Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My First 4-Hour Body Cheat Day

On New Year's Eve, Dan & I spent the evening at Pizzuto's - an Italian restaurant in Seward Park. Our neighbors arranged a private, prix fixe meal for about 25 people, which was delicious. By happenstance, I was seated next to a guy who was reading the 4 Hour Chef - the third book from lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss - and was really loving it. Soon after, the hardcover edition was the Deal of the Day on Amazon.com for about $12, so I picked it up.

After reading the first section, I realized I wanted to learn more about his other books before diving deeper into this one, so I downloaded The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhumanto my Kindle. Ferriss basic concept is to identify the minimal effective dose of anything - whether that's the minimal vocabulary you need in a foreign language to be conversational, or the minimum number of reps of an exercise to do to gain muscle, or the minimal dose of a supplement to get the desired impact. All his books are massive tomes cataloguing his own self-experimentation, but they're full of graphs and pictures, so are very readable. He also encourages people to just read the sections relevant to them. I read the whole thing, and made a commitment to try much of what he himself had tried and found to work for building muscle, losing fat, and sleeping better. (The better sex sections of the book were very hetero-centric, so didn't offer much to me.)

The things I'm trying for better sleep are taking a Calcium & Magnesium supplement (333mg/133mg) every night before bed, along with 200 micrograms of Huperzine A, 200mcg, 120 Tablets, and 30 drops of California Poppy Extract. I think they're helping, though Dan's advice to sleep naked, along with my Chillow, have been the tipping point for my insomnia... for now. Several nights a week - sometimes every night - I end up unable to fall asleep for hours and hours. It's not uncommon for me to be up until 1 or 2am, laying in bed trying to fall asleep. Since I get up at 6am, that's a problem. Even if I let myself sleep in, the lack of sleep and frustration exacerbates my chronic migraines. So every little bit helps.

The lose weight/gain muscle advice from the book is much more robust, and takes the form of a pretty structured diet & exercise plan. Boiled down, you eat high protein, high veggie, high fiber meals 3 times a day, 6 days a week, avoiding any white carbs (including brown rice), sugar, dairy, fruit, and refined soy products. You drink ice water when you wake up, you take supplements 4 times a day, you put an ice pack on your neck at night, and you do a few quick, simple, but exhausting exercises. One day a week, you throw all that out the window. Alternately referred to as Cheat Day or Binge Day, this day of excess prevents your body from going into starvation mode and causing you to gain, rather than lose weight. The catch is: you have to do some tough exercises before and after every time you eat on Cheat Day, though they can be done just about anywhere.

I committed to doing this for a month at first, and then decide if I want to continue based on how I'm feeling and looking. I started by weighing myself and taking measurements of my arms, legs, waist, etc., to give me a couple metrics to monitor. Then I placed an order w/ Amazon.

I'm already taking a handful of pills twice a day for migraine prevention (Nortriptyline) and hearing loss prevention (FloriCal), and juggling two pill boxes, so I decided to invest in a 7 Day, 4 Compartment Pill Organizer. It's proven perfect for managing my meds and my supplements.

Then I purchased the pile of pills I'd be taking, including Policosanol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Garlicinand Green Tea Extract. I take the first three at bedtime, and the last three at breakfast/lunch/dinner to promote muscle growth and suppress burn fat

I also prepped for today - my first Cheat Day - with a few other items. First, a Thera-Band for the one exercise requiring equipment, Cissus Quadrangularis and Yerba Mate tea.

I started Cheat Day with my usual non-binge, protein/fiber packed breakfast - almond butter, almond milk, flax seed meal, chia seeds, protein powder and Saigon cinnamon blended into a shake (often with an egg or egg white thrown in). Then we did our taxes, which took longer than planned thanks to forms changing year to year and me completely forgetting about a stock sale. Then we headed to Rookies for lunch, and my indulgence began.

I started off with two Margaritas, since I can't drink much during the week (only a few things are allowed, in small quantities). Then I got the Rookies Burger with Bacon and Waffle Fries. They have a reduced menu at brunch, but I was happy to hear they had Mud Pie, so we got one and Dan & I shared it. The oreo crust was topped with coconut ice cream, which was wonderful and decadent and a major sugar bomb.

Back home, it was awhile before I had any appetite, but I wasn't going to miss the chance to eat more of Lizzie's homemade animal crackers, which I'd hoarded away in the freezer after the dinner party last weekend. I paired that with a King Size pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

A little later, I made myself a Peanut Butter & Passionfruit Jelly sandwich, which was about all I could fit in my stomach. I had plans to devour a pint of ice cream, make some chocolate chip cookies, and have a few donuts, but just didn't have the time or appetite, which surprised me.

One cause of that was the Yerba Mate tea. Part of the Cheat Day protocol calls for 16 oz of it with every meal, which undoubtedly suppressed my appetite (particularly given my low tolerance to caffeine).

So far, so good, and I'm finding the exercises are challenging but not time consuming, so they're easy to fit into the day. A few bridge poses, a little cat/cow, some kettlebell swings. Cheat Day sounds a little nuts, but during the week, when I really want a piece of pizza or a slice of pie, I know I can have it on Saturday. That gives me the strength to stay committed Bosu Balance Trainer Home Version

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