On Zero-to-Hero Transformations (#155)


Dan Gable and Tim Ferriss
Photo: The Legendary Dan Gable, from my Instagram page

In this episode, we don’t have any special guests, unless you count the multiple personalities in my own head.

We are not talking to Arnold Schwarzenegger, black-market chemists, Josh Waitzkin, Jamie Foxx or anyone else per our regular interviews. Today, I’ll be responding to questions you upvoted on Reddit.

This episode includes gems like:

  • My favorite books
  • Learning to take better notes
  • How I develop skills
  • Things that I’m excited about in the next 3-5 years
  • Plus much more…

Only have a few minutes? Listen to my latest thoughts on cheat days and how to manage sugar cravings.


#155: On Zero-to-Hero Transformations

Want to hear another podcast where I answer your questions? — Listen to 5 things I did to become a better investor. In this episode, I discuss making hundreds of survivable mistakes, the strategy behind my startup bets, and why I’m more successful (on paper) with my investments than my publishing career (stream below or right-click here to download):

#109: The 5 Things I Did To Become a Better Investor

This podcast is brought to you by Wealthfront. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive (in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service, led by technologists from places like Apple. It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and now has more than $2.5B under management. Why? Because you can get services previously limited to the ultra-wealthy and only pay pennies on the dollar for them, and it’s all through smarter software instead of retail locations and bloated sales teams.

Check out wealthfront.com/tim, take their risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you—for free–exactly the portfolio they’d put you in. If you want to just take their advice and do it yourself, you can. Well worth a few minutes to explore: wealthfront.com/tim.

This podcast is also brought to you by Audible. I have used Audible for years and I love audio books. I have two to recommend:

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  2. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

All you need to do to get your free 30-day Audible trial is go to Audible.com/Tim. Choose one of the above books, or choose between more than 180,000 audio programs. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy. Go to Audible.com/Tim and get started today. Enjoy!

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Do you enjoy this format or would you rather hear nothing but interviews? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Coach.me | Stickk.com | Dietbet.com

Show Notes

  • If you were to do a zero-to-hero transformation with someone, what would be the path you would take? [8:17]
  • If you were tasked with building a person from a blank slate, a la Frankenstein’s creature or an android, what skills/qualities would you give him first? [15:21]
  • How do you build rapport with your podcast guests? [18:10]
  • Expand more on your teens and twenties. What were you doing? What kind of person were you? What were your influences? [21:32]
  • Do you believe that people have personal callings? [23:52]
  • Do you believe in coincidences? [26:22]
  • What is something you are increasingly getting excited about in the next 3-5 years? [28:31]
  • Dogs and positive constraints [32:15]
  • What have you learned about human behavior from Molly? [38:02]
  • How did you meet and become friends with Kevin Rose? [41:45]
  • If you were to go back to college, what would you choose to major in and why? [43:00]
  • What do you think of studying abroad? [47:26]
  • My exact note-taking system [47:38]
  • Comparing the ketogenic diet and The Slow-Carb Diet [50:32]
  • Cheat days and managing sugar cravings [51:14]
  • Do you have any practical tips for dealing with people you dislike? [56:22]
  • Why I love Japan [1:00:08]
  • Most gifted books [1:02:28]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

106 Replies to “On Zero-to-Hero Transformations (#155)”

  1. When Tim started talking about book recommendations, I was crossing my fingers that you would mention one by Sam Harris.

    I thought ‘End of Faith’ would be a good read for a young person simply for the mental exercises you go through as you read his rebuttals to various religious claims.

    HOWEVER, patience paid off because you gave him a shoutout towards the end (57m) and it was actually a better book reco – Lying.

    Placing an emphasis on being honest and holding people accountable for their words and actions is actually a positive act in the long run, though it seems negative in the moment.

    Great ep! I love the rapid changing of topics.

  2. Wow! I am going to save this and can listen again and again.

    Thanks a lot for sharing and re sharing your wisdom.

  3. Tim, Loving the podcast, but the book by Karen Pryor is “Don’t Shoot the Dog!”

    Amazing what one word difference makes, eh?

  4. Big fan of this, Tim – always cool to hear the “unabridged”, off the cuff remarks and thoughts you have on random but relevant topics.. not just those of your (amazing) podcast guests. Cheers, sir.

  5. Are you still in Ketosis? If you get out of ketosis do you revert back to Lyme disease state (brain fog and fatigue) or has being in ketosis for an extended period of time fixed your metabolism?

  6. Tim,

    Let me start by thanking you for being you ! I have found your work incredible inspiring, as a young entrepreneur and artist I find you to be a great resource for such a wide range of interests I have. I enjoy taking long trips in the car for work even more because I get to learn invaluable skills, techniques, or just bad ass stories as a result of your show and many other podcasts. I am writing this as a response to you asking if the emails are useful. I say yes! I love the show, the emails and anything from you since I found The 4 Hour Body in 2010. If I could be selfish, I am making my first documentary. It’s an incredibly compelling story that I can easily see being a other gangster classic from Martin Scorsese, that of course is the end game, see the story through to his hands and made in to what I know will be a massively successful film. But I am first going to produce and tell the story through a documentary. I wI’ll ask for any advice possible for a guy on this journey. Maybe someone you know is able to help in the form of advice. If not no worries because I do realize this is very unprofessional as I have never met you, on the flip side, I have sold Satelite TV across this country door to door so I do have that fearlessness to ask anyone, anytime, anywhere and also the notion that you never know what is possible if you don’t ask. I wish you all the best and look forward to enjoying more of your work! Thank you

  7. Well done! As much as I enjoy the long form interviews, in-between episodes can be a refreshing change of pace in that they are shorter and easier to digest in one sitting than a 2-3 hour interview. I liked this one in particular because while some of these questions delve into topics/themes addressed on your other podcasts, it’s always good to get your own personal in depth insight. I would definitely recommend adding this style podcast into the regular mix. I don’t know that I would change anything, although it might be interesting to have the same format with less topics, allowing a bit more depth, although perhaps others feel the more questions of theirs you tackle, the better.

  8. Well thanks Tim, now I have 20 tabs open. Seriously though the interviews are great, but I’d absolutely love to get more of these.

  9. This is a great summary so we can zero into what we’re after when short on time. Don’t get me wrong – I like to commute with you Tim, but sometimes I also prefer short and sweet. Cheers!

  10. Tim!

    I love your advice and content. I just don’t find the longer podcast format great for me and how I want to get it. A 30 or 45 min podcast is too much of a commitment when I feel like the great nuggets I could get from your experience and expertise could be gleaned from an 800 word article. The extra intimacy/ personality knowledge one gets from hearing your voice and natural flow of conversation is nice but for me I often miss that anyway since I skip it.

    You’re great. An inspiration. Loyal reader for sure.

  11. Love this format for sure! Not to say the interviews aren’t great but I think as fans/followers/belivers part of what we want to know is more about what makes u tick.

  12. NOT COOL! Putting Gables picture up there without an interview!?

    I suppose I’ll have to listen anyway since I’ve always liked your other non interviews.

  13. Personally I’d love to have transcripts . For me, I can skim to the stuff I’m most interested in. If it’s someone I love I can listen.

  14. Good morning! 🙂 I love this format. I very much enjoy listening to you and you’re multi-personalities. Keep them coming. And thank you so much for the great work. I find shelter in you’re voice and interviews on days i feel bad, sad or uninspired but also for the days i feel great, you’re podcast always makes me smile. So from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!

    1. Hey Tim,

      I would like to respond with similar sentiments to Ella. I also really enjoy this format, in addition to the interviews, and look forward to more of them in the future.



  15. Love the format. Once a quarter episodes like this would be the best bang for the buck imo. Tim you just keep getting better. Always great content.

  16. Another good episode. I enjoy these occasional QnAs.

    You answered a question about coincidences, and went on to mention spurious relationships extracted from large datasets, and then made mention

    of the China study and said “look at the long term omplications of cancer from, for instance, purely plant based diets, and so on, that have come up recently”.

    Whilst I don’t want to defend the China study, your claim about cancer and plant based diets seems to go against the grain of much of the body of research on this. The only thing I’ve come across recently is a paper from Cornell researchers that found a gene mutation in long term vegetarian and vegan populations. The mutation alters production of an enzyme which regulates the metabolism of omega fatty acids (it results in those with the mutation being more efficient at this). They found Innuit populations

    have the opposite mutation. If this is indeed the study you were referring to (and if not, what have I missed?), you have misunderstood both the findings and the take home for individuals. The mutation was highly adaptive i.e. good, in both cases. Knowing about the mutation might allow us to idividually better tailor our diet. BTW, they estimate that 17% of Europeans have this vego mutation, so perhaps you do too.

    You then said “don’t assume and agenda” and “I’m just reviewing the data”. Perhaps it’s true that you don’t have an nefarious agenda. I believe that. Are you reviewing the meta data, or just the methods and findings, as I am? Or actually getting you hands dirty with the data itself? The latter is much more difficult, but also more revealing of how difficult a task this is to do well. I, too, have no nefarious agenda. If I have an agenda at all it is simply to know more truth and to spot sloppy conclusions. Also, I do not do any work in this field, but I do have significant training and professional experience with statistical analysis, and so I’m often willing to dig deeper than most on bold health related claims that spring up constantly in my news feed.

    Thanks again for the podcast. Press release from Cornell linked below. The characterisation of this study in popular media outlets was very misleading, as is all too often the case.


  17. Tim,

    By mixing in your podcast with my daily commute, my work days start and end with wonder, laughter, and excitement. I’m sure people are getting annoyed by my Tim Ferriss said… Tim Ferriss was talking to… but they get over it as soon as they listen! I love the interviews, but this episode had me responding out loud in my car. Yet again, I found myself wishing I wasn’t driving so I could take notes (thank you for the bulleted list of links). I agree with others, this is a worthwhile format, revisit again, please.

    Looking forward to your interview with Angela Duckworth (I’m assuming, I know she has a book coming out on Grit). Loved her TED talk on Grit and shared it with all my colleagues. As a teacher I am always looking for ways to help my students find passion, learn deeply and quickly, and persevere. I truly believe accomplishing these goals will grow future problem solvers, artists, and doers.

    Thanks for being vulnerable with us, “Am I long winded?” That made me chuckle.



  18. I really enjoy the mix of long form interviews as well as your shorter and experimental episodes. Keep up the good work and thank you for what you share with the world.

    1. Haha – Tim documents most of his life so it would be hard to uncover more than he is already revealing 🙂

  19. Tim – great show – you obviously have a wealth of experience and consider things deeply but have a light heated touch – enjoy the interviews and your musings – perhaps some more in depth exploration of subjects you find fascinating – love your work

  20. I really liked this quickfire straight forward easy to implement style. I like the interviews as well, but I would like to hear more of this style.

  21. A lot of interesting thoughts, especially on college because I had just dropped out a semester ago. My mind is too entrepreneurial for college, but your take gives me a new perspective and something else to say aside from “don’t go to college unless you want a professional degree”.

  22. Regarding Japan, have you ever heard of/considered the Shikoku Henro 88 Temple Pilgrimage? It was a pretty intense experience for me, being an overweight American who spoke minimal Japanese and had never been backpacking before, to go on a ~750 mile hike around the island. There’s something special about Shikoku that you can’t necessarily find in Tokyo.

    You can do it fairly cheaply if you bring camping equipment and are resourceful. There’s plenty of free/very cheap places to stay if you know where to look, and you’re following in the footsteps of one of Japan’s most fascinating historical figures.

    Also, one of the places that you can visit on the trail route is the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, the bathhouse that the one in Spirited Away was modeled after. So yes, you can even have your fanboy time about that movie as well.

    Overall it’s been one of the most positive and rewarding experiences I’ve had yet, and I’d like people who are considering going to Japan to check it out. I say this as someone who has done it and wants to go back again in a few years.

  23. (Warning: negative, but constructive feedback ahead…)

    Always love the the Q&A episodes, it’s awesome when you answer listener questions. Hearing your perspective, as well as the guests, is always fascinating. But to be radically honest with my feedback, it’s frustrating for those familiar with your content to hear you answer the same questions again and again.

    Many of these you’ve covered before and would take a quick google search to find (the note-taking blog post, how to be healthy with the 4HB), or are poor questions (as you addressed with number one). I guess it’s the inherent nature of upvoting with reddit, but if you wouldn’t mind taking the time to read through the less popular questions and self-select those you thought you hadn’t answered elsewhere I think it would make for a much higher quality podcast.

    Thanks again Tim; looking forward to more Q&A’s and Tim-Tim Tea Times 😉

  24. I really like this kind of podcasts. It is a pleasure to listen to your views. It truly is. It is not self-indulgent at all, maybe miserable people might think that. But speaking of honesty (as mentioned in the podcast), some already rich and famous person’s asking for money to fulfill her dream of making a movie is what many sensible people would describe as self-indulgence. The level of entitlement there. Mind boggles.

    I am always interested in your book recommendations. I’ve bought and read some books after your recommendations.

    About diet, American society has come to a point where people almost want to make you feel guilty for being slim. So many insecure people.

    If everyone just got over themselves, that would be biggest leap for humanity.

    Looking forward to the next Tim Ferriss (two rs two ss) podcast. 🙂

  25. Hi Tim,

    Great to hear you talk about getting excited about some of the innovative stuff going on in healthcare/medicine. As a recent medical graduate who is getting ready to complete his first year of residency training, this is something I am passionate about. (Side note: there is a lot of new stuff I am excited about in healthcare/medicine related to tech innovation, but that’s a story for another day). In particular, you mentioned the movement towards payments for value-based care. Fascinating idea. And happens to be the basis of a very big movement here in the midwest (also along the west coast). Similar concept – if I understand you correctly – is that of Direct Primary Care. Cut out the insurance, charge a monthly or annual fee, and along with it includes unlimited care, whole-sale priced medications, etc, etc, etc. Examples of these startups that I am directly familiar with and have had many discussions regarding the movement with are as follows:

    Atlas MD (as seen in WSJ, Bloomberg Businessweek cover a couple years ago, and many many interviews). Choice Physicians Group. ProPartners MD.

    I’d encourage you to check out this idea, as it seems to correlate with the ultimate ideals of MDInsiders. Again, stoked to see someone like yourself taking an interest in this field! Holds a lot of promise.


  26. Hey Tim, I do like this style to mix it up from time to time. Would love a competition where a listener gets the chance to be the interviewer for the podcast. Perhaps they could submit a short voice message or the like with a list of questions they would ask.

  27. Hello Mr. Ferriss,

    First off I just wanted to tell you that I’m a big fan of your podcast! And I recently ordered The Four Hour Work Week which I am really enjoying already! I really wanted to take the time and try to do one of the things in your book and that is to contact someone who you think would never have the time of day to respond back to me. That person in my mind is you, I look at you like someone I want to aspire to be. I’ve only been listening for a relatively short period of time but I am hooked on everything.

    Here’s a little background information on myself. I am a recent college graduate with an Accounting degree because it was “safe”. I obtained my first job as an accountant thinking it would make me enjoy it more. I was wrong. The passions that drive me day to day don’t involve accounting. This is what you’ve opened my eyes to. I want to give back to the world and help as many people as I can with my passion which is fitness.

    I know you are very healthy as well and take care of your body. I wanted to ask you a couple questions!

    First, what propelled you to just jump into a supplement company first without any “experience”?

    Second, have you ever had experience building applications for smart phones? And if so would you recommend any place to help someone create their first?

    I really want to keep picking your brain but I will start there!

    Thank you kindly for your time!

  28. Great episode! Can’t listen just once. Too much to study in it which is great.

    I’m wondering, did you intentionally recommend the abridged version of “The Magic of Thinking Big?” It’d be great if you did since it’d save me time:-)

  29. G’Day Tim!!! Thanks for a great Q and A- I really enjoyed it. The long interviews are great but it’s nice to hear your thoughts on such a range of topics. I am a part-time stay at home Mum in Australia and while I have no experience in tech, start ups, investing, on-line dating 😉ect I always learn something in your podcasts and emails that I can use and apply in my own life. Keep up the good work. My favourite podcast was with Naval. And I would love it if you would share more life hacks….eg Like the one which showed how to peel boil eggs, things you used for better sleep, gadgets you love ect

  30. Loved this podcast. Would love to hear more of it in the future.

    May I suggest calling it Wine Time with Tim?

    Thanks again. 🙂

  31. Hey Tim, I’m a big fan and regular listener of the podcast, is there any way you could set it up so that it could be played at 1.5 or 2x regular speed, like Youtube videos? I’m no techie, so apologies if this already exists. Thanks!

  32. Tim,

    You mentioned tennis elbow and some treatments you are using. I’ve been struggling with it for a few years. Could you share what you’ve learned on the subject and/or recommend any treatments? Thanks!

    1. I’ve tried traditional approaches, as well as cryotherapy, craniosacral therapy and acupuncture. all with some limited improvements, but nothing that lasts.

      1. HJ, check out NeuroKinetic Therapy. Thousands of practitioners around the world and in the US. I work with high level athletes and it has been created a dynamic change in how I treat and how fast they recover. Tim ought to try it, it is like magic on Golfers/Tennis Elbow.

  33. I think it is unfortunate that you still support Reddit. They have now banned the posting of (natural) health related posts.

    You have wonderful info. Please consider a different venue.

  34. Excelent!!! Thanks you SO MUCH tim!

    Please do more stuff like this, where you teach practical actions to enhance learning, growing a living more porpusfuly

    Regards from Chile

  35. You mentioned Don’t Shoot the Dog and Temple Grandin in the same episode! That was absolute music to my ears. I have bounced back and forth between your show and Srini’s Unmistakable Creative for years now, waiting for something to hit closer to home. I teach children and adults with autism through the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, but I have refused to lose my entrepreneurial spirit to the field of education. Not many educators listen to Tony Robbins or care about productivity and other cutting edge practices. As a professional in the field, I do want to correct your erroneous statement regarding Negative Reinforcement and Punishment. You presented the two as equals, but they are wholly different consequences. ALL Reinforcement, both Positive and Negative, causes an increase in behavior. Punishment is the consequence you want to use to decrease a maladaptive behavior.

    I loved this episode, and I can’t wait to hear more like it.

    Keep up the great work, and let me know if you ever want to talk Behavior Analysis (human or canine).

  36. Like to hear that you’re getting into your audio gear! Pro tip: always buy Mogami XLR cables and you’ll never have to worry about replacing them. You already picked an indestructible mic. 👌🏼

  37. Hi Tim. Short and Long format are interesting. Keep both formats. I find the show about yourself and the “Tim Ferris: the lost years” stories very formative and tactic focus. Please go back to the “4hr chef principles” for sports.(BJJ please) Also i have a question for you like your substitution principle, any low carb option for Beer?

  38. Tim, Michael Greger makes a compelling, data-driven case for vegetarian. What is your review of the health data telling you about outcomes for humans consuming animal protein? Please share your informed perspective!

    1. I highly recommend Denise Minger’s thoughts on the subject: https://rawfoodsos.com/

      She’s offered the most objective opinion and analysis on vegetarianism I can find. Her blog posts are long, but great. Highly recommend her book Death by Food Pyramid which touches on the topic too.

  39. Tim, I really like the solo format.

    I noticed that when you do solo shows, they always leave me with 4 – 5 practical insights vs. 1 – 2 on guest shows. (I think the reason might be that solo shows go deeper as the audience already has the background on who you are and what you are about whereas guests have to be introduced first and thereby are more narrative-heavy)

  40. Hi Tim, thank you for the great podcasts. They make my commute fly and I am continuously learning from you, your guests, and your suggestions. You mentioned being into AcroYoga right now so I wanted to suggest checking out Contact Improvisation if you haven’t already. Plenty in CA and globally. Think AcroYoga meets Tango meets Meditation. It is a fantastic break from analytical activities, a great workout, and a unique experience. Best, Jeff

  41. Hi Tim

    For years

    Always been concerned about the bags under your eyes which in the photo above look way worse than ever. This was well before you had Lymes also. In traditional chinese medicine this specific symptom relates to kidney stress. I have always considered your heavy reliance on supplements, plus specifically protein powder, have really fucked your kidneys. Creatine will also contribute to destroying them.

    It’s never to late to reverse this! But seriously, it IS a concern as any chinese doctor will tell you immediately upon noticing this. Your kidneys ARE at risk – this is palpable. you really should pay attention to the things you are putting in your body, friend

  42. Hi Tim this is a letter I have had in mind for years. Some loving, constructive feedback largely directed toward four hour body book. It’s direct but it’s loving! Okay:

    1. you claim that aspartame and artificial sweeteners in general ‘don’t appear’ to affect fat loss, and that you are ‘a diet coke whore, you just can’t help it’ but essentially saying it doesn’t matter. I have always been extremely upset by this and feel it quite irresponsible.

    Artificial sweeteners are the most toxic substance ever consumed en masse in the history of the human race. And – you have SO many people taking your word at face value and trusting you as the expert – are you certain of everything you say? thirdly, the research is that aspartame and neotame and all the rest absolutely DO lock in fat and make fat loss WAY more difficult. It’s like the golden key for many people: get off the artifical sweeteners and suddenly fat that wouldn’t shift for months and years just goes. And Tim – as you for you – you MUST stop all artificial sweeteners, educate yourself as to their names and their various guises (disguises) and THEN tell EVERYONE to stay far away. Really, man. Come on. Do a whole podcast on just that. You have to. You can change millions of peoples health in an instant with that advice.

    2. You never mentioned iodine support and liver cleansing (proper) for weight loss. Both are essential if it’s going to work . A sluggish thyroid or a toxic liver – which lets face it, is all fat people – is going to prevent weight loss. On the other hand you made the mistake of heavily promoting cruciferous vegetables which include the brassica family – all heavily thyroid inhibiting. As a note – Dr Brownstein wrote what at least used to be considered the iodine bible check it out. NOTE – doctors have NO idea about iodine. They couldn’t even prescribe it if you ask – its just not in their understanding. They’ll go ‘ huh? You mean thyroxine? But the marketing reps haven’t been pushing that one this month’

    Incidentally aspartame fucks the thyroid amongst everything else

    3. You said you had heard the legends of vinegar blunting insulin. I thought, great, he’s going to tackle apple cider vinegar. And, not only do you have NO mention of apple cider vinegar, which is well documented for blunting insulin, you only lean on white vinegar – which is not really fit for human consumption and most vinegar from a shop isn’t real second fermentation vinegar anyway it’s just acetic acid made on the quick. And you tried balsamic! Which, sigh, you mention in four hour chef is often questionable. And we all know it has virtually no medicinal benefits whatsoever. And then you say, well, it didn’t work for me so – vinegar doesn’t work. How do you know? You are not the benchmark for everyone, your tests are not universal. but if you’d actually used the right tools we might have been a bit closer. I was sorry about this. Apple Cider Vinegar, Tim! Come on! ACV needs to be on the list with lemon juice and cinnamon etc.

    4. There’s a bit in the back where your friend does a vegetarian experiment. Stuff himself with legumes and complains about how bloated he feels, how nothing digests etc. it would be easy to read it as a case for promoting meat eating. This seemed so obvious – a) legumes ARE hard to digest and thats why finding the right ones for you is essential, not all legumes suit all stomachs – and mixing them up makes it worse. Don’t just eat 6 different kinds all at once and then say oh they don’t work in my stomach. Try ONE at a time and discern whats best for you. B) More importantly legumes need to be SOAKED in salt water for 24hrs then rinsed to activate them. Canned legumes might be easy, but who knows if they’ve been soaked properly – and if seriously toxic chemicals have been used to prepare them before canning. Which is generally the case with canned food. They then need to use more chemicals to preserve the consistency and colour of the food thats been destroyed by the preparing. SOAK those legumes.

    5. Cheat day. i suppose you are used to get bad press for this over the years. Now, I get the psychological factor. I get that north america is junk food nation and everyone is addicted to junk food there. I get that it’s got the best quality junk food in the world and the cheapest and its a drug for the entire population. Unlike the rest of world. Okay. I also get the bit about spiking the levels in the body once a week for weight loss. Fair enough. The problem I find, is that like everywhere else in your writings on fitness and the body, the body is a machine to you. Fat loss good – fat gain – bad. You don’t relate to the body as a holistic unit. Like – bulk up in a short period without considering all the losses to posture and physique, flexibility, balance, alignment, vital forces of many kinds. Bulking up with weights as you describe in 4HB creates all kinds of problems someone like an osteopath would detect that weren’t there before and take years of treatment to correct. Ask a ballet teacher to explain this in more depth to you. You get bulk but at what cost? And – the body is a machine – You never seem to consider the virtue of consciousness and the energy body, the subtle meridians, and even how the immune system is utterly utterly suppressed very soon after eating sugar.

    I eat a perfectly clean diet 7 days a week as do plenty of people outside of north america. i have to struggle to think HOW i would cheat on cheat day. True story. goats dairy maybe? buckwheat? appreciate that not everyone is capable of being so far removed from those desires. But you need to appreciate WHY one should aspire to eating this way. Because it promotes consciousness and quality of life. i never crave junk food because to me it is poison. i want clean blood and a clean energy body and to cultivate my awareness. One can eat clean food that tastes good – EASY. You seem to miss this. For you it’s the sports science ‘the body is a machine’ – it’s okay if I obliterate myself for a day on eating crap just so long as I take the right drug supplements and get my fat percentage back to the same or lower the next day then it’s like nothing has happened. WRONG. you have lost SO much vital force, various life energies through your lifestyle choices. You would be so much richer in internal quality of life and life consciousness. Cultivating awareness. On a physical level, Plenty of people have diseases dormant in their system that may only come to fruition because weaken all their vital energies on cheat day. Maybe your ice cream competition in four hour chef weakened your immunity sufficiently and poked enough holes in your energy body to allow lymes disease to flourish, however much later, for you stripping months and years off your productivity. It may easily have just been that ONE event that did it. Maybe one cheat day or one weekly cheat day is enough for someone to become seriously ill losing months off their life – because it was enough for a dormant illness – even HIV to flourish , that otherwise would never had had a chance, as it was kept in check with clean living and clean blood. If one is going to have a cheat day – have it with REAL QUALITY food. Not ice cream and Macca Donalds and all the assorted chemical poisons your fine country churns out

    Thats all! I would have written a shorter more articulate letter but I didn’t have time 😉

    much love and kisses Timmy xoxoxo thanks for your AMAZING work

    1. Sorry Jennifer but do you have any references about points 1 and 2?

      Sweeteners can have some detrimental effects by shaping the neurobiology of the addiction to sugar. But there is to my knowledge no evidence of aspartame for instance actually being toxic at doses like one or two cokes a day. I personally don’t like the taste but I’m curious to know if you have seen any scientific literature showing the fat lock effect. Same for the vinnager comment.

      1. Hallo Adolfo thankyou for putting me on the spot by requesting the arguments are backed up. My initial post was one big ‘exhalation’ and I later thought Oh Dear that probably came across more aggressive than it was in reality. Great questions, firstly vinegar. I do not have actual studies for you. In 4HB Tim addresses it on page 143. In that book Tim admirably refers to how he may be wrong, and things may prove different. However my issue is that with the vinegar he says ”acetic acid is acetic acid’, and the fact is, readers including me are going to ignore the ”I might be wrong” bit and follow the “do what Tim says” bit. ( So in fact Tim does (vaguely) touch upon issues artificial sweeteners here and there but elsewhere says “i do it and it doesn’t make me fat” )

        Anyway! p143, Tim refers to “lots of evidence” and “…the literature..” for Apple Cider Vinegar being very effective for blunting insulin response. That sounds like published studies to me. I found a lot of bodybuilding-related articles online with the same commentary. But making the sweeping statement acetic acid is created equal, then Tim ignores ACV, says all vinegars are created equal, then focuses on the two most clearly and likely to have NO medicinal benefits whatsoever. And for here and ever after, every website or trainer that quotes 4HB, is saying ”ignore vinegar, have lemon juice and cinnamon”. ( Incidentally I question the veracity of cassia being better than ceylon (‘true’ cinnammon) but thats another thing for others to follow up 🙂 )

        Point 2 re Aspartame.

        biggest and most reliable resource to my knowledge is Dorway

        easily found searching that word. Massive repository. I just had a quick check and saw ‘Military admits aspartame cause of gulf war syndrome’

        There’s been propoganda wars online about aspartame. The number one item on a web search is a ‘ dot org ‘website singing its praises. Now, considering Aspartame is a Monsanto product (as if that doesn’t tell you enough) why is a dot org (community/charitable) domain being used as blatant advertising space defending the benefits a major multinational product?! That’s fishy. That comes up as number one on a search! Who is paying for it? Another big controversy is the revolving door policy between the FDA and multinationals – it is widely agreed aspartame should have never, ever been rushed through and approved for general food consumption by the FDA the way it was. There’s a particular history there with aspartame and FDA management one can easily read about

        Alfredo You said ‘no evidence that one or two cokes a day are toxic’

        firstly aspartame (and the new generation sweeteners for example Acesulfame K) are cumulative, which means they build up in the body causing degenerative disease long term. Michael J Fox received free lifetime supply of diet pepsi for his Back To The Future era work. His subsequent physical illness has been well documented. This is but one example (okay, okay, there could be other reasons why he got sick. I haven’t studied his case. But it is a smoking gun in light of all the information available)

        Dorway promotes a ’28 day abstinence’ to see how much better one feels longer term. But to be clear, ones neuro chemistry is severly inhibited right from the ingestion. a small dose is no excuse for safety.

        Secondly, scientific studies as you suggest: Dorway has a staggering amount of information. You (and others reading I hope) can peruse and if that doesn’t convince you nothing will. I just noted a link there ‘ Aspartame Studies’ of peer and non peer reviewed studies.

        I have an issue though, when people say ‘theres no evidence’ as if to say only science, in an expensive study that is only done because someone has an interest in an outcome (for better or worse) is the only way to know something. What if tens of thousands of people said ‘ i couldn’t lose weight until i stopped diet soft drink’ Does anecdotal evidence count for anything anymore?

        Thirdly, getting back to the issue of sports science relating to the body like a sports car instead of a highly sophisticated, mysterious, sensitive, refined unique snowflake individual – soft drinks are poison!! It’s not a case of ‘is my fat higher or lower’. Don’t put evil shit made by people who hate you, in your body!! We follow Tim and read his books because we are interested in a higher quality mode of being. Becoming better quality humans. Not because we want to hyperclock our RAM like we are a machine. Soft drinks are full of really serious chemicals. The phosphoric acid EATS bone (goodbye, bone density strengthening resistance training) , hydrogenated oils, bleach, colours etc. Weight gain is the least of ones worries. Recall the stories about highway patrols using coke to get blood stains off the road after an accident?

        Four: Aspartame is a chemical concoction, so as per point 3, instead of people arguing oh it’s safe/ oh it’s so dangerous – being very much a NON FOOD why would you want to ingest it – put it anywhere near your body? Apparently the powder makes excellent cockroach poison. As Tim also refers to in 4HB in a few places – if things seem risky, . if something SEEMS to be really bad, then don’t wait for science to catch up& justify with where things are already trending.

        If only a fraction of the bad press was true about aspartame, why would anyone want to keep consuming it? It’s just logic. Why risk it?

        Many people discover, the best thing they ever did for their mental emotional physical health, was to have a no artificial sweeteners policy. People have found a whole host of symptoms have just disappeared on (or after) cessation

        a separate factor which may not be of interest to many americans, but one I alluded to: this stuff is made by people who hate you

        The ethics of companies like Coke are so questionable, if you look at their history towards the environment amongst other things – and lets not even mention Monsanto – I don’t want any association with them. I don’t want to spend my money on them. I don’t want my body processing their ingredients. It’s an integrity thing. Why would you want to have them in your life sphere?

  43. Please keep doing this kind of stuff Tim. Very informative and interesting. I would also like to hear your opinions on how important some of your marketing background and knowledge is to your success. I think maybe sometimes it’s easy for you or maybe other people to take this for granted. When they are really trying to make a career change or just change in their life, and they continue to be frustrated because they lack some of these fundamentals. I think there is a lot more to be said about the subject of ‘zero to hero’. It makes me wish you could continue this almost as a series, or bring one of your users/viewers on board for an experiment to truly demonstrate the power of what you can teach.

  44. Hi Tim,

    Catching up on this episode while sitting on a train while on my first trip to Japan. You are right this is an amazing country. I really enjoyed the episode. Keep up the great work.

  45. My boy Tim who has written one of the best books ever on diet, one that I recommend to so many clients has crashed and burnt on Fat shaming. Can’t believe he would stand behind an approach that is so UN USEFUL. I don’t give a monkeys about political correctness,that is not my concern, in this case his subtle mind was just plane wrong and his advice would lead to really bad outcomes (not usually a Ferris trait).

    Love your work Tim, but seriously, that small part of the podcast was just inaccurate. #wrongendofthestick

    1. Thank you for the comment. While I understand your position, I don’t consider it “fat shaming” if it’s uncompromising honesty delivered with A) compassion and B) specific recommendations for making healthful changes. Letting people slowly (or quickly) die to avoid hurting feelings is far worse, in my opinion, and quite a few people benefit from clear and forceful recommendations that require the 100% taking of responsibility. The softer approaches, while they can work, often lack the parameters, clarity, and urgency of the very direct.

      1. Be the truthful friend and help those you love make better decisions, be it with food, relationships, careers, etc. Hopefully they will do the same for you.

      2. You need to include C) with a decent amount of knowledge of the individual’s health history. There’s nothing worse than being pleased you’ve lost some weight recently, making an effort to let those new healthy habits be more automatic, and then have some pedant “helpfully” recommend something. I speak from experience.

        Extra points if they recommend not eating a food you never eat anyhow, or strongly recommend eating a food you’re allergic to (and that they’ve been told you’re allergic to).

        It’s a lot better to lead by supportive example. Share healthy food and recipes. Making eating healthily an opportunity for support and joy, not pedantry and shaming.

      3. Mr. Ferriss: Morality aside, I would be curious to see the data that suggests “fat shaming” is effective at influencing change. I am hesitant to put words in anyone’s mouth, but it seems divergent from Karen Pryor’s thoughts on behavior shaping…in fact it’s arguable that it’s built into the 4HB. Changing diet is “untraining.” One can say that a cheat day is “putting behavior on cue” and only giving cue once a week. People are more motivated after seeing gains in one way or another than they are by being told every day that they are not good enough. Far from empirical, but I was more motivated to change after posting a picture of myself in peak shape during my time in the Army than I was by looking at a picture of my current shape. I guess the big question is how to motivate people to seek change. I mean no disrespect in my disagreement, your work has had a profound impact on my thinking and I will continue to read/listen/consume content with great interest.

      4. The key here is as Tim says COMPASSION.

        Better to be told by someone who genuinely cares for you in one day than suffer from diabetes for a lifetime.

      5. dieting doesn’t work for like 95% of people and in fact trashes the metabolism, making it harder to lose and keep weight off in the long-term. this is not only my experience; it’s based on empirical data. the bottom line is that weight loss is not a realistic goal for many people, but developing healthy habits is. and there’s a lot of evidence that a fat person with healthy habits will outlive a skinny person without them.

        so why do we put so much into the number that is weight? making sure to eat well and move around every day makes a much greater impact on overall health. if health is the goal, weight is the wrong metric to track.

      6. Now… Just write a 4 hour book on applying your opinion on fat shaming to politics and the way the fat of the world like Obama and the other “liberals” need to be trimmed and you’ll actually be doing something worth while.

      7. As a fat person I have to agree with Tim on this one. The comment Tim made was jarring , yes. And from having known Tim through his books and podcasts over the years, I totally believe it came from a place of love and caring. I personally would always hear an uncomfortable truth told to me this way. I found this one portion of this podcast to be the most useful thing I have heard on the subject for years and has got me off my butt and working on my body again. My friends are always too nice or too concerned about my feelings to be this honest with me.

        Keep it up Tim. More of this kind of honesty please

      8. I think it’s important to clarify what is meant by “fat shaming”. There are a lot of cultural dimensions and point of views in the debates as well. And of course hurt feelings in case of mobbing victims. And maybe a bit of general outrage. However the debate might be different in Germany and the states.

        The point is where I think your book the 4 hour body excels is the concept of thinking meta. To become the person in control of your own body and mind not just be a victim of chance and urges. If you ask me.. (what you probably won’t).. the psychological concepts and kind of writing that convey your passion for the things you did are the 20% of the success of this book. And maybe that positive vibe wasn’t in the podcast in this moment.

      9. Tim, I’m fat and I don’t consider it shaming. You put your body through strenuous testing all the time. I view it as someone who cares about making life better for others. If I wouldn’t have started following aome of your advice 3 years ago, I’d probably be dead right now.

      10. As a skinny (but fat) person, who kept hearing that he is just fine from everyone until discovering that I’m prediabetic and know slow carb is the ONLY way to live, I can’t agree with Tim more. Better some fat-shaming, than too late.

      11. Hey Tim,

        Long-time fan and fat guy here. Working on it. Personally I don’t get fat shamed much. I speculate it is because I am in general a person with an above average level of confidence and happiness. And my frame is such that it is physically intimidating to some. Thanks martial arts (wrestling, bjj) and improv!

        Are some fat people overly sensitive? Yes, absolutely.

        In no way have I ever heard you say something I would consider fat-shaming, including what you said in this podcast. I’ve always felt that you 100% are out to help your readers.

        My concern with your statement is that it gives carte blanche for people to operate under the guise of ‘trying to help,’ when they could in fact use the tactic to attack a fat person’s self esteem. This would be done for the fat-shaming person to feel better about themselves or to assert their own status. That is where it gets tricky.

        What if every time you came on stage or met someone new, a person followed you around and loudly proclaimed your biggest flaw? Despite the fact that you were working on your flaw and getting better. Most people you meet recognize that you provide value beyond your flaw. Some offer support to help. But some use this knowledge to discredit you and convince others that because of this flaw you are not a person of value. An emotional fat person can have a hard time seeing the difference between support and assault.

        Honestly this is not a huge deal in the scheme of things. But I do think it’s important not to completely write off the idea of fat shaming. We all got our struggles, man.


        Still long-time fan,

        Still fat,

        Still a BMF,


      12. Why can’t more people be pragmatic? Good post, Tim. Don’t know how you endure it.

      13. It seems to me that this conversation is suffering from a lack of specifics. I think where one lands on this issue depends on exactly how someone handles these conversation not simply whether the approach is “direct” or “soft”. For sure, there are legitimate ways to approach a discussion about healthy eating/living which have a harsh edge to them. But the problem is, you didn’t actually define a specific approach in the podcast (though I appreciate that you did so here). You just said that fat shaming is bullshit and doesn’t exist. To be honest, I kind of got what you meant. You were saying that it is possible to be direct, and even a little harsh, as long as you are doing so in the interest of that persons health and from a place of compassion. Ok, I can agree with that. But the problem is you denied that it was even a thing, which is simply false. Clearly fat shaming is a thing, and it is often done in an incredibly counterproductive way. Have you honestly never heard anyone approaching a discussion of someones health in a deeply unproductive way? Are you honestly baffled at how a term like fat shaming could come to exist, despite the times it has been applied too liberally to approaches which are better understood is blunt than as an attempt to shame? I would say that more often than not in my experience a harsh approach is in fact meant to shame and demean the target. I fully take your point that in your case that is not what is happening. I may even be convinced that ultimately a specific harsh approach is best. But what I truly don’t understand is how you could look around the culture and see absolutely nothing wrong with the ways in which we discuss weight. It is not compassionate, and has very little to do with health. It has to do with a disgust reaction that many people have to seeing overweight people, and a pleasure that many people get in tearing others down to make themselves feel good. It is dehumanizing, and deeply counterproductive to public health of any kind. That is fat shaming. By all means defend your more direct approach, but take a little more care to distinguish it from the bile and vitriol floating around against overweight people.

        I think if you had actually defined an approach in the podcast, and then defended it in its specifics, your comments would have been much better received. As it is, you put people in an uncomfortable position of just kind of guessing which of the many direct and harsh approaches to this issue you were actually defending. Often their personal experience will supply examples which are far less compassionate than yours, and then they compare your wholesale dismissal of fat shaming as a concept to those examples, and quite reasonable conclude that you are defending that and not a compassionate but direct plea for a more healthy set of habits. Given that you took a swipe at the entire concept of fat shaming rather than simply defending a specific approach I honestly think you played right into these concerns. This update certainly helps, but pretending that the criticisms simply came out of nowhere ignores the responsibility you had to communicate the idea clearly.

      14. thanks for your reply, – v. flattered Mr Ferris but I’d like to spin your thinking away from soft interventions and hurt feelings and towards the question of how to instigate change in someone who has yet to have their Hirushuku moment.

        I’ve never worked with a heavy, sick person who didn’t already know they were heavy or sick (Jesus, you think people don’t have mirrors??) – and I am a deeply politically incorrect Aussie (it is the way of my people) so my issue with your advice isn’t about confronting denial and isn’t about avoiding hurt feelings while someone becomes crippled or blind from diabetes, my issue is effectiveness.

        Good Lord, I am aware that I am writing to the Effectiveness Maven of the Universe, but in this tiny corner of the world I am on solid ground and I don’t think your opinion on shared complicity (or enabling) is going to get results, or generate an internal locus of control for someone who needs help. I heard you give a call to arms, a passionate urging to tell your loved ones that they need to sort themselves out. My response is that it is going to create mayhem, (if you are lucky.)

        So, what is the journey from being overweight, metabolically ill and shortening your life to picking up something like slow carb and kettlebells? I doubt it’s going to be a “listen here” session from someone else. Clarity, and 100% responsibility are essential and are post Hirushuku issues – pre Hirushuku I’d be looking at throwing a question in like “Where do you think this particular road ends?” and just like Lawrence Fishburn in Matrix, raise your eyebrows and walk away. That is all we have permission to do. Pick up the phone to someone in addiction or the change management world and ask them about the effectiveness of the direct lecture approach. It ain’t one to stand behind, it just won’t work.

        I appreciate you picking up this comment, and I only posted because in eight hundred million hours of podcasts (I’m an early adopter, been here since the beginning) this is the first time I’ve heard you say something that really jarred.

        Oh and by the way it looks like I will now be taking up gymnastics thanks to you, for the first time in my 50s – bloody hell I might be dead myself in the next two months!

      15. How to transition at 9 to 5 work quickly for passive income for avoiding burn/bore out?

        Possible to get quickly passive income coach?

    2. If you don’t talk to your loved ones about their weight and chance of heart attack/diabetes/worse, will you talk to them when they are in their graves?

    3. I happen to agree with Tim. There is a line, but at the same time you need to be real with people that you’re actually worried about. My closest friend growing up, when we were just hitting our 20’s, I didn’t think he was going to even make it to 30. So after a serious sit down with him one night. I told him how worried I was. He wasn’t even obese, heavy but not near obese, but his diet, health choices, and lack of any exercise at all. Made me really concerned. So after that night he knew he had to change so anytime he caved around me and got a milk shake or a slice I started asking “What are you a Fatty Mc.Fat Fat?” A straight adolescence response but it was an inside joke of ours and worked enough for him to feel guilt and know he shouldn’t and instead choose the salad. The same for getting him to exercise, whether it was just walking, or parking clear across the Mall parking lot to get him a few extra steps. I’ve been called P.O.S. by him hundreds of times by now, but you know what, he’s leaner and eats healthier then I do now. Now I need his fat shaming. I don’t recommend this for anyone who’s not doing okay mentally or struggling with any type of depression. But sometimes tough love is just what is needed. I wish I still lived in NY so he could help me out now.

  46. Oooo that stache is filthy!

    Tim, can you direct me to the tool you mention here and there that allows you to record your onscreen activities and voice? My brothers and I have a craft sauerkraut company and I would love to be able to create an engaging/informative how to on leaving us an amazon review. Thanks brother and keep up the great work, we all appreciate what you do.

  47. These are a great transition between interviews. Love the free flow and question answering, similar to your live Facebook videos. Thanks, Tim.

  48. Regarding weight loss. Don’t need than. I need to gain weight! Point, I will shoot.

    My diet is low carb, high fat very little grain, moderate veggies.


    Liked zero to hero. More please.

    Dave Epling

    1. I am going to save this and can listen again and again.

      Thanks a lot for sharing and re sharing your wisdom.

  49. Hey Tim, I have listened to about 6 of your Podcasts and the Zero to Hero Transformations format was a nice change from the guest related version. Not as entertaining, but wait, somehow I have so many more notes from this one. Like a great lecture, I took a lot of good information down, which says something about this format.

    I say keep doing this from time to time. I enjoyed it as I drove home from a gig at 2:30 AM as you spoke to me about stuff that works well in life.

  50. Tim, your brief segment on Fee For Service vs Value based service in healthcare caught my attention. I work in this field and see a lot interesting things coming on the horizon. Id be curious to get your thoughts on the following: how do you feel the value based system would/should deal with non-compliant patients? It’s a FAQ with no solid response, and tends to lead to some interesting conversations.

  51. Tim – great podcast! I listened to this one multiple times! Please keep these coming!

    Regarding Dan Gable – any thoughts on a podcast interview with him? (Apologies if it’s already out there and I simply didn’t look hard enough.)

  52. Hey Tim, Great Job Here. A buddy told me I had to find your interview with Adam Savage but I can’t find it anywhere ??? was it removed perhaps

  53. I thought the #QandA format was great. It’s the perfect amount of time for a bike ride/dog walk and the right amount of riffing and drinking.

    As a skills professor (law school), I love the breakdown of what makes an overly board, poorly formulated question. You should always read and highlight (and then not answer) these questions as a regular segment.