by Niall Doherty

So I’ve officially ended my diet/exercise experiment. If you recall, the goal was to add 20lbs of muscle, in 6 weeks, on a vegan diet, while doing just one hour of exercise per week, as inspired by Tim Ferriss’ report of gaining 32 lbs of muscle in 28 days.

Last Sunday, right before my sixth workout and just about halfway through the experiment, I took all my body measurements and found that I had gained approximately 4 lbs of muscle and 4 lbs of fat. Projecting forward the best case scenario, that meant I was on course to finish the 6 weeks with a 16 lb weight gain, half of which would have been fat. I wasn’t okay with that, so I decided to bail on the experiment.

Well, kinda.

I’ve accepted that there’s no way I’m going to reach my originally stated goal, so from that point of view the experiment is over. Turns out that, at least for me using this method, it’s not possible to put on 20lbs of muscle in six weeks on a vegan diet while doing only one hour of exercise per week. I know, some of you are shocked and amazed 😉

However, I’m not quite ready to give up on muscle building completely. I learned from my experiment that I quite enjoy the slow weight training, so I’ll continue doing that once a week. My trainer records every exercise I do and it’s obvious that my strength has increased significantly over the past three weeks. I like that. I’ll also be adding back in some regular cardio work, because I’ve really been missing it during the past three weeks.

As regards the diet, I’m abandoning the meal plan altogether. I do intend to consume upwards of 3,000 calories per day, but I won’t be measuring every gram of carbs, fat and protein that I put in my body. After three weeks of carefully planned and measured meals, it’s a welcome relief to be able to eat whatever I feel like again.

What I didn’t learn from all this

Quite a few people — both in person and online — told me before I started this experiment that it was unrealistic and that I was unlikely to succeed. And those people turned out to be right. But the funny thing is that I have no regrets about doing the experiment. I’m not sitting here cursing myself for not listening to those people. And that’s because I now know some things for sure, from direct experience.

There’s that saying that you always regret the things you haven’t done more than the things you have. If I had agreed with the naysayers at the start and accepted that what I was trying to do was impossible, there always would have been a nagging voice in my head saying, But what if they were wrong?

You see, I just had to try it for myself. For me, trying equals succeeding. Well, not just trying, but trying hard. I’ve failed at lots of things in life, but the only failures I feel bad about are the ones where I didn’t give it my all.

Don’t try, you might fail!

So what? No big deal. What’s the point in doing only what you know will succeed? Where would mankind be if people only did what they knew would work? You’ve heard all those stories about Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan and other famous names who attributed much of their success to a willingness to fail. I believe that.

So, you might think I learned a lesson here. And I believe I did learn many things. But one thing I didn’t learn is that you should never try to do what other people think is crazy or impossible. I never want to learn that lesson. I’m terrified of what I’d miss out on if I did.

What crazy or impossible goal do you have? Why don’t you give it a shot? Go all out and see if you can make it happen. Even if there’s only a tiny chance that you’ll succeed, that’s still significantly better than your chance of success (i.e. ZERO) if you don’t try at all.

And if you do try and end up failing, trust me, that feels way better than just accepting defeat without trying at all.