NoNothingNovember, Day 21

Always reach out to your fellow man.

NoNothingNovember, Day 21








I was reminded how awesome and helpful this community is. Within the last month alone, I have met several truly remarkable people and made great friends.

Only through reaching out online and taking every opportunity to meet up in person. I am truly amazed.

Remy Sheppard from invited me on his podcast, and I felt very honored by that request. Humbled, even.

He has been running blogs for years now, and I am merely starting out.

We just connected on Skype and started chatting – and he gave me ample opportunity to talk…

… and to introduce the German version of “Sesame Street” (or something kind of close to it) to the American audience. 😉

Some things we focused on included:

God and Religion – is what we directly experience really all there is?

Government and corporations, political correctness. A short venture into “shirtstorm”.

Arguing in a mutually beneficial way – how to step out of your ideological “box” and focus on the real issues.

Moxie and moving forward – embrace your heart and confront your fears. Killer Instinct = Emotional Honesty.

Chasing after money vs. providing value.

Jokes and the German language.

Gaining life experience by reading autobiographies.

How consistent reading and writing has helped me change my mind – becoming happy is something you have to WANT.

Time – the most valuable resource everyone has.

You can check out the podcast (plus Bernie and Ert!) here:


NoNothingNovember goals


I am sleeping my regular time, though was still a bit tired over the day. That may have two reasons:

#1 – If I worked very intensely one day, the next day is almost always less productive.

#2 – 6.25 hours is still not enough sleep for me.

I’ll stick to my 6.25 hour schedule and see if my tiredness is something consistent.

Sweets and snacks

No temptations.

Social media

No problem. I have so many other things that require my attention – foregoing Social Media is not difficult.

What have I achieved?


I have to say, writing is real fun for me, and I am quite happy that I started to get into a regular writing habit more than half a year ago.

Because now I have a collection of many moments and experiences from my life, and the exciting part is – I can actually share them with the world through my blog!

And nobody can do anything to stop me 😉

Don’t worry, I make sure they are relevant to the main question – how can we become as happy as we want to be?

My main point here though is that I have a lot of drafts for future articles. Editing is more work than I thought – it takes the same time, if not more, than writing the draft – but I can start with a solid base and already know what I will be writing about.


As I mentioned above, Remy Sheppard was kind enough to invite me onto his podcast. It was great to just shoot the shit and talk.

I am in this for ca. 3 – 4 weeks now, and even though this blog is online, I have already made a handful of connections and met awesome people in person.

That is truly something to be grateful for.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 21 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, Day 20

Keep your eyes wide and enjoy your life.

When I looked back at yesterday, I first thought nothing much had happened. But when I wrote everything down, it’s not nothing. There are small steps that we should celebrate just like the big landmarks. In fact, your whole life consists of small changes that from time to time amount to bigger monuments of achievement, as I have detailed in my recent book review here:

NoNothingNovember goals


Every night this month, I have slept between 6 and 6.25 hours. So far, so good. What I still want to change is to get more regular sleep from 10 – 11 pm until 5 am. I am most productive in the morning, so I want to have as much time as possible then.

The best way to reset my schedule is actually on the weekend. Because the later I start my day, the more my schedule gets shifted to the evening. There is no workaround from monday to friday, since I still need to get to my regular job.

Thus, my task is to get into a regular schedule before the week starts.

Sweets and snacks

No temptations yesterday, and I did not miss anything.

Social media

I discovered a good way to further remove any temptation of browsing the internet on my smart phone – I subscribed to an RSS feed. This way, I can read content on a webpage that I am really interested in without the flashy elements and links.

I got that idea when I saw that people are accessing my blog via the RSS feed reader Feeddler.

What have I achieved?


I took a huge step forward by gathering some data that was still missing – movie recordings of blood flow in zebrafish embryos, viewed through a high-resolution microscope. That may sound fancy, but what I am really doing is to prepare the embryos mount them under the objective, adjust the right region to film and hit “record”.

But it took a while to get datasets that were actually useful to begin with. So I am happy that I finally got it.


I finally wrote the first blog post for my book club section – “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. This has been a hugely transformative book for me, so it was an adequate candidate for the first post. I’d be happy if this book can help others the same way it helped me.

On the long run, I will talk about approximately one book per week – a version of the “52 books in 52 weeks challenge” Mike Cernovich from Danger and Play has talked about; Ed from “52in52weeks” has taken up that challenge.

I’ll comment a bit more on that challenge soon – I have already established my habit of reading one book per week and will soon introduce more books here, so stay tuned for more updates.


One point I am still struggling with a lot  is to become faster in editing my blog posts before I publish them. Sure, I can WRITE 750 words in 20 minutes about anything that comes to my mind, but those “ramblings” are mostly interesting to myself.

Learning to write for my audience – for you, dear reader! takes much more practise, because I want my blog posts to be useful for YOU.

As everything in life, this will take practise.

Isn’t that great? I am really happy I live in these exciting times.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 21 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, Day 19

Dealing with temptation and social pressure.

Don’t “live a little now”. Live a great life forever!

We had a birthday celebration at work. There was cake.

I was having none of it – one of my NoNothingNovember goals was to cut out sweets and snacks.

People teased me about it, but I just smiled and let them have one piece more.









Here is one behavior that people exhibit on a regular base, and that can be really demotivating if you are not careful.

“Ah, Florian, you have this weird diet.” 

“Oh, look, a piece of cake… delicious!”

“You should really make an exception, this is a special event.”

It’s another version of them saying “I could never do that.” So if we constantly tell ourselves that we are not capable to change, guess what – we won’t.

And we do not want others to get away with actually achieving it.

My colleagues were not mean about it. They meant this in a fun way, I am sure. Hearing these words, though, can be hard.

Our natural tendency is to fit in with the group.

How did I get through these headwinds?

#1 – I have heard it all before. 

I am prepared for these comments.

#2 – I visualize my goals.

When they tell me to be “less disciplined” and “live a little”, I am directing my thoughts away from the moment and think about my long-term vision. I am basically allowing myself to dream about the future.

By cutting out sweets and snacks, I will lose body fat, my abs will be visible, my facial structures will come out better, and I will feel refreshed and centered in my body all the time. That’s my vision of the future.

Don’t “live a little now”. Live a great life forever!

#3 – I think back at what I have already achieved.

20 days without sweets and snacks – that is simply not worth abandoning.

NoNothingNovember goals


Since I fulfill my “sleep quota” now almost automatically, I realize that it makes me indeed feel that much better. Sure, i have seemingly less time to get my stuff done. But (a) this forces me to get rid of distractions and (b) I know I have a fixed amount of time I am working on every day.

So what this goal is actually really about is getting into a regular schedule. You do not create meaningful work by frantically eating up the odd hours until a great idea strikes out of nowhere. Most creative people have and had a very regular schedule:

Sweets and snacks

See above.

Social media

I did not have much time at all for that, so that was not a problem.

What have I achieved?

Manuscript and Blog

I gathered some more data for my experiments – and wrote a couple more drafts for this blog, I find editing articles takes me almost longer than writing them – I will become more efficient in the future, though.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 20 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, Day 18

Don’t waiver in the face of temptation.

And do wear awesome T-Shirts.

That was an interesting day. I learnt a lot.

NoNothingNovember goals


6.25 hours of sleep, as usual. I am sticking to this schedule whether I get to bed early or late.

Sweets and snacks

It’s kind of crazy in what kind of abundance we live in. I think you could live for weeks – if not forever – in our institute just on the leftover food for various conferences. It is everywhere. Yours for the taking.

Then, somebody left this nice trove of snacks at the entrance of our lab:

It was delicious



I did not take any of it. 

My body fat is now down to 23.6%.

Social media

Nothing special here today, except for…  one automatic eMail I got from my twitter feed.

Self-serving zealots and/or feminists have apparently started to publicly shame and crucify Dr. Matt Taylor, one of the very rocket scientists who carried out the Rosetta mission, for wearing a “bowling T-shirt”. I did not even know what their beef was until I looked more closely and saw that there were half-naked women on his shirt. Really now? We kick somebody to the curb because of the pictures on his T-shirt?








You know what the awesome part is? The women were wielding guns AND a FEMALE friend of his made the shirt.

You can read more about this story at

Oh, and if you want to buy a similarly cool T-shirt, look no further than Good Looking Loser:

Now… I also was at the doctor’s office yesterday to get my medical certification for my Green Card. The TV was on in the waiting room. Steve Harvey interviewed a guy who claimed he had “big baggage” – what was it? Did he steal something? No. Did he get fired from his job? No.

He dated a lot of women. While I was thinking “Good for you, man!”… the moderator told him he should “explain” that to the audience. And he unfortunately did. He justified this “bad behavior” – I was young!!! – and promised to now settle and forever be with his “real love”. I wish him a lot of backbone. I think he just left it behind while he was crawling on the ground.

I have lived for decades without a TV. Glad I dodged that bullet. But for the first time, I got a grasp of that “mainstream culture”.

Why are people spiritually castrating themselves and each others? What happened to “carpe diem” and “enjoy your life?”

That is my original plan for this blog all along. To provide you with a beacon of hope. There is a way out.

What have I achieved?

Manuscript and Blog

Nothing much has changed here in terms of my pace. Though slow, I am moving along.

Editing articles takes me almost as much time as writing them. But it needs to be good before I publish it. Beginnings can be slow – and over time, I will learn to be faster.


I met with my friends Max and Jonathan, at the same location we had the meet up with Matt Forney.

This is one reason why I am doing this blog and this NoNothingNovember challenge – to free myself, so I can spend quality time with people I like.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 19 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, Day 17

A relatively “normal” day.

Keeping my vices out of my life does not feel like a struggle anymore. It feels like my mind has accepted that I have to sleep regularly, eat healthy and keep off online distractions, and has just moved on. This is precisely what I hoped would happen, and I am very thankful for that.

I am seriously considering keeping at least parts of the challenge beyond november. However, I first want to get through this month – let’s  see what happens in the remaining days of the challenge!

NoNothingNovember goals


By now, having 6+ hours of sleep is normal. This does not feel like a challenge anymore. Let’s see how the remaining two weeks play out…

Sweets and snacks

No cravings, nothing. I do look forward though to the Christmas cookies my family sent to me.

Social media

I seem to have almost forgotten about their existence. I do post “three things I am grateful for” each morning on Twitter and Facebook, check whether I got any notifications, often answer one or two mails I receive via Facebook, and that’s about it.

Eventually, I do wanna spread the word about my blog on as many different Social Media platforms as possible – right now though I am much happier that I am meeting friends in real life.

What have I achieved?


Setting concrete goals every day – as I pledged to do yesterday – seems to have worked: Even though I had to go through a lot of paperwork for my Green Card application, I still found time to finish one figure.


Published one more article yesterday. More to come within the next days!


Yesterday evening, I attended a Science Writing class offered by New York University. This was a great experience, I already learnt a ton in terms of communication with people who are not experts of your field. Lots of the participants already had some kind of experience in writing. Very inspiring.

The most important takeaway was: Deadlines are good! We had 20 minutes time to write an article about our research for non-scientists, and you can definitely finish a draft in such small amount of time, even if you re completely unprepared. None of us were suffering “Writer’s Block”.

The most important step is to get started before you think you are ready.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 17 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, Day 16

No time for distractions!

The most surprising observation yesterday: while the only free time I took I spent watching “Sons of Anarchy” for a couple of minutes while I was having dinner, I was able to stop in the middle of an episode and get back to my work and projects.

That shows the positive effect NoNothingNovember has on my habits.

I am voluntarily giving up vices that were not even part of the original plan!

NoNothingNovember goals:


Slept 6.25 hours, so I am now fine with keeping that time. Interestingly, while I was sometimes ready to get up before that time was over, not this time. I would have loved sleeping a longer time, but I kicked myself out of bed. And only 1 -2 minutes thereafter, I was completely motivated to embrace monday. I have less time for “relaxing” now, but the days feel that much more fulfilling – because I am working on projects that move me forward.

Sweets and snacks

I had a few cravings, but I ate a steak with eggs and broccoli instead, followed by a apple-carrot-ginger juice – and that took care of my desire for sweets.

Social media

It almost forgot about the existence of Twitter and Facebook – I am almost completely using my time for working on experiments in the lab and this blog.

What have I achieved?

Manuscript and Blog

While I am now in a certain routine where I work every day a little bit on each project, I feel I am not really getting ahead, instead spinning my wheels a bit.

Therefore, I am changing my strategy.

I know where I want to be with each project at the end of november.

In the past days, my plan was to “work every day” on the projects. But that does not get me ahead as fast as I want to.

So now I will set a SPECIFIC goal for each project every day. That means I will rearrange my day to finishing those goals (not adjust my goals to my daily routines) and make me prioritize better.

I have done that before, back in 2002, when I worked on a collaborative project in Iowa City. I only had one month of time before I had to go back to Germany, so I set specific goals for each day and made sure I’d finish them no matter what. It was a stressful time, but also a happy time, because it was the most productive phase I ever had in my life.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 17 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, End of Second Week

My life is noticeably improving.

Time to look back at another week of the NoNothingNovember challenge. I am almost disappointed that two weeks are ALREADY done. Time just flies by.

And I am looking at some significant improvements compared with october or the months before.

What did I experience in my NoNothingNovember goals for the first two weeks?



Whereas I did not sleep in a regular manner AT ALL, most often less than 6 hours, in other words: not enough – I am now on a regular rhythm of a little over 6 hours. While drinking coffee still enhances my attention…

There are now days where I do not need any coffee at all.

Furthermore – and somewhat surprisingly -, I am still as efficiently – if not more so! – working on my tasks as I was before. The “missing time” that I now spend sleeping… it pays off the next day, when I need less time to finish my projects.

In addition, my stress levels are down. For example, right now I have still 1.5 hours to write this and one other post before I call it a day. I am focused, yet relaxed, since even if I don’t get this article written tonight, I know I will finish it tomorrow.

Sweets and snacks

Funny Ice Cream

Yesterday was my traditional “cheat day”. In the months before, that almost certainly meant I would stock up on sweets on friday and then indulge in cookies, chips and ice-cream on saturday. Needless to say, this made me lazy and almost completely destroyed the progress I made in terms of weight and body fat loss. In addition, I was bleeding money.

These problems are gone.

I have saved a whopping $204,64 on food since the beginning of november.

I have gone from 25.3% to 23.8% body fat.

Now here is the thing: the NoNothingNovember challenge has no cheat days. Yet, I still wanted to indulge a little bit.

So what to do? Cook my own sweet meal, based on fruits and honey… and my favorite right now is oatmeal with blackberries and fried apples.


So I ate one portion of it, froze away the rest, and when I was sitting in the bus a little later on my way to work, I realized that I was pretty full. And happy. Even now, 5 hours later, I don’t feel any more cravings for sweets.

Instead of shoving sweets and chocolate into my mouth and sometimes not even thinking about what I am eating…

I am now enjoying a whole meal that is every bit as sweet as it is healthy.

Social media

In past months, I could never even wait to get off work before I checked Facebook or my eMails.

Now, days go by where I am reading a book on my way home…

… and I am completely oblivious to my eMail account!

There is one additional observation I made:

I am connecting to more people in person.

I can’t use Social Media to do that anymore.

What have I achieved in these first two weeks of November?


We are still doing necessary experiments. That’s good.

However, I still need to become better organized and focussed so I can work on assembling the figures for our manuscript.

That’s one area that will benefit most from further improvements. Luckily, I still have time to reach my goals of finishing all figures for which we already have data by the end of november.


I have realized over the past two weeks that I can publish one blog post per day, which is good. These “Dear Diary” entries follow a clear structure, and I need 30 – 60 minutes finishing one such blog post.

Beyond that, articles normally take longer, though I am fairly quick “rambling on” about any topic.

Since I am writing every day for more than half a year, I now have literally hundreds of drafts collected over the past eight months.

I need to edit them, add pictures etc. – and I should be able to come up with 2 – 3 of these articles per week, maybe even daily.

What takes much longer in general is editing the layout of my blog. I am just not used to drawing graphics, choosing the best colors, the right perspectives etc. This will be an interesting new part for me to learn. I expect I’ll become faster eventually, as well.


I may have mentioned before that I am doing 100 push ups, squats and sit-ups every day. As a result, my arms are growing. It’s cool to watch. Here is the most notable improvement over the last weeks: I used to hate squatting, now though…

Where I had to bend down before to pick something up, I can now just squat without problems.

I would have never thought NoNothingNovember would be that life changing, but I am finally getting rid of some of the most destructive vices I had.

NoNothingNovember continues: Day 16 tomorrow.

(a description of my goals for the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

NoNothingNovember, Day 14

Plow ahead, even if you don’t “feel” like it.

A description of the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

The NoNothingNovember challenge is almost two weeks in! Are you getting jaded? Focus on the next step and trust the process:

Sleep – I might be close to automatically getting the right amount of sleep – I slept the same amount of hours without an alarm clock today as with an alarm clock the days before.

Sweets and snacks – This was tough again, I had serious cravings for sugar in the evening – as a replacement, I drank two glasses of Branched Chain Amino Acids in water. Tastes sweet, but without carbs at all. The realization that I am losing body fat adds some additional motivation. Always have a replacement ready so that you can distract your mind when the craving hits… and always set your sight towards your big goals.

Continue reading “NoNothingNovember, Day 14”

NoNothingNovember, Day 13

Enjoy the days when the challenge feels more like smooth sailing.

A description of the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

Sleep – I can now fall asleep pretty fast – I might have gotten my body used to a regular schedule. Is regular sleep a habit like so many other behaviors?

Sweets and snacks – This was a bit tougher than the days before – I was working from home, and I was trying to write as much as I could. Learning, reading, writing… one of the typical situations where I would have been started feeding myself sweets and snacks. “Your brain needs sugar” or  a similar BS justification. Not today. In fact, I made myself some carrot-apple juice with ginger – that was a healthy and tasty replacement.

Drinking a glass of juice every day is actually a healthy habit that I discovered a cople of weeks ago. It calms me down and actually makes me happy.

If you are interested in “juicing”, has great resources:

Continue reading “NoNothingNovember, Day 13”

NoNothingNovember, Day 12

Abandon your vices, and your life falls into place.

A description of the #NoNothingNovember challenge can be found here:

Day 12

Sleep – I made sure I stayed in bed 6.25 hours – even though I woke up after less than 6 hours – and feel really energized now. My body gets used to regular sleep, and the quality of my day gets that much better.

Sweets and snacks – No real cravings. Interestingly, while I am eating a lot of proteins and fat – just yesterday I fried meatballs in a lot of oil – I am losing body fat. From 25.3% when I started almost two weeks ago to 23.7% this morning.

Continue reading “NoNothingNovember, Day 12”