money

Jordan Laubaugh’s Money. A Completely Open View Of My Finances.

A few weeks ago I thought that it might be cool to just make my personal financial data public on this blog. I think it’s really silly that our society tends to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to money. I don’t know who benefits from that.

Seriously, I’ve never been given a good, logical explanation as to why we don’t talk about it openly. It’s just something you don’t do. “But why don’t you do it?” I ask. “Because you DON’T.” conventional view.

So I decided to reject the secrecy premise and am trying super transparency. This post is my life with money up until now as best as I can recall it. I didn’t keep very good records prior to 2013 so some numbers are approximations. All the of the approximations are on really small amounts, so I’m not missing much.

Moving forward, I’ll be sharing as much as I can about money. Specifically, MY money. How I earn it. How I use it. My habits. My beliefs. My experiments. My data.

My hope is that getting a behind the scenes peak of how one dude (me) does what I do will provide valuable knowledge for anyone that wants to take the time to go through it. If you like it, share it, that’s my only request. This post should be read primarily as entertainment and/or cautionary tale.

Short version: I grew up really really poor, but it wasn’t so bad. I’m less poor now, for the time being.

Aspiring To The Poverty Line

My childhood:

I grew up in Hastings, Michigan. My parents divorced when I was 10 and I was raised by my mom the rest of the time. Even before the divorce there was never much money, but dad worked. After the divorce there was less.

How much less? My mom worked in a grocery store deli at just about minimum wage to support me, my two sisters, my older brother for a brief time (he aged out), and my nephew (he was born in). The total household income from her work was usually under $1,000/month.

$12,000/year for a household of 5 is not a lot.

If we’d hit the poverty line (around $27,000/year) we’d have been rich.

If you meet me in real life and hear me talk about this you’ll never hear any complaints in my voice. I enjoyed my childhood. It was fun. I wouldn’t change anything.

I was raised in a conservative christian household until age 10. Then it gradually melted away over the next 5-6 years and became a poverty stricken, more godless, liberal household. We had a bridge card (food stamps). I ate free lunch at school. This is where I came from.

We used to go to Mcdonalds for dinner. We were all able to get 1 item off the dollar menu, and we would split a large drink as a family.

There were no rich older relatives. No waiting it out until one day salvation came. No insurance. No plans. It just was what it was and that’s all we knew.

Still, it was overwhelmingly good. We had friends, some were doing better, some were the same, a few might have been worse off financially. I never really went hungry. We had lots of people that would happily help when we really needed it. And plenty of people that would offer to help just out of genuine generosity. It wasn’t too bad. This is probably where I got my philosophy that “people are overwhelmingly really really good.”

The Evolution Of My Hustle

Money. That was always the thing. We didn’t have any problems that couldn’t be fixed by just a little bit more money, or so we thought. Not a ton of money, mind you. We weren’t greedy. Just enough to pay the electric bill this month, maybe?

I remember the pain and frustration my mom went through with money. Always doing her best, and it never being enough. No ladder to climb, just trying to stay above water. Rarely managing to get a breath in.

At age 10, my endeavors into entrepreneurship began, shortly after my parents split up. I’d gotten good at a little math already and I knew that if mommy makes $X and all the money we need is $Y and $Y > $X, then there is a problem. Math is a useful tool.

I had to get to work.

My first hustle (age 10): Selling candy out of my locker at school. 100%+ markup, bitches. I probably cleared about $150-200/month with this operation, straight profit. Until I got shut down by the principal. Down and out at age 10, I thought my life was over, this was the only idea I had that could work!

Bouncing back (age 11): My next hustle was burning pirated music (downloaded at 7-12 kbps off of Limewire) onto CDs and selling them for $5/piece. This was more work and required a higher level of sophistication than the candy gig (the candy sold itself). But after I got a few successful clients, repeat business was common, and word of mouth helped drive sales. Still I probably never made more than $50-60/month doing this. It gave me a tiny bit of Mcdonald’s money from age 11-12. Then MP3 players started to existed and I became obsolete.

Pivoting: Capitalizing on a trend. In 2004 this thing called Livestrong bracelets happened. It was all the rage. Everyone had to have one (or else you loved cancer and wanted everyone with cancer to die). But they were scarce for a minute. Most places like Finish Line would always be out of them because people were buying them up faster than they could deliver them.

So I ordered 100 similar, non livestrong, bracelets off of ebay. They said things like support the troops, peace, and other dumb B.S, feel good words. I sold them for $5/piece. $10 if I didn’t like the person. and made over $500 in about 2 weeks. At 14, I was making it.

And then Poker happened. Poker was awesome. It sustained me, drove me crazy, made me rich, kept me poor, made me smart. It allowed me to sometimes have a pocket full of money through out high school. Other times it didn’t and I had none.

I had a few other little things here and there from age 16-18, nothing that really made any money though.

I never really had more than $1500, ever. And the $1500 was a result of winning a poker tournament (for that amount). It was back to zero within a few months. The vast majority of the time I had no money, or less than $100.

Adulthood?

I am still not rich today. Depending on who you ask. I mean, I’m sure I’m in the top 1% of the world because, America, and all that. But “having money” is a relatively new thing for me, and I don’t have a lot.

But I think I will have a ton. I expect that I’ll be fantastically wealthy and rich and successful and awesome. And when I do, I expect I’ll be treated like a rich person. And I don’t know how I feel about that.

That’s why I decided to write this now, for my own sake, I want to show where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I think I’m going. I want to show how I’ve done it, how I’m doing it now, and how I plan to do it in the future. The issue of how I do it seems crucial. It will hopefully have things anyone can copy and create their own results with.

I have a few more years of data to cover though, so let’s get to it. Age 18 to the present. There are lots of fun stories from this time period, which will no doubt be covered someday. I’m going to try and keep this under 5,000 words though.

2008: The Year I Knew Everything (age 18)

This is when I graduated high school (spring of 2008) and began going to Grand Rapids Community College (fall of 2008). I moved to Grand Rapids a week after I graduated H.S. I had a job for 4 days at a factory, 3rd shift. During days 3 and 4 listened to the Four Hour Work Week audiobook. On day 4 I quit, my first and only “real job.” I’d decided I was going to be an entrepreneur and that was that. Now I knew how thanks to Tim Ferriss, so it would be easy.

I was able to get by using student loan and Pell grant money most of the time, and a little bit of poker income. Things were tight, but my monthly expenses were only about $700-800/month.

I also interned at a real estate investing company (for free) the summer before college started. It was my entrepreneurial plan. I learned the ins and outs of that business, knowledge I may use later in life. Summer of 2008, in Michigan, turned out not to be an ideal time to be jumping into real estate. But being present for that crash was the most valuable learning experience that I could ever observe. I didn’t have any skin in the game, so no loss for me, only lessons.

2009: The Year I Still Knew Everything (age 19)

2nd year of college. Failing classes. Still scraping by, only not as well. Briefly sold weed. Still played poker some but was not really making money. Tough year. Lights were shut off a few times. Gas was shut off a few times. It sucked. But it was fun too.

I was so frickin arrogant this year. I don’t know why. The unreasonable confidence of youth perhaps. I’d eat a lot of shit this year. And after every bite I’d blame the world, because the world just didn’t recognize yet. But they would, and then I’d show them.

I’d show them all.

2010: The Year I Still Knew Everything And Was Getting Frustrated That The Rest Of The World Still Didn’t Recognize.
(age 20)

I dropout of college before my 2nd year ends. This is a cool story that I’ll tell one day. I pack up the little that I own and with my friend move from Michigan to Wilmington, NC. No plans besides, “living there.”I hope to get laid while living there but that doesn’t pan out.

We arrive in town on our last dollar, get the apartment that we’d prepaid for and get to work. It would be another 5 months of eating shit before Pandora Modeling would be born. By the end of the year it had began. It wasn’t making any money really, but it was sort of starting to exist. There was a website. I’d found a few models. I was easily pulling in gross revenues of $20 per week (net profit, $0 | personal income, $0).

As soon as Pandora was conceived I knew it would be the one. The idea that worked out for me. Foresight was 20/20. I’d watched how another company operated first hand (as a friend worked for one back in Michigan). I didn’t think the owner of the company had much business acumen. I doubted he’d even read the 4 Hour Work Week. So I knew I could do better. I surveyed the rest of the industry and found a lot of companies that were mirror images of him and of each other. They all sucked.

The numbers worked in my head. I believed in it. And I’d ate enough shit to know that I was going to make it work or die. When you really feel that in your soul, you tend to succeed. Or else you die, which then makes everything irrelevant as far as your concerned.

Pandora’s Total Sales – 2010: $2,765.10
Personal Income (pre-tax):   $6,000. (0 from Pandora, a little bit from poker and student loans).

2011: The Year I Started To Crack. (age 21)

This year I was sustained via touch and go traction with Pandora and any crazy possible hustling I could figure out to make money on the side.

By touch and go I mean that some months I’d make a little bit of money and feel great. Other months I’d make nothing and feel bad.

In the fall of 2011 I attended a summit in Jamaica which was full of people from the company I worked with (and my competitors) and models. I decide every competitor is slobs and reaffirm my determination to takeover the industry, with hostility. Also this year I experience cocaine, excessive binge drinking, and all around misery/joy for a year.

I lost my religion in 2011. That was a great experience. It made me question whether or not it was possible that I didn’t actually know everything already. That experience was the rock hitting the windshield.

Pandora’s Total Sales – 2011: $240,000
Personal Income (pre-tax): ~$7,000.

2012: The Year I Shattered (age 22)

By January 1, 2012 I knew my time in Wilmington had to come to an end. I didn’t think I could survive another year. I started looking into where else to go, ruling Michigan out (as going home would have felt like failure to me). I settled on Thailand. Pandora is starting to get real traction and I can squeeze out $1,200-1500/month (in the form of a few thousand dollars sporadically available every few months). I buy a one way ticket to Thailand for March (when my lease ends), wrap up my affairs in Wilmington and hop on the plane. It is the scariest/most fun thing that I have ever done in my life. I spend the next 3 months in southeast Asia, living like a king. I continue work on Pandora from abroad and my newfound joy overseas makes me a more compelling entrepreneur. Business grows. I like this whole earning dollars while spending baht lifestyle.

 

The only problem is I hate my life. I became super depressed really fast in Thailand. i was lonely. I didn’t have any friends. And I’d accomplished everything I set out to, really quickly (I aimed low), and didn’t enjoy any of it. Beautiful tropical beaches, beautiful thai girls, cheap delicious food. None of it meant anything. None of it made me happy. I went into a deep rut for about a month. A super dark and depraved place.

This experience was the rest of the windshield exploding on the highway because of the tiny crack. I lost everything in that rut. Nothing external, just internal, which it turns out is what really mattered. I kicked out the windshield and tossed everything out. Clean slate. Starting over. I consciously let go of all of my beliefs, seriously all of them. I had a clear view for the first time ever.

I was at zero gravity. I set the intention to learn, and never stop learning, and only accept what reality demonstrates to me to work. I begin questioning everything more intensely, asking how and why.

About a month after this revelation a friend sent me this video of a speech Johnny gave. It blew my mind open. I watched it probably 10 times in a week.

In late July I head back to the states, refreshed and ready to conquer the world.

I spend a month in California with my brother. Then I received news that my best friend (the guy that had moved to Wilmington with me) had been in a bad car accident back in Michigan. I get a flight to Wilmington, pick up my vehicle (which I’d left stored there) and drive to Michigan. We spend the rest of the year hanging out and B.Sing as I push him around in a wheelchair. I live in Grand Rapids again in the same apartment building I started out in. Pandora continues doing OK, and I work on it everyday, it feels like a real business now. I don’t have a steady income yet. But I can see a future where a steady income feels likely. I’m almost there.

Pandora’s Total Sales – 2012: $529,000
Personal Income (pre-tax): I’d guess around $10,000 maybe. (Note: At this point in life I had still never filed income taxes).

2013: The Year I Knew Very Little (age 23)

In January, I attend a workshop in Las Vegas, NV put on by Johnny Soporno.The opportunity 5 months after seeing his video for the first time to meet the man in person and to learn from him for a week straight was a real treat. It felt like destiny.

Subject: Successfulness. The event irrevocably changes the way I live and my life & business reap amazing benefits.

I spend another 4 months in Thailand this year and focus a ton of energy on growing my business, using things I’d learned at Johnny’s event.

I come back to the states in June for the World Series of Poker (no bracelets), a company meetup, and because I wanted to. After 1 month in the Las Vegas summer heat, I bail and go to Medellin, Colombia. I spend 2 weeks there. Then I go back to Wilmington and spend 6 weeks. I meet a girl and we move to Las Vegas together. The rest of the year proceeds smoothly enough as I recall.

Pandora’s Total Sales – 2013: $1,936,000 (thanks Johnny)
Personal Income (pre-tax): $28,000.

This is/was actually a fortune for me. By the end of the year things were starting to go pretty well and I was able to actually start paying myself every 2 weeks, I’d never had that before. It was an amazing accomplishment. So I was pretty stoked going into the later part of the year. I finally file taxes for the first time (9 months late).

2014:The Year I Knew A Few Things (age 24)

I always planned on getting good at managing my money once I had something to manage. Trying to practice good personal finance when I was broke just frustrated me. I finally, actually, legitimately started to install some good habits in December of 2014, after reading Money: Master The Game, which is a good enough book.

Looking back, I wish I’d started back in early 2012. I’d probably be much further along now personally than I am. I’m not trippin. My plan worked, I’ve got some money now, and now I’ve learned and applied good management of it. Which you’ll be hearing about soon.

By my standards I’m now rich as fuck. I think I’m legitimately middle class now. I earned more money in 2014 than I had cumulatively made in my entire life before January 1, 2014.

Pandora grew 188% in 2014. We went from a small shop to having hundreds of active models. A few of our models had 6 figure incomes. I spent the year actively studying and trying to improve every piece of the business. It paid off.

I wrapped up 2014 with an awesome sense of satisfaction and appreciation for what I’d accomplished, and all of the amazing people that made it possible. I haven’t slowed down on the whole learning thing.

Life is an experiment. Some results are more pleasurable than others. Keep making experiments, assessing the results, and navigate your way to the results that bring you the most pleasure. It doesn’t have to be so damn hard.

Pandora’s Total Sales – 2014: $3,640,685
Personal Income (pre-tax): $65,715

Afterword:

There were plenty of hidden mistakes throughout these years that I should elaborate on.

I ruined my credit from 2008-2010. My score is still 540 I think (I hear that’s bad). Just by misusing all of the first credit options that I had and not paying some bills. I’m sure I did some bad things and screwed some people over. As I remember them, I’ll share them.

I was living hand to mouth (regularly running out of money each month) until fall 2014. When I finally was able to keep about $1,000 in my checking account (no savings, no investments, nothing else, just that).

Making $1,000 the new minimum balance made me happier. I relaxed a bit more and enjoyed my money, knowing that I had a $1000 margin of error if my mental calculations of how much I could spend were off.

I didn’t file my taxes for 2013 until almost November. Which unfortunately caused a $2,000 penalty from the IRS (5% of my tax bill per month, all year). So I ended up paying about $10,000 in taxes from my 2013 income of $27,000. Ouch.

The most valuable lesson I learned about money in 2014 was this:

“Maintain a high state of awareness about your finances, even when they suck. It will make your life better.”

I didn’t read that anywhere that I can remember. I genuinely discovered it. For years while I was poor I’d not really pay attention to money because it just stressed me out. My total awareness practice was keeping track of how high above zero my checking account was. And then checking the price of the thing I was about to purchase to make sure it was a lower number. I got this wrong a lot and overdrew my checking account.

For these years, money always made me nervous. Getting a bill made me nervous. The thought of taxes made me nervous. My phone ringing made me nervous. Invitations to go places that would likely cause money to be spent made me nervous.

Then when I started making money all of those behaviors carried over and compounded to be more damaging than before I had money. Take all of the negative behaviors from the previous paragraph and tack on: Trying to use the money I got to prove to the world (or myself) that I deserved something and was special.

I’d eat out a lot, I mean a lot a lot. In 2014 I spent $13,000 at restaurants, and it wasn’t at high end restaurants. I ate and ate and ate to try and prove to myself that I could afford it. At least that’s the reflection I came up with regarding my emotional, compulsive eating habits (that caused me to swell up to 325 lbs). It makes sense. Probably some childhood stuff too.

I did it with other things besides food too. Spending money made me feel like I would matter. Only I never ended up feeling that way afterwards. I always eventually ran out of money and felt worse.

Finally in 2014, as a direct result of Money: Master The Game (I should give that book more credit it actually had a profound effect on me). I got clear about my finances. I finally logged into that Mint account I’d setup so long ago. It was humiliating and painful to go through and categorize all of my transactions and see how much I’d earned and how ZERO I’d saved and where I had wasted all of my money.

It made me really uncomfortable and embarrassed. But that passed quickly. Then I started to feel empowered. Then I spent a few days, all day long going through Mint, categorizing old transactions, planning my finances, using a bunch of different calculations and math to figure out compound interest (example: $10,000 invested today, left alone to grow at 8% annually will be worth $262,880.65 in 41 years when I’m 65). That was neat information.

As soon as I was clear and had a plan that I was not only comfortable with, but excited to do. Everything melted away.

Seriously. Fucking. Everything. Almost instantly. My compulsive desire to spend money on food vanished (I lost 26 pounds in December). My fear of looking at my finances did a 180 and turned into excitement and joy. I saved almost 80% of my income in December. As a result I fully funded my Roth IRA for 2014 with $5,500 (100% of my year end bonus, + $500).

My anxiety/stress related to money is gone. Instead I just feel optimism and a deep desire to use my money wisely since I now understand how valuable of a behavior that is. I started thinking more long term and the realization of how tiny behaviors can have huge long term impacts excited me. I’m now eagerly trying to learn as many of these behaviors as I can.

Things are pretty sweet. I’m appreciating the hell out of life now.

The takeaway: As soon as you are fully aware of what the actual problem is, achieving a solution is a simple matter of logistics.

More awareness, more transparency, more clarity. Try to seek out these things when you find yourself struggling. At least that’s what I’ll be doing :).

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this post, please take a few seconds to share, it would mean a lot to me.

Standard HCG meal

How I Lost 26 Pounds In 30 Days Using Human Chorionic Gonadotropin

January 1, 2015.

I just concluded 30 days of the most rigidly intense dieting I’ve ever done (or maybe just the only dieting I’ve ever successfully done).

It was a lot of fun. It was extremely hard at times. I learned a lot. Now I’m sharing all of the data.

Preface: This is not so much a recap post as a “progress so far” check in. I’m not stopping. I’m just beginning. Also, I’m not trying to prove anything. I have zero interest in discussing the science of dieting/nutrition or the veracity of the course I followed. I’m just posting data and my personal experience. So this is a preemptive ‘chill out’ to all the Paleo people and Vegans.

Enter Human Chorionic Gonadotropin

Here-in referred to as HCG (wikipedia).

The basic premise I was given: Take HCG 2x per day (I have no idea what dose). Spend the first 2 days eating as much as you can of fatty, sugary foods (loading). On day 3, begin an ultra strict 500 calorie per day protocol (continue taking HCG 2x daily).

In the 500 calories allotted each day consume as little fat as possible, preferably none. My meals consisted of 2x daily either a protein shake (only protein + water) worth 250 calories or a chicken breast (cooked without fat) and some steamed vegetable. Drink copious amounts of water every day.

The advertised outcome is to lose 1lb of fat per day. The cycle can last anywhere from 23-40 days (meaning 23-40 lbs of fat loss expected). You won’t be hungry while on it.

The science? Presumably the HCG causes your body to burn it’s excess fat stores for all of your fueling needs (which is about 1lb per day in most males). The 500 calories of mostly protein consumed is to ensure that your muscles don’t breakdown.

People that are skeptical of this protocol: Pretty much the entire medical community. And previously me.

Further research needed.

My Experience + Data

Dates: November 30, 2014 – December 29, 2014

Weigh-In + Ketosis Data.

Day Weight (morning after piss) Ketosis level
1 316 0
2 319 0
3 318 0
4 314.2 0
5 312.4 ~25
6 312 ~30
7 310.4 ~30
8 308 ~30
9 306.4 ~30
10 305.2 ~30
11 303.6 ~30
12 304.2 ~40+
13 301.8 ~40+
14 299.8 ~40+
15 297.2 ~40
16 296.6 ~40
17 296.6 ~25
18 296  ~25
19 295.2  ~40
20 297.2  ~25
21 297.5  ~25
22 296.5  ~40
23 293.6  ~40
24 293.4  ~40
25 294.2  ~40
26 293.6  ~40
27 292  ~40
28 292.5  ~40
29 292  ~40
30 290  ~40

 

My notes:

-I noticed a 1 to 1 correlation between violating the protocol (which I did on days 16, 19, 20, 25) and a sudden stop in weight loss. The real pain from this was that the day after violating I would be hungry most of the day. This lasted for 2 full days after the violation usually.

All of the violations were eating 700-800 calories in a day instead of 500. Or having 1 thing cooked in fat by mistake that put me over. Not binging on a whole pizza.

-I consumed zero starches and sugars the entire month. The only carbs I had came from portobello mushrooms, spinach, or asparagus. Everything else was pure protein.

-The first week was pure misery. Days 4-8 were particularly bad. I was having a bad emotional reaction to my yummies being taken away. I lashed out at the people helping me with the diet. I hated life. Bad headaches. Discomfort. Misery.

-Starting week 2 on day 8, things started to settle. I’d gotten used to eating the 2 meal per day, and I was down 8 pounds. This was amazing because my weight at the end of the loading day was 322.8 lbs. Exactly 7 days later it was 306.4. Weird to see the scale change that much. And reflecting on day 9 I realized that the struggle of the previous week makes sense given the fluctuation on the scale. I knew some of it had to be actual fat being lost. This success gave me momentum and inspiration to continue, despite still not believing that HCG worked at all at this point. The vicious attacks from my friends when I said I was going to quit also helped.

-The second week was decidedly easy. There were 3 or 4 prolonged cravings throughout the week; where for a few hours I was wanting the old foods I used to enjoy. These were purely emotional in my opinion. Separation anxiety from my former addiction.

-By the end of the second week I was under 300 lbs (299.8 on Day 14). I was completely shocked. Even though I still didn’t believe HCG worked at all, it had gotten me down to a weight that I hadn’t seen in a few years (under 300). It was very emotional seeing the scale that day. I shared the result on Facebook and a lot of my friends said really nice things, that made me feel like continuing.

My skin was also improving and clearing up really rapidly. Everything felt softer and smoother. Some persistent skin irritations that I’d had on my fattest bits had cleared up completely. Some stretch marks became much less visible. I was sleeping better. Putting on socks was no longer the worst part of my day. I had energy again. Things felt really good. This made continuing relatively easy.

-On Day 16 I hit my first screw up. I stayed out all night playing poker at the Venetian and drank copious amounts of coffee and espresso. I didn’t violate on calories but I did on a proper nights sleep. The next day I woke up at the same wait and was bummed. I suspect inflammation from having stayed awake so long was the culprit of the lack of weight loss. So I just stuck to the diet, drank extra water and took it easy on day 17.

-On day 18 I was down another .6 lbs. On day 19 an additional .8. Things were back on track.

-On day 20 things went horribly awry. Here were my notes, ” Sleep schedule has been off (woke up at 12:30am today). It could be that 12:30am wasn’t long enough for all of my overnight weight to drop off and this is still somewhat representative of my daytime weight yesterday. Either way, it’s causing some dismay and doubt and I’m going to do an “apple day” with offensive amounts of water being consumed today.” I didn’t actually do the apple day. I just had two protein shakes.

-Day 21: I was super bummed, but as I said. Violations seemed to reverberate for a few days into the future, not just the next day.

-Day 22. Down a pound, but still higher than I was on 18-19 which is a bit of a bummer. I consider quitting. My friend talks me out of it.

-Day 23: I had planned to quit, in spite of what my friend said, but then 3 pounds had vanished in a day and I was feeling great again. I decide to continue for the final week.

-Day 24 I had my first food related violation. I ordered some food that was cooked in fat and enjoyed eating every bite of it (on accident, at first). No regrets. Except consuming fat for the first time in almost a month caused some very strange bowel reactions almost immediately.

-Day 25-27: No Christmas dinner. No candies. No Christmas cookie. I had a few too many calories on Christmas eve. But I’d planned on quitting because of my last violation and then didn’t. I spent Christmas Day mostly alone. I didn’t want to go anywhere and see people enjoying food. I was pouty. But I’d decided to grind out the last couple of days, just to feel a sense of accomplishment for completing the full regimen (and using up my supply of HCG).

Day 28-29: I did an exceptionally high amount of physical activity on these days compared to what I had been doing. I suspect that resulted in some inflammation, which seemed to stall the scale temporarily a few times throughout the protocol.

On day 30,  the weight had vanished and I was at 290. Finished strong. Pretty effin stoked.

My standard meal was chicken and portobello mushrooms all month. With either hot sauce or mustard. (supplied by the great folks at Greens & Proteins on Eastern Ave in Las Vegas and occasionally the one on Flamingo when I was in that part of town)

Standard HCG meal

If not G&P, I’d have a protein shake. I like Optimum Nutrition – 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Protein Vanilla – 2 lbs. because it doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners.

That reminds me…

I also didn’t consume any artificial sweeteners for the majority of this past month (except the very small amount in the protein powder I was using before I found the above product). Even though they are technically allowed on the diet. For the first 2 weeks I consumed none. And then I had a diet coke with Splenda at a friends house. Shortly thereafter my stomach was noticeably upset. This led me to think, “Oh my. Maybe all those doctors and researchers that say artificial sweeteners are very bad for you were onto something.” So I’ll probably continue to not consume artificial sweeteners. Although, I plan on testing this further with isolated consumption of Sucralose to see if the effects are consistent for me.


Does HCG Work?

It really seemed to for me. I was actually, seriously, not hungry for the majority of the time after the first few days (once I was in ketosis). The days I followed the protocol exactly I had plenty of energy, a clear mind, clear skin, and no real sense of loss regarding the food. Had I continued being hungry in week 2 I would have quit.

The “not hungry” bit is what seems to matter to me. It seemed to indicate to my brain that the HCG was working as advertised, and the scale was backing it up. I had criticized my friends about the protocol before by saying, “OF COURSE you WILL lose weight if you only eat 500 calories per day dummy! It’s called starvation dieting.” I didn’t sense any starvation while on HCG.

After the few days of getting into ketosis and used to the diet any hunger I felt throughout the day was either right around the time I was supposed to eat a meal for the protocol or easily recognized as an emotional craving for food.

I was a very serious emotional eater before HCG. So that was the most difficult part. It felt like part of my life was missing. One of my tools for survival (coping negative emotions via food) was no longer at my disposal. It was scary.

As a result I spent the time thinking a lot about food and my relationship with it. The good & the bad. What I might like to do in the future. By the 3rd week my cravings had pretty much dissipated. On the 25th day i was planning to break the protocol, was at a restaurant with plenty of options to do so, and none of them seemed appetizing enough for me to justify breaking. So I didn’t. I think that was the moment I overcame emotional eating.

I really had to confront the feelings that came up during the past month, I didn’t have any mechanism to cope besides looking them right in the face. Having gone through it I feel like my relationship to food has changed, very much for the better.

I had zero expectation of completing the 30 days when I started. I did not honestly believe I was capable of it. I’m glad I was wrong.

My neck size has gone from a 20, to an 18 in 30 days. My actual waist went from 58″ to 54″. Everything else (except my penis) shrunk also.

The cycle off for HCG is 3 days of continuing the 500 calorie diet (until the HCG is out of my system) followed by 3 weeks of eating no sugars or starches and ensuring that you don’t gain more than 2 lbs from your ending weight. No carbs basically. But I get to eat a nice fatty piece of beef Friday, so that’ll be fun.


Moving Forward…

My plan is to lose another 106.8 lbs this year. This isn’t a new years resolution (it happens to be January 1, 2015 right now). It’s just what I’m going to do. That’s 8.9 lbs per month.

Plan A is to not do HCG again. Despite how easy it was, it did really suck. So my first option is to follow the Slow Carb Diet and continue with the other healthy lifestyle options I’ve added this month (walking a lot). I’ll be checking my weight at the end of each month.

If I get severely off track I’ll do another cycle of HCG (without deviating next time at all). I might do it again anyways, just to collect more data. And because every 30 days on HCG gives me 3 other months to just maintain weight this year. Which is a nice thought.

Another consideration. I went from as bad as a diet can be (high carb/high fat, lots of processed foods) to the rigidly clean HCG diet (no gluten, no sugar, almost no carbs, deep ketosis). One extreme to the other. I’m curious if going from a healthy diet (slow carb) onto HCG will have any effect.

That hypothesis would be that my success on HCG was aided by the extreme change from such a poor diet, by cutting out ALL bad foods abruptly for an entire month. I don’t know if that’s true. I definitely think that played a part in the fringe benefits of better skin though.

If going from a healthy diet onto HCG produces similar results next time that would be, in my mind, improved support for it’s efficacy. If results are slower, I’m not sure what that would mean :).

I’m feeling very confident, comfortable, and stable. I just had the best year of my life.

Would I Recommend HCG To Other People?

Absolutely NOT.

No way Jose!

How come? Because I’m not in the business of recommending diets to anyone. I’m still very fat and I wouldn’t like the irony of the whole thing. My individual subjective experience provides anecdotal evidence at best.

Also, if HCG does work. I don’t really understand how. So I couldn’t possibly predict any side effects that one might have or how to deal with them.

I also don’t know how to get HCG. I got it from a friend that has a knack for sourcing hard to get things and happens to be an advocate of HCG. But he/she won’t get it for you, he/she doesn’t even know you. And he/she did it for me as a huge favor because they are an awesome friend. That source doesn’t scale to other people.

So recommending it would lead to people asking me questions that I just don’t think I could answer very well.

It’s also such a strict and rigid protocol that I have to imagine the adherence rate over a larger sample size would be extremely low. I really only stuck to it because my entire social group was pushing me really hard to stick to it. Without that support I wouldn’t have made it through day 3.

All that being said. You probably don’t care if I’d recommend it or not. So if you were going to do it anyways, this is the direction I’d point you in.

#1. Read these: Fully.

-Pounds and Inches (the original HCG protocol by Dr. A.T.W Simeons)
-This ebook. Which has some modern updates and additional research. I just checked out the accompanying site for the first time (the ebook was sent to me by a friend). It looks like an OK, if horribly designed, resource.

#2. Figure out how to get HCG.

WARNING: Most of what you find online, or in health food stores, or supplement stores is “homeopathic HCG”. Another term for this is water. Don’t buy it, it doesn’t work. You can’t buy real HCG over the counter in the United States. When you do find it, make sure the quantity of HCG is listed in International Units. I think I had 12,000 IU sublingual tabs which I broke in half and took one in the morning and one at night, as my overseer had instructed me to do.

A. Option #1: Your doctor. Doctors can prescribe HCG. The theory is that most doctors in the U.S won’t prescribe it for fat loss.

Say to them, “Look. I’m doing this with or without your help. If you won’t prescribe it to me, I’ll order it from some shady online pharmacy in India and take whatever they happen to send me.” If they follow the, “First, Do No Harm” ethics, they should oblige. Then you can do the whole thing under a doctors supervision, which is probably smart.

If your traditional MD isn’t up for it, you might try visiting a doctor that advertises themselves as “alternative or natural medicine practitioners.” Integrative physicians probably wouldn’t go for it as Dr. Weil is opposed to HCG for fat loss.

B. Order it from a non-U.S online pharmacy (India is usually a good source). I have no recommendations for one as I’ve never done it, but I know plenty of friends that have. I’m not clear on the legality of it, but I doubt anyone will go to prison for importing a month’s supply of HCG. It can come in a lot of forms, the pellets (I think is what they’re called) worked really well for me. The other option is injections.

Option B will absolutely work (and probably be cheaper) but it’ll take some work on your part to research and find a good option. Non-US online pharmacies are an ever shifting landscape. They are basically like The Pirate Bay but for the pharmaceutical industry. I also hear that a lot of them are fake, so actually do your research if you go this route. I’d talk to a doctor first though if I hadn’t just had them fall into my lap.

Actually I wouldn’t, because I never would have done it if I hadn’t had it forced down my semi-willing throat :).

#3. Do it. Don’t violate the protocol at all (it’s not worth it, trust me). Finish it. Weigh a lot less. Be glad that you’ve been too ashamed to throw away those old pants that are way too small for you, they’ll fit again.

The only caveat in my non-recommendation. Really don’t do it if you only have 25 or less pounds of excess fat to lose. Just grab the 4 Hour Body and follow the slow carb diet as it describes, it’ll get you there. If you have 30+ lbs to lose, then HCG might be a good option.

Conclusion

My results on HCG were awesome. It doesn’t prove anything. I wanted to share the data because sharing data makes the world a better place. Lots of my friends have had similar results (some with 100+ lbs lost). There seems to be something to this whole HCG thing.

Use this information at your own risk and liability. Don’t break the law. Don’t die. Consult your doctor, not some random guy on the internet. Particularly not one that knows almost nothing about health, fat loss, the endocrine system, dieting, etc (which describes me aptly).

It’s just biohacking. Better living through chemistry. Trying things out and letting the data speak for itself. While taking appropriate measures to limit risk.

The claims I read from medical professionals opposed to HCG was basically that it is banal and doesn’t actually do anything. Not that it causes you to have seizures and explode. Banality is an OK risk versus the advertised upside, so I proceeded.

In the end… It didn’t suck.

Happy New Year!

Jordan's bed made

A Day In The Life: August 12, 2014 Edition

This is a follow-up post to Fear And Self Loathing In Las Vegas Part 2.

I got a few worried texts from friends. Thinking I might be about to Robin Williams myself.

Consider that the before shot. Here is the after.

I want to do a post like this periodically to update how I’m living. What routines, tools, habits, etc that I’m using. I wanted to write this 2 weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until I felt confident that some of these things had stuck.

I’m going to skip all the psychology on this post regarding why I think I finally made a change in my life. It’s still too soon. Too raw. Maybe in a year or two I can look back with some reflective competence and speak about it. Right now my hypothesis is that forcing self awareness and really confronting myself caused a shift. Maybe it’s just random though.

Enter my daily routine. Continue reading

Fight Club | Freedom Evolved

Fear And Self Loathing In Las Vegas | Part 2 | A Day In The Life: Early-Mid 2014

I’m really scared to post this. For the past 5 years (since I formally left school and haven’t HAD to wake up for anything) my general lifestyle could only be described as: neurotic, erratic, insane, difficult to predict.

As a solo entrepreneur, who lives on his own, and has virtually zero time specific commitments in his life (woe is me, I know). It’s been very difficult to make myself get out of bed.

For years, I’ve slept when I can’t stay awake anymore and woke up whenever I woke up. This “natural rhythm” method seems sensible, until you look at how it played out in reality.

Being massively overstimulated with electronic devices, caffeine, nicotine, stress, and anxiety every single day. My sleep schedule didn’t fall on a predictable track. There were plenty of weeks/months when it was sleep 12 hours, be awake 12 hours (and tired the entire time). Then other times when it was awake 20 hours, sleep 12 hours. Sometimes I didn’t sleep much and did some accidental polyphasic sleeping.

This had a ton of negative byproducts in my life.

Imagine: It’s Tuesday. You ask me to get lunch Wednesday. I will get extremely nervous and uncomfortable and make an excuse as to why I can’t. Not because I don’t want to get lunch with you, but because sometimes for me lunch happens at 1am. The thought of committing to a specific time that’s more than an hour from now is actually something that stresses me out.

That is insane.

Add onto this nutritional problems. I spent a lot of days without sunlight. Had weird appetite. Would miss meals and then massively overeat. Completely irregular meal times. No forethought about what I would eat meant that I would make all of my eating decisions when I was absolutely starving. Note: this is a bad idea.

I got fat. Really fat. I peaked at 320 lbs.

This whole monstrosity became a continuous downward spiral. The worse things got, the more apathetic I became. The more apathetic I became, the worse things got.

I started to become anti-social. Thinking I could worry about a social life once I got my fatness, sleep, and perpetual anxiety under control. Every new problem in life got rationalized out as being a a sub problem of one of these top level problems.

Things that didn’t normally happen to me, started happening. 

I got extremely depressed. I ruined some relationships I had. Everything suffered.  My interest in things like watching TV and eating fast food increased dramatically. They were cheap ways to feel OK, despite the long term costs.

Oh by the way. I’m not talking about something that happened to me years ago that I overcame. I mean, I’m talking about last month. Last week.

I gradually became more painfully aware day to day of the toll this was taking on my life.

My business declined to 50% of what it used to be, and my bank account started hurting. My sex drive was extremely low. I was only having sex with my girlfriend about once per week. I wasn’t even masturbating at all. Not because of #NOBNOM. I just didn’t have the sexual desire to.

Putting on socks became a challenge that would leave me out of breath for several minutes after accomplishing it. It became difficult to wipe my own ass. I’d get heartburn every day. Bad heartburn. Everything hurt me, like if someone would pinch me, it hurt really bad for a while (muscle fascia problems). The zipper on 3 pairs of my favorite jeans broke in the span of one month because I’d outgrown them. My skin would break out like I was in high school again (I think because of stress/poor diet/poor hygiene).

The one thing I can say is that I didn’t consider killing myself. It’s too soon for a Robin Williams joke, so don’t even ask!

I finally hit rock bottom. There wasn’t a cataclysmic event that set me off or anything. Enough things just piled up day by day, month by month that finally I hit a breaking point.

One evening last month I got mad. Really, really mad. I was mad at myself. Sitting and reflecting on what my life had become. How I got to where I was and such. I like to do that sometimes. But on this occasion, I focused on how the parts I didn’t like about life.

I locked myself in the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and had a conversation with myself for a few hours. This was therapeutic. If you’re struggling in life, you should do it.

I got so furious during this self talk that I really just wanted to beat the crap out of myself. How could I let all of this happen? Why was I such a lazy/whiney bitch; always running to Wendy’s to get a burger because that’s the only fun thing to do in my life?

Why couldn’t I be a real man? Make decisions and follow through with them?

I didn’t pull any punches. I went for the throat. Nothing was off limits.

By the end of the conversation I had lost all respect for myself. Every shred of dignity that I had was utterly destroyed.

This was freedom.

Note: I’m not a schizophrenic or anything. I think everyone keeps two sets of books. This was a struggle between my ideal self and my lower self.

Why couldn’t I change?

Because it didn’t hurt bad enough. 

And then it did. 

-Jordan Laubaugh
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada

Fear And Self Loathing In Las Vegas | Part 1 | The Girl & The Pho

5:10 PM PST, A Few Weeks Ago On A Monday, Pho Saigon 8, Las Vegas, NV

Enter Jordan. Hungry and eager for some savory pho. My host/waiter silently directs me to a solitary table against the wall, as had become our weekly routine. He knows my order by heart.

“Numba Fifteen Large? Thai Tea? You want boba, no boba? Extra Meatball.” He confirms before I speak.

“Yes, #15 large. Thai tea, no boba. Extra meatball.” I recite to ensure proper pho-munication.

We both nod in mutual pho-nderstanding as I hand him my menu.

With the logistics of our meeting decided he scurries away and I have 5-7 minutes to wait before a steaming bowl of happiness will arrive at my table.

pho

There is another piece of intel that you’ll need to appreciate my little story… Sitting directly across from me, 1 table removed, facing me, is a very cute girl. Continue reading

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The Hustler’s Ego

Everything they told you about ego is wrong. Your ego may have trouble accepting that. If it does,  I’m right.

Ego is used to describe all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the ego. When someone describes a person as having a big ego or being egotistical, they are saying that the person has an overly inflated sense of self. Anyone who is self absorbed, narcissistic, or conceited gets labeled as egotistic. This definition of ego is false. It’s just lazy linguistics.

For this psycho analysis, it’s better to stick with Freud. From his studies, discovering the ID, Ego, and SuperEgo, it’s safe to say that my presentation of ego has some scientific backing. Though I haven’t rigorously studied it. I just have one special benefit that comes with my understanding of ego. It actually works in real life. Continue reading

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How To Be The Coolest Guy In The Bar

Introduction

12:33 AM, Green Mango Club, Koh Samui, Thailand

Loud music is interrupting what would otherwise be the shocking silence of my new life. For 3 months now I’ve been out of my country, in a strange solitude, the road my single and constant companion.

I’m not sure why I’m here. Vacation? Mini-Retirement? Some desperate attempt to find meaning and fulfillment?

Why am I so unhappy? 

At 22, I’ve officially “made it.” I’ve built my own business from zero, and now it’s doing quite well. It provides a comfortable monthly income and, being entirely internet based, allows me to travel & live anywhere in the world. Despite this, I find myself utterly depressed.

When you think you should be happy, but you’re not, you end up miserable.  Continue reading

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How To Bootstrap Any Business Idea

My hope is that this post will save some real hustlers a lot of time. Deep down, I think plenty of people have “good ideas” but most people never take even the first step towards executing on them.

That being said, 99% of the ones that do make the first step, make the wrong first step, and after going down the wrong path, they fail for long enough, then they quit.

My philosophy is that, as soon as you have a product that people give you money for, that’s a business. It isn’t necessarily a good business, it might not be sustainable, or stable. But it’s there. It is a business.

So the first thing I always ask myself when I have a new idea is, “would someone pay for this?” Continue reading

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Why I Don’t Consume Stimulants On A Regular Basis

This scene with Chandler in Friends pretty much sums up my view on smoking (and all other stimulants).

That hilarious nugget being unearthed and shared notwithstanding. I recently stopped all of my addictions to stimulants (stimulants meaning caffeine, adderall, nicotine, etc. Anything with a stimulant in it). This was easy for caffeine, and I never really used adderall regularly, I just mention it because it’s such a commonly used stimulant. Nicotine was harder just because of the triggers, but I’ve pretty much kicked that too.

Now here’s why. Continue reading

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The Build It Before You Need It Strategy

I heard this line from Keith Ferrazzi while he was talking with Gary Vaynerchuk in this video while he was answering a question from an audience member about scrambling to get results on social media during the closing days of some contest (mostly irrelevant to this article). But it triggered a thought in my brain, and reminded me of something I said a while ago. That 53 people have now watched.

The advice was basically, “your situation is a good example of why you build it before you need it.” I’d never really heard someone put it quite that way and as soon as I did it opened a whirlwind of thoughts, which then made me write this post.

This was something that I actually realized for myself about 6 months ago. I knew that I needed to be hustling my fucking face off on social media and building a community around myself, but I wasn’t totally sure why. More importantly, I always struggled to come up with content because I didn’t have an end game. I didn’t have a book to sell, or a product to move, or some big ask to convert on. Continue reading