Sunday, March 27, 2011

Body Hacking

It kinda fits that when a geek finds he needs to change his ways health wise that he would choose a hacker's path to do so...

A few years back I picked up Tim Ferriss's book "Four Hour Workweek" and loved it.  Pretty much a guide to hacking your work life.  Last fall I found out that getting the high score when it comes to blood tests is not a great thing.  During the holidays I stepped on a scale and found that sometime since college a kinderg√§rtner had somehow taken up residence around my mid section.

Enter Tim's new book "The Four Hour Body".  Tim is known as a "life hacker".  A term made popular by the web site of the same name.  He - like myself and hopefully a lot of you reading this right now hack - well - pretty much every aspect of our lives.  He just does it with abandon and writes books about his exploits.  I got the book immediately and devoured it.

It's not a whiny self help book.  Or a diet book.  It's a "here's how I hacked myself and what you need to know to try it too" book.  The first sections of the book (before the chapters on sex and building muscle) are about a way of eating called the slow carb diet.

I had been a proponent of eating a low GI diet for years so this sounded pretty interesting. The premise is that what makes you fat isn't really fat.  It's caused by our modern way of eating TONS of simple carbs like bread. sugar, potatoes and the insulin spikes that come with it.  Considering that an average American meal is HUGE and everything is either bread or loaded with high fructose corn syrup it makes perfect sense.  It also explains why type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the western world.  Here is a link to a nice article in Diabetes Health magazine that explains the real problem with HFCS quite nicely.

Review of the book: Fantastic.  Great read and if you get the paper copy just carrying around it's roughly 900 pages will improve your health.

The Slow Carb Diet: So...  here is my personal experience.  Today marks my 90th day (the reason for posting today).  In a nutshell -  I feel better than I have in 20 years.  I'm down 29 pounds.  I've lost a total of 13.5 inches as measured in 6 areas - 4.5 of those inches are now missing at my navel!   For the data geeks out there (you know who you are) that works out to loosing .322 lbs a day.  Slower than Tim's claimed results, but all I did was change my eating habits.  No intense exercise. No starvation.
My Results

First - Don't waste your money on a fat percentage bathroom scale.  Unless it's the cheapest scale in the store.  Then ignore the body fat feature if you do.  They are so bad they are laughable (I have data to prove it).

Things that I never expected to happen:  The nightly battles with acid reflux are gone.  Not sure why.  I no longer have those 3pm crashes at work and (unless alcohol is involved) I don't fall asleep watching tv after dinner either. I've also noticed that I hate grocery shopping a lot less and I buy less.   Finally - this week I realized I hadn't cleaned a lump of hair out of the shower in about 3 months.  Which is amazing considering the length of my locks.

I am going to have my blood tests re-done shortly.  I'd hoped to have had done before this writeup but that's what updates are for...  I'll let you all know the results of that too.  I've obviously obsessed about data collection and will be happy to answer any questions you might have about my experiences.

My reccomendations.  Get the book.  Eat slow carb.  Educate yourself on food.  Watch the movie Food Inc and read the book Omnivore's Dilemma at a minimum.  Be healthy!

Update: More support for this book.  It is now (16:30 MDT 3/29/11) the most highlighted book of all time on the Kindle.  To put this in perspective have a look at the rest of the list.

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