Soylent 2.0

Foodie Life vs. Healthy Life

Over the past couple years, I’ve noticed how many of my friends have been traveling all over the world. It totally makes me jealous. I asked myself:

Why the hell am I not traveling like that?
Oh, money.
Okay, what are my biggest expenses that I can cut back on?
Oh, food.

The problem I’ve struggled with since boarding school is trying to find the right balance of food that is healthy, cheap, convenient, and tastes good.

I’ve tried a few things:

Eating Out Every Meal

For years, I’ve settled on spending $30 per day on food. That comes out to $900 per month. (It’s no wonder why I haven’t been able to set aside money for vacations.)

On top of that, eating fast food every day means slowly killing my body with all sorts of unnecessary sodium and preservatives.

Too many times I’d find myself not in the mood for anything in particular and defaulting to the nearest fast food dollar menu.

It’s not worth it.

Meal Prep Mondays

This is a popular option that I see a lot of my friends doing on Instagram. The problem for me is two-fold:

  • I don’t trust my cooking skills enough to eat my own food every day.

  • I get bored of food too easily.

Meal prep life simply won’t work for me unless I invest the time in learning to cook.

Prepared Meals by My Fit Foods

For a few months, I tried an alternative idea to meal prep — My Fit Foods. Instead of cooking everything myself, I could conveniently call up My Fit Foods and have days worth of healthy portioned food ready for pick up.

It worked great! I lost 19 lbs easily, even without working out.

The problem was the meal plan was costing me $35-$40 per day. Plus, it conflicted with my social life. On nights when I’d spontaneously hang out with friends, the meal I was scheduled to eat would expire. Money wasted.

It was the most expensive — and honestly, increasingly boring — meal plan I’ve tried.

Going Vegan-ish

For a while, I was working in Culver City, which is filled with great vegan restaurants. For the first time ever, I found myself enjoying vegan food!

But there was a problem — the good vegan restaurants are always expensive, typically costing between $12-$15 per meal. It simply wasn’t financially sustainable.

Also, I found myself gravitating towards the vegan food that was deep fried. I’m no nutritional expert, but deep frying vegetables probably isn’t any healthier that any other fast food.

So again, I’m brought back to square one — how do I find the right balance of food that is healthy, cheap, convenient, and tastes good?

Enter Soylent

This is the latest idea I’m trying — a food replacement shake called Soylent. It is a legitimate food product, providing maximum nutrition with minimum effort. And best of all, it comes out to about $3/meal.

When I posted about Soylent on Facebook, a typical reaction was:

But Mel, you’re a foodie! You need real food!

True! But I realized something — drinking Soylent doesn’t mean I have to replace every meal; it just has to replace one or two per day.

Two Months Later

I’m happy to report that I’ve lost 7 lbs in two months and easily saved $7-$14 per day! Soylent has truly been great on my waistline and my wallet.

And there was one great unexpected benefit that has come out of it — I can treat myself out to a nice $16 meal at a sit-down restaurant every day and not worry about breaking the bank.

So now, I think I’ve found the right balance for me. I’m eating healthier. I’m saving money. I’m saving time and gas money. And best of all, because I can afford to eat one nice meal per day, I don’t have to give up my foodie adventures.

I’m living the healthy foodie life now. And I’m loving it.

How I Spent My Year 2014

Four years ago, I was picking up pieces of myself off the ground. Three years after that, I focused on rebooting my career. This past year, I focused on my new puppy and myself.

2014 was a pretty miserable year for me. I'm sure one would ever expect it. What people tend to forget is social media is just a giant online highlight reel. There’s a whole 'lotta life that happens in between posts, and for me, it was pretty shitty.

For the twelfth straight year, without fail, here is my annual survey of how I spent my year 2014.

Coming Full Circle

Back in the day, I used to be super private about my personal life. No matter how hurt or how angry I was, I kept it all inside. I felt like it was the honorable thing to do.

But then I realized how much that shit would just eat me from the inside. That little fire in me would grow bigger and bigger...to the point where it'd just take one wrong push of a button and I would unleash everything on one unlucky person.

I couldn't take it anymore.

So I started to open up. A lot more. I'd blast all my business on my blog. Passive aggressive posts, left and right. Some posts even calling people out, straight up. It didn't matter how outrageous or irrational I was feeling; I was hurt, I was angry, and I wanted to let the whole fucking world know it. So I did.

But then I realized that venting publicly never solved anything. Nobody gives a shit. Nobody cares for a pity party. It only caused more drama for others and it'd always eventually come back to me.

So then I started to confide in my close friends. I'd tell them everything. I trusted them, wholeheartedly. They were my closest friends and they were always looking out for me.

But then I realized how much friends gossip. Even the close ones. I learned that telling them, "please don't tell anyone" apparently means, "okay, tell your close friends everything that I'm about to tell you, but tell them not to tell anyone."

I learned how fast and how dangerous the gossip train can get. In my most vulnerable times, when all I was doing was clawing and reaching for guidance and stability, I inadvertently became the source of gossip and ended up hurting people I still cared about. (You know who you are, and I'm so fucking sorry I hurt you.)

So now everything has come full circle. I've learned that I can't trust people. I've learned that I can't just scream at the world and blast shit on the internet. I've learned that if I'm going down, I can't just take other people down with me. I've learned to keep my private life private.

I let shit eat me on the inside. I fight my own battles now. I struggle with my own demons. Constantly. Because at the end of the day, it's the honorable thing to do, and the only person that will ever truly be around for me is...me.

How I Spent My Year 2013

Ten years. That's how long I've been doing this annual survey thing. Ten f'ing years. I don't write much original content on this blog but if there's one blog post I can count on making each year, it's this one.

I am going do this annual blog post every year for the rest of my life.

I try really hard to give answers that'll still mean something over time. Maybe one day, a loved one or a child of mine will find a lot of value in all this, maybe even years after I've passed.

Or if nobody ever reads this, that'd be fine too. I've been keeping up with this tradition because I love taking the time to reflect on how I've grown.

In 2011, my life was in shambles. In 2012, my focus was getting my career back on track. In 2013, things finally started falling into place. It feels good.

Here's how my year 2013 went.

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The Best of The #SantaHat Tradition

My Last #SantaHat Season

I seriously have no idea how I pulled these off:

  • 2008 - 79 santa hats
  • 2009 - 190
  • 2010 - 446
  • 2011 - 532
  • 2012 - 669
  • 2013 - 706

That makes six epic seasons of staying up late for 3-4 weeks, looking back at old photos, revisiting good times and photoshopping santa hats, fake snow, and even ugly Christmas sweaters on all you guys. Then over the course of a week, I get the pleasure of watching my newsfeed turn into a joyful stream of Christmas red and white.

By far, my favorite part is getting flooded with notifications not just from you guys but from your friends. When I see your friends getting into the Christmas spirit, my heart does a fist pump and I know I did my job.

These past six holidays seasons have been a BLAST. I can't help but smile when I look at each and every one of those pictures in that epic collage of my best Santa Hats.

But alas, with all of the changes going on in my life, I feel like the universe is telling me it's time to focus on other real world things; specifically, my career.

This year was by far the hardest. I honestly didn't think I'd come close to last year's 669 santa hats because I didn't pick up steam until five days after launch. My new job (which I love and plan to keep for a very long time) just gets so hectic around the holidays, there is simply no way for me to keep this going.

As epic as it has been, this indeed is the final #SantaHat Season...at least from me. I know other people on other parts of the internet have been doing the same thing for years and they'll continue to do it after me.

I just wanted to say thank you to all you guys. Thank you for all the good times, being a part of my life, and being part of the tradition these past few years. The end of the #SantaHat Tradition is definitely the end of an era...but we sure made it kick ass while it lasted.

Wishing you all a whole lot of love, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. <3

-Mel

p.s. For my newer friends, here's a throwback post of the story behind the tradition: The #SantaHat Tradition: What It Means to Me

Holy shit. I think I'm dyslexic...

My mom, as far back as I can remember, has ALWAYS mixed up my name with my brothers. ALL THE TIME. "Michael. I mean, Mark! I mean, Melvin!" Seriously, ALL THE TIME. I kinda just got used to it and got desensitized to it.

Yesterday, my mom did the same thing...but this time, I jokingly thought to myself, "What if she has dyslexia or something?"

I didn't really know much about dyslexia to being with. As far as I knew, it was a thing that caused people to mispell words frequently. But as I read through a fat list of symptoms, it just hit me.

"Holy. shit. This is totally me..."

Here are some of the symptoms that are all too familiar:

  • Thrives in careers where visual-spatial/kinesthetic talents can be realized: For example - Entrepreneurs, Engineers, Trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical), Artisans, Interior Decorating, Actors, Musicians, Police/Investigation, Athletes, and Business Executives (usually with staff/assistants).

  • May pass up promotions or advancement opportunities that would require more administrative work.

  • Has difficulty focusing and staying on task - may feel more comfortable managing many different tasks simultaneously.

  • Difficulty with tests - passing standardized tests can be a barrier to career advancement.

  • Out-of-the-box thinker or operates with very strict rules for themselves.

  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.

  • May be able to sense emotions and energy of others.

  • Remembers struggling in school.

  • Misspeaks, misuses, or mispronounces words without realizing it.

  • May have excellent recall of events that were experienced or not remember at all.

  • May confuse past conversations or be accused of "not listening."

  • Difficulty remembering names of people without tricks, but remembers faces.

  • Difficulty remembering verbal instructions or directions.

  • Poor recall of conversations or sequence of events.

  • Avoids reading out loud. May dislike public speaking.

  • Will commonly perceive that they "read better silently."

  • Has adopted compensatory tricks to remember spelling and homonyms (their, there, they're), or misuses homonyms and has poor or inconsistent/phonetic spelling.

  • Reading fluency and comprehension fluctuates depending upon subject matter.

  • Frequently has to re-read sentences in order to comprehend.

  • Fatigues or becomes bored quickly while reading.

  • Reliance on others (assistants, spouses, significant others) for written correspondence.

  • Uncertainty with words, punctuation, and spelling when writing. Reliance on spell-check and grammar-check.

  • Poor handwriting.

  • Relies on calculators or finger counting. May have difficulty with making change.

  • Difficulty with left/right and/or North, South, East, West.

  • Gets lost easily or never forgets a place they've been.

  • Difficulty reading maps.

  • May have anxiety or stress when driving in unfamiliar places. Relies on others to drive when possible.

  • May lose track of time and is frequently late - or is highly aware of it and is very rarely late.

  • Finds it difficult to estimate how long a task will take to complete.

  • Self-conscious when speaking in a group. May have difficulty getting thoughts out - pause frequently, speak in halting phrases, or leave sentences incomplete. This may worsen with stress or distraction.

  • Sticks to what they know - fear of new tasks or any situation where they are out of comfort zone.

  • Confusion, stress, physical health issues, time pressure, and fatigue will significantly increase symptoms.

UPDATE: Found a few more symptoms from Quora:

I make mistakes when copying down numbers, especially addresses and account numbers. When I write down an important number I have to check very carefully two or three times to see that I copied it correctly. Often, I have switched a few numbers without realizing it. Several times, I have knocked on a stranger's door because I copied an address down wrong.

I struggle with paying restaurant bills and figuring out tip, and how much change I should get. If my bill is 24 dollars, and I want to add a tip, and I am paying with a 50, I can't for the life of me figure out how much money to get back. It feels like there's a wall between myself and the answer. Mental math is almost impossible.

I get confused by pronouns when speaking. If I'm telling a story that involves a lot of "he said to her that she told him that she wanted..." I will get very confused. It feels like the story is getting away from me. Sometimes I struggle to express myself verbally.

OMG...it all makes so much sense now. All of my deepest insecurities stem from these very things...

It totally explains why I have NEVER been able to comprehend fictional books. Why I've always HATED reading aloud. Why even with a GPS, I'll still get lost in LA.

Why I'm so shy around big groups of people. Why I avoid confrontation like the plague. Why I remember names, dates, and outfits so well but I can't remember names for the life of me. Why I repeat the same questions or tell the same stories over and over.

Why I can never come up with the right words to say when I'm put on the spot. Why I rely on texting/chatting/emailing over talking on the phone or in person. Why I frequently ask people to repeat themselves. Why I suck at expressing myself verbally and compensate by being a perfectionist writer. Why I always get called out for saying "nutterbutt squash" or "California Pizza Chicken."

Why I frequently mess up my own signature. Why I have never been able to keep track of the score when watching or playing basketball. Why I can never remember if I've closed the garage door or not and had to drive back home to make sure.

All those times when people have given me shit for doing any of the above...all those countless times I've unintentionally hurt people because I was a poor listener...all those times I've wondered why I am so damn introverted...

This is why.

(I need to get tested and find out for sure.)

I miss heart-to-hearts.

I really miss having really, really deep heart-to-hearts with someone. I miss being able to pour out all of my deepest emotions to someone and not have to worry about the slightest bit of judgement.

But I've learned that I can't trust anyone anymore. I've learned that telling someone, "Please don't tell anyone," means they're just gonna turn to the next person and say, "I'm gonna tell you something but don't tell anyone else."

So I'll just keep everything to myself.

How I Spent My Year 2012

I've spent a lot of my time this year focusing on myself. Taking a step back, looking at the good times I cherish, and the hard times that humbled me. I've been putting it together to see how all of that has affected who I am today.

I'm gaining a much better understanding of myself now. I really starting to understand what makes me tick, what inspires me to take bold steps, and what kind people/things hold me back.

I think know the right formula for me to move on (at least I think I do). I just have to put it all together.

A big part of that formula is getting my career back on track. Because when I have financial freedom, I can go out and spend more time with people that inspire me.

That's why my career has been my top priority for the past year.

Anyways, without any further ado, for my 9th straight year, here is my annual survey.

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