Paleo Diet vs. Zone vs. IIFYM: Eating for Performance...and Abs

Abs aren’t just made in the gym, they’re made in the kitchen!About 10 months ago, I started on a food journey. No, not a restaurant crawl, but a food journey.

I already had the exercise part down since since I'd been doing CrossFit for 2+ years (5-7 times/week), but I wanted to experiment with what I ate to see how it made me feel. I also wanted abs… but who doesn’t.

Paleo Diet

I started by trying the Paleo diet for about a month. This way of eating eliminates all refined sugar, grains, trans fats, high glycemic carbs, processed foods, dairy and legumes. Everything that tastes good huh? 

However, this was a great place to start because it made me learn how to cook from scratch using more nutritious foods. The problem was that it felt restrictive, and I had less energy. My performance at the gym also stayed stagnant during this time so I wasn't seeing any gains. This just wouldn’t work…

Zone Diet

My next thought was to tryThe Zone Diet. I was able to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, each consisting of 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs. Since no food was off limits, I thought I could definitely do this one!

But once I laid out all of my containers and portioned everything into them, I realized this was way too difficult to maintain. I knew the Zone Diet was bound to make me implode, so I spared myself the stress and moved on.

IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

Then everyone at my gym was talking about this new “flexible dieting” plan, IIFYM, where you track macronutrients, protein, fats, and carbs. Targets for each day are calculated according to age/gender, body composition, activity level and goals. The plan focuses on balance and no foods are off limits. The objective is to preserve muscle and encourage fat loss without decreasing energy. Even better, there was an app I could use to help track everything!

When I first started, the numbers I calculated made me drop a lot of weight, but in turn I was very tired and unable to hit my usual lifts. Some of the bodyweight movements got better (i.e., pull-ups) since I was lighter, but my strength had dropped. At that point, my coach adjusted my target macronutrients, and I was able to maintain weight while lifting heavier. 

I used what I'd learned from earlier in my voyage and started to track track track those macronutrients. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tired, and I was ready for what life brought me. Do I always hit those numbers each day? Of course not! If I want ice cream sometimes I’m going for it! I do find that if I stray too much from the plan, I feel stuffed, starving or sluggish. But IIFYM taught me how to utilize food for fuel, muscle, training and enjoyment. You put good in, you get good out.

Here is a sample menu of what I eat each day:

  • Breakfast: hardboiled eggs (2-3), banana

  • Snack: all natural applesauce

  • Lunch: oven roasted turkey breast, fruit (whatever I have at home), some trail mix

  • Snack: protein bar (Quest bar) before the gym

  • Dinner: chicken with vegetables, and if I have enough calories left, toasted coconut chips (my favorite new snack)


So what have I learned from the Wortman food revolution?

Before, I ate for convenience disregarding ingredients and often eating something prepackaged or sweet. I now love to make my own food since I can control ingredients and adjust flavors and seasonings to my taste. I've also learned how to cook wholesome, nutritious, easy to make food in 30 minutes or less.

It's been fascinating to experiment with food to see how it affects the way I look, feel and perform. Finding the right plan is very personal and can take some time, but it's worth it. 

Marnie Wortman

Marnie Wortman

By Dr. Marnie Wortman, PT, DPT, ART, CF-L1

Easy Green Smoothie: Paleo Style

Easy Green Smoothie: Paleo Style

My day…

Alarm rings, hit snooze, wake up at 6:00, out the door by 6:30.

Time for breakfast somewhere between drying my hair and brushing my teeth?

I needed something easy, quick, and filling, because the last thing I wanted was to be starving at 8:30 during a plank party.  Then, like a healthy superhero, a good friend of mine introduced to me to the green smoothie!

Green Smoothie Recipe

  • Like a magic potion, you just add…

  • 2 handfuls of leafy greens (any will do)

  • a few carrots

  • 1 can light coconut milk (the real stuff, watch the ingredients)

  • some almond milk

  • 1 banana (I use the ripe ones since I can’t stand to eat them)

  • handful of other fruit (I use frozen because it’s easy, but any kind will work! Peaches and Pineapples are my favorites)

  • 1 handful of sunflower seeds

  • Sprinkle some chia seeds

(I’ve added cucumber, avocado, pumpkin seeds, coconut water, fruit juice… anything Paleo goes!)

and BLEND!

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

It starts off looking gorgeous and layered in the blender, but by the time its done working its magic, the color can be anything other than attractive. It is a green smoothie after all. Good thing it's healthy, tastes good and fits the Paleo lifestyle!  Added bonus is that it can help empty the refrigerator to make room for new goodies!


Marnie Wortman

Marnie Wortman

By Dr. Marnie Wortman, PT, DPT, CrossFitter

How I Lost 40 pounds and Got in the Best Shape of My Life!

By Linc Jenkins

This is me at age 16 modeling my speedo for the high school yearbook.  I remember it well because as you can imagine, I was not thrilled about the image of myself in a bikini bottom being captured for 1600 of my classmates to see.

linc swim team circle

linc swim team circle

At 6'4", I always had a pretty lean build, until my late 20's, when I started lifting weights and paying more attention to nutrition. In college I was about 235 after putting on about 15 pounds of muscle.

In my early 30's, I had a lot going on in my life and  stopped working out and developed some bad habits.  One of those being eating massive amounts of food late at night.  Have you seen the movie Gremlins?  Remember what happens to the little Mogwai's when you feed them after midnight?  Well, the result is not positive and the same can be said for myself.  Over time my size 38 pants no longer fit and the scale was reading 275.  My wakeup call came in the form of a trip to Macy's to buy some new dress pants and coming home with waist size 42.  I had had enough and it was time to get back on a healthy track.

Here's a picture of me at almost 300 lbs. Not many photos of that time!

linc heavy

linc heavy

I really like slogans because they are a good way to not only remember things easily but also to keep things simple, which is important for me.  So, I'll use a few well known slogans to share some of what has worked for me.

Monkey See Monkey Do 

Random story. During a swim meet in high school , my teammates once overheard an opponent who I had just beaten in the 50 free referring to me as "King Kong".  I guess the thought of monkeys and and my yearbook picture sparked that memory.

linc diving

linc diving

So, even though I actually have been described in likeness to a primate before (insert sarcasm), this has nothing to do with monkeys. It is about inspiration and finding someone to emulate which can help you get started and visualize your  goals.

My inspiration to get into working out was Tony Gonzalez (Gonzo), an NFL tight end who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons. I'm an avid fantasy football player and back in 2004, Gonzo was my man. Any of you who happen to partake in fantasy football know what I mean.  That guy who produces week after week for your squad and whose name always seems to end up on your roster, year after year.  One could call it a man crush.

So I had just started working out with weights and saw a clip on TV of Gonzo incline pressing 100 lb dumbbells.  At the time I couldn't even come close to putting that kind of weight up, but seeing Gonzo do it inspired me and I told myself that there was no reason why I couldn't do the same thing one day.  This was a major turning point for me because a benchmark was set (pun intended) and I now had a specific goal to work towards.

You Are What You Eat 

This is coming from a guy whose family nicknamed him the "garbage disposal" because of the quantities of food I consumed and the speed at which I did so.  I had to "upgrade" to a deluxe meal plan in college, because two all-u-can eat meals a day at Chapel Hill's Lenoir Dining Hall was not enough. A typical snack for me was a Mrs Freshens honey bun that had been marinating in the vending machine in the basement of Alexander Residence Hall. Now, this strategy worked for me when I was 19; however, in my early 30's, not so much.

One of my favorite cartoons back in the day was GI Joe.  Each episode concluded with a short public service announcement where a GI Joe hero would come across some kid acting a fool and offer expert GI Joe advice.  After being quickly educated in the school of common sense, the kid would enthusiastically mutter "now I know!"  This would then of course cue the GI Joe theme music and the hero responded with the coin phrase "And knowing is half the battle".

Well, call me Cobra Saboteur because I'm rolling with this phrase when it comes to proper nutrition and fitness results. My experience has always been that working out is only half the battle.

When I got serious about working out in my late 20's, I also drastically changed my diet. I'm no nutritionist, but over the years I've found some healthy foods high in protein and low in fat that I like eating, and I stick to them.  I throw in a protein bar for a morning snack every day and whey protein shakes after working out.  Once again, a key point here is that I like what I eat and it gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that my body will function better as a result.

Stay  in Your Lane

This is actually a Dr Mayes saying that I really like and figured would be appropriate to close with.  For me, this has to do with genetics and body type. Whenever someone compliments me or asks me what I did to get in shape, I always start with giving props to my DNA.  Even before I knew how to spell working out, I had reasonably muscular arms; this came from Ralph Jenkins and Debra Fraley (may they rest in peace), not anything that I did.  On the same token, I had hip surgery at age 13 due to a bone tumor and now face possible knee replacement at age 37 due to severe arthritis in my knees.  So I'm gonna go out on a limb and  proclaim that I'm not an ideal candidate to be a marathon runner.  My body seems to respond well to strength training, and I enjoy it, so that's the lane I've chosen.

I'll leave you with my "after" picture which includes my amazing wife of 10 years!

lis and linc

lis and linc

Note about the author: Many people in town think Linc and Dr. Geno Mayes are brothers (or the same person-ha), but in fact they are only related through marriage. Linc is not only family (his wife runs the IronPT office),  but he has also been a patient from time to time. Even cooler, his arm is featured on home page. We are thrilled that he has spilled some of his secrets for us and will definitely have him contribute again to share more about his diet and workout.

You're as Flexible as a Tree (POM 6/13)

Patient of the Month: June 2013

Meet Steve....

Not only is Steve our Patient of the Month, but he is also the person we've seen make the most changes toward better health and wellness. Since starting therapy he has purchased a bike (and more importantly a helmet), participated in his first road race, started eating breakfast, and focused on better nutrition.

We are still working on better sleeping habits, but how can Steve rest when he is busy changing the world. He has committed his life to enriching the lives of students and inner city youth, and want to take a minute to honor that amazing work as well.

At this rate, we can hardly wait to see what happens next. Steve, we know your future is bright!!

In his own words....

Occupation: Education Injury: Hamstrings Three words to describe me: Ambitious, Gregarious, Dedicated

What brought you to PT? I started going to PT as a preventative measure due to tightness in my hamstrings.

How have you benefitted from your PT experience (physically or mentally)? I have benefited from my PT sessions in different aspects: my hamstrings are stronger and have more range of motion. Also, I have a more confident attitude towards my workouts.

What would you recommend to someone who has the same injury as you? Strongly advise them to reach out to Iron PT and follow the doctor’s orders. You will see immediate improvement and restoration of physical function and fitness level.

Any new goals now that you are feeling better? I look forward to playing soccer on a regular again. My new goal is to sign up for a mud run later this year.


Paleo Diet Review and Gluten Sensitivity



By Meri Mayes

We had the NYC "Marathon" Recap, so now it's time for the Paleo Diet Review. It wasn't 26.2, but it was 30 days of no sugar, grains, cereals, legumes, or dairy. Almost as hard if you ask me.

Again, my sister Melissa and BFF Kerry joined me on the journey, but I'll just share my personal experience. Because I only committed to the plan for a month, I didn't cheat at all (except a little cream in coffee).

At the end of 30 days, I still hate diets! They make you bingy, irritable, and simply aren't effective when they are too strict. But sometimes the best lessons come when you face the things you dislike most.

Gluten-Free Changed My Life___

As I mentioned in my first post introducing the diet challenge, I have suffered from stomach problems for 20+ years. Then in my 20's, I developed additional autoimmune problems that have only seemed to multiply.

Very shorty after starting Paleo, I noticed that my digestive problems (no need to recite an Activia commercial) started to diminish. About two weeks into the plan, I saw a Dr. Oz show talking about Gluten. I already knew I didn't have Celiac Disease (tested a year ago), but I teared up as I listened to the guest discussing her symptoms and how gluten-free cured them.

Dr. Oz said as many as 20 million Americans could be affected by a gluten sensitivity and not know it. Could I be one of those people? I took the sensitivity test below and sure enough my score indicated an issue.

Dr. Oz Gluten Sensitivity Test

So What's Next____________________

No one wants to have an intolerance for yummy foods with gluten, but I feel so hopeful that this could be the answer I have been looking for.

Immediately after the 30 days ended (Oct. 31st), I reintroduced dairy and legumes back into my diet. Giving up dairy was actually the hardest part of the plan for me, so I was really scared that along with gluten it might be a problem. After a week, my stomach is still great so I am thrilled. I just can't be convinced that greek yogurt and hummus are not super good for me.

Instead of a "diet", I plan to continue my lifestyle of eating mostly unprocessed foods that provide nutrition and energy. Of course I will be watching my gluten very carefully and only indulging on occasion when I am willing to accept the consequences.

Overall Review_____________________

Overall, I love Paleo's focus on food from nature rather than machines, and I would recommend it for the following reasons:

  1. Health - To learn more about the way your body interacts with food. You really are what you eat. Eliminating dairy and gluten alone can give you some great insight. My hair has never been better!

  2. Weight Loss - Seems to work very well. I lost 3 pounds even though I was not trying to. Girl likes her curves : ) The other girls also had significant weight loss

  3. Maintenance - I would like to do strict Paleo for at least two weeks per year. I think it's a great way to reset your taste buds so you really savor food. We all agreed that sugary things seemed way too sweet after 30 days without any.