January Recap, Slow Carb February

January's 30 day experiment was to meditate every day. Meditating was one of the things I called out in my 2017 goals, so I picked it as my first 30 day experiment. I missed a handful of days - generally when I wasn't sleeping at home. But I got 25 of 31 days, so I'm calling it a success!

I used the Headspace app (download for iOS/Android) to guide my meditation. It is a simple app with a free trial to get started. The guy who guides you has a very entrancing voice that makes it easy to slip into meditation. It ramps you up from 10 minutes to 15 to 20 minutes. Once you can sustain 20 minutes, Headspace helps you focus on goals like improving relationships or lowering stress. I still can't get to 20 minutes, but I can do 15.

Was it worth it? I'm able to focus on a task more easily and not hop over to reddit/twitter/anything shiny every 5 minutes. It has made me more effective as a programmer. I've made fewer silly mistakes because of the extra focus (though I haven't quantified that). I get a good round of stretching in after each session, which feels great. Meditation has also helped me be more aware of personal relationships. For example, if someone does something that annoys me, I can pinpoint why it annoys me and try to correct it, rather than being annoyed. So yes. It was definitely worth it! And I'd highly encourage anyone to give it a shot. Carve out those 10–20 minutes every morning and I promise you'll gain more than 20 minutes of productivity.

So what's the experiment for February?

This month, my experiment is sticking to Tim Ferriss's Slow Carb diet from his book the 4 Hour Body, which I'm in the middle of reading. (Sorry Infinite Jest! I'll come back!) It is a simple diet with only 5 rules: no white/processed carbs, eat the same few meals (mostly meat/eggs, veggies, beans/lentils), no sugar/fruit, don't drink calories, and have 1 cheat day per week where you ignore the previous 4 rules. The diet is sound, even if some rules seem to be"well, I do this, so it is part of the diet". For example, you may have a glass or two of red wine every night, because he likes red wine. Regardless, diet makes sense: less processed food and more simple, healthy food. And plan a cheat day so the diet is sustainable and prevents you from cheating all week. We're keeping a running list of the things we crave throughout the week to get on cheat day.

I started by prepping a weeks worth of food in a night. It took my girlfriend and I about 3 hours to do all the cooking, with an hour of cleaning and prep work before hand. Not bad for 12 lunches, 12 dinners, and some of my breakfasts! Here's what it looked like when we finished:

Here's some of the recipes we used for this week:

  • Chicken Tenders - 425 calories (use 20 oz of chicken here)
  • Turkey and Bacon Meatloaf - 423 calories
  • Blackened Salmon - 279 calories
  • Mexican black beans (I didn't have a potato masher, so this came out a bit soupy but still good) - 263 calories
  • Bean Salad - 232 calories.

I'm making these for snacks, along with some beef jerky:

  • Deviled Eggs - 90 calories per 2 halves, with this slow carb mayo

I also bought a bunch of refried beans and black beans (which I'll top with some salsa for flavor) and a freezer full of steamer veggies. They make meal prep so insanely easy. My secret weapon is salt, pepper, and dark chili powder on pretty much any veggie. It is delicious. Microwave the veggies about 60–90 seconds short when prepping for the day/week, then finish nuking them when you're about to eat them, along with the rest of the food. Then they don't get all mushy and gross.

I'll be tracking all this food in MyFitnessPal and maintaining my 500 calorie deficit (1790 per day, plus exercise). I'm excited to share my results in a month, along with my next experiment!