Who has time to go to the gym, create elaborate meal plans, and get enough sleep so that you don’t feel like you got hit by a MAC truck in the morning? If you are like the majority of the population, probably not you.
Me neither: my entrance into the workforce some years back coincided with a slow and steady decline of my physical health. Of course, your physical health doesn’t just impact your body, it impacts your mind and spirit as well.
I used to think it was impossible until I picked up the 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris.
Through the course of this summary, you’ll learn how to gain the maximum results so you can shed those unwanted pounds, replace them with muscle, and get a good night’s sleep, every single day.
If you follow this plan, you’ll feel more energetic, you’ll look better, and you’ll wake up feeling like a million bucks in the morning. You are smart enough to understand how this won’t just make you feel better, but how it will make you perform better as well.
The 2 Mindsets
The first mindset is that you don’t need to focus on the most you can do, but you need to focus on the least that you can do–– the minimal effective dose (MED). The MED is the smallest dose that will produce the desired effect.
For instance–– water boils at 212 degrees F. Adding any more heat to the equation does nothing to make the water “more boiled”. So, 212 degrees F is the MED for boiling water.
So, this entire program is designed to get dramatic results with the least amount of work possible. This is counter-intuitive but extremely effective.
The second mindset you need is you’ll need to have your “Harajuku” moment – the moment where you finally decide that you can no longer go on living the way you are.
“Harajuku” comes from the story of Chad Fowler, who while in Tokyo shopping with friends, realized that he couldn’t buy clothes at any of the stores that his friends were shopping at.
It’s when the pain of living the way you finally outstrip the pain of change. If you haven’t had this moment yet, sit down and really think about how your life will play out if you don’t make the change today.
One of the best ways to manufacture your Harajuku moment is to take the infamous “before/after” photos. So, get in your beach garb (for guys it’s shorts, for gals it’s a bikini), and take your picture.
Most people are horrified at the thought of this, and that’s exactly the point. This imagery helps make the game you are about to embark on a conscious one, and you’ll vow that you’ll never want to look like that again.
Now we are ready.
Losing Weight Strategy #1: The Slow Carb Diet
Unless this is the first time you’ve ever considered a diet (unlikely), you’ll be familiar with some of what’s involved in the slow-carb diet. Here’s how you can lose 20 pounds in 30 days without doing a lick of exercise.
There are 5 simple rules to follow in the diet:
Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates
This includes any carbohydrate that is white, or that ever was white. It includes all bread, pasta, rice, and breading for fried foods.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals
You’ll probably think that eating the same meals over and over would drive you crazy. However, this is one of the parts of the diet that has more to do with your psychology than your physiology.
Eggs, chicken, beef, and fish will be your proteins, legumes (beans, lentils, etc) will give your needed carbs, and finally, you’ll complete your meals off with a healthy dose of vegetables (spinach, peas, broccoli, etc).
You can mix and match from this list, but keeping it simple and repeating the same meals over and over will prevent you from having to expend any energy on what to make for your next meal.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories
This means that your morning glass of juice or full-calorie soft drink in the afternoon is out. Replace those things with water, coffee, and if you need to diet soft drinks throughout the day.
If you used to take cream with your coffee, try replacing it with a dash of cinnamon instead.
As a bonus, you are allowed to have up to 2 glasses of red wine per day on the diet, as red wine has been shown to have no negative effects on rapid fat loss. Beer or wine should be avoided.
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit
This will contradict everything you’ve ever heard about how to be healthy, but don’t fret – you’ll be just fine without it. People have lived for thousands of years without fruit in the winter, and so can you.
Plus, you’ll only be limiting yourself six days of the week, which leads us very nicely into the fifth rule…
Rule #5: Take one day off per week
Yes, you’ll have one binge day a week where you can eat whatever you want, with no limitations. Want dessert after breakfast? No problem.
This is part psychological–– for the rest of the week while you are restricting what you eat, you’ll be looking forward to what you can eat on your cheat day.
It is also part physiological–– this weekly spike in calories will ensure that your body doesn’t go into hibernation mode and slow down your metabolism. Two incredible reasons to eat like a maniac one day per week!
Losing Weight Strategy #2: Mastering Temperature
Michael Phelps consumes 12,000 calories a day. A “normal” person eats approximately 2,000 calories a day.
If you think that it’s the hours that he spends each day in the pool exercising that keep his physique looking svelte, you’d be wrong.
Roy Cronise, a scientist at NASA who was trying to lose weight at the time did the math–– Phelps would have to do the butterfly swim at competitive speeds for over 10 hours a day to burn that many calories–– an impossible feat.
People who climb Mount Everest also report losing much more weight than their exercise expenditure would account for–– sometimes up to 25 pounds in a single climb.
The secret, Cronise figured out, was thermodynamics. Phelps burned that many calories simply because he was in the water all day.
Without getting into the scientific details here, through some self-experimentation he found that he could mimic these results by using cold temperatures to his advantage.
He tried everything – from drinking ice water in the mornings to walking outside in the freezing cold in a t-shirt, even sleeping without sheets.
The results were remarkable – he lost a remarkable 27 pounds in 6 weeks, wherein in the previous 12 weeks he had lost 21 pounds. He essentially doubled his rate of fat loss by making himself cold.
Here are a few ways you can do this yourself:
- put an ice pack on your neck for 20-30 minutes at night while you are watching TV or catching up on your email.
- consume at least 500 ml of ice water on an empty stomach right after you wake up.
- take 5-10 minute cold showers in place of your daily showers. Gradually make the temperature colder and colder throughout your shower.
- lastly, and only for the hardcore, take ice baths that induce shivering.
So now you know how to lose a ton of weight without changing anything in your routine aside from what you put in your mouth and changing your body temperature.
Now it’s time to kick it up a notch and figure out how to add exercise into the regime and add muscle. Again, keep in mind that we are looking for maximum results from the minimal amount of effort.
First, we will focus on the only device and only exercise you’ll need in order to get maximum results: the kettlebell swing.
The kettlebell looks like a cannonball with a handle on it, and you can get them in varying weights, just like you do with free weights. The swing is a simple exercise that activates all of the major muscle groups in the body.
You stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands between your legs.
NOTE: search for a Youtube video of the proper performance of the swing to get the entire picture.
Then you swing the kettlebell up until your arms are parallel with the floor, and bring the kettlebell back between your legs. This counts as one rep.
Second, we’ll turn our attention to the abdominal region. Remember all of those sets of situps and crunches you are used to doing? Well, you can forget about those.
There are two specific moves that Ferris has found that work incredibly well with minimum output.
The first is the myotatic crunch, which is done on a Swiss ball. With your lower back on the ball, you put your hands directly above your head as if you were going to take a dive.
Then you extend backward until your hands touch the ground – pause there for 2 seconds. Then, bring yourself up in a controlled motion until your arms are perpendicular to the ground–– hold that position for another two seconds to maximize the effect.
That’s one rep of the myotatic crunch. Repeat this for a total of 10 reps and you are finished one set. As you get stronger, add weight to your hands so that your reps stay at 10.
The second exercise is the “cat vomit”. If you’ve ever seen a cat vomit, you’ll know exactly what it was given this name after you do one rep. Start by getting on all fours, making sure to keep your back straight.
Next, forcefully exhale all of the air from your lungs – if you don’t feel it in your abs you haven’t done this correctly. Next, bring your belly button up to your spine and hold your breath for 8-12 seconds.
Now, inhale fully through your nose after the 8-12 second hold. Take one or two normal breaths and start again.
When Ferris was at one of the fittest points of his life, here was his workout schedule:
One set of kettlebell swings, one set of myotatic crunches.
Dumbell incline bench press, and bent over rows for 3 sets of 5 reps, and then reverse drag curls for 2 sets of 6 reps.
One set of kettlebell swings, one set of myotatic crunches.
That’s it. This is a great example of the minimal effective dose.
Getting your sleep
Finally, getting a good night's sleep is something you need in order to function on a high level every day.
Getting the right kind of sleep can also help you learn much quicker, as your brain assimilates everything you’ve learned from the day before if it’s in the right state.
Many people would tell you that it’s the amount of REM sleep you get that makes the biggest difference. However, this is only part of the story.
How you wake up in the morning depends on where in your sleep cycle you wake up. Counterintuitively, waking up earlier can sometimes leave you feeling better than if you had an extra 30 minutes of sleep.
Waking up during your deepest sleep phases can leave you feeling like crap.
So, one of the easiest things you can do is to get a monitor that wakes you up at the optimal time based on when you set your alarm–– if it senses that your 6 am alarm is going to coincide with another deep sleep cycle, it will wake you up a few minutes earlier.
One such monitor is the Sleep Cycle app you can get on your iPhone.
Next, if getting to sleep is an issue for you and counting sheep doesn’t work very well anymore, try using a tool like the Nightwave Pulse Light that gently guides you into a restful sleep by emitting a slow pulsing blue light that is intended to correspond with your breathing pattern.
Less than 10 minutes of this and you’ll be fast asleep.
So there you have it. Some simple ways to hack your way to the best body you’ve ever had, and at the same time leaving you feeling rested, energized, and ready to take on life.
Good luck, and I’ll see you at the beach.