The Hidden Benefits of Tracking Your Calories

Digital painting of a barbarian man using an app to track his calories.

I hated the idea of tracking calories. It felt too forced and robotic. I wanted to develop a more intuitive way of eating a good diet. I think most people do. They want to be able to listen to their appetites. They want to be able to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. That’s perfectly reasonable.

I didn’t realize that tracking my calories would improve my intuition. After spending few months logging every single food I ate, I went back to eating intuitively, and I was dramatically better at it. I had a deeper understanding of what was in the food I ate, how it made me feel, how it affected my digestion, and how it affected my weight.

Tracking my calories for a few months made me better at eating forever.

Read More

Announcing: Outlive—How to get stronger, melt stubborn fat, and become healthy

Outlive is a new project that’s been in development for the past four years now. It’s a completely new perspective when it comes to trying to burn stubborn fat around the stomach, gain some muscle in the right places, and do it all in a way that’s healthy and permanent.

This project was born out of a few bad experiences. When I tried “bulking” with a calorie surplus, I didn’t get more muscular—I got fatter. When I tried “cutting” with a calorie deficit, I didn’t get leaner—I got weaker.

Read More

The Strange Fables of Juan Artola Miranda

A painting of a barbarian man with a knife, haunted by a frail ghost. Painted by Juan Artola Miranda.

We’ve begun working with a new site, Word & Sorcery. It’s a site of short stories, particularly the ones which hold deep, lingering truths. It covers folklore, fables, legends, fairy tales, and parables, all in the words of Juan Artola Miranda, a modern fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. Some of the stories are classic, others are modern.

Artola claims that “classic tales crawl into the dark recesses of our collective minds, taking shelter there indefinitely, often long past the point where they are useful.” His writing attempts to make these stories useful again, breathing new life into them while preserving their heart, and blood, and wisdom.

Read More

How Reading Before Bed Can Improve Your Sleep (And Why Speculative Fiction is So Powerful)

There are all kinds of hacks for improving sleep: getting more sunlight during the day, dimming the lights at night, wearing blue-blocker glasses, doing regular exercise, having a warm shower before bed, and the list goes on.

Some of them, like getting enough sunlight and doing regular exercise, are an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, and they can certainly help a great deal, but there’s an underlying factor that has a much greater bigger impact on the quality of our sleep: stress.

In fact, the sleep scientist Greg Potter, PhD, considers it the master factor. If you’re relaxed enough, then you can get away with having fairly poor sleep habits. But if you’re struggling with stress, no matter how many sleep hacks you adopt, none of it will be enough to cure your sleep problems.

Now, some of us carry high levels of chronic stress in the classic sense. If you’re struggling with that, you probably already know that it can be a problem, and I think this article might help. But even if you aren’t stressed in the classic sense, stress might still be interfering with your sleep.

For example, I wouldn’t describe myself as overly stressed or anxious. However, when I lie down to go to sleep at night, I still have a flurry of thoughts running through my head. I start thinking about articles I’m writing, how my son’s doctor’s appointment will go, or that business article I read the other day. None of these thoughts are necessarily bad, and in some cases, it’s an exciting or even inspiring kind of stress. Still, all of these thoughts running through my head prevent me from drifting off into a relaxed sleep.

That’s where reading comes in. And of all the genres, fantasy has some unique advantages.

Read More

The Best Fantasy Books for Adults Who Aren’t Into Fantasy Yet

Whenever I try to convince a friend to read fantasy, they tend to assume that fantasy is all about teenagers teaming up with elves to fight off a mindless horde commanded by an evil overlord. They can’t relate to it, they can’t suspend their disbelief, and they don’t feel like they’d learn anything from it. I understand all of that. 

I had another friend tell me that he’d rather read sci-fi because it’s more serious, more intellectually nuanced, more scientific—less silly. And I understand that, too. In fact, I drifted away from fantasy in my late teens for that very same reason. Not only was it started to feel silly, but I was growing tired of coming of age stories. I had already made it past that milestone. I felt like I had outgrown the genre.

But fantasy is a genre with many subdivisions. Not every fantasy book has elves, dwarves, dragons, or magic. Not all of them are about young men going on the hero’s journey, many of them are nuanced and deep. Even so, when I tried to go back to fantasy as an adult, I had so much trouble finding a book that resonated with me that I nearly gave up on the genre all over again.

Eventually, though, I found a few authors who made me fall back in love with the fantasy as an adult. If you’re skeptical of fantasy but open-minded enough to give it a try, maybe you’ll like these suggestions.

Read More