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Tim Ferris Stole My Breakfast

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

The Minimum Effective Dose not only delivers the most dramatic results, but it does so in the least time possible… These are the types of prescriptions you should seek and these are the kinds of prescriptions I will offer.”

– Tim Ferris, The Four Hour Body

I have historically been a Tim Ferris fan. I blog about him all the time. I wrote an endorsement of his new book before it even came out and bought five copies of his book when it was released.

But now I am in a snit. I am trying to adopt the Tim Ferris philosophy regarding diet and it is sub-optimal. He outlines at the start of the book that he is looking for little changes that make a big difference. At the start of the diet chapter, he characterizes his diet thusly:

“Let me explain exactly how Chris and I reach and maintain sub-12% body-fat, often sub-10%, by strategically eating like pigs”

That is all well and good to say, but what he outlines is a diet where you can eat like a pig one day per week and the other six days you must follow a draconian diet plan that crushes my soul. Here are the things you are not allowed to eat on Tim’s diet plan:

  • No bread
  • No rice
  • No cereal
  • No oatmeal
  • No potatoes
  • No pasta
  • No fried foods
  • No dairy
  • No fruit

Tim further comments in a recent blog post:

“The following will address 99%+ of those who are confused:

– If you have to ask, don’t eat it.
– If you haven’t had blood tests done, I don’t want to hear that the diet doesn’t work.
– If you aren’t measuring inches or haven’t measured bodyfat % with an accurate tool (BodPod, etc. and NOT bodyfat scales), I don’t want to hear that the diet doesn’t work.
– If you’re a woman and taking measurements within 10 days prior to menstruation (which I advise against in the book), I don’t want to hear about the lack of progress.”

So much for taking the easy way out. My failure to do extensive blood testing and get access to tools like a BodPod mean I have no recourse to complain, yet my complaint is that I have to do all this stuff in the first place.

Enjoy meats, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and plenty of beans.

I have to tell you, if that is the minimum effective dose to drop fat, then I am a monkey’s uncle. Am I losing weight? Some, not as much as I would like. Of course, I am basically getting there via caloric restriction: Egg whites are low calorie. Vegetables are low calorie. Chicken, etc. I don’t eat beans every meal.

Does this feel easy? Is this how I enjoy the holidays without the weight gain? Doesn’t sound like a recipe for holiday fun.

As I reflect on this, it seems like just playing the weight watchers game would be a more “Occam’s Protocol” than this plan. Or that thing that home delivers meals.

A Summary of the Book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

A Summary of the Book “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” By Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Self-Help Books are too Long

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Some days, when I am reading a self-help book, I sometimes wonder if the most helpful thing I could do is stop reading. Business books are too long, yet people buy them and authors make a lot of money from writing business and productivity books. My experience has been that virtually all of these books should be much shorter. The average 200 page business book would probably be just as good at 20 pages and the only reason it isn’t is that that isn’t a viable model for publishers. Some books are actually much shorter, such as many of Seth Godin and Tom Peter’s books. I have found that many of these could be shorter still. In fact, I would posit that they could easily be summarized in a lengthy blog post of five or six pages.

Certainly this is painting in broad strokes, but I think even many naysayers would agree that with that amount of space, one could easily convey the key idea – maybe 90% of the value – of the book. If I gave you 90% of an idea in 3,000 words, then told you that the last 10% of the idea required you to read another 150,000 words, I suspect that the absolute value of the idea would need to be astronomical to justify grasping each nuance of the concept. This value-to-length concept can be rendered as a graph:

That picture didn’t add a lot of value, but it was fun!

So, I have no power to start Internet memes, but if I did, here is one I would start: Post on your blog your blog-post summary of a book that should have simply been a blog post. Then people will be able to read your blog post and save both their time and their $24.95.

Then Trackback or post a link in the comments here to your blog book (I would call it “blook”, but I think that is already taken) and this can begin to serve as a library for people. If we get enough, then I will further organize the Library of Cogress (note Cogmap pun! Not a typo!).

I will now post a follow-up with my first review.