Quarterly review – Q3 2020

To continue the tradition that I started this year, here’s the review of my third 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.

Warning: this might be very boring. I think these reviews are mainly useful for myself. Quite bizarrely, writing in public about how the small details of my life makes myself more accountable to how things are going. These reviews alone have saved me from skipping workouts at least a couple of times.


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


In weeks 5-8 I was on holiday and discovered that my habits are not holiday-proof, especially when working part-time and bringing a baby along. I almost dropped all my habits, except for basic logging and the odd working-out or learning session.

In future holidays I must 1) not take work unless really necessary; 2) adjust my expectations down in terms of habits. This is an unresolved question that I’ll ponder about in the future.


I missed 15 out of 65 workouts, 12 of these during the holidays. It was hard to get back on the bandwagon after the holidays, but long-haul inertia (and the prospect of a quarterly review) made it easier.

I skipped 7 runs out of 13, 4 of them during the holidays.

After coming back home, I rearranged my workouts to do four sets of pushups and air squats every workout. The idea is to have a steady volume of basic exercises. At the beginning this made the workouts longer, but since I’ve been using a timer to measure the workouts, I’ve brought them again in the 50-60m range.

I’m content with the results and feel I’m getting slightly stronger as the weeks go by.

Fat loss

The two main significant milestones this quarter with regard to fat loss were 1) the DEXA scan I performed on week 4 (July 28); and 2) the holidays.

The DEXA scan gave results that were better than expected: since the previous scan (August 2019), I lost 3.5kg of fat and my body fat percentage went from 18.5% to 14.7%. Which is great news! Two years before that (August 2017), on my first DEXA, my body fat was 22.9%.

The not so good news is that I lost 0.5kg of lean mass and 0.2kg of bone. The latter is concerning, because it’s also reflected in a lowering of bone density. I attribute this to sleep deprivation, but I don’t really know why. I do have now an extra reason to sleep as much as I can.

Performing the DEXA gave me the chance to benchmark whether my caloric measurements were on point between the two scans. I started tracking calories at the beginning of the year and only have sketchier records from last year. By my caloric records, I burnt 25mcal. However, following the DEXA, I burnt 31.5mcal (just by the fat loss, 3.5*9mcal = 31.5mcal). Which means that my caloric measurement is more conservative than what actually happens. This is great. I will keep using the more conservative measure since I want to err on the side of being leaner.

The goal is to lose a further 3.5kg of fat to reach 10% body fat (with a total weight that is slightly below 70kg). This means a further 27mcal deficit, assuming I only burn fat. So far, that has been a good assumption. I intend for it to be maintained, as 1) I’m having enough protein; and 2) I’m working out all main muscle groups 5x per week with moderate to high intensity.

This is the week by week summary (belly, net mcal):

Net result: +16mcal, or about 1.75 kilos of fat gained. Almost undid all the progress of the last quarter! I blame the Greek food.


My learning habits (math, piano, Russian & Dutch) were going solidly (5x a week) until the holidays. They pretty much stopped in weeks 6-7, then started (somewhat falteringly) towards the end of the quarter.

On week 11 I decided to stop learning math. I felt I wasn’t engaged enough with it and that I’d rather focus more time on learning languages and the piano.

Here’s the weekly summary:

Regarding languages, I decided to study Russian and Dutch all the way to B2 level, and take the corresponding exams. This will keep me busy for the entire 2021. Once I reach that stage, I will keep learning languages, but only one at a time.

In the meantime, I’m studying Dutch more intensely to take A2 exams at the end of the year.

Piano progress went quite slowly, but I finished figuring out the digitations for a fugue.

Focused work: libraries & apps

Besides my contract work, 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:

Total Q3: ustack 40x 38:00 / 41x 47:15

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

Totals Q1: ustack 54x 50:15 / apps 56x 75:50

My goal is to work 5x a week on both the ustack and the apps. Taking out 4 weeks for vacation, the goal was to work 45x, for at least an hour. I was quite close on both respects. Last quarter I worked almost double on the apps, but given my current contract workload, this would have been unrealistic on this quarter – at least at my current level of efficacy.

In terms of achievements, regarding the ustack I worked almost exclusively on gotoB v2 and small fixes to its dependencies. I managed to almost completely rewrite all the code for the library and write at least half of the documentation and half of the tests.

Regarding the apps, all the work was done on ac;pic. The major advances were a few improvements on the UI (the most significant of which was a special behavior when tagging “untagged” pictures); finishing geotagging; adding the account view; and getting started on the import functionality. We’re inching forward to a full MVP.

Overall I’m very happy with the progress in the ustack, despite it taking so much longer than originally expected; but I’d like to spend more time working on the apps and see them move faster.


This was an interesting quarter. I learned about my limits and about the need to dial down my habits when I go on holidays. I had to get back on track after the holidays on the face of a large volume of contract work, which was a great test for my habits and for deciding what’s important to me.

In any other year, I might have lost complete sight of my goals around September – but I feel these reviews have kept me mindful of the overall trajectory of the year.

I’m confident in the structures that are in place and am looking forward to a great last quarter of the year. I might not fulfill all my goals in 2020, but I will get them closer and closer to them with every passing quarter.

At some point it’d be great to be less focused on habits and goals; but for now I feel that they both require a remarkable amount of attention and mindshare. This might change in the future. For now, I’m holding the course and focusing on it.