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Andrew’s Results: One Month of the Slow Carb Diet

Self-motivation examples

Here’s Andrew’s final update for his 31 day attempt to lose 20 pounds:

Well team,

Start weight on Feb 28th was 200.8 lbs.  Today’s weight: 193 flat.

I aimed for a 20 lb loss in 31 days.  Was the book even 50% correct?  No.  Was the book even 40% correct?  Just about right. I lost 7.8 lbs out of the desired 20 lbs.

Did I adhere to the regimen perfectly?  Yes.
Did I employ a cheat day each week per the book?  Yes.
Did I use the recommended dosage of vitamins and supplements?  Yes.
Did I employ ice baths and ice packs?  I used ice packs occasionally and only used one hellish ice bath as the book only called for those techniques to lose that grueling last 10 lbs
Did I do exercises before and after meals i.e. air squats and push-ups?  98% of the time.

What went wrong?  I suppose my body needed some time during the 1st week to even get into the swing of things.  I did experience a lot of weight swing throughout the process.  However, and despite the rather large jerks up and down, the end result was very good.

I feel great.  I added a bunch of muscle.  My energy is through the roof.  My heart rate is better than when I started.  I sleep better.  Allergy season barely affected me.  I do not tank during the day or yawn after meals.  When I do eat, the food is piled high, I leave the table stuffed and I am hungry by the next meal.

7.8 lbs in a month is successful if you ask me.

April’s goal is to lose 12 and then May’s goal is to lose an additional 5 so I end up at 175, down from the original 200.8.

Total inches lost (used a neck, waist at naval, waist at widest part, both upper arms, both forearms, both calves, both thighs and my shoulder width):

Total inches: 249, 248.5, 248.5 ,246.25 ,246.25 ,247.75

Why the fluctuation in inches?  1) measuring yourself with a tailor’s tape is a pain in the ass. 2) I dropped fat but I added muscle in my thighs, gluts, calves and biceps.

Good luck everyone and I will post my results at the end of April.

Congratulations to Andrew! His effort has been amazing, and his results, while not a miracle, seem very strong to me. Even the most concerted weight loss efforts normally can’t (and shouldn’t!) cause a loss of more than two pounds of fat per week, although The Four Hour Body asserts that it can accelerate healthy weight loss well beyond that mark.

Andrew’s success rate so far is about 1.76 pounds net body weight per week, and it seems likely that he gained more than enough muscle to put him over 2 pounds of fat loss per week. Especially sustained over a month, these are great results, despite the limitations of scales for measuring fitness (see “Why Weighing In Is a Poor Way to Measure Progress“. After all, the other available options aren’t much better in most respects, unless you can manage and afford professional bodyfat measurements on a regular basis).

What I don’t think we saw over this past month was a validation of any mind-blowing results of the Slow Carb Diet as laid out in Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Body. This isn’t to say I think it’s a bad plan: on the contrary, I’m following it myself at the moment (though in more limited ways than Andrew), and generally speaking, the people I know on it have experienced increased energy and strength, though only sometimes actual weight loss. Better yet, people using the diet seem (in my limited experience so far) to be largely free from hunger and to enjoy their “off-day” or “cheat day” enormously.

The biggest drawback I know of so far is the “carb hangover” that can last for up to two days after cheat day (so three days in all–nearly half the week), resulting in low energy and less buoyant mood. Also, people I know who are following this plan, as I mentioned, are not all losing weight. However, if one follows it as carefully and energetically as Andrew, speedy weight loss (speaking in relative, healthy terms) does seem to be possible. How much of it is simply limiting calories through eating very healthy meals of protein, vegetables and legumes, and how much is exploiting human body chemistry through Ferriss’ many special tactics? I don’t know, and I’ll be interested to eventually find out.

And especially of interest here, how did Andrew manage to adhere so effectively to his diet plan? That’s a subject I hope to discuss with him soon, but his clear goal, his comfort with the idea that the goal was an ideal and not a restriction, and his constant sharing of his progress probably helped. I hope to talk to him more about the subject; stay tuned.

Photo by Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway

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Andrew, Week 2: Movement in the Right Direction

Self-motivation examples

Here’s Andrew’s week 2 check-in (see “Andrew’s Challenge: 20 Pounds in 31 Days“).

My total inches is the same as last week but the measurements are changing a bit for each body part.

As of 3 days ago [before his weekly “cheat day” on which people who use this system need to eat a lot of high-calorie foods that temporarily make weight spike–LR], I had lost 3 lbs, 2.5 of which came off that 2nd week.  I only lost .5 the first week.

I am expecting great results this week and I am going to step up running and hit the pool (cool water draw heat out which burns cals!).

I am very far from 20 lbs my man but the pursuit is still hot!

Andrew isn’t currently on target to reach his goal of losing 20 pounds in 31 days, but having lost 2.5 pounds this past week, he’s much closer now than he was, and 2.5 pounds lost healthily is a big weight loss success by practically any measure.

His first week may have been affected by some eating habits he changed for week two, specifically cutting out significant amounts of of corn (which is often thought of as a vegetable, but which is actually a sweet grain) and drinking grapefruit juice on cheat days only. Tim Ferriss, the author of the Slow Carb Diet that Andrew’s following, recommends grapefruit juice on cheat days to help process carbohydrates more effectively–but on non-cheat days it’s not an allowed food, as it contains a lot of fructose, which interferes with the physiological processes the 6 days a week of proteins (including legumes at each meal) and vegetables are supposed to create.

In terms of motivation, Andrew’s clearly still pushing for a major success, and the results of his second week  suggest that he was right to persist but look for things he could improve after a disappointing first week.

Here’s a further update from Andrew, the following day:

Day 15 of 31:  Weigh in??  198.8.  That’s 1 lb less than yesterday and seems normal that it is still 1 lb elevated above my low weight recorded.  When I checked the weight on the day of my last cheat day, the day after cheat day and two days after, I had an elevated weight and then it tumbled off again quickly starting day 2 of the new week i.e. Tuesday.  Let’s see what week 3 brings now.

I swam 500 meters today and I’ll run a few miles tonight before dinner or before bed.  I will swim 1000 on Wednesday and 1500 on Friday.  I will keep my running miles at 3 miles or less and work some sprints into the routine on Saturday morning before my cheat day begins anew.

I notice that my stomach does not tell me I am hungry until almost 2 full days after cheat day has ended.  I think it takes my body that long to work out the garbage food and to coordinate itself again with the vitamins on day 1 of the new week and after the vitamin rest day after binge day.

For those who have chimed in to help me, I should begin to see a good amount of weight loss for the rest of this week 3 and then for week 4.

Cheers.

Photo by maxintosh

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Andrew, Week 1: Damn the Torpedoes; Full Speed Ahead

Self-motivation examples


Last week I got a chance to talk to Andrew (“Andrew’s Challenge: 20 Pounds in 31 Days“) about his determination to use Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb Diet approach to weight loss to try to lose 20 pounds in 31 days. Ferriss’ approach has been very promising among people I know who have tried it, and the beginning of a new fitness process is often a honeymoon period, when the unaccustomed extra energy from more exercise, loss of water weight, etc. can much of the time provide a lot of encouragement.

Unfortunately, it appears Andrew isn’t going to be given a honeymoon period. He reports:

Well, the 1st week is over.  The results are far from impressive but maybe this week is the “basing” process for things to come in weeks 2-4.

I have lost .5 inches from my total inches (TI) measurements and I included the neck, shoulders, waist at navel, waist at largest area south of navel (butt), and the biceps, forearms, thighs and calves of both sides of the body.  The .5 inch drop in neck could be a mis-measurement so we’ll see next week.

The weight loss has not been anything special yet.  I began at 200.8 and I am now at 200.6.  Listen, this pales in comparison to what is written in his book!

My adherence to the food staples has been perfect, including the binge day regimen.  Sometimes I am hungry at the next meal and sometimes I do not care to eat.  I like the food I am eating so there is zero challenge to avoid other foods.

I can only assume my portion size is too large, but that, according to Ferriss’s book, should not be the case.

What changes am I going to make for week 2?

Here are the things to change:

  • Add cold showers each morning, icing at night while watching tv with my wife and boy and using ice baths on the weekend
  • As we are talking about calories, I may taper them back just slightly so I am at least hungry at the next meal
  • Exercise 3-4 times each week as I simply did it a couple of times this past week
  • Introduce cardio 3-4 times each week to enhance my metabolism

Final thoughts: I do feel great and I do not know if this is because of the vitamin regimen, the lack of “whites” to which Ferriss refers in his book, or a combination of both.

I’d like to imagine that there’s either a solution to this mystery or that Andrew will find his results drastically improve themselves over the coming week. For example, it could be that he’s getting a lot more salt in his diet and that therefore he’s retaining water and seeming heavier than he is–but who’s to know? Stay tuned, and next week we’ll find out whether this is a fluke or a trend.

Photo by MATEUS_27:24&25

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Andrew’s Challenge: 20 Pounds in 31 Days

Self-motivation examples

A runner (not Andrew, obviously) in a lava field

Andrew, a reader of this site, is setting out on a daring project: he wants to lose 20 pounds of body fat, healthily, in 31 days.

If someone had described this plan to me a couple of months ago, I would have said it couldn’t be done. However, there’s a crazy but possibly brilliant guy named Tim Ferriss who’s written a book called The Four Hour Body, and in it he outlines his findings over the course of years and years of energetic research and extreme self-experimentation. Ferriss presents evidence that, assuming it’s accurate (and I have no reason to think it isn’t) would mean that Andrew’s project is entirely doable. I won’t go into Ferriss’s ideas in detail right now because I’m testing some of them out myself and want to speak from personal experience (and in addition I have concerns about some of Ferriss’ basic philosophies), but Andrew is going all-out. He’s going to do everything in his power to lose 20 pounds of bodyfat in 31 days, and he wants everyone to know about it. Accordingly, I asked him if I could post about it here. Andrew said “Let’s do it.”

I’ll be checking in with Andrew each week and posting his responses here. If he succeeds with even a large fraction of his goal, I’d call that a roaring success.

Andrew, what’s your motivation for such a radical change? And what do you think your biggest obstacles will be?

Andrew replied:

Complex: I want to feel my physical best so that I can fully participate in the outdoor and athletic life like I used to 10 years ago (I am 34 right now).  Carrying the extra weight around is probably killing my heart, knees, back and other organs, not to mentioned my mental and psychological states each day.  I suppose some of this is pure vanity as well as most people want to look good.  I could give a rip about looking like this person or that person, but humans have a healthy look to them and an unhealthy look to them and let’s be honest, I must fall into the latter category.  Although I must say I “carry the extra pounds pretty well”, I am not a picture of health right now and that really disturbs me.  I am also married and have a 3 year old boy so I honestly believe married couples owe it to each other to look good for as long as they can and my wife is hot so I need to bring more to the proverbial table!  When she and I met, I was in the midst of running up and down volcanoes, playing in monster ocean waves, eating well and living a very active lifestyle in her country of El Salvador.  As for my son, it’s critical to me that he pay testimony to a healthy life and not just lip service that we pay him at the dinner table each night.  Clearly, my goal is to personally push him in the athletic realm of the world as well as the intellectual dimension and me doing this while 20 lbs is hypocritical as I have no reason to be out of shape (just excuses).  I do have some personal fitness goals that revolved around distance running (I used to be a runner), cycling (I think I rode out of my mother), swimming (I am a newcomer to the sport) and to being a body weight exercise animal.  Lean and mean is the goal.

Simple: I want to feel amazing each day.

Obstacles: I suppose I am the obstacle.  If any laziness or regimen violations occur it will be because of me, plain and simple.  Barring injury, sickness or some other kind of life emergency, nothing should get in my way, period.

I have purchased the supplies needed i.e. vitamins and food and I have taken the body measurements outlined in his book, except for that I added my neck as well.

In the spirit of Ferriss’s Princeton student challenge i.e. reaching someone you think is unreachable and seeking advice etc., I am going after the man himself, Tim Ferriss and I will provide him my daily regimen and ask him if it’s spot on or if he has added anything since the revision of the most recent book.  I will tell him I am being watch by at least 1500 eyes each week, along with my own social sphere, so the test is on!

Photo by dneberto

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