A 90 Day Challenge — Slow Carb Diet, Information Fasting, Pull-ups and More

It was a sunny Seattle Saturday afternoon and the four of us were swimming in Lake Union from the dock of the most psychedelic house boat on the lake. I had been mulling over a new set of motivational goals for myself for sometime, and the combination of sun, friends and water provided the tipping point into action.

I have been relaxed on my physical fitness for too long now, and I’m probably the most out-of-shape I have been since my first 90 days of college in terms of strength and cardio.

The overall goal: Be in the best physical and mental shape of my life. On the surface, there will be a six pack involved. Because I am averse to Gyms, the exercises will be home-based, with the exception of adding hot yoga classes to the schedule. *Hot Yoga is a cheat code: I gain the benefits of a sauna, achieve a meditative state, and increase strength, mobility and flexibility.

Here is the challenge:

The (Food) Diet

The Slow Carb Diet (SCD) as made popular by Tim Ferriss in the 4 Hour Body with a few modifications. The SCD includes five simple rules that accelerate fat loss and increase lean muscle mass. I’ve used this diet, with modifications depending on my goals, to lose 5 pounds of body fat, and gain 1lb of lean muscle in 30 days. Without exercise.

The rules are as follows:

1. Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).

That means rice, bread, pasta, brown rice, potatoes, dairy, corn, and wheat. If you have to ask, the answer is, “No.”

2. Don’t drink calories.

Black coffee, and unsweetened tea are great. If you’re a demon who puts cream and sugar into every warm drink you consume, this might be tough. If you also are a beer lover, it might be tough.

*Pro tip: Drink lot’s of clean water. Clean water means not from the tap, unless you live in Portland.

3. Don’t Eat Fruit.

The why is simple: Fruit = sugar. It is nature’s candy. Consider that fruit, especially fruits without a mediterranean name, have been cultivated to be sweeter and are today much sweeter than their relatives. On a related note, in the case of oranges and lemons, our human ancestors were genetically engineering crops two thousand years ago to derive sweeter, and more sour variants.

4. Eat the same few meals over and over again.

I’m not going to eat breakfast four times per day, but each meal will essentially consist of the following:

Proteins (not soy-based), vegetables, and legumes. And fats, too. This will make shopping easier, and Saturdays more fun. Here’s what I mean:

5. Take one day off per week.

The Cheat Day. This day will be Saturday. As I’m beginning this challenge on Wednesday, July 12, the first day off will be Saturday, July 22. The day off is to eat all those sinful snacks I thought about during the week. For me this looks like a plate of french fries, coconut milk ice cream, and a few chocolate chip cookies.

Modifications:

1. Intermittent fasting and fats in the coffee

The big modifications I’ll be adding here are in the morning. I practice intermittent fasting on weekdays that is made possible by adding 2tbsp of unsalted Kerrygold Butter, from grass fed cows, each morning. After months of following this routine with minimal dietary restrictions placed upon myself, a bod pod test had me at 175lbs with 10.5% body fat. (picture proof to be posted later)

2. Carbs okay within 30 minutes of resistance training

For more information on the Slow Carb diet, check out this article from Gizmodo. Some of the principles in the modifications and food preference are detailed in Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Diet.

*Note: I do not endorse bulletproof coffee. Instead, support your local coffee artisans, preferably those with long hair and tattoos.

**Note: I will continue to abstain from alcohol. As I’ve detailed in the podcast, alcohol abstinence is an X factor for both physical and mental performance. There are zero side effects, or costs, associated with not drinking.

Information Diet

This one might prove to be the most difficult. If we are what we eat we must also consider that we are eating information at a gluttonous rate. Social media feeds are designed to keep us consuming information by infinitely scrolling. The dopamine hits of notifications, likes and comments never ends.

And it’s not just social media, it’s Spotify, podcasts, Netflix, YouTube, text messages, books, and more.

How is it possible to think my own thoughts if all I’m doing is listening, reading, or watching someone else’s?

To address the problem, I am going to focus on intermittent information fasting (IIF). This version of IIF will look like this: In a given day I will not consume any piece of content until I create a piece of content. That piece of created content can be a journal entry, blog, vlog, podcast, or go live on Facebook or Instagram.

Editor’s Note: Admittedly this has already been difficult! I’ve been using an iPhone 6 that requires life support to stay charged for an hour, and viewing its content through a screen that is shattered. In short: I need a new phone. What did I do? I read reviews and forums of the iPhone 7 Plus vs the Samsung Galaxy S8. I Google’d whether or not I should wait for the iPhone 8. I comparison shopped. I wasted time.

Time to eat my own cooking: I stopped that wheel of death information gluttony and returned to the focused task on hand. Back to the story:

Following the principles of IIF I’ll be minding these two point:

1. A minimum of one full day per week on Airplane mode.

This is the reverse of the cheat day in the slow carb diet. Rather than binge on information one day per week, I will completely abstain one day per week on Sundays. Join me?

2. Creating vs Consuming

To keep mindful of mindless screen time, two things will be on my mind:

First, asking myself questions about the content:

“What am I learning from this?”

“Is this information helpful to me, my aims or my goals?”

“Is this relevant source material for a creative work?”

The overall aim? Addressing the information deluge saturating my life will free up the cognitive load of the intuitive (gut reactions) and slow thinking systems (self control, pondering, checking) to operate at peak performance.

Physical Fitness

The goals: 20 consecutive pull-ups, with good form, in five different hand positions; 100 consecutive push-ups; Achieve the 6 pack abs.

The core recipe: Pull-ups, pushups, yoga and squats. Oh, and militaristic discipline on the diet outlined above.

The goals: hit 20 consecutive pull-ups with good form. Depending on the pull-up position my current numbers are between 8 and 13 for a set. I want to be at 20 pull-ups for five different pull-up positions: Wide armed chin and pull-ups; Close grip chin and pull-ups; Neutral grip pull-ups.

Here’s my 10 minute workout from this morning:

7/12/2015

-Snake Turns Over: Set of 10, plus 1 additional to finish it out. I will be filming what this looks like in a later post. Essentially, this is a horse stance with isometric punching movements where I pretend to push slowly through concrete throughout the movement. Maintaining a deep stance, plus resistance through each punch and until completion is much more difficult than one might think. There’s a lot of sweat that can happen while standing still.

-30 pushups, bicep focus. Check out this video for a great example.

I’ll be ratcheting up the pushups in days to come, with this variant as one of many.

-2 sets wall sit; 60s, 70s

-2 sets plank: 90s, 60s

-Wide grip pull ups: 7 pull-ups, 5 chin-ups, 5 neutral grip, 4 pull-ups

Cognitive Fitness

Meditation — Breathing — Minding my Language.

Meditation every single day with the aim of 21 minutes per day. This is the foundation of the information diet, and a foundational discipline in the morning to begin the day with momentum. Following meditation is an exercise called Snake Turns Over. I have yet to find a video for what this Kung Fu, Chi and punch-strength increasing exercise looks like. Look for that vid in the next post.

Breathing: I’m practicing the act of nose breathing. Nothing fancy, just being mindful of breathing through my nose and eliminating mouth breathing in situations where I’m not exerting myself.

Language

Eliminate the following words from my vocabulary:

Like, Yeah, Uh-huh, Okay, Right

I bet you can’t make it one day without saying one of these words. The first step is to be aware of how often we drop these weak words into our conversations. Right? Okay, cool. It’s like, the best thing ever. Yeah.

The words we use can transform our reality in a positive, or negative, direction. With our thoughts we manifest words that manifest action and can create a reality. Why use vapid, banal language as a default? I’m guilty, and I am going to work to resolve the neutered language in my vernacular.

Into Action

This is day 1 of 90, or more days of transformation. If you are interested in joining me on your own adventure or implementing any or all of the aspects of the challenge into your life, let me know.

One last thing: head to http://timoway.com/90daychallenge/ to see the before pics.

Ready to join? Let me know! See you at the finish line.

-Timo