A Sardonic Review of The Four Hour Body

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TIMOTHY FERRISS, nominated as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007,” is author of the #1 New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been published in 35 languages.

Wired magazine has called Tim “The Superman of Silicon Valley” for his manipulation of the human body. He is a tango world record holder, former national kickboxing champion (Sanshou), guest lecturer at Princeton University, and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center.

When not acting as a human guinea pig, Tim enjoys speaking to organizations ranging from Nike to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Oh man, this reminds me of this hilarious video

 For those of you who don't have time to watch videos, it's Michael Cera's parody on the hilariously arrogant video resume of Aleksey Vayner.

The video opens with a staged interview between Vayner and an offscreen voice. However, the "interview" ultimately consists of a single question, to which Vayner gives a lengthy, rambling response. Using considerable amounts of business-speak jargon, Vayner praises himself and shares his various insights on success, talent, and overcoming adversity. Interspliced with the interview are clips of Vayner performing various feats designed to look impressive, including bench pressing, skiing, playing tennis, ballroom dancing, and finally karate-chopping a stack of bricks. The video ends with a dedication to Radomir Kovacevic, and a fairly lengthy credits sequence.

Since moving to NYC, I've had the displeasure to meet many flaky young single men who idolize Tim Feriss. I was reminded of them recently when I saw this excellent Facebook Question: "Why is there such a strong correlation between the "paleo diet" movement and douchebags?" really worried that this would contain mostly douchebaggery, but then I heard Tim Feriss had become a man and gotten married. (Oops, this isn't true, which isn't surprising considering his relationship descriptions in the book, so I guess he's still out there testing his loathsome techniques on women).

So this book has got some great stuff.  It's more like a collection of blog entries, though they are very high-quality blog entries. That makes this a very hard book to review. Even more difficult because it contains 5 millions pictures of vaginas, which means I can't read it on the subway without getting paranoid that some creepy dude will read over my shoulder.

To boil water, the MED is 212°F (100°C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it “more boiled.” Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive.

That's kind of how I feel about this book. A lot of it is devoted to hacking your body in ways I simply can't be bothered to do. At least he admits that this is a sort of smorgasboard reference-type of book. Pick the chapters you need and just read those.

For me, that's not too many chapters. "How to Hold Your Breath Longer Than Houdini" Why would I want to do things like this? Maybe I'm just lazy though.

I'd love to sleep less, but the polyphasic thing sounds like torture to me. The "Slow carb" diet he pushes is kind of gross to me. He seems to be under the misconception that you need to eat beans for some reason.

"Vegetables are not calorically dense"

Um, no shit?

"so it is critical that you add legumes for caloric load."

No, it's critical that you add fat for caloric load. It's clear people still get good results on his diet, but I think they would have better digestion and potentially eliminate autoimmune issues if they didn't bother with legumes.

BUT this book does feature some great foods: Kerrygold butter, raw milk, and grassfed beef for example. I think in 10 years maybe Tim's wife will civilize him and he'll come out with a book that has less powder, sugar-free Jello, Egg Beaters, and other things only single men consider edible.

MISTAKE #4: BELIEVING THAT YOU’LL COOK, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE A BACHELOR In a sentence: if you don’t normally cook, get canned and frozen food for the first few weeks. Don’t buy a bunch of food that requires cooking skills if you don’t have them. Don’t buy foods that spoil if you’ve never prepared a proper meal. Unfounded optimism will just result in rotten food and frustration.

How about getting married? Or even easier, taking a cooking class?

He's already starting to get it though:

Go fermented. Dr. Weston Price is famous for his studies of 12 traditional diets of near-disease-free indigenous communities spread around the globe. He found that the one common element was fermented foods, which were consumed daily. Cultural mainstays varied but included cheese, Japanese natto, kefir, kimchi (also spelled “kimchee”), sauerkraut, and fermented fish. Unsweetened plain yogurt and fermented kombucha tea are two additional choices. Fermented foods contain high levels of healthy bacteria and should be viewed as a mandatory piece of your dietary puzzle. I consume five forkfuls of sauerkraut each morning before breakfast and also add kimchi to almost all home-cooked meals.

And perhaps it might convince the general public that calories in=calories out is bunk? 

It wasn't until the end that I realize why so many young single men idolize Feriss: he's a nerd who's "made it." Hot women, buff body, tons of money. He can quote Dune and still have all these things. While I do worry he'll create a legion of wannabe Casanovas*, I'm happy he's warning men about the dangers of a modern lifestyle on their manhood and encouraging them to think about female orgasm from a technical perspective.

Also, it features two of my favorite bloggers Chris Masterjohn and Seth Roberts.

As for the bonus content...you have to hunt for passwords in the book? Talk about something I don't have time for.

*Honestly, if you want consistently good sex, a long term relationship/marriage is where you'll get it.

And this is the best review of the sex chapters ever:

I wanted to mention this in my initial review, but lacked the adequate time. The "15 Minute Orgasm" section is not nearly as enticing as it sounds. Basically, it's a trip to third base that is strange and just plain...ick. Ladies, picture a man grappling your lower body with his arms/legs pretzeled around your waist and thighs like he's wrestling a crocodile. Then, he uses his hands to spread your girl business open as if he's inspecting a large salmon fillet for stray bones. Now for the really sexy part: he uses his index finger to very gently stroke one tiny area of your little man in a boat for 15 minutes. That's all he does. FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES. Keep in mind, there's no other movement by either the male or female. Also, the woman shouldn't talk unless it's to answer specific questions. Why? Because women only talk during sex to distract themselves and not concentrate on enjoying it. Okaaaay. Thanks for the stereotype that we're all frigid and naturally inclined to deny ourselves any fun if it's left up to us. Hogwash.