Happy Life or Healthy Body? Pick one.

The 4-Hour Body Slow-Carb diet is not about losing weight. It’s not about using the strategies and tactics to game and trick your body into losing fat and gaining muscle without exercise. There’s a greater purpose that nobody talks about when you engage in the 4-Hour Body. That purpose is about creating a significant change in the habits that form your life. The habits that I’m talking about are the ones that help you have a healthier body AND have a happier life.

A lot of people view diets as having to give up on a happier life in order to have a happier body.  Quit doing all the things I enjoy, stop eating all of my favorite things and start doing things I hate. I say that’s bullshit. I don’t want to be a part of a program where I have to choose between whether I feel good or whether I’m happy. For me, excluding the things that I love in my life which might be sweet foods, beers after work… the things that create the experiences and memories that I’ll have forever.

I look at my slow carb experiment as an opportunity to shift, drinking and exercise habits. It’s a way to kickstart a lifetime of better choices in my future. It is creating the possibility of choice.  In the past I might have given into the temptation to drink every night.  Or, if I had one bad meal it would cascade into a waterfall of bad eating choices for days or weeks on end.

For me, Slow-Carb is not about losing weight through a series of tricks. It’s about using these techniques to help me understand that in every moment, at every meal, every day I have a choice to make. And sometimes, that choice is to eat a crappy meal, or drink too much.  It is when I am back in control of my choices, I can then blend my choices to create a balance that achieves both a happy life and a healthy body.

In this world I choose to have it all.

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Avoid the “Inevitable” Slow Carb Meltdown!

explosion nuclear bomb in ocean
(Luckily, not an actual picture of my meltdown)

My I’m about two and a half weeks into the Four Hour Body (Slow Carb) Diet, and I’ve got to say that I have definitely been seeing some substantial results in this short amount of time. I’m really excited to report that I’ve lost 13 pounds so far! I’ll be writing a post soon that will catalog my full diet report after three weeks.

It was very easy to remain motivated in the first couple weeks, as all of it was new. Believe it or not, it’s overall been fairly easy to stay on track with all the components of the diet, like avoiding carbs, not drinking calories, and avoiding fruits. Overall, I’m kind of surprised to hear myself say that it hasn’t been a great challenge to remain faithful to the diet, mainly due to how simple and intuitive it is. Of course, anytime you see results it’s highly motivating!

With all that said, there have been times where remaining true to the diet has been tough. I found that in most cases where it was challenging, it was due to me putting additional constraints on myself that ended up setting me up for potentially eating poorly.

Let me tell you a story about a few nights ago where I messed up and what I think I could have done differently. I’m really hoping this helps someone out there who might be getting the point where they need to find some additional ways to keep themselves on track. I’m training for a half marathon and I went for my run after work. I did a five and a half mile run and I was feeling great. My endurance was there, my body felt great, and I was really proud of the time that I made in my loop around the park. Right after finishing my run and getting into my car, I saw a text message from my wife asking if I could pick up some food for us on the way home from Pei Wei. Now, you may or may not know this, but according to my personal research, Pei Wei is one of the more difficult places to find Slow Carb compliant meals. I know there’s some of you out there that will say that there are ways to make it work, but it takes an awful lot of modification and I just wasn’t in a mindset to do that.

I agreed to pick up my wife and daughter’s order from there, but I was planning to go across the street to another restaurant that I knew had a Slow Carb option, which was a really tasty lentil salad. I was really hungry at this point and after driving for 25 minutes and smelling Pei Wei and my lentil salad, I was totally ready to dive into the meal.

When I got home, I sat all the bags on the counter and prepared to dig into my salad. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t just a lentil and lettuce salad– the lentils were mixed with rice. Rice is a big no-no; it’s a white carb which the Slow Carb diet doesn’t allow. At this point, I’m in no position to make a better choice about my eating habits. I had a fantastic smelling meal that I’m ready to dive into, I was crazy hungry, and the last thing I was thinking about wa how I can rearrange or prepare my meal in a way that’s Slow Carb friendly. You can probably guess what happened next: I gave into temptation. I put the salad together and just tore through it. In the moment, it felt great. Afterwards, I thought, “That was kind of dumb.”

After the meal, I began to think about what could I have done differently in that situation. Of course, beforehand I hadn’t known that the lentil salad wasn’t Slow Carb friendly; I just ordered it from memory. My blood sugar and energy were at a point where I felt like I really needed to eat. I really didn’t have any options at my fingertips. That’s when it hit me is that every time I’m making a Slow Carb meal at home, I’m more or less doing it from scratch. I am taking chicken out of the freezer, defrosting it, turning on the oven…no matter what, I’m not getting to eat until I’ve spent about 40 minutes cooking and preparing my meal.

Now what I realize is that in that moment if I had had a Tupperware container of lentils ready to go in the fridge, or some chicken, or some other raw components already assembled and cooked, I could have taken the other ingredients that came with the salad that I had bought and subbed out those things for Slow Carb compliant stuff. I’ve read online and other places people talking about spending their entire Sundays cooking a week’s worth of meals so that way, and it makes sticking to the diet easy for them. To me, that sounds boring, unoriginal, and uninspiring: it almost makes me not want to participate in the Slow Carb diet at all. Objectively though, I can see that in moments of pressure, having those items available would have allowed me to make a better choice.

The bottom line is that in the moment I realized that what I was about to eat was not conforming to Four Hour Body, I was unwilling to spend additional time to prepare food, and the smell and the temptation of what was before me was greater than my desire to remain true to the diet. Moving forward, this is unacceptable. To remedy this, my plan is to have enough food in the fridge that’s cooked so I can, at a moment’s notice, incorporate complaint food into what I’m eating or use them as meals on their own. That will be one more way that I can fight the temptations: and continue to change the old eating habits into the new ones that have helped me see so far 13 pounds of weight loss in just under three weeks.

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First Cheat Day Complete: Here’s How it Went

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t THIS bad…

Yesterday was my first cheat day on the Four-Hour Body Diet, and I’d been looking forward to it all week. Believe it or not, I’d actually been using the cheat day as a way to help me stay on the diet because I was able to deny any cravings for foods that were not on the diet because hey, I could eat it on my cheat day. The cheat day itself was, as you can imagine, pretty awesome. I got to eat everything and anything I wanted. I had sushi for lunch, probably at more than I should have had. Last night was a steak and lobster benefit for a group that I’m in and I had plenty of steak and lobster and chowder and ice cream and I can’t even remember everything else. I course, I drank a bunch yesterday too: any alcohol that I wanted. I didn’t limit myself in any way. After my wife and I got home and we dismissed the sitter, I dove into the leftover pizza and chicken nuggets that were sitting out and ate like a pig.

Not surprisingly, I don’t feel awesome today. Like I suspected, the fact that I feel bad is the point of the Four Hour Body Diet including a cheat day in the first place: it helps me connect those bad decisions with the bad way my body is feeling. Slow Carb isn’t about counting calories, but I was curious so I entered all of the things I remembered eating yesterday into the My Fitness Pal app and it told me that I ate over 5,000 calories yesterday. I really should be eating around 2,200, so I ate more than double what I should have! In addition to simply counting calories, The app has an interesting feature that tells you what your weight would be if you ate that daily amount of consumed calories every day, and it told me I’d gain 11 pounds in five weeks. That’s pretty crazy.

Now, every time I’ve used the app on the diet and saw the numbers, I came away feeling motivated. Well, when I ate like I did yesterday, that number went the other way. It’s not a surprise that I have made to the weight that I currently am based off of this understanding. The way I ate yesterday on my cheat day, I can’t honestly say that it’s that far off from a lot of the days over the week, especially if I’m drinking, because I always wind up snacking. I’ll come home from work and snack and then I’ll have dinner. Then after dinner I’ll have a drink then snack some more and steal a few chicken nuggets that I had made for my daughter. I’ll even put a few extra in the oven so I can snack on those, too.

One of the benefits of the Slow Carb diet has been getting me in the habit of actually tracking what I’m eating and paying attention to what I’m actually putting in my body. Just by tracking these things, I’m much more aware of the choices that I’m making (and their consequences) and I feel much more in control of my ability to manage my weight based off of those choices. With one cheat day down, I am excited to return to my new and normal eating habits and I’ll be putting off my junk food and drinking for another week, which has got to be helping me with my goal of losing weight. I can see how eating poorly like I did yesterday could easily turn into another day of eating poorly, which could lead to another, and another.

This morning when I got up, the last thing I wanted to make was a Four-Hour Body compliant smoothie; it just didn’t sound good to me at all. I wanted to have something greasy: I wanted to suggest to my wife that we go out and grab breakfast, a meal which would probably have consisted of eggs, greasy potatoes, cheese, bacon…things that would just make me revert back to my poor ways of eating. However, knowing that I’ve got to remain true to the plan which has given me the tools to make a different choice—which is to eat healthfully— I am going to spend this next week committed to eating well, as opposed to getting more and more into trouble each day by getting lazier about controlling the types of things that I’m putting into my body.

 

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How I Stick With The Four Hour Body Diet

When I was calorie counting or doing Weight Watchers, I’d have to pay such close attention to what I was eating that eating itself stopped being fun. So far, with the 4 Hour Body Diet, I haven’t found this to be the case. The biggest thing I have working against me— and probably everybody else who starts a diet—is my ability to stick with it. This time around, I’ve got a few things that I’ve put together that I am using as a method to stay on track and be true to it— because at the end of the day, I really WANT to succeed at this.

My Plan For Sticking With It

The MyFitnessPal App
The MyFitnessPal App

One of the first things I started doing was logging all the things that I’m eating in an app called My Fitness Pal. What’s nice about it is that it’s really easy to log everything I’m doing. It does technically count calories, though I’m not necessarily paying attention to that: the app is. What I’m paying attention to is what types of food I’m eating, and what is the level of protein that I’m getting in most of my meals. It certainly will report on carbs, sugars, and such, but as a result of the high focus on protein, and the natural elimination of a lot of those carbs, a lot of the other stats are in line which is also a motivating factor to see.

The second thing that I’m doing is telling my friends and family about my dieting. A lot of people going through substance abuse treatment will do the same thing because it helps them stay accountable. I’m fortunate because my wife is very supportive of my dieting, although she was reasonably skeptical. When I explained the diet to her, one of the things she asked me was: “Is this something that you could actually stick with beyond this initial 30 days? Is this something that becomes a lifestyle change as opposed to a fad diet?” I didn’t know what to tell her because to tell you the truth, I wasn’t totally sure yet. But so far, it seems to be attainable because I’m getting to eat the stuff that I like, and not necessarily having to limit quantity. I’m getting to eat meat: chicken, beef, and fish. I’m able to eat veggies, and luckily, I love veggies. The most difficult things I had to cut out were sugar, and carbs. However, I find that if I eat enough protein, those cravings for sugar, and the cravings for carbs are less drastic and, even in a lot of cases, totally gone.

I read that one of the key elements of the diet is to have at least 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. Doing that has really staved off the cravings and the hunger that I have before lunchtime for things that are just not good for me, and I’m not finding myself snacking more than I should. If I end up feeling hungry, I’ve learned to solve it in one or two ways. First, by having some nuts. The second is I found that having some coffee, some caffeine, will knock out that desire, that hunger, and keep my mind off it for long enough to get to when it’s time to eat my next meal.

Better Coaching Through Technology

The third thing that I’m doing to remain accountable is using an app called Coach.me. It’s like a community of self improvement. If there’s anything you want to do, there’s a group on this app of people that are aiming to remain accountable to that activity. I’m serious: there are groups about learning to play guitar, losing weight, drinking more water: the topics are endless. Naturally, there is one for the 4-Hour Body, or Slow-Carb Diet. There’s a lot of people on there that are checking in every day saying that they’re holding themselves accountable. There’s a lot of people asking questions about the program and getting clarification, which leads me to the coolest component of this app (which happens to also be the way that this app makes its money.) The component is that people who have been active enough in this app can qualify to become a coach. For a weekly rate, you can hire a coach on this app, and you basically get a text-message buddy that’s going to keep you accountable, or at least talk to you through the process.

I said, “You know what? I’m going try it”, and so for the last few days, I’ve had a coach. She’s a woman from Austin, Texas, who originally lost 60 pounds on the 4 Hour Body Diet, and then after that, she has moved on to some other weight loss methods. She’s lost a total of 120 pounds. I like her approach because it’s not strictly Slow Carb, although that’s how she got her start. Her emphasis is on developing a versatile long-term program, and that’s where I want my focus to be right now: on developing a longer-term program for myself.

One or two times a day, we’ll exchange a message through the app. She’s asked me some really good questions in terms of what kind of goals I want to see for myself, as well as questions I should be asking myself but haven’t been. A good example of that is, I told her that one of the things I’d like to see as a quick win is a drop in three pounds in this first week on the diet, and she immediately told me that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. I was glowing with encouragement, but she instantly shook me out of it by asking me “But what if it doesn’t happen? What are you going to be thinking?”

How I Get My Mind Right to Win At Dieting

It’s helpful for me to place the spotlight on that question. What am I going to do if this doesn’t actually work out? Am I going to quit? Am I going to go back to my old eating habits? What it comes down to for me, is that I have a choice to make. I can either continue working at it, or I can give up. If you’re like a lot of people, or like me in the past, you’ll give up. I don’t want to give up. I’d rather have the high fitness level, the healthy weight, the ability to feel good in my clothes and not feel lethargic or tired or embarrassed to take my shirt off. I want those things. When I look at it from that perspective, the question really becomes “is one week really enough to get that?” Obviously, it’s not. So why would I want to give up?

Having that coach and having someone to talk to about that has been helpful in a surprising way in that’s it’s helping me think about the questions that I truthfully already know but not asking myself. There was a really low-barrier of entry to start that program and get matched with a coach. It’s not cheap when you think about other things we pay for– it’s about 15 to 20 dollars per week, which equates to sixty to eighty dollars a month. That’s not cheap, but then again, if that’s the difference between me succeeding and failing, it’s totally worth it.

So those are the things that I’m doing to remain accountable to the diet and most importantly, to myself. Actually, there’s one more thing I’m doing: talking to all of you about my progress, so wish me luck! I’m feeling motivated about what I’ve got going on here, so I’ll definitely talk to you again soon.

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My First Four Hour Body Diet Cheat Day Is Finally Here

Man eating from multiple plates of food

Today is my first cheat day on the Four Hour Body, or Slow Carb Diet. I’ve been looking forward to this cheat day all week, mostly because I’ve been using it as a way to justify not eating the bad things I would normally eat or drink. The times that I felt like I wanted to have an alcoholic drink or something else that isn’t good for me, I’d tell myself that “I can do that on my cheat day so I should hang on a while longer.” And so far, it’s worked!

I’m a bit nervous going into the cheat day because on most other structured diet plans I’ve been on, there was no such thing as a cheat day. It was all or nothing. Either I ate healthy or I was off the wagon. It seems counter-intuitive to me to have a day where I’d going to throw all my hard-earned training and discipline out the window in exchange for eating whatever I want. While part of me is nervous, the other part of me is kind of excited that I am getting to have a day off, because dieting isn’t easy. The timing of all this actually works well because I have a business event tonight that I have really been looking forward to, and there’s going to be a lot of non Slow Carb-compliant food and alcohol to be had.

The Psychology of the Cheat Day

The thing about cheat days is that they really allow me to have something to look forward to on non-cheat days. But on the cheat day itself, I’m going to be eating some things that are not so good for me. This is an opportunity for me to listen to my body and to understand how it responds to some of those things. I believe, in some cases, there will be no response, meaning I’ll feel fine. In other cases, some things I eat might make me feel different, uncomfortable, bloated, low-energy…any number of things. I’m actually more interested in this type of “research” than I am in actually eating off-limits food, which tells me that this diet might already be working for me. The thing that’s really important for me to recognize is the connection between what I eat and how I feel, because how I feel is a reflection of how my body reacts to the things I put in it.

The cheat day has taught me that for a long time, I ignored what my body told me when I ate badly and neglected exercise. However, today’s cheat day is kind of a swinging the other direction because it will let me feel the experiences of eating how I used to and really understanding how it makes a healthy body feel. With that information, I have the power of choice to decide if that eating habit is something that I want to continue. Even though I haven’t reached my cheat day yet, I’m already predicting that in future cheat days I’ll willingly choose to eat right as opposed to eating badly, due to how gross I’ll feel when I go off the diet. We’ll see, though.

I start today with a bit of nervous energy around my cheat day, but I’m excited to experience it. I’ll update you on how it went and how it made me feel in my next blog!

 

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The Beginning of My Journey With the 4-Hour Body Diet

Empty asphalt road. Sunset Sky
Empty asphalt road. Sunset Sky

My name is Mike, and this is my first blog entry detailing my journey on Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body Diet. Over the course of my life thus far, I haven’t been what you would call a “diet person”, even though I have dabbled in dieting here and there. So it’s logical that when I decided I needed to start losing weight a while back, my original plan was to ramp up my physical activity as opposed to changing my diet. I’ve been more physically active in this past year than I’ve been a lot of my life. I’ve run two half marathons in this last year along with a handful of shorter races. I also joined a CrossFit gym about five month ago. While I’ve noticed my strength increase, I have not seen my scale budge. No matter what I did, I’ve always been real close to about 245 to 250 pounds, and was really disappointed  that I hadn’t seen the scale change at all, even with all the added activity. However, I now know why. I drink more than the average person probably should, and I’m not someone who avoids carbs, I’m not somebody who really pays attention to portion size. It’s really not a surprise when I really look at what I’m eating, as to why I’m not moving the scale: at least, not in the right direction.

So, What Can’t You Eat?

Of course, the first thing that people want to know is “what won’t I be able to eat on this diet?” Although I prefer not to focus on the negatives, this diet spells out a few somewhat unique things that are definitely off limits (other than the obvious classics, like sugar and dairy):

  • The first is not eating anything that is considered a “white carb.” This means no potatoes, no rice, no breads, or anything that could be considered white in color. This also includes something that’s a whole grain or something that could be bleached to be white. If there’s a version of whatever you’re eating that could be white, the diet requires you to stay away from it altogether.
  • The second thing is no eating fruit, and although I didn’t think that was going to be hard for me to follow, it turns out it’s a bit more difficult than I expected. Fruit is in a lot of things, and it turns out I used fruit as a sweetener a lot, especially in smoothies. There are a few other somewhat expected features of the diet, but the white carbs and fruit have been the biggest adjustments for me.

No Anti-Carb Mentality

You may also know the 4 Hour Body Diet as the Slow-Carb Diet, but no matter what you call it, this is a first journey into try a structured diet for me in quite some time. I’ve calorie counted in the past, and have also done the Weight Watchers Diet. While those have both worked to some extent, the thing I really like about the Slow-Carb Diet is that the diet is typically very high in protein, and there’s not necessarily a limit on the amount of protein that you can eat. It’s also not like the Atkins diet where you have to eliminate all carbs, and the lack of an anti-carb mentality makes this diet a lot more realistic and flexible for me. When I go out to eat and there’s a situation where I might not be in total control of what food is being prepared, I’ve found—so far, at least—that there’s always some food option I can have, and I’m never super disappointed in it either!

 

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