Clyde and I have completed two weeks on Tim Ferris’ Four-Hour Body plan, a program emphasizing self-experimentation and frequent measurement as a way of achieving health and weight-loss goals.
In two weeks, I’m down from nearly 230 to 219. But weight doesn’t tell the whole story. My neck measurement shrank from nearly 18 inches to 17, my hips from 42 to 41.5, and my tummy from 42 to 40.5.
I’ve achieved those changes by doing nothing more than tweaking my eating habits. Instead of choosing greasy, cheesy, fried food every meal and sugary, salty snacks in between, I’m eating more vegetables than I’ve ever eaten in my life and, six days a week, limiting my intake of carbohydrates. One day a week — for us, Saturday — is Indulgence Day, when we can eat as much as we want of anything we want.
There’s nothing revolutionary or magical about this approach to eating. If you’re familiar with fad diets, the 4HB guidelines borrow a lot from Atkins (with less dairy and more vegetables), Fit for Life, the Carbohydrate Addicts’ Diet, and others. But instead of emphasizing slavish dedication to lists of approved or prohibited foods, the 4HB focus is more on self-experimentation (“What works?”) and measurement (“What’s changing?”).
For me, eating more vegetables (beans, kale, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, corn) and lean meat while avoiding carbs (potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, sugar) for six out of seven days a week is resulting in steady, effortless weight loss. I’m not hungry. I don’t have cravings. And because I know I can have all the pizza, chocolate, cinnamon rolls, fried chicken, and spaghetti I want come Saturday, I don’t feel deprived.
I know from experience that my indulgences on Indulgence Day will add a pound or two to the scales come Sunday morning. I don’t get distracted by that, though, because now I’m focused on trends, not single measurements. I didn’t gain 50 extra pounds overnight; I won’t lose them overnight, either.
Should we exercise more? Yes. And we may explore adding more exercise, in the future. For now, though, we’re making one small change — which really has more to do with awareness than diet — and living with that change a bit before tackling anything else.
Week Three starts today, and I’m in a good place.