Tuesday, July 12, 2011

four hour body

I know it has been a while since I posted, I've been a little busy with making the most of being in DC, my internship, and training for the August 13th triathlon! This is a little different that my usual posts - it is a book review of sorts or rather an analysis and synthesis of certain methods to making changes in your body and I am only looking at a small part of the book.

I recently purchased Tim Ferriss's Four Hour Body mainly because I have heard so many controversial things about him and the book and I had a Border's gift card to spend. He used himself as a guinea pig, tracking workouts and nutrition for decades and has identified the smallest changes that he could do to make serious increases in weight loss, muscle gain, strength gain, etc. and also has some evidence on how it worked for other people as well. It's a pretty big volume and covers a lot of different subjects all having to do with the body in some way and making gains with the smallest effort needed. While I don't always agree with that principle in itself - if you want to make a change you should probably put in the 100% effort to make that change happen, not just try to find the easiest way - he does has some really interesting strategies for making new routines stick.

Have a set goal. Mine are the two triathlons this summer, but if you want to lose weight or gain muscle set a weight or body fat percentage goal, or put a number on how much weight you want to lift or how far and fast you can run. The goal though has to be realistic within a certain time frame.

One major strategy for doing this is keeping track of the data and changes without using calories or a scale as measurements. Calories don't help you separate the kinds of foods that will help you lose weight or add muscle, they are just a unit of energy. Calories can be an easy way to track the amount of food you consume, but they shouldn't be relied on as a good indicator of the health of the foods you consume. And a scale only measures weight - not muscle mass. I am five foot four inches and weigh over 130lbs which is at the top of my BMI range - but I am probably around 15% body fat and that muscle is never taken into account on a scale. Circumference of your waist, arms, hips and legs, or a fat caliper are much better measurements to take while tracking changes in your body than your weight alone.

Another strategy is one shared by the Nerd Fitness community and that is to somehow stay accountable for your set goal. Have a support group, make a bet with friends (where you lose money if you don't fulfill it which gives you more incentive than if you were only to gain money you didn't already have once you completed your goal,) take an unflattering before picture and post it somewhere you see it everyday. Even during the process you can take a picture of everything before you eat and post that online - you won't want to post a picture of terrible for you food or a giant bag of candy. Have others involved in the whole process and you will want to prove it to them and they will hold you accountable whether they are encouraging or discouraging you along the way (ignore the discouraging friends or use them as fuel to work harder.)

I can also be a resource - shoot me an email and I can give you just some plain old encouragement, I can plan workouts or a meal program for you, hell if you know me I can work out and/or cook with you! If you tell me what your goal is, I will do my best to help you reach it. Even if your goal is just to add more vegetables to your diet - I can help you out!

In regards to the book, its fun to scan through but I wouldn't go out and buy it right away (borrow my copy first!) I'm obviously a fitness nerd, so I like when he gets into the little experiments and the more scientific jargon and shows exactly what the human body can be pushed to do - but other people may not. I wouldn't use him as a guide to changing your lifestyle, but instead as a reference or resource. Even Ferriss admits that you have to find the formula for change that works for you, and especially the motivation to make the change, his method worked for a number of people but those individuals were all committed to his specific methods.

I think the main point to takeaway is that you have to find your motivation, set your goal and find a way to make yourself accountable to that goal - that is the key to making changes towards a healthier lifestyle!

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