will definitely look like a lot of food.
I would emcourage you to get a scale just to make things a little easier. Target should have some for not too much.
Nice work, Amanda!


The inner snake and I are ONE.  And it feels awful.
I was able to hold out for this

And this

But not for this.

And now I feel like this
Last night, after being as good as it gets while visiting family, the peanut-butter + freshly-baked-choco-chip-cookies won.  I had read the blogs about burpees before cookies (I haven’t exercised one muscle except my ass on the chair this week), read Lisa’s post about how badly she felt after indulging, and was pretty durn proud of the extent to which I HAD held out.  Not perfect by any stretch, but enough to feel good about.
It’s physical.  The smell, the sight of those cookies were too much to overcome.  I had about half of the bag smothered with chunky Jif peanut butter.  And IT TASTED GREAT!
But it’s 3am, only hours after the snarf, and I already the nastiness starting to creep in.  Now it’s the next day. It’s extremely yuck.  Emotionally I’m fine.  This is purely physical yuck.
Maybe one binge day a month is a good thing.  Maybe there is a way to get a balance where it’s not “all or nothing”.  I don’t’ know.  But when I land tonight back in AZ, it’s on to phase two.  Correct food combinations, purchasing the food scale, focused shopping, and remembering why I don’t keep any of the goodies in the house.
 I’m a recovering sugar addict.
Eileen, you HAVE won.  You fought well and made great gains this past month in your efforts, discovering how you feel off the sugar and when you actually eat it again.  That was a really good lesson and good to know how yucky it makes you feel.  It IS a drug!  Now just get back on the wagon, come home, and hit it hard again!  No, it isn't all or nothing, but the effort of trying for that is a good place to start, and then a cheat day here and there rewards you, allows you to relax mentally, and helps you reset your goals.  You have done great!  Really stick with 2 weeks now with being diligent in balancing good quality foods, and know you can have a cheat day after 2 weeks.


Hi Lisa!
Here's a couple recipes I found that are easy and taste great. I ate whatever I wanted on that ski trip-MISTAKE!! After being so diligent last month I have to admit I felt like I was churning glass in my stomach, my head was going to explode and I was going to blow chunks on the ski hill. I was getting plenty of exercise too. I think a little treat once in a while is great and it keeps you going with a smile but I way over did it and am glad to be back on track!!
I had to cut and paste these; I hope that works okay for you. Ali.


  • 2 cups plain, nonfat yogurt (2C, 2P)
  • 2 cups nonfat cottage cheese (8P)
  • 4 oz. old fashion oats, uncooked (8C)
  • 4 tablespoons silvered almonds (4F)


  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Allspice to taste


·         Blend together, refrigerate overnight (this softens the oats).

Remark: 4 servings, 3 blocks each (serving size is 1 cup)

Veggie pancakes

  • 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash or 3 grated and peeled raw broccoli stems [2C]
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced [1/4C]
  • 4 large egg whites, beaten [2P]
  • 1 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon oat bran [3/4C]
  • 6 medium pecan halves; chopped [3F]
  • 2 strips vegetarian bacon or 3-1/2 oz turkey bacon [1P]


·         Beat egg whites. Add remaining ingredients except bacon.

·         Spray skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.

·         Add batter to skillet with large spoon, shaping into patties. Fry bacon separately.

·         Serve pancakes topped with 0 calorie maple flavored syrup with bacon on the side.

·         To make a 4-block meal add 2 pecan halves, 2 more strips of bacon, and top pancakes with 1/3 cup applesauce.

This is GOOD you guys!  I think it is positive reinforcement that you all went so hard on cutting out the sugar, and then you had a binge and felt terrible.  Now you are ready to commit to the next step.  Thank you for the recipes, Ali.  It helps to know what others are going through, that you aren't alone in your victories and struggles, and the struggles aren't defeats.  It's when you don't get back up, dust yourself off, and get back to it that it's a defeat.  You're only ever one meal away from doing better again.

Sharing recipes helps break up the feeling of stagnant meals.  Share more, everyone!!

NutritionLisa Ray2 Comments