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5 Tips for doing the 4 Hour Body

I posted this on my website, but wanted to share it here.

before-after_adam.jpg

On June 14, 2011 I started the slow carb diet, a weight loss plan prescribed by Tim Ferriss in his book, the 4 Hour Body. In just a few months I went from 187 to 160 lbs, going from a large to a medium in shirts and from 36-34 waist in jean size to 30. It’s an amazing plan for fat loss, but I learned a few things I want to share. Below are the most important.

1: Get Used to Cooking

I’m a single male in his late 20’s. I don’t like cooking. But a universal key in eating healthy (no matter what the diet) is to prepare and cook your own meals. When you cook for yourself, YOU have control over everything that goes into your body. You pick the ingredients, you decide how they’re cooked, you control the portions. It’s a sure-fire way ensure that what you’re eating is bona-fide slow carb. You’ll probably be cooking your breakfasts (unless you live above a deli or something) if you want to make sure you’re eating in the first hour of the day, but preparing your lunch and dinner will become more and more common, the longer you stick with the diet.

Just get used to cooking. Make it easy and straight-forward. You’ll save loads of money and you’ll acquire much-need skills (ladies like a man who can cook, so I’m told).

2: People can be a Problem

I don’t know how to make this sound not pesismistic, so I won’t try. People will try to trip you up when you’re on the slow carb diet. It’s human nature. Whether they’re threatened by the change you’re making, jealous of your progress, or just stupid and well-meaning, people can and will provide stumbling blocks for you. After losing over 20 lbs on the diet, people started to notice I looked different. When I explained to them how I did it, many people wanted to share with me why I was wrong and what methods were actually effective at fat-loss. These were people, by the way, who were in no position to give fitness advice.

There will also be friends, family, etc who will encourage you to break from the diet during special events, eating out, or whenever. They’re not evil, just lazy and stupid. They may not understand the journey you’re on or the commitment you’ve made. Explain to them how you’ve changed your ways and cannot eat whatever they’re eating.

In most cases, you can go out with friends and eat slow-carb foods at restaurants, but there is always that one damn place that doesn’t have anything worth eating that doesn’t come with loads of rice, cheese, or extra breading. Substitutions go on deaf ears (especially in Chinatown). Trust me, I’ve been in situations like this. Avoid those places, recommend a better restaurant, or just eat lunch alone. Your friends may scowl, but screw them. You’re trying to lose weight and be happy with your body for once! Let them get fat, you stick with the plan.

After my first week on the SCD, I realize I’d have to cook my own dinners. I lived with family and we had a loose tradition of eating dinner when everyone got home from work. I had to disrupt this tradition in order to eat food that was slow carb (our dinners ranged from fried, breaded fish, to Chinese, to Pizza). Did it ruffle a few feathers? Perhaps. But I explained it to my family and it all worked out.

3. Find a “Chiptole,” aka: Make it Fun

Chiptole and Starbucks saved my buns. Literally.

Every morning I stop at a nearby Starbucks and get a venti black Iced Tea, unsweetened. Sometimes I’ll get a black iced coffee (with a bit of cinnamon). I see it as a fun treat that helps me start my workday. I think most people like the routine of going to a place like Starbucks, enjoying the atmosphere and music, over the actual product they’re buying. The experience is the treat, not the frappacino. With this in mind, you can hack that experience to help you stay on track. There’s nothing wrong with going to Starbucks, if you get a slow carb drink. Avoid the sugar syrups and the ridiculously unhealthy snacks (450 calories in a slice of bread? REALLY?) and get a black coffee or tea. It’s incredibly cheaper than the fancy stuff, and you can still enjoy their smooth jazz (full disclosure: I usually have my iPod on when I’m in there).

The overall principle is this: make the meals you eat fun and enjoyable. It doesn’t have to feel like dieting! The reason I was able to jump into the SCD was because of all the meat I would be eating. This plan is paradise to most guys. Even for the ladies, you can structure meals that are immensely satsifying and tastey. I lucked out and found a Chiptole within walking distance from my job. In the heat of the summer I walked 15 minutes to snag my chicken salad bowl with guac. Now there is a Chiptole across the street from my job (jeaous?). Even if you don’t have a Chiptole near you, learn this rule. Make meals you will find fun. I know that I eat not just because I’m hungry, because it is an enjoyable experience. Whether its junk food or a nice grilled steak, if I’m happy eating it, that’s all that matters. Hack that principle and you will be sticking with this diet in the long run.

4: Learn the Science

I’m a bit of a nerd, aka: I overthink everything. There is no way I could have stuck with this diet unless I understood it, at least to my own satisfaction. Why do carbs make me fat? Why is protein so important? Tim does a good job in the book to explain a lot of the science, but I wanted more. In a blog article, he mentioned Protein Power by Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades. I grabbed this book and learned a lot. In the first few chapters they explain the science behind why a diet low in carbohydrates works. It gave me enough information for me to feel comfortable. Mind you, I was already on the diet for a few weeks. I didn’t delay putting it into action, I just wanted to see behind the science curtain. I wanted to be able to encourage myself with a legitimate reason for why it worked. There’s no magic to it. It works because it’s medically and scientifically sound.

If you’re like me, considering picking up that book. Oh, and don’t Google for information! This is the one time Google is not the answer. You’re bound to come across a million websites each with a million different answers. It’ll confuse and distract you. Just keep it simple.

5: Measure it, Fool!

“What gets measure, gets managed.” Keep repeating that to yourself. Measuring your progress does two things. First, it helps you stay on track. You’re much less likely to deviate on the diet during the week if you weigh yourself each morning. You’ll remember you still have X amount of pounds to go before you hit your goal. Two, it will encourage to keep going as you see those numbers drop. Why give up when after 2 months you’re down 10-20 lbs? It makes sense. You need to prove to yourself that this plan works. The only way to do that is to measure.

A tip: weighing is like a double-edge sword. Sure it’ll help you track your progress, but its a blunt number. A scale doesn’t tell you how much of that number is muscle, how much is fat, how much is water weight, or even bone, hair or organs for that matter. It’s a very vague tracking system that fluxuates from day to day. Take Tim’s advice and use some other method as well. I use a tape measure every week to track inches lost. It’s far more accurate and practical, as I want to fit into smaller jeans and shirts. A tape measure will tell me so, not my “weight” (Have you ever gone into a store and found a pair of pants that said, “For people weighing 150 lbs or less”? Come on!).

Bonus tip: Don’t Give up!

Woo! A bonus tip! This one, might be the most important. All the advice in the world won’t help until you buckle down and make a change. Life is hard and there can be many factors that can discourage you in reaching your goal. Don’t give up! It took me about 2 months to lose that first 20 lbs. In the next two, I had to buy new pairs of jeans, twice (dropping to 32, then 30). I stuck with it and saw the results. Now I have new goals and new sizes to fit in. And in time I will make it. Why? Because I’m so rad and special and possess some power you all don’t have? NOPE. It’s because I will stick with this plan.

Try it. Stick with it. Ignore negativity. Don’t give up.

  • ceco commented Oct 30th 2012:

    You forgot, get a haircut. :) Nice job.

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Tip number three: "Make your food fun" is crucial for me. Every day im bringing in some crazy 4hb meal, I put a lot of time into my lunches. People at my work are constantly complimenting and asking what I'm eating; so I go through it with them, and then end it off by saying: "its mad healthy too". If you take pride in it, eating a healthy meal is very rewarding.

  • Kelvin Kuan commented Jun 25th 2012:

    Thanks for sharing, Adam! Really appreciate the tips and encouragement!

  • Eric Isaac commented Aug 28th 2012:

    Agreed! this is crucial for me as well. I'll be sharing my 4hb recipes on my blog: http://ericisaac.com/food/ - there are a few there already.

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Germany flag

Hey, here's another new-person-after-some-weeks! Look at the pics! Great progress.

And another moment of amazment for me. Everybody on this diet seems so grow younger!

And thanks for the tips!

  • CarmenCR commented Jun 25th 2012:

    ah... and btw... I hate cooking every day. I can cook because I was a chef but still - nobody pays you when you cook at home! I like it maybe once a week for one meal. But not every day several times! aaargh... So to me it feels like a real waste of time. I don't like being busy with food, neither bying nor preparing nor eating nor cleaning up afterwards.

    But that will not make me quit.

    I am just so happy with the results, so I don't count the cost.

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"(Have you ever gone into a store and found a pair of pants that said, “For people weighing 150 lbs or less”? Come on!)"

This is funny. And so so true. Esp for us gals, I think, because we deal with the monthly hormones and such and scale numbers can change drastically from day to day.

Very positive post. Thanks!

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Great post! Especially tip number 2. I've met so many of these people. Every type of them; well meaning but completely clueless people, jealous people, plain vindictive people, etc. I actually find them to be great motivation. If you just look past their comments you can see them wishing they had your ability to achieve the same.

Well done on the progress Man. Amazing difference. As CarmenCR said, you're growing younger. I've been told several times after loosing the weight (+30lbs) on the SCD that I look ten years younger. And I'm only 32!

This is the best forum I've ever been part of - keep the great posts coming...!!!

  • CarmenCR commented Jun 26th 2012:

    :- D

    Where the 30+ lbs your ultimate goal or are you still loosing weight...? Just asking myself if you won't look like 12 years old one day ;- )

  • a_gore21 commented Jun 27th 2012:

    I'll be happy if I keep looking younger and younger with every pound lost! I have to say though, I love the positive comments like being told I look younger. My favourite was when I met a cousin of mine who I hadn't seen in a couple of months and she gasped and said; "Your face is tiny!" I got a great kick out of this! I've another 7lbs to go to get to my goal weight. The original goal was only 28lbs but changed over time. The progress is very slow now but with all the positive comments, why would anyone ever consider giving up on the SCD...!!! Maybe I will do a Benjamin Button on it and look 12 years old again :-o

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Germany flag

I just made the experience, that I better do not mention that I´m on scd, as well. I only told one person, yet, and she immediatly replied that I don´t have to be on a diet. Yes, I don´t really have to, but I urgently want to lose this spare body fat. :)

  • a_gore21 commented Jun 29th 2012:

    One thing I find that helps is that I don't say I'm on a diet. I don't see it as a diet anyway, it's a lifestyle change that will be permenant. But if anyone asks what diet I'm on I tell them just that, I'm not on a diet I've changed the way I eat for the better...

  • Nicole Pape commented Jul 3rd 2012:

    That´s a good way of pointing it. In german the word `diet` has such a bad aftertaste and it´s really only saying `wanting to lose weight´ and nothing about a healthy change in nutrition. I´m not sure, yet, whether it will be a permanent lifestyle change for me. On one hand I feel really good with the new way of eating, on the other hand, well I don´t really know, I think I miss some of the carbs I used to eat. But then, when it´s cheat day I don´t really have to have these things any more (even now after only 1 1/2 weeks). I guess it´s all about leaving the comfort zone and establishing new, healthier habits.

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Awesome work Adam, the haircut did ya good too, Trim all around :)

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thanks heaps for that!

i couldn't resist with this but am i the only one that adam reminds of Seth Rogen?

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0736622/

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United-States flag

awesome..thanks for sharing..

You looked great before and now even better..

  • 4hourRookie commented Mar 3rd 2013:

    So true about people sabotaging your progress! I experienced that when I did Weight Watchers, when the weight started to come off, people were like "why are you dieting you don't need to diet, you look great' and I was like, why the hell do you think I look like this, because I am doing the dieting! It's the same with SCD (and I don't look that great right now!) I've gained 25 lbs since my lowest weight and even 10 LBS over my fat weight and still people just encourage you to stay the same (but not when you are skinny). I just finished my first week. Went for happy hour to a beer place where ordering wine would make you look like a total weirdo, so I went with vodka soda (a little improvisation from Atkins) but the weight was fine the next day.

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