The One Year Project

A Personal Experiment in Deadline Transition

Freebie: Thriving on Less Ebook

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I found this ebook in the sidebar of one of my favorite sites,  It’s written by ZenHabits’ own Leo Babauta as a supplement to his (not free) book, The Power of Less and is a brilliant how-to for not only coping with our current economic hardship, but also overcoming the unchecked consumerism and crippling debt that is all too common these days.

The full title of this free ebook is Thriving on Less: Simplifying in a Tough Economy.  It’s a quick and easy read, just 27 pages, but it is packed with very useful information.  It’s not one of those books that acts like it has some significance without actually being helpful nor does it present a one-size-fits-all solution for getting out of debt and living simply.  Rather it is comprised primarily of Leo’s own experiences and lessons learned through his journey.

The highlight of this book is definitely the chapters on debt management and elimination.  It provides very practical advice, advice that gets you results almost immediately.  During the reading, it had me brainstorming all the possible ways I could the tips to my life.  I had several “Why didn’t I think of that?!” moments.  His advice is so obvious that making them principles to live by hadn’t even occurred to me.  I never gave them much notice until Leo threw them at me in such a practical way.

Great and useful, ebook especially for the price!



Written by J. Bentley

December 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

Weight Loss – Week 2: Surviving the Holidays (while losing 4lbs.)

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Photo by cthoyes

Photo by cthoyes

This week was a particularly interesting week considering the time of year, but I’ve emerged on the other side unharmed and victorious.  I’m down 4lbs from last week (1/10 of a pound more and I’d have been down 5 pounds).  Do you know what that means?

Ten pounds gone in two weeks.

I now weigh 245lbs down from 255lbs just a couple Sundays ago.  This week I formally incorporated a “Junk Day” as suggested by Tim Ferriss in his most popular post on weight loss.  Wednesday, Christmas Eve, I knew long beforehand that I’d be traveling between at least two different houses, each flooded with hams and turkeys, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cakes, pies, pumpkin logs, cookies, etc. etc., most being super high glycemic and my absolute favorites (mashed potatoes, FTW!).  On top of that I knew I would be practically forced into eating either by feeling guilty for the hardworking chefs or being exposed to all the fatty, buttery, sugary awesomeness I’d done without for the last week.

For anyone who doesn’t get how it works (and I’m not sure I *totally* get how it works, but maybe enough to give you a vague idea), inserting a Junk Day into your eating prevents downregulation.  I’m currently eating give or take 2000 calories per day.  I’m about 5’6″, 21 years old, male and exercising about 10 minutes each day so 2000 is plenty if not a little on the low side to encourage weight loss.  However, it is perfectly adequate.  I have been regularly eating 2000 calories a day.  If I keep eating 2000 calories per day, I risk having my metabolism get used to it and downregulating, therefore burning less calories.  It might contribute to a small plateau.  Adding one Junk Day spikes your caloric intake so that your metabolism isn’t given the chance of downregulating.

The Pros and Cons of All-You-Can-Eat Junk Day

I woke up Wednesday with the full intent to eat myself sick.  It was, as I told myself repeatedly, actually good for me.  So, when faced with all my former favorites, the mac and cheese, the mashed potatoes, the alfredo noodles, the buttery corn, I gorged myself.  I gorged myself fat and happy.  And then I gorged myself fat and sick.   All in all I gained 9lbs from Wednesday morning to Wednesday evening.  Here is what I’ve found about the All-You-Can-Eat Junk Day:


  • Holidays are easily accommodated
    It’s great to be able to plan a junk day on a holiday where you *know* you’ll be expected to eat.  You won’t have to say no to anybody who wants you to try this or taste that.  It’s even nicer to not have to explain to everyone that you are on a special diet.  Always makes me feel like a jackass.
  • Whatever you want (in any quantity!)
    All the stuff you’ve been avoiding for the duration of your lifestyle transition gets the green light!  And you can eat it until you vomit.  You can eat it until you won’t feel like eating it for another week.


  • You’ll feel fat
    I felt so heavy and slow it almost wasn’t worth it.
  • You’ll feel tired
    Seriously… massive sugar crash.
  • You’ll get sick
    Not only did I feel nauseous from all the binging, I was also able to acquire a splitting headache, probably from the reintroduction of all the bad stuff.
  • You won’t even really want it
    Seriously, after eating turkey burgers and green beans and peas and turkey sausages and chicken, I didn’t care much for my old favorites.  I enjoyed them a lot less than I had thought I would.
  • It won’t mess up your weight loss, but you’ll lose less than you could have without it
    Wednesday morning I weighed 247lbs.  Wednesday night I weighed 256lbs!   That’s right!  I ate so much I gained a whole 1 pound more than my starting weight, 9lbs altogether.  It took about 3 days for that weight to disappear completely.  I feel I probably could have lost at least 1 or 2 pounds more had I not gone with an All-You-Can-Eat Junk Day.

So, as you can see, it really had more of a negative effect on me.  Not for messing up my weight loss.  Four pounds down is nothing to cry about.  It just had really awful side effects in general outside of actual weight loss.

I want to keep up the Junk Day to prevent downregulation, but I was wondering if there was a better way to go about it.  Then I remembered.

The Solution

This week I’ll be doing a limited Junk Day.  I remembered seeing a trainer tip watching The Biggest Loser this year in which it was revealed that the contestants, while not altering their exercise routine or other meals in any way, were allowed one high calorie, fatty meal one day per week.  This would solve all of my cons.  I’d get the satisfaction of eating an old favorite without the overkill, headaches or nausea.  I’ll report on its effectiveness next Sunday, but I have high expectations for it.

So, on to week 3.

Written by J. Bentley

December 28, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Weight Loss – Week 1: How I Lost 6 Pounds in One Week

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Photo by Aaron Van Dike

Photo by Aaron Van Dike

Today marks the end of the first week in this grand experiment of eating healthy and exercising.  I’m rather pleased with the results.  These small but majorly significant changes have contributed to a loss of 6 pounds in the last seven days, dropping from 255lbs to 249lbs.  The first week will almost always see great results so the effectiveness of these changes will be better reflected in weeks 2 – 6.  Nonetheless, 6 pounds in one week is quite the accomplishment.

But…  How did I do it?

In a word, protein.

I’ve cut every bit of bread, cereal, pasta and rice from my diet as well as dairy products.  It was tough, too.  I would binge regularly.  Cakes and cookies, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, butters and breads.  But they had to be cut out.   Why?  In short, there are sugars in each of these items which raise your blood sugar level and increase the production of insulin.  Insulin, in turn, tells your body to start building and storing fats.  You see where this is going.

So, in eating only low-glycemic foods, I was able to save myself quite a bit of fat storage.  But if I shouldn’t be eating the foods I was used to eating, what exactly could I eat?  Is it really more expensive to eat healthy?  Could I even afford to do this?

What I’m Eating

I had no idea what I was going to eat and years of neglecting my responsibility to make healthy choices left me overwhelmed.  I was determined to get my ass in gear and really lose weight, though.  When Sunday morning rolled around, the first official day in this one year project, I headed almost directly from bed to the grocery store.

My goals were to buy plenty of proteins and plenty of vegetables, but beyond that I was clueless.  I didn’t know whether or not it was possible for me to buy a week’s worth of food on the cheap that actually tasted good and represented a sustainable change in my diet.  After some searching around and some comparison, here’s what I left with:

  • 4 cans of cut green beans
  • 4 cans of french style green beans
  • 2 cans of peas
  • 4 pounds of ground turkey
  • 4 3lb jars of pre-cooked pinto beans
  • 10 turkey sausage patties

All of this cost roughly $45 which I felt was completely reasonable and sustainable.

I’ve never been much of a cook though, when I got home I wondered how exactly I’d cook it.  I’ve never been good with a stove and frankly, I’m too lazy to put up with much of a mess.  If cooking caused a huge mess, then this eating plan would be unsustainable.  I wanted to figure out a way to minimize clean up before it buried my weight loss dreams.

And, behold!  From the upper shelf of the kitchen cabinet above the sink a heavenly light shone down.  There, covered in dust, I found a forgotten George Foreman grill.  It was a perfect way to minimize the mess!

Or so I thought…

The first time I used it it was a dream.  But the second time… disgusting and time consuming.  It was covered in greases and fats and loose meat.  Even worse, it had kind of caked on.  If I planned on losing any weight cleaning would have to be as simple as possible.  And this is where I present the single most helpful tip of week 1:

When finished cooking on a George Foreman grill, unplug it from the wall and place a wet paper towel inside.

Seriously.  When you go back to it all the mess slides right off.  It doesn’t take more than 10 seconds to clean and involves about as much effort as it does to slide your hand across a laptop trackpad.

Typical Week One Meal

Typical Week One Meal

Over the course of the week, I slowly developed a habit of eating only twice a day, 1000 calories for each meal (2000 calories per day).  I hadn’t planned it. It just kind of happened.  I’m never hungry, though.   The typical meal is comprised of 2 turkey burgers, 2 cups of pinto beans, and 1 or 2 cups of vegetables (either green beans, peas, or broccoli).  I usually eat a couple apples as a dessert.  Apples, while having sugar, haven’t seemed to effect the plan much and seem to be listed as a low-glycemic food on many of the lists I’ve viewed.  This week I’ll start including junk days.  These will exist for the purpose of spiking my metabolism so that it doesn’t downregulate.  This way I’ll keep losing.


While I’m certain this would work without exercise (though with less impressing results), I’ve exercised every day this week.  It’s a shame that it’s winter and very cold hear because I enjoy walking a lot. When the whether gets warmer I’ll be outside walking or jogging for at least 60 minutes.  But it’s still winter, so I had to improvise.  I’m starting with something simple and working my way up.

Each morning I’ve been using SparkPeople’s Jump Start Cardio Workout.  It’s a 10 minute workout.  I’m already seeing some physical improvement by using this video.  The first day I was almost completely wore out by it.  By the sixth day it had started feeling more like fun than work and my movements were faster.  I’m able to do most of the high intensity movements and, by the beginning of week three, will likely be doing the video twice back to back in the morning and once in the evening.

I also incorporate some strength training exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  For now, just three sets of 30 crunches and a 15 second modified plank.  A modified plank is a hellish exercise if you aren’t in shape.  It will get your heart pounding faster than the cardio and crunches combined.

So, this is where I’m at so far.  On to week two.

Written by J. Bentley

December 22, 2008 at 4:50 am

Posted in Losing Weight

Tagged with , , ,

What is the One Year Project?

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Photo by auro

Photo by auro

The One Year Project is the title I’ve given this personal experiment of mine.  I’m an obese, self-employed 21-year-old college dropout who lives with his parents in the middle of nowhere.  I’ve given myself exactly one year to get my shit together.  I’ve started this one week ago today, thus the results will be in on Dec. 14, 2008.

What does it mean “to get my shit together” though?  Here are my goals for the year:

  • Lose Weight
    I’m roughly 5’6″ (kind of short for a guy so it really amplifies the fatassery).  I weigh 255lbs.  I should weigh about 150lbs.  Through healthy eating and exercise, I aim to slowly but surely melt off the extra padding.  I haven’t been and appropriate weight since probably 4 or 5 years old.  Having this weight problem likely means I don’t even know what it means to truly live, as it keeps me from doing things I’d otherwise enjoy and utterly kills any bit of self-confidence I might have.
  • Simplify my life
    My life is filled with clutter.  I want to clean it up and start living simply and frugally.  I want to get rid of all the unnecessary things in my life and keep only those things that are absolutely essential to my happiness.  Enough with this keeping things that only stress me out!
  • Get out of debt
    I don’t have a lot of debt really.  Probably no more than $5000.  I’m lucky!  But, debt is debt and it never feels good.  I think 2009 should be the year I really knock it out!
  • Earn $10,000 Per Month
    I’m a freelancer.  I do web design, WordPress design, and the occasional logo.  It feels more like a hobby, though.  I usually get one or two projects a month and come out of them with about $700.  I used to work as a janitor at a local hospital and was used to working 40-hour weeks for $7 an hour.  That’s about $800 per month.  So $700 for working about 10 hours is awesome, BUT it isn’t where I need to be.  I want to earn $10,000 per month through whichever methods I can find and successfully implement.  It’s an ambitious goal, but I believe it’s possible.  Which leads me to the next goal…
  • Start and Run a Successful Business
    I’ve already filed the papers to register an LLC.  More details about that when I get things rolling early 2009.  The purpose of the business will be to provide me with an incubator for my ideas and an automated income.  I love web design, but laying down the hours to get the kind of money I’d like to have is a bit consuming.  So, I need a location-independent business that provides me with money “while I sleep”, so to speak.
  • Move Out and Travel!
    I’m cheating myself out of some awesome experiences by living at home.  Why I haven’t left is common sense.  I don’t feel I make enough money to venture out on my own, or that if I do make enough money it just isn’t secure enough.  I never know exactly what I’ll make month to month and also because my weight drains me of the self-confidence necessary for doing any such thing.  This is also why my business must be location independent, as I’d like to travel and work.
  • Write a Book
    I’m not particularly fond of writing.  I only think that I am or people say I look like the sort of person who would be.  Perhaps this stems from my inability to finish once started.  I think it likely is, which is why in this One Year I’d like to write a book.  I don’t know what kind.  Fiction or Non-Fiction.  Just a book, any kind, from start to finish.
  • Read One Book Per Month (Non-Fiction)
    I want to expand on my knowledge and be able to better handle myself and my goals.  Therefore, I think it is important to maintain the habit of reading self-improvement type books.  Since I so poorly handle what needs done, for December 08 I’ll be reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I’ve already implemented a sort of GTD system which I’ll elaborate on in a later post.
  • One Project Per Month
    Each month starting with January, I’ll take on learning one new skill.  For example, January will be Drawing month.  I’m primarily a designer.  I’ve never spent much time trying to sketch things I see, people, objects, landscapes.  I’ve always had the desire and never had the ability.  So I’ll spend January trying to learn to draw.  I’ll update the blog weekly with my progress.
  • Regularly Write Blog Posts
    I’ve already mentioned that I have an inability to finish writing projects, so this is a logical goal.  I believe this blog will play an important part in this transition I’m hoping to make and maybe even help some other people, too.  We’ll see!

So, that’s the project in a nutshell.  I’ll elaborate on how I plan to accomplish each goal in separate posts.  I’ll also be sharing any tips, tricks, sites, blogs or books I find incredibly helpful.  I’ll write new posts on Sunday and Wednesday at least but may choose to post 3 or 4 times a week or even daily.  It just depends on what I find and what I feel needs written.

There we have it.  The beginning!

Written by J. Bentley

December 21, 2008 at 4:35 pm