Was Today a Good Day or a Bad Day?

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On my long journey to recovery, I used to categorize days by how much I ate and how well I behaved in relation to food. I used to say, "today was good because I only x, or today was bad because I binged, purged, overeate, showed a lack of self-restraint.

It didn't matter what else happened that day. If I binged, it was a bad day. And if I ate right (which was rare- I fluctuated between 0 and 6000 for about 10 years) or if I didn't eat anything, I was good.

I was living in a black-and-white world. There was no in-between. I wanted to eat enough to have energy, but not so much that I didn't lose weight. That's the classic dilemma for dieters.

The problem was, I was never close to what I needed. Hitting 1800-2000 cal a day (just enough to lose 1-1.5 pounds a week) was like hitting a bull's eye. That's what I wanted, but after a while I realized that if I ate anything, I would eat everything.

If I were in that state of mind again, here's what I would do.

I would judge the day by...

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How to Get Fat By Eating Salad

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A few years ago McDonald's started offering salads in plastic containers to make it look like their fare was healthier and to please activists who demanded that fast food restaurants become healthier.

That's like asking liquor stores to be healthier and to sell more "low-calorie" beverages.

McDonald's started offering salads and guess what happened? Sales of Big Macs actually increased.

This puzzled McDonald's and researchers. What they found was that ordering the salad made people feel good about themselves, and then they ordered something that was the least healthy option.

This is why I think it's funny when I see people with a pile of fast food or a giant burger with a Diet Coke. Hell, why not just go all out if you want to eat like that?

This is what's called the Halo Effect. When we do one good thing, we do one bad thing. We give to charity, and then we run a red light. We help someone in need, and then we're unfaithful with our spouses.

Be careful that you're not doing...

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The Junk Food Myth

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What if I told you junk food didn't exist?

But, Kevin, of course, there's junk food. Chips, crackers, soda, cake, pastries, anything that I like to eat is junk food. What do you mean there is no junk food?

Let me ask you this: if you stranded on a remote island like Lost and you had the option to bring cookies or spinach with you, which would you take?

I would take the cookies anytime. Why?

Because they contain the most important nutrient of all: calories. Calories are king when it comes to nutrition. Yes, we hear a lot about vitamin this and vitamin that and micronutrients and polyphenols and other sophisticated names that are supposed to make us healthy but never seem to.

Of course you will never hear some guru or MD on TV tell you that. He will most likely be talking about some mysterious compound in pomegranate juice that is supposed to save your heart.

We like to demonize all these foods. We call them names like "processed foods" and "Franken foods" and "garbage."

I suspect...

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In Search of the Holy Grail

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One of my favorite movies was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It's the story about the search for the Holy Grail.

People have been searching for this thing for centuries. Spoiler alert: they find it at the end of the movie. The movie is 30 years old now. If you haven't seen it yet, then I'm sorry, I just spoiled it for you.

For years, I lived near the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine, FL. It's a horrible tourist trap that I recommend you avoid if you ever visit Saint Augustine. Tons of tourists taking pictures of the same thing. You won't find me there.

As the story goes, Spanish explorers crossed the ocean to find the Fountain of Youth. It never existed.

They spent years looking for the lost civilization of Atlantis. They're still looking for Bigfoot, Jesus's body, aliens, that plane that crashed into the Indian Ocean in 2014, and more

I think there's something about our psyche that is always looking for something that we cannot find. Just as we chase stuff that we...

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Care Less What Others Think But Not Completely

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Standard conventional advice in the self-help industry is, "you shouldn't care what others think." You should be yourself and if others don't like you, then that's too bad.

This is good to an extent. If you care what others think too much, you spend your whole life trying to please others and do what they want. 

But here's the problem: we are pack animals. We live in tribes, neighborhoods, communities, social networks. If you don't care at all what others think, then you risk alienating all of them and you will have no friends. You will basically be isolated. That's not a good life.

When it comes to the way you look, you should care less, but you shouldn't pretend you're healthy when you're not. Let me explain.

The fitness-cosmetic industry has taken advantage of our desire to be attractive to others. One thing that annoys me about the fitness-cosmetic industry is its emphasis on the cosmetic part and not the fitness part. It's like they've forgotten why being fit is a...

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Why Scientific Studies Matter Less Than You Think

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Did you ever see that episode of Adam Ruins Everything where he runs an "experiment" that shows that chocolate aids with weight loss. It was funny, but also shocking.

He kept running the same experiment until he got the result that he wanted (that's called p-hacking). This isn't uncommon in research. Just keep doing the same experiment until the numbers spit out bogus numbers. 

The media loved it. They published articles about how chocolate can help you lose weight. There was only one problem: the experiment was false.

It goes to show you how gullible the media are when it comes to this kind of research. 

Here's what I've noticed: the results in scientific studies are often far less spectacular than what the media say. There's always a difference between what the media say and what the raw data say. 

What I learned about scientific studies is that most of them are deeply flawed. They're flawed not because the researchers don't know what they're doing, but because...

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How to Get One-Pack Abs

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One of the great promises of the fitness industry is this idea that you can get "six pack abs."

It's no wonder that one of the best-selling fitness products over the past 10 years was "how to get ripped abs."

Let's explore this. Is having a six pack inherently something that everyone finds attractive? No, it's not. In fact, nobody really gave a crap about that until the 1960's and 1970's when Joe Weider (Arnold Schwarzeneggar's trainer) popularized the idea. Thanks, Joe. 

That's why every gym has at least 15 crunch machines and bunch of other machines to make those abs look great. 

Of course, nobody wants to talk about "one-pack abs." I mean, who wants those? If you have a one-pack (dad-bod), you must not be fit, you will die of a heart attack soon, and you're totally undesirable, especially if you're a male.

None of that is true. Having six pack abs indicates low body fat levels. Nothing more, nothing less. It sends a signal that you are "fit," have self-discipline, and are...

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The BIggest Loser is Coming Back

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How do you change your habits and how you think?

The answer: one decision at a time.

When I was in my early 20's, I was not a people person. I was a total introvert. I didn't know how to talk to people. I had horrible customer service skills. I sucked at sales. I sucked at everything.

I realized that if I didn't become a little more extroverted and didn't learn how to talk to people, I wasn't going anywhere in life. 

When I visited the physical therapist who I volunteered with after I graduated from PT school, she said, "you were so silent when you started here [2010]." I wasn't a kid at that point. I was a grown adult and I had poor social skills.

These days, I can go to a party or social event where I don't know anybody and start talking to them like we're best friends. It truly is remarkable how much I've changed. 

But that was a loong process. I had to make the decision to change, start practicing, and then develop that skill over time. I changed one day at a time.

That's how...

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Reinvention Doesn't Happen Overnight

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How do you change your habits and how you think?

The answer: one decision at a time.

When I was in my early 20's, I was not a people person. I was a total introvert. I didn't know how to talk to people. I had horrible customer service skills. I sucked at sales. I sucked at everything.

I realized that if I didn't become a little more extroverted and didn't learn how to talk to people, I wasn't going anywhere in life. 

When I visited the physical therapist who I volunteered with after I graduated from PT school, she said, "you were so silent when you started here [2010]." I wasn't a kid at that point. I was a grown adult and I had poor social skills.

These days, I can go to a party or social event where I don't know anybody and start talking to them like we're best friends. It truly is remarkable how much I've changed. 

But that was a loong process. I had to make the decision to change, start practicing, and then develop that skill over time. I changed one day at a time.

That's how...

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What I Learned Watching Late-Night Infomercials

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In the title of this e-mail, I said "late-night" but I could easily say "early-morning." It's the same stuff.

I had the pleasure of watching one of these informericals for some health product. I won't say what it was, but it was interesting to note all the cognitive biases:

- Client testimonials

- A good-looking presenter

- A fake audience that nodded when instructed

- Showing before and after results

- Limited-time offers and a timer to make you buy

It's amazing how many biases I see now that I didn't see just a few years ago.

My big theme, if you haven't noticed, is self-awareness. I'm a big fan of it.

Once you realize these biases and these tricks, they're a lot less persuasive than they were before.

I remember how easily persuaded I was when I bought an e-book (remember those) back in 2004 that showed me how to get in the best shape of my life. I remember how it was able to whet my appetite and make me want to buy.

Now that I've entered the digital marketing space, I can see...

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