“The 4-Hour Body:” Thoughts on Week 3

An image of brown adipose tissue, Tim Ferriss' work horse

Another week has passed and this was definitely not my best week.  I didn't quite cheat, but I was pushing the edges of the program.  I was slacking off a bit, a tad lazy.  The numbers show it. The Results I lost 1.6 pounds and one inch this week for a total of 9.6 pounds and 7.375" in three weeks.  I lost the inches on my hips and my arms, nothing else budged.   I have to say I've been dieting off and on since I had my son 8 years ago.  This is the most weight I've lost in 3 weeks since I was immediately post-partum.  The fact that I did it without much exercise is pretty impressive and my butt is definitely looking a lot better. Cheating Around the Edges There were tiny cheats.  I put sugar in my tea three times last week.  I only did two of the training days with the three exercises, (bridges, bird dogs, and kettlebell swings); it's supposed to be three.  I was very light on the legumes with maybe four servings all week and I ate nuts as a replacement, maybe a little too much.  All small things but, combined, they might have had an effect.  Conversely, losing 1.6 pounds when you don't have much more to lose in week 3 after my body has settled in is actually pretty darned good and I shouldn't be complaining. The Mental Game That's the thing with this diet.  You're "hacking" your body so you're always wondering what effects everything will have on the scale and your tape measure.  If I do X will Y happen?  You're always thinking that.  It's kinda annoying! I should be chafing at the bit with the restrictions of the diet but I'm still not.  I was at Bertucci's at a family dinner last night with my in-laws and just explained what I'm doing for a diet.  They were understanding and didn't question me.  I did have a piece of chocolate in memory of my father-in-law who passed away a year ago yesterday, but it was to honor him and I'm not going to sweat a piece of chocolate for my family.  It was 79 calories and I don't plan on cheating again. Extra Motivation I've got extra motivation as I head into the last week.  My bikini vacation is coming up and I'd like to look confident while I sashay to the pool.  It's a family vacation with my extended family and I'm really looking forward to it so I think I'm just going to stick with the plan.  Keep moving forward. Thermogenics I am still doing the glass of cold water first thing in the morning which does seem to rev my engine, although I haven't broken a sweat since the second week on the plan.  I iced my back twice last week (I do it when I remember) and both times I was left with a stiff neck the next day, so I'm not in love with it.  I might try those patches Tim Ferriss mentions.  Actually a company I worked with recently, ArcticEase, makes these great eco-friendly patches that should work nicely and I still have some in my supply closet. Tim Ferriss Updates Tim has updated his blog post to reflect changes in the book.  Some of them are typos and some of them are changes because people have experienced issues on a larger scale since the book's been on the best seller list for a few weeks now.   The big one is no green tea supplement at the last stack of the day.  People are finding it interrupts their sleep. Tim has been very active on his blog and I like that.  One woman is post-partum and breast feeding so she hadn't been taking the supplements.  She'd lost 10 pounds in three weeks and Tim cautioned her to talk to her doctor about rapid weight loss post-partum.  Thought that was a smart thing to say and showed he cares about people following the plan. He also said if you're a woman over 40 who has had a child or two, the significant weight loss seems to kick in later in weeks 4 to 6.  I'm in this category so he's basically telling me to go for 42 days instead of 30.  I'm debating whether I'll do this or not. Am I Converted? You think I would be by now but nope, not yet.  Aspects of this diet are pretty great, but some still bother me.  The supplements are always something I'm cautious of, the legumes thing drives me nuts (and apparently a few of you guys too), and the idea that fruit is bad just seems wrong to me. Tweaks For Next Week I'm going back to week one.  I've made a huge pot of soup with legumes in it so I can up my legume intake again.  I'm drinking coffee more regularly so I can keep the pipes flowing smoothly and I've decided to do the big three exercises every day Monday through Friday just to see what happens.  I've got a number that I'm close to for my hips and I'd really like to see that number by Saturday.  Literally 1/4" will get me there but I'd like a little more. How are you guys doing?  Is it working for you?  Are the restrictions a godsend or are you knocking on the bars of your golden cage?  Would you even consider doing this after reading about my experience?  I'd love to know what you're thinking.  Here are my other posts. Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


25 Responses to “The 4-Hour Body:” Thoughts on Week 3

  1. Dean Ouellette January 24, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Lisa, I am seeing similar numbers as you, been on it one week longer. My wife has been on it now for 9 days and she is enjoying it too. The nice thing is I really am not having cravings. When I do have a craving I keep a piece of paper on the fridge and write it on there for cheat day. It seems just the mental note of writing it down usually satisfies the craving. I just started exercising this week, I did the first three weeks with no exercise at all.

    Cheat day is good, but I feel I may be overdoing it as I always am up 2 pounds two days after cheat day. But then two days later back to start so I feel like I lose 4 of the 7 days each week.

  2. Lisa Johnson January 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Dean I always go up 2 pounds too and then it takes the entire rest of the week to see the scale go back to the Saturday number! This has happened 3 weeks now. It’s bloody annoying! But in the end I end up down another 1.6 to 2.2 (not including the first week). I also haven’t really had much in the way of cravings and this has made cheat day kinda difficult. I don’t “want” anything. This week was stronger than any other. I really wanted bread and milk. I also made sure I had a lot of whole grains so the bowels would keep moving along … sigh. My nemesis is fiber apparently. lol

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, glad it’s working for you. :-)

  3. Sonia Simone January 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I think those numbers are really excellent for someone who’s already slim. As we’ve talked about, those damned last 10 pounds are stubborn little mofos.

    I wish I’d seen that “40+ and had a kid” note earlier. :)

    I love that “write yourself a note for cheat day” idea, Dean, I will copy that. :)

  4. Craig January 24, 2011 at 5:17 pm #


    Good stuff! Really like to read your updates and your progress.

    The thing that stands out to me in reading your post is… “is this really a sustainable system?”

    How many people do you think could really do this for the long term? And would they want to?

    I like “lifehacks” to circumvent the system but if it doesn’t work for the long term, I wonder how much value it truly brings.

    Still very interesting reading… which I think is Tim’s angle. :)

  5. Lisa Johnson January 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Sonia, What’s happening with this particular “Life hack” is that it’s now hitting the general population, so apparently 40+ Moms are a resistant strain! lol … his book tested this whole thing on 194 people. People who volunteered to try the diet so it’s a self-selected group of Tim Ferriss fans which I imagine skew into ethnic and age categories for whatever the 4HWW appealed to. Now it’s out there for everybody and you’re seeing different impacts. You’re always working with your own DNA, not some aggregate study results.

    Craig, thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying the update. Yup, how “sustainable” is this comes up a lot when I’m talking to people about it. Could I do this indefinitely, I guess so … it seems to be working fairly well, I’m rarely hungry, my energy levels are good. But, do I want to? No, not really, I don’t like the feast or famine cycle and I miss regular bowel movements … sigh.

  6. Sonia Simone January 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Did you see the Dr. Oz segment? Interesting.

    I could do the Ferriss eating plan long term, it’s not that far from my usual way of eating. Once I’d lost the weight I wanted, I’d probably add back in a piece of fruit and a small latte every morning.

    It would be much, much easier for me than Paleo or Atkins. The fact that it’s restaurant-friendly would be a big plus for me.

    I don’t see how it would be sustainable if you didn’t eat legumes, though.

  7. Sonia Simone January 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    You’re not worried about injuries doing kettlebells 5 times with no break?

  8. Lisa Johnson January 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    nope, Sonia I have amazing form. I’m a Pilates Instructor! :-)

  9. Lisa Johnson January 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    Sonia, It is very restaurant friendly and I finally found some more legumes I liked today. Butter Beans, I added ’em to soup and they tasted fine. Phew.

  10. Lisa January 26, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    Please keep going for the entire 42 days! I enjoy reading your posts and I am 37 with two children… would love to find out if the extra time does the trick. I saw Tim on Dr. Oz the other day and am intrigued.
    Keep up the entertaining blog!

  11. Sonia Simone January 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Oh, butter beans are a great idea, I’m gonna get some.

    Thanks for doing this journal, it’s very interesting to see your experiences.

  12. Lisa Johnson January 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Hi guys,

    Saw my nutritionist today. She is rather amused at my “rabbit hole” (we talked about my post today). Basically diets set up guidelines, if you work well within them then that’s fine, but if you’re having cravings, overeating, cheating, or have health effects like headaches or upset stomach then clearly it’s the wrong diet for you. I told her my eating habits the last two days (on 4HB) and she said that sounds great. Good job. Then I told her I was still doing 4HB stuff and she wrinkled her nose a bit. LOL.

    Her goal for me was to eat 9 servings of fruits & vegetables a day and I’m doing that easily with 4HB. So I’ve inadvertently hit one of her goals for me when I was paying attention to something else. She’s ok with what I’m doing now after hearing details of what I’m eating, but she cautioned, “the research that he’s using isn’t widespread research. If it’s good research, it’s still new and needs to be tested more.”

    I can live with that. She also hates the supplements idea. But thinks I should take a multivitamin now to cover things like Vitamin C and electrolytes. She also asked me, “what are you going to do when you’re done with your diet?” I just looked at her and said, “that’s your job!” She laughed and she said, cardio. Studies now are showing that cardio helps to maintain weight over time. That’s entirely my department. :-)



  13. Dee January 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Lisa, thank you so much for your detailed experience throughout this diet. I’m very interested in trying this planm however, I don’t see it as a way of life… and I don’t think it’s meant to be seen that way. It seems to be a pretty disciplined method, including the refeeding day (btw I couldn’t agree with you more about the term ‘binge day’). Does the book include a transitional phase where everyday eating is more balanced once you have lost your desired amount of weight? While I’d be willing to dedicate myself to the plan for a temporary amount of time, I wouldn’t want to ban some healthy brown rice or whole grain bread from the rest of my weekdays!

    Update: just saw your last comment, so I’m guessing the book doesn’t say ‘what’s next’ once you’re done. I’m concerned that any weight lost would come back, like it does for MOST (not all) people who try low carb diets and reintroduce healthy carbs.

  14. Lisa Johnson January 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    The success rate for diets is something like 5%, it’s appallingly low! And no he doesn’t say what to do “after” he is advocating this as a permanent lifestyle change. Don’t think I want to do this for the rest of my life! L–

  15. Aidan January 27, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    Lisa, you’re a star for keeping it up! It looks like it has really worked for you. To be honest, with your cardio-based lifestyle I am sure that you can cash in the gains of 4HB and go back to a normal healthy diet with cardio to keep the weight down.
    For me the funny thing about his book is that it inspired me to try doubly hard in lots of areas of my life. I have only taken a couple of his ideas on board but the whole principle of ‘life-hacking’ has meant that this January has been the most healthy and productive for a very long time.
    In some ways any diet that is nutritious and can be followed is a ‘good’ diet but the best long-term diet for an individual is one that fits their lifestyle with foods they like. Although Tim is very anti-carb his book inspired me to think about changing my existing carbs to ‘slower’ carbs. The diet I have been following puts my favourite food (cereal) at the core and I have no problem following it because I love museli so much!
    I am going on holidays soon too. Nothing like the thought of people seeing you in your full glory to inspire the extra push ;-)

  16. Lisa Johnson January 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Aidan, that’s great. I think taking a few key points and adapting them to your lifestyle is an excellent way to go. I’m almost to the finish line with the 30 days. But I have decided to continue on after a discussion with my nutritionist. She’s mostly on board with it. ;-) Just have to work that transition when I’m finally done, done.

  17. Heather @ Side of Sneakers January 28, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    So I just skimmed through most of this book the other day & ended up ordering a copy so I could read more in depth- I’m a research geek too. Maybe I missed it, but what part of the book are you following for you plan? Or are you doing a combination of things?

  18. Kristin January 31, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Can I ask what you are following as far as the exercise portion? He outlines quite a few different workouts…my favorite, of course, being the 2 day kettlebell sessions of 75 swings. I have been working out with weights and HIITs for so long now that the mere thought of only exercising 15 minutes a week is horrifying. I was just wondering what you were doing when it comes to exercise that has been working.


  19. Lisa Johnson January 31, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Hi Kristin,

    For the first two weeks I did only bridges, KB swings and bird dogs at the 20, 50 and 15 reps that he recommends. At the end of week 2 I had worked up to 25 bridges, 50 KB swings without stopping and 20 bird dogs. Then I started adding back in Pilates but only short sessions for week 3. I added in two longer sessions last week. I still haven’t done cardio officially but I’ve been walking, walking, walking a lot running errands through huge piles of snow has actually gotten me into cardio levels a few times. When I do my Pilates workouts I also go into the cardio range because I work out as an advanced practitioner.

    This week I’m hopping back on the Spin bike and adding in more “official” cardio. I miss it! I also do hooping for cardio and that’ll come back in too. I usually do 2 or 3 hooping sessions and 1 or 2 spinning sessions. I’m a certified Spin instructor fyi and I do a lot of intervals on the bike.

    Hope that helps.

  20. ccc February 10, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    Hi Lisa!
    So glad to find a site where a woman is doing the 4HB program. I am 9 days in and down 7 pounds. I am struggling with constipation and beans too. I love beans, it’s just constipation+beans=disgusting gas. I have taken the past 3 days off eating any beans and will resume tomorrow. In place of the beans, I have been eating high protein bread, only has 1 net carb, 12g fiber, 14g protein. Mostly organic ingredients too. 125 calories per slice. My trainer suggested this meal plan and said the hi protein bread was ok occasionally instead of beans.
    Honestly, this may be a lifestyle change for me. I really enjoy the food and how full I feel every day, totally satisfied. And knowing I have 1 cheat day planned every week, I am not nearly as obsessed or emotional about food. Cravings, so far, are pretty much gone. Probably because I know I can have whatever I want on my “off day.” It has been great for my body, mind and spirit.
    I actually have not read the book, I am just following the food rules.
    I have 6-9 pounds to lose, my goal is March 5th. I can do it! And I am exercising a lot more than what Ferris describes. I work out 1-2 hours per day 5-6 days per week. Women have to work harder, we don’t have as much muscle as men to burn as much fat in 30 days “without exercise.”
    Also, the only meat I eat is fish and eggs, I have pea protein shakes too.
    Keep up the great work!

  21. Lisa Johnson February 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    CCC, thanks for stopping by, I’m glad the diet is working for you. Ferriss might caution you that you’re working out too much, but if you’re happy go for it. :-)

    I would say, at the end of the day, the best place to get nutrition advice from is from a nutritionist, preferably a registered dietician, you might want to have an appointment with one just to check in and see if you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Good luck with your weight loss, glad it’s working for you.

    I found the “binge” day to be disconcerting, I didn’t like to do it, felt uncomfortable all day long and it go worse as the weeks went by. I think the clean, lean eating made the binges a little worse and the more my body adapted the worse it got.



  22. ccc February 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Hi Lisa,

    Compared to the standard American diet, I think this is great. I eat a variety of fish, eggs, greens, tomatoes, legumes, whole grain:


    Ingredients: Fresh Ground Whole Grain *Wheat, Sprouts of *Kamut, *Spelt, *Rye, Lentils, Sesame Seeds, *Millet, *Quinoa, *Amaranth, Ground Flaxseed, *Wheat Bran, Oat Bran, Eggs, Undenatured Whey Protein Isolate (90%), Chicory Root (Inulin Fiber), Wheat Gluten, Yeast & Sea Salt.

    *Organically Grown

    I have the high protein bread OR beans at my meals, but try to have beans at least 2x’s per day.

    I am taking a greens supplement, fish oil, multivitamin and green tea. I think my diet is pretty well rounded. Top it all of with lots of water and exercise and I’m a very happy with the results so far. Granted I am only 10 days in.

    My “binge” day was not too crazy. And I don’t consider it a “binge” as much as a “day off.” Works for me emotionally. I had a pretty healthy breakfast and lunch, with the addition of fruit, grains, and some sweet potato fries. I had 2 pieces of dark See’s candy. Dinner was my real splurge. I shared an order of nachos at my favorite vegan place and had a pretty monsterous dessert. But I didn’t feel bad physically, emotionally or otherwise. I really enjoyed the day, embraced the fact I could have whatever I wanted, and was right back on track the next day. For me, this is really wonderful. I feel like such a weight has been lifted, so to speak (and pun intended).

    I look forward to reading more about your progress!


  23. Faith August 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I have been doing this diet for one week now and I lost 3 pounds the first week. The one rule I didn’t even bother sticking to was the one about few meals. I made a big pot of chili with beans, bean salad, and split peo soup and I have salads throughout the week. My fall back has been that I love salads so I just toss chili and avocados, beans and tuna, or chicken and beans on lettuce with some Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing andI I’m set. So far I’m really excited by the diet but I’m also concerned about the “after”. I’m planning on trying several different things once I reach my goal weight, slowly breaking in to see how my body reacts.

  24. Lisa Johnson August 25, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Faith, slow is a really good idea … the “after” is I think the trickiest part of the diet … incorporating the elements you want and still enjoying yourself :)

  25. Ann January 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Hello everyone. I started this diet yesterday. It reminds me of the Adkins diet my husband did a long time ago. I am going to by the book and have been getting info off the web to get started. I found it interesting though, I used fitness pal on my I phone for several months lost maybe 2 pounds with a daily 1200 calorie limit. I plugged in what I ate yesterday following 4 hour plan and was 200 short of the 1200 calories and not even hungry! Can anyone tell me if honey and cheese is ok to eat?

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