Saturday, February 15, 2014

The 4-Hour Body

Last month I finished reading Tim Ferriss's The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman.  I should note that I only decided to read it after enjoying his The 4-Hour Workweek and learning that he's written two other books: this one and The 4-Hour Chef.

The 4-Hour Body spans so many topics, I'd almost say it was too lengthy.  However, Ferriss does say at the start that the book is not meant to be read cover to cover; skip around and read what interests you.

Here's a sample of chapter topics so you can see the variety: How to lose weight without exercising, six-minute abs, the 15-minute female orgasm, creating the perfect night's sleep, and jumping higher.  Although I'm not interested in weight loss or amazing muscle gain, I wanted to give the book a read anyway, and any information that I could apply to my life would be a bonus.

My Takeaways from "The 4-Hour Body"

There were many of these bonuses as I made my way through the book, things I never expected to learn while reading:

Photo food journal

The concept of a "food journal" is nothing new, and I have tried to keep one before when searching for my IBS triggers. I didn't always write immediately after eating; I usually found myself at the end of the day trying to recall what I'd eaten earlier.

Ferriss writes about keeping a photo food journal, something I had never thought about before.  That's probably due to the fact that I never owned a smartphone until I moved to Korea this past fall, so it wouldn't have been easy to photograph everything I ate. But if you do have a smartphone, taking a picture of everything you eat for a few consecutive days would really help you make better eating choices.  I'll probably make this an action item for myself this month or next.

Healthytoes toe stretchers

In one chapter Ferriss briefly mentions toe stretchers.  I never even knew such a thing existed! Over time, constricting shoes have changed the shape of our toes so that the two outside toes point inwards. I've always said that if there was one thing I could change about my appearance it would be my toes.  I have a hammertoe on each foot, which causes the surrounding toes to be a bit crooked as well.  And I always thought this is how I am, nothing can be changed.

But toe straighteners exist! And toe stretchers too, which put a little space between the toes.  If this could bring my feet back to their natural state, before 25 years of socks and shoes, how incredible.  So I bought a pair of "happy feet" socks (toe stretcher) and two toe straighteners.  They just arrived in the mail this week, so I'll post an update in a month or so.

Active Release Technique (ART)

Using Wikipedia's current definition, Active Release Technique (ART) is "a soft tissue system/movement-based technique developed and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. It is used to treat problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves."

After Ferriss had one short ART session, he regained so much internal shoulder rotation movement (the before and after pictures show just how much - it's incredible). It would take just three or four more sessions to completely restore both shoulders. ART prevents many surgeries, and fixes problems that folks have had for years. I hope I won't ever need to seek out an ART practitioner myself, but I'm glad to be aware that this option exists for muscle problems.

Total Immersion Swimming

I have never been good at swimming.  At this point in my life, if I needed to get from point A to point B (and the two points weren't too far apart), I could swim there. I would like to improve my swimming ability, but it has never been a priority, nor did I know how to go about doing so. Ferris talks about his experience learning the "Total Immersion Swimming" method, which sounds perfect for me.

By learning this method (watching the DVD and then reading the book), in 10 days he went from being able to swim a maximum of 40 yards (2 pool lengths) to over 40 lengths. And when I do pursue this swimming method, apparently Aqua Sphere Kaiman goggles are the best goggles out there, so I made note of the name.


I've been eating so many more eggs during the month after reading this book. I don't dislike eggs, I would just never buy them.  And if I would happen to buy them I wouldn't eat them, so I usually just didn't buy them.  (I bought a dozen eggs earlier this fall and they sat in my fridge untouched for so long I had to throw them out.  I wasn't purposefully avoiding them, I just ate other things and never had the desire to make eggs.)

Ferriss includes eggs or egg whites in many of his muscle-gain or weight-loss diets.  Reading about eggs so often caused me to buy a dozen when I walked past them the next week in the grocery store.  And I added some scrambled eggs to many of my rice/pasta creations, and now I've been dropping some into soups -- delicious!

Comprehensive stool analysis and parasitology

The more reading that I do, I know a stool analysis would probably provide me with valuable information.  Ferriss recommends the "Comprehensive Stool Analysis and Parasitology" from MetaMetrix (Doctor's Data, Genova), which costs $245. Again, I copied the information down for when I'm back in the states next fall.

The other test Ferriss recommends that I jotted down was "SpectraCell Nutrient Testing," which for $364 it pinpoints vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies, something else I've been curious about.

Quotes from The 4-Hour Body

Here are some quotes I highlighted while reading:
It's up to you -not your doctor, not the newspaper- to learn what you best respond to.   
The benefits go far beyond the physical. 
The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit. 
The fastest way to correct behavior is to be aware of it in real time, not after-the-fact. 
Seeing progress in changing numbers makes the repetitive fascinating and creates a positive feedback loop.   
Once again, the act of measuring is often more important than what you measure.


And finally the most important message I took away from this book is the importance of experimenting on yourself.  Ferriss constantly takes matters into his own hands, experimenting, and sharing the results with the world.

To find out what will work best for you and your body, you've got to test out various methods and track results yourself. Dr. Seth Roberts, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at University of California Berkeley, writes in the book's final chapter:
The accumulated knowledge of our time is more accessible than ever before. Self-experimenters, with total freedom, plenty of time, and easy access to empirical tests, are in a great position to take advantage of it.

This post originally appeared on Have Your Health, a blog of mine active from 2013-14, which no longer exists.
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