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

Tackle Arthritis and Knee Pain to Stay Active (POM 12/13)

Patient of the Month

It has been a true pleasure to work with Jerry. He has been fully committed to therapy and demonstrated a strong desire to live a healthy, active lifestyle. In addition, he is always a gentlemen who puts family and others first. We want to honor the wonderful changes he's made and can't wait to see where this year takes him.

In His Own Words...

Three Words That Describe Me: Pragmatic, Family-Oriented, Inquisitive

. What brought you to PT? After many years of untreated knee arthritis, a couple years of low back issues, weight gain, and an increasing lack of physical activity, I was starting to have problems ambulating. Walking just a few blocks was becoming difficult. I needed to get my lower extremities in much better shape. At 63 years old, I'm way too young to be having ambulation problems.

How have you benefitted from your PT experience? I've regained at least 25 degrees of range of motion in my knee and significantly increased the strength in my hip and leg muscles. My walking endurance and comfort have also increased significantly. Dr. Mayes along with his team members Deb and Melissa have given me the encouragement, support and tools necessary to continue getting stronger and better. I've dropped 12 pounds as well.

What would you recommend to someone who has the same injury as you? Work hard and pay attention to Dr. Mayes and his staff.

What activities are you most excited about getting back to? I'm very excited to be able to walk without discomfort in my legs. When I started at Iron PT, I could walk for only about 3 to 5 minutes before knee and/or hip discomfort kicked in. I can now walk at least 25 minutes without a problem. I will continue to work on endurance and strength. My short term goals will be to exercise and eat healthfully every day. My long term goals are to complete a 5K walk in 2014 and to still be exercising every day when I'm 80 years old.

Blender vs. Juicer: The Big Decision

My wife and I were standing in the aisles of Costco frantically scrolling through our iPhones to figure out the real difference between blending and juicing.

We would put the juicer in the cart and then take it out. Put the blender in and then take it out. I don't think our kids (4 and 2) were at all amused by our antics.

Which should we choose to get more greens and nutrition in our diet? 

In our harried search, we came across a great site,, that had a comprehensive but simple, post comparing juicing and blending.

Ultimately, we picked the high powered blender because:

  • A smoothie fills you up and contains more fiber, making it a satisfying and healthy snack or "dessert"

  • You don't leave so much of the fruit and vegetables unused

  • It's easy to clean

So far we have been really happy experimenting with all sorts of different concoctions in our blender. Maybe next year, we'll branch out and add juicing to the mix. As with everything, it's a personal choice and you really can't go wrong.





Does anyone else prefer their blender over a juicer?

Can you recommend a great site/blog for green smoothie recipes?

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.