Flip This Diet – Episode 3

By: , May 11th, 2015. Posted in: Happiness, Health

Four Weeks In - RESULTS!

It has been six weeks since the fourth member of our family arrived, and LG has been growing like it’s her job!  It basically is her job, so if she keeps up the good work, we’ll promote her to Assistant Manager at her yearly review.

For those following my “Flip This Diet” storyline, my daughter’s birth is significant because her birth was my tipping point.  My aches and pains were numerous, my fitness level was awful, and my weight was as at a record high.  The thought of running around with a four year old (LB) and a two year old (LG) was incomprehensible.  I had to make some major changes, immediately.  Ultimately, I chose to work within the slow carb concept.

Fortunately, my overall health was not awful (cholesterol, blood pressure, saving throws vs. poison, blood sugar, etc…) but I knew it was only a matter of time before years of bad habits had potentially irreversible results.  I started eliminating foods which are said to cause, or exacerbate, inflammation.  After finding and discussing the comprehensive list from the Arthritis Foundation, I realized that cutting out those foods would leave me with a similar diet to that of Slow-Carb.  I’m familiar with it from Timothy Ferriss’ book “Four Hour Body”.  The gist is that you avoid starchy carbs (like bread, rice, potatoes, etc…), increase green leafy vegetables (and legumes, like black beans), steer clear of sugar (even fruit) and put aside dairy (with the exception of cottage cheese) for six days a week.  On your seventh day, aka “Cheat Day”, you have a “Slow Carb” breakfast as usual, and then have whatever you want the rest of the day.

Four weeks into flipping my diet, I'm feeling pretty good!

Four weeks into flipping my diet, I’m feeling pretty good!

So four weeks in, and here are my results and observations so far:

After a steep drop at first (I lost 11 pounds in my first 11 days), I spent the rest of the month dropping around a pound per week.  I’ve lost a total of 13 lbs, says the scale.  3.25 pounds per week is a result I can live with, but there are other metrics to consider.  My body fat percentage has dropped around 1%, and I’ve lost an inch around my belly (although the fashion world still insists that I call it my “waist”).  My other measurements (arms, thighs, and hips) haven’t shown much change.  At around 12 days in, I started putting some effort into strength training and muscle building, resistance exercises, and lifting on a weight machine here at home.  In 16 days, I increased my arm press max weight by 65 pounds – and I’m capable of more core work than when I started.  In short, all the numbers are moving in the right direction!

On a less enthusiastic note, I’ve not been able to completely eradicate my aches and pains as I had hoped.  I’m definitely feeling better overall, and my increase in energy is substantial (another goal, with LB and LG to wrangle), but my painful days are still quite painful.  I think that because of my increased energy, I’m doing a lot more work around the house and outside – and with more activity, is coming more inflammation.  Another thought is that I’m not giving my body enough time away from inflammation-causing foods, since I’m binging on some of them every week.  I’m obviously not a doctor or expert on the matter, so I’ll keep the Ibuprofen close in the meantime, and see if a few more weeks doesn’t make a difference.

1)  I’ve only fallen off the wagon once.  It wasn’t a hard fall, thankfully.  It was a minor stumble into a bowl of Doritos, and it was all my fault.  I purchased a bag for my April 25th cheat day, but didn’t finish it (A couple weeks in, I’ve sort of lost my capacity for mass quantities of junk food).  Then, instead of throwing out the uneaten portion, or locking it up somewhere, I left it in plain sight.  Then, one night, I got a might powerful hankerin’.  I’m not sure if that minor diversion had an impact on my weight loss, but I hung around the 11 pound mark for the better part of the next week.  I won’t be doing that again.  For future reference:  Don’t leave tempting cheat-day foods lying within arms reach during the week.

2)  I can gain a lot of weight in one day.  5/1 was not a particularly gnarly cheat-day, but somehow I gained 7.5 pounds in the span of a day.  I wasn’t particularly worried about that, since I’d read that gaining 10 pounds isn’t terribly uncommon (and that it’s primarily water weight), but it was a bit of a shock.  Within a few days of focusing back on eating the right things, I had lost the 7.5 pounds.  For future reference:  I really think that the 6 oz. of grapefruit juice and GLUT-4 exercises (described in Four Hour Body) have some benefit before a mini-binge on cheat day.  The unsweetened grapefruit juice stabilizes your blood sugar for the proceeding feast, and the exercises get your muscles ready to accept the energy from the carbs.  If you don’t get the muscles warm and worked just before you eat, I’m told that the carbs go to “long term storage”.  The times I’ve skipped these two items have been my biggest weight gain cheat days.

3)  Food prep is not my favorite task.  Without a doubt, the worst thing about deliberately eating a certain way, is the daily grind of it all.  I mean, it starts with planning meals, then going grocery shopping, then I have to be a soux chef, then cook (sometimes from a recipe), then clean-up, track and catalog the left-overs, then actually eat the leftovers…  Sure, there are some short-cuts, but they typically come at a price.  Either you pay more to save time, or you risk quality and mystery ingredients in exchange for saving money.  For future reference:  Work on ways to prep for multiple days in advance, as well as making meals a bit quicker to prep (the “crockpot freezer meals” idea comes to mind) would help a ton. 

4)  I’m starting to be more selective with my cheat foods.  Until very recently, I wouldn’t have thought twice about cramming a bunch of junk food in my face.  But when you’ve got one day to fulfill your cravings, and limited time & stomach space, you become more selective.  I’ve stopped eating things just because they’re in front of me.  I think of the reasons I want to eat first.  I have to admit that I didn’t expect that.  For future reference:  I think making a list of any food you’re craving throughout the week is helpful when planning your cheat day.  Sure, you might want some fast food fries on Tuesday, but when you make a note of it for Saturday and come back to it, it may have lost the appeal.

All things considered, I’m very happy with how things are going.  My thinking is changing a bit with regard to the dietary adjustments.  I started out wanting only a few simple changes, then went all-in on a more specific plan.  Now, I would love to keep going for a full year and see how things pan out.  It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

And of course, I hope if you’re in a place in your life where you need to make some changes, you find useful information/insight/inspiration within my posts.  If you’re interested in finding out more, or want to share some thoughts, feel free to comment on the article – or contact me via the website.




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2 responses to “Flip This Diet – Episode 3”

  1. Daniel says:

    Hey Jason,

    I’m glad to here things are going pretty nicely for you.

    It seems that your total appetite has been changing. Have your cravings changed at all?

    What’s the long term plan for cheating? For me on keto, I got to the point where I don’t actually enjoy those carby foods anymore. I actually crave the bitterness of black coffee and despise sweets.

    Sure, there is an emotional connection I have to certain foods, but that’s something I think I’m prepared to deal with. Now, when I rationalize cheating, it’s usually a poor excuse like convenience, and I (and my bowels) regret it immediately.


    • Jason Stephens says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the comment and words of encouragement! Yes, I believe my cravings have changed a bit. I definitely crave healthier foods than I did a month ago, even just to retain my forward progress and avoid feeling rotten. You’re right about the way sugar changes for you when you’re not eating it. Mild sweetness is almost overbearingly sweet to me now.

      My long term plan for cheating is really similar to what I’m doing now, except not quite so “aggressive”. Affording myself a once-a-week window of about 12 hours seems to give me the best of both worlds. That said, if I’m feeling achy for two days after I eat pizza, I may need to rethink the payoff of eating it. It might be inconvenient or annoying to not be able to handle certain foods – but having a strong deterrent to falling off the wagon has been helpful (and probably will continue to be useful).


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