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Skinny fat founder strips for launch of startup (bodyhack.com)
52 points by Julianhearn 1905 days ago | hide | past | web | 71 comments | favorite

Impressive, but who wants to look at some half naked dude when you could look at this:

  +-------------------------+  +-------------------------+
  |         BEFORE          |  |          AFTER          |
  |                         |  |                         |
  |   Lines of Code: 33,467 |  |   Lines of Code: 11,261 |
  |        Bug Rate: .037%  |  |        Bug Rate: .013%  |
  |  Daily visitors: 13,239 |  |  Daily visitors: 59,283 |
  | Conversion rate: 3.2%   |  | Conversion rate: 6.9%   |
  |   Daily revenue: $3,932 |  |   Daily revenue: $9,321 |
  |   HN Front Page: 0      |  |   HN Front Page: 22     |
  |                         |  |                         |
  +-------------------------+  +-------------------------+

I don't understand the relevance, can you please provide some context?

"We're all entrepreneurs here and we all know what actually matters, so if you had just told us about your business and what you did to grow it, you could have skipped the half naked picture."

Which, agreed.

Fair enough. The thing is though, he posted it on the BodyHack blog. We may all be entrepreneurs here, but are all of their readers? I'd be cautious in judging him too much.

That is a very good point. Thank you.

Julian, there are quite a bit of typos on your site. Copy with typos doesn't lend credibility. Would you like some assistance with proofreading?

Congratulations on your work, and I think the site is a good idea.

I wonder: perhaps since you're offering your site as an alternative to broscience [as linked] you could use phrases like "we believe" or "it is theorized" or support your nutritional claims with the science behind them.

For instance you say that it is a good idea to supplement omega fats, despite getting plenty of them in the diet. There are those who would disagree and say that as long as you're maintaining ~1:1-1:3 ratios of o3:o6 you're a-ok.

I wouldn't normally comment on this, but since you're offering proofreading services... :-)

"Julian, there are quite a bit of typos on your site."

Maybe you meant:

"Julian, there are quite a few typos on your site."

The phrase "quite a bit of" refers to something you measure, not something you count. And it would never be worded "there are quite a bit of..."

So you might say:

"There are quite a few eggs in that basket."

"There is quite a bit of snow on that mountain."

(edit with one more thought...)

One good way to help keep this straight is to remove the word "quite":

"There are a few eggs in that basket."

"There is a bit of snow on that mountain."

I think this comment is unnecessary in its current form - do you have anything to add regarding typos on the website?

Hi Friggybum,

Thank you for your kind comments, and thanks for the offer.

I would love some help with proofreading, my email is julian@bodyhack.com

Many thanks,


Personal pet peeve of mine is saying "brought" when you mean "bought" on the page: http://www.bodyhack.com/men/six-pack-and-11-5-body-fat-in-12...

*though my written skills are poor so it is like the pot calling the kettle black!

Funny.. InternetBrands was inquiring about my health affiliate site around 2011 as well. But I made the opposite decision: not to sell for high 6 figures. A month later, Panda happened and traffic dropped 90%. Ouch =(

BodyHacks looks cool, reminds me of what Tim Ferriss was doing for 4 Hour Body.

Sorry to hear that Aznhisoka, panda did hurt a lot people.

Thanks for the kind comment about Bodyhack, we are super excited about it.

For those of us who don't know, what's Panda?

A change to Google's ranking algorithm that was rolled out last year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Panda

I see, thank you.

For those of us too .. ahem .. cheap to cough up the dough for a meal plan and an exercise plan, are there any free options? I'd like to get back into shape again, the winter months were brutal to the waistline.

A lot of people will have a lot of advice, but the simple truth is that the only thing that works is diet and exercise.

Being in shape is a lifestyle issue. It's not something that happens overnight or that you can do in one go, it requires a fundamental change in how you approach living. I'm not trying to discourage you, but to steer you away from the "you can fix it quick with no effort" snake oil that abounds.

My advice:

1. Become your own expert. Learn how your body works, how nutrition works, how exercise works, how ... I've found that reddit's fitness community [1] has some great places to start. There's a ridiculous amount of good information out there. (Protip: most of the good info can cite studies, less than half of the bad even bothers)

2. Make it fun. Learn new recipes, try activities you've always wanted to do, do anything but force yourself to change. After a while the causation between "not fun" exercises or diet changes and their benefits will sink into your brain and make things easier, but to start if it sucks you'll probably quit.

3. Don't agonize over the scale. Your body weight fluctuates throughout the day and various activities. It's not uncommon to see a single day +/- 6lb change just in the water your body is holding. Aim for feeling better (or looking better, if that's your goal) not a number on a scale. Weigh yourself when you start, then come back after three months.

4. Be persistent. You're talking about a lifestyle change here. These don't happen overnight. You'll probably spend a long time being disappointed at apparent non-progress then wake up one day wondering when things changed. Do your homework and learn what you need to do, then start doing it and trust that the results will come. In a world where we can use our phones to identify and buy the song that's playing right now, results in this come agonizingly slow.

[1] http://www.reddit.com/help/faqs/Fitness

> Weigh yourself when you start, then come back after three months.

Dissenting voice here:

As somewhat of a numbers junkie, weighing myself every day is absolutely crucial. I know the numbers fluctuate (if you weigh yourself every day, you can't help but learn that), but they can give you a much-needed reality check. More importantly, I got myself addicted to taking data, and the most precise scale I had available was at the gym ... so I went to the gym.

You'll definitely be able to see yourself trending downwards.

That's fine, but I would argue that even for this purpose the number is kind of useless. It's only vaguely a proxy for appearance or ability, so why not measure what you're trying to do more directly?

Interested in appearance? Go for waist/thigh/wherever measurements (as 'aaronblohowiak' suggested).

Interested in fitness? Measure that. If you're running you can record how far you went or how fast you did it. If you're lifting weights the options for measurement are pretty obvious.

An oft-used quote from the engineering world is "what gets measured gets improved." A corollary to that should be "measurement encourages improvement when the improvements are obvious." It's hard to look at a number on a scale and say "what can I do to make this better." It's easy to look at a daily calorie count or your post-run/post-lift numbers and know what needs to be done.

All of that said, "more effective" is relative to what you actually do. If a daily weigh-in is what works for you, that's awesome keep it up.

I think it's bad general advice because results come slowly and when they do your appearance may not reflect the number changes in the way you'd expect. Most people are terrible at estimating weight, much less how a weight change will be reflected in appearance.

Isn't the circumference of the waistline a better measure?

I started out pretty fat; I think my weight was changing faster. Probably as the cube of my waistline. :p Also, my girlfriend at the time (a nurse) informed me that a lot of weight loss in the beginning is visceral fat, and won't necessarily manifest as shrinking dimensions, but will make you healthier.

A good starting point: Liam Rosen's "Beginners' Health & Fitness Guide": http://liamrosen.com/fitness.html

If you want to understand what's what in fat loss, Alwyn Cosgrove's "Hierarchy of Fat Loss": http://alwyncosgrove.com/2010/01/hierarchy-of-fat-loss/

TL;DR: fat loss is about diet. Yes, diet. Strength training builds/retains muscle, so do it. HIIT cardio helps some, steady state cardio a bit as well. But really, it's mostly diet.

If you want to understand more about this, you could look into starvation literature. On a reduced-calorie-only approach, about 25% of your weight loss comes not from fat but muscle. Which is among the key reasons diet-only approaches fail. Among exercises, it's strength training which builds muscle, not cardio, which is why a running-only exercise approach won't get you ripped either.

This is also a major reason why I find the emphasis on "weight" loss in both mainstream and medical literature immensely frustrating. What really matters is the relationship between two tissue types, subcutaneous fat and skeletal muscle. They're gained and lost through very different mechanisms, and play very different roles in body function. Confounding both as "weight" is an immense disservice.

For a plan putting this together, there's The New Rules of Lifting, or for the gals, The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Exercise plan, diet, lifting, cardio, a ton of info on what goes into fitness. http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Maximum-Muscle/dp/15... and http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Women-Goddess/dp/158...

If you want a simpler, and IMO more effective beginner's program, Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength: http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Strength-2nd-Mark-Rippetoe/dp...

That's based on a classic 5x5 lifting program. It's simple. It's effective. After the first few weeks, it's pretty brutal. But for a novice trainee there's hardly anything more effective.

Go to nerdfitness.com and poke around at the free options (http://nerdfitness.com/blog/top-posts/).

Take a cue from to OP's site and do a 12-week challenge. During the 12 weeks eat the best eating plan you can manage for at least 5 days/week and don't go crazy on weekends. Keep workouts intense, short, and keep challenging yourself. After the 12 weeks reassess -- maybe you'll be willing to spend some money.

At 1-2 two pounds of fat/week for 12 weeks (very doable) your body will look a lot different -- even if you don't exactly get the results shown here.

Alternatively check out marksdailyapple.com as well. The food is the same basically. The philosophy differs a little. I'm going to go primal within today & a week ;o Pretty excited about it :D

I don't think anyone has had a more pragmatic solution than Jack LaLanne: "If man made it, don't eat it." You can't out-exercise a shitty diet of processed, convenient "food."

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

I strongly recommend The Hacker's Diet (by the founder of Autodesk, John Walker).


I found that when I got up to 208 lbs six or seven years ago, I now weigh 159. (I'm 6'3".)

Seconded. I went from 200+ to 178 about 10 years ago using that book. It really helps you understand how to think of your body as a system, and weight loss as an optimization problem.

Run & Count Calories (or Low Carb).

Couch to 5k if you've never ran before http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

If you're a geek get an app like Livestrong's which makes it really easy to count calories. There's several online calculators which will give you a good guess on a caloric intake for weight loss though a visit to a nutritionist would get you a more personalized number.

If you don't like counting calories the low carb solutions are a little more "livable" you can go out with friends and get a salad pretty much anywhere. But bread is tasty.

Running is not a good way to get low body fat such as in the picture. To get that ripped, lean look you actually want to avoid aerobic exercise and stressing the glycogen system.

Intermittent fasting (only eat once or twice a day) and relatively intense, infrequent strength training (some olympic lifts twice a week) is the way to go. See leangains.com

perhaps, but running is better heart health. I don't know anyone who died of punny biceps, but 50% of Americans still die of heart attacks.

Long distance running is not especially good for health or the heart. Marathon running and long distance cycling are actually quite bad for the heart. There's a ton of stuff out there now about disturbing rates of sclerosis in marathon runners.


Running 5Ks (not crazy distances) is surely a lot better than doing nothing, but I don't think there's any evidence it's better for you than other pursuits. Olympic lifters have excellent blood profiles and body composition, for example. Probably true of squash players.

Running is popular because it requires zero athletic ability and no equipment.

Geeks need to be mindful that any diet that is essentially starving the body of calories to shed fat (which is what dieting is) is also starving the brain.

I spent most of January trying to get an already flat(ish) stomach to the next level in terms of abs/reduced body fat.

I found my low-carb, high-protein diet took the edge off my brain which made programming or doing any thought-intensive task sluggish. I wasn't passing out or unsafe to drive, but I just didn't like the feeling that my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders.

I couldn't justify the productivity hit so concluded by Feb.

I certainly do not mean to dispute your experience, but others' mileage may vary. When you are burning fat, you produce ketones and brain can actually burn ketones, so you are not "starving" your brain. However, the psychological effect of low blood sugar might of course be hindering your productivity and mental capability.

Yup, it was probably the blood sugar.

People can downvote me as much as they want, I just didn't feel mentally 100% and decided it was best to stop.


Diet is the most important: cut out anything with flour and sugar in it.

Exercise: skip endurance exercises - they waste muscle. Do some weight exercises 3 times a week, or chins/dips/pushups if you prefer bodyweight exercises.

Keep workouts short: 30-45 minutes. Always warm up before workouts, no need to stretch. Once or twice a week do this: run fast (sprint) 100 yards 5 times, rest for a few minutes between runs.

I've lost 20 pounds in two months and gained some muscle following this plan.

I found that for me personally, getting fit is not a problem, it's keeping the weight off is the issue. Sure, the 12 week program looks impressive, and I have no doubt that if closely monitor everything, providing details of every single meal and exact exercise you have to do, anyone with enough willpower can achieve the goal. But what's next?

This is why I eschew any type of program that isn't sustainable. I'd rather be in fairly decent shape all the time by making sound decisions in terms of diet and exercise than be a glistening mound of underwear-worthy male model. Eating clean with a few bodyweight exercises and about 5,000 steps/day sprinkled into the week usually does the trick.

If you exercise regularly and you're still gaining weight, your diet is likely the culprit. Most people have no idea just how horrid their diets are.

Then its finding something you love. I am happy carrying on the slowcarb diet, but its daily cycling that's really got and kept me in shape. I am happier if I've riden to work now, and feel great.

As far as nutrition & supplements, examine.com is a great resource that dissects various studies and presents information in an easy to digest fashion

E.g. Fish Oil: http://examine.com/supplements/Fish+Oil/

Also a useful FAQ section: http://examine.com/faq/

I really really struggle with proper eating when it comes to my workouts. I'm a vegetarian and have been all my life. But I eat so much crap.

I would say that 70%~ of my diet is made up of carbs. It's really ridiculous. I also find that I usually don't have my first meal of the day until about 4-5pm. Which is usually a plain cheese sandwhich, a pizza or home cooked noodles with vegetables.

Being a vegetarian and disliking cooking is a pretty tough deal! Ha.

Also julian, I tried to email you from your website, but your contact form is broken, after Googling for 5 minutes to find your contact information I couldn't find anything for bodyhack. Do you have an actual email? (Finding this on your site was impossible).

I don't think carbs are necessarily bad. Vegetarianism was long deemed healthy (maybe still), and I don't see how low carb should be possible for vegertarians (if you have ideas, please tell me).

I have a non-proven theory: perhaps humans can adapt do different diets, not only different environments. Or actually in former times the environment pretty much dictated the diets. So if humans were good at settling in diverse environments, it practically follows that they are good at adapting to different diets. So maybe not the modern 90% junk diet (sugars and white flour), but the difference between low and high carb might not be so important.

Also not sure why pizza tends to be condemned so much. Sure, if you buy a pizza at a restaurant, it is probably soaked in fat and covered with cheap cheese. But if I make one at home, it tends to have a lot of vegetables on it, and the amount of cheese doesn't have to be excessive. It seems at least healthier than the average cheese sandwich.

eat beans, I eat them pretty much every meal. also force yourself to eat within 30 minutes of waking, I used to be like you, some days only eating dinner.

Very cool idea! I've been wanting to create something similar since reading 4 hour body (but am no where near proficient at building stuff yet!). One thing think iwould be really useful and would help help the site stay relevant into the future would be to add some type of genetic relevance component. Users could upload their profile from 23andme (or other site) and compare effectiveness of various methods across varying alleles. There is a really cool android app (diygenomics) that would give you a base for health and fitness related markers)

I've just done a 12-week body transformation course here with personal trainers (5 days a week) and its amazing what results you can get. Through diet coaching, weights and cardio tailored for me I have loads more energy and look great. The key now is not to slip back into old ways so they are doing another programme about maintaining everything and are moving more into yoga.

One thing - on your video the guy says $10/month but you are charging £10/month.

Sorry about that we had a change of heart at the last minute, and decided to target the UK, as it's the smaller market, and get some initial data before "launching" to the US.

I'm a little disappointed to find out that it is £10 a month per plan. The messaging is not clear that I am buying one plan and not just access to the website as a whole.

Why would I want to keep paying £10 a month for the same plan? I'd just pay once, download it and print it out and be gone. Only reason I'd stick around is to see new plans.

Received a coupon code for a free month, but was immediately charged anyway.

Tried to email the address that sent the coupon code, and it failed.

Tried to use the contact form on the site, and it failed (it says I need to fill out the word in the image, but there's no CAPTCHA on the page).

Not a great first impression.

bought a plan, out of curiosity. while I don't doubt the results, the website is quite un-friendly for beginners.

1. There is just one line, saying "if you don't know what this means, just go to bodybuilding.com and search for it". It'd take a couple of minutes to directly link the exercises to their video pages, and save a lot of time and frustration for the users.

2. As someone pointed out, quite a few minor spelling/grammatical mistakes, even on the FAQ page

3. "We will provide fitness plan that can completed at home with zero equipment." - doesn't seem like it

I'm not trying to be negative or anything, just trying to make it a bit more user friendly. The website itself is very straightforward, so it would be nice if the founders can do these minor tweaks.

my first thought was: how is this different from all those ebook merchants that promise you become the terminator in 7 days but then by skimming through http://www.bodyhack.com/men/six-pack-and-11-5-body-fat-in-12... I actually found it to be pretty reasonable.

To be perfectly honest though I suppose this only appealing to men with the advertised body shape (naturally skinny) and Julian with 68.5 kg doesn't look very healthy or good to me but I'm not a woman and to each his own so please don't take this as a personal insult. I figure some critical feedback is better then none.

Julian looks athletic in the final pictures, like a distance runner or triathlete. As a distance runner I have a similar body type too.

At the gym you'll see a wide array of body types. Lean and mean, all the way up to muscular and bulky, and all things in-between. Body builders are HUGE compared to me and can lift far more than I can, but I can absolutely "destroy" them on a treadmill. You tend to discover the thing you like doing, specialize in it, and dominate it. What you choose to do partially dictates what you'll end up looking like.

yes I completely agree and understand what you mean because I know people who look athletic and don't only have incredible stamina but also unbelievable strength. What I meant to say is that I don't want (and probably can't) look that athletic because I'm more of the bulky type (hate running, enjoy lifting weights). But I am sure many others do and many women and men find that attractive. I'm the last one to tell you how you should look and if you feel comfortable with how you look and feel that's awesome and you should stick to it. I just wanted to say that personally I did not find the end result appealing.

Thanks for the feedback.

I'm the first, and yes I'm a bit skinny but we have all shapes and sizes in the pipeline. Michael for example was certainly not skinny when he started.

More plans will be added over the next 10 days as people complete their challenges. We have a female too.

It would be amazing to see more than one plan for females. Also, will there be a provision for people who are sensitive to certain supplements? For example I am unable to take stimulants, even tea, so it would be nice for me to choose a regimen which I knew in advance was based around something else.

Is it even healthy to reduce body fat too much? Seems to me to have some buffer for hard times might be a good idea? Hard times could be some illness, for example - less worried about actual famine.

I'm also interested in how to maintain body shape once you hit your 12-week goal. It seems like the exercise plan might get modified at that point. Do you have any plans to address that?

Hi dbalatero,

Yes we will provide a maintenance plan. We will make that clearer on the site.

Thanks for the feedback.


Do you always blog and submit posts in the third person? Just kidding - congrats on what looks like a good idea. Look out, Tony Horton.

how do we know he did it just by following the program...and not by hiring a personal trainer and a personal chef...or by simply doing 4 hours of exercise every day?

since the other co-founder is a personal trainer...I'd imagine it was a bit more hands on, than just using a website.

there is a lot of financial incentive here to improve the shown results

I'm getting an error when I sign up saying that my email address isn't valid...?

First thing I noticed is that they ripped off the Apple-Command key design for their logo.

Couldn't find anything about copyright/trademark on the symbol ... anyone know if it was used prior to Apple (or is in the public domain)?

There is no way those body fat percentages are correct.

Hi Noja,

What make you say that? We were extremely careful when measuring body fat. We used the 4 point test, using body fat calipers. It is seen as a reliable test.



My bathroom scales measure body fat, and they read 10% for me. A friend of mine's scales put him at 20%.

I don't look like him on the right, and my friend doesn't look like him on the left...

Bathroom scales cannot reliably measure body fat % from what I know. They try to measure impedence and it is affected by many factors - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectrical_impedance_analysi...

10% is an extremely low body fat %. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fat_percentage#Typical_bod...

Question for founder: do you get a better user response from highlighting your own progress pics, or Michael's?

I would imagine most people look more like Michael than you (I wouldn't even call you skinnyfat, just skinny) - do you get a better response from people who want to go from decent condition to ultra fit like your 'after' pics, or from overweight people who are looking to get un-fat?

Hi Carguy,

It is fair question. The simple answer is... I don't know. The site only launched today. We have a range of body types going through challenges but I was the first to finish the 12 weeks. Michael has also finished but we haven't got all his data into the site yet.

But I think you are right, there will be more people bigger than me who what to get in shape, than people my size. But we will just have to wait and see.



I've always found it a little depressing how many strength / fitness programs want to take the skinny, flexible guy and turn him into the Hulk, instead of taking the fat, inflexible guy and turning him into ... something other than fat and inflexible.

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