Appearing Superhuman Volume 2
My weekly newsletter is a compilation of things I found interesting, challenges I’m taking on, and the automations, processes, and habits I’m using to ‘appear superhuman.’
If you don’t remember signing up or aren’t interested anymore, feel free to hit that unsubscribe button below. If you’re still along for the ride, then rock on 🤘
5 Days Alone in Complete Darkness (23 minutes) – I’ve heard of meditation retreats where you don’t talk for days or even weeks. I’ve done extended fasts (my longest was 3 ½ days without eating) and heard of people going weeks or even a month without eating. But this one was even trippier. This guy went into an Airbnb-type cave that’s fully furnished, but pitch black inside for five whole days. No light, no stimulus, just him and his thoughts.
35 Lessons on the Way to 35 Years Old– (8-minute read) My favorite modern-day philosopher and definitely top five favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, just had a birthday. Each year he puts out a listicle like this that’s full of useful insights that I can’t get enough of.
Why Urban Life Suddenly Got More Expensive – (5-minute read) Derek Thompson is a new favorite writer of mine. His newsletter is almost always worth the read. My favorite excerpt from this article was:
“Almost each time you or I ordered a pizza or hailed a taxi, the company behind that app lost money. In effect, these start-ups, backed by venture capital, were paying us, the consumers, to buy their products. It was as if Silicon Valley had made a secret pact to subsidize the lifestyles of urban Millennials. As I pointed out three years ago, if you woke up on a Casper mattress, worked out with a Peloton, Ubered to a WeWork, ordered on DoorDash for lunch, took a Lyft home, and ordered dinner through Postmates only to realize your partner had already started on a Blue Apron meal, your household had, in one day, interacted with eight unprofitable companies that collectively lost about $15 billion in one year.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Summarized by the Author(37 minutes) – I adore podcasts, but listening through hours of banter for the good stuff can be exhausting at times. Lately, I’ve been really into listening to book summaries told by the author like this one. My favorite here is chapter 5. The gist of the chapter is that feeling miserable is the result of something feeling forced upon us that we have no control over. True happiness is choosing our own problems.
Quote I’m Revisiting:
“The thing is you can cut off a couple passions and only focus on one, but after a while you’ll start to feel phantom limb pain.” – Austin Kleon
Song of the Week:
I couldn’t just pick one this week, so you get a bonus track.
“Liars” – Gregory Alan Isakov: Spotify YouTube – Sometimes a song just grabs you at the right time, and this song was definitely that for me. It’s a slow start, but it picks up later in the track. I recommend the YouTube version because they team up with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, which sounds incredible. Plus, the backdrop makes me want to go to Colorado and see a show at Red Rocks.
“Distance” – Mammoth WVH: Spotify YouTube – WVH stands for Wolfgang Van Halen, son of world-renowned guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Eddie died in 2020 from throat cancer, and his son released this song shortly after. Spoiler alert, it’s a tear-jerker. Especially, if you’ve lost someone in your life.
Automation/Process of the Week:
Question to solve: How can I stop spending so much mental bandwidth on what to eat each week?
Deciding what to eat has taken up an unholy amount of my time and energy and is an almost daily point of contention in my marriage. This scene below depicts an almost daily conversation with my wife:
I’m ready to change that forever. Here’s how we’ll do it:
I’ve made the decision to be a social breakfast eater, meaning I’ll only eat breakfast if I’m invited somewhere or if it’s some special occasion. I’ll intermittent fast the rest of my life. Cutting out 500-750 calories permanently is one decision I can make that’ll help reduce the pressure of cooking, lighten the calorie load, and give me extra time and energy in the mornings when I’m most productive anyway.
Lunch (unless with others) will forever be a salad of some kind paired with either chicken, a protein shake, or a predominantly egg white omelet. Twice a week, I prep salads and either grill up some meat or make sure I have eggs or protein powder on hand. This virtually guarantees that 50% of my grocery list (probably more) won’t change.
Dinner is the hardest egg to crack. I get up stupid early, and I often work long days, so my willpower is zapped by 5 or 6, so I make bad choices in the evening. I’ve invested in MealPrepPro ($48 per year) to provide me with a variety of recipes and easy-to-follow instructions like HelloFresh did for me, but at a fraction of the cost per meal.
The difference is that I’m going to dump the ingredients into a grocery pick-up order twice a week and do my cooking on Sundays and Wednesdays. This is yet another decision that saves me at least an hour a week since I’m not walking around the store picking out my groceries, and I’m less tempted by the clever marketing to buy sh*t I don’t need.
I’m skipping breakfast, yet I adore breakfast foods. Worst case scenario, we can’t decide what to eat, and I make breakfast for dinner. Win-win.
I also made a spreadsheet that has the healthiest takeout options under roughly 750 calories that are either near my home or that I’m likely to visit from time to time: The ‘Better Choice’ Fast Food List
I’m doing the legwork upfront, so if I have a busy schedule and can’t cook (or don’t want to), I’m at least making a better choice.
I’ve also researched the ‘healthiest frozen dinners’ and will plan to keep six total on hand at any given time as a less expensive and likely healthier alternative to eating out. I’d like to learn to make my own at some point, but I’ll save that for another newsletter.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Lastly, I’m making the decision for the near future to use MyFitnessPal Premium ($80 per year), which lets me adjust my calorie goals by the day of the week. This way, I can set it to have me eat fewer calories during the week and pump up my calories on Fridays and Saturdays when I normally get tempted.
This whole thing costs me about $10 a month for the apps, but I’m saving about 7x (likely more) than that by choosing to be a social breakfast eater.
I’ve chased every diet, meal planning app, and methodology under the sun for 8+ years, and if I just stick to this forever, I’ll save money, get in shape, and, most importantly — make fewer decisions each day.
Pictures of the Week:
I took inspiration from the guy who went into complete darkness for five days and decided to go Sunday to Sunday without my phone or tablet. I used my computer (I have to work, of course), and I kept my Apple Watch on so I could still get the benefits of closing my rings, tracking my daily habits, and being ‘reachable’ by my wife, family, friends, and co-workers. But I eliminated the mindless scrolling that comes with my phone
I had to keep it on me for my watch to work so I ended up putting my phone case on backward to help me resist the temptation.
I was insanely productive this week and had this strange clarity almost immediately. My theory here is that I stare at a screen for work 8-11 hours a day, and when I’m ‘off the clock,’ I immediately pick up my phone or a tablet which creates a fatigue or ‘brain fog’ effect. One that I didn’t experience at all this week.
With my son just 2-3 weeks away from arriving, I also think it was a good exercise into actually switching off for family time and not being reachable by work. Overall, I’m glad I did it, and I’m already looking for ways to ensure I use my phone less in the future.
What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without your phone?
What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without watching TV? How about video games?
Pick your poison here. There’s probably something in your life you lean on like a crutch or that you mindlessly consume that could free up a lot of your time.
What if you tried giving it up just for a week to see how you felt?