Roundup: Habits of Millionaires, Fat Loss Myths, and Selling Everything

‘Weekly’ Media Roundup (Sep 26th – Oct 25th)

Time to kick this one out the door. There’s some good stuff sitting in my queue, but it will have to wait for the next one.



Personal Improvement








Roundup: Finding Your Love Language, Research into Ketogenic Diets, and Becoming an Excellent Manager

Weekly Media Roundup (August 1st – August 15th)

My apologies; this is the second Roundup in a row that I’ve been late with. I’m about to leave the country, so I’m expecting the next one will be late. I stumbled on an exceptionally quality batch of shows and books since last time – enjoy!



  • Gary D Chapman – The Four Love Languages
    • This book should be required reading for everyone. If you haven’t read it, get it now. Learning which of the four ‘buttons’ other people respond to is invaluable, not just in love, but in work and family and friends. Teaser: the four are physical touch, words of affirmation, presence, and acts of service, and everyone has one they naturally resonate with. Buy it now.





  • TED Radio Hour – Fighting Cancer
    • Fascinating talk on detecting cancers using microRNA and new open-source drugs that could speed up the pace of research.
  • 99% Invisible – From the Sea, Freedom
    • What makes a legal state? You’d be surprised who has tried.

Personal Improvement





The Silver Bullet

Friends often ask what I did to lose 60 lbs.

The key was simpler than you might think: I drank a glass of water every morning.

Every morning, without fail, first thing: 8oz.

How could this possibly help? It started me off on the right foot. I stopped being hungry first thing in the morning, I eliminated dehydration in my life, and I was able to avoid the soda.

It changed my mindset. It made me remember that today I am going to lose some weight, and I’m going to start by drinking a glass of water.

So simple, but so incredibly effective. From the moment I started, the weight rolled off.

* * *

Reading the above, it’s not immediately obvious, but The Silver Bullet I Just Wrote About Is Bullshit*.

I do drink a glass of water every morning (when I remember!).

I did lose 60 lbs.

But it took a lot of hard work. There was no silver bullet.

Friends ask what I changed to get to where I am right now. The answer: Everything.

I like to think that if you can imagine it, I changed it. That’s not literally true, but it feels that way. It didn’t come easy. There was no key that I turned that caused the whole castle to come crashing down.

I’ve described what steps I took, in particular, that got me to where I am now, and where I want to go: How I Lost 60lbs, and How I’ll Lose the Next 20

There is no magic. To make drastic changes in your outcomes, you must make drastic changes in your methods. Take 100% responsibility for your life. Take massive action. You can do it, but it takes perseverance, consistency, and a willingness to do something different than what you have been doing.

* If you lost 60lbs by drinking a glass of water in the morning, good for you. It didn’t work for me.

How I Lost 60lbs, and How I’ll Lose the Next 20

Two years ago, I stepped on the scale and found myself weighing 235 lbs. As someone with a 5’6″ frame, this was unacceptable. My waist was 40 inches. I found myself starting to wear XL shirts and they were getting tight. My suit no longer fit. My feet hurt all the time, and I had to start seeing a chiropractor for chronic back pain.

A year ago I stepped on the scale and weighed 175 lbs.

Here’s how I lost 60 lbs:

1) I stopped drinking completely.

The first step, and maybe 10 lbs, came from going from a bottle of wine per day to zero. This gave me the willpower and motivation for the next step.

2) I started making most of my meals.

I was eating out three times per day, most days. Breakfast was a burrito made by a rotating list of restaurants in the morning. Lunch was a hamburger or burrito. Dinner was chilaquiles or a large pasta dish from a restaurant.

Making my own meals allowed me to figure out how much food I needed and prepare that. I switched to eggs, chicken sausage, and an English muffin in the morning, a salad with chicken breast for lunch, and salmon with broccoli for dinner.

I could avoid ranch dressings, too much butter and oil, and massive portion sizes.

2b) I stopped eating meals provided by my office.

Inevitably, these ‘meals’ are pizza, include a cookie and a soda, and there are plenty of leftovers (read: seconds and thirds).

I won’t lie: it’s hard to do. It’s hard to keep the fridge at home stocked. It’s hard to make breakfast when you feel like sleeping a little more. It’s hard to turn down free food that everyone else is eating.

Following these two steps got my weight down to around 200-210.

3) I started following, at least approximately, a Nutritarian diet.

The TL;DR version of this diet is: eat unprocessed food, consisting mostly of leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, and nuts/seeds. Avoid meat all animal protein if possible, although a couple of eggs and servings (ahem: 3 oz) of fish per week is acceptable. More information in Dr. Fuhhman’s book The End of Dieting and on What is Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet?

My breakfast went to oatmeal with fruits, my lunch to a large salad, and my dinner to homemade vegetable soups.

This got me down to around 180-190.

4) I stopped drinking soda

This is really part of 3, but it was super important. I was drinking 3-4 Dr. Peppers per day. I would wake up in the morning and drink one.

By replacing the soda with tea, I’ve cut out hundreds of empty calories per day and helped reduce my susceptibility to Diabetes.

5) I exercised consistently

I’ve always exercised. When I was near my heaviest, I remember a friend saying that of all of his friends, I exercised the most.

The difference is that I didn’t exercise consistently. In the last two years, I’ve made an effort to run 5 times a week and visit the gym 3 times a week, every week. Don’t go for a month and then skip it for a month; don’t run once on Saturday and then not again for a couple of weeks. I listen to my body and slow down when I need to, but exercise is a core part of my life.

In addition, a visit to the gym is not an excuse for more food, for a treat. I’m already overeating; I don’t need more. I build my treats into my week as cheats.

6) I started Intermittent Fasting

Hard in the beginning, I truly think that this has given me an edge. In the version I follow, I try not to eat until 12-1pm most days, and I stop eating by 8-9pm. There are other versions which have you skipping whole days during the week, or you can adjust your feeding window to fit your life.

I no longer need to waste time in the morning eating breakfast, and I’m mentally sharp and ready to work before lunch. I don’t have a problem exercising before I’ve eaten. I generally snack all day, and now I can continue to snack, but I just don’t have as much time to snack as I used to.

IF allowed me to get down to 175 lbs.


If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice I got to 175 a year ago. Since then, I haven’t plateaued. I’ve actually gained and lost weight. I did this by forgetting my principles: drinking soda, eating out too often, and allowing myself to slip into eating meals that don’t promote excellent nutrition.

I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since high school, twenty years ago. Some people question whether I need to lose more, but I think it’s a worthy goal to have excellent health and excellent nutrition.

Here’s how I’m going to lose the next 20 lbs:

1) Map my meals in advance

For the most part, I eat the same meals every day. I haven’t found that I can naturally regulate how much food I eat – I have to count my calories. First, I calculated my TDEE. I used FreeDieting’s Calorie Calculator, but there are a zillion out there. Importantly, this is just an estimate. If I don’t have the energy to exercise, I’ll bump my goal. If I’m not losing weight, I’ll lower my goal.

A lot of people on the internet recommend MyFitnessPal to count calories. I think it’s wonderful, if it works for you, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s too tedious. Too often my meals vary by one ingredient. It’s too hard to get out my phone and enter a meal when I’m sitting down to do it.

Instead, I’ve put together a simple spreadsheet listing the foods I eat regularly, different variations of the meals I eat regularly. Most importantly, I’ve made several combinations of my meals so I can tell what I need to eat a day. It allows me to know how much I can snack during the day if I have my standard oatmeal breakfast and a variation of my standard stir fry dinner.

2) Exercise for weight loss, not performance

In the last couple of years, I’ve trained for a marathon and several half marathons. I’ve attempted to increase my lifts at the gym. I’ve trained to hike mountains.

All of this was hard work, but it wasn’t optimized for weight loss. Training for a marathon actually makes me more hungry, and less able to resist cravings. Lifting heavier weights requires eating a calorie surplus. Doing too much cardio encourages my body to store fat and cannibalize muscle.

Instead, I’m going to start focusing on weight loss. At the gym, I’m going to aim for not consistency, maintaining my lifts if I can, and not getting injured. On the track, I’m going to focus on short sprinting sessions (HIIT), rather than long endurance sessions. And while backpacking, I’m going to be careful not to overeat – hiking 10 miles is not an excuse to blow out my diet!

Most importantly, I’m going to focus on not overdoing it. If my body needs a day off, I’ll take it. If I missed a workout, I won’t try to double up on the next day. I’m in this for the long haul, not for the race coming up.

3) Drink plenty of water!

Since I stopped drinking soda, I’ve been drinking tea like a madman. While this helped me curb my habit, I’ve also noticed that occasionally I get ridiculous cravings for carbohydrates and candy (specifically cookie dough). I believe, and several people have backed this up for me, that I am chronically dehydrated. Despite the green tea I have hooked up to my veins, I don’t get enough water. Green tea is a diuretic. Solution: drink water first thing in the morning, and keep a full bottle on my desk at all times.

Did I miss anything? Have you lost a lot of weight and have a tip to share? I’d love to hear it.

Roundup: Six Pack Abs, Mastering Your Memory, and Being a Pickpocket

Weekly Media Roundup (May 14-19)

Every week I listen to a huge number of podcasts as I exercise, clean, and drive – and I’d love to share the ones I enjoyed and recommend! Here they are, broken down by general category.






  • Listen Money Matters – Getting Schooled on Bonds
    • Not the most organized episode, but this seems like a nice primer on the basics of bonds.



Personal Improvement:



I would love to hear if there’s anything I’m missing. What have you enjoyed?

My Soylent Review

Word on the street is that Soylent, the new meal replacement that claims to be cheap and nutritionally complete, will solve the world’s hunger problems.

I’m always down to try something new, and I’ve been super curious about it, so I split a one month supply with a friend.

Here was my diet previous to Soylent:

– Intermittent Fasting about 6 days a week
– “Breakfast” consisting of oatmeal, bananas, raspberries, currants/raisins, hemp hearts, chia seeds, walnuts, and cinnamon
– Large salads with romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, beans, sunflower seeds, and whatever else will fit in the tupperware
– RAW protein supplement
– Large stir fried (with water) dinners with onions, squashes, scallops, bell peppers, tofu, mushrooms
– Breakfast burritos on the weekends, and assorted restaurant food on Friday or Saturday nights

On Soylent:

– 2000 calories of Soylent
– a mid-afternoon banana, orange, and nuts
– tofu after dinner, if still hungry
– IF, protein supplementing, and extra weekend meals the same
– 4 nights and days backpacking, during which I ate dehydrated trail foods

The first day was the worst. It was just one meal, but I did not enjoy the taste. The next few days Soylent tasted mildly unpleasant, and after that it became neutral at the worst, and even mildly tasty at times.

Because of my energy requirements, 2000 calories was not enough. I don’t have an ice machine, and because Soylent requires a few hours to cool down in the fridge, I had to supplement with other foods to feel full at the end of the day.

Warning: I’m about to get into my digestive experience. May be TMI. Skip to the next bold.

I did not experience the flatulence that others have described. I speculate this is because my diet is already high in beans, broccoli, etc, and my body has already acclimated.

However: I clogged the toilet twice in a row, without excess toilet paper. Say no more, except that perhaps I wasn’t drinking enough water? This has never happened to me before.


I’ve been wanting to try Soylent for a long time. In my previous attempt, it took them so long to deliver the drink that we canceled the order. However, this time the shipping was speedy, and we were surprised by how fast we got our supply.

The taste, after the first few days, was fine. I was also happy with the extra time that I found myself with, not having to cook my meals.

My weight stayed the same. While I felt more energetic for my first few days, I felt very sore for my last few days. I suspect this is either because I was not drinking enough water or getting enough protein.

My cravings for sugary sweets went up. I have a problem with sugar, and I noticed my cravings become almost unbearable. I suspect that this is because I was either not drinking enough water or the Sucralose in Soylent sent my body the sugar signal.

However, two things in particular are causing me not to renew my order:

First, I’m nervous about the nutritional content. The ingredients are highly processed. I’m not enough of a nutritionist to know what my macronutrient requirements are – but the formula keeps changing. There is debate over whether the right vitamin supplements are included and whether those are useable by the body. Until this is a little more settled, I feel more comfortable with real food.

Second, I enjoy eating actual food. Sure, it takes a bit of time to prepare, but it can be meditative. It’s also satisfying to cut fresh vegetables and feel the taste and texture of a healthy meal.

TL;DR: If you are on the “window diet” (most of your food comes from drive through windows), the Soylent meal replacement is a huge step up. It’s healthier, you’ll lose weight, and you’ll get more of your micronutrients. If you eat a diet made up of mostly unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans like I do, you may miss some of the experience.

Roundup: Meta-learning, Burnout, and Fake Armies

Weekly Media Roundup (April 29 – May 6)

I think my mind exploded this week. I drove for hours, backpacked for days, and commuted by bicycle. I hope you find something in here inspires you. I’ve grouped this list into several categories: Health, Financial/Career, Personal Development, and Fun. Here’s what I’ve listened to and read in the last week and recommend:

Personal Development


  • Tony Robbins – Awaken The Giant Within
    • I’ve held out for a while, but I finally read a Tony Robbins book. Highly recommended. Take massive action and buy it now!
  • Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements
    • Achieve personal freedom by following these four super simple rules. Highly recommended.







Short Reads:



Note: there’s a lot of meat in here, especially in The Four Agreements and Awaken The Giant Within, as well as Recovering From a Burnout and Distraction is an Obesity of the Mind. My brain is ready to explode. I’m going to try (as hard as I can – hopefully I don’t forget) to go on an information diet. I’ll only read fiction, and only listen to books I’ve read before (including The Success Principles), with the exception of research for this blog or work. Check in with me next week to see if I succeeded!