Minimum Effective Dose: Putting Tim Ferriss’ concept in practice

June 27, 2011

"To MED or notWhat if I told you that you could make significant changes in your life with only minimal effort.

Sounds a bit like I’m trying to sell you some snake oil, doesn’t it?

But bear with me for a moment, because I’m about to prove to you that this statement is true.

If you have been reading this blog, you know by now that I advocate living a functional but elegantly simple life. This is accomplished by making a series of small but nonetheless meaningful–and conscious–choices about how you spent your effort, your time and your money.

I’ve been doing this for years now and know it works. Exercising conscious choice is a very efficient strategy for making change (see my previous post on this subject by clicking here).

Using this strategy over a period of about 5-7 years, I:

  • Determined what I needed in my life to be happy,
  • Got my finances in order,
  • Made the decision to leave my broadcasting career behind,
  • Moved to the mountains,
  • Experimented with virtually every art form known to man (painting, pottery, bookmaking–the art kind not the betting kind, jewelry-making, quilting, etc.) before I figured out I was hopelessly incompetent. Did I mention that I don’t have binocular vision? This is probably why I stink–I just don’t “see right.“,
  • Became a hospital foundation director and retired again 7 years later,
  • Took up guitar, where it appears I have at least some proclivity (notice I didn’t say talent), and
  • Lived happily ever after–since I’m not dead yet this isn’t exactly true, but I’m pretty darned happy at the moment.

So, I know small changes work. However, I’m always on the lookout for other good ideas.

That’s why I’ve recently added to my “bag of tricks” by adopting New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss’ concept of minimum effective dose (MED). He also believes in self-experimentation, which, as you can see from the list above, I was already doing. (Click here to see Tim’s blog, but beware that you may encounter mature language and some material that may not be appropriate for young children).

Even though I do not fit Ferriss’ demographic, usually described as men in their 20′s and 30′s, I’ve read both of his bestsellers, “The Four Hour Workweek” and “The 4-Hour Body” and have found them to be well-researched, thought-provoking, very entertaining and yes, sometimes controversial.

And before you tune out because you think I’m receiving money or some other “swag” for this endorsement, let me assure you that I’m not.

In “The 4-Hour Workweek” Ferriss defines minimum effective dose as the “smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.” Anything beyond the MED is wasteful, according to Ferriss.

And you know how much I hate waste …

In January, I employed Ferriss’ MED for subtracting fat and adding muscle and have since lost 25 pounds and about as many inches. His strategy worked because it was simple, easy to incorporate into my daily routine and I was able to see results quickly. (Because of space limitations, I won’t go into the details of how to follow his program here, but you can find those in his book and on his blog.)

I’ve been able to keep those pounds and inches off so far and really believe that I have forever changed the way I eat.

While “The 4-Hour Body” primarily deals with physical transformation, the concepts of MED and  self-experimentation will work for virtually anything you want to accomplish.

The only thing that is required for employing any of the strategies–conscious choice, MED or self-experimentation–is that you start.

Start where are you now.

If you wait for everything to be perfect, you’ll be waiting forever.

  • Cheryl Craigie

    Hi Theresa–

    So glad you enjoyed it. I’ve since lost a few more pounds–I’m closing in on 30 now, which was my initial goal. The other good news is that I just had my cholesterol checked and it dropped over 80 points! So Tim Ferriss’ principles do work–I’m living proof.

    Good luck with your own journey. I hope you’ll check back in here from time to time and let me know your progress.

  • Theresa Ortega

    Cheryl – - I really enjoyed your post. I googled “Tim Ferriss principles” and found your blog near the top. I’m sharing it with friends.
    Many are skeptical about the 4HWW, but I believe small changes will effect great outcomes, too. I’m way outside his demographic as well, but found 4HWW helpful so far. (I’m about half-way through). I plan to read the 4-Hour Body next.
    I wish continued success and happiness to you!

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