Diversify, but not too much (a.k.a. sniper vs. shotgun dilemma)

Sniper vs. shotgun

I’m currently reading a book on swing trading and the heading of one of the chapters reads: “Diversify, but not too much“. Which, of course, totally makes sense – on the one hand, you want to diversify your portfolio in order to reduce the risk (of losing money if any single company goes bust) and on the other hand you want to concentrate your resources (trading budget) on only a few stocks in order to be able to get some serious gains. Because, if you stretch your budget across a thousand stocks, you’ll probably be waiting for a long, long time until you see any noteworthy returns.

Now, I’ve been struggling with above topic a lot in the past. Albeit in a completely different sphere of life (before I even knew that investing or swing trading existed).

If you followed me on Instagram (@newlifeguru), you would have noticed that I don’t seem to be a very focused guy I have so many different fields of interest. Currently I’m into learning jazz guitar, self-improvement, yoga, spirituality, motivational quotes, entrepreneurship, stock markets, personal finance, investing and trading, taekwondo, fitness and learning Chinese. Oh, and healthy food & nutrition, too. Hm… and Buddhism. And recording audio books. And songwriting. Huh. Ok, I guess that about rounds it up. 😊 You see? A lot.

Oh, wait! Recently I also started learning Scratch 3 (but gave it up after realising that I’m fighting on too many battlefields already). And did I mention calligraphy? And Excel/VBA? No? Hm… add that to the above list, as well.

And here comes the sniper vs. shotgun dilemma: me being a “shotgun” type of person (many projectiles flying all over the place) – I figured that being a “sniper” type would have helped me achieve more in life. You know, focus on one thing and streamline all the energy and ressources into achieving that one “thing”, that one goal.

Sniper fires only one projectile, but it shoots very precisely and has a far reach. Chance of a sniper shot hitting bulls eye is huge. Aim. Fire. Bam!

A shotgun on the other hand spreads many projectiles in various directions: jazz guitar, learning Chinese, yoga, fitness, trading, calligraphy… You get to learn and enjoy so many things. Of course, it comes with a price tag attached: none of the shots has the impact of the sniper shot. I mean, each day has only so many hours and each of us has only a finite amount of money and energy. Therefore, if you channel all your efforts in a single endeavour, you’re more likely to succeed in that one endeavour. But… you have to chose one goal which implies that you must get rid of the rest. Yeah, that’s a real bummer, I know. And this is my biggest problem, too.

Getting rid of stuff and adopting a minimalist lifestyle was not very hard for me. The really hard part is getting rid of things you want to do in life, new things you want to learn, new experiences etc. I want all of the above mentioned. 😊 But I’m slowly realising I can’t have it all, at least not right now. And this is where my investing guru, my idol, my fellow investor, Mr. Warren Buffett steps in…

Warren Buffett’s 5/25 Rule

Dudes and dudettes (I’m addressing those of you who are like me, more of a “shotgun type”) – I think I found a solution for all of us: there is a strategy called 5/25 (which the Internet community attributes to Warren Buffett). This strategy is very simple, one just needs to follow these three steps:

1. List 25 important things you wish to do, experience, accomplish, learn in your life.

2. Now circle the 5 most important ones.

3. Focus all your ressources on those 5 and forget the rest (for the moment, at least).

Cool, no? I haven’t implemented it yet. But I’ll make sure to do so very soon! I’ll keep you posted.

Freedom

Today I woke up around 6 AM, free as a bird. My quarantine days are over – yesterday was the last day. Quickly got up, put on my clothes and went out for a walk in this beautiful sunny morning. Took a breath of the early morning Berliner air… What a feeling! Indescribable.

freedom

Freedom is so precious, dudes and dudettes. Most of us don’t even realise this and most people take it for granted, along with good health, clean food and running water.

My foundation: alive, healthy and free. Everything else comes on top. Of course, each of us decides for themselves how many storeys they wish to build on top of the foundation and how they wish to build it: having a family, being rich, being famous, being spiritual, being the best mathematician in the world, having the best looking athletic body, etc…

So, sorry Janis, I love your music but this time I prefer to put it the other way around: Freedom’s not another word for “nothing left to lose” but “from here you start to gain”.

Be thankful, my friends. Appreciate what you already have!

Addicted to protein bars

Protein bars – my staple food

Dudes and dudettes, I’m addicted to protein bars. And then some. I’ve been locked in this Covid-19 home-quarantine of mine for so many days already, so naturally at some point I ran out of protein bars… And that’s a big problem. Uhm. Yep. It is.

So I had to order another big batch online, via Amzn. You know I adore Amzn and I even co-owned this company for a while (I mean the one single share which I bought and then sold prematurely 😊). But this time they failed miserably. Instead of the promissed overnight delivery, I received an email which says: “…cannot be delivered…” WTF? Where is this world heading to, if even Amzn overnight delivery is not functioning properly. Oh, man. Anyways…

Today, when the door bell rang, I ran to open the door. Hm. Oh, well… It was a delivery all right, but the parcel was for the neighbour who was not at home at the moment. Duh.

Few hours later – the door bell rang again and for the moment I felt how saliva almost spilled over my bottom lip… I ran to the door. Yep. Delivery. For me. Oh, boy. I ripped the box open and I probably ate 5 or 6 of those protein bars. At the very least. 😳 Binge eating protein bars. How crazy is that? I mean, I do want to have that Spiderman physique, but I guess soon I could be leaving the quarantine looking more like Hulk…

李老师今天不高兴。*

I started learning Chinese a few months ago. Again. After ca. 18 years. And honestly, I’m amazed at how much of it stayed with me over the years. Back in 2002 we were living in Taipei (and BTW, I wish we stayed there 🤷🏻‍♂️) and for me to get the visa extended, I had to attend a language course. Every day – from 9 AM to 1:30 PM. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was really fun.

Right now I’m learning Mandarin Chinese, simplified (characters have fewer strokes and are somewhat easier to remember). Back in Taiwan we also learned Mandarin, only with traditional characters (mucho complicated).

Today, if you wish to (or need to) learn a foreign language you really have no excuses: free Youtube videos, free apps (such as Duo***go), you name it… All it takes is some willpower, a few spare minutes a day and an Internet connection. No excuses. Really. 😊

再见! [zài jiàn] = Good bye!

* The blog post title reads: “Teacher Lee is not happy today.

Greetings from the quarantine

Last two weeks I spent in Belgrade, on a mission I named “Wisdom tooth”. And… Mission accomplished! I don’t have any wisdom teeth left in my jaw. Yay! All four are out now. I know you’re dying to know more about it, so I’ll make sure to write about this in a separate blog post. 😀And… guess what – all of this is just a part of a much bigger mission: “Hollywood teeth” (orthodontic therapy). Yeah, I know, I should have written about it, too. I promise I’ll make it up to you.

But… what’s with the “greetings from the quarantine”, you’re asking? Oh, well… let me tell ya…

Home sweet home (well, sort of…)

I came back to Germany yesterday, after two weeks spent in Belgrade (spent mostly in bed, recovering from the surgery, chasing lady luck i.e. business ideas on the Internet and learning about the working of stock markets). As naive as I am, I honestly thought that it would be an easy thing to do – fly from Berlin to Belgrade, get things done and fly right back to Berlin amid ongoing pandemic. Serbian news were all about the “summer season opening” and “easing of COVID-19 restrictions“, so I was totally optimistic about the whole endeavour. In addition, travellers from Serbia were one of the few (outside the EU, of course) to be allowed unrestricted entry in the EU zone during the pandemic.

I was supposed to have the wisdom tooth surgery done back in March, but then the whole world suddenly came to a halt because of the Corona virus and unfortunately it had to be postponed to a later date. The moment air traffic was re-established, I rebooked the tickets and hoped for the best.

Flying to Belgrade was really easy-peasy, everything seemed to have came back to normal after months of Covid restrictions: getting to the airport went really smooth, check-in also went totally smooth, security control, passport control, boarding… everything worked like a charm. Just like the good old days. If it weren’t for the bloody mask. From the moment you enter city transportation in Berlin until the moment you exit the airport building in Belgrade – you’re obliged to wear a mask covering your mouth and nose. But, ok. That’s really no biggie and something that’s relatively easy to get used to.

On the way back I had a totally different story: red eye flight in the early morning hours. Airport Belgrade recommends all passengers to be at the airport three hours ahead of the scheduled departure due to COVID-19 restrictions. In my case this meant being at the airport at ca. 4 AM. Oh, man. But me, a smartass, I thought: I’ll check-in online and then I wouldn’t have to be at the airport three hours before departure… I mean, c’mon. Three hours for a short haul flight? That’s crazy. Something went wrong with the online check-in, so I called the customer service: “Due to current situation and travel restrictions, you can check-in online only if you are holding the passport of the EU country you’re flying to“. Duh. OK, never mind… I guess I’ll be getting up in the middle of the night then…

Arrived at the airport. Some Greek guy in front of me has been questioned by the check-in staff as if he was some kind of a criminal suspect: “Where are you flying to?” “Why?” “Do you live in Germany?” “Do you have a registration certificate showing that you live in Germany?” “Show me any other proof that you reside in Germany.” Poor guy was just shrugging his shoulders and turning to his travel companion, as if he was desparately asking for an answer or support. Under normal circumstances, EU citizens can travell accross EU countries without any restrictions, so this treatment must have been quite a surprise for the poor guy.

And then it was my turn… I approached the check-in desk and immediately started taking out all kinds of documents which I had on me, which would prove that I actually live in Germany. The young lady at the check-in then said: “Sir, there is no need for you to act like that. Please wait a moment”. And then she called her boss. Normally I’m an optimistic person, but at that moment, at that airport I felt like “this must be the place where optimism comes to die”.

Luckily, check-in supervisor decided that I presented enough evidence of my living in Germany and she had her young colleague check me in.

I immediately went upstairs to the passport control area… Dudes, you’ve never seen such a dystopic scene: the whole floor was literally empty. Empty. Not a soul. Just two young ladies standing in front of the long passport control queue, who would normally be steering hundreds of passengers, one for business passengers and one for economy. Other than those two and myself there were no passengers, no employees, no one. Everything was so quiet. Pripyat mode. I’ve never cleared passport control that quickly. Five seconds all together: “Good morning”. Check. Stamp. “Have a nice flight”. Crazy shit…

Welcome to Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Upon arrival I was getting ready to rush through the passport control and head right home. But unfortunately that was not the case. Again, two young (police-)women and a bunch of questions: “Where are you coming from?” “What is the purpose of your visit to Germany?” etc. Oh, man. Ladies. I live here. This is my “home”.

I’ve been away, now I’m returning “home”. “Please show me your registration certificate”, she asked. But I didn’t have the bloody registration certificate on me. I mean, who in the world would be carrying on them a document printed on an A4 paper? Who? “Many travellers have this document on them. Please write down your home address here and we’ll check” …and she handed me a ballpen and her official notebook with the light blue cover and lettering “Bundespolizei”. What? Now she’ll have my address written in her police notebook, as if I was some kind of criminal case?

“Here lady… you see…” again I took out all of my documents: my German driver’s licence, my German health insurance card, my German Mastercard, my… uh… Dudes. Let me tell you one thing: if you find yourself in situations where you feel like you’re on candid camera too often, most probably you’re doing something wrong. I think of this everytime I get this feeling… ah, never mind… you know what happened then? The moment I wrote down the address and handed back the notebook, the other policewoman hung up the phone and turned to her colleague: “It’s ok. You can let him in”.

“Sir, before you go… please take these documents and study them carefully” said the policewoman.

“Ok, I will. Thank you. Have a nice day!” I replied and went to catch the bus…

Once I was sitting in the bus I read the heading of the documents I just received at the border control: “Regulation for persons entering Germany in connection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2“. Oh, no… Dear travellers, … blabla bla… if you’ve spent any time within 14 days prior to entering Germany in a country which is designated as risk area by Robert Koch Instituteproceed directly to… quarantine… and remain there exclusively for a period of 14 days. Moreover, you are required to contact the local health office without delay and inform the latter of your entry into the country.

So I contacted local “Gesundheitsamt” (health office) upon arrival and now I’ll be sitting at home for the next two weeks. Perfect chance to make some money on the stock exchange… haha 🤑

A day in the life of a day trader a.k.a. the story of buying low and selling high

A wannabe day trader, more precisely… You see, I’m spending these last days of June 2020 in my hometown, taking care of my teeth (typical health tourism: orthodontic treatment, wisdom teeth removal etc.) and also visiting my parents.

I used the opportunity to tell my mom all about my trading and investing endeavours of the past few weeks. She didn’t seem overly excited about the topic but from her nodding and “uhm hms”, I know that she totally understands and supports me. Haha.

But even so, I still told her how I discovered a financial perpetuum mobile, an inexhaustable source of income, a way to literally print money... Oh, you’re dying to hear the story, too? No problemo, here you go (as always, sharing is caring):

Essentially, all you need to do is take 3.000 euros (probably also works with less, I just never tried), buy thousand shares of any random, moderately volatile stock when the shares are at 3 euros and sell when the price goes up to, let’s say… 3,50. Crazy shit. You just earned 500 euros! Ok, minus tax and transaction fees, but c’mon, 500 euros! And next time you do exactly the same, but you re-invest the enlarged sum (3.500 euros). Earn even more money. Repeat. Forever. And when the money starts flowing, you’ll finally know what having too much money feels like… 🤑

This one detail is kind of important: make sure to buy stocks that will actually go up after you made the purchase. You know how they say: buy low, sell high (and not the other way ’round).

The only thing is…. my mother wouldn’t be my mother if she hadn’t asked that one (rhetorical) question: “my son, if that was such an easy thing to do, wouldn’t everybody be doing it?

Yeah, dunno. Maybe. What do I know why the others’s are not doing it? Perhaps they don’t have the dough? Or guts? Or they’re simply reading wrong blogs, so they never actually found out how easy it can be to earn loads of money? No idea…

Anyways, I decided to literally put my money where my mouth is and test this little “discovery” of mine… I’ve chosen Commerzbank (just because its current price per share nearly perfectly fits the story. I couldn’t care less about the fundamental analysis and I can’t be bothered with the KPIs, either). Today was supposed to be the big day. The plan: buy at 3,80€ and exit at 3,90€. Take 100€ and prove the world that my newly discovered model works… (ok, the actual difference is more in the neighbourhood of 50 euros after taxes and banking fees, but still, it works – for sure). Yep. That simple. What? What difference does it make how old I am? And no, I don’t believe in Santa Claus. Ok, now – let me get back to the most exciting part of the story…

Buy low, sell high… it really doesn’t get any simpler than that

Unfortunately, I slept until late, so I missed the early morning hustle on the stock exchange, including a dip at 3,74 and a peak at ca. 3,90. But – who cares? I quickly remembered a friend of mine telling me not to worry about that. Chances keep coming around all the time. You just have to grab them. So… the moment I woke up I saw my chance! At 3,80€ I’m going in. Yep. The price was already moving in the right direction. After I’ve bought the shares, I’ll just sit back and wait until the price goes up to 3,90€ and as soon as it’s there, I’ll close the position and take the 100€. Yeah, baby. Whoop, whoop. 💪

Around 11 AM, I was ready to click on that “Buy” button, slowly preparing for this moment by tapping with the index finger on the desktop surface while holding the mouse firmly in my right hand. 3,84… gooood. Ok, now just a bit lower… 3,82… yeees… 3,83… why TF is it going back up?!? 3,82… yeah, that’s it. Just a bit lower… 3,815… 3,82… 3,83… fuck that, it just keeps bouncing up and down. I can’t wait no more because if I wait, it’ll go up again and the whole day will be ruined. And the sheer thought of that makes me nervous…

So, the very next moment the price ticker comes back flashing anywhere near 3,81, I’m in! No more waiting, no more thinking.

3,83… 3.82… 3,815… 3,81. Bam! Locked. Ha!

3,80… 3,79… wooot the fcuk?? 3,78… WTF is going on? Am I on candid camera? C’mon!? Hey. Not funny. 3,80… “Uh, good. Going up again”. 3,79… F$&@ you. 3,78… WTF?! Now I’m pissed. But for real. Fcuk that. 3,79… 3,78… Aaaaaaaaaa!

It’s only then that I checked the news: Wirecard declared bankruptcy at that very moment and bloody Commerzbank was one of the banks who gave them a loan (worth millions of euros) some time ago. So now that Wirecard is insolvent, they’re also pulling their lenders into the dirt… WTF?! I mean, really. WTF? And Wirecard had to go bankrupt exactly now??? How was I supposed to know that Commerzbank is connected to Wirecard through million-euro-loans? How? I mean, who am I? Bloomberg?

3,77… 3,76… faaaaaaak this. 3,75…

Ok, you know what? I’m out. I’ll try this shit some other time. Today is obviously not the right day. Not the right place, not the right time… Too much going on. And who made the bloody UX in the trading app, anyway??? Each time the share price goes down, the whole bloody app flashes red. Just how stupid is that? Like I wouldn’t see that I’m losing money without it? Ok, I admit, it does blink green when the share price is going up, but this is not the case right now… uh…

I wouldn’t want to bother you with too many details right now, so here’s the epilogue: I ended up with my eyes glued to the smartphone display, waiting some 10-15 minutes for the ticker to go back to at least 3,80 and then I immediately sold the bloody stock. Didn’t even care about the loss or the transaction fees or if it goes up or down afterwards… At that point I just felt happy and relieved that I got rid of my “investment” and that, for the time being, I finished with the bloody trading app.

The screenshot which you see above was taken in the afternoon, just a few moments before I got a heart attack, after seeing that the bloody stock climbed to 3,92 after all… haha. Nah, just kidding. I’m ok. No heart attack. Oh, man. Stupid joke. 🤗

BTW, that very same screenshot just proves that my financial perpetuum mobile could have actually worked! You know, buy low, sell high. I mean, how hard can that be?

p.s. I feel so sorry for all Wirecard employees. I was in a similar situation just a few years ago, when the company I worked for went bankrupt. Therefore I can imagine what they must have been going through during the past hours, days, weeks and months… 🙁

Saved by the dead cat bounce

What? No, no, no, you don’t need to call the WWF. I totally love animals and I would never ever hurt any living being, let alone a cat. When I say “dead cat bounce” I’m not referring to an actual animal. That’s just an expression for a temporary recovery in the stock market price after a substantial fall (that’s part of my newly adopted trading / stock market lingo 😉).

I simply couldn’t forgive myself for making the stupid mistake and not liquidating the Wirecard position last Friday. Instead, I just got myself deeper in the mess by purchasing additional 20 shares of this company (just WTF was I thinking!? 🤔)

During the weekend it became clear that Wirecard is definitively missing those 1.9 billion euros, which have “vanished” i.e. got “lost in translation” somewhere between Germany and the Philippines…

Going all in

Yesterday evening I decided to go all in and recover my losses by dollar cost averaging. So far I owned a total of 30 shares at 45 euro per share and I figured that – after all the bad news – this stock will most probably take another dive today, as soon as the stock exchange opens.

So, if I manage to “buy the dip” and bring the average cost per share low enough, I could sell immediately after, at a price per share just above my average cost… (as I already wrote last Friday)

Before going to bed yesterday night, I logged into my online banking and put three buy orders (a total of 300 additional shares). Ya, ya, ya, I know – this is exactly what you should NOT be doing – going all in and trying to recover losses. But I did. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night, knowing that I lost more than 1300 euro gambling on the stock exchange… 😩

Today morning, the moment I woke up, I grabbed my phone and checked the email. Bam! All three orders have been processed. Oh, man. Now I’m so deep in this, there’s no turning back…

Without hesitation I put a sell order for approx. one euro per share above my purchase price, for all 330 shares. Now, call me greedy or stupid but after all the stress I had during the past few days with this stock, at least I wanted to have some financial compensation and not merely close at a break-even point. 🤑

Dead cat bounce

Luckily, after hitting the bottom at ca. 10 euro, the share price started going up and up and… and… almost reached my limit. Almost! Fcuk! It was just a few cents shy of my sell order limit. Fcuk, fcuk, fcuk! That’s what happens when you’re too greedy. That’s what happens. Oh, man. The share price hit the ceiling around 08:30h and after that moment it seemed to be just going down, down, down… 16 euro, 15 euro… fcuk. 14 euro… faaak that. 13 euro. Puh. “I’m doomed”, I thought. Now I have ca. 1300 euro plus another ca. 4500 euro at stake. And the share price keeps falling. You know, cold sweat, heart beating. I’m not kidding. Heavy shit.

And the worst of all – I have an appointment with my dentist at 10:00h and I won’t have access to the Internet or my online banking on the way there. Aaaaaaaaaaa!

“Ok, take it easy, dude”, I said to myself. “Nothing will happen during the next 30-60 minutes. Calm down, adjust the sell limit by a few cents, put on your shoes and go catch the bus…”

The very moment I entered the dentist’s office, I connected to the Wifi and checked my email: “Your order has been processed“. Yeeeeeeah! That was it. I’m out. I’m off the hook. Boy was I happy. Such a relief.

Of course, I could have had a few cents more but now each time I get greedy, I immediately remind myself of the old saying: “No one ever went broke by taking a profit“.

I wish all the best and all success to all remaining Wirecard shareholders, may the WDI share price go up again and may the new management lead the company out of this really awkward situation… 👍

I’ll be looking for investment opportunities elsewhere, that’s for sure… oh, and today I sold that one AMZN share I had. Just in case Amazon decides to go down the Wirecard road…

Stock market adventures – continued… (a.k.a. How I *almost* saved my ass)

Today, f*ckin’ Wirecard AG shares continued sliding towards 0 Euro. And at some point even reached the lowest point of just below 20 Euro. Wow. 😟

On the one hand I thought: “Oh shit, Frau Schmidt“, there goes my dough, melting away right before my eyes; on the other hand: “Yippeeee!”. Because that was THE chance. My chance! Ehm. Sorry, that was the chance for the brave ones. Let me explain:

By purchasing additional shares, one can actually bring down the average cost per share, which means that in relative terms, the loss would be not -70% but only e.g. -30%. Of course, in absolute values, you’re potentially just getting deeper in the problem by buying more of the volatile stock.

Initially I had a total of 10 shares, which I bought for 930 euro (93 euro per share). I could have sold at 109 euro per share two days ago, but as I wrote yesterday – I got greedy. Ok – it’s too late now, yesterday ain’t coming around anymore anyway…

So I was in with 930 euros. Now, imagine this: I could have bought additional 100 shares today at 20 euro per share and ended up with a total of 110 Wirecard AG shares (10 initial + 100 additional) with the total value of 2930 euro (930 initial + 2000 additional = 2930 euro)

That’s 2930 / 110 = 26,6 euro per share!

This could have been my chance…

Since today early afternoon, shares of this company are trading for ca. 29 euro per share.

Now check this out:

29 euro x 110 shares = 3190 euro

3190 – 2930 = 260 euro

I could have closed this position today and kept the plus of 260 euro!

…but I did’t. Instead I bought only 20 additional shares. I know, call me chicken or loser or whatever. Uh… so, essentially, my break even is now at ca. 45 euro per share.

Boy, do I hope this company recovers in the time to come… otherwise I’m even deeper in it than I was yesterday. Keep the fingers crossed for me! 🤑

Oh, no. I lost money on the stock exchange…

I had one single “speculative” company in my stock portfolio. Just a few shares, nothing spectacular. A DAX company with a global footprint and commission based, “bullet-proof” business modell. Today this company lost ca. 70% of it’s stock market value by postponing the 2019’s results presentation for the 4th time in a row, after failing to recieve the report signed off by the auditor. Apparently due to “missing” 1,9 billion Euros.

Yo, Wirecard dudes, WTF?! How can a company not notice that f*ckin’ 1,9 billion Euros are missing in the annual report?? 🤦🏻‍♂️

No more speculative stocks for me…

On the second thought, it’s really not a biggy. Sometimes I also feel like I’m missing 1,9 billion Euros, so from that perspective I can totally relate. Those things just happen… you know, it could have happened to any of us… a billion here, a billion there…

All of my other investmens are “safe” (or at least “conservative”) investments, but here I was after a quick buck. Therefore – no regrets (well, almost “no regets” 😩). You know the old saying: “I never lose, I either win or I learn.” So – I guess this time I learned. A lot. No more speculative stocks for me.

Actually, I could have closed this position yesterday evening after it went up, way over 104 Euro per share. And I’d even be taking home a small profit, too… But I got greedy. “Why would I take ca. 100 Euro if I can have 200 or 300 Euro?” Haha. What a bummer. “Greed […] is good”. Yeah, right. Greed is good my ass. F*ck you, Gordon Gekko.

Next time I’ll stick to my fellow investor’s friendly advice:

Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful” Warren Buffett

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Few days ago I wrote a blog post about ‘predicting the future’ and during the past few days I watched a ton of videos, listened to many podcasts and read a lot of material on the topic of predicting the future. Hm… it turns out – you don’t “predict” the future. You invent it.

Essentially it boils down to what we know already – you’re either creating the world according to your own plan or you are assigned a role in another person’s scenario… It’s really a choice we all have and there are practically no exceptions to this rule. Design your own future OR live the life passively and merely react to all the situations that are coming your way…

I love the analogy which Earl Nightingale used in his program “The Strangest Secret”:

Think of a ship with the complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and crew know exactly where the ship is going and how long it will take and it has a definite goal. And 9,999 times out of 10,000, it will get there.

Now let’s take another ship and just like the first and only let’s not put a crew on it, or a captain at the helm. Let’s give it no aiming point, no goal, and no destination. We just start the engines and let it go. I think you’ll agree that if it gets out of the harbor at all, it will either sink or wind up on some deserted beach and a derelict. It can’t go anyplace because it has no destination and no guidance.
” *

Counting calories and tracking macros

I’ve written down several goals for me to achieve during this lifetime. That was already a few years back, when I first learned that you actually need goals in order to achieve them. I know, this sounds totally childish and naive, but have look around you – you’ll see people of all walks of life, living their lives without having defined any goals whatsoever, neither short term nor long term goals. Yep. Crazy shit, once you realize that…

Actually, it seems to me that most folks live that way. And, what’s more – you can easily recognize them by their usual mantra: “Thank God it’s Friday”. To paraphrase what Jim Rohn said in one of his seminars: when such people reach the end of their lives, they probably go: “uh, thank God it’s over…”. Is this not sad?

Perhaps now you’re thinking: “WTF is wrong with this New Life Guru dude? His heading reads “Counting calories” but he’s writing about life goals. TF, man…?” Well, it’s because the two topics are connected in more ways than one. Let’s switch to the topic of counting calories and tracking macros (macronutrients) and you’ll see what I mean.

Not sure if I mentioned this already in one of the previous posts, but I’ve been trying to get lean (Men’s Health-cover-page sort of lean; check out the photo below) since… dunno… ever. And from time to time I managed to come close to this goal, albeit with mixed success. I wanted, you know, the usual stuff: sixpack, biceps veins, big round shoulders, V-back etc… I literally followed all kinds of fitness and nutritional trends but – the “mixed success” remained. I never got really shredded the way I wanted to.

Setting goals
Visualisation of my goal

That typical “yo-yo effect” was never a problem for me because I love working out, I love to look at my pumped arms after a workout, I love the sixpack burn. But it was a roller-coaster ride all this time. Down 15kg, up 10kg, down 5kg, up 15kg… neverending.

Until I finally understood: it was because I didn’t have a plan. No plan? You’re lost. Sure, you can wander around until you eventually find (or don’t find) what you’re looking for. But, believe me – reaching the goal by following a carefully designed plan is much easier. And it’s probably less time consuming, too.

So I started counting calories and tracking macros (Fat, Protein, Carbohydrates). There is a plethora of “Calorie counter” platforms in the Internet. Enter your height, current weight, age, activity level etc. and it spits out your recommended daily calorie intake, depending on your (fitness) goals. I used several of these counters and took the average value: I’ll be within my desired caloric deficit range if I consume between 1900 – 2100 kcal per day. And just BTW, being in a caloric deficit for a certain period of time is the only way one can lose weight.

If I manage to stay consistent this time, I’ll reach my fitness goal by December 2020. Oh, yes! It’s a loooong process. You know, if getting fat took years, even a naive (optimistic) person like myself should be aware that it’s going to take more than just a few weeks to get ripped.

Of course, just counting calories is BS. Because if you eat a ton of carbs but very little protein – you could end up being “skinny fat” (because you’ll lose weight mostly by loosing muscle mass, not fat). Unless of course you’re an athlete preparing for your next marathon race…

In order to keep muscle mass AND lose weight one needs to consume enough protein every day. “Uh oh, but – how do I know if I’m consuming enough protein?” That’s where tracking macros comes in. And this is also where it get’s a bit… complicated. One can of course track macros with an ready-made app (and there are so many out there), but you know me – I’m a DIY type of guy, so I made an “Excel” (actually “Numbers”) table where I would type in the info from all the nutrition labels of my staple food, enter quantity of each food item I’ve consumed and the formula would calculate calories and macros. Easy-peasy. Later on I even added price per 100g, just for fun. Oh, and a graph which updates automatically. See below.

Daily calorie intake
Counting calories works! (along with tracking macros)

I started counting calories one month ago, on May 10th. The first 10 days went without any problems whatsoever. I’d get up, open Numbers and enter the food quantity in the calculation sheet. BTW, it’s amazing how little food is needed (i.e. “allowed”) for 1900 kcal semi-vegetarian diet (with a target of ca. 30% protein).

Than came that May 22nd. A friend asked me to help him move from his old flat to the new one. And – you know me, I’m always glad to help. After we moved everything and installed laminate flooring in his new flat, he took me out for a dinner to a Balkan-Grill place. We started with a bean soup, continued with Burek and a Šopska salad, a “few” ćevapčići and… when I came back home and googled the nutrition information for all the food I ate – I was shocked. A total of 3200 kcal. Fcuk, man. How come? Well, easy. That Lepinja or Somun (bread) alone is easily 300-400 kcal. And Burek? Šopska salad with cheese and olives? Ćevapčići? But ok, everywhere in the net you’ll find that simple advice for binge eaters: don’t worry, just continue living your life as if nothing happened… and that’s what I did.

Until that May 31st came. I went to visit friends who… surprise, surprise – fired up the grill. That wouldn’t have been the problem, had I not already eaten my daily portion. Oh, yes, I almost forgot – I usually eat only one meal a day (usually during the morning hours). And I’m quite consistent with that one-meal-a-day and I actually like that regiment a lot. This time (remembering the “lesson” from just a few days ago) I went easy on them ćevapčići and all the other yummy stuff they prepared. So I ended up at “only” 2790 kcal for that day. I have to add that I went there by my new trike. 20km on the way there + 20km back, so… I guess I used up some of that “fuel”, pedaling for 40 km.

Next day when I woke up I felt so tired and my quads were hurting like hell. I cooked my favourite Red Lentil Dahl and ate a ton of it. Bam! 2675 kcal. Uh… it’s the fat in the coconut milk that gives you loads of calories… 😉

For the next few days I stayed within “limits”. Until June 6th. Falafel. And haloumi. And humus. Oh, man. Eating out is totally counter-productive when you’re counting calories. Daily total: 2632 kcal. By this point I had already thoroughly screwed up my daily caloric average… Oh, well…

Two days ago I had an appointment in the morning, therefore I could not eat at my usual meal time. I just ate a bit of something and went to the appointment. Didn’t even have time to type all the info in the sheet, but instead wrote the quantities on a piece of paper. Oh, yes, regarding quantities: I bought one of those small kitchen scales. Otherwise I’d never know if a “spoonful of almond butter” is closer to 10 g or 40 g. And it does make the difference (in this case: 90 kcal vs. 360 kcal). Kale or brokkoli don’t really matter if you consume 90 g or 140 g – it’s really not a biggy. But calorie dense food such as nut butter, oil etc. does matter. After I came back home, for some reason (which is totally beyond me) I started binge eating protein bars. How crazy is that? Not chips, not sweets, but protein bars. Crazy. 😊 I totally lost control. I’d eat one protein bar and write it down on that piece of paper. And another protein bar. And of course write it down. And another. And one more… I ate 6 protein bars that afternoon. No, I’m not kidding. In the end, when I entered all the info in the calculation sheet, I was at 3752 kcal, thereof 193g protein and 160g carbs. Oopsy…

But, ok. Next day I ate my (carefully planned) meal as if nothing happened. I even forgot to eat 20 g of Almond butter which I planned, but realised this only in the late afternoon… 180 kcal less than planned. Heh. You know… moving on…

* Source: https://www.nightingale.com/articles/the-strangest-secret/