Session Notes from Tim Ferriss's 4 Hour Body Talk at #SXSWi


(Aside: Here is my one page cheat sheet for the 4 Hour Body fat loss.)

Tim Ferriss
4 Hour Body
  • 4 Hour Body
    • More than 10 years of data gathering and data crunching, and 3 years of intensive experiments
  • holy cow, watching video of muscle samples being taken
  • Science is a method.
  • You can find amazing scientists all over the world.
  • Richard Feynman: it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how beautiful your theories are, it only matters what the experiment shows
  • There’s tons of stuff on fat loss, but what really works? The experimentation needs to be done.
  • Teenager could deadlift 400 pounds. She trained for 5 minutes a couple of times a week to achieve this.
  • Tracy, mother of 2, loss more than 120 pounds doing 2 or 3 exercise periods per week.
  • Patrick lost more than 120 pounds over the course of a year using slowcarb diet, and 2 cheat days per week.
  • 4 First Princples
    • The Minimum Effective Dose: 
      • Treat exercise and diet as a drug: use exactly the dose needed to get the quantified results.
      • Sample meds:
        • 20 minutes of kettlebells swings, 3 times per week
        • 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up
        • 1:30pm on the clitoris
        • 90-120 seconds of tension for most muscles
          • focus on time under tension
          • 1 set to failure
          • 5 seconds to raise, 5 seconds to lower (removes momentum).
        • 1,200 words for conversational fluency
          • usually identified my ministry of education
          • takes 8 to 12 weeks
    • The Extremes Inform the Mean, not Vice-Versa
      • Design firm working on garden shears: didn’t want to know about the mean user. They wanted to know about the extremes: the parapalegic who was gardening. the elderly user. If they could design for the extreme, the middle will be taken care of.
    • Know Thy Worst-Case Scenario: ET, Staph, Emodin, and friends.
      • Prepare for worst-case scenario if you are going to do self-experimentation.
      • A simple injection ended up as a staph infection in Tim’s elbow which required hospitalization and intraveneous antibiotics.
    • Tracking + Loss Aversion > How To
      • The best protocol doesn’t matter if you abandon it.
      • The Rules of Behavior Change
        • Make it conscious (“flash diet” and before pics)
          • People who use food diaries lose 3x as much weight as people who don’t
          • People who take picture of food lose even more.
          • If you divided group into two and one half got a personal trainer, and one half used iPhone to take pictures, the iPhone group would lose more weight
        • Make it a game (Drucker and five sessions)
          • People who do something 5 times will keep doing it.
            • Rig the first 5 sessions so you’ll keep doing: go to gym for 15 minutes, not 3 hours.
        • Make it competitive (embrace loss aversion)
        • Make it small and temporary (MED, two weeks)
          • two weeks is something people can do
          • otherwise, people will take any lapse as an excuse to give up
      • Keep Improvement Relative
        • It’s not about beating everyone else.
        • It’s about making the biggest possible gains relative to yourself.
  • Questions
    • Q: What about the impact of eating meats?
      • A: Ethically raised meats are possible. It’s possible to be lacto-ovo vegetarian and get enough fatty acids, but to be totally vegan seems to cause issues, reproductive and otherwise.
    • Q: What about these high achievers, type A personalities, how do they approach fitness?
      • A: They are tinkerers, experimenters. They track things. They may not have a complex system, but they have a pad of paper, and they keep track of it.
    • Q: What if we’re already doing yoga, and working out, and doing stuff beyond the MED. Are we hurting ourselves?
      • A: I view exercising as something to have a minumum effective dose, and seperate out recreation: going for hike, doing something for fun.
      • Also, sitting down does far more damage than doing some exercise or recreation.
      • If you don’t have a competitive goal, then go nuts. If you are training for a marathon, than stick with the MED.
    • Q: For language acquisition, verb conjugation is very hard. What to do?
      • A: Vised.com: They do flashcards.
      • Japanese: common characters, 1300 characters.
      • Learn I want, I need, I like. If you tag these verbs with other verbs, you vastly expand your repitoire.
      • gruneberg: imagery for vocabulary. you can learn almost 400 words a day.
    • Q: From your new book, what could you apply back to the 4 Hour Work Week?
      • A: Richard Branson was asked what thing to do to be more productive, and he said “work out”
      • There is a lot to provide that exercise has a big positive impact on learning, cognitive ability, and productivity.
      • Using exercise/recreation to bracket your day: before and after.
    • Q: How to sleep less?
      • Experiment how to increase REM sleep. 
      • Two tablespoons of almond butter, ensures you don’t have low body sugar.
      • Polyphasic sleep: one 4 hour block, plus 20 minute naps.
      • Uberman Sleep: Just 20 minutes. You’ll be completely asocial. If you miss one of those naps, you are f’ed. 
      • Before trying to cut down on sleep, do an 80/20 analysis, and product analysis.
    • Q: Any plans for a workbook that puts all this together - what’s anecdotal versus experimental vs. broadly applicable.
      • A: Want to use sites that allow people to track health to compile data. Working on it.
    • Q: How do we take principles from the 4 Hour Body, and get people who are older, who are in midwest lifestyle, and get them to adopt it?
      • A: It’s hard to fight with logic. Point to social studies: point to Tracey, and what she accomplished. Ask them to make one small change for 2 weeks. 
    • Q: I am allergic to both eggs and most beans. What can I do?
      • A: Allergy tests are notoriously error prone. I have a friend who had an expensive allergy tests, and tests came back that he was allergic to 15 items. Have the tests done again before you make massive lifestyle changes.
      • Same test, same labs, different results. 
      • You don’t need eggs. 
      • You can also create food allergies by eating the same foods over and over again for a long time. If you cycle off for 2 months.
      • Very lactose intolerent if he drinks pasturized/homogonized milk, and just fine if he drinks raw milk.
      • if you don’t eat the beans, track the calories to make sure you are eating enough.
    • Q: Diagnosed with irregular heatbeat. Doctor said “you are stuck with this for life”.
      • A: Some fantastic doctors out there. But... C=MD. As long as you pass your tests, you get an MD. There is always someone who is the worst in their class.
      • The average healthcare visit is 11 minutes. Many times a doctor doesn’t or can’t spend the time to work with you.
      • Get a second opinion.
      • Not always the doctor’s fault: they don’t have the resources or reimbursement to do it.
      • Spend the money to see a good specialist.
      • Get a second opinion.
      • Try removing gluten from your diet, and see if that has any effect. Removing gluten gets rid of many issues.
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