Quarterly review – Q2 2020

To continue the tradition that I started with my last quarterly review, here’s the review of my second quarter of 2020. The idea of making public reviews of my own life comes from James Clear’s annual reviews. The goal of these public reviews is twofold: to keep myself accountable by sharing my goals and actions; and to provide useful information and perspective to those embarked on similar journeys.


My goals are still the same. The only difference is that OneMillionLoops is now in pause, since I’m fully focusing on Altocode.


This is going very steadily. My habit is to work out 5x per week (Monday-Friday), and I only missed a single workout in the entire quarter (out of 65 total). I credit this to the fact that my workouts are short, effective and pre-planned. Also in my favor is the fact that by now the habit is now deeply ingrained.

Regarding running, my long term ideal is to run once per weekend. Out of 13 possible runs, I did 6 (46%). Many of this quarter’s weekends have been packed with work because of a temporary online course, so I missed some runs because of that. Next quarter I expect to run consistently every weekend. I have the luck to have two great running partners; thanks to them, I finally ran more than 20k on three of my runs, which I never had done before. A marathon no longer looks impossible, though it still looks daunting.

I’m happy to be in a point of my life where exercise just happens; even if it’s an almost daily challenge, it’s predictable and consistent. If you’re working on building this habit, I recommend the following:

Fat loss

There were two breakthroughs in this quarter with regards to losing fat:

The combination of these two gives me strong confidence in my goal of reaching 10% body fat, which I consider an ideal body composition. I think I’ll get there during the next quarter.

Regarding maintaining weight, the key breakthrough was to add a weekly cycling pattern, where I have a caloric deficit at the beginning of the week and then a superavit at the end of the week. This is much easier for me than maintaining a flat caloric intake through the week. It also works much better for me than restricting certain types of foods.

I still do OMAD on all weekdays, but now I have some protein around the middle of the day. I found that having protein in the middle of the day actually increases my energy levels and decreases my appetite.

Having a consistent way to maintain my caloric intake while not restricting the types of foods that I eat is a major achievement for me and something that I searched for years; it opens up the prospect for being able to maintain a certain weight without feeling limited.

The second breakthrough is with regard to fat loss. I had intermittent success in the past with having a succession of lean days (where I had a strong caloric deficit). During the last quarter, that approach didn’t work, but I still planned on insisting on it. The goal was to have a weekly deficit of 4.5mcal (1 mcal is a thousand kilocalories; to give you a reference, I estimate that I burn 2.5mcal per day).

Not surpisingly, what didn’t work last quarter didn’t work this quarter. Faced with a plateau, on week 9 of the quarter I attempted something bigger. A grand gesture of sorts: I would spend a full 9 days (Monday to Wednesday of the following week) where I only eat 92g of whey protein (my daily required intake) plus an apple at night. The protein and the apple are 0.5mcal, so each day I had a deficit of 2mcal. During the course of this lean week I allowed myself to take Sunday off. Then I continued on Monday and Tuesday.

Unexpectedly, the lean week worked! It was challenging, but motivating. The day off on Sunday really helped. In the course of 9 days, my waist significantly decreased. And I was able to do this despite a high workload and lots of demands on my time and energy.

After week 9, I decided to aim for maintenance in weeks 10 and 11, and attempt another lean week on week 12. This time, the experiment went even better (in terms of my energy during the week and the perceived willpower required to do it), although I did cheat on Saturday. My conclusion is that framing a lean week as a full-on leaning period is more effective than an intermediate approach where I somewhat cut my calories while keeping on eating. The combination with the maintenance weeks is crucial, to avoid a yo-yo effect.

Here’s my list of results for the quarter. Note: mcal is a thousand kilocalories. Positive numbers mean caloric superavit, negative ones mean caloric deficit. Waist measurements are in centimeters, at the beginning and at the end of the week.

Net result: -21mcal, 91 -> 87. By my estimate, a kilo of fat is equivalent to a deficit of 9mcal, so I estimate I lost about two kilos of fat this quarter, fully owing to the lean weeks (9 & 12). Notice how mediocre it all looks until week 9 kicks in; in fact, until week 9, I was again at net 0mcal.

I cannot claim victory yet, but I’m cautiously confident, as well as excited. I think this crazy approach of a full 9-day lean spell (with a break on the weekend) works because: 1) it’s very clearly defined; 2) it is a grand gesture and as such commands a different intensity; 3) I’m spacing them out so I have weeks where I get used to my new weight.

Three or four more of these spells (30-40mcal), combined with maintenance weeks, should allow me to fulfill my goal of having an excellent body composition. I can’t wait!


For the past two years, I’ve been trying to add learning activities to my weekdays. They consist of piano, math and language study, to be done Monday-Friday. I didn’t include them in my goals, but I still wanted to keep on doing them. Here are the numbers.

Totals: 62% piano, 57% math, 75% language; slightly worse than the previous quarter, but not far.

While it’s too early to tell yet, I feel the next quarter the numbers will be close to 100%. On week 12 I reorganized my day as to start with learning (instead of working out) and so far it’s been very enjoyable. It feels like a much better way to start the day, I’m more engaged and I think it will be easier to ingrain the habit. But I’ll know for sure on the next quarter.

Focused work: libraries & apps

Besides my contract work (which thankfully picked up in May), I’m committed to focused work on two interrelated areas: a set of open source libraries (ustack), and web apps of my own. I aim to work on both every weekday. This quarter, on account of a surge in contract work, maintaining the volume of focused work on libraries and apps was quite challenging. Here are the numbers:

Totals Q2: ustack 43x 36:50 / apps 67x 141:45

Totals Q1 (for comparison’s sake): ustack 54x 50:15 / apps 56x 75:50

In terms of volume of work, I worked roughly 2/3 of the weekdays on the ustack for about 50 minutes a session. Regarding the apps, I worked on them pretty much every weekday for about two hours. I’m happy with these numbers, though I’d like to work on the ustack every day for about an hour.

What I got done this quarter on ac;pic, the main app on which I’m working, in cooperation with my other entrepreneurial half:

The ustack had a more rocky quarter, but this got done:

Q3 will be very interesting. I expect to release then both the first public version of ac;pic and a new version of gotoB; both are culminations of work that has gone on for years. It will be a challenge to do it while maintaining my current contract work, but I’m up for it. Lately I’m squeezing in an hour of ustack before noon, and working on the apps relatively late at night after the workday is done.

Odds and ends

Here’s to the second half of the year!