I’ve been a fan of Tim Ferris for awhile now. I read the The Four Hour Work Week (4HWW) years ago when it first came out. 4HWW was part of the inspiration for me leaving my corporate job in San Francisco in 2008 and spending 2009 living overseas and starting to experiment with lifestyle design.
Last year, I proved to myself that I was able to work and support myself from anywhere so long as I had a computer in front of me, but without a steady routine in place, I also put on about 25lbs in the process. On a female of 5’3” that’s not a pretty sight and surely not healthy. That’s where The Four Hour Body Comes In.
A bit of history on me and my weight:
My weight has fluctuated between 120 and 130 since graduating from college. I could work my ass off and weigh 120 but was pretty miserable doing so, or I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and weigh around 130 but wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror. On a 5’3” frame, a lb of fat is way more visible than on someone who’s even just a few inches taller. There’s just nowhere for it to go.
To borrow Tim’s idea of the Minimum Effective Dose (MED), I crudely assessed that I could maintain a reasonably in-shape body by doing some sort of work out about 4x a week, drinking only on weekends 2x per week and eliminating carbs during the week but eating whatever I wanted on the weekends. This was all based on crude observation, but it seemed to work, it wasn’t too much trouble, and I wasn’t really willing to work much harder.
Fast forward two years from leaving my job in 2008. I spent most of 2009 “on the road” in South East Asia and then all of 2010 “setting up camp” in Australia. I ate whatever I wanted (by 2010 I was pretty much eating like an “Aussie bloke” because I was cooking food I knew my Australian boyfriend would like) and got almost no exercise. I was a bit in denial of the weight gain. I didn’t have a full-length mirror or a scale at my apartment, but I could tell from the way my close were fitting (or not fitting) that I’d put on a lot of weight. I didn’t even want to guess how much.
When my last pair of jeans that still fit suddenly wouldn’t button one day in October 2010, I finally went and bought a scale. I was horrified when the numbers on the scale wouldn’t keep up the lie for me. 149.
25 lbs? In a little over a year?
I resolved to start a new way of eating the next day. I’d dabbled in low-carb before and knew how quickly the body responds to that way of eating, so immediately I started the South Beach Diet, Phase 1. I dropped 10 lbs in about 2 weeks and then decided I wanted to move to something more sustainable. I wanted some carbs, and I knew I was probably eating way too much cheese.
I searched around on the internet and found Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Cure which focuses on controlling insulin levels by eating the “right” carbs and also eliminating “false belly fat” (basically stored up undigested food) that’s festering in your gut and making you fat. Essentially, you can eat any carbs you want, but the quantity of sugar and carbs is monitored so it’s in your best interest to eat high quality carbs as you can have more of them in addition to taking in as much fiber as possible.
I tried to follow the plan the best I could based on directions I’d found on internet forums as I waited impatiently for 10 weeks to get the book I ordered delivered (some things take obscenely long in Australia.) I felt pretty good on the plan (rarely hungry), but my weight stayed the same, which was good in that I kept off the 10 lbs I lost, but it was really frustrating that for some reason my body seemed to want to hold onto the weight.
At this point I became convinced that either the Set Point Theory (the theory that an individual’s metabolism will adjust itself to maintain a weight at which it is comfortable) was inevitable or that my body was extremely sensitive to gluten so I started experiment.
When I replaced whole grain bread or tortillas with beans or even brown rice, I saw some movement on the scale. I never got around to fully testing the theory before I had to head home to San Francisco for the holidays in December. On a side note: Just a week or so before heading back, I’d pre-ordered a copy of The Four Hour Body without knowing anything about it.
When I got there, my copy of The Four Hour Body was waiting, and I skipped straight to the weight-loss sections. After reading about Slow Carb, it really seemed to jive with some of the anecdotal discoveries I’d made recently as well as in the past, so I decided I’d give it a try once I returned to Oz in the new year.
The goal right now is 20lbs! I figure there’s no reason I shouldn’t try to look better at 30 than I did at 20.
So, here I go. Wish me luck.