Losing 60 Pounds Part 3: Tweaking the Slow Carb Diet to Make it My Own

Losing 60 Pounds Part 3: Tweaking the Slow Carb Diet to Make it My Own

Note: This post is Part 3 of a 6 Part Series on how I lost 60 pounds. You can find a list of all of the posts in this series here. Or, if you want the whole kit and caboodle in one mammoth post, you can click here. (Update as of April 17, 2017: I’ve now lost 70 pounds and am no longer trying to lose weight, just trying to get fitter and stronger).

In Part 1 of this series I talked about getting your mind in the right place. We become what we think about most of the time. If you want to be physically fit, you need to spend a proportionate amount of time thinking and working on your health. In Part 2 I introduced the diet I started with, and the diet the remains my foundation. The Slow Carb Diet prescribed by Tim Ferriss in his book 4-Hour Body. This post is longer than Part 1 and Part 2 combined, and if you are trying to lose weight, this part of the process, if you’re serious, will be the most long and thought-consuming for you as well.

After a few months on the Slow Carb Diet I was seeing some amazing results, but some things just didn’t seem right for me. I believe the Slow Carb Diet works, but my friend Bryan pointed out that a basic diet prescribed by someone else is for people who don’t want to think. If I wanted to get serious, I needed to test things to see how my body responds to make a diet work for me long-term as a lifestyle.

After two months I made two modifications to the Slow Carb Diet prescribed by TF.

  1. I stopped eating breakfast at all.
  2. I extended my Cheat Day to Cheat Weekend, beginning Friday night and going through Sunday lunch.

Regarding breakfast: I had never in my life eaten breakfast. Only time I ever eat breakfast is if I am going out with other people. But I have never in my adult life eaten breakfast at home. Black coffee is all I need. So if I am trying to lose weight, why am I introducing a new meal into my life?

The short answer is getting that bit of protein in the AM to keep your body happy. But I felt I didn’t need it.

Regarding Cheat Day: Extending Cheat Day is a cardinal sin among 4-Hour Body devotees. I found, though, that by extending my Cheat Day to Cheat Weekend, I felt less a sense of urgency to fill my body with all the things I said no to during the week. I could have pizza and a few beers on Friday night, but then skip breakfast and maybe even lunch on Saturday. Maybe pig out on Saturday night. Go out with friends for lunch on Sunday afternoon. I just felt like I had more control, and that I could eat when I wanted to instead of having this one arbitrary day every week.

Weight Watchers Points
I’ve never been into the Weight Watchers Points thing, but I think I could be. My wife started doing it, and I would hear her talk about how if she went on a run, she got bonus points. All foods are assigned a point value and she gets say 20 points a day. But if she goes on a 2 mile run, she gets a bonus 5 points for the day. Although I’ve never used a points system, I love the idea because I love to eat and sometimes it’s easier to run five miles than it is to not have pizza for dinner.

Becoming a Food Valuist…
There’s a new term and I want you to remember it and make it your own. I want you also to become a Food ValuistI love food and before I put food in my body I need to make sure it’s food worth putting in my body. My friend Leila, a mom of three young kids, said that when she was trying to lose weight she needed to distinguish between her food and kid food. This really resonated with me. I pick up the kids from Sunday School and their teacher is dolling out goldfish crackers. Suddenly, all three of my kids had me their goldfish crackers and go off to play. Do I eat them? I have food in my hand! How do I not eat it? In the past I would have, just out of habit. Now, know what I am eating those crackers because those crackers aren’t valuable enough to me.

I’ve become finicky with my food, but I still eat some junk. I just have to really care about it. Certain things, I’ll never eat again, like goldfish crackers. I’ll never eat RiceARoni again. It’s not good nutritionally and I don’t like it that much. Now, if I loved RiceARoni, maybe I could justify eating it, but “bad” foods that I eat have to be desirable enough for me to justify eating them. I can justify a few beers a week. I can justify some enchiladas. But I can’t justify RiceARoni. Maybe you love RiceARoni. Have at it, but you better figure out something else to cut out.

I’ve almost entirely eliminated potatoes from my diet. On Thanksgiving I made a plate of food basically on a bed of mashed potatoes and then covered the whole thing with a bucket of gravy. But I think other than Thanksgiving, I’ve had potatoes maybe two or three times in the past eight months. One exception would be french fries, which I do have on occasion, because who doesn’t want french fries with their cheeseburger?

Here’s something I face occasionally. I’ve had three or four consecutive days where I have been very careful with my diet. It’s Friday afternoon and I am starting to think about dinner. I want to have a good dinner. I want to let loose. I don’t know if it’s my will power finally breaking down or my body speaking to me and saying it’s time to really eat. Maybe a little of both. But I’ll get there after three or four careful days of eating. When we’re in Santa Barbara with my wife’s parents, on Friday night we often go out to one of our favorite restaurants together. What a great way to let loose! But sometimes I get to that point where I’m ready to eat and I hear what we’re doing for dinner and it’s not food that I really like. There’s no way I’m eating that! If I’m ready to really eat, I am going to eat food that I love. The other night, this meant getting the whole family fed and leaving the kids with grandma and grandpa while Monica and I went out to a quick service restaurant and I got a delicious bowl of ramen.

I’ve eaten a lot more salad…
If I’m out to lunch I’ll order a salad instead of a cheeseburger or the fish ‘n chips. I had a cheeseburger a few days ago and it tasted amazing. Don’t eat as many cheeseburgers as I used to.

In general, my whole scale has changed. What I now consider a “bad day” of eating, at one time, I would have called that a “good day.” My standards are different. My mother-in-law makes a very basic salad with lettuce and carrots, Italian dressing and blue cheese. I’ll often just eat the salad for dinner so I am still at the table and able to be social. About that blue cheese….

Cheese is an indulgence….
I love cheese! Preferably stinky cheese. The stinkier the better! If I were making something for myself at home what I would probably do is slice some cucumbers and tomatoes and douse it with some concoction of spices. But I do love this very simple salad my mother-in-law makes with blue cheese.

I do eat cheese, but I have to limit the amount of cheese I eat. Cheddar or American cheese on my eggs in the morning. Sounds good, but it’s not the way I want to eat my cheese. I can sprinkle some herbs or spices, Chalua or Tapatio on my eggs and be just as happy. I need to be selective about when I eat cheese.

I like nighttime snacks…
I’ve also learned that I like having a nighttime snack! Even if I have a huge dinner at 6 o’clock, I still want a snack at 9 o’clock. Rather than trying to change this about myself, I’ve just admitted it. So I have to make sure I eat a modest dinner so I save some calories for my snack later in the evening, and I have to make sure I have good food to eat for my snack.

Intermittent Fasting
You know what I want to do on Tuesday nights? Every Tuesday we have a cleaning lady at our house so we don’t want to make dinner at home. We go to Pepe’s, an amazing Mexican restaurant in Old Town Goleta. They have an all you can eat buffet that’s AH-mazing. I want to gorge myself. If you were to watch me at Pepe’s on Tuesday nights, you may think I have a problem. I start with a BIG plate of food. Rice and beans on half of my plate covered with chile pork verde. The other half of my plate is devoted to cheese enchiladas. Then I go back and cover the whole thing with enchilada sauce. And then a big scoop of sour cream. (This is the only setting in which I ever eat sour cream. More on that in a later post). I go back for seconds. It’s ridiculous.

But I don’t eat all day on Tuesday. When I go to Pepe’s on Tuesday night, it’s literally the first food I’ve put in my body that day. Then, I don’t eat at all on Wednesday until I have a very healthy, intentional dinner. Suddenly, my total indulgence on Tuesday night does not look that extreme. There’s a lot of feast and famine on my diet, and I think this diet is great for people who love food and love pigging out. Over time, I think you become more in-tune with your body and there’s a reaction to pigging out. “Wow, I just pigged out. I don’t think I want to eat tomorrow….” I used to follow-up pigging out at Pepe’s with going out for a big breakfast the next morning.

So much of diet and health and wellness is about becoming in-tune with your body. Every now and then you hear about a woman who just gave birth and didn’t even know she was pregnant. She may have been seven or eight or nine months pregnant and she didn’t even know it! That’s called being out of tune with your body. I want to be in-tune with my body.

The more time you take tweaking any diet to make it your own the more successful I think you’ll be. At first you can feel like a sell-out and like you’re not serious. What I came to learn was that the experimentation proved a level of serious far beyond simply following a plan. I was testing things to see how my body responded in order to achieve maximum results.

Next up is Part 4: Fitness and the Importance of Short-Term and Long-Term Goals


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