Slow Carb Foodie in 2012

Happy New Year SlowCarb-ers!  I hope you everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season.  I accomplished “happy” but “healthy” was not so successful.  I spent the week in Queensland, Australia camping with friends at the Woodford Folk Festival, one of Australia’s most popular music festivals (don’t be too jealous all of you in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s summer here!)

I had a great time enjoying the sunshine, great music and comedy acts, but after day one, I sort of gave up my healthy eating (and drinking!)  I gained 4 lbs in a week, which isn’t all that bad considering when I was doing the Slow Carb cheat days, I would occasionally gain  4lbs in a day.

At the end of it all, I felt like crap.

I was bloated, lethargic and may have given myself acid reflux for the first time in my life.  Yuck!

I’d say it was a bummer, but it was actually a nice reminder of why I invest so much time and energy cooking and eating healthily most of time – not just to look better but to feel better.

So, I’m starting the new year off a bit different.  Last year, I began the year following Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet, made popular in the best-selling “The 4-Hour Body” and over the year my eating gradually evolved to be a bit Paleo as I discovered I felt a lot better and was able to break through what seemed like an impossible weight-loss plateau by eliminating legumes altogether.

Over the course of the year, I lost 17lbs.  (my initial goal was 20lbs).  Over the holidays, I gained about 7 lbs, which brought my net weight loss to 10lbs for the year.  This was all related to diet as I wasn’t engaging in any exercise and had a fairly sedentary “desk”lifestyle.

I initially felt a lot better as I implemented the diet, but toward the end of the year I stopped losing weight despite the fact that I was following the plan that had previously worked for me, and I started feeling a bit sluggish.

I decided that 2012 is going to be the year that I get healthy.

Here are some of the health goals I’ve set for myself:

-Goal Weight 125 lbs

-Start doing yoga and do it AT LEAST 1x per week

-Resume kettlebell swings AT LEAST 2x per week

-Resume running AT LEAST 2x per week

-More green veggies – transition diet to at least 50% veggies each day

-More raw foods and salads

I’ve decided to tackle food goals first and then the exercise goals, rather than trying to make a lot of changes all at once.   In order to kick off the year with LOTS of veggies and raw food, I’ll be following Kimberly Snyder’s “Beauty Detox Solution”.  I’ll share more about that later – but in sum it’s 80% plant based diet, mostly raw.  It’s supposed to work like a natural detox  for people who have eaten a lot of acidic foods (meat , alcohol, grain, dairy are all acidic, by the way!)  After my week of partying, this feels like a nice change, and I hope to see some good results.

The author doesn’t require you to become vegetarian but suggests it or at least cutting down on meat and only pairing it with certain foods that aid and won’t hinder in the digestion of meat.   I’ve decided to jump in wholeheartedly going 100% vegetarian.

I think my body may very well go into shock!  I am a bit of a protein addict.  I’d even estimate 50%+ of my diet previously came from meat and eggs, so this is a pretty radical  leap for me.

In preparation, I  decided to re-read “The Meatless Machine I: Reasons to Try a Plant-Based Diet for Two Weeks” chapter in 4HB (pg 520 in the appendix if you’re interested) on being vegetarian.

Something I didn’t pick up on (or probably intentionally chose to ignore) during my first read of this was the following recommendation from Tim:

“I suggest a two-week PPBD (primarily plant-based diet) test after 3-4 months on the Slow-Carb Diet.  No matter where you end up afterward, the awareness will lead to better decisions that benefit appearance, performance, and the planet as a whole.”

OK – so if it’s good enough for Tim, then it’s good enough for me.

I plan to follow this through January and then return to Slow Carb-ing per usual.  In the aftermath, I’ll share some of my experiences.  In the meantime, you can still expect recipe updates along with a few other new features from the SlowCarbFoodie.com.  I’ll be announcing everything on the 15th of January along with a free ebook entitiled “10 Slow Carb Shortcuts Even Tim Ferris Doesn’t Know About (Yet)” I’m releasing with fellow 4 Hour Blogger Jason from FindingMyFitness.com.

Stay tuned for the new updates, and if you haven’t already, sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on the ebook.

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a good start!

Why I’m doing Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet

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.

Holy Shit!

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.