Life is funny. My brother-in-law, who is very well-read, and very “flighty” in terms of career, life philosophy, relationships, hobbies, was in town for a visit. We both enjoy staying fit and doing some nutty stuff (me = triathlons, him = Escriba MMA), and we’ve both read a lot of books on nutrition, local and sustainable foods, gardening, etc. He hasn’t been to visit in about 4 years, and we got to spend a lot of time chatting while he was here. He mentioned a book while we were talking, The 4-Hour Body, by Timothy Ferriss. I wasn’t that interested in another book on healthy lifestyle right now, but a couple weeks later I saw the book mentioned on an excellent website, mobilitywod.com. I took a second to check on the library’s website, saw they had it and reserved it. So began this latest installment of my weight loss journey.
Don’t you feel like you never read anything new sometimes? For the love of broccoli, how many times do I have to hear burn more calories than you eat, strength train along with cardio, eliminate refined carbs and sugars? I know that might be news to some folks, but I’ve been on this journey for almost 5 years now, and I knew most of that stuff before I started anyway. Self knowledge does nothing to get you doing what you need to do. Another book about the same topics? Color me skeptical.
But from the first two pages I was so intrigued, and at the same time instantly sure this was going in some really bizarre direction. Like where you had to drink something hideous tasting each morning, and drop $200 on supplements. I mean this author was a little edgy and strange. But I continued to read, scratch that, devour the first few chapters. The size of the book was scary, but he quickly clears up that you need to pick your goal of choice and read the 3-6 chapters (about 150 pages) on that topic. Come back and cover a new goal later. Admittedly, I’m on page 200something now. I’m reading on into chapters I’ll be working on later, as well as some I can work on in conjunction with my fat loss goal. Here is a really simplified version of the Slow-Carb diet he describes for fat loss:
Six days of the week you follow this plan:
1. You may eat legumes (beans), meat, seafood, and non-starchy vegetables (no corn or potatoes.
2. No grains or rice of any kind no matter how brown or whole grain they may be.
3. No fruit.
4. No dairy.
5. Red wine (up to two glasses) is allowed each day. No other alcohol.
One day of the week is cheat day. At least 5 days should pass between cheat days. You are allowed to eat whatever you want, nothing is off limits.
No calorie counting, no logging food, and he encourages you to keep meals as repeatable as possible. He says to alternate between a couple breakfasts and lunches and dinners. There are no limits to the amount of beans, meat, veggies you eat. He doesn’t prohibit bacon or sausage. But he says choosing leaner meats will help if you’re not seeing as much progress.
I must admit the no fruit or dairy thing really bugged me. He said you could eat all you wanted on cheat day, but not during the week. I am a huge fan of eating plans that DO NOT ELIMINATE ANY MAJOR FOOD GROUPS. So I was feeling unsure again, despite the amazing results he describes. I considered how successful I’d been at my “not eliminating any food groups” weight loss plan these past few years. Fail. So this weird autopilot thing happened in my brain and I found myself buying some extra beans and meats at the grocery store the Sunday before Halloween. Then I woke up on Monday morning without thinking about it very hard and just started. First breakfast = 3 eggs, steamed lentils, chopped red bell pepper, and scallions. Delicious! I also had coffee, which is a cheat the way I fix it, but here is the deal. I decided I’d try a week and have my regular coffee prepared with half the sugar. I use a Senseo and get a really strong (like espresso) 3 oz. shot of coffee to which I normally use ¼ cup whole milk and 2 level tsp. demerarra sugar. This week I cut it to 1 tsp. of the raw sugar. I decided that if that small measured amount of milk and those 4 g of sugar each day was enough to sink this ship, then it wasn’t a worthwhile plan. And if the milk-sugar combo somehow threw off my eating all day, I’d bid it farewell and go to tea.
Here is a summary for this first week:
I was so satisfied with the variety of meals, the amount of food I could eat, and the lack of long stretches of hunger. If I got hungry, I ate something. And I began to love beans again, such variety and satisfaction!
I was worried about the gastric effects of eating beans 4 meals each day. But apparently the lack of other foods (sugar/dairy) kept me from having any gastric distress. The only day I had trouble was when I added some cheese to my morning eggs.
I logged my cheat day so I could plan what I wanted to eat. It was sort of fun as I’d think of or see things I wanted during the week, I’d make a note of what I wanted on Saturday. It allowed me time to weigh what I really was craving over those momentary urges that I would’ve given into but really didn’t want that bad.
I was going to bed at my normal time each night, but getting up earlier and with more energy. My brain would wake up, then my body would follow. I didn’t feel groggy or sluggish. It was like a switch was flipped and I was up and ready for action. It’s hard to describe, I’ve never felt like this before. Could all that sugar/dairy really have made me feel so wonky in the morning?
I hardly saw any weight loss the first couple days (unlike other diets), then the last few days the scale really got moving.
I lost 5.2 pounds and just over 5 inches the first week. My cheat day was glorious and blech all at once. By the night time I was feeling overloaded with gunk, and I was actually looking forward to getting back to the clean food and beans the next morning. That is when I had a WTF moment. I mean, I’ve had that feeling after a crazy vacation or holiday time where I overindulge for many days, but after one day? I’m ready to hop back on board for 6 more days of beans? Why yes. Yes, I am.
Stay tuned as I catch up on blogs and bring you Week 2 action. I’ll tell you some of the tricks he uses to keep the cheat day from packing fat back on, including cinnamon and well-timed squat sessions.