Whole 30: Day 1

In the two years since I last posted on this page, a lot has changed. I married Laura and Marisa was born. I haven’t missed writing on this site. Too much real life happening…all the time.

The decision to jump back on the blog has nothing to do with ideas about politics or policy. After I recently decided to try the Whole 30 Program, I searched the internet for insight. I wasn’t able to find much commentary from thirty-something men. So I decided to publicly journal this experiment: partially as an accountability mechanism and partially as a resource for other similarly situated men who are researching the program.

Why Did I Decide to Try Whole 30?

After several consecutive years of weight gain, I lost fifty pounds between October 7, 2012 and April 7, 2015 (my 29th birthday). My weight loss plateaued at my “senior year of high school” weight in late 2015. I have more or less maintained the same weight for three years. My weight loss/maintenance plans have mostly revolved around intense exercise and slight improvements to a poor diet.


I came to realize what I should have known all along: weight is not necessarily a proxy for health. My blood pressure and pulse are “normal,” but I have recently been truly feeling the effects of too many years of too much enriched white flour (think Alamo Cafe tortillas), refined sugar, and processed foods. Losing weight is great, but I really just want to feel better.

There is a strong urge upon becoming a parent to live a healthier lifestyle. My entire concept of time has accelerated rapidly since Marisa’s birth last September. I used to think I had all of the time in the world. Now I know better.

Several friends and family members have successfully completed the Whole 30 Program, where weight loss is not the primary goal. Programs known for their…intensity…have suited me well in the past. For the first time ever, I am trying a dietary regimen not to weigh less but to feel better. Laura is doing it too (as we always say to each other: “you jump, I jump”).

Whole 30

The program rules (which include not weighing yourself and avoiding tobacco) are pretty straightforward:

Foods allowed on Whole 30

Whole 30 Shopping & Preparation

We spent the last four pre-Whole 30 days on what could only be appropriately described as a binge that included foods I never particularly crave like Bill Miller fried chicken and foods I absolutely love like Pizza Classics. I particularly enjoyed ceviche and Dos XX at El Bucanero on Blanco Road.

We spent several hours reading and discussing The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig and shopped at H-E-B Lincoln Heights and Whole Foods in The Quarry Market on Sunday. Our shopping carts were quickly filled with fresh produce and fish. It was striking that our final grocery tab was actually lower than usual.

Laura is an excellent cook and my skills are woefully underdeveloped, so we spent Sunday evening going over the basic cooking concepts that I wish I had known since college. She prepared ceviche and I mostly chopped vegetables.

Day 1


The decision to eat a large breakfast- which is not my normal routine- turned out to be wise. My days usually consist of one or multiple meetings at restaurants. On Day 1, I had a breakfast meeting at El Mirador on South St. Mary’s and a lunch meeting at Burgerteca at Big Tex. By eating immediately before these meetings, I was able to drink coffee while my colleagues ate without any real discomfort. During workdays crammed with back-to-back meetings, foods I can eat quickly like bars and fruit are valuable.

I did not experience my usual midday crash and bloating. I felt more focused than usual and did not sweat as much. My workspace was more organized than usual and I drank less coffee and more water.

There is a Whole 30 Timeline telling me that what I am experiencing is totally normal (with an ominous caveat):

Right now you can’t see why anyone thinks this is hard…Take note of that Rock Star feeling, stash it away and bring it back out when days get rough. Because rest assured that after a lifetime of suboptimal choices, things are going to have to get worse before they can get better.

Falling asleep was difficult because I was starving, but I slept well.  On Day 2, I woke up before my 5:00 alarm and was able to step on the treadmill at the YMCA by 5:30. I am training for a half marathon in October, and am concerned that this program will affect my running.


  • 2 scrambled eggs with red peppers and onions + 10 grapes (6:30)
  • Gala apple (10:00)
  • 4 oz. ceviche (12:00)
  • Larabar Cherry Pie (2:00)
  • 2 oz. ceviche (5:00)
  • 7 almonds (6:00)
  • Two stuffed peppers + an orange (6:30)
  • Celery sticks with almond butter (8:00)


Some Videos I’m Showing in Class

In class last night we examined how to make better decisions. The lecture focused heavily on cognitive biases and heuristicsac10ec1ace51b2d973cd87973a98d3ab.jpg.1347400360781 that affect our decision-making.

The anchoring heuristic, explained by Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow:

An explanation of the availability heuristic:

Kahneman’s explanation of the focusing illusion to New York Times columnist David Brooks:

A discussion of the sunk costs fallacy:

We also discussed analysis paralysis and The Paradox of Choice, a book written by Barry Schwartz. Here is his TED Talk that synthesizes the book well:

Weight Loss Journeys & Eulogy Traits

Rivard Report founder/editor Bob Rivard has written eloquently and poignantly about his weight loss goals and journey. It’s a piece that I can identify with and has made me think about resolutions in general. One of Benjamin Frankin’s virtues was “resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”

On December 31, 2013, I wrote my 2014 New Years Resolutions. Here they are with some commentary:

  • Workout 225 days
    • Today, I reached workout #196 for the year. It looks as though this resolution will be accomplished in early October.
  • Wake up at 5:00 am on weekdays
    • With the occasional exception, have stuck to this one.
  • Be more orderly, temperate, frugal, and industrious 
    • I have completely failed at this one.
  • Run the Alamo 13.1 Half Marathon
    • Ran it in March. Ran another in April. Training for one on October 5 and another on November 8.

This list of resolutions essentially addresses weight loss and career advancement. Two weeks ago a dear friend was in a serious car accident, and I couldn’t help but think of the talk David Brooks gave at the 2014 TED Conference:

Here is my favorite passage:

So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace.The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistency? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.

So I’ve been thinking about that problem, and a thinker who has helped me think about it is a guy named Joseph Soloveitchik, who….said there are two sides of our natures, which he called Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is the worldly, ambitious, external side of our nature. He wants to build, create, create companies, create innovation. Adam II is the humble side of our nature. Adam II wants not only to do good but to be good,to live in a way internally that honors God, creation and our possibilities. Adam I wants to conquer the world. Adam II wants to hear a calling and obey the world. Adam I savors accomplishment. Adam II savors inner consistency and strength. Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why we’re here. Adam I’s motto is “success.” Adam II’s motto is “love, redemption and return.”

And Soloveitchik argued that these two sides of our nature are at war with each other. We live in perpetual self-confrontation between the external success and the internal value. And the tricky thing, I’d say, about these two sides of our nature is they work by different logics. The external logic is an economic logic: input leads to output, risk leads to reward. The internal side of our nature is a moral logic and often an inverse logic. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer the desire to get what you want. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.

We happen to live in a society that favors Adam I, and often neglects Adam II.

Living a healthy life is a worthwhile goal. As is career advancement. But we find happiness in love and “surrendering to something outside ourselves.”

via Brain Pickings
via Brain Pickings

Maybe next year’s resolutions should address eulogy traits.

The Wolf of Wall Street & Assorted Links

Erin and I saw The Wolf of Wall Street yesterday afternoon. It was a gross display of excess. Three new-wolf-of-wall-street-trailer-leonardo-dicaprio-is-the-wealthiest-stockbroker-in-the-worldstraight hours of profanity, sex, greed, drugs. There are those who say that the film doesn’t go far enough to villainize the Wall Street hucksters or moralize about how greed can breed self-destruction. I thought the bacchanalian nature of every single scene made many moral lessons self-evident. Here are some links:

The Wall Street Journal published a profile of Terence Winter, who adapted Jordan Belfort’s memoir into the film. He gives some of his own perspective:

“You, the viewer, are the sucker. You’re being duped and seduced into laughing along with these guys. And every once in a while you’ll hit a little bump in the road”—as when Belfort mentions an employee’s suicide in passing—”where you go, ‘What did he just say?'”

Not many revisions were needed to make the movie’s ’80s and ’90s-era hubris seem relevant, Mr. Winter says: “That’s the point of the movie: We don’t learn anything. Nothing changes.”

From 1905 to 1937, corporate America relied on a Supreme Court case, Lochner v. New York, to challenge most government regulations as violating a “liberty of contract” implicit in the Due Process Clause. Haley Sweetland Edwards argues in Washington Monthly that Citizens United is the new Lochner.

In the Lochner Era, big industry groups and their allies on the Court wielded the notion of “freedom of contract”—any regulation that abridged it was chucked. Today, the notion of “freedom of speech” is being used virtually the same way, just as Rehnquist worried it might be. Any rule or law that abridges a company’s claims to First Amendment-protected speech is now vulnerable to attack.

I’ve argued that generalists are undervalued in our corporate culture. Philosopher Roman Krznaric critiques the “cult of specialization” that has arisen since the Industrial Revolution.

Moreover, our culture of specialization conflicts with something most of us intuitively recognize, but which career advisers are only beginning to understand: we each have multiple selves. … We have complex, multi-faceted experiences, interests, values and talents…

smoking-pregnant-woman1Prevalence of smoking among pregnant women is still, in 2013, 10%.

These numbers are not just women who smoked a little before they realized they were pregnant — these are women who reported smoking during the last three months of their pregnancies.

I’m personally really not a fan of CEOs wearing hoodies. But a recent study profiled in The New Yorker gives some insight into why this “sartorial tactic succeeds.”

But how is nonconformity interpreted by others? Do we see it as a sign of status? New research, to be published next near in The Journal of Consumer Research, suggests that we do. The authors call the phenomenon the “red sneakers effect,” after one of them taught a class at Harvard Business School in her red Converse.

Advice to Graduates

Five years ago, I graduated from Texas Tech. Five years. Unbelievable.

I never much enjoyed the commencement ceremony platitudes: find your passion, shoot for the moon, etc. Great advice and all, but it always felt like something out of a Hallmark card.

college graduation
The day I graduated from Texas Tech University

Mitt Romney said something that I wish I would have heard at 22 in his address to graduates of Southern Virginia University:

When you are living to the fullest, beyond yourself, beyond comfort, life is most full and exhilarating.

NPR Planet Money asked several economists what they would say if tapped to speak at a ceremony.

Russ Roberts, whose podcast I listen to weekly, said:

Don’t take the job that pays the most money. Nothing wrong with money, but it’s the wrong criterion for choosing if you are fortunate to have a choice in this not-so-great job market. People often confuse economics with anything that is related to money as if the goal of economics is to make you rich. But the goal of economics is to help you get the most out of life. Money is part of that of course, but usually there are tradeoffs–the highest paying job has drawbacks. Don’t ignore those. So take the job that is the most rewarding in the fullest sense of the word. Sure, money matters. But so does how much you learn on the job, how much satisfaction it gives you and whether it lets you express your gifts. The ideal is to find a job you love that still lets you put food on the table and a roof over your head. You spend a lot of time at work. Don’t do something you hate or that deadens your soul just because it pays well.

Time is precious. One of the simplest but most important ideas of economics is the idea of opportunity cost–anything you do means not doing something else. Don’t spend all of your leisure on email and twitter and entertainment. Keep your brain growing. Listen to Planet Money. Read a novel. Take a cooking class or keep working at that musical instrument.

Finally remember the question Mary Oliver asks in her poem, The Summer Day:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

You don’t have to answer that question today. Or even tomorrow. But time is precious. Find a way to use your gifts. If you don’t have any gifts, invest in finding some. If you have some, invest in improving them.