Prologue: Rockin’ The dad Bod
It was a beautiful fall morning. The sun hadn’t yet begun blazing on the limestone walls above us, the kids and mommies were off on an early hike and we had the whole crag to ourselves. My buddy and I dropped our packs at the base of the cliff and smeared the sweat generated by our uphill hike. I stripped my shirt off to allow it to dry as I stacked the rope and began organizing our gear for the climb.
“Nice! Rocking the Dad bod, bro!” my buddy exclaimed.
“What are you talking about?” was my reply.
If you are like me and have adopted an information-light lifestyle, you may not have stumbled upon this term which started on college campuses and has spread like wildfire to the men’s fitness/body image circles. A quick Google search for “dad bod” will return countless articles and pictures of tubby fellows standing around looking proud of their flabby midsections.
This. Is. Bullshit. Humans are supreme hunting animals. We are top predators. We have the capability to develop our bodies to perform superhuman feats of strength and endurance.
I was not proud of my growing midsection and kept it constantly hidden under my baggy shirts. I remained resolved to do something about it, but lost in the sea of pseudoscience that seems to perpetually float around the islands of diet and exercise.
I have tried a number of regimens in the past; everything from switching up my exercise , to various changes in diet. Eat more, eat less, run more, run less, eat this, not that, lift like this, lift like that. Nothing seemed to get my weight down and I have fluctuated between 185 and 195 for years.
New Year’s Day this year, coming off of my holiday binge visiting family back east, I decided enough is enough. I took the picture on the left above that morning and got to work.
My system was dead simple. It involved three habit changes:
- Adopt a Slow-Carb Diet (inspired by this post from Tim’s blog)
- No beer during the week (also part of the slow-carb program but one which I had always cheated on with other programs in the past.) except on special occasions.
- Commit to going to the climbing gym three times a week. More on that in another post.
If you do these simple things, it will be impossible to keep weight on. Your pounds will melt away. You will look and feel great and your biggest worry will be having to replace all of the pants you are shrinking out of as your waist recedes.
The Problem With Other Diets:
The problem with so many diets is that you get gung-ho, clear out the entire house of any junk, roll up your sleeves and begin eating clean. You are doing awesome the first week eating nothing but grass-fed meat, organic vegetables and magic pixie dust. You feel okay, maybe even lose a pound. This is awesome!
Then the weekend arrives, your buddies invite you out to the local brewery for a pint. One pint turns into three. You are hungry and now far away from your pixie dust. You order a burger from the food truck. Damn that’s delicious! But the bun and the mound of fries are not on-program. :”Oh well,” you tell yourself, “I’ll get back on track tomorrow.” You order another beer.
The next day you wake up feeling a bit groggy. Without thinking you reach for the box of cereal you forgot to throw away last week. It’s not until halfway through your bowl you realize you blew it again. “Oh well, I guess I’ll get on track tomorrow.”
Sunday rolls by with doughnuts or homemade blueberry pancakes, a backyard BBQ at a friend’s and a pasta Sunday Dinner to round out the day. “Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow.”
You see where this is going right? Pretty soon the clean food is gone, the pixie dust disappears somewhere behind the cumin and you are back to wondering why you can’t lose weight.
What is the Slow-Carb Diet?
Tim Ferriss designed this program for maximum compliance. If you can make a few small changes in what you put into your mouth this program will help you to stick to it because it encourages you to cheat!
- Avoid white carbohydrates. That means no rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, fried food with breading. Nothing. White. period. If you have to ask/debate just don’t eat it.
- Eat the same few meals over and over again. The simpler you make this, the more likely you will stick to it. Create meals that consist of protein, vegetables and legumes. Spices can add variety, olive oil is a great calorie booster. See my meals below for examples.
- Don’t Drink Your Calories. No milk, fruit juice, soda or beer. Black or Bulletproof Coffee is okay. Tea is great. Drink a lot of water.
- Enjoy Cheat Day! One day a week throw all the rules out the window. Eat as much of all the food you have been craving all week. Mow down HoHos, grab a pizza, get the large order of fries. Go nuts. This will help your system from downregulating and, if you make yourself a little sick, you won’t be reaching for the junk the next day as the memory will be fresh in your mind.
- Enjoy being “just a little hungry” all of the time. This is not one of Tim’s rules but I adopted a joyful feeling around being low-grade hungry. I imagined that this feeling was my body’s way of telling me it has switched over into losing weight. If we are full all of the time, this is is when our body packs on the reserves. (Often right around your midsection fellas, and in your rear and thighs ladies) It is when we are just a little hungry, and still active that we burn that stored energy.
My Experience with Slow Carb:
Looking at the pictures at the head of this post, I would say that slow carb worked pretty damn well thank you very much! Starting at 198 pounds I lost sixteen pounds in January. SIXTEEN POUNDS! The rest melted off slower over February until I hit a plateau at 170 pounds!
I felt amazing. I looked and felt great. The weight I lost did not affect my strength or muscle tone. In fact, I was stronger than ever coming out of the end of this program. The key is to make sure you are getting enough calories to support your training goals. I did not calorie count but based my intake on rule number six above. I found stoic joy in being a little hungry all the time.
Following Rule 3, I tried to keep my meal planning dead simple.
Weekly Prep: (As needed)
Prep trays (full sheet pans) of veggies (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) drench with olive oil and sprinkle with curry powder (or salt and pepper) Roast at 375 until nicely browned. Refrigerate these to be used all week
Prep chicken breasts in much the same way. Stock up on family packs when on sale (frugal!). Butterfly each breast, drench in olive oil and spices and roast until cooked through.
Slow Cooker protein: Either pork butt or chicken breast, whichever is on sale that week. Pop in the slow cooker overnight. I like to leave the pork dry with a salt rub and add salsa to the chicken. Refrigerate to use throughout the week.
Bulletproof Coffee (Black Coffee blended with two tablespoons of butter and 1-2 tablespoons of MCT (refined coconut) oil)
A handful of almonds
Two Eggs mixed with roasted veggies, slow cooker protein of the week, salsa and a tablespoon of black beans. I could eat this every day forever. Play with the spices if you get bored.
One chicken Breast with salsa, roasted veggies and black beans. Play with portion size until you find enough to make you feel satiated.
Jars and baggies filled with almonds. I kept these stashed everywhere for when my stoicism and “Hunger Joy” waned. A handful got me back on the other side of hangry many times.
Often was the same as lunch.
Slow Cooker protein with mixed or roasted veggies.
If we were feeling fancy, cheffing up something from The Slow Carb Cookbook.
That was my meal plan. I found success hinged on having lots of food pre-prepped and ready to go. You have to be prepared or else it will be too easy to slip back and just grab whatever else is in the fridge.
Drop me a line or a comment if you have any questions. The program just works and can be an awesome part of a larger training plan to get you ripped. It works well for both sexes, my wife is joining me this fall as we go for round two!
You CAN do this!
You owe it to yourself to be the best version of you that you can be.
Thanks Tim, you rock!
See you out there,