Exercise Matters For Maintaining A Lower Weight

The study cited in this NY Times piece has a very small sample size (just 14 participants), but it adds an insight I had not seen before.

Adopting a more healthy diet is crucial for a person trying to lose weight initially. However, once the pounds are lost, exercising often becomes the key to keeping the weight off going forward. One reason for this is the study’s participants showed slower metabolism after their initial weight loss. Basically, your body is disagreeing with your new healthier state by burning 500 fewer calories per day. Exercise can be used to offset this.

For the successful stories among the study participants, the amount of daily exercise they did was more than the recommended amount normally seen.

On average, those who managed to maintain a significant weight loss had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.

The catch with so much physical activity is it can lead to injuries. Each of us must still listen to our bodies and know when to ease off.

Another takeaway is we can become more understanding of why people regain weight they have lost. A large factor is the body’s natural reaction. It is not an indictment of that person’s commitment to being healthy.

The idea that people who regain lost weight are necessarily slothful and gluttonous is an unfortunate stigmatization that is not based in fact.

Source: Gina Kolata at NY Times

Good Twitter Thread on the Value vs. Growth Debate

A good, succinct 9-post thread on Twitter by Tsachy Mishal on the value vs. growth debate is here.

The quick summary: the internet created a winner-take-all atmosphere in business. In the old days, if there was a good business model in an industry, many other players could follow the leader and still have some success. Now, in the world of Google, Amazon, and Facebook, if you aren’t the dominant player, you may struggle to even survive. That has left the singular winners in the growth category while value investors have to avoid the increased portion of companies in its category that are in secular decline. “The most important thing is to avoid the secular decliners.”

The United States Has Too Many Restaurants

Today, there are more than 620,000 establishments for eating and drinking in the United States. The growth rate in number of restaurants is still double that of the population growth rate too.

While the total industry sales is still growing, that growth rate has decelerated. More individual locations and chains are struggling to keep up with the increasing competition. It doesn’t help that wage inflation is also accelerating in what remains a labor-intensive business.

The franchisee/franchisor model is partly responsible for the over-expansion of fast food chains and casual dining restaurants. The corporation as franchisor incurs less of the development and operating costs and has a more predictable earnings stream in the form of royalty payments from the franchisees running the individual locations.

Famous investor Jim Chanos has pointed out though that a corporation using this business model can only grow in three ways: open more stores, grow sales of current stores, or negotiate a higher royalty payment from your franchisees. However, when current stores are struggling, you are not going to ask your franchisees for more money. That leaves only store expansion as a growth strategy, which exasperates the oversupply problem in the industry.

It will require more restaurant chains declaring bankruptcy, and perhaps interest rates going up (to make the main form of financing such expansion plans more difficult), for this current oversaturation to rationalize itself.

Source: Rachel Abrams and Robert Gebeloff at New York Times

In Your Investments, ‘Be a Good Loser’

A good oldie post from Meb Faber:

There are two states an investor lives in with their portfolio: record highs and drawdowns. If Apple’s stock trades at $170 per share tomorrow, it would be a new all-time high. However, if it fell to $160 per share, it would be in a 5% drawdown from its past record at $168.

The emotional risk for investors is it’s easy to anchor the value of one’s investments at the highest level they’ve seen in their portfolio to date. Then, when a drawdown inevitably occurs, one is liable to be disappointed at the reduced value they see today instead of being content with the large gains they have likely accrued compared to years earlier.

Faber points out we need to be comfortable with this ‘drawdown’ state because after adjusting for inflation, that’s how we spend most of our days as investors. Here is the percentage of days from 1972-2014 that investors were looking at new highs in their portfolios, broken up by asset class:

US Stocks  17%

Foreign Stocks 12%

Bonds 16%

REITs 16%

Commodities 9%

Gold 4%

60/40  22%

Best-case scenario: only 78% of trading days will you know your assets were worth more at some point in the past. One simple solution to reduce the frequency of this disappointment is don’t check your portfolio as often. If you are only looking every 6 to 12 months, the odds of seeing a higher value today than you remember seeing the last time you checked are much greater.

Personal Tech Devices Can Cause More Cases of Depression

30% of Americans will deal with depression at some point in their lives.

Technological advancement has made a lot of things easier for us, but that has resulted in our being even more sedentary than we were before. Instead of being active outside with that extra time, we spend 93% of our days indoors.

Being able to contact anyone through digital messaging may make us feel connected to the rest of the world at all times, but this form of communication likes the multi-sensory benefits of face-to-face conversations. Today, 40% of Americans say they feel chronic loneliness; three decades ago that number was 15%.

In a 2010 study of college students that removed all screens from their life for a 24-hour period, the participants reported being more calm, having a greater ability to hold their attention on one task, and feeling greater depth and meaning in their interactions with friends.

Source: Dr. Stephen Ilardi at Wall Street Journal

Chris Long Is Donating His Entire Salary to Charity This Year

Pro football player Chris Long is donating his entire salary for this season to various educational causes. This entire piece by Charlotte Wilder at SB Nation is enlightening, but one quote of Long’s while speaking to a group of high school students stuck out to me:

Life is short. Live it with joy. I really think that the biggest thing I could leave you with today is to take pleasure in the work that you do, whether in classroom or community, and enjoy it. Be that contagious light that spreads energy to other people. Great people make other people feel they can be great, too. We talk about this in the locker room as football players and leaders, how you want everyone around you to feel like they can be great for having played with you, sat in a classroom with you, been a friend of yours. Through your loyalty, your excitement, and for who you are. Be contagious in your energy.

#1 Financial Regret for Americans

Over two-thirds of Americans have regrets about how they have managed their money. Here are the top individual regrets regarding money management for different generations of Americans:

Not thinking about money management sooner: #1 regret for Gen X and Baby Boomers, and a top 3 regret for Millennials.

Spending on nonessentials: Top 3 regret for all generations.

Taking on unnecessary credit card debt: Top 3 regret for Gen X and Baby Boomers, #4 regret for Millennials.

Not having a budget. #1 regret for Millennials, #4 regret for Gen X and Boomers.

Source: Quentin Fottrell at MarketWatch

Aging Population Plays a Part in Lower Bond Yields

Lars Christensen at Bloomberg walks through three macro factors that can impact the direction government bond yields move. First, and most important, is inflation expectations. Second is the amount of regulation in financial markets (more regulation = lower yields). Last, and often missed, is changes in demographics. The aging of a country’s citizens tends to drive yields down.

A good portion of the fall in bond yields from 2008 to today was predicted by these factors:

And for most of the major countries of the world, demographics are expected to continue to drive bond yields lower in the next ten years.

Articles on Harvey Weinstein & Hollywood Masculinity Problem

Reports of Hollywood big shot Harvey Weinstein’s awful behavior toward women for the last three decades has been in the news a lot lately as more women continue to speak out about their own terrible experiences.

Two pieces published on this topic resonated with me.

First, Lindsey Zoladz took a personal view, writing about how she has had an imaginary boyfriend named Scott since she was 18 that she mentions in conversation when a strange man is too aggressive in approaching her in a public place. She walks through why using an excuse like this does not really make her safer (even if it gives her more comfort), but more than anything it is upsetting that almost all women have to resort to this tactic more than they ever should (which would be never).

Second, Kate Muir at the Financial Times looked at Hollywood’s masculinity problem. Of the top 100 grossing films at the box office in 2016, 96 were directed by men. 97% of cinematographers on top films are men, as are 89% of screenwriters. The top 10 paid actors in Hollywood earned three times what the top 10 paid actresses made. Meanwhile, 52% of the film audience is women. The other disconcerting point is these rumors about Harvey have been around for a long time, and it just so happens that when he has been on a cold streak of churning out hits, the news finally hits the mainstream. As one screenwriter said, “We’ll know Hollywood culture has changed when a predator at the height of his power is taken down, not just someone already in decline.”