Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 21

So one huge thing! Tim Ferris commented on the last blog post - which is AWESOME. Here's how it happened. I went back to the site to look through the blog again and get new inspiration and Tim had a contest up on to design the book cover for his next book tentatively called: Becoming Superhuman. So I summoned my best printshop skills and submitted my design. Low on artistic quality and high on concept, I tried to depict a human specimen (in this case in the form of a picture of mr. ferriss ripped of his blog) along side a mixing board - illustrating the directions in the book will allow you to adjust the qualities of your body on command like lowering the terrible or upping the mids. I'd be stoked to win the $250 bucks for the top four of 'tim's favorites' but I'll have some pretty intense competition - here is the front runner from Anthony Adams:

So took last week of the blog to see how it affected my performance, after all the point of the experiment is to see the best results with the least amount of input, ie WORK. So I noticed from Week 1 to Week 2 my biggest change was that I did not keep as accurate of a record of my lift weights. I had the gym loop down. I pretty much new what weight was going to get me close to faliure after 8 reps. The recording of each lift (weight / rep) was just slowing me down, so I stopped. I concentrated on getting to faliure rather than focuding on increasing reps or weight and did not miss a beat. So from Week 2 to Week 3, I figured I try the same thing with the blog. Was the blog just a waste of time and I could achieve the same results without putting time into it? The answer is no. Without posting my food intake daily I did not have the daily motivation to focus as intently on what I was eating and I was more likely to indulge without the looming daily blog post of how I had failed. Now that my Tim Ferriss blog comment is a week old, I will be back to daily blogging for the last week, I plan on being perfect eater this week and having a great wrap up post!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 14 - HALF WAY!!

Halfway through my 28 day Tim Ferriss experiment. If you are new to the blog check out Day 1 and read up from there. If you've read through all of the posts you can see one distinct trend from Day 1 to Day 14: The gradual shrinking of the length of the posts. This is due to the repetitive nature of the plan and is what I think what makes this a great tool for the masses trying to get in shape, get healthier and loose a little weight and not necessarily just for the FREAK-hopefuls trying to fit into their affliction shirts so they can go out in Campbell (California). The simplicity of both the diet and exercise program takes the choice out of the whole process and with that eliminates the option NOT to follow the program (at least from the front of your mind). Eating as much as is pleasing of a small select number of foods takes the impulsivity out of food choice and the self defeating internal mechanisms that perpetuate the urge to eat recklessly. The same goes for the work out plan, just 1-hour a week in the gym is impossible to skip. One set per exercise, to failure, ensures at the very least, for that short amount of time, you'll be doing something productive. I'll be under 200lbs for the first time since before Capstone sometime early this week (-6lbs in two weeks). I expect the fat loss to accelerate as I continue to add muscle. So far so good!

Day 13

Dieters gone wild day! Didn't go tooooo wild, I was a BBQ and had salami and cheese and tacos, it was grand. Even had a beer.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 12

NOT NOW CHEIF! Yea, that's right, I got a new hair cut and yes, I'm in the zone.  My big victory today was a lunch at the Los Gatos Brewing Company.  I got the flank steak and didn't touch the fries on my plate OR the bread.  It was glorious.  I am an oak.  I celebrated by munching on some home made honey wheat bread at dinner at Willow Street.

Food Intake:
Spinach Bolonis
Large Cup of Coffee
Mixed Greens
Willow Street Steak and Spinach Salad Server Special
Glass of Red Wine

Day 11

Back in the Gym: I omitted standard dead-lifts to avoid further back tweaking (subbed curls, romanian dead lifts w/ light weight and the groin machine) and concentrated on 5/5 ratio of lifts.  The results of this focus were mixed.  Take for instance the weight that will bring my quads to absolute failure in the 8-12 rep range on the leg press sled  is currently 3 x 45lbs plates + 1 25 lbs plate on each side.  Its difficult to drag the negative motion (down) out to a five count.  Its next-to impossible for me to drag the push out that long.  Like Brian said, the 3/3 ratio is a more accurate description the reality of my lifts.  The problem I found as I tried to focus on the 5/5 is that if I dropped the weight to a point where I could do it properly, I didn't get as close to exhaustion.  

1 Protein Shake
Spinach Turkey Rolls w/ Black beans (4 servings)
Mixed Green Salad w/ grilled veggies
2 Diet Pepsis
2 Chicken Breasts
2 Robyn Vegan Health Biscuits 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 10

I'm starting to feel something going on... I'm getting some definition back in my shoulders and chest. PLUS I woke up at 202lbs - I was waking up around 206 for about 2-3 weeks before I started this. So, does that mean I've def lost at least 4lbs of fat? And more depending on the amount of muscle I've put on? Back in the gym tomorrow!

Food Intake:
Large black peets coffee
1 Protein Shake
Turkey Black Bean Spinach Wraps w/ mustard
Quinoa (how many different ways can you spell it) bowl w/ cherry tomatoes and garbanzo beans

Wasn't really hungry most of the day... weird

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 9

I'm super bored with the food I'm eating!

Food Intake:
A spinach bolani
1 cup of blueberries
2 protein shakes
Bean salad
A bowl of Quinoa and mixed veggies
Spinach Turkey rolls

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 8

Back in the gym. The back is already sore again. But its good to see improvement (at least a little) almost across the board. Either I'm getting better at getting to failure (ie putting more effort in) or I am getting in better shape, or maybe a little of both! I also took my blood pressure at Safeway after! A hearty 121 / 71 - still great :) so besides the extra reps or extra weight lifted, there is not a whole lot of great positive feed back in terms of body changes or weight loss. I do think I may turn the corner in that area shortly and will continue to have faith in the plan!

Workout #3
YR 45(1)+10(1) x10
Shoulder shrugs - 45(1) + 35(1) x10
Overhead Rope Pull 42.5 x19

Leg Press 3 x 45lbs + 1 x 25lbs each side x14
Calf Extensions 230 x 21
Hamstring Curls - 160lbs x 15

Dead Lift - 45+10 (each) x 10
Back Extension - 25lbs x 22
Leglifts x 25

Incline bench - 45(1) + 10(1) x 10
Pec-fly - 120lbs. x15
Dip Machine (70lbs of help) x 10
Tri Pushdown (rope) 57.5lbs x 8

Food Intake:
1/2 cup of blueberries
Spinach Bolanis
A cup of Coffee
Quinoa Salad w/ Black beans
Protein Shake with Almond Milk
Chicken Breast
Chicken Sausage
Pumpkin Health Biscuit
2 Glasses of Wine

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 7

The week winds down and the 2 most notable things for me had nothing to do with either my diet or my work out regime. I woke up with a most unexpected 15 yelp compliments (fun little props you can get from other yelpers if they like what you wrote). Turns out while I was sleeping I was selected for Review of the Day! A most hilarious review of mine was on the front page of yelp/sanjose for the whole day. THEN I got to finally see Counting Crows and they did not disapoint. I was a little worried after some folks claiming to be big fans had not such nice words about their past experiences seeing them. Other than that, "dieters gone wild" day, a day Tim Ferriss tells us to "eat whatever you want" was fairly low key. My "splurges" were a HUGE piece of banana, baklava and a tripple-shot mocha. Back to the routine and back in the gym in the morning.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 6

Today was pretty easy! I'm starting to get a little tired of the green stuff I continue to eat, but the great news is this: The temptation to stray and eat a pound of cheese or a loaf of bread is easy to manage, but when it is shoved in front of my face with a bowl of olive oil with italian seasoning it tests my will power.  Hopefully I don't totally relapse after "dieter gone wild day" tmrw.

Food Intake:
20 Blackberries
1 cup of coffee
A pumpkin / carob muffin
1 cup of split pea soup
1 cup of Quinoa and garbanzo beans
Mixed veggie salad
1 glass of white wine
1 18 oz Beer at No Doubt Concert
Bowl and a half of Split pea soup
A grilled rosemary chicken breast
Chicken spinach wraps

Friday, July 24, 2009


Here is a review of both the program Tim Ferris outline in his lifestyle blog and a review of how I did. The best thing about the diet/plan is that is requires SO little that not doing it is harder to deal with than skipping it. How lazy do you have to be to skip 2 workouts a week? For a somewhate daily breakdown please see past posts on this blog.

Here are the grades I give myself for the experiment based on the instructions:

Gym Time: A+
Diet: C+

I strayed from the diet frequently towards the end of the experiment and now have a greater understanding of the social aspect of the obesity epidemic. Its pretty easy to eat meat, beans and spinach all day. Its also not terribly hard to find substitutes at some restaurants. Here is where it gets hard: When you're in a hurry on the road, at someone's house for an eating event, and going out. When the options are low or when you feel like it would be rude not to partake is when I had the most issues holding to the letter of the diet. I also do not think I was eating enough protein to experience the kind of muscle gain Tim Ferriss talks about in his blog.

The gym time was done as close as I was capable of doing it without a spotter. Not having someone there to catch a barbell before it fell on my throat would have allowed me to push the limits of failure further. It was also the best I could do considering the physical shape I was in before starting this program. I noticed the best improvement in the muscle groups that were in the best relative shape. The one activity I would partake in when I wasn't getting fatter and more out of shape was running so my lower body my better prepared for this, I was able to get to failure with much more weight that other muscle groups. In my weaker muscles, weight selection was much more important. Too much weight and I'd only get two or three reps in and if I brought it down too much it would get up in the 20+ reps.

All in all, it was a good experiment, you could easily mold this into a "Get back on track" Diet and Exercise foundation building regime that doesn't take much time. The 30lbs of muscle in 28 days is a little nuts, but the concept of going to failure is key take away. Its the 20% customer that gives you 80% of your business. Focus your gym time on going to failure instead of increasing weight, reps etc and you will be better off. The thought of applying those the 80/20 rule to my life is the main reason I enjoyed "Four Hour Work Week" so much. It's a wonderful verbalization of where I was at in life in that moment in time. It was a non-fiction "Catcher in the Rye" but with a "Fight Club" attitude towards the established protocols of working life, complete with a how-to plan for the generation of us who are disenchanted with the structure of life set before us.

Day 5

Protein Uptake Down Regulation Prevention Day. I will be cutting calories by 50% today to try to prevent my body taking my protein eating for granted.

As you may have noticed from Brian's comments on the way I am following Tim Ferris' diet and exercise plans I tend to gravitate towards certain key phrases in the instructions and let some of the smaller details slide. Call it selective interpretation. It goes bad when you misread a line you feel is important (see day 2). One phrase I like was this one:

"Eat as much as you like of the above food items."

So I grabbed on to that sentence, scanned the items for foods I liked or could tolorate and created my diet and I have not gone for long periods of time with hunger (which was typically my barometer of weight loss aptitude in previous experiments like this one). I have not really kept a clear record of how many calories I have consumed nor have I tried to control caloric consumption one way or there other until today per the one day restriction on protein. This is where I feel I need to "stay the course of the plan" for this experiment's purpose. Just do what Tim says and see if it works, if it doesn't - it's on him.

I would be lying by omission if I did not mention an unexpected side effect. What I've been eating has had a profound effect on my digestive system. I don't think I'm the only one who has this reaction to suddenly eating mostly veggies. Mark from Blink-182 weighs in on twitter:

So, what does give? and give? and give some more? Apparently the amount of gas is caused by the increase in complex carbs. The gnarlyness however, is up for debate.

Food Intake:
2 cups of coffee
1 cup Quinoa and Veggies (leftover)
Sliced Chicken and Spinach rolls
Spinach and Red Leaf Salad w/ Tomatoes, Green Onions, Corn
Pork Roast (3 servings)
1 glass of wine

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 4

Back in the Gym! I had my first flirt session with injury. I put too much weight along with being more tired due to the extra, single-joint exercises added in after my multi-joint sets. I'm not too much trouble but I am uncomfortable right now. It's only 4 days in but I am starting to get a little anxious about Brian being accurate in his analysis of my combination of the two programs and instead of 'getting the best of both worlds' (IE loosing 20lbs of fat and gaining 34lbs of muscle) I'll be getting worse results in both programs. We will see.... Here's how today in the gym went:

Yates Row - 45(1)+10(1) x 8
Shoulder shrugs - 45(1) + 35(1) x8
Overhead Rope Pull - 35lbs x 20

Leg Press - 45(6 - total 3 each side) x 14
Calf Extensions 210lbs x 20
Hamstring Curls - 140lbs x 15

Deadlift - 45(1) 35(1) x1 #fail / back tweak
Do-over 45(1) x8
Back extensions w/ 25lbs plate - x20
Leg Lifts x23

Incline bench - 45(1) + 10(1) x8
Pec-fly - 110lbs. x15
Dip Machine (80lbs of help) x10
Tri Pushdown (rope) 50lbs x10

Food Intake:
A cup of coffee
A homemade bowl of Lental Spinach soup by @robynhannah
An Apple
A Turkey and Spinach Sandwich with 7 grain bread
3 scoops of Whey Protein
1 cup of Milk
Quinoa w/ mixed veggies by @robynhannah
Big Chicken Breast
Bowl of vegetarian Split Pea soup
1/2 spinach bolani
2 glasses of wine

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 3

Whoa, woke up at 2:00AM SUPER hungry! Here's what I think happen, keep in mind i'm no doctor. I've been pretty good at keeping a steady stream of the three basic Tim Farris food groups including last night when I had a pretty diesel extra meat salad from Plutos. However, there's no question all this healthy eating has decreased my caloric load significantly and last night my stomach was looking for a couple jack in the box tacos. Ironically there was one in the fridge from last weekend, funny and gross.

My legs are still sore but I'm itching to get back in the gym. As I told Brian, I'm feeling lazy... eating well is the biggest motivator for me to get to the gym, I feel like I'm wasting all this good nutrition.

Food Intake
1 cups of raw broccoli with Sierra Nevada Pale-Ale Mustard
2 servings of sliced turkey
7 baby carrots
3 Bean Salad w/ Spinich and Turkey (last of the first lunch batch I made)
2 cups of quinoa w/ mixed veggies
1/4 of a Bolani
Steak Spinach Salad from Willow Street (no Gorgonzola - HUGE STEP FOR ME)
A bowl of homemade Spinach Lental Soup from @robynhannah
A glass of red wine (Zin)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 2

Apparently Day 1 wasn't as successful as I thought as I misunderstood / misread the directions work-out.  My buddy Brian, also experimenting with the Ferriss methods emailed me:

I'll point out if you read the weight gaining article again, he's not necessarily recommending just those exercises listed. In-fact, I think he's saying keep those to a minimum (4 or so) and try to focus more on the single joint exercises on machines. But make sure you do a WHOLE BODY WORKOUT. Here was mine today:

Leg Press
Butterfly (on a machine)
Calf machine
Overhead shoulder press (on a machine)
Lower back torso lifts w weight (don't know what it's really called)
Seated crunch (on a machine)
Seated Curls (on a machine)
Seated Tricep Extensions (on a machine)
Seated row (on a machine)
Incline dumbell press (yes a 2nd chest workout, for good measure)

Then I finished up with stretching. I was much closer to failure on my sets today. Then I followed up with 35g of protein shake, salami/cheese sandwich, grapes, soy chips, and water.

Then Brian went on to tell me how much better looking he was than me on top of also being able to read the difference between  MORE THAN and NO-MORE THAN.  So instead of focusing on single joint exercises I focused on multi-joint ones.  I will correct for the next workout. 
To compensate I broke out my 25lbs dumb-bells and went to exhaustion. (x20) I will continue to compensate in the coming days.  I am still rocking the slow-carb diet:

Food Intake Day #2:
A cup of coffee
2 servings of turkey
6 scoops of whey protein (3 in the AM  / 3 in the PM)
A three bean spinach salad w/ turkey (pre-made on monday)
A SpongeBob Centrum
A Sugar-Free Red Bull
Plutos Half Salad w/ mixed greens, peas, tomatoes, red peppers, sunflower
seeds, garbanzo beans, broccoli X2, chicken and steak
3 Siggs of Water 

Lunch is by far the meal where I'm most likely to blow it.  Put a basket of bread in front of me at a lunch with work buddies and watch me go to town! Prepacking the portions and ingredients is the best way for me make the best decisions and stay on track.  Also, if I make it through breakfast and lunch its much easier for me to continue through the evening as I don't want to waste all my momentum!

Day 1

I am 1 week away from finishing near the bottom of a "Biggest Loser" competition put together by a group of friends as preparation for summer. Much like my team's results in the Men's Open Relay of a triathlon: I didn't drop out, but I didn't do well either. My best single weigh-in was just over 200lbs which was a loss of about 10% of my body weight. For the first weeks, when I was seeing decent results, I was running 3-5 times a week and couldn't intelligently tell you how much of that loss was fat, muscle or water weight. I can tell you that to see any real results it required excessively large chunks of time and a near perfect diet (and when I say perfect I mean I was super hungry the majority of the time). I was able to do that for 2 weeks at which point I faltered, made a mistake or two (either skipped one of my Saturday-run/swim marathon calorie consumers or had a couple bad eating days) and I lost my motivation, interest and discipline. I lacked a clear and focused strategy.

My plan was to run when I could, swim when I could and eat as healthy as I could. When a work or social event prevented me from taking the time I needed I postponed healthiness (a term I am not sure is really definable) and ended up where I am now, 2 1/2 months later at about 5% body weight reduction (still over my red flag weight of 200lbs) with no more muscle than when I started (possibly less) and in need of a new plan.

This failure was the perfect time for me to finally begin experimenting with Life Style Design, a term coined by Tim Ferriss, Author of "The Four-Hour Work Week" and avid blogger. Tim has taken his ideas to some ridiculous extremes, including losing 30+ pounds in 24 hours and gaining it right back. I'm not sure Ferriss himself would recommend most people try to match his rapid weight-loss technique but it is consistent with his ideas of maximizing effort in order to attain a goal quickly. Which leads me to another flaw in my previous system, I didn't have a clear goal? Was it to lose weight? Not exactly. At 6'1-2"ish my 200-210lbs is not an impending health concern but I'd like to be lower. What I really needed to do was drop excess fat (which I tried to do by simply eating less) and add muscle (which I thought I would get to after I crossed that 200lbs mark but never quite made it). So now I have a brand new goal: To see if Tim Ferriss is full of shit or not. I don't care about losing weight, gaining muscle, looking better, getting stronger - I want to see if any of the stuff in his book can really be used by someone who can not seem to decouple responsibility and self-satisfaction. Is life-style design something you can do one step at a time and see results? Can I stick to a fairly simple (yet stringent) work out / food intake plan for 28 days? These are the questions I will answer in this blog.

The experiment will combine two of Tim's most popular blog posts:

You can read them both for details but to summarize, the two blogs are highly connected yet somewhat contradictory as both require a strict diet of lean meat, veggies and leggumes in reasonable but not constricting portions. Both factor in an 'exchange' of fat to muscle in the calculation and both are extremely simple and sound easy to implement. Here is how day 1 went:

Day One - First Lift
I opted to go with the 6 lifts suggested in the description of the regime:
Leg Press, Trap Bar Deadlift, Overhead Press, Yates bent row, Dips, Incline Machine Benchpress

The trick is to pick the right amount of weight that will get you to push you too exhaustion in ~10 rep w/ a 5/5 ratio in this order. The catch for me is I am COMPLETELY out of shape.

Yates bent row - 135lbs
(Bar + 45lbs plates) 6 reps
Leg Press - 2 x 45lbs Plate & 1 x 25lbs plate (each side)
Trap Bar Dead lift - 185lbs - 10 reps (little rest in between in each rep)
Overhead Press - 90lbs x 3 reps #fail
Dips - #Fail
Incline Machine Benchpress - 155lbs x 6 reps

"Failure" will be a common theme.  I tried to select enough weight to take to where I would be tired after 4-5 reps and then, as go until complete muscular failure.  I felt like I only properly executed a true failure on the leg press.  

With the other exercises I felt as though my current strength limited me from performing enough reps to truly max out on effort.  I will adjust the weight down slightly next round.

Day One Food Intake:
A 1/3 of a serving of pork roast (mom's leftovers)
3 scoops of Whey Protein
A Bolani (1/2 as a morning snack - 1/2 with lunch)
A three bean salad (pinto, black, garbanzo) w/ spinach and turkey
A Large Black Coffee from Pete's
A Diet Dr. Pepper (tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper)
20 pistachios
A big BBQ chicken breast
A glass and a half of wine
2 Siggs of Water (2 litters)

I survived a pretty difficult task in the form of a BBQ where I avoided, Hot Dogs, Sausages, a glorious bowl of red cherries and didn't put any cheese on my chicken (a huge step for me).

My legs are sore and my shoulders feel arthritic - day one was a huge success. Let's see how the rest of this goes...