Compassion for Other Human Beings

A certain human being reminded us recently to “see each other again, listen to each other again…”

In a word, he reminded us: “Let’s give each other a chance.”

Maybe I should give people a chance.

Maybe….even people I really disagree with.

Which sounds really hard. Because often, I feel – I know – deep down, that someone is in the wrong.

But that person is still a human being.

(And maybe if I had lived through everything that person had lived through, I would think the kinds of things that person thinks.)

So maybe I could go easy on them, and not judge too harshly.

I could have some compassion.

That human being – like me – has pain in their life. (Maybe, that person has a lot of pain, that I don’t even know about). And that human being – like me – wants to alleviate that pain.

We at least have that in common.

Why am I posting this on a self-improvement blog? This idea of “compassion”…well, maybe it’ll help you be a happier, more peaceful person.

Do I need to spend all my time with people I really disagree with? Nah, that sounds stressful. In fact, I try to spend minimal time with people who stress me out.

But when you are dealing with someone like that, a little compassion – realizing that yes, that other person is suffering in many ways, too, and we’re all just doing our best in our own way – might help you feel a bit more peaceful.

And speaking of enjoying some peace, I’ll leave you with a short video:

Cheating Your Way to Fat Loss

I am literally eating a Taco Bell Chicken Burrito Supreme as I write this. In front of me is a steaming cup of coffee and a glass of ice water. To my right, an open pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream that I’m working on.

Today, in addition to a bunch of chicken and salad, I’ve consumed an ENORMOUS burrito from a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place here in town (that’s actually really delicious; Guy Fieri’s been there), 2 donuts, coffee, a serving of Hershey’s dark chocolate, about 1/3 pint of this coffee ice cream (so far – I’m not done yet), and I’m almost done with this burrito that – yes – I got from Taco Bell.

(My conversation with the taco bell teller:

“What’s the biggest burrito you have here?”

….she responds…

–”Yeah, I’ll have that.”)

Update – I’m now down to about a half pint of this ice cream. The carton says there are 1060 calories in here total.

I know what you’re thinking – is something wrong with me?

Well yes, many things. But not this – the eating is actually intentional.

Let’s talk about cheat meals.

(Or sometimes “cheat days,” “high-carb meals,” “re-feeds”; whatever you want to call it.)

Disclaimer: First of all – whatever you do – don’t do what I do. You’ll get yourself killed.

But do hear me out.

There are actually a few physiological benefits to what we commonly refer to as “cheat meals.” (On top of the very potent psychological benefits, which also shouldn’t be overlooked.)

I was first introduced to this radical idea by Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour-Body. Tim suggests that one cheat day a week could actually be beneficial for fat loss by ensuring that “your metabolic rate (thyroid function and conversion of T4 to T3, etc.) doesn’t downshift from extended caloric restriction.”

Intrigued, I’ve looked into it a little further, and my reading seems to indicate – and honestly, it makes sense – that occasional higher-carb cheat meals reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), increase thyroid hormones (which are crucial for optimal metabolism), and decrease ghrelin (the pesky hunger hormone).

We know that on caloric-restriction diets, cortisol and ghrelin tend to elevate, and thyroid hormones can be negatively affected. Anything that can combat that is probably a good thing, and may help reduce plateaus associated with extended dieting.

Additionally, “cheat meals” boost leptin (source 1, source 2), a satiety hormone associated with diminished hunger and reduced fat.

Now, I’m not a doctor, I’d still like to do more research into the subject, and I don’t recommend you cheat like I do (I’m also experimenting with all kinds of fasting and fasted running, and in general, I do eat an extremely healthy diet).

But I think we can safely say that when done consciously, and in a somewhat restricted way, occasional “cheat” meals certainly may have some benefits.

A final, important reason that I point this out is that a friend of mine texted me recently, guiltily confessing to downing a serving of pasta (“Italian comfort food,” as she called it, alluding to her familial roots), worried that she had completely derailed her fat loss plan. She seemed genuinely concerned.

I think the guilt and fear many people associate with eating a high-carb meal probably lead to worse effects than the meal itself ever could. (Especially since the “bad” meal might have some benefits.) That guilt and shame could lead you to really beat yourself up, or even spiral downward emotionally and nutritionally.

So if all this post accomplishes is to help people stop and question their “eating guilt” before they start to negatively spiral, I’ll consider it a success.

My recommendation, overall, would be to try to dial in a healthy, nutritious way of eating, that you do consistently, habitually – and then very consciously, fairly occasionally, and quite shamelessly, “cheat”– in a highly intuitive way that feels good to you. (I make a point of eating plenty of lean meat and veggies – like I did this morning – before indulging, and then I drink lots of water while eating high carb meals. Then, I go back to eating my more standard diet.) As a final note, I believe that the more weight you have to lose, the less benefit you get from cheating, and the smaller your cheat meals can be.

In summary, though, not only does it feel good to treat yourself to a cheat meal, but the act of occasionally indulging might be have a few research-based benefits as well.

Oh, and my final bit of evidence: You know how a few posts ago I mentioned losing 10 pounds in 30 days? Last I checked (yesterday) I’m down an additional 5 pounds in the 2 weeks since then.

Reduce. Your. Exposure. To. Ads.

Picture this – you’re going about your day.

Impulsively, completely without thinking – just like how you breathe – you pull out your phone.

You glance through your Instagram feed. Every four posts, there’s an advertisement. You watch some “stories” your friends have posted. Story. Story. Ad.

The television’s on in the background. You’re trying to watch something, but it’s mostly ads.

Multitasking between your show and your phone, you check out what’s happening on Snapchat, because you don’t want to miss out on those stories. Story. Story. Ad.

You pull up Facebook. Scroll. Ad. Scroll. Ad.

The advertisements are starting to drive you you crazy. They’re making you stressed. Stressed about the upcoming election, about different ballot propositions, about things you didn’t even know you needed (but now will have trouble living without).

No matter. You shut off the T.V., and exit out of social media.

You go over to YouTube, to pull up some relaxing background sounds to help you calm down.

You open the YouTube app.



You quickly type in and pull up something soothing to watch.


“Vote YES on prop 22!”

You go to skip it –

“Your video will play after this ad ends.”

Goddamit. Whatever. You try to ignore it. It finally ends.


“Vote YES On prop 22!!!”

(AGAIN! Twice in a row???)

You run out of the house; decide to go for a drive to clear your head. Fvck, your gas light is on. No matter. Turn on the radio. AD. Turn to Spotify. Fvck, you haven’t paid for premium. “WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO TO RECEIVE 30 MINUTES OF AD-FREE MUSIC!”

You shut it off, race to the gas station, car running on fumes. You attempt to stifle your fight-or-flight response as you navigate traffic. You barely avoid a near-collision with another driver on their phone who was distracted while skipping past an ad.

You pull up at the gas station, and grab pump.

You go to select your gas grade.

SUDDENLY, the television that’s screen built in right above blasts an ad at you at FULL VOLUME, startling you half to death:



It stops.



Sh%t, did you really just do that?

Now…I have no idea if this story is anything like how it really went down.

But when I was getting gas today (yes, they have televisions above every pump, playing ads on loop), I noticed the screen next to me.

It was smashed; totally cracked.

And I couldn’t help but fantasize that someone – after a stressful day, and lots of traffic, just sick and tired of being continuously bombarded by ads finally snapped.

And not only snapped, but decided to put their foot down.

I have to admit, the thought makes me smile.

Because ads are fricking everywhere in America. It’s too much; it makes you want to break something. And yes, the worst of it happens on social media.

If you haven’t seen The Social Dilemma already (a documentary about the dangers of social networks) I’ll tell you what my takeaway was – at least, from the bit of the movie that I saw.

It’s nothing I didn’t already know.

It’s probably nothing YOU don’t already know.

But here it is, more or less:

1.) Social media sites are using deep-learning AI technology to tailor an experience just for YOU, which uses just about every bit of human psychology there is to manipulate your emotions and keep you engaged.

(That is, your news feed – even if you have all the same friends as someone else – looks different than theirs. Because the site is learning what makes you tick, and giving it to you.)

2.) This is done solely to be able to sell ad space – that organizations are willing to buy, to get ads in front of your face – in order to generate profit.

Yes, companies are all bidding to get their ads in front of your eyeballs.

3.) The organizations bidding for that ad space don’t have your best interests at heart. They, too, are trying to spike your emotions as much as possible, to either persuade you of something or to get you to buy a product.

This is happening on YouTube. Instagram. Facebook. TIKTOK.

Many of the social media sites are not only monitoring what you look at, but how long you look at it and even where your cursor goes.

Alright, that’s my summary of the documentary.

Admittedly, some types of media can’t do all of this. Television can’t get that much specific data on you – yet – but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Turn on the TV and you’ll be bombarded by ads based on the channel you’re watching and where you live.

And it’s not just social media or television, it’s everywhere. Google. Amazon.

The ads are everywhere.

We are essentially living in the Black Mirror episode “Fifteen Million Merits.”

And you know as well as I do:

The ads are making you miserable.

They’re stressing you out. They’re manipulating your opinions. They’re making you want more things. They’re hooking your attention, and sucking away your valuable time on this earth.

So after all that doom and gloom, I’ll end with a simple piece of advice:

Get away from the damn ads.

(You’ll be safe on a walk. A book won’t spam you with popups, or hit you with tailored targeting.)

And if you want to veg (vege?) out on social media (again, ground zero for advertisements), do it – but make sure it’s conscious. Make sure it’s intentional.

Because when it’s an unconscious, totally oblivious reflex – and every few minutes of your day, without even knowing how you got there, you find yourself being bombarded by ads – you’re asking for trouble.

So, just as an experiment – here’s a recommendation:

Reduce your exposure to anything that shoves ads in your face.

Do NOT Take NO for an Answer.


“NO, that just won’t work.”

“NO, that’s impossible.”

“NO, we CAN’T do that.”

“NO, you’ll NEVER be able to do that.”

“NO, you can’t get into that class, succeed with that business, change the country for the better, achieve what you desire. AND HERE ARE ALL THE REASONS WHY YOU CAN’T.” (Insert lengthy, depressing, weighty, soul-sucking, and apparently airtight argument here.)


Refuse to accept that.

Do not just come quietly.

Take a stand for what you believe in, and fight for what you want.

I can tell you that whatever it is you want to achieve or do, there will come a point – possibly multiple points – where you hit a hard “no.” Where the facts are overwhelming, depressing. Where someone who knows much more than you talks to you for a half hour about why it can’t be done (and makes a smart argument, too).

In particular, I’m thinking of an excerpt from the book Undaunted by the Kara Goldin, founder of Hint water, who – when seeking advice from an experienced, big-time player at Coca Cola – was told very clearly that her goal could not be achieved.

Reading about the incident, you can practically feel the weight of this Coke executive’s arguments pulling her down, as he drones on and on, using technical jargon and careful reasoning to tell her that her goal of a natural, unsweetened, flavored water with a reasonable shelf-life could not be successful, and that people would not want it.

The way Goldin recounts it, you can practically feel the spark being drained out of her, the color and optimism from her outlook being grayed and extinguished, the weight pulling her down, as this highly respected gentleman drones on and on, relentlessly… logically… pessimistically… thoughtfully… about why her idea won’t work.

On and on….until she gives up.

She gives in, and says he can just HAVE her company. He can just take it. For free.

She’s so discouraged, depressed. She’s beaten, demoralized. The facts are just that it won’t work.

He doesn’t even accept the offer. He doesn’t want it.


That’s what a a “no” feels like. When you’re faced with someone telling you that it “won’t work,” and their pessimism and logic is so strong, that you yourself feel it completely drain your mood, as you realize….”this just won’t work. It’s impossible.”

At least, you think you realize that.

Because in fact, Kara Goldin went on to do EXACTLY what she was told was impossible, and create a wildly successful multi-million-dollar company.

But she almost had given up. In fact, for a moment there, she had given up…for a few seconds. Somehow later, she convinced herself not to back down. And it’s a good thing, too, because she went on to enjoy some insane success.

But back to this one anecdote:

What was really dangerous about this conversation wasn’t the factual content, but the fact that on an emotional level, she was so discouraged and demoralized.

It might sound sort of touchy-feely to say this, but I truly believe that the most dangerous aspect of this conversation was that it negatively affected her EMOTIONS so much that she almost gave up permanently.

So my advice?

Do WHATEVER you have to do to not let a “No” affect you on an emotional level.

Expect that generally, your first reaction to new or ambitious ideas will be a vocalized or situational “no,” but don’t let it touch you, emotionally.

As Chris Voss – negotiation expert for the FBI, who’s had decades of experience with literal terrorists and hostage scenarios – puts it, “‘No’ marks the beginning of the negotiation, not the end.”

(By the way, Chris Voss has a surprisingly excellent book on negotiating called Never Split the Difference which I highly recommend.)

So look – you’re going to hear “no”s. Small ones, and sometimes big ones, to the point where you almost give in permanently.

And “no”s come in many forms. Maybe it’s someone literally telling you “No, your idea won’t work.” Maybe it’s a class that you want to get into, which is full – with a wait-list. (That’s basically a “no.”) Maybe you tried to do a run – or really, achieve any goal – and you didn’t get the results you wanted, and it made you want to quit. (Again, no one’s actually telling you “no” here, but it’s basically a “no.”)

And it’s okay to back off, to readjust your strategy, to consider alternatives.

But what I NEVER want to hear ANYONE reading this blog do is take that “no” on an internal, emotional level to the point of being demoralized into submission. Definitely not permanently.

As Kara Goldin makes a point of saying in her book, when it comes to your goals, and you hear a “no” – interpret it as “maybe.”

But on an internal, emotional level – do NOT take “NO” for an answer.

The Case for Investing NOW

Okay, I will make a few predictions in this post.

I try to avoid making public predictions as much as possible, because it’s so difficult to do. Also, I admit RIGHT NOW, that I may be wrong on any number of these predictions – or on ALL of them.

I will be very clearly separating the FACTS from the OPINIONS & PREDICTIONS, going forward.


You should invest some money in stocks right now.


The stock market overall, historically, has actually ALWAYS gone up in the long term.

Despite market crashes, the S&P 500 (top 500 stocks) has always provided positive returns for EVERY 10 year period.

Here it is, over its entire lifespan:

S&P 500 historical performance.
S&P 500 performance over time, not inflation-adjusted.


You should NOT invest money that you will need in the next 5 years – but if it’s a small enough amount that you could do without it for 5 years, you should invest at least some.

The reason I say that is that the market COULD crash – notice those dips, above – and if you need to withdraw cash soon during a recession, you would need to sell your stocks and take a loss. However, if you can wait it out over time (5 years is a pretty good amount of time) it’s very, very likely that the stock market will have more than recovered by that time.


There are totally free ways to invest, today, that you could do in minutes, if not seconds, if you so desired.

The app Robinhood, for example allows you to invest – from your phone – in a manner some would even describe as “very easily.” (Notice by my phrasing – we’re still in the “fact” section). In addition, it now allows you to invest in portions of stocks without buying the whole thing. So if you wanted to risk a total of exactly $5, then you could do that.

You can invest in the market as a whole (through use of what are called “index funds” which allow you to buy a tiny bit of a lot of different stocks, all from typing in a single ticker symbol – e.g., “SPY.” There are people do this in order to help achieve something called “diversification.”)

On the app I mentioned, you could invest in a partial share of an index fund. So you could risk $5 on the market as a whole, and if you wished, leave it in for a long time.

^Ok wow, I took pains phrasing every sentence of that to make sure it was all incontrovertibly true…

Here are some predictions

Do not trust me on this.

Do you know why I say that? Because predicting shit is really hard.

Even for top-notch experts, predictions are really hard to make.

All predictions presented are opinions.

So think about them for yourself, and see if you agree.

(Also, keep in mind, the remainder of this article was written solely with the intent of helping you create as much investment return as possible, NOT with the intent of making any political or ethical arguments.)

Got that? Ok.


Biden will probably win the general election.

(He’s up by 11 points nationally, we’re down to the wire, a lot of people are already voting, people didn’t like Trump’s last debate, people are sick of Covid, most people feel Trump mishandled it, Trump even contracted Covid, Biden doesn’t have nearly the same low popularity that Hillary had in 2016.)

I could very, very well be wrong here. He could lose. Just trying to leave emotions at the door and help you make money.


A Biden win will be good for the economy as a whole, AND the stock market specifically.

Stocks like stability, and Trump is anything but stable. While Trump’s corporate tax cuts were probably good for the stock market (but not necessarily for individuals, or the economy as a whole), the Covid pandemic certainly has not been good for stocks (with a few notable exceptions – think Amazon). Neither have his foreign policy blunders. (Think – the market volatility that occurred when we found ourselves worried about the possibility of being on the brink of a new war simply because of some tweets).

A Biden presidency will likely provide more stability, and less fear of the entire world shifting rapidly over a single tweet. That basic stability is good for stocks. It is likely that with more Democratic leadership, we will see continued stimulus spending, which is also generally very good for the stock market and the general economy.

A Biden presidency will likely lead to better handling of the Covid pandemic, also good for the stock market.

And even if Biden doesn’t win, American stocks are incredibly resilient. Again, Amazon is doing just fine.

In summary, not only are stocks are almost always good to invest in (if you’re willing to be without the money for a long time time – to buy and hold), but NOW could be a particularly good buying opportunity, because the next 4 years may turn out to be better much than the last 4 years.

(And, even if neither of those near-term predictions happen, stock tend to go up in the long run. You gotta be willing to buy and hold though. I’m talking 5 years at least.)


Amazon (AMZN) is a good buy.

I’ve never publicly given specific stock picking advice, and generally try to avoid it. Especially because it’s very easy to look like an idiot if you end up being wrong.

But here’s why I like Amazon.

It’s, overall, THE place to shop online for anything.

It’s EXTREMELY easy to return anything at any Amazon locker or Whole Foods (Have you ever tried it? It’s unbelievably easy.)

which makes you feel safer buying from them.

In fact, why buy anywhere else, when you can effortlessly return anything you don’t like bought on Amazon?

And during this pandemic, you’ve learned a lot of things. For example, you’ve learned that more work than you thought can in fact be done from home, virtually. This may be a sticky habit.

You’ve also learned that a lot more of your in-store purchases can be made online – for example, on Amazon.

Also, Amazon has a high quality streaming service with really good content (eg, “The Boys,” super well-done show, check it out).

Also, a ton of people pay for subscriptions to Amazon Prime.

Amazon ALSO has a really nice in-person grocery shopping at Whole Foods (a store which is not only intelligently targeted toward high-wealth people – where most of the money is in America – but is also very health conscious and organic, a trend I think will only continue to grow.)

AND, because one can just about buy everything from Amazon, it’s a no-brainer to sign up for an Amazon credit card: zero monthly fees and gives you an immediate $100 of store credit with 5% cashback on all Amazon purchases, keeping you coming back – as if there wasn’t enough reason to by everything on Amazon already.

So, Amazon has a very user-friendly ecosystem for its customers which creates a ton of value and keeps people involved.

Amazon also has an average 94% buy rating according to Robinhood, from 48 analysts

It’s a very profitable company.

And it’s resilient in the face of a pandemic.

NOTE and DISCLAIMER: I put my money where my mouth is, and have invested in Amazon.

Risks I see: Possible government intervention if they get too big could spook investors in the short term, or could even be significantly damaging long-term. Don’t invest money you can’t lose.

Message me if you have any other thoughts on any of this!

In summary….


It’s a good idea to get involved (with a small amount of money you could afford to be without for a long time) in stocks, right now.

You can buy a partial share of the S&P 500 (ticker symbol: SPY) right now on Robinhood.

Amazon is also a good buy. (Ticker symbol AMZN).

If you want more help on any of this, I have an excellent online course on the topic. I’m not gonna link it here because I don’t want this post to just be a big advertisement for it, but you can message me if you’re interested! (Yes, go over and use the Contact page, I’ve made it easy!)

If you do actually go to the effort of reaching out to hit me up, I’ll personally message you a ridiculous discount.

*not entirely sure how long that offer will stand

Go make money.



Meta-Improvement (or: How I Lost 10 Pounds in 30 Days)

In my first blog post, I said I would fill you guys in on the strategies and tactics I used to drop 10 pounds in 30 days.

(I’ve been using those words a lot lately, “strategies” and “tactics.” Let me clarify what I mean: tactics are highly specific action steps, while strategies are overarching approaches.)

It would be fun to jump right into all the cool tactics, but I think I’d be doing you a disservice.

Because when I started, at the beginning of the month, I didn’t even have all of the tactics myself.

Actually I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

I hand-drew a 30-day calendar, and – again, not knowing how I was going to do it – decided I was going to get in shape and lose weight during the next month, keeping track of what happened.

I, like you, have heard lots of weight loss advice from various sources, much of it extremely contradictory.

And I, like you, have tried many, many times to lose weight….largely unsuccessfully.

(At least, I’m assuming you’ve tried to lose weight. But who knows, maybe you’ve always been effortlessly thin. Anyway.)

So while I’ve been at this “weight loss” thing for a while – and you would THINK I’d have it FIGURED OUT BY NOW – I didn’t.

So I decided to start fresh. Forget everything I “knew” to be true. Try to find out what really worked, for me, and what would be healthiest for me.

NOTE AT THE OUTSET: I do think that was an important distinction. I knew that I wanted to lose weight, but I didn’t want to sacrifice health, or well-being, to do it. (In other words, I didn’t want to over-train or kill myself – or sacrifice any overall happiness at all, really – to lose weight.) So I did make that promise to myself before diving in.

(Does that make sense? Ok good, because shit’s only gonna get crazier from here on out. Strap in.)

30 days, and no tactics.

But I did have a strategy.

One simple overarching approach going into the month. And I did feel pretty smart about what I had in mind:


The idea of getting better at how you get better.

Let me explain my thinking. I’ll start from the beginning.

The way I see it, most people are “outcome oriented.” Let’s call that a “Level 1” improvement mindset.

If you’re outcome oriented – and, for example, you want to lose weight – you’re focused on stepping on the scale and looking at the numbers. You want the numbers to go down. (You have a vague idea about what your approach is going to be, and whatever that is, you do it as hard as you can). But as soon as possible, you get back to the scale, checking your number.

And when it doesn’t go down, it’s devastating. When your approach doesn’t work, you start to feel like you’re stuck, permanently. You start to think, in a defeated tone, “I’m just _____ .” (Insert weight here).

“I’m just the type of person who’s overweight”

“This is just in my genes”

(Notice the specific way in which the word “just” is being used. It JUST won’t happen for me. I’m JUST an overweight person. That’s JUST how it is. That should be a bit of a red flag for you, if you ever hear it used like that. It means that someone isn’t currently thinking with a growth mindset. Don’t EVER talk to yourself like that.)

So that’s Level 1. You’re outcome oriented. You focus on the numbers on the scale – on the results – and if what you’re doing doesn’t bring results, well, your situation is permanent.


But there’s a whole next level to looking at improvement:

“Level 2” thinking – being Process Oriented.

This is an enormous upgrade from Level 1 thinking. If you’re process-oriented, you’re focused not on the numbers of the scale, but on consistently following the steps you’ve decided to take to improve. For example, you’re making sure you hit the gym a predetermined number of times per week, eat predetermined healthy foods, and stick to positive habits.

Instead of focusing too much on how much you actually weigh – which will drive you crazy – you focus on doing the things you’ve determined you should do to ultimately make you healthier and thinner.

Got that?

You avoid the emotional turmoil of the numbers not always being what you want them to be. You get much better at following through on your plan.

This is because your entire goal has shifted:

It’s not “lose weight” anymore, it’s now “follow this process really well.”

This is an enormous upgrade in thinking. If you’ve never thought like this before, then start. Try it. Get here, nail this, you’ll be a thousand percent better off. Seriously: habits and consistency – being process oriented – pay off IN MULTIPLES compared to simply being “outcome oriented.”

This type of thinking is ultra achievable, and ultimately leads to much better results.

Except for when it doesn’t.

Because sometimes, you dial in an excellent process – and you focus on it – and at the end of the month, you check the scale (or the body fat percentage reader), and nothing significant happened.


(And we’re back to square one, feeling like “this JUST isn’t for me….”)

Well, here’s the thing: your process, while it might’ve sounded excellent – while it might’ve even had some great qualities – probably wasn’t actually as ideal as you thought. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect approach for your specific body. Perhaps it even could have been a lot better.

And we were so focused on STICKING to the process, that we didn’t even bother to really consider that.

Welcome to level 3 thinking: Process-Improvement.

In other words, Meta-Improvement. Not just improving, but improving how you improve.

(Sorry, I know that’s confusing. Did anyone take Calculus? Something about this is making me flashback to derivatives….)

If your orientation – your goal – is NOT improving the number on the scale, and not even sticking to a process, but instead IMPROVING your process as much as possible, you are unstoppable.

Sure, you’ll probably start out by coming up with what seems to be the best process you can think of, with whatever knowledge you have at the time. And you’ll stick to it really well. Sort of “Level-2” type stuff.

But as you go, your entire goal will be to improve the process as much as possible.

Let me say that again:

The ENTIRE goal becomes NOT to lose weight, NOT EVEN to rigorously follow a process, but to IMPROVE THE PROCESS as much as possible.

(You may notice, at this point, we’re so removed from the actual scale number now, we’re like three levels deep. This is Inception type stuff).

Your goal, when you’re focusing on Level-3 thinking, is simply to improve your process as much as possible. You’ll remove things. And add things. And tweak things. And keep coming at everything with the rigor and consistency we learned back in Level 2, from Process-Orientation, but now with your mental energy directed towards noticing things you could do better.

You’ll find yourself consistently asking broad questions such as: “How could I make this more enjoyable?” “How could I make this more effective?” “What tactics am I not implementing that would be useful?” “How could this be easier?” “What should I cut back on?”

(Often just literally just posing these questions, out loud, patiently waiting for an answer to come to mind – even if nothing does.)

Because ultimately, by focusing on improving your process as much as possible – by simply asking these questions a lot – your process will improve.

And if your process improves, then your results will drastically improve.

And this was my secret weapon during my 30-day fat loss experiment in which I dropped ten pounds.

I used level 3 thinking to improve the rate at which I improved.

The difference between Process Orientation and Process-Improvement Orientation is sort of like the difference between linear growth and exponential growth:

So, recap:

30 days, a blank calendar, a couple of priorities, and a simple strategy: Meta-Improvement.

(I can give you my specific tactics later, if you want them – they’re kinda exciting too.)

But what’s really cool, is that this overarching strategy Level 3 Process-Improvement thinking – can be applied to anything you want to improve.

Instead of focusing on the results, instead of even focusing on the process (which is still much better than focusing on the results!), focus on IMPROVING the process. Improve the rate at which you improve. Get better at getting better.

Consistently take action, but consistently improve how you’re taking action.

It’s meta, and cerebral, I know. And you won’t have all the answers.

Just start doing your best to think like this.

Notice things, write stuff down, track everything you can, ask yourself open-ended questions, and try out new approaches and tweaks.

And know this: any time spent in Level 3 thinking translates to many multiples of output in the lower levels.

(Again, kind of like Inception – I really hope you’ve seen that movie, so you’re getting these references….)

In other words, any small amount of time pondering how you can improve your weight loss process will ultimately translate to many actual pounds of fat lost.

And if you do that a little bit every day for 30 days – while consistently taking action – the results are incredible.


“You musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” – Eames (Tom Hardy), Inception.

P.S. – if you really want to get lost in the Limbo of self-improvement, try improving your ability to improve how you improve. In other words, Improving your method of process-improvement.

Or don’t. It’s too hard to think about.

Becoming a Runner During Quarantine


You hate it, you’ll never do it, I can’t convince you otherwise, running is the last thing you’d want to do, you’d rather get acupuncture with rusty nails than go on a run.

That’s exactly what everyone says. (Not the acupuncture thing, I made that up).

I concede, I probably won’t be able to convince you otherwise. Let me just share my story:

I’ve always hated running. Running sucked. It hurt, I was never fast as I wanted to be, there were always people a lot better than me, it was hot, competitive, miserable, and did I mention – it hurt.

But welcome to 2020. Gyms are shut down. Group fitness classes (like Krav Maga, a highly effective martial art that I love) are closed. Options are limited.

Technically, I have “gone on runs” before, at various times in my life. I certainly had to do some running during compulsory education – remember that? How miserable was that? Running at elementary school or junior high, clocking our mile times… I hated that. (No wonder nobody wants to run anymore.)

But despite that minuscule amount of experience, I would absolutely not consider myself “a runner.”

So, self-experimenting masochist that I am – with options limited during Covid-19 – I decided: screw it, I’m gonna pick up running.

Well, I started up, and I used some crafty high-leverage tactics to help me get started and improve (I can tell you more about that later, if you must know). One of these techniques, though – and I kid you not, the most powerful – was going for a walk every morning.

And I should clarify what I mean by walk:

I mean, after sipping some coffee, stepping outside my house, and leisurely walking to the end of the block (maybe an entire 100 feet) before lazily taking a few deep breaths and turning back.

A stupidly easy little trick that would take me about 30 seconds every morning. I would often do it coffee in-hand.

(Side note: in addition to the vitamin D and gentle exercise, getting outside in the morning sunshine is great for your circadian rhythm.)

Weirdly enough, I started enjoying this. Looking forward to it.

In fact, I started doing this every single day.

(I dare you to experiment with this for 2 weeks and see what happens to your mood. It’s amazing.)

It soon became a cemented habit – every single day I’d go on a brief, tiny, coffee-fueled morning walk.

Sometimes I’d even allowing myself to walk further, if (and only if) I felt like it.

But something sort of magical happened. Because of this habit, going on runs became easier.

Like, a LOT easier.

Any day that I’d already gone outside on a tiny walk, it was infinitely easier to get myself to go on a run later on.

(Words cannot do justice to this phenomenon, you just have to experience it for yourself to truly understand what I’m talking about. Don’t believe me? Test it out on yourself for two weeks. Message me if it doesn’t work, I’ll help you.)

Now, a couple months later (thanks to some other nifty tactics and jedi mind-tricks, as well as some support from my dad, who frequently brings me out on runs), I run multiple times a week, consistently.

(Again – if you want – in a later post I can tell you about some of the other strategies I used to get started.)

But now, I can now honestly say this. Almost sheepishly:

I actually love running.

I’m one of those people.

Let me tell you what I mean when I say “I love running.”

I go to bed, actually looking forward to going on runs the next morning.

They give me this wonderful endorphin-fueled “runners high.” They let me spend some time with other runners and friends. And overall, they improve my mood so much that when I take a break from running for a few days – and I go out again – it’s like getting a hit with a drug that I’ve been deprived of.

It feels so good. Not as a competitive outlet (at least, not for me), not as a peak-performance type of thing, but as a healthy, enjoyable, lifestyle.

And yeah, as the cherry on top, I recently went out to clock my mile time (….yes, like we used to do back in school…)

My first attempt (again, with a little coaching and pacing from my dad), I ran a 6 minute and 7 second mile.

And just last Saturday, we went out again, and I ran a 5 minute and 47 second mile.

For me, that’s nuts. Absolutely insane.

But more importantly, I like running now. It’s something else that not only keeps me healthy, but that I look forward to.

Oh, and I would definitely say – I now view myself as a runner.

Naysayers and Intellectual Laziness (Feat. Neil deGrasse Tyson)

I was taking one of those online Masterclasses with (renowned astrophysicist) Neil deGrasse Tyson the other day, when he hit me with one of the most though-provoking quotes I’ve heard in a while:

“So imagine someone comes up to you with some crystals, and they tell you that there’s sort of a crystal energy embedded within them, and if you rub them together, this energy field will release, and it will enter your body and cure you of your ailments. All right, I have several things to say about that. One, it is equally as intellectually lazy for you to say, great, give them to me, how much, here’s my money, I’ll use them tonight, as it is to say, this can’t possibly be true, get out of here, you’re a charlatan. Both of those are equally intellectually lazy.

Neil deGrasse Tyson


If I were to attempt to paraphrase:

It is equally as intellectually lazy to outright reject something as untrue – without investigating it – as it is to blindly accept it as gospel.

Now I think most of us – those of us who consider ourselves to be even somewhat critical thinkers – tend to not make the latter mistake. (At least, for the most part.)

Most of the people I know, at least, tend to be pretty skeptical, critical thinkers. We don’t just blindly accept things to be true without evidence. Which is great.

But it’s easy to fall into the other extreme of “intellectual laziness,” under the guise of intelligent skepticism.

That is to say, someone might come up to us – perhaps not with crystals, but with some promising idea – and say “hey, I’ve tried this out, and it works really well.”

And the knee-jerk response might be “no, that can’t possibly be true – after all: I’m an intelligent skeptic.”

The question Neil and I would pose in that situation is – are you being an intelligent skeptic? Or are you being intellectually lazy?

I’ve fallen prey to this many times. I dismiss new ideas that sound like they won’t work:

“You journal nonsense stream of consciousness for four pages every day? Ridiculous, that can’t possibly help you.”

“You trick yourself into feeling like you already have achieved something you want, and you say it helps you get it? Nonsense. Go buy some crystals.”

But you know what, before I outright dismiss something as categorically untrue, I’ve started forcing myself to immediately ask “well….have i TRIED it?”

Have I at least looked into it at all?

Or am I just saving face, protecting my identity as an “intelligent skeptic,” by dismissing it outright?

Because according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, that’s just as intellectually lazy.

So if you find yourself dismissing something outright, without even looking into it at all – or best yet, testing it out on yourself, to SHOW that it either works or doesn’t – give pause for a moment.

And if you have something that works, and any naysayers respond with “B.S. – that can’t possibly work” (without having researched it, or tested it…) just remember:

Rejecting a new and promising idea as categorically untrue – without so much as looking into it – is equally as intellectually lazy as blindly accepting it on faith.

Biohacking – What Is It Really?

The unlimited power of biohacking!!! Credit: Shutterstock.

“Biohacking” – that’s a term that’s thrown around a lot these days.

If you’re like many people, it brings to mind images of science labs, cryotherapy, Dave Asprey, DNA, and superhuman mutants.

Some people spew vague health advice as “biohacks” (“eat your veggies” “get more sleep!”) – does that really count as a “biohack” ? While others – looking at you, David! – are making a lot of money off of certain tactics (like an extra special type coffee with butter in it?) that may not necessarily have much evidence to support them.

(I’m also confident that there are some people out there – solely trying to make money – selling “biohacks” in the form of pills, homeopathic medicine, or other voodoo magic tricks that literally do nothing.)

VOX defines biohacking as “an extremely broad and amorphous term that can cover a huge range of activities, from performing science experiments on yeast or other organisms to tracking your own sleep and diet to changing your own biology by pumping a younger person’s blood into your veins.”

With such a vague term, and money involved, there’s bound to be some controversy and polarized internet articles on the topic.

What really is it? What counts?

I humbly offer my perspective.

I think “Healthline” gets it reasonably close: “Biohacking can be described as citizen or do-it-yourself biology. For many “biohackers,” this consists of making small, incremental diet or lifestyle changes to make small improvements in your health and well-being.”

(Though I would hasten to add, the the “small” changes can lead to improvements that might not always be so “small.”)

A “hack” – as the term is used commonly, today, – is simply a way to do something more efficiently or more effectively.

And Biohacking, as I see it, refers to the process of improving physical health, aesthetics, or performance, particularly efficiently or effectively, through the use of self-experimentation.

It’s a broad definition.

To put it even more simply:

If you’re experimenting on yourself to try to improve, you’re biohacking.

That can be as simple as changing the tiniest variable. If you’re going to bed one hour earlier, and seeing what happens, you’re biohacking. If you’re adding in a vegetable smoothie every day, and seeing what happens, you’re biohacking.

(Of course, you have to actually track what the changes are, and maintain consistency in your experiment. A halfhearted, vague attempt to “eat more veggies” that you forget about in a few days doesn’t really count as an experiment.)

However, if you add the habit of ‘going outside for 5 minutes every morning for two weeks,’ and you actually track something – even your “tracking” is just a quick journal about your mood for that day – you’re biohacking.

The cool thing is, is once you start, things can get pretty exciting, pretty quick.

Once you start viewing your body as something that can be improved and optimized through your habits, and you start running little experiments, you start to realize how much power over yourself you actually have.

And sometimes, you discover ways to drop significant amounts of weight quickly, lower your cholesterol, or live longer, through very cool (and often unorthodox) methods.

(This tends to be where the traditional image of ‘biohacking’ comes in – with the “unorthodox” methods.)

So my suggestion to you is simple: try experimenting on yourself.

(No, no, I don’t mean just jumping right in and injecting crazy substances into your body. I mean changing ANY variable – no matter how small – in a way that you suspect might be good for you. And watching what happens, with an open mind.)

Because you know what? You may just surprise yourself and discover a highly efficient or effective way to improve your health, looks, or athletic performance.

And if you do, please share it with the world. So hats off to fellow biohackers who are genuinely trying to improve themselves through self-experimentation. And honestly, hats off to Dave Asprey and the like, who are seeking to become better, live longer, and be healthier, through some open-minded experiments and an optimistic attitude.

(And if some individuals are making money off of untested “biohacks” or spouting ideas that simply don’t work, we should be critical of the specific techniques in question – but not give up on Biohacking as a whole.)

Because you can improve yourself.

You can start now, today.

It helps to have a little optimism, and an open mind, and patience. But through a little self experimentation, you may just surprise yourself with the amount of power you have over your own body.

And ultimately, you may be able to upgrade your life, just by starting with some small self-experiments.

Sometimes, Something Just Clicks.

That rare moment when something you’re trying to achieve suddenly works – really well.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on

My name is Dolan Ingraham.

I’m a self-optimization and improvement addict who has:

  • Taught myself from scratch how to profitably invest (earning an annualized return of 24%), and released a course on the subject
  • Learned how to travel the country, staying in amazing hotels, on a shoestring budget
  • Figured out how to enjoyably lose 10 pounds of fat in 30 days

From $70 round-trip flights to cities I’ve always wanted to visit (staying in beautiful hotels that I paid ~$100 total for), to aggressive yet calculated stock investments, to adventures in fasting and green tea, I’m constantly learning, experimenting, and self optimizing to have the best life possible – and I may just be able to help you make your life a little more adventurous too.

The thing is, recently I’ve been struggling with weight loss. Fat loss, to be more precise.

While working a hotel job that involved a lot of unhealthy free food and night shifts, I put on more weight than I’ve ever had in my life.

A little background – I’d recently learned how to put on muscle mass (something I thought would be impossible). I had always had this dream of being able to actually gain visible muscle, which I was NEVER able to do. No matter how much I went to the gym (4 times a week, religiously), I couldn’t change how my body looked. Long story short – maybe I’ll tell you more another time – I finally cracked the code and was able to put on some quality muscle mass with a totally different approach. It involved eating a lot.

BUT THEN along came this job.

This stressful, night-shift, fast-paced, food-abundant, nutritionally-questionable, hospitality job.

And without realizing it, slowly, over time, I put on more weight than I ever have in my life.

I went from being decently proud of my physical health, and the muscles I had finally gained to looking at the mirror at a rounded face and belly. What. The. Fuck.

When I actually stepped on a scale (at my brother’s urging), the number shook me a little more than I’d like to admit.

My cholesterol was too high. Total cholesterol was at 223. My doctor made a point of talking to me about it.

Eventually, I realized….I wanted to lose weight. (And not the muscle mass that I had worked for – I wanted to lose fat.)

So I started researching it, and doing everything I could to lose weight.

I tried everything. (Ok not EVERYTHING. But a lot. I really experimented with everything I could. And I went pretty hard.)

CrossFit, Paleo, Slow-Carb, Counting Calories, Counting Macros, the “Fast-Metabolism Diet,” even a bit of the Weight Watchers point system.

Here’s the thing: I understand that weight loss is supposed to be a simple formula, (Calories In) minus (Calories Out). (I also understand that some people think that’s bogus, and that you should just focus on eating certain types of foods rather than count calories.)

Here’s the thing: othing worked.

(I should clarify – that’s not totally fair – there were some benefits to various approaches.)


Occasionally a pound or two would come off from various tactics, after a ton of effort. But it would tend to come back.

I had a basic problem – the fewer calories I ate, the worse I felt.

Even cutting my calories a little bit felt awful.

But over the past month or so, I’ve been able to lose 10 pounds in the time-span of about 30 days and actually FEEL GOOD. Really good. (And since losing that first ten pounds and hitting my goal, I’ve actually lost a little more weight…) My total cholesterol has also dropped to 153. My doctor was blown away – she had never seen anything like it.

So since a lot of people seem to be going through similar problems, I thought I’d start here. Maybe, if you have any extra fat you want to lose, I can help you.

Only, this is my first blog post ever, and I’m getting tired of writing, and you’re probably getting tired of reading.

So, perhaps in a future post?