Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Unbelievably Over-Complicated Subject Of Calories

I’m a really dumb guy.

I need really simple and clear explanations of things or I don’t grasp them.

So in the past I tried to understand why I never lost weight even though I worked out.  The answer was later found when I started losing weight by accident.  At that time I came to the generalized conclusion that:

Bad food = stuff that comes in a box.
Good food = stuff that grows.

Is that generalized?  YES!  Is it accurate….well…I think yes!  I bet some smarter person could run rings around me proving how XYZ food doesn’t grow, yet it provides ABC benefit because it has Beta Carbonutralized Bioflavayadda yadda yadda…

Well I’m not capable of understanding this smartness.  I’m too dumb……so I’m going to try and simplify the weight loss process so even a dummy like me can understand:

—————————————–

Here’s a horrible analogy that barely makes sense:

  • The day starts and your car gas tank is half full.
  • You fill up one gallon of gas at the beginning of the day.
  • During the day you only drive a few miles and use maybe a 1/2 gallon of gas.
  • Because you didn’t use up that whole gallon, your car is fatter than before!

However if you drove a lot and used several gallons of gas….
…end of the day your car has “lost weight”.

Damn that was a bad analogy!  ….but does it make sense?

TO LOSE WEIGHT:

CALORIES IN < CALORIES OUT

(For you ultra-dummies that means:  calories you eat are less than calories you use).

—————————————–

The reason everyone says to cut out sodas and candy etc. for weight loss is this simple fact…THEY HAVE TONS OF CALORIES! Not only do they have lots of calories, they have EMPTY calories….meaning the nutritional value you get is nearly none, but you still get all the calories.

Enough pretending I know what I’m talking about and lets do some visual comparisons.

Let’s take a nice household candy bar such as Snickers (something I used to eat all the time):

Notice it has 220 calories…but there’s TWO “servings per container”.  That means if you eat a full Snickers (who the hell only eats half??) you get a huge 440 calories for something that has virtually zero nutritional value and doesn’t get you full.

Until I took these pictures I never realized exactly how bad these (and other candy bars) are!  Yikes!

Compared to one of my favorite fruits, clementines, the Snickers bar doesn’t really hold up.  If I eat 3 clementines at once, that’s a lot of intake and I feel satisfied…and it’s only about 100 calories (roughly 36 calories per clementine)….plus I get a lot of nutritional value from them.

I can eat TWELVE clementines instead of ONE Snickers bar, get more nutrition and still consume LESS calories!  Good god!

Starting to see why people tell you to cut out the junk?

Instead of eating that one semi-gratifying Snickers that DOES NOT fill you up, you can eat TWO clementines, ONE banana and ONE tomato…they will definitely fill you up, and they look nice too:

Yummm….and the best part is ALL OF THAT together adds up to only 153 calories and has tons of great nutritional value. I can eat that for lunch and get full!!  You can even toss a handful of baby spinach on top and make it a salad.

Also instead of that ONE Snickers bar, you can eat ONE big apple and get:

Total calories: a few more than 65 (that was a big ass apple).

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So all you’ve got to remember is:

  • Don’t eat so many calories.
  • Processed foods usually have A LOT of them.
  • Fresh stuff = Good.

That’s a list even I can remember.

What was learned here will be the basic premise of my Getting A Six-Pack Experiment which I will  be doing all through April.  I’ll replace all the bad stuff I was eating…with good stuff! What a novel concept!!

I’ll be eating very clean in April and will document a lot of stuff…hopefully something will be learned.

Steve Pavlina’s Raw Food Diet Link List

A direct inspiration for the eating portion of the Getting A Six-Pack Experiment is Steve Pavlina’s 30 day raw food diet.

He has one of the largest blogs on the entire interweb, yet for some reason this goofy mofo made it really damn hard to navigate his 30 day trial.  So I’m adding all the posts here (mainly so I can reference things I liked):

Steve Pavlina’s 30 Day Raw Food Diet:

For his 30-day trial he decided to eat raw foods for different reasons than I:

He cares about saving animals /// I don’t really care

He was loading up between 2,000 and 3,000 calories /// I will be staying well under 1,500 almost every day

He did a lot of research /// I’m going with the little I know

He did it to learn to eat better /// I’m doing it to get a raging six-pack

He calls it a “30 Day Trial” /// I can it an “Experiment”

He’s never had alcohol and has a family at home /// I live in America’s Hardest Drinking City: Austin, TX. and go out with friends regularly

He was eating only raw foods /// I can eat whatever I want, so long as in calories < out calories.
Even though our methods will be different, I must fully accredit Steve P. with opening my eyes to the fact YOU CAN EAT A LOT OF FRUIT. I simply didn’t realize that before.

In my weight loss by accident post you can see the exact point where his 30-day experiment influenced me.

Another great resource on what’s “Good” for you is this amazing Dr. Klaper speech:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

So his 30 day trial inspired me, now onwards with the experiment….

Effort

I write this for two reasons:

1.) I am starting that 6-pack experiment in April and have begun preparing for it by eating ultra-clean and ultra-lean. Pretty much all day I’m eating 100% raw foods only…that’s not the plan for the whole month, but it’s been my diet for the last week.  It’s not hard as I expected (because I’ve been eating well for a few months now), but keeping this up for a full month and resisting the urge to pig out at social events gets HARD.

However for the month of April I want to see a dramatic change in the way my stomach looks…and for that I need to be calorie deficient for weeks at a time.  I can easily keep my current physique with the way I’m eating now, but my diet must be extra-ordinarily good to see those extraordinary results.

2.) As you know I own a business called House Of Rave which is all online.  Over the last year I made a lot of small tweaks which cut down on the number of customer support inquires and time spent getting orders out.  At a bare minimum I need to spend less than 30 minutes every weekday administering the site…the rest runs on it’s own.  That alone can pay all my bills and still save money.

Pretty cool eh! 30 minutes of work per day!

Well…I also like the business to GROW….so to maintain AND grow the site takes about 2 hours per day (mainly spent adding product photo/video reviews).

I will admit…over these first few months of 2010 those small required amounts of time have spoiled me. I’ve stopped updating the site as much as I should.  The 1st quarter is never a FANTASTIC time for a business like mine (which sells party supplies) and is also enduring a bad economy, but I think I’ve been slipping quite a bit on my responsibilities to it.

Extraordinary effort doesn’t necessarily mean long hours (although that certainly helps)….because with this business a very consistent tweaking of small things every day can make a HUGE impact.  I’ve proved this many times, including one time I documented 30 small changes I made with very clear results (aka MO MONEY)!

I think what I’ll do in April is one day blog about a small HoR change, then the next day document the diet and steps I’ve taken to get a ripped-ass six pack.

Find merchant supplies and POS terminals at Moneris Solutions.

Server Switching

I’ve been paying for web hosting in some form or the other for about 9 years now….and every time I have to transfer from one place to another it’s a bitch.

Correction…it’s actually kind of fun because I’m generally upgrading to something faster and better, but there’s usually all sorts of fun things that go wrong.

The previous server has been acting a little funky munky lately, so all my stuff has to move (to THIS server you’re looking at now)!

It kind of got me thinking about how funny my business is (plus a lot of you other web people):

EVERY DIME I MAKE, EVERY BUSINESS I HAVE, ALL STEMS FROM SOME FILES WHICH CAN ALL FIT ON A THUMB DRIVE.

HA!

How I Got Started In Entrepreneurship

Here’s an interesting story (well…I think it’s interesting because it’s about me) that might inspire some of the younger crowd.

As you may know, I’ve never had a real job before.  I’ve always started businesses that have been successful enough to sustain me and then some.  I’m not saying everyone should choose this route, but it IS pretty damn cool.

Like any result, there’s usually a story behind it, and mine started sometime in middle school when I had a mean peach-fuzz mustache growing and embarrassing gold-rimmed glasses  that took up my whole face.  In a nutshell I “accidentally” became a businessman by starting a CD making business.  I had a CD burner when most people didn’t, I knew about downloading MP3′s when most people didn’t….therefore I had a resources people wanted…and would pay to get.  I ended up making more money than I could stuff into the little change jar in my room.  You can read more detail here.

So some stupid kid stumbles on how to make some money….

I thought it was pretty cool, but never took it super seriously.  Back then my parents provided me with everything I ever wanted, so making money wasn’t top priority.

In high school I started getting more and more into computers.  I took programming classes and was even accepted to the first ever public school course funded by a private organization (or some crap like that). There was a Cisco certification course I worked hard to apply for, and I got in!  Only a select few students from our entire district got in….all day long we learned how to setup LAN, MAN and WAN networks, hack into routers, design more efficient networks, diagnose problems.  It was a FUN class and I was proud to be in it.  I was surrounded by smart people all day and had $40,000 worth of networking equipment at my disposal! I was Cisco Certified when I was a senior in high school…that was pretty cool back in the day.

However I think where my entrepreneurial spirit started grabbing roots was in my high school computer science classes.  We had normal class during the day, but AFTER SCHOOL we had a teacher who let us do whatever we want.

I used to stay after school almost every single day for various clubs, but me and some friends would always stay late as possible screwing around on the cool new computers (and fast internet) the school had just acquired.

We were CONSTANTLY looking for cool ways to make a buck….I mean nothing serious like building a business, more like simple get-rich-quick schemes. Back then a lot of companies offered you money for browsing the internet if you kept advertisements on your screen.  So with our programming skills we setup 30 different computers to constantly browse random webpages and collect money!  Was this allowed?  NO!  Did we care?  NO!  Did it teach us something…I think very much YES.  Although it was just screwing around, it kind of made computers and the internet “fun” for us….not just boring tools.

We also scoured penny stocks to try and buy and strike it rich “if ONLY the stock would go up to $1.00!”  We tried dozens of silly ideas.

We wrote programs that would make annoying sounds based on a timer…and loaded them on the library computers.  It was HILARIOUS to watch all the computers start making annoying beeps at once….the librarians would come over to see the commotion, then they would all stop!!  Stupid pranks, but they made us think creatively.

Our school used Novell to administer the computers, and I found out a way to login to the “unlimited access” profile which let you play games.  We setup a folder on the network with all sorts of cool games and would play them before class.  None of the other students could do it.

Through Novell and my Cisco class skills, we found out a bunch of other things about the school network and would frequently be called in by school officials to help with problems! I remember one school administrators baffled and nervous look when I simply logged into the administration without him giving me any password information!

Even though we could sneak in and out of the school computer system, we never did anything bad or malicious.  If one of our pranks (like the annoying library sounds) got too much…we stopped.  We were more interested in having access to something forbidden than actually DOING anything harmful.  Because of this we never got in trouble for anything, and it was actually good for school officials who could ask us computer questions at any time and have them fixed immediately without calling a tech guy and looking dumb.

In addition to all this I started making webpages for fun.  I remember registering Neville1.com (my FIRST domain name), and posting pictures of cars on it.  I would Photoshop pictures of cars to make them computer screen background wallpapers then share them online via Neville1.com.  I called the page “Neville’s Cool Car Archive” and it started getting lots of traffic.  It was enough traffic that all the free hosts I was on started kicking me off.  I’d have to PAY for hosting, and that wasn’t an option back then.  You see, at the time there was really no way to monetize the traffic….so I’d just pay money for hosting, and wouldn’t be able to easily make that money back from the users.  I wasn’t interested and pulled the plug.

Another unique experience I had was through my Parsi Zoroastrian (my religion) community we had some exceptionally successful people we knew.  With the help of my mom I got around to asking some of these people…“Ummm….so like….what do you do?” Basically that question was masking my true question of, “Why do you have so much more money than everyone else?”

….every single time the answer was they owned their own (successful) business.  I would inquire further.  What did they do? How did they do it? Who buys from them? How come people buy from you, not someone else?  Then I’d ask the clincher question: “Can I come see your business?”

Every single time the answer was yes.  They were all proud of what they did and were happy to show an inquisitive young person around.  I saw large ecommerce warehouses, housing tracts, large apartment buildings and various other projects these people ran.  They explained the ins and outs, the advantages and downsides….all sorts of valuable information I was lucky to have…but brazen enough to ask for.

This appealed to me.  I don’t know why, but I always thought what they did was so much “cooler” than what most other people did.

Thus started my journey into entrepreneurship.  It shakily started out as just messing around and inadvertently being creative…but after years of experimenting and trying things out, it started working pretty well.

Be curious…try things….don’t let people’s warnings stop you…..be creative and have an almost childlike curiosity about everything.

Upcoming “Getting a 6-Pack” Experiment

Does this blog need more pictures of my half-naked body on it?

YES. Definitely.

Before you stop reading in disgust, I’d like to ask your opinion on an upcoming experiment for the month of April 2010 where I’m attempting to get a REALLY ripped 6-pack stomach.

QUICK EXPLANATION:
Even though I was satisfied the way my body looked in that “How I Lost Weight” Experiment, I still didn’t have a PROPER 6-pack set of abs.

There was still a decent sized layer of fat between my abdominal muscles and the real world.

From everything I’ve learned, this experiment will be primarily about controlling what I eat very carefully.  Before, I didn’t have the self-control to do this, but over the last year I’ve become pretty good about controlling what I eat….so the time has come.


THE EXPERIMENT:

I want to see how hard it is to get a true 6-pack, and if it can be done within about a month (for someone like me who’s already in decent shape and physically active).

…so over the course of the experiment I will be training and eating properly for it….and documenting the steps of course.

Will this 6-Pack be sustainable? I doubt it.
So why try? One of my friends called me out on this and said, “You just want to get a picture of yourself with a 6-pack so you can show off later.”

He was absolutely right.  In case I have the urge to brag to my future kids about “how cool dad was back in the day”…at least I’ll be able to pull up the photo and say, “Check THIS out” as they roll their eyes and accuse me of Photoshopping the picture.


THE CURRENT SITUATION:
Unflexed, my abs look like:

When flexed, my ab region currently looks something like:

It’s not bad….but it’s not lean enough for a true 6-pack either.  If I pinch the fat on my stomach, you can tell there’s a definite barrier between those sweet abs and the adoring world:

By the way…I took that fat-pinch picture while writing this in the library, and one of the librarians saw me lift up my shirt, pinch myself and take several pictures!  She just whispered a comment to the librarian next to her…Hahah, I wonder what they’re thinking!

Anyways, I’m curious if anyone out there has actually done this successfully…and maybe share some of that advice?  I’m not a fitness guru by any means, just some guy who wants to shove it in his future-kids face that dad had a 6-pack!

Point Down

A friend told me that an interesting (yet effective) marketing technique on
webpages is to make the text slowly start pointing downwards to
the place where you want the visitors to click. It kind of makes sense to
make the text itself form an “arrow” down to the button, plus it all seems to
lead down a path, and the click (or whatever action) is the final stage.  I
suppose this works well because of the naturally down pointing text.  It’s
probably some sort of human reaction to follow the path that’s marked out,
like a crowd of people walking through one door when the other doors are
all open.  They simply follow the crowd.  This seems like one of
those techniques that makes you say, “Why am I still
reading this” …but you keep reading all the way to
the bottom.  By the end you’re so invested in
reading that you’ll naturally be much more
inclined to click or fill out some form or
whatever the author wants you to
do.  I’m not exactly sure how
effective this is from hard
numbers…..but I bet it
works decently well.

Have Sales Gone Down In the Poor Economy?

Here’s a question I’ve been getting more and more geared towards my business House Of Rave:

Have your sales gone down in the poor economy?

It’s actually a fantastic question and relatively interesting to hear different answers from different business owners.

So, have your sales gone down in the poor economy?

MY ANSWER:
YES…..but not in the traditional sense. Let me explain:

Most people expect that sales simply stopped coming in after the economic downturn, this hasn’t been true even though House Of Rave sells things people buy only on disposable income.  In fact, if you never told me there was a “recession” going on, I probably wouldn’t have noticed too much….people still order all the time (although I’ve seen a very significant drop in big orders from large corporations).

The MAIN problem I’ve had which takes a DIRECT shot at lowering my sales is all the cool products are out of stock.  Almost all of my previous best sellers are no longer being manufactured.

HouseOfRave sells “hard to find” and “unique” products….which often means “they don’t sell it in big stores”.  This has been great so far, but a problem I’m seeing now is manufacturers are on tight budgets and don’t have the capital required to mass produce slower selling items.  I may be able to sell 10 per day of an item, but a manufacturer might need to sell 10,000 of them per day to keep cash flow moving.

….so unless an item can move HUGE quantities quick, the product might be discontinued.

This has been the predominate way that my business has been affected.  The cool part is, with more marketing and more effort I’ve been able to maintain and grow both the profit and sales of the business, but it’s required more effort than in the past (keep in mind I used to put NO effort into it at all).  Before, I would just slap products on the site and they sold….it doesn’t seem to be quite as easy anymore.

Many smaller manufacturers and product patent holders are going out of business now.  Think about it, to manufacture just ONE simple product you must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for materials and labor, store them, then find people to buy them.  Before you make even one CENT from the product, you could blow through a half-million dollars on credit.  If the product is a flop (note the importance of beforehand PRODUCT RESEARCH) you’re screwed…..and I’m just using the example of small-scale manufacturing of novelty products.

While my business doesn’t have the extreme overhead of these manufacturers, I feel their pain indirectly when a cool product of theirs goes out of stock.