2020 assessment

The end of the calendar year is an opportunity to look back and reflect: How has this year transformed me?

The body

The Covid-19 pandemic got everyone locked down at home since March. I used to bike to and from work every week-day, I missed these 40 minutes on the bike. After a month inside I felt weaker, my lower back ached from the constant sitting. I tried biking in the morning, but doing a tour and coming back home 30 minutes later didn’t work. I did it once and never found the motivation to do it again.

A month into the lock-down a coworker —Marty— suggested we did push-ups and publicly posted our daily ‘score’, so we created a dedicated Slack channel: #beat-marty-fagan to track our progress. Marty walks across Antarctica with his wife for fun, he knows what commitment to fitness is like.

I started doing 40 push-ups daily, after a week I added some squats and lunges. Having a group of people posting their daily workout accomplishments on Slack helped with motivation. Unfortunately after a couple of months I was the only one still posting regularly on the channel. By that point the habit was sufficiently ingrained that I kept going without the need for peer pressure. Initially I only did body weight, after reading and watching Pavel Tsatsouline I got a set of kettlebells for a more effective workout. I worked out every weekday and most weekends for about 8 months: I feel more energetic, and my lower back handles long sitting sessions without getting sore. When I get out of the shower, I check myself out in the mirror for an inappropriate amount of time, it does wonder for my self-esteem. I love being hotter me.

My current workout routine takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. I’m planning to keep doing it five times a week in 2021.

The mind

The best blog post I read in 2020 is: How I read by Slava Akhmechet. This post gave me a renewed sense of purpose about reading and learning. Its salient insight is that reading 5 books on a subject will give you a better perspective on it than 99% of the people in the world.

The advice from the article I loved the most is: “try to read 40 pages a day”, I put it in practice right away. I fell short of the 40 pages objective most days, but still made steady progress. Since November I finished 3 books: The Brothers Kamarasov, Line by Line, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I only read 4 books in 2020, doing better next year would be a nice.