About a year and a half ago, Tim Ferriss (of 4 Hour Work Week fame) was looking for subjects to test some of the theories in his newly published book The Four Hour Body. I immediately volunteered for the experiments, but never received a reply from Tim or his people. About a year later I remember receiving a thank you email explaining that the pool of candidates was overwhelming and that they would not pick me. They were really nice about it, but I was a little disappointed nonetheless.
Fast forward another year to 12/19/2010 or thereabouts and I receive a package in the mail from a book publisher. First thought I had was That's weird, I didn't order anything recently.... The actual contents of the package were 2 hardcover copies of The 4 Hour Body. I started reading it immediately and through the Holidays, and I had an epiphany: I can fix my weight problem the same way that I fix any other problem I have at work.
I have been fighting with my weight for years, ever since I stopped playing basketball competitively in college and my exercise regimen went down the gutter. Today I am a six foot eight inches man who weights in at 400 plus pounds (the scale at home tops off at 400). I graduated from college in 1997 and have been working in a sit down job in the technology industry ever since. I worked as a technical writer and then as a programmer for several startups during the Internet boom years and I put on the pounds during that time. Then in early 2003 I went to work for Microsoft and that was not much of a change in the health department. Then the kids were born in 2005 and I got even less exercise than before. But the funny thing is that I think of myself as a person who can figure out a solution for any problem, and yet I have not been able to crack the weight nut.
This is were Tim's book has inspired me. I will approach my weight problem the same way that I approach any technical problem at work:
- Root cause analysis: With most technical problems, you need to first find out what and where the problem is, gather baseline data (if there is any), and then figure out how to fix it. In the case of my weight problem and general lack of well-being, the root cause is a poor diet and complete lack of exercise.
- Baseline measurements: Based on Tim's advice, I am taking measurements of my body at several locations: belly, arms, legs, etc. I am also keeping track of weight. I am not tracking my BMI at this point because I don't have a good way to measure it. I wrote a quick Django app that allows me to quickly gather the data no matter where I am. All I need is a connection to the Internet. Later I can easily export the data to a spreadsheet for slicing and dicing and graphing.
- How to fix it: I will be using Tim's slow-carb diet and an exercise regimen that includes weights and swimming. Body measurements will be taken weekly to compare to baseline and that way track progress. A food diary will also be used to track food intake and portion size and I will use a web-based photo gallery app for that.
- The goal: The goal is to lose 100 Lbs. by 12/31/2011
- Progress: I will be tracking my progress with the tools I described above and with periodical posts to this blog.
I shared my plan and ideas with my family over the Holidays and they were all very encouraging. But the obvious question was asked and I should address it here also: You have tried to lose weight before, what is different about this time? The key thing that is so obvious in hind-sight, but it never occurred to me until I started reading Tim's book is that I can break down and fix the weight problem in the same way that I tackle a programming or other technical problem. Break down the problem in its component parts, measure the parts of the problem consistently to track progress, tweak the approach to get optimal results... This is just like hacking on a programming project. I have years of experience doing this and I have had many more successes than failures doing it this way with code. I am certain that I can apply this approach to the weight problem and be successful.
I will keep you posted on the progress...