All About Bonds

Investing

This blog post is all about bonds. If you’d rather watch my YouTube video on the subject, here it is:

I was trying to decide how much of my investment portfolio should contain bonds. So I decided to do a bunch of research into bonds, and here’s what I found. Sorry this isn’t the video about my portfolio, like I promised last time, but I needed to do this research, so I thought I’d share it with you.

You know what a loan is, right? You lend a person money, and they pay you interest for a certain term of time if you’re lucky, and at the end of the loan, they give you back the principal. A bond is a legally binding form of such a loan between governments or corporations and you. You buy a bond, they pay you interest over the course of a number of years, and then at the end they give you your money back. The government or corporation wants to borrow some money, and they can do it from you!

There are two kinds of bonds – corporate bonds and government bonds. Government bonds can be federal, or municipal. Bonds from lower levels of government are riskier than federal bonds because those levels of government can default on their loans and can’t just print money to pay their debts. US Treasuries are bonds from the federal government. 

Not only can municipal governments default on their loans, but corporations can also get into trouble and not be able to pay you back. Buying a bond from a stable and profitable company is a much safer investment than buying from a fly-by-night startup. So bonds have different ratings.

There are companies out there that rate bonds. In the US there are three primary bond rating agencies: Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings. Each has their own rating system, but they’re similar. For example, Standard & Poor and Fitch both rate their bonds AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C, and D. The best is an AAA rating. Safer bonds generally have lower interest rates than riskier bonds. You want investment grade bonds, which are the ones that are less risky – BBB and up. And you want to stay away from high yield or junk bonds – the ones with really poor ratings – BB and lower.

Primary issue bonds are ones you buy directly from the issuer through a broker or directly from the government. Secondary issue bonds are those that you buy from someone who already owns the bond.

Investment grade bonds are a lot safer than buying a stock. For this reason, people like putting bonds in their portfolio to both add diversity and safety.

It’s possible to buy bonds that have already been issued. But it’s unlikely that you’ll buy it at face value. Here’s why. Say a 10 year bond was issued with a 5% yield or interest rate. But the next day, interest rates go down to 1%. New bonds would have to be issued at the 1% rate. So now that 5% bond looks really good, doesn’t it? If you had to choose between the 1% bond and the 5% bond, you’d choose the 5% bond. So the person selling it to you can up the price a little, and as long as they don’t raise it TOO much, you’d still be willing to pay.

But buying bonds directly is safe – especially if you buy US Treasury bonds. You get regular interest payments and principal returned at maturity.

If you want to buy individual bonds you have to buy them from the government or over the counter from a bond broker. A bond broker is someone who deals with buying and selling bonds.

Benefits of bonds:

  1. Less risky than stocks.
  2. Diversification – not just stocks.
  3. Income from interest.

Bad about bonds:

  1. Lower returns than stocks.

But say you don’t want to buy individual bonds, and don’t want to wait years for them to mature, only to buy more bonds, etc. Also, you want more diversity in your bonds.

This is where a bond fund comes in. You can buy a basket full of bonds, either in a bond mutual fund or a bond ETF. I don’t like mutual funds, so we’ll just talk about ETF’s here, but the concepts are the same.

A bond ETF is a basket of a bunch bonds. This provides diversification. If one of the bonds goes into default, it’s just one of many many bonds in the fund, and will have minimal impact. And you can buy shares in that ETF on the stock market, which is very easy to do. Just contact your broker and ask them to do it, or do it through your broker’s website or using your brokerage account app on your phone. Bonds usually have denominations of $1000 or $5000 or more, but shares in an ETF usually cost much less than that, so it’s also easier to get started. You don’t need to buy individual bonds yourself – the ETF people do.

The owners of the bond ETF will constantly be cashing in bonds as they mature and will buy new bonds. They will also typically pay you a dividend, which comes from interest from bond payments or from selling of bonds themselves. While a bond ETF is not guaranteed to give you a dividend, it’s still very likely. Check the ETF’s payment history online to see what their payments are like. Another risk with bond funds is that they do not guarantee the return of principal. If you buy a US Treasury bond, the government will guarantee you your interest payments and return of principal when the bond comes due. A bond fund, however, may go up and down in price, and when you decide to sell, the price may be lower than at the time you bought it.

Bond etfs are more liquid than buying or selling bonds directly with dealers. Just go to your broker and buy and sell at will.

So, now you know about bonds.

What I’m personally trying to determine right now is how to rearrange my portfolio to follow a real strategy. Up until now, I’ve just tried purchasing funds that looked attractive. But I want to start following a strategy.

So that means I need to come up with a strategy, which partially means determining how much of my portfolio will be in bonds. I haven’t come up with an answer yet.

In case you want a place to start, here are the names of some bond funds that I know of. But it’s just a small list to get you started:

iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG)

BMO Long Corporate Bond Index ETF (ZLC.TO)

Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VBTLX)

Don’t Buy Stocks! Except …

Investing

This blog post is about buying individual stocks. If you’d rather watch the video instead, here it is:

I made two purchases recently and I thought they were rather interesting. One was some stock, and the other purchase was a fridge. I put a whole lot of thought into the fridge – a lot of research and measuring and making sure I had the right fridge type and the right make. (An LG with french doors.) As to the stock I bought, well I thought it’d be cool to get into this bitcoin thing so I bought a company – HIVE – that makes bitcoins.

Now which do you think I put more research into? The fridge or the stock purchase? Well, the answer is the fridge! I recently gave some stock buying tips and I didn’t even use any of them for making this decision! It was a spur of the moment kind of thing. And I think that’s a problem – I think lots of people when they buy stocks, they don’t put as much thought into it. Stocks appreciate in value and do you well in the future, to be counted on in retirement. But sometimes we give more though to purchases that last just a few years versus purchases that should help you retire!

I’ll tell you later why I think it might have been okay in this case. But in general maybe I should have learned even more about HIVE before buying in. Like using some of those stock buying tips I recently researched. And there’s a whole lot more to it than that as well. For what it’s worth, I am not a financial advisor so I have to tell you that you need to do your own research and don’t just be trusting me. I’m trying my best, but I’m not expert.

Anyway, say you become an expert: you go to financial school for years, you watch videos, you study books, you learn from mentors. You’re an expert in the field finance and the stock market. Now that you’re an expert, what’s you’re track record going to be like? Hopefully the stock portfolio you put together will beat the market because if it doesn’t, you might as well just buy a market ETF instead – no need to buy stocks yourself. (An ETF is a portfolio of other stocks or funds that usually tracks some kind of index, like the S&P 500.) So all these people that are out there that are experts in the field of buying stock – how well do they do? Well it’s been shown, and you can do research online, that even the experts over the long term don’t beat the market. Over 80% of experts couldn’t beat the market over the long term. Actually there’s a great video on YouTube by Ben Felix about why it’s so hard to beat the market – I highly recommend you look it up. It’s called “Why it’s So Hard to Beat the Market.”

If it’s so hard to beat the market, the question then becomes why do you think that you can beat the market? Because I bought that HIVE stock a little while ago and somebody actually sold it to me. That means that they didn’t want the stock that I did want. So what makes me smarter than that guy? Anytime you do any purchase you can ask yourself: what do you know that the guy who’s selling it doesn’t? So you have to wonder if it’s really worth buying individual stocks. Should I buy individual stocks in my portfolio? The short answer for me is “no”. If you want your portfolio to do well – to beat the market – you’re playing a loser’s game.

Don’t take my word for it. But first, you need to know what and ETF is. An ETF is an exchange traded fund – it’s just a basket of stocks, bonds, or other ETFs and you can buy on the stock market. An typically tracks the an index of some kind. The most popular ones track the S&P 500, or the whole market, or some other big index like the Nasdaq. Now that you know this, here is a quote by Warren Buffett – a pretty famous investor who’s done really well for himself. He says a “low cost index fund is the most sensible equity investment for the great majority of investors.” Another well-regarded investor is Peter Lynch, and he says that “most investors would be better off in an index fund.”

So the question is: should you buy ETF’s or should you be buying stocks? I think that for my retirement an index fund is the way to go. Actually, I am buying more than one index fund in order to diversify. Three to seven index funds, or four to six, depending on who you listen to. I’m trying to figure out the best set of index funds to buy. I already own lots of ETFs but I’m thinking about paring it down because I made decisions that might not have been optimal, so to speak. So I will also be selling some of my stocks. I already sold recently to buy ETFs with. And I’m deciding which ETFs I should buy.

I decided I am not going to buy large amounts of stock anymore. I’m only gonna buy small amounts of stock. A while ago I bought Tesla (TSLA) because my son he really likes Tesla cars. So now we can say that we own a part of Tesla. And guys how many shares I bought? One! 😛 (It has since split). It was a fun purchase, but because I don’t have a crystal ball I decided one share was enough. I also bought a few shares of Shopify, a great Canadian company, because they’re a local firm and a friend of mine started working there. Coincidentally they’re doing really well too. One of my biggest individual stock purchases was AT&T. Some guy on the internet was suggesting them, and he seemed to really know his stuff, so I bought some AT&T stock. Right now it’s down 30%. So yeah… there’s that. That taught me the lessons of a) don’t trust random dudes on the internet – do your own research. And b) individual stocks are always a gamble. One guy on my TikTok channel said speculative investments shouldn’t be more than 1% of your portfolio. Makes good sense to me.

Beating the Stock Market! Here are Some Stock Picking Tips

Investing

So you want to buy some investments? You hear that investing is a good idea? So how are you going to invest?

If you want to see this article in video form instead, here it is:

Maybe you just pick a name out of a hat – you go in here and pick a name and like Berkshire Hathaway. Or maybe some Tesla! Or Apple, or Coca-Cola or Proctor & Gamble.

Maybe you’re looking online and you see you see headlines like this one I found: “Four of the Cheapest Stocks to Buy Right Now”. Sounds good because you always want to buy low and sell high, right? Or what about this one: “One Dividend Aristocrat Set to Soar and One You Should Ignore”. Okay – I want the one that will soar, right? I don’t want to have the one that I should ignore. So maybe I should buy that one that’s gonna soar. (By the way, a dividend aristocrat is a company that pays dividends pretty regularly and is a very stable company so you can count on. That’s kind of what they’re supposed to be at least, because you never know for sure.) What about this headline: “This Stock Could be One of the Biggest Winners in a Post-Pandemic World.” Sounds good, right, because we all know pandemic is going to end sooner or later.

So is this what you’re going to do? Follow advice you see online about stocks you need to buy and get into? Or are you going to do a little bit of research first? Or are you not going to buy stocks at all? It’s up to you of course. But I did some research and have some tips for you today for how to pick stocks and I’m gonna be going through some of them with you right now.

But I have to tell you even these tips are not everything. They’re just scratching the surface. There’s so much that you should learn! I did a bunch of research and about how to buy a stock and I came up with these tips as some of them and then after I had all these tips together I saw a video on the Learn to Invest YouTube channel called “Eight Steps to Research a Company to Invest In” and they had a whole bunch more tips that were not even on the list that I put together. Like, one of them was to buy a book by people close to Warren Buffet about how he interprets financial statements. Because if you’re gonna really research a stock you need to look into the financial statements from a company. Great tip! And there were many more. So don’t take this list as definitive. It’s just a starting point.

Let’s get into it.

One of the first things you need to realize is that you need to take into account your what you want your portfolio to achieve. Do you want it to grow really quickly? Do you want it to be as stable as possible? Or do you want it to provide retirement income? What about having your investments be as safe as possible? You need to think about what you want your portfolio to achieve and then make sure you buy a stock that falls into that strategy. It’s no good buying a highly volatile penny stock if your investment aim is stability and wealth preservation. So you want a stock that fits.

So you decided that maybe a company would be a good fit for your portfolio. What can you research about this company and it’s stock to see if it’s a worthwhile investment?

One of the more obvious and simple to explain ones is earnings growth. Is the company growing? Plain and simple. Are they making more money every year or not? You don’t want a company that’s not growing or that’s falling behind because in the long run that stock’s not going to do well. And you might want to compare it to its peers as well. Because if it’s growing at 2% per year and all its competitors are doing 12%, that’s a red flag. There may be a reason for it, but there’s more research to be done there.

There’s a couple ratios that you need to understand and here is one of the big ones: the price to earnings ratio, or PE ratio. Basically, you divide the stock price by the earnings per share (EPS) and that’s the ratio. If you don’t have the earnings per share, that’s just how much earnings the whole company made divided by the number of shares issued. So the price to earnings is you divide the stock price by EPS and then you get the price to earnings ratio. You should find the PE ratio for this company (it’s usually provided when you look up a stock with your broker) and compare it to other similar companies in the same industry and see if it’s a good PE ratio or not. Generally, PE ratios falls between 13 and 18. (Though I didn’t see exact consensus on this range in my research.) Anything below that range is considered cheap, and above that range is considered expensive. But you have to realize every industry is slightly different.

Dividends! Does your company pay dividends? Do you even care about dividends? Some people don’t care about dividends. Actually I watched a video explaining why people shouldn’t care so much about dividends. (Because there’s a huge group of people who call themselves dividend investors, who are constantly chasing the best dividend stocks.) When a company pays out dividends its stock price goes down commiserate with how much money it had to spend to pay its shareholders, because that money is no longer in the company and it is worth less. So at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if they pay out dividends or not, but some people really like dividends. And you might be one of them so take a look at a company’s dividend information. The most obvious thing to check is the yield. If a stock has a yield of 3% for example, and you buy $1000 worth of the stock, the company will pay you $30 every year. Another thing to watch for is the payout ratio. This is how much of the company’s earning go to paying dividends. A good ratio is in the 35% to 55% range. There are exceptions to that rule, and you have to know about that too. For example REITs are mandated by the government to give out a large amount of their profits so their payout ratios are going to be much bigger than 35% to 55% and that’s expected. (A REIT is a Real Estate Investment Trust, and a great way to get into real estate without actually buying properties yourself. Do some research into them!)

For the next one on my list I’ll keep it short and sweet. And it’s the company’s management. How well is the company managed? Does it have a good culture? Does it churn through CEO’s, or is it stable?

Next up is a company’s relative strength in its industry. First, is the company in a good industry or is it in a falling industry? For example, I wouldn’t want to be in newspapers right now but internet growth stocks might be a better thing to be into. You need to do that research. So even if the industry is a good one, you need to know if the company is strong within that industry. Just because it’s a good industry doesn’t mean that companies gonna be doing well within that industry. So check to see how well is it doing compared to its peers.

Stability. There’s two kinds of stability. One is the company’s stock price. Does the price vary wildly? Can you handle a wildy eratic stock price or do you want something that tracks the market better? The second kind of stability is in the company itself. This is related to the management of the company. Do lots of employees leave? How long has its CEO been the CEO, and what about the CEO before that? Does it keep changing its product line? Etc.

Let’s look at another ratio. It’s the debt to equity ratio. Generally it should be less than 0.3 and it is exactly what it sounds like: how much debt does the company have versus how much stuff it has. You know that on a personal level if you take on a huge debt that you can’t handle, that’s not a good idea. The same thing goes for a company. And again, you have to watch which industry it’s in because industries have higher ratios than others, just because of the way they’re structured.

So I’ve just given you a whole bunch of little tips about how to look at a stock but there’s more, like I said at the beginning. You need to do more research and to be frank I don’t even know if you should be buying stock and I’ll be getting into that in the next video. But if you do want to buy stock these are some tips for you to watch out for. But don’t take my word for it – I’m just some random guy sharing what I’ve learning. I’m not an expert. So watch out for my next article and video where I talk about the fact that maybe you don’t want to be buying stocks in the first place.

iOS Script for Logging Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Since installing iOS 14 I’ve been playing with Shortcuts on my iPhone quite a bit. I’ve been fiddling around with creating a shortcut to log my mindfulness minutes (ie, meditation!). This data goes into my Apple Health data records. I finally got a script working. The trick was to figure out how to play with the dates. Anyway, in case you’re interested, here’s the script. Note that on the “Show More” for the first step (Ask for Number) you can put in a default value, like ’15’ if you usually meditate for 15 minutes.

BOOK REVIEW: AC – The Power of Appetite Correction

Book Reviews

Introduction

I’m gonna be giving you a review of this book AC: The Power of Appetite Correction by Bert Herring, MD.

If you’d rather watch the video review, here it is:

Appetite Correction is just another way of saying Intermittent Fasting. I’ll be going over what every chapter in the book talks about and also I’ll be telling you why I think it’s a good book and a bad book at the same time. The book is divided into three sections each with their own set of chapters. There’s the learning section with a bunch of chapters. There’s the doing section with sixteen different tools and then there’s a conclusion which also has several chapters in it.

Part 1 – Learning

The first learning chapter is called Starting Line and it talks about the fact that you have a condition – the excess fat. And you have a problem that causes the condition to happen. And you need to solve both of those problems. You need to get rid of the excess fat but you also need to solve the underlying problem which led to the excess fat. Pretty simple. One of the problems with this book is that he talks a lot without actually offering any solutions. It’s like the next chapter, which a really short one. It’s called Monetizing Misfortune and he basically questions why we keep eating when we know the benefits of not eating. He says that he’s gonna address that but he doesn’t actually address it in the chapter. So he spends two full pages talking about the fact that it happens. That may not sound like much but he does that a lot of that in this book. Talking about things and I keep reading thinking like, get to the point already, let’s move on, but he never gets there. That was a small annoying aspect of this book.

The next chapter is called Info Clutter and I kind of liked what he does in this is chapter to be honest. He talks about who gains from you overeating and who gains from you not overeating. He points out that there’s lots of gains to be made in society by people that sell things and want you to buy things. And there’s not so many people that actually benefit from you maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example a supermarket tabloids offering ways to lose 23 pounds they gain from the fact that you buy these magazines because you’re overweight. He gives lots of other little examples like diet book authors and publishers and stuff like that. (He admits that he’s one of them himself which which I find a little bit amusing.) He points out as well that the people that gain from you not being fat and overweight are very few. There’s people like you and your family and your insurance company and employer and that’s about it really. I found that chapter interesting.

The next chapter talks about appetite versus hunger. I kind of liked this. I like the fact that it points out that there’s a difference between you needing to eat and you wanting to eat. Lots of losing weight is managing your wanting to eat because even if you want to eat that doesn’t mean you should. That’s a problem that I deal with myself a lot. I want to eat something but I don’t really need to eat anything right now I just feel like. Again, he points out that that’s a problem, but doesn’t give so many solutions, in this chapter at least, but there you go.

In the next chapter he talks about the differences between humans and animals. Animals will eat until they’re full and then be done. They won’t eat until they get hungry again. People, on the other hand, well you know that people eat a lot differently than that. The chapter after that is just a follow-on chapter basically saying the same thing.

But the chapter after that is kind of interesting. It goes through some terms that you might like to be aware of and what they actually mean. Like fat, fat versus weight, diet versus lifestyle, intermittent fasting, metabolism, metabolic rate. I think it’s pretty good.

In the next chapter after that he talks about the different types of hunger which is interesting. I didn’t know that there were different types of hunger. Somatic hunger and limbic hunger are the two that he goes into in depth. And then there’s also mouth hunger and clock hunger. You can kind of guess what those two are, although the first two were new to me.

The next chapter goes through some myths. Like the myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Is it really? He says it’s a myth! He gets into hypoglycemia and misunderstandings about that. He touches on the myth that fasting burns muscle. Lots of people think that if you fast you burn your muscle mass he goes into why that’s a myth. So that’s interesting.

The next chapter talks about your goal body. In other words lots people have a target of losing, say, 10 pounds. He questions why that is your target. 10 pounds it’s such an arbitrary number. Rather you should be asking what kind of body you want to have. What body would you be comfortable living with for the rest. That’s the way you should be looking at it instead of trying to lose X number of pounds when that X is just an arbitrary number. This actually helped me because I’m trying to lose 20 pounds and then after I thought about that I thought why 20 when I rather prefer to get into some old clothes that I haven’t worn in a long time. Or would I rather look a certain slimness rather than necessarily losing 20 pounds. I know recently I was talking to a guy (he’s taller than I am) and he already weighs 35 pounds less than me and he’s trying to lose weight. And I’m like, if I was that weight I’d be perfectly happy and yet he was complaining about his paunch and his jowls. It got me thinking that maybe looking at a certain number is not what I should be doing but rather I should be asking if I want to have a slim belly. Do I want to thin out my face a little bit. Some interesting food for thought that’s for sure.

The next learning chapter is weighing yourself. If you’re trying to lose weight of course you have to weigh yourself and keep track of your progress. This chapter basically talks about being realistic and what you can expect. Like if you’re gonna go and sweat on a treadmill for an hour and then weigh yourself expecting to way significantly less well then you’re mistaken. That kind of thing.

The next chapter talks about controlling your “apestat” – your appetite. Like the fact that you can train your appetite so that you eat only when you need to, and go from there.

The last learning chapter talks about some of the gremlins that can get in your way when you’re trying to establish good eating habits. I’ll list a couple of them here. Social occasions which are almost always food centered. Meal schedules which encourage you to eat at certain times of the day even if you’re not hungry. Easy and quick preparation of food thanks to tools – think about how much you would eat if it took you a lot longer to prepare the food. Those are just a couple examples.

Part 2 – Tools

Section 2 of this book includes several tools that you can use in your weight loss journey.

The first tool is Your Compass. It’s basically saying that if you’re gonna lose weight you really need to have a baseline from which to start. One known to you so that you know if what you’re doing is good or bad. So the author gives bunch of different suggestions for things that you can measure. Like you can measure your waist, your weight (obviously), your BMI, and all sorts of things. There are lots of things you can do here. You can go to your doctor to see about some stats about your body that you cannot find out easily by yourself. You can get some numbers so that when you are on your journey you can check against those numbers and see how you’re doing.

Tool number two is A.C.E.S. – Appetite Correction Eating Schedule. It talks all about your 19-5 eating schedule. The author recommends that you to start fasting for 19 hours a day and eating for 5. Personally I don’t use those numbers. Mine are more like 6 and 18. This is the chapter where we actually get down to the real information that we’ve been waiting for. This is the halfway point of the book and it’s finally it’s finally getting to the good stuff. This is what I was reading this book for – eating schedule and what’s all involved. ANd that starts in this chapter.

Tool number three is Address the Stress. The author says here and I quote “When stress of any kind climbs our automatic systems kick in and interprets this as a need to prepare for the impending unavailability of food.” In other words you need to manage stress in your life. This chapter talks all about managing stress – taking a stress inventory, addressing it, and managing it.

Tool number four you probably saw this one coming from a mile away and that is Exercise. I’m not going to go into this much more than that – it’s pretty obvious but that’s what this tool is talking about. Make sure you get your exercise – a sedentary lifestyle is not a good thing.

Tool number five is Be the Wild Mustang! By “wild” it means to eat food that takes a while to prepare. If you think about an orange juice for example – it’s the predigested serving of three to eight oranges. So imagine sitting down with eight oranges and eating every one of them. This chapter talks about the fact that you should respect food that takes a little while to prepare and a little while to eat and that these things are good things not bad things. We’re too stuck in a society that believes in fast food – quick and cheap and easy to make. This tool talks about the fact that you should be thinking the opposite.

Tool six is meal composition – basically he talks about miscellaneous little things that you can eat and that you can’t. Like diet sodas, stevia, savory over sweet, soup, salad, things to avoid, add some new things to your diet, etc. Then on the last page there’s a little summary table – quite handy.

Tool seven is Finding Your Healthy Tribe. In other words you want to hang around with people that also think like you do. In other words, they’re trying to get fit and eat well just like you want to. Because it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re doing it with somebody else.

Tool number eight is portioning – just getting your portion sizes right. That’s all the chapter’s about.

Tool number nine is meal dynamics. It’s not just important what you eat but how you eat. Examples include the order of the food that you eat, when you eat, how fast you eat, and stuff like that.

Tool number 10: decision-making. Things like: are you gonna decide what you’re gonna eat and how much you can eat when you’re starving? Things like that.

Tool number 11 is to experiment. Do you wonder if having coffee with cream versus having coffee without cream makes a difference? Personally, I’ll try it out, and this little chapter just says to try things out and experiment. But you need to give each experiment enough time like a month. Try cream in your coffee for a month and see if it has any effect, and compare it to another month of coffee without cream and see what the difference is. Do you lose weight or do you not lose weight? Do you feel better or worse?

Tool number 12 is awareness. Be aware that the people out there in the media don’t care what’s best for you. They just want to sell you stuff and they’ll do anything to do it. So be aware of that and figure that into your decision-making when it comes time to decide on how you can eat, when you’re gonna eat, how you’re going to exercise etc.

Tool number 13 is affirmations. This came up in the other book that I did a review on – Tiny Habits. In that book they’re talked about the fact that you have to give yourself little affirmations like little congratulations when you’ve done something well. This book says it too. It’s something I don’t do enough but I really think I should do more of. If I succeed at doing something or doing it well or something I hadn’t done before, I should give myself a little kudo – a pat on the back kind of thing. This chapter is just like two pages but I think it’s good advice.

Tool number 14 is hybridize. That is hybridize different kind of dieting plans. In other words, there are many kinds of diets like Atkins and keto. There’s tons of different diets out there – figure out works for you. Appetite correction / intermittent fasting – what this book is all about is – talks about when you can eat and certain aspects of diet like that, but it works well with other diets too. If you want to mix two together, like if you want to only eat in a certain window like twelve o’clock to five o’clock sure but what do you eat? Maybe what you eat in that window is defined by the Atkins diet.

Tool number 15 is to protect your sleep. In other words you need to have a good night’s sleep. So many people don’t do that, and the advice is obvious, but this chapter goes over it. It’s just two pages but yeah – sleep is good.

Tool number 16 is to declutter your intake. In other words, take a look at all the vitamins pills and other things that you’re taking. If you’re eating a healthy diet then maybe you’re not going to need all of these things. So take a really critical look at what you’re putting in your body and see if it’s a good thing or a bad thing and if you really need it or not.

Part 3 – Conclusions

Okay so those are the tools he mentions. That’s the biggest section in the book – the tools. And at the very end of the book he goes into a couple concluding chapters. They’re all pretty short.

The first concluding chapter talks about when you attain your goal body. You can go into a kind of maintenance mode because you don’t need to lose weight anymore you just need to maintain weight. Things kinda change, so that’s what this chapter talks about.

The next concluding chapter talks about appetite correction for kids. Can kids be part of an appetite correction intermittent fasting program? Yes they can and this chapter talks about that a little bit. It’s a little bit longer than some of the other chapters. That’s not saying much – it’s like three pages – but there you go.

The last concluding chapter of the book basically talks about what it’s like to be on an intermittent fasting routine. The chapter gives you a little bit of encouragement to go and do it and that kind of thing.

My Thoughts

So what do I think of this book? AC: The Power of Appetite Correction? Well, I do intermittent fasting which is what the book calls “appetite correction” and one of the big problems I have is that I feel hungry all morning long before I get to eat at 12:00. And that’s one of the things that I was hoping the author would address in this book and well, he doesn’t. I know some other people have told me that they’ve just gotten used to it and they’re okay and they don’t feel hungry in the mornings but that’s not me. And I’ve been on this program for several months now and I still get really hungry every morning. And it’s frustrating. And does he address this at all? No he doesn’t. You’d think it would be an obvious thing to address when you’re not eating for much of the day. So that’s really disappointing.

Another disappointment is that this book is not really about intermittent fasting. The book has a little bit in there about intermittent fasting but generally it’s a book about eating well and being healthy. There’s nothing wrong with that – I’m sure you should eat well and be healthy but if you’re looking for a book that’s mostly about appetite correction or intermittent fasting, and about the details of that particular method, then I don’t think this is the right book to go to. If you are looking to just generally improve your health and are thinking about having intermittent fasting an aspect of that and you want to have lots of different advice about improving your health then this is a good book for you. But that’s not what I was looking for, so I have to say it was a disappointment for me.

So would I recommended book? Well like I said: it depends on how you’re looking at the book and what your needs are. So for  somebody like me I would not recommend it. For somebody that’s looking for a general healthy eating guide that includes intermittent fasting, then I would. 

BOOK REVIEW: The ONE Thing

Book Reviews

Introduction

This book is so comprehensive that even the introduction is three chapters long!

CHAPTER 1

The author discovered that results at his company went through the roof when consultations with key employees resulted in todo lists containing one thing. The one thing with the most impact. Not a list of top 10 things to do, or top 5. THE ONE THING.

“When you want the absolute best chance to succeed at something, your approach should always be the same. Go small. […] You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

That’s what this whole book is about, hence the title. Finding the ONE THING you should do with the most impact. And why this is so important.

CHAPTER 2

The book is big on knocking over the first, most important, thing you need to do. The authors firmly believe that starting small will work to bigger and bigger results. They point out that a domino can knock over another domino that is 50% larger. This can create a compounding effect resulting in ever bigger dominos being knocked down.

So it’s imperative that you find that lead domino that’ll knock down the next and next and next, resulting in maximal effect. So find that first domino and whack away at it until it falls, because it’s the most important one!

This works because success is a result of successive steps. It’s not simultaneous. Each step builds on the results of the last. One thing at a time

CHAPTER 3

The author of “The Greatest Salesman in the World” is Og Mandino, and he said that “It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”

This chapter mentions a few ONE THINGs that crop up in society that produce excellence.

The author points out that companies that focus on one key product or one key service thrive. 

“One person.” People thrive when they have a person mentoring them. “No one is self-made.”

“One passion, one skill.” Pat Matthews, a painter, says “he turned his passion for painting into a skill, and ultimately a profession, by simply painting one painting a day.” Passion for something means that you’ll spend a disproportionate amount of time on it. That eventually translates to more skill and more results. Which leads to more enjoyment and more passion and even more time. It just keeps building on itself, leading to extraordinary results.

So by focusing on the ONE THING you’re focusing on the heart of success and achieving extraordinary results.

Part I – The Lies

In part one, the authors debunk six lies that come between you and success:

4 – Everything Matters Equally

The heart of this chapter is about the Pareto principle. How 80% of the results are achieved by 80% of the effort. The Pareto principle isn’t just about results. The 80/20 guidelines can be found everywhere. 20% of people cause me 80% of my grief. 🙂

So it’s important to identify the 20% that’ll get you the maximum results. A todo list becomes a success list when it’s full of the 20% items.

And you don’t have to stop there. You can go from the 20% most effective things that produce most results to the ONE Thing.

5 – Multitasking

In this chapter the authors claim that nobody can be great at multitasking. They say that multitaskers were just lousy at everything.

6 – A Disciplined Life

This chapter discusses the lie of discipline. Often people think that if something isn’t working, they need to apply more discipline to the problem. What they actually need to do is apply some discipline into creating a good habit around the problem, and the habit will take care of the problem. 

This is where books like Tiny Habits and Atomic Habits come in. They are both awesome books about habit building.

You need discipline to get that important habit going. 66 days on average.

“Sustain the discipline long enough on one habit, and not only does it become easier, but so do other things as well. It’s why those with the right habits seem to do better than others. They’re doing the most important thing regularly and, as a result, everything else is easier.”

Gary Keller espouses building these killer habits one at a time. Each of whose habits you build into your life one at a time.

7 – Willpower is Always on Will-Call

You can’t rely on willpower because you can’t call it up whenever you need it. Willpower is a finite resource, and you use it up throughout the day. It needs to be managed, like food or sleep. There are tricks to increase your willpower, but we still need to be careful of it.

When willpower runs out, we revert to what we normally would have done. What is your normal mode of operation? To grab the bag of carrots or the bag of chips? If you rely on willpower alone, average results are what you get.

So make the best use of your willpower. Use it for your most important thing – your ONE THING – as early in the day as possible to make use of your available willpower.

Don’t fight your willpower – use it intelligently.

8 – A Balanced Life

The Jedi keep pursuing balance in the Force – whatever that means. Does it mean there should be just as many Sith as Jedi? I don’t know. Doesn’t make sense. In a similar way, the authors argue that the pursuit of a balanced life doesn’t make sense either. You should be pursuing purpose, meaning, and significance, because THEY make a successful life, not balance. 

Balance is a figment. As you go throughout life you’ll naturally swing towards different priorities. Time on one thing means time away from another, which makes balance impossible. If you try to attend to all things equally, everything gets short changed and nothing gets its due.

“The reason we shouldn’t pursue balance is that the magic never happens in the middle; magic happens at the extremes.”

To get extraordinary results, choose what matters and focus on that. But because your personal life is so important, you can’t neglect it, awareness there is an essential ingredient.

“When you act on your priority, you’ll automatically go out of balance, giving more time to one thing over another. The challenge then doesn’t become one of not going out of balance, for in fact you must. The challenge becomes how long you stay on your priority. To be able to address your priorities outside of work, be clear about your most important work priority so you can get it done. Then go home and be clear about your priorities there so you can get back to work.”

He seems to be saying it’s your work life that will be out of balance and mostly focused on the ONE Thing. Your personal life always requires attention.

9 – Big is Bad

Big and bad are not synonymous. Thinking that it is limits you. “No one knows their ultimate ceiling for achievement.”

You gotta think big to get big results. So think big.

Part II – The Truth. The Simple Path to Productivity

10 – The Focusing Question

The book revolves around this question. If you listen to the podcast, which I do, you hear it a lot there too. Here it is:

“What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The answer to this question not only tells you where you go, but the first step to get there. How big your life can be and what the first tiny step is to get there.

11 – The Success Habit

Ask the Focusing Question in each area of your life. Constantly. “What’s the ONE Thing I can do today for [whatever you want] such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?” Asking should be routine. Habit.

You can use notes, screensavers, calendars cues, or whatever you want to remind you. You can use reminders like “The ONE Thing = Extraordinary Results” or “The Success Habit Will Get Me to My Goal”.

You can share this method and get support from others as they do it too.

12 – The Path to Great Answers

The question has to be big and specific. ‘What can I do to double sales in six months?’ and not ‘What can I do to increase sales?’ And then FOCUS it: ‘What’s the ONE Thing I can do to double sales in six months such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’

Then you need to come up with a Great Answer. And not just a straightforward to achieve one. But one that makes you strain to get it. Dig deep. Dig for answer you not only need to work for, but one that’ll stretch you – one that you need to research and develop and create new skills for.

They recommend digging for an answer that’s so different and original, you’ll probably need to reinvent yourself in some way to implement it.

Personally, I think that’s easy to say, but I have no idea how to implement this. Even now after having read the whole book and thought about it, I still have trouble with this step. I wish the book had dug into getting this answer a lot deeper.

Part III – Extraordinary Results

The author says you have a big ONE THING – the big long term you you wish to achieve, like becoming a millionaire or staring next to Emma Stone in a movie. And you ALSO have a small ONE THING – the priority you take action on to start you on the road to achieving the big ONE THING.

13 – Live With Purpose

This chapter includes one of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard, and it’s by George Bernard Shaw:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

Like so much I’ve heard since I started my self-improvement journey, this too is all about mindset. In this case, purpose. Our purpose sets our priorites which determine where our actions take us. A strong purpose gives you personal strength. If gives you clarity and leads to quicker decisions. 

You can ask about your whole life: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do in my life that would mean the most to me and the world, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

Ask yourself if you have  something that drives you and gets you up in the morning.  If not, pick a direction. The ONE Thing you want your life to be about more than any other. Try writing down something you’d like to accomplish and then describe how you’d do it.

14 – Live by Priority

“Purpose without priority is useless.” The word ‘priority’ started off with no plural form. There was only one priority.

But the problem with a long term goal is that it’s too far in the future and has no immediacy. So you need to bring your goals to NOW. Goal setting to the NOW is what the author says. 

You refine from a long time frame all the way down to what you need to do this moment. It goes from “What’s the ONE Thing I want to do someday?” to “Based on my someday goal, what’s the ONE Thing I can do this year?” to month to week to day and down to  “Based on my daily goal, what’s the ONE Thing I can do right now?”

Connect today to all your tomorrows. It matters.

People tend to be overly optimistic about what they can accomplish, and therefore most don’t think things all the way through. Researchers call this the “planning fallacy.” Visualizing the process – breaking a big goal down into the steps needed to achieve it – helps engage the strategic thinking you need to plan for and achieve extraordinary results. This is why Goal Setting to the Now really works.”

15 – Live for Productivity

Let’s be honest. Some of our activities matter little. Binge-watching Suits on Netflix results in a lot of wasted time and nothing else. If you want extraordinary results, then you need to focus on the most productive tasks, and set time aside for them. You have to block out time for your ONE THING, and guard those time blocks with a vengeance.

Sometimes your ONE THING is a one off. Time block it and get it done. Most often, it’s a recurring thing. Time block it into your calendar until it becomes habit. Everything else takes second seat.

 “So, go to your calendar and block off all the time you need to accomplish your ONE Thing. If It’s a onetime ONE Thing, block off the appropriate hours and days. If it’s a regular thing, block off the appropriate time every day so it becomes a habit. Everything else—other projects, paperwork, email, calls, correspondence, meetings, and all the other stuff— must wait. When you time block like this, you’re creating the most productive day possible in a way that’s repeatable every day for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, if you’re like most individuals, your typical day might look something like figure 27, When you find yourself With less and less time to focus on what matters most.

image of pie with small slice dedicated to one thing

The most productive people’s day is dramatically different (figure 28).

image of pie with half dedicated to one thing

That ONE THING slice must be the result of your focusing question. Remember that one – “What’s the ONE Thing such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Constantly ask yourself that and constantly work on what you come up with.

So do your ONE THING for the day first, get it done. Then use the focusing question again and again throughout the day until your workday is done.

“To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness, time block these three things in the following order:

1. Time-block your time off.

2. Time-block your ONE Thing.

3. Time-block your planning time.”

The book goes into detail on all three of those things. And he goes into detail on how important it is to protect those time blocks.

16 – The Three Commitments

The author says that you need to make commitments to THREE things to achieve extraordinary results:

1. Follow the Path of Mastery – Becoming Your Best

Note that this is a path, not a destination. You’re committing to striving to always doing better. You’re the master of what you know already, and you’re an apprentice to what you don’t.

Michelangelo once said, ‘If the people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.’ It’s all about putting in the time.

When you time block your ONE THING, in that time block you’re committing to be the best you can be.

2. Seek the Best way to Do Things – Move from “E” to “P”

An interesting question the author asks top performers when coaching them is whether they’re trying to do something the best they can do it, or if they’re doing it the best way it can be done. It’s an interesting question that I’ve never thought of before. To be honest, I’m thinking that I probably only do things the best _I_ can do it. I don’t think about what the best way it could possibly be done. And I should be! It might mean changing myself more than I feal comfortable with at first.

The author calls this moving from “E” to “P.”

The E stand stands for Entrepreneurial. You’d think that’s good, right? But the author says that this is the natural way people approach tasks. With energy, enthusiasm, and our natural abilities. But this way of doing things has a natural ceiling, no matter who you are.

But when you’re trying to achieve your maximum, your ceiling must be challenged. So you have to take a Purposeful approach – Purposeful is the P.

Purposeful people don’t accept limitations. When they hit a ceiling, they look for ways to break through. An E person, when asked to cut some firewood, would grab and axe and head into the woods. A P purpose might wonder if they could procure a chainsaw.

You can’t put limits on what you’ll do. Be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things. Challenge both existing ways and yourself. Remember that a different result requires doing something different. Make this your mantra. Don’t settle on good enough.

The “P” person asks “what are my options?” when they hit a ceiling. Then use the Focusing Question to narrow down choice to next thing to do. you might need to adopt new skills, new relationships (like Toastmasters), and new thinking.

3. Live the Accountability Cycle

You must be willing to be held accountable to achieve your ONE THING. You accept responsibility and move on. They bring the best to whatever the task is, without reservation.

The author, Gary, recommends an accountability partner.

“An accountability partner provides Frank, objective feedback on your performance, creates an ongoing expectation for productive progress, and can provide critical brainstorming or even expertise when needed.”

For him, a coach or mentor is best.

 “Ideally, a coach can ‘coach’ you on how to maximize your performance over time. This is how the very best become their best.”

In Dr. Gail Matthew’s research it said that writing down your goals made them 39.5% more likely to succeed. But sending progress reports on goals to friends made them 76.7% more likely to be achieved!

17 – The Four Thieves

The four thieves of productivity:

1. Inability to say “no”.

Steve Jobs said that he’s proud of what’s he’s said no to. Focus is all about saying yes to the right things and no to everything else. What’s the right thing? If it helps you with your ONE THING.

2. Fear of chaos.

When you focus on your ONE Thing, it means other things will fall by the wayside. Chaos! Get used to it and get over it.

3. Poor health habits.

You gotta be at peak health to work at your maximum. Pretty obvious

4. Environment doesn’t support your goals.

You need to make sure your environment supports what you’re trying to do. What’s your environment? Who you see and what you experience every day. Your physical environment, who you hang with, what you spend your free time on. Everything. It all affects you.

18 – The Journey

The last chapter of this book seems really meant to inspire you to, like, go forth and conquer.

“Imagine your life as big as it possibly can be. […] whatever you see, you have the capacity to move toward. And when what you go for is as vast as you can possibly envision, you’ll be living the biggest life you can possibly live. Living large is just that simple.”

Pick some huge goal. Ask yourself: ‘Will my current actions get me to this [goal] in the next five years?” If they do, double your goal until they won’t. “If you then make your actions match your answer, you’ll be living large. […] When you lift the limits of your thinking, you expand the limits of your life. It’s only when you can imagine a bigger life that you can ever hope to have one.

“There is no surefire thing, but there’s always something, ONE Thing, that out of everything matters more than anything. I’m not saying there will only be one thing, or even the same thing, forever. I’m saying that at any moment in time there can be only ONE Thing, and when that ONE Thing is in line with your purpose and sits atop your priorities, it will be the most productive thing you can do to launch you toward the best you can be.”

The author talked to a bunch of people nearing the end of their lives and asked them about how he should move forward. Their collective voice was ‘overwhelming’: live to minimize regrets.

Bronnie Ware researched old people’s regrets, and found in descending order:

v. I wish that I’d let myself be happier.

iv. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.

iii. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

ii. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

i. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Ware said, “Most people had not honoured even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

Conclusion: Putting the ONE Thing to Work

So what now? We’ve read the book. How can we apply the ONE Thing principle to our personal life? Our family? Our job? Our work team? He gives examples for each, but you really have to personalize them for yourself. But because I myself like examples so much, here are some he gives in those areas:

What’s the ONE Thing I can do to find time to practice the guitar 20 minutes a day such that by doing it everything will be easier or unnecessary?

What’s the ONE Thing we can do to make our next Christmas the best ever, such that by doing it everything will be easier or unnecessary?

What’s the ONE Thing I can do today to complete my current project ahead of schedule, such that by doing it everything will be easier or unnecessary?

What’s the ONE Thing I can do in the next six months to find and develop incredible talent, such that by doing it everything will be easier or unnecessary?

My thoughts.

Is it an easy read? Yes, it’s an easy read. It’s heartening, inspiring, and daunting all at the same time. I originally got this book from the library, but I’ve actually purchased this book because I liked it so much. I want to read it again, get out my highlighter, and mark it up like crazy. So yeah, I recommend this book.

BOOK REVIEW: the life-changing magic of tidying up

Book Reviews

Review of the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. If you prefer video, a link to my video review is at the end of this article.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge reader, so I thought I’d give Marie Kondo’s book, “the life-changing magic of tidying up” a try. Ever since starting my weight-loss journey, I’ve been trying to improve my life in other areas as well. And tidiness is something I’ve always wanted to have in my life, but I could never quite get there. 

I would tidy up, but then things would get messy again. I’d get holes in my jeans, and keep them but not wear them. Because hey – I can use them when mowing the lawn! So I thought this book could help. And because of this book I threw out nine pairs of jeans with holes in them! Now the young folks might like that look, but it’s not for me. So I’m glad they are gone.

So first, I’ll give you an overview of the book, and then I’ll give you my thoughts.

Introduction

The introduction starts off with a bang. Marie Kondo grabbed my attention right away with a vision of life that was SO enticing to me. This is what she said:

When you’ve finished putting your house in order, your life will change dramatically. Once you have experienced what it’s like to have an ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten. Never again will you revert to clutter. This is what I call the magic of tidying. And the effects are stupendous. Not only will you never be messy again, but you’ll get a new start on life. This is the magic I want to share with as many people as possible.

Wow. Never revert to clutter? Is that even possible? What about the fact that I live with four other people? How can this be? It’s certainly something I wanted, so I definitely kept reading.

CHAPTER 1 – Why Can’t I Keep my House in Order?

Marie Kondo promises that a house cleaned out and tidied by her method results in more than just a tidy house – it results in a new lifestyle. Even for someone who is lazy or sloppy by nature. I’m not sloppy but I definitely can be lazy.

She suggests tidying your house in one go. But that doesn’t mean in one day. She means over a short period of time, like several months. And once the task is done, it’s done and your life will be different. That’s Marie Kondo’s promise, not mine.

In this chapter she covers some methods other people have used to tidy like storage solutions and tidying by location, and why they don’t work. Which is funny because those are things that so many people suggest to tidy.

She says to tidy by category, starting with discarding first, then moving on to storing.

She says “Tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” Wow – don’t do it every day?. She says it should just be done once. Well… the big tidy up should only be done once. Daily tidying consists of using something and then putting it back in its place. I don’t know if that’s really tidying.

CHAPTER 2 – Finish Discarding First

Marie Kondo says the transforming your room completely changes the scenery in your room but also in your mind:

“When you tidy your space completely, you transform the scenery. The change is so profound that you feel as if you are living in a totally different world. This deeply affects your mind and inspires a strong aversion to reverting to your previously cluttered state. The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart.”

I said before I’ve been reading lots of self-improvement material. Lots of self-improvement stuff on habits and goals and stuff. And there’s definitely a pattern emerging. MINDSET. It’s all up here, in your head. What do you want, what’s important to you, and what are you going to do to get it? In terms of this book, Marie Kondo wants you to ask why you are reading it. What motivated the need for tidying in the first place? What do you hope to gain? Think it through carefully. Visualize  the ideal lifestyle. This helps you not to rebound. Not to go back to a messy life.

“Think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.”

Think in detail about the life you want at home and the space you live it in.

“As you continue to explore the reasons behind your ideal lifestyle, you will come to a simple realization. The whole point in both discarding and keeping things is to be happy. It may seem obvious, but is important to experience this realization for yourself and let it sink into your heart.”

She talks about deciding on what to keep. Not on what to throw away. Only keep the stuff that sparks joy. Probably Marie Kondo’s most famous words are: “Does it spark joy?” If it does, keep it, if not, why bother keeping it – it’s time to discard it.

She talks about how to do that. The logistics. The order. Dealing with items that used to spark joy. Dealing with sentimental items. All of that in just this chapter. Nice stuff!

CHAPTER 3 – Tidying by category works like magic

In this chapter she talks tidying by category. And even into subcategories, like which clothing types to do first.

A big part of her method is about easing you into the decision making process. It can be hard to get rid of things that you have owned for a long time. Which is why she recommends going through personal sentimental items last.

Next she talks about how to fold and store your clothing. She has very specific ideas on how to store your items in your drawers.

In this chapter she also goes through items of other types as well, like books and papers. And she has suggestions for how to store what you keep.

She doesn’t forget sentimental items. You don’t need to throw everything away! But she has a great method for going through your sentimental items and deciding on how to keep them.

She says that the more you discard, the better you become at it. The decision centers in your brain will get better at making the right decisions easier and faster. Which is one of the reasons why sentimental items go last – you don’t want to throw out something you’ll regret.

“As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you will suddenly know how much is right for you.”

CHAPTER 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine

Chapter 4 is all about storing the things you’ve decided to keep. The basic point is to designate a spot for everything, so that when something needs to be put away, it’s done easily without thought. The old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place” comes to mind.

Marie likes putting bookcases in closets, and where before there never used to be room, now there will be after all the tidying.

She feels that once you’re done tidying, you’ll be left with only the amount that fits perfectly into the space you own.

She only has two rules: store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space. Also, she believes that everyone in a family should have their own storage spaces. So when you begin tidying, there is a temptation to start with things that belong to the whole household. But leave those for later. First, start by sorting only your own things.

The chapter also gives lots of practical advice about spaces and storage, like bathtubs, floor space in closets, bags, new items you bring home, etc.

CHAPTER 5. The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life.

After you tidy your house, what’s left can give you an indication of what is important to you. This often happens, and focuses people on what they realize is important to them.

Letting go of things in your life is even more important than adding.

Marie Kondo has found that when people genuinely clean their homes, that they are personally dramatically altered. One of the changes is your decision-making capacity, because you had to make a decision about every item in your house.

This chapter also includes some other life advice related to the home and tidying. Like greeting your house every time you come home. She also thinks that objects that don’t spark joy in you actually want to leave, which I find a little weird, but ok! She goes even further by saying that items you discard come back to you in a different guise – a different item. Even kinda weirder. But if it makes you feel okay with tossing things, then who am I to say?

On a more practical level, she finds her clients come to know contentment through the process. Their worldly desires have decreased, and their desire to own less, but higher quality, items has increased.

“If you think that tidying is something that must be done every day, if you think it is something that you will need to do all your life, it is time to wake up. I swear to you that tidying can be done thoroughly and quickly, all in one go. The only tasks that you will need to continue for the rest of your life are those of choosing what to keep and what to discard and of caring for the things you decide to keep. You can put your house in order now, once and forever. The only ones who need to spend their lives, year in and year out, thinking about tidying are people like me who find joy in it and who are passionate about using tidying to make the world a better place. As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”

MY THOUGHTS

Is this an easy read? Yes, it’s is definitely an easy ready. First of all, it’s not a long book, so that alone should help you get through it. And secondly, it’s a breeze to get through. It doesn’t bog down and there’s always something new to learn. It was kinda strange that as I started to read it I thought she already had said everything she needed to say in the first two chapters. But as I kept reading I discovered a lot more. So stick with it.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I’d recommend it. I just borrowed it from the library and I’m not sure if you need more than that. I just wrote down a few key points and that, I think is good enough for me. Especially because I don’t want to clutter my home! But if you want to buy it and give it away, that’s an awesome way to do it too.

WRAP UP

If you liked this review, check out my other reviews as well and my YouTube channel. I also have an Instagram account you might like – henningjhoffmann. Check it out if you feel like it.

Here is my video review:

BOOK REVIEW: Tiny Habits by BG Fogg PhD

Book Reviews

THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. MAYBE. 🙂

I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime and I’m really on a self-improvement kick now, so this is one of the first self-improvement books I’ve picked up. I read the book and implemented some of these Tiny Habits he speaks about, and I’ll be giving you an overview of the book as well as my thoughts.

I am Henning Hoffmann and I’m a non-type-A person trying to improve my life through implementing ideas I find through online research and reading books. I think that many of us do this, so I’m hoping you can learn something from what I’m experiencing.

Trying to lose weight opened my eyes to other ways I can improve my life as well. One way all of us can improve our lives is using the try, test, iterate method that I’ve already talked about previously.

But another thing that is life changing is managing our habits. F M Alexander said: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

Frederick Matthias Alexander (20 January 1869 – 10 October 1955) was an Australian actor who developed the Alexander Technique, an educational process said to recognize and overcome reactive, habitual limitations in movement and thinking.

Mr. Alexander’s statement is so true! If I decide to lose weight, have I lost any weight? No! It’s only when I put that into action – daily – that I will lose weight. And I do that through my habits. One such habit is only eating after 11:45am and before 6:15pm. And another habit I have is applying the try, test, iterate method on that window to make it effective but doable.

So! Habits are action. Decision might spur you to action and habits, but it’s the action – the habits – that gets it done.

So if you’re reading this, you’re one of us who want better habits in our lives. And if you’re anything like me, you’re finding that difficult.

For me, one of the biggest things holding me back is plain old laziness. And if I can use a system to get me over that hump, that should open up a bunch of new horizons in my life. Some of the things that I’m working on now are losing weight, drawing more often and consistently, and making these videos.

How do we do that? Personally, I read two books about habits. Atomic Habits and this book, Tiny Habits.

Here’s a quick overview of Tiny Habits by Dr BJ Fogg.

Introduction

If you fail, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure – it’s the methodology that’s failed you. So start off with little steps. Also, remember that willpower is not enough – it’s finite. You need to set up your habits in such a way that willpower doesn’t become a factor.

Create habits using the ABC method:

A – anchor – the anchor reminds us to do the habit

B – behaviour – the habit or action itself

C – celebrate – congratulate yourself that you did the action!

Chapter 1 – Behaviour Model

In chapter one he gives his behaviour model:

You can see an action line in the graph. Anything above the line is a behaviour you’re likely to do. Anything else is not. So if it’s really easy to do, it doesn’t require a lot of motivation, and you’ll likely do it. If it’s really hard, it’ll require a lot of motivation to do.

Chapter 2 – Motivation

When starting something, motivation can be high, but it ebbs and flows and can’t be counted on.

BJ Fogg has a whole behaviour design system. First, determine the aspiration that you’re aspiring to! Create a storm of behaviours – just come up with a ton of ideas. The map them on a focus map like this:

Anything that you can get yourself to do – realistically – and is also high impact, is the behaviours that you’re targeting. Those are the golden behaviours.

Chapter 3 – Ability to Do Habits

Chapter 3 talks about your ability to do a behaviour

Five things affect ability:

  1. time
  2. money
  3. physical effort
  4. mental effort
  5. routine

Which are stopping you from being able?

There are three way to make a behaviour easier:

  1. Increase skill in that area. If you have more skill, then a behaviour is easier to do and you’re more likely to do it. This is best done when motivation is high.
  2. Increase tools and resources. Sometimes you need to gather materials together to do your behaviour. Like buying running shoes. This is also often easier to do when motivation is high.
  3. Make the behaviour tiny. Anyone can do something that’s tiny. Like, REALLY tiny. Like floss one tooth tiny.

There are two ways to make a behaviour tiny:

  1. Starter step. Determine the smallest first step. Like putting on shoes and taking them off again. Or walk to the mailbox and back.
  2. Scale back. Do a small portion of it. Like flossing just one tooth. Or meditating for three breaths.

The book has a list of questions you can ask yourself to see ways to make behaviour easier. If can’t do any, maybe should pick different behaviour.

Chapter 4 – Prompts to Start Habits

Prompts are the things that remind you to actually do your habit. There are prompts are what reminds you to actually to the tiny habit:

  1. Person prompt. You rely on yourself to “just do it”. This is highly unreliable.
  2. Context prompt. Something in your environment reminds you to do the action. Like a text message or sticky note. These can be effective but also stressful. There’s so many of them, they’re hard to manage. There are just too many things vying for your attention every day.
  3. Action prompt. You use an existing action you already do, and piggyback on it. Like flossing your teeth after putting toothbrush away.

When matching a new habit to an action prompt, or “anchor”, keeping these three things in mind make them stick better:

  1. Matching physical location. Don’t have a prompt make you go to a different place to do the behaviour.
  2. Match frequency. The prompt should always be followed by the habit, not sometimes.
  3. Match theme/purpose.Not as vital as the other two but still good if you can do it. Like if you view caffeine as a productivity enhancer, you could link drinking coffee with starting your todo app. Both are productive.

“Meanwhile habits” are those that you do while you wait for something. Like to think of something good about your body while you wait for your shower to heat up.

“Pearl habits.” Sometimes you can link a good habit to something irritating in your life, to turn something bad to good. Like the annoying click of the AC when trying to sleep – use that as a prompt to relax your face and neck.

Chapter 5 – Emotions Create & Solidy Habits

When you finish doing your behaviour, celebrate your success! Do so until your habit is fully engrained, and sometimes after that, too, if you feel like it. You can even celebrate just remembering to do it, doing it, and having done it. All three!

Dr Fogg calls these little celebrations “Shines”. Every Shine is individual – you have to do what works for you. He also mentions a “Power Celebration”. A particularly good Shine for wiring in habits really quickly. Note that you’re supposed to have several different Shines that you use.

In this chapter Dr. Fogg also gives some tips on what to do if things aren’t working. He also says that practicing a new habit recipe 7-10 times helps you to remember to do it. That means just rehearsing it as if the daily prompt had occurred. Go to the bathroom, put your toothbrush away, then then grab the floss. Just to wire it.

Chapter 6 – Growing Habits

A habit would be no good to you if it stayed tiny. You start with tiny habits in order to get the habit part of your life. But habits are meant to grow. Like turning two pushups into twenty. They can also multiply, by stacking another related thing on top

— like from saying you’re gonna have a great day every morning to also thinking of something to be grateful for while brushing your teeth.

When people feel successful, even with small things, their overall level of motivation goes up immediately.

To expand a habit, start with what you want to do only, and feel successful. And then expand when you feel the desire to. 

There are skills to crafting behaviour. He lists them in book. Like the skill of knowing how many habits to attempt at once, when to add more, or how to embrace a new identity

Chapter 7 – Untangling bad habits. 

You can apply a systematic approach to getting rid of bad habits too. This chapter is all about doing this.

Chapter 8 – How we change together.

You can change group behaviour as the ringleader (where you do explicit actions with buy-in) or as a ninja (where your efforts to effect change are more subtle).

Final Thoughts

Have I applied anything from this book? I’ve definitely learning the science behind habit building, and when I want to create a habit, I will be relying on this. And I have implemented some new habits in my life, like doing squats while waiting for my coffee water to boil. And drinking a glass of water every morning when I get up. 

This book is really easy to read. I zipped through it really quickly because I just wanted to learn all about this topic. He gave a lot of examples. I really learn by example, so I really appreciated this. BJ Fogg did a lot of research and application of these theories before he ever wrote this book, so he had lots of real life examples to draw from, and he gives many in this book. Which is awesome.

Would I buy this book? Yes, and I did. I highly recommend it.

Amazon America Link

Amazon Canada Link

Amazon UK Link

Here’s my video review:

BOOK REVIEW: Eat Fat, Get Thin by Dr. Mark Hyman

Book Reviews

Hey everyone! I’ve been trying to improve several aspects of my life lately. And I thought that the book Eat Fat, Get Thin might help me with my weight problem. And after having read it, I think it definitely will!

Here you’ll find my summary of the book, and my thoughts of the book are at the end.

The book divided into four parts:

  1. How did we get into this big, fat mess?
  2. Separating fat from fiction.
  3. The eat fat, get thin plan.
  4. Recipes

Chapter 1

  • seemingly good advice from government, health care industry, and food industry is only “seemingly” – they were wrong about a lot of stuff
    • now we eat 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour per year
  • there are lots of types of fat
    • saturated
    • monounsaturated
    • polyunsaturated
    • trans fat
  • lots of variety within saturated and polyunsaturated fats
  • truths:
    • not all fats are bad
    • eating liberal amounts of the right ones will NOT make you fat
  • thankfully scientific evidence is mounting that this is the case
  • you can lose weight on a high fat diet, as long you eat the right kinds, and as part of a healthy diet
  • sugar and refined carbs – not fat – are responsible for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart desease, as well as causing increased risk of dementia and premature deaths
  • Dr. Hyman talks about his own conversion from recommending low fat diets to high fat diets
  • includes a survey of 13 questions that will help you determine if you’re on the wrong path
  • has a checklist for the FLC (feel like crap) syndrome
    • says that following his guidelines will remove FLC

Chapter 2

  • we’ve been told two big falsehoods about fat
    • all calories operate in the same way in the body
    • fatty cholesterol deposits cause hear disease
  • but the body is more complex than that
  • delves into those two falsehoods, why they’re accepted, and how they’re wrong
  • talks about the roles of:
    • big government
    • big food companies
  • sugar is the new fat – sugar is BAD
  • the redemption of fat

Chapter 3

  • eating fat does NOT make you fat
  • if you believe all calories are created equal, then might think that staying away from fat is a good idea, but it just doesn’t work out this way
  • calories are digested differently, depending on the type of food
  • it’s not eating more and exercising less that makes you fat – rather, BEING fat makes you eat more and exercise less
  • restricting calories makes your body perceive a starvation situation which makes you tired and hungry and slows down your metabolism – things we don’t want
  • when talking high fat versus low fat diets, you must consider the type of fat
  • eating a low-fat diet can make you crave bad foods
  • there can be problems with high fat low-carb diets, but they’re easily avoided

Chapter 4

  • all about the kinds of fats in detail
  • four types of fat: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat PUFA (omega-3 and omega-6), and trans fats
  • saturated fats are misunderstood
  • monounsaturated fats are good for you (like olive oil, oil from nuts)
  • some PUFA are good, others are not, also it can depend what you eat them with
  • transfats are bad – at least everyone agrees on that

Chapter 5

  • all about fat and heart disease
  • lots of research, and it basically says there’s no link between total dietary fat (the fat you eat) or saturated fat and heart disease
  • added fat can actually be beneficial
  • big 2014 study said vegetable oils are NOT good, contrary to what many people espouse
  • trans fats increase heart desease while omega-3 fats decrease it
  • saturated fats in your blood that cause heart attacks come from eat sugar and carbs, not from eating fat
  • omega-3 fats from fish are the most protective
  • how saturated fats relate to inflammation, carbohydrates, and cholesterol
  • the big business statins – basically they only help if you’ve already had a heart attack
  • the right kind of tests you should get from your doctor, and what they mean

Chapter 6

  • at the turn of the last century vegetable oil’s were almost unheard of
  • but now 20% of Americans diet is made up of soybean oil
  • increasing omega-3 oil‘s in your diet reduces heart attacks and death
  • many studies show correlation, like someone ordering a big Mac also ordering fries, but not causation. Because ordering a big Mac does not MAKE you order fries – they just often occur together.
  • careful study of past trials shows that omega-6 oils are to be avoided
  • 94% of US soybean crops are genetically modified
  • some recommendations are:
    • cut out refined oils except extra-virgin olive oil
    • use extra virgin coconut oil and a little grass fed butter or ghee
    • stop fearing animal fat, but stick with grass fed, pasture raised, and organic.
    • get fats from Whole Foods like avocados, nuts, and seeds.

Chapter 7

  • all about meat – is it good or bad?
  • is it meat vs veggies, or rather the sugar and refined carbs that are part of the typical meat eater’s diet that we should be concerned with?
  • why it’s hard to determine the effects of meat on the typical meat eater in North America
  • does saturated fatl in meat cause heart disease?
  • red meat and its relation to bad gut bacteria
  • does red meat cause type 2 diabetes and weight gain?
  • does red meat cause cancer?
  • does red meat cause inflammation?
  • is eating meat immoral or unethical?
  • is grass-fed meat better?

Chapter 8

A chapter about these different kinds of foods:

  • eggs
  • butter
  • coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • palm oil
  • olive oil
  • nuts and seeds

Chapter 9

Fat Benefits:

  • reverses type 2 diabetes
  • prevents brain aging and dementia
  • helps with seizures, depression, ADD, autism, trauma, more
  • reduces inflammation and autoimmune disease
  • boosts sports performance
  • gives beautiful hair, skin, nails
  • enhances sex life

Chapter 10

No longer about the theory but starts the really practical stuff. What to eat? What not to eat? Etc.

  • the Eat Fat, Get Thin Plan
  • comparing vegan and paleo diets
  • combining the best of vegan and paleo
  • dairies, grains, beans, meat, eggs
  • personalizing your diet
  • testing your genes

Chapter 11

This chapter continues with the really practical stuff – the eating prorgam. It lays the groundwork for chapters to come with a quick summary.

  • getting ready to start the plan
  • implementing the plan kick-off phase
  • the long-term plan

Chapter 12

All about laying the groundwork for your new way of eating.

  • kitchen makeover
  • good ingredients
  • foods to avoid
  • coffee
  • examples from real life
  • supplements
  • your numbers from your doctor

Chapter 13

Outlines the eating plan itself. This is the juicy stuff!

  • what to eat
  • breakfast
  • lunch
  • dinner
  • foods to avoid
  • good sources of fat
  • good sources of protein
  • protein powders
  • good carbs
  • daily schedule
  • troubleshooting tips

Chapter 14

Discusses the transition from the intro part of the plan to the full time part of the eating plan.

  • exit interview after the 3 week intro diet
  • transition plan, option 1: continue as before
  • transition plan, option 2: the pegan diet

Chapter 15

This chapter gives some cooking tips!

  • planning eating for the week
  • how to cook vegetables
  • how to cook chicken, seafood, and meat
  • shopping tips
  • basic kitchen tools

Chapter 16

Dr. Mark Hyman gives a bunch of recipes that fall neatly into his eating plan.

  • snacks
  • smoothies and more
  • eggs and pancakes
  • salads
  • chicken, turkey, duck
  • beef and lamb
  • seafood
  • soups and stews
  • sauces
  • sides and vegetables

My Thoughts

I borrowed this book from the library, and it’s going on my Amazon list. It’s really good. Some of the theoretical stuff (like chapters 4-6) was a little tough slogging, and I actually skipped them at first and came back to them later. In retrospect I don’t think I should have done that. Good groundwork in those chapters.

I’ve been trying to lose weight for several months now, and this book really helps me determine what I should eat, and helps me feel good about those decisions.

The recipes are interesting, but to be honest I don’t know how much use I’ll be able to make of them. Many of them include nuts or milk from nuts, and I am allergic to ALL nuts. Tree nuts, coconuts, peanuts – all that stuff. So the number of recipes I can use is pretty small. As well, the recipes use lots of ingredients. Even if lots of them are spices, it’s quite daunting.

On the whole, though, it’s a great book, and it’ll be going on my reference shelf.

Here’s my video review: