Interfering in the way users are used to doing things is a no-no

Gainslog is a simple calorie tracker I made with only a handful of users.

If you ever tracked your macros before, you know reaching your daily protein intake goal is the most difficult to attain from all three macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats). Once you hit your proteins target, the other ones come around easy.

Because protein is the hardest macro to fill, I made it look like a priority throughout the app – making sure that everywhere macros appear they are ordered based on how hard is to get them in one’s diet. So it’s “proteins, carbs, and fats”.

Leaving aside the fact that for some people (with high calorie needs), carbs are harder to get, a new user pointed out that on a regular food label, the macros order is different – it’s fats, carbs, proteins – and that I should correct the site to reflect that.

Gainslog’s “add food” form

It makes sense, at least for the form used to add new food items. When you’re copying stuff from one place to another, it’s easier if the order in which you enter the information is the same. Being a good maintainer and carrying about people’s wishes, I’ve corrected the order everywhere through the site.

As soon as the update hit production, all hell broke loose – all users instantly went “why you changed that?” on me.

What is funny is that they didn’t notice the labels changing everywhere, but only on the daily status area. They, like me, were used to focus on the first number (since protein intake was the hardest to achieve).

Gainslog’s daily status – order was changed to fats, carbs, proteins from proteins, carbs, fats

Long story short, I reverted the order for the daily status and kept the others reflecting the food labels – which made it super easier to enter new items, but of course, few people actually noticed it.

Books told me that “taking a feature away will irritate users”, but I never thought such a small change will be taxed this hard. Nevertheless, I interfered in the way people were used to doing things, and that pissed them off. Lesson learned.

The fact they didn’t notice the order changing in other places concerns me – it means there’s something I can clean up more. If the information is not worth noticing, why keep it?

The most common reason people fail to lose weight

… is focusing on and worrying about the wrong things at the wrong time.

When to drink water? Before or after finishing a meal? Or maybe in between.

Should I eat greens today, reds tomorrow, and whites the next day after? Should I combine greens with reds? Won’t mixing vegetables with fruits make me fatter?

Isn’t it better if I eat the rice first and leave the chicken last?

What about smoothies? Those look healthy. Should I mix them with milk? 1.5%, 2%? Regular or almond?

Weight loss pyramid triangle

Stop skipping steps.

When you’re a beginner you should not worry about which “diet” to follow. You should not worry about the order in which you’re eating your foods or when you drink your water.

Don’t make huge changes to your eating habits. If you’re used to eating 3000 calories and you suddenly drop to 1600 calories, you’re gonna have a bad time. Weight will drop fast, too fast, and it will not only be unhealthy but also a lot harder to sustain in the long term. You will fail and bounce back to your old eating habits.

Instead, start tracking what you’re currently eating without making any changes. Once you find out how many calories you consume and what foods make up those calories, it will be a lot easier for you to know what to eat less of.

In a nutshell…

  1. Track current eating habits to single out high calorie foods
  2. Adjust calories. Drop up to 500 calories from your daily budget. If your weight stagnates, drop 150 more. Wait a week, and drop another 150 calories if necessary.
  3. Don’t spend all your time on the treadmill. Exercise. Lift weights.

Everybody likes to cut corners, to find that magic trick that will get them ahead. I’m sorry to break it to you, but there are no magic tricks to perform when it comes to weight loss. It’s just math and willpower.

1kg of fat = ~7000 calories.
1week of -500 calories/day = 3500 calories = 0.5kg down.
1 month = 2kg down.
3 months = 6kg down.

Burn more than you consume. You can either exercise more or eat less. The latter is way more effective.

Start worrying about magic tricks when you’re at 10% body fat or bellow.

Pain while doing skull crushers?

The classic version of the exercise goes like this:

1. Lie on a bench with your arms perpendicular to the floor.
2. Lower your elbows while keeping your arms straight and close to your body.
3. Extend your elbows, lifting the weight back up, and stop just as you reach full extension.

Skull crushers is praised to be one of the best triceps exercises, but for some reason I always felt pain in my elbows when performing it. I tried it with dumbbells, with the EZ bar, straight bar, swiss bar, but no luck.

Pain while doing skull crushers. Much art. Much wow.

Pain while doing skull crushers. Much art. Much wow.

It turns out that a lot of people have problems with this exercise, and the common advice is: make sure to warm up real good, start with lighter weights, keep doing it, and your elbows will strengthen up.

I’m sure this works for some people.

The problem is, even with super light weights I was still experiencing pain. Not as much as before, but enough to make me look for other solutions.

One solution I found, was to move your arms a bit towards your head. This not only lowers the tension on the elbows but also provides a better stretch of the triceps.

This was better, but I was still feeling some pain at the top of the movement. So I decided to try the reverse. Move my arms a bit forward.

Painless skull crushers. Much art. Much wow.

Painless skull crushers. Much art. Much wow.

The pain was gone. Completely gone. I could not believe it.

My first Quora answer

Quora recently announced a massive breach of user data. Thousands of users are canceling their accounts.

But as you know, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, so I’ve signed up today and answered the first question that popped on my screen. 🙂

“What is the best way to form and keep a habit going? For example like working out and dieting.”

I’m pretty bad at forming habits myself, but I somehow managed to keep going to the gym for the past 4 years, while also losing or gaining weight. So I’ll throw in my two cents.

Some of the reasons why it stuck with me:

  • worked out 5 days/week – this is considered to be bad advice as beginners should not work out as often as intermediate/advanced lifters. But as long as you don’t overdo it, you’ll be ok. Not taking day offs made it easier for me to turn it into a habit.
  • made it lifetime goal – I made it clear to myself that I won’t be doing it just for one year, or two, or until I reached a certain level. It’s a lifetime goal.
  • lowered my expectations – I don’t know a single person to be completely satisfied with the progress they made. They’re all happy because they look and feel better than 6 months ago, but “it could’ve been a bit better”.
  • for weight loss/gain – nothing worked best for me than starting to track my calories, see where I’m at, and then go up or down based on my goal at the time. Drastic changes to your diet won’t stick. You have to slowly adjust it, eating less/more, replacing one bad food with a healthy one.

As for forming other habits, you should do what most people recommend: force yourself to do it for a long period of time while also finding some kind of satisfaction/pleasure.

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