Monday, December 20, 2010

Cold showers: No way

Glenn ordered Timothy Ferriss's new book, The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Since I read his other book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, I figured I would give this one a try (the title was also too provocative to pass up, though it does promise a bit much, doesn't it?).

What did I like about the new book? A lot as he gets readers to stop and think and the book is just a fun read. Ferriss tells people to break things down into reachable goals. Need to lose 100 pounds? Shoot for 20. Do you think of yourself as genetically unable to lose weight? He reminds people that fat people generally have fat pets, meaning that overeating might be a trait that is passed on, rather than a genetic reality.

He uses himself as a sort of human guinea pig, often trying out weight-loss methods or exercise on himself to see if it works. He used a number of methods for body-fat measurements and found the results ranged from 7% to 16.51% As someone who often gets varying numbers on body fat readings, this really made me feel better but his assessment of the fluctuations was good--you just need to use a method that is consistent so you can tell if you are making progress.

What didn't I like? Ferriss says to take cold showers for fat loss. No, no and hell, no. I hate being cold. I won't do it. I would rather be fat....Also, the chapters on sleeping. One entitled, "Becoming Uberman: Sleeping less with Polyphasic Sleep" was just not for me. He talks about sleeping just a few hours a night. Are you kidding? Sleeping is like the best thing in my world and there is no way I would ever try to exist on a few hours of sleep. I have had several heated discussions with others about whether or not sleeping is a hobby. I say it is, others think otherwise. Anyway, the lack of sleep thing does not fly with me. He also tells people to get off Splenda. I'm an addict so that will be tough.

Overall, this is a funny book that is well worth your time if you would like to read about weight loss, how to get by on less sleep, etc. but it might be extreme for those of us who are more hedonistic.

For the latter group, I recommend the late Wendy Wasserstein's book Sloth: The Seven Deadly Sins that tells readers how to live a happy and guilt-free slothful life. And though Wasserstein didn't live that long, hopefully she was happy without cold showers, sleep deprivation and a diet of plain food.



Blogger SP said...

What was so bad about Splenda?

4:46 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

You'll be pulling my Nutrasweet out of my cold dead fingers. I won't take a cold shower as I own a 55 gallon how water heater for a reason, I enjoy my 8 hours of sleep and being well rested, thank you very much. Does it occur to you, Helen, this guy has supremely stupid ideas?

I should write a book. It will be called, "Live beneath your means, eat healthy and get some exercise." But with that title it won't be promising ridiculous unattainable miracles so it won't stand a chance of selling any copies.

4:55 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The older I get, the less I tolerate being cold. I think that's pretty much par for the course.

Splenda? Love it. Beats aspartame by a mile. Never heard anything bad about it.

6:52 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...


I think artificial sweeteners are supposed to fool your body into producing insulin which is bad. I eat a couple of packs a day which seems okay.


Uh, yes, it does occur to me that some of the ideas might be bad, but some seem good. It's up to the reader to decide and see which do or don't work. It's really just an amusing book.

6:52 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

I see no reason to be cold for any length of time...ever. Feh.

7:58 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger DEK46656 said...

Splenda, Nutrasweet, or Sweet-N-Low. They are all artificial. Now mind you, I’m a no sugar person (well, minimal sugar) so I would suggest Stevia. Its herbal, and has been used in Japan for years.

“The cold” or more specifically “cold showers”; I’m with you about the discomfort. However… maybe the intolerance to the cold is a sign of aging, or more specifically a lack of resilience. Like exercise, you tend to do less as you age, and take longer to recover if you do.

Come to think of it, recovery from cold could be a matter of metabolism: if you are cold your body “kicks it up” to warm up? Could it be a form of exercise without actually exercising?

8:49 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen, et al.
RE: About Those Genes

I plumped out around the same age that my Father—God rest his soul—did. Up to late 40s, I was lean and mean. But suddenly, the weight just piled on. No significant change in lifestyle.

Not only that, but as I've intimated before, I've got some other unfortunate B'Day 'gifts' from him as well, e.g., gout, for one.

So the genetics are something of a factor as well.


[If your parents didn't have any children, chances are you won't either.]

10:11 PM, December 20, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Artificial Sweeteners

Anyone try the extract from stevia?

Straight, it has a touch of an aftertaste, but not as foul as others I've tried. Let alone the 'seeing stars' from aspertaine.

Stevia works great in making Arnold Palmers:

2 packets of Kool Aide Lemonade
A few drops of lemon extract [punches up the tartness]
.25 cups of stevia extract
2 quarts of strong black tea



10:16 PM, December 20, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No, no and hell, no. I hate being cold. "

what? Cold showers make you feel hot.

1:52 AM, December 21, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Cold Showers?

My ancestors are Norsemen. I usually enjoy the cold. However, I don't care for cold showers. They aggravate my frostbite injury because I can't wear a glove on my hand.


[Scaldophobia: Fear that the toilet will flush while showering.]

P.S. Well....

....there's ONE advantage of a cold shower.

4:44 AM, December 21, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

Let's talk about exercise for a minute. I'm thinking the gym industry has gotten us all confused. Why would you be 'recovering' DEK46656? The gym industry has taught us all that exercise involves treadmills, sweating and 45 minutes of torture accompanied by a day of recovery. This is not fun. You know what else isn't fun? Running. Very painful and harmful to your joints as you get older.

Exercise doesn't have to involve pain, misery and recovery. All you have to do is understand that you live in one place and where you need to go is in another. If you slap a backpack on with a hip belt you can put your books, lunch, beverage and computer in it and that can act as your weight bearing segment of exercise. Then you slowly leave your house and start putting one foot in front on another. No recovery required or joint pain. Save on gas, meet your neighbors and you can find out what is living under the rocks as you pass them by. This isn't as entertaining as a cold shower but it is still fun.

10:35 AM, December 21, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Cham
RE: Exercise 'for a Minute'

Good idea. However, not so good an idea in a blizzard or a down-pour or even really cold weather. Let alone if your work is unfortunately on the other side of a big city. [Note: Some jobs, e.g., working for a grocery chain, move you from one store to another. You start in one store, near where you live. And a couple of years later, to expand your skills and meet the needs of the chain, they re-assign you to another.]

But, as you said, it DOES work. If the situation permits.

A guy who lives up the street from me has worked at the nearby hospital for YEARS. He walks to work every day. About a 10 minute jaunt. Says he's saved enough to buy a couple of Lexus sedans.

For me, I'm fortunate enough to have a gym in my house.

And I agree, running is a bore. Did it for YEARS while in the Army. Unless you've got a really great route. Or are running with a company of infantrymen. The singing is fun. Obscenities sung at other units as they pass each other on the 'banana belt' of a division cantonment.

"I'd rather be a baby;
In the belly of a whore;
Than to be a paratrooper;
In the 504."

But still and all, it is rough on the knees. And you don't realize just how rough until you hit your 50s. [Note: Humping an 80-pound rucksack around for years is hard on the back. Another thing you don't realize until it's too late.]


[No pain; no strain.]

4:44 AM, December 22, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

hmmm, yeah, some things hurt.

weight loss is a matter of knowing how much food you need to run your body for a day and then eat a little less for a while, and adjust when necessary.

we all know when we have eaten a litle too much and so we need to tell ourselves to stop when we know we are reaching that point...if it`s important enough to do that.

to have abs is important for me, but may not be so for others. they are the guage for my dietary habits. (absolutely no perogies, ever.)

i live a little bit of a spartan lifestyle and that appeals to my inner warrior/athlete frame, but it`s not for everyone.

i rode my bike past a woman yesterday and she made a shivering sound, and i laughed realising that even though it was around 30 degrees out i was where i wanted to be and ready for 20 miles of moderate riding.

what she didn`t realise was that if you move you warm up. she was standing there waiting for a bus so she was bound to be a bit cold.

i recently discovered macebell training (youtube it!) and it has to be done outside because the bar will hit the ceiling in the house. so when i`m finished typing this i will be doing some experimentation with my new macebell out in the back yard in the snow with my dog.

merry christmas everyone, be good!

9:21 AM, December 24, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: dr. alistair
RE: The Body Knows

weight loss is a matter of knowing how much food you need to run your body for a day and then eat a little less for a while, and adjust when necessary. -- dr. alistair

The problem is that sometimes the body knows more than we would care for.

Case in point....

I've been working out about an hour a day, six days a week. I was down from 223 to 191.

Then I read about BCAAs (Branch-Chained Amino Acids) as a way to build muscle. So I got some.

I became ravenously hungry. Proteins were high on the list of desired foods. Now I'm back up at ~203. On the other hand, the muscle mass and endurance have improved significantly.




P.S. Merry Christmas

6:01 PM, December 24, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

you gained mostly muscle in your adventure with the bcaas and the placbo effect made you work out a little harder also it sounds like.

i think when most people talk about weight control they are refering to losing fat and keeping most of the muscle, while most people eat indiscriminantly and pile their laundry on the treadmill in the basement which is a great way to keep putting on the wrong kind of weight.

dropping bodyweight while preserving muscle mass is extremely difficult. starve and the body preserves fat and catabolises muscle for fuel, eat too much and the body cannot help but store the unused food as`s just the way the body works.

the good news is that, over time, the body can preserve muscle while shedding fat, it`s just that you can`t do it weeks before a party or be ready for the beach in six weeks like the magazine says (that`s cruel, by the way.) it takes months and months of staying on the same disciplined plan to make profound changes in body weight while staying muscular and healthy.

but like i always say, what else are you doing all those months?

a year of what i call threshhold eating and intense exercise will give you the body you want, and then you can continue to do that for the rest of your life and keep it.

though, as we know, most people don`t like training that much or dieting.

5:01 PM, December 26, 2010  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

Dr. Helen, I just finished investigative science journalist Gary Taubes "Why We Get Fat," and I highly recommend it. He shows how the government and the AMA have sold us a bill of goods on dietary health, not based in scientific evidence. Taubes lays out how it's carbohydrates -- flour, sugar, starchy vegetables, apple juice -- that cause the insulin secretion that puts on fat. I know Taubes and have been following his work for years. He is exhaustive in his research and strict in seeing that there's solid evidence behind what he writes (and is honest when the evidence is sketchy).

8:56 PM, December 26, 2010  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: dr. alistair
RE: You're....

dropping bodyweight while preserving muscle mass is extremely difficult. starve and the body preserves fat and catabolises muscle for fuel, eat too much and the body cannot help but store the unused food as`s just the way the body works. -- dr. alistair

....preaching to the choir with me, doc.

I'm not overly worried about the 'shape' I'm in. Despite my eating habits and other aspects of life as I know it, vis-a-vis the genetic 'gifts' my Father gave me so long ago, I'm in pretty good shape. Every time I've been on the local cardiologist's treadmill, I've maxed out with no problems.

On the other hand, long ago and far away at some 'spa' operated by the Army at Benning School for Boys, I learned how the body seems to 'manage' things regarding what IT thought it needed in order to 'maintain'. I've just accepted it for what it is.

As for the exercise, I've been doing this regime for the last eight months. The only breaks being the odd illness here and there or up in the mountains for hunting season.

As for the BCAA experiment it goes well enough. I'm confident things will balance out at some point and (1) my appetite will deminish, (2) my muscles building will level out and (3) I'll resume weight loss.

Yeah. You're in it for the long-term.

And yes, physical training and/or dieting is contrary to normal human nature, however, looking at it from a particular 'meta-physical' perspective, He expects us to rise above our animal so many interesting ways.

Merry Christmas,

[The challenge is NOT to be better than other people. It's to be better than yourself.]]

11:08 AM, December 27, 2010  
Blogger d-day said...

MORE hedonistic than Tim Ferris??? I dunno, Chapter 5. . . . . (recommended).

11:49 AM, December 30, 2010  
Blogger Mark K. Sprengel said...

I would have to see a very good argument for that sleep thing. I've seen and read too much about how lack or sleep or restorative sleep affects the body.

7:50 AM, December 31, 2010  

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