Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Defriending Your Annoying Facebook Friends Makes You a Horrible Person

Earlier today, my friend Tina Plantamura posted a Huffington Post article she wrote about defriending on Facebook. The article was supposed to be humorous, but quite a few people apparently didn't get the joke. The article caused me to reflect on my own friending/ defriending behaviors, which are a little bit unique. 

Over the years, I've developed a Facebook policy that prevents me from defriending people. No matter what annoying, offensive, disturbing or boring stuff they post, I keep them around. It's worth noting: I treat Facebook sort of like I treat teaching. It's a stage. The role I assume isn't the person I really am, though my Facebook persona is made up of elements of my personality. Often, I post thoughts and opinions that are the polar opposite of what I really believe in order to stimulate discussion. That slight dissociation allows me to more easily carry out the "no defriending" policy. Here's five reasons why I developed the policy:

  1. It's a grand thought experiment that expands my horizons. This is the biggie. I have a lot of strong opinions, but I'm also open to points of view that contradict my opinions. That self-skepticism is basically a function of age. Over the years, I've went through a lot of phases ranging from ultra-conservative to crazy-liberal. The end result is the realization that the world is a continually-shifting collection of shades of gray. Absolutism, in any realm, is a ridiculous approach to life. Exposing myself to divergent opinions allows me to see things from other people's perspective and helps develop empathy. Being able to listen to their opinions is an excellent learning experience.
  2. Echo chambers are boring as shit. If I surrounded myself with folks that thought exactly like I do, Facebook would be incredibly lame. I already know how and why I think the way I think and spend plenty of time in my own head. Why the fuck would I want to spend even more time discussing the exact same crap?
  3. Trolling is fun. I know, I know. This isn't very open-minded of me, but trolling friends' status updates is a blast. It's sort of a douchey thing to do, but being douchey on occasion is good for the soul. 
  4. Being offended by something is, in my world, a mortal sin. A few years ago, Shelly and I decided to start working toward becoming "offended-proof." It's really just a manifestation of the "zero fucks given" mentality. No matter what anyone says, the goal is to laugh it off. I cannot begin to describe how valuable this has been as a life-enhancer. Once we started that journey, I realized just how much our "I'm offended" culture traps us in a prison by letting other people's thoughts, ideas, behaviors, appearance, etc. affect us on a personal level. I take the right of free expression VERY seriously, and my right to express myself freely is entirely contingent on my willingness to grant the same right to everyone else. Playing the "I'm offended" card immediately gives everyone else the right to do the same, thus destroying my own right to free expression.
  5. The natural filtering mechanism automatically creates a really awesome tribe of open-minded people. While I do not defriend people, many defriend me. In fact, I lose about five friends per week. I never really paid attention to this until I started getting friend requests from people I assumed were already friends. Anyway, the people that stick around usually need to be relatively open-minded to tolerate the hyperbole and dumbassery that occurs on my wall. The resulting tribe is thus capable of discussing a huge range of topics and issues from all sorts of angles, which helps fuel items one, three, and four on the list. 
 There you have it- five reasons why I don't defriend people. Of course, those that know me know I'm usually a bit hypocritical. I have defriended people in the past, and I have hidden a small number of people's status updates. The people that were defriended (happened three times) all showed very obvious signs of mental illness and posed a real, significant threat to my family (yay psychology degree!) The "hidden" people (about five) all fall into the same category - all are "one-trick ponies" that only post about one topic usually pertaining to ridiculous conspiracy theories. I consider my inability to tolerate their rants as a personal weakness, and it is something I'm continuously trying to improve.

Could this policy be right for you? If I were you, I'd give it some consideration. It has made me a more open-minded, empathic person, and I suspect it could do the same for you.

Some questions to consider (feel free to leave answers in the comments section): 
  • What is your current "defriending criteria?"
  • How do you handle posts that offend you?
  • Has social media changed your opinion on any matter? If so, give the rest of us an example.


Like being offended? Want to get better at tolerating offensive shit? In a relationship with someone with a mismatched sex drive? Not in a relationship but want to do the next one better? Consider picking up my new sex and relationship book No-Bone Zone! It's currently on sale in Amazon's Kindle store for $2.99. The price will continue to increase all week, however, so act now!

Check out the link here:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

You're Fat Because You're Bad at Counting

A few years back, I wrote a BRU post (and cheeky, snarky "book") about the concept of calories in/ calories out as a means of losing weight. Since that time, I've experienced a steady stream of people, in real life or via social media, that have asked me about weight loss. My response is usually the same: 

Eat less and move more.

The typical response is usually either a) "I already tried that and it didn't work", or b) "I read (or saw a YouTube video) that refuted the idea. A new post by NPR more or less sums up my response to those responses, which is basically something along the lines of "You're just really bad at math."

Here's the deal. Weight manipulation is relatively straight-forward assuming you don't have a disease that alters metabolism. Even then, the basic principle still applies. 

If you want to lose weight, you need to create a caloric deficit.

If you want to gain weight, you need to create a caloric surplus.

That's it. It really is that simple. "But wait!" you say, "I want to lose weight. I've tried that and it has failed!"

Here's why.

Reason #1: You think you consume less than you really do. This is the biggie. In my experience of working with people trying to lose weight, they ALWAYS under-estimate portions. You may think you're eating one portion of roast beef, but you're really eating two-and-a-half. And you forgot to add that handful of Chex Mix. And that third glass of wine.

Reason #2: You think you burn a lot more calories than you really do. Let's say you run three miles on a treadmill at the gym. It took you a half hour. You probably burned about 300-330 calories. That's not even enough exercise to make up for those medium fries you ate from McDonald's.

Reason #3: You fail to account for adaptation. This is common when people have initial success, then reach a plateau. This usually happens for two reasons. First, as body weight drops and body composition changes, the number of calories needed to sustain life (or are burned through exercise), the fewer calories you need. Second, your metabolism usually adjusts to the deficit by becoming more efficient. Both of these require a continually-diminishing caloric intake until the goal weight is achieved. 

Reason #4: You're over-simplifying the equation. There are all sorts of things that probably affect caloric uptake and expenditure, like the type of food, environmental conditions, internal states, etc. For example, eating 100 calories of carrots will probably help create a deficit better than 100 calories of chocolate cake because of the way the body digests both. Since we know so little of the vast myriad of potential effects, the only reliable solution is to consider yourself an experiment of one to learn what variables seem to be at play.

That's it. I know a lot of you will be tempted to refute the idea by posting links to YouTube videos from people that "found a way to cheat the system." But they're either wrong or their idea subscribes to the deficit/surplus idea with added layers of complexity. Either way, it's ignoring the obvious:

There has never been a case of a person gaining weight with a caloric deficit or a case of a person losing weight with a caloric surplus. 

My own experimentation confirms this. Back in the day, I used to weigh about 215 pounds. I attempted to lose weight often, but always failed. The one thing that eventually worked: creating and sustaining a caloric deficit.

It's worth noting I don't continually create said deficit because, well, I like food. And beer. And wine. And I like lounging around. For me, creating a caloric deficit sucks balls. As such, I tend to cycle every few months. Gain five pounds, lose five pounds. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes that weight gain is mostly muscle (for mma, for example.) Other times it's mostly fat (again, I'm lazy and I love food.) Regardless, I don't sweat it because I've done the hard work of learning how my body responds to all sorts of caloric manipulations, which is what's really necessary.


Shameless plug: I'm offering the ebook version of my new sex and relationship book "No Bone Zone" for $0.99 via Amazon until the morning of Monday, January 19th, 2015. That's about 90% savings off the list price. Use this link (may not be available outside the U.S.):

Not sure if you'll like it? Check out a free pdf sample here: No Bone Zone Sample

Ninety Percent Off Jason's Newest Book!

Great news! I'm teaming with Amazon to offer the Kindle ebook version of my new sex and relationship book "No Bone Zone" for 90% off! The original price is $9.69; the sale price is only $0.99. This special price is only available until Monday (1/19/2015) morning so act now!

Here's the link:

If you've already read the book, I'd appreciate a review on the Amazon page.




Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Sex and Relationship Book Release: No-Bone Zone

I'm excited to announce the release of my latest book, No-Bone Zone: The Ins and Outs of Curing Long-Term Relationship Boredom. This book has been in conceptual development since my days as an undergraduate psychology student studying to be a human sexuality researcher, but became a realized dream about six months ago. Like The Barefoot Running Book, Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel, Must Have Been Another Earthquake, Kids (a book about full-time RV living with children), and The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running and Ultramarathons (which was released about a month ago,) No-Bone Zone takes the idea of creative self-experimentation with unorthodox ideas and utilizes it to make our sex and relationship adventures more interesting, exciting, and fulfilling. 

Here's the official description:

So you and your significant other used to go at it like rabbits, but now your sex life has cooled off and you have entered the dreaded No-Bone Zone. How do you fix your mismatched sex drives and recapture some of that early magic?

As a sex and relationship blogger, this is one of the most common issues I have seen long-term couples encounter. Far too many couples struggled with this common issue, especially after children. Pop psychology, relationship counselors, and the self-help community typically offer advice that ultimately exasperates the problem. In other words, we're doing relationships wrong. 

No-Bone Zone flushes that viewpoint down the toilet and explores our relationships and the issue of boredom from a different, unconventional, and sometimes controversial perspective. This new perspective allows us to create long-term solutions that can save our relationships. No-Bone Zone fuses emerging hard science with easy to understand language and outside-the-box thinking to produce an entirely new framework for making our relationships last.

The first few sections of the book are available as a sample, which can be downloaded here:

The book is currently available exclusively via Amazon, and is being published as a dead tree paperback version and a Kindle ebook version.

Questions? Leave a comment and I'll answer it as soon as possible.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Don't Like the World? Change It.

I've been involved in a few Facebook discussions over the last few weeks, which isn't necessarily news-worthy. After all, it's kind of my social media MO. However, I have noticed a particularly annoying trend: 

Lots of people seem to be passionate (or fixated) on or about one particular issue, yet really do nothing to improve the issue or situation.

Back when I was a teacher, one of my goals was to teach the idea that any one of us has the power to make a dent in the universe. I've continued to operate under that belief since traveling the country and eventually settling down in San Diego. It always seemed like a fairly straight-forward concept, but far too many people, for a wide variety of reasons, choose to merely complain about the status quo.

That's bullshit.

Here are a few of the more common excuses I hear:

  • "I don't have time."
  • "I don't have a degree."
  • "I have children."
  • "The 'man' is holding me down."
  • "I'm not an insider."
  • "They are too powerful."
  • "Things have always been like this."
  • "Nobody else understands this issue."
  • "I'm not a leader."
  • "I'm trying to instigate grassroots change, so it's a slow process."
... and so on. The point - people make a lot of excuses to stay in their comfortable cocoon of inaction. That's fine; not everyone has to be a instrument of social change. However, if you do feel there is a great injustice in this world, you owe it to yourself to make that change happen. Despite this, the vast majority will still be content to sit on their asses.

My journey through life has taught me at least one very important lesson - doing shit to change things for the better is a hell of a lot better than talking about how and why things need to change. People that personally know me can attest that I'm not special. I'm not exceptionally intelligent, I'm sometimes socially awkward, I'm not overly attractive, a below average uncoordinated athlete, and I'm only marginally funny. I'm a mediocre public speaker, write at around a middle school level, and, while I have a lot of formal education, I did the bare minimum to get by. In other words, almost all of the people that read this have more skills and knowledge than me. 

Despite this, I've been able to affect some pretty decent change in the world, which includes helping change the running industry by promoting barefoot and minimalist shoe running, helped expand trail running and ultrarunning to the masses, became a proponent of minimalist and RV living, and helped advance the way we think about our romantic relationships. Those "causes" have included:

  • Attracting somewhere in the ballpark of three million blog hits,
  • Worked as a shoe consultant and brand ambassador for a $500 international outdoor company,
  • Held around 150 running clinics in forty-six states and four countries, 
  • Self-published four books which have sold somewhere around 35-40,000 copies,
  • Had two books published by traditional publishers, 
  • Finished six hundred milers and a slew of shorter races (some barefoot), and
  • Fought a pro mma fight at the age of thirty-eight.
All of these adventures were fueled by my passion to make the world a better place. The exact methodology changed depending on the cause, but the rough formula followed the steps:

  1. I identified the change I wanted to see in the world.
  2. I made the personal changes that I wanted to see generalized to others (like Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world" idea.)
  3. I identified how and why the world is the way it is, which usually involves identifying the people that hold the power and/or serve as gatekeepers that normally maintain the status quo.
  4. I came up with a plan to affect the people at the top, which usually involved getting around (not through) the gatekeepers.
  5. I put the plan in action.
  6. I modified the plan based on progress.
That's it. That's my methodology. It really is THAT easy. If I can make as big of an impact as I've made given my decidedly pedestrian qualifications, image what you could do with your unique gifts? I guarantee all of you have even more power to create real, significant social change than I do... it's just a matter of doing it.

Still don't think you can do it? Use this trick, which I believe I got from one of Seth Godin's books: Use "If only..." statements. Fill in the sentence:

I would like to change ________________. 
I would make this change happen if only ________________________.

The first blank is the change you want to see. The second blank is the thing that is preventing you for taking action. Once you spell out exactly what is holding you back, do everything in your power to overcome that one barrier. Once overcome, you no longer have an excuse to sit on your ass.

My challenge to you: stop bitching, complaining, and making excuses and make something happen


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Six Month Plan: Vegas, New Books, MMA, and That Elusive Video Podcast

Since finishing Grindstone in 2012, I've kept a fairly low profile. Shelly and I needed to back away from the running scene and get some much-needed R&R after years of heavy immersion in the barefoot and ultrarunning world. I haven't been a total slacker, but I haven't been doing much to change the world. That's about to change. Here are my plans for the next six months or so:
  • The first of my two new books will be released soon. The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running and Ultramarathons (Skyhorse, 2014) will be released in November. This book is essentially an expanded, refined, and tamed-down version of Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel
  • The second book, the self-published sex and relationship book tentatively titled No-Bone Zone: The Ins and Outs of Curing Sexual Boredom, will be released sometime in early November. I'm really excited about this title because it will help a lot of people that are seemingly stuck in a relationship where the flames of passion have died. The book covers a lot of controversial topics, so publishing it is a little scary. I set up a Facebook page to track the release and facilitate discussions after publication. Like it.

  • I've caught the MMA bug. I went through my third MMA training camp at our gym, San Diego Fight Club and managed to avoid injury (the first two camps resulted in a displaced rib and pinched nerve in my neck.) We had a few fighters back out, so I was given the opportunity to fight. I won the fight (see video here, send me a friend request if necessary), though my opponent had already fought earlier in the night and wasn't much of a challenge. It motivated me to fight again, which will probably happen in the next three or four months.

  • In a related note- if anyone is looking for an opportunity to place an ad on an MMA fighter's ass, I could use some sponsors. If you or someone you know is interested, shoot me an email at robillardj "at" gmail "dot" com.
  • Shelly and I are going to Vegas sometime around Christmas. No kids = lots of debauchery. :-D
  • At some point over the next few months, I want to get my video podcast up and running. I couldn't quite decide on a topic. Much like this blog, I don't plan on branding it in a specific way. Instead, I'll probably just talk about whatever happens to be amusing me at the time.
These are just a few of my plans for the immediate future. Any other suggestions for interesting adventures?