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Entering the Zone
By Lauri Gray Eaton
July 20, 2001

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Judging by the pleased look on Charlie Christian's face, the cardiothoracic surgeon thought I'd made a step in the right direction. A disciple of Barry Sears' Zone Diet, Christian moonlights with an Optimal Health Partners gig that he founded in order to teach folks how to manage their health and avoid ending up under the knife in the first place. So when he's not assisting in heart transplant surgeries for the Texas Transplant Institute, he's preaching the gospel of good health through optimal eating.
   I suspect that his Calvinism is a product of having seen way too many glommed-up hearts that are the product of today's enchiladas-and-pizza-and-burgers-to-go lifestyle. It's gratifying stuff going down, but it's eventually going to lead to cholesterol-clogged arteries and ill health. If there's any justice, anyway.
   Contrary to what a lot of people mistakenly think, the Zone Diet is not a low-carbohydrate regimen. I've been down that road.
   My parents discovered the lo-carb path when I was a barely a teen. Mom, by virtue of being 4-foot-11 "and three quarters!," never could eat much of anything without packing on a few pounds. Those Oreo sundaes were particularly brutal on her. Dad was 6-foot something and a regular tennis player. If it hadn't been for his co-dependent addiction to ice cream, he would have been a splendid specimen. As it was, he was a bit tubby around the middle. Not enough serves and too many scoops.
   Then they discovered lo-carb dieting, and the pounds dropped off. Impressed, I took up lo-carb too, although more because I was a teen-ager and dieting is what girl teens do and not because I had a weight problem. Actually, to be more specific, my problem was that I was not Cheryl Tiegs.
   The problem with lo-carb, and nod if you are with me here, is that there are only so many steaks, chickens, sausages, hunks of cheese, and sticks of butter that one can eat before one gets really irritable and will throttle the nearest Good Humor Man for something, anything, that does not taste lof tallow. And, if my memory serves me correctly, this diet is no holiday for the colon either.
   I rather quickly gave it up in favor of the standard teen girl diet: sugar-free sodas and all-you-can-eat salad bars. In fact, that's the diet I've pretty much stuck to ever since.
   That was the zone where Dr. Charlie found me, a Souper Salad stockholder, when he convinced me to attend one of his seminars.
   He's a pretty apt spokesperson for The Zone. It helps that, fit and slim, he is not one of those corpulent doctors who waggle a fried-chicken leg at you as they admonish you to lose weight. And it made sense, this Zone stuff. Man evolved as an omnivore, flourishing on a hunter-gatherer of protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries. Lean meats. Carbohydrates in the form of lots of vegetables and fruits. Monounsaturated fat from plant matter, not animals. Moderate exercise. Lots of water. Three meals and two snacks a day - never more than five hours without eating. Hey, you have to eat. I can do that!
   The seminar concluded with a visit to the back of the room with Dr. C's lovely assistant, who put me on the body composition machine and determined that I am in the target zone - barely. Worse news was not far behind: Although I knew that I was not exactly in the shape of, say, Mia Hamm, I was told I could stand to lose 11 pounds of fat. Eleven pounds! Being a fat phobic, as I have previously confessed, this came as quite a blow. (So, now I scare myself?)
   So, here I go, taking up the Zone program. Perhaps I can escape this nightmare.

You can find more information and email
Lauri Gray Eaton here.

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