4 Hour Body – Initial Measurements, Approach and Impressions (@timferriss)

Well, it happened.  I read the 4 hour workweek and then the 4 hour body and now I feel like I need the “Temple of Tim Ferriss” for a weekly religious practice.  I think most everyone that reads anything I write has some interest in improved body composition or general wellness.  The 4HB slow carb diet and whatever version of Paleo you’re trying have similarities and differences.  I’m confident that no matter which direction you go, you’ll be healthier at the end of it.  So, first things first: make a plan, prepare and start something!

I took Tim’s approach to calculating my total inches at his reccommended body parts and here’s what I found:

  • Neck: 15.25in
  • wrist : 7in (yes, I have two wrists)
  • Right bicep: 14.25in
  • Left bicep: 14.5in
  • Navel: 38in
  • Hips: 39.5in
  • Right quad: 24.5in
  • Left quad: 24.75in
  • Forearm: 11.5in (yes, I have 2 arms)
  • Body fat: 24.5%
  • Weight: 195 lbs

I added in a few additional measures (wrist, forearm) and calculated my body fat with two different approaches.  Boy, was I surprised.  WTF, 24%?!  At the end of the day, the number doesn’t matter (to me) – it’s just a startning point.  It’s all about how you feel.  Not the numbers.  Musta went too hard of the bread pudding over the weekend.  Sheesh.

In Tim’s book, he makes a good point about diet, exercise and drugs.  To paraphrase, think about your body composition program with three components, totaling 100%: diet, exercise and drugs.  He suggests 60/30/10.  If you have trouble with any one part, you need to increase the another component to keep the total at 100.  Naturally, too much exercise or too many drugs leave you with side effects or injuries (think overtraining, sleeplessness with stimulants).  If it was 100% diet, then you’d miss out on the body composition goals (if that’s what you’re going for).

Regarding diet:  I’m going to try the slow carb gig.  Most simply: don’t eat anything white (starches, all rice) and start eating beans.  The paleo gods probably won’t like legumes, but let’s give it a go.  Hell, they’re “healthy” for all intensive purposes.  The intestinal aftermath is another story and varies from person to person.  After one week in of adding beans back into my diet, I haven’t been a gassy mess (TMI?) and ruined friendships/appalled families at the grocery – so, it’ll do.  Another major difference from paleo is the exclusion of sweet potatoes.  I’m not sure if I agree with this one, but I’ll give it a go.  Other than that, the two diets/lifestyles are pretty similar.  Weird, meat and vegetables help you lose weight – anyone shocked?!  There are little modifications here and there, but I find the slow carb thing is an easy modification.  Oh, it includes 2 glasses of wine/day  and a no-holds-barred cheat day once per week.


As for exercise:  I’m sticking with crossfit.  Not because I don’t think Tim’s approach will work.  But because I like crossfit and the community.  Shocker.  I’m a mindless cult member and only talk about crossfit at social gathernings.  Or, not.  I think the point of Tim’s section on exercise is that MORE can be done with LESS.  There’s a minimum effective dose (per 4HB) to exercise, so why overdo it?  I think crossfit can take a page out of this book for some items – let’s keep the rhabdo campaign to a minimum, yes?  I think marathon runners can use a little wisdom here too.  I don’t think our ancestors were headed out to hunt deer and getting rhabdo, but what do I know.

In regards to drugs, I’m trying his suggested stack of policosanol, alpha-lipoic acid, garlic and green tea extract (decaff).  I’ve always used stimulant-based extracts in the past, so this is a welcomed change.  No garlic burps or indegestion yet.

There are a number of other little things suggested in this book – ice baths, small (and I mean seconds small) workouts before meals – that I might try and add in, but in time.

Last soap box moment for me:  try changing one thing first.  If it’s anything, it should be diet.  Why?  Because it’s the biggest contributor or derailer to your success. Think about the Pareto principle: what 20% of your activities contribute to 80% of your results?  It makes the importance of diet fairly obvious.

And by one thing, maybe it’s just one item in your currently questionable diet.  It could be servings of something, it could be an entire food group, it could be a single item.  People tend to fail with diets because they’re too radical of a change and, really, you’re looking for a lifestyle change NOT a diet.  Build on your single success and roll that into the next change.  I’ve got a good buddy that falls off the wagon HARD sometimes and he gets discouraged.  One bad meal doesn’t ruin your diet.  Just pick up right where you left off like nothing has changed.

Good luck with whatever approach you take!



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We are busy. We are overbooked. We are traveling. We are unmotivated. We are tired. We are agitated. We are unproductive. We are overweight. We are unhappy. We are why. I'm a pharmacist, I travel regionally for work and have been all of these things. What elevates me from these emotional ditches? Good health. My nearly 100 year-old Italian grandmother "Nana" said a long time ago: "If you don't have your health, you don't have nothing." Considering she still rakes leaves and gives me hell for, well, just about everything, I think she's pretty damn sharp and fit. On the other end of the spectrum: My dad died at 65 from a heart attack. He was a diabetic, a previous smoker, a recovered drug addict, a food addict, hypertensive, arthritic, immobile nearing amputation and, simply, wasn't living. For all intensive purposes, I'm fit and healthy. Armed with degrees in biology and pharmacy (read: loans) and these two family stories, you'd think staying on track is easy. Newsflash: it's not. Traveling / Working / Fathering / Mothering / fill-in-the-blanking are obstacles we all have to overcome. So, how do we do it? Suitcase Fitness was born from the hope that by sharing my small health and fitness victories while traveling, others may be inspired to find new ways to stay engaged with their health. My vision is that others will use this venue to share their "baggage" and small steps taken to overcome health challenges. I get by with a little help from my friends. - The Beetles The things that last, never happen overnight. - Slaves

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