Just four hours, and the rest of your life.

In a stroke of good karma (in the form of an unprecedented gift of gratitude from my friend, Winston, who was – IS – staying in my childhood home whilst we’re both here in Manila), I received a pretty little present in my e-mail two weeks ago:

No he wasn’t trying to warn me of how fat I’ve gotten since we last saw each other…at least…I don’t think so? But really, though. It all started a few days before Winston had landed in Manila. We were catching up via Skype and I’d clued him in on this bloggy little side project of mine. Intrigued by my newfound “yipster (Fiore, 2012)” appreciation for all things gluten-free, wheat-free, and “Crunchy,” he told me I should check out this book. Being cheap, stubborn, and otherwise engaged (knee-deep in my infatuation for LeanSecrets*, Livestrong Calorie Counter*, and NTC*), I hadn’t had the chance to study it until it landed in my lap (or my Kindle, so to speak).

I have since spent many a free minute reading through the book. It’s quite a hefty piece of literature, and comprehensive to the point of information overload; but really you’re only meant to read what applies to you. In true obsessive-compulsive fashion, though, I have chosen to read…well, everything.

I’m certainly not so far in (or so well-versed in the canon of literature that’s been built around it the way Winston is…*) that I am able to offer a true review. HOWEVER, I found now to be a perfect time to throw my 2-cents in as I am in the midst of a conversion of faith.

Enter:

Quite possibly my current favorite section of the book thus far are the two chapters on this phenomenal, so-obvious-you-already-thought-it-just-never-did-it Slow-Carb Diet.

At this point in my life, I don’t feel so obese or unfit that I need to subscribe to any silly crash diets like Atkins, Cohen, or one with other names of men I’ve never met. And amidst this lifestyle change in the last 12 months, I’ve realized that those diets don’t work anyway. The crazy restrictions they put on you – from calorie intake, to portion control; make you antsy for more, and cause unhealthy obsessions with how much you have of something – no matter how healthy or beneficial it could be. I do know plenty of people who can attest to the results they got out of all the aforementioned diets, and I’m certainly not belittling that progress, but do you really think you can keep that up for the rest of your life and be…you know, happy? Is it a sustainable choice? If you have answered yes to both those questions then: 1) you’re either in denial, or, 2) you can just stop reading this now because it’s obviously not for you.

For those in the same boat as me, though: people who don’t like feeling restricted, and can’t bear the thought of waking up to a meal of half a grapefruit and a serving of low-fat cottage cheese that’s meant to tide you over ’til lunch hour at which point you will be presented with something of equal value……………………….then by all means, listen.

The Slow-Carb Diet is really simple, and because it’s already been written and explained so thoroughly by Timothy Ferris himself, I’m just going to give you a quick breakdown juxtaposed with my reasons for loving it. First, the rules of the diet:

  1. No white foods (except cauliflower, cottage cheese, and white beans). That is: no foods that can be refined into something white (white sugar, rice – yes even the brown kind, etc).
  2. Eat a lot of the same thing.
  3. Don’t drink calories.
  4. NO FRUIT/FRUCTOSE.
  5. Take a whole cheat day a week to make yourself deliciously, deliriously sick and drunk on food and booze and all the things you love.
I know this sounds restrictive, and I’ve already gone on and on about how unrestrictive it feels to me. But hear me out:
  1. First of all, Rule 1 works for me because I had already cut out wheat and gluten (mostly, anyway) from my diet. So the only drastic change here is that I can no longer have my delicious, best-way-to-start-the-day protein oatmeal; or any of the brown rice pastas or dishes I had wanted to try. Otherwise though, this is easy. Cutting these things out will hurt at first, especially if you are a big sugar-and-starch guzzler, but once you’ve cut them out…well, it’s like quitting a bad habit or a drug. Going cold turkey and swimming/drowning your way through the withdrawal will cause you to come out of the experience completely independent of the addiction. You will be cured of all cravings. Not having wheat often has made me not like it as much as I used to – and that is coming from Dinner Roll Girl. When I was little, I would horde all the dinner rolls in any restaurant, buffet, what-have-you. I would smother each tiny buttered roll in more “single”-serving packaged butter, and proceed to fill myself with a meal’s worth of calories, fat, and simple carbs before the meal even started. AND THEN I would have the chicken fingers, French fries, AND ice cream sundaes that came after. I LOVE BREAD. And I love cake. And I love chocolate. So trust me when I say: if I can say no to drugs. You can too. Eventually it’s not that you don’t even miss it, it’s that when you have it again, it no longer interests you or your taste buds.
  2. I know this sounds “boring” and “restrictive” again. But as Timothy Ferris suggests himself, that’s what good spices, and creativity is for. This also is very much in line with my own limitations as a single female living on her own. If I am eating the same (GOOD) things over and over again, there is no reason to have a long, confusing, expensive grocery list. The basics are enough to tide you over for the week, and all you have to do is either get creative, or get used to it.*
  3. I’m not a big juice drinker, really. Water is my friend. I’ve always thought juices, sodas, etc to be a waste of stomach space in that, I really like food. And if I’m going to enjoy my meal, I’m going to maximize room in my body for everything that my meal is — without the sugary fillers sodas and juices provide you with. So this rule, again, is fine by me. I would rather be eating good food, and peeing out toxins from drinking water as a cleanser/stabilizer/what-have-you; than taking in juice, absorbing all the sugars and silly stuff, then peeing out the liquids and feeling hungry later on. If you are a big juice drinker or soda drinker, though, consider this: fruit juice is loaded with fructose, and according to studies, excessive fructose intake (for example, in the form of orange juice), causes spikes in cholesterol, albumin, and iron. This is especially negative to men: albumin renders testosterone inert, and iron is difficult for men to clear out when they have too much of it because they don’t drown in the red tide once a month. So does your juice still taste good now?*
  4. Please see #3.
  5. And lastly my favorite rule. THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. It’s mentioned over and over again in most diets, and most wellness/fitness/lifestyle-change programs, but for some reason when Timothy Ferris tells me…I believe him. Schedule your cheat day, and go batshit crazy and you will never feel hungry, or unhappy, or deprived. Ever. Because you know it’s coming. You know it’s coming, you can look forward to it, you can make yourself sick, you can party it up…You can temporarily leave your little haven of comfort, good (but kind of boring, FINE) food, and go the whole nine yards into the Gingerbread House and eat it whole, and you can wake up the next morning ready to go back home, where it’s safe and sound, and the food you love (though not as much) won’t turn on you…where the food you love loves you back.
Perfect. Sense. So now this simply begs the question. What CAN you eat on this diet?
Well, surprisingly plenty actually, but for the sake of brevity* let me say that, basically, you can eat: legumes, vegetables, lean protein, 2-3 cups of coffee or tea a day, and there are no restrictions on portions. EAT AS MUCH OF EVERYTHING AS YOU WANT. The only rule is you should be eating properly at every meal so that you are NOT hungry between them. Eat at 10 am, 2 pm, 6 pm, and 10 pm (you can adjust to your schedule accordingly but just eat every 4 hours, 4 times a day*); and eat as much of the aforementioned as you want, and you are golden. Snacks should not even be sought after cause you should be eating enough not to be hungry in between but if you MUST you CAN have 5 – 10 almonds, a couple of carrot sticks, OR another small slow-carb meal if necessary.
See how easy this is? And my other favorite thing about this diet is that, since salsa, seasoning, and spices are your friends, and legumes are too; MEXICAN FOOD is high up on the menu! AND WHO DOESN’T LIKE MEXICAN FOOD? Gosh, I rest my case. So just to be extra assertive of my point, I present you with sample meals of what I’ve been having on this diet:
(Top Left: Spicy tuna with chili and garlic, tomato salsa, 2 whole eggs scrambled, and half an avocado
Top Right: I didn’t take the picture beforehand, obviously, but that would be a burrito bowl sans rice and tortilla; featuring: black beans, veggies, salsa verde, and carne asada
Bottom Left: SUPER OVERLOADED GUAC!
Bottom Right: “Naked” Guac)
Obviously, I’m not deprived. I’ve also been eating plenty of lentils, and have found a recipe for chickpea roti sooooo there is really no reason why one might NOT enjoy OR benefit from this diet.
Will be further documenting all related adventures and misadventures on this diet/four-hour lifestyle change and keep the rest of the willing world posted. For now, here are some related links:
Notes and After-thoughts
(And can somebody teach me how to put a subscript on this thing so that these can ACTUALLY be legit footnotes one day in the future?!)

*LeanSecrets: Brenda Leigh Turner’s lean, mean machine website/blog/extravaganza
*Livestrong Calorie Counter: This is the free iPhone/Android app developed by Livestrong that has a whole archive of all kinds of food (from the regular to the obscure) so that you can track your intake. It should be noted, however, that I stopped using it for calorie-counting ages ago, but have kept it on my phone for moments when I want to track fat-protein-carb intake. In the “Progress” section you can view a percentage breakdown. It’s what helps me stay on track with the whole “30% fat or less” rule for the Path to Lean-ness, and the whole “30% protein for breakfast” too.
*NTC: Nike Training Club; a trainer for the trainer-less. It’s an app too and I’ve been meaning to do a review. I will. Soon.
*Yes, Winston is very well-versed on the canon of literature around The 4-Hour Body. He just hasn’t read the book. Ha. Ha.
*In the book, Timothy Ferris shows you how to have <$2 meals all week long on a super simple grocery list. In contrast to other lean-mean-machine programs (like Brenda Leigh Turner’s), this is a welcome relief. None of these crazy brand-names anymore (MARY’S GONE CRACKERS I WILL NEVER PAY $7 FOR YOUR ASS AGAIN), just a very simple list of premium, organic, natural ingredients that, yes, are not cheap on their own, but, YES, make perfect, healthy sense to have and hold and all that jazz. SUSTAINABILITY IS EVERYTHING.
*I don’t think I have to go into reasons why soda’s bad for you – because everyone is always all over that, but just as a bit of a reminder: even your diet sodas are bad for you, okay? Fake/artificial sugars/sweeteners inhibit muscle growth and fat loss. They cause the same, or even worse, spikes in insulin than natural sugar does. So really just because something is “zerocal” doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
*AHHHH! THIS IS GETTING LONG!
*4 hours…4 hour body 😉 Get it? Get it?

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