Anyone who has been on a diet, writes about diets or, to be honest, even has a shred of common sense knows that the toughest part of any program is simply sticking to it. As human beings, perhaps one of our most telling traits is that we’re simply creatures of habit. Most of us who have found ourselves in poor physical health got there because we developed bad ones and continued to repeat them for years or even decades. Not coincidently, getting into good physical shape (and I suppose it can work with mental health as well) has almost everything to do with finding good habits – eating, food choices, exercise – and continuing to repeat them indefinitely. That’s the path that worked for me during my weight loss journey and it’s what I share with the masses… when the masses ask. But, even when you’ve got a good thing going, it never hurts to rock the boat a little and switch things up just to keep it fresh. That’s what this experiment with The 8 Hour Diet was for me.
When I committed to a six-week test run with The 8 Hour Diet book and program, I did it at a place I’ve never been before when starting a new routine. When you’re 428 pounds you run through the list of diet fads faster than you run through a sleeve of Fig Newtons. I’ve done “Day 1” on just about every diet fad ever invented except for the old “Pizza & Sex Diet”. Skipped that one for two reasons: #1 Couldn’t get The Wife to sign-off and #2 Totally made it up… which probably lead to #1. This experiment was unique, however, because I’m at a pretty good place with my health. I’m marathon training, so my cardio is probably the best it has ever been. My strength training has been limited, but I don’t feel feeble by any stretch despite turning the 40 corner in March. And my weight is… well… OK. Sure, I was on the “give” side when you say I like to be at my goal weight, give or take 10 pounds, but I wasn’t digging through the back corner of the closet for the secret pair of jeans that you didn’t throw away 20 pounds ago. I’d be kicking the tires on The 8 Hour Diet as a guy who, frankly, didn’t NEED to lose weight, but could certainly stand to lose a few pounds.
With that in mind, let’s review the basics for the final time, talk about Week 6 and I’ll give you my thoughts on this book, this program and this lifestyle.
(Editor’s Note: Clay spoke about his experience with The 8-Hour Diet recently on his podcast. Check it out HERE!)
I’d like to assume you’ve all been maniacally clicking refresh on your browser waiting for the final chapter to drop similar to the anticipation surrounding the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad. I know I’m a day late, but I was on vacation this weekend which I felt kind of puts this test on another level. Hopefully you used that time to catch up on our journey so far (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and Week 5). The final week, I stuck to the basics, but had the added element of the change of scenery.
- I followed the program for all seven days. I was on vacation on Lake Michigan from Thursday night through Monday morning camping with the family. While I took no days off and did not cheat, I can say that my eating wasn’t great. I had far more meals out than I normally would at home, but I tried to make decent choices.
- 11a – 7p is the eating window. Easy at home, far tougher on the road. I stuck to it, but when you’re making camp breakfast at 7a or the roaring campfire S’mores are beckoning, it’s a battle.
- Marathon training still in full effect. Logged 31 miles this week including a half-marathon (13.1) on Saturday.
Week 6 Highlights
Taking any program on the road is tough. The 8 Hour Diet is no exception. One of the fun parts about vacation for a lot of people is to do things that they don’t normally do in your everyday life. Eat a little more. Stay up a little later. Just be the vacation version of you. There was a kind of blessing and a curse element to being on this program this week. I could really still be all of those things, I just had to take the food out during that 16 hour window. It wasn’t always easy, but I got it done.
I talked last week about making a small adjustment to my running to accommodate the program. Though running the 13.1 miles on an empty stomach (despite an intentional carb load the evening before) probably wasn’t the best choice, I did shift my run time a little later in the morning in order to be able to get some protein in me shortly after the run. Normally my Saturday runs end at about 8:30 in the morning and those two hours can be rough.
Have to blow the horn one more time for just how good I’ve felt. If I take nothing else away from this experience, I’ve learned so much about how when you eat impacts your energy and your mood. I’ve had a pretty emotionally rough past six weeks with some other happenings in my life. Not being bogged down with food throughout the day continues to have a significant impact on my energy, my attitude and my ability to deal with stress.
Final Numbers & Thoughts
With all of the tweaks and changes this week on vacation, I really expected to come out on the plus side of the scale. I didn’t. I actually lost about half a pound (-0.4). As I told The Wife this morning, I figure the vacation equation on my weight went something like “17 miles run + vacation eating = Push”. The running probably had a significant impact on the number, but, bottom-line, the running is part of my lifestyle and I’m not adjusting the program to account for it, so it is what it is.
So, after six weeks following (for the most part) all of the principles of The 8 Hour Diet, I came out down 5.5 pounds. As someone who, when over four bills during his peak of dieting, could lose that kind of weight in a day or so, 5.5 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot of weight. However, as I said before, I was looking to lose about ten to twelve pounds, so that 5.5 feels a little meatier when you view it through that prism. If you need to lose 100 pounds, that 5.5 may seem like a complete waste of time. But, even with that, I’m going disagree because of what this program does do.
I was going put my opinions down in a section and call it “Final Thoughts”, but that didn’t feel right because I don’t feel like I’m done with the program. Not because I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, but because I feel like there’s some real staying power here. The most important thing that happened to me during my six weeks with The 8 Hour Diet was the realization that I’m going to take some of these principles and put them in my lifestyle permanently.
I’ve enjoyed the energy and the overall good feelings too much to go back. I feel like that has come largely from longer periods of intermittent fasting in my day. I will keep that as part of my lifestyle.
I will keep the 7p closing window. My sleep over the past six weeks (barring a few uncomfortable days camping) was the best it’s been in years. I credit that to going to bed without a bunch of food in my stomach. Sleep can make or break everything you’re trying to do in life, work, athletics, really every aspect of your existence can be greatly effected by whether or not you have enough quality sleep. I’m not going back.
This book also broke my image of the breakfast concept. Breakfast, to me, was what you ate in the morning and usually had eggs in it. What I will keep is the knowledge that breakfast is literally when you “break your fast” from the previous day. When you do it and how you do it is completely up to you. One of the controversial parts of the The 8 Hour Diet book is that it kind of blows up the idea of breakfast as “the most important meal of the day”. What I think they actually do is cement it. It is important. What they blow up is the idea that it has to be the first thing you do when you wake up. That will stay with me.
Let me bottom-line it for you. My recommendation is that you read The 8 Hour Diet. That’s it. What you personally choose to do with it will be up to you. I think there is some great stuff in there that can by used whether you need to lose five pounds, 50 pounds or, like me back in the day, three and a half supermodels.
Knowledge is power. When you’re attempting to change your habits, you’re best suited to do it with as much knowledge behind you as possible. While some people can open a book and follow a plan to the letter and it fits them, most of us have to carve out the right lifestyle through trial and error and a more piecemeal approach. The 8 Hour Diet may be perfect for you. Or, like me and where I’m at today, there may be a lot of great information that you can draw from to continue to build your perfect plan.
Wherever you are on the journey, I wish you the best of luck. Make good choice. Make smart habits. And NEVER stop learning.