One More Step

The Story Of Creating Business And Music

TheyGotFit.com Is Live!

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Over the past four months, I’ve been working on a little project called TheyGotFit. Inspired by r/progresspics, TheyGotFit is an online directory of before-and-after photos for people losing/gaining weight and getting fit. You can search “I weigh ____ and want to weigh _____” and see photos of people who’ve undergone the change.

You can also add photos of your progress with the weight, date, and height attached.

TheyGotFit is an exercise in product management, in programming, and in building discipline. Here are the great things that came out of building it:

  • I learned and practiced a lot of Ruby on Rails
  • I couldn’t be a hypocrite and build a fitness website while sitting on my butt, so I used the project as another motivation to hit the gym
  • I designed and built a UI from scratch while obsessing over every element of user experience
  • I got to stay with a problem for four months all by myself
  • I built the discipline to code consistently at least a few times a week
  • I lost 10 pounds working out

I’m now reaching out to initial users, which is very much an exercise in itself. I finished last year with 3 (!) users who were not my friends or in any way connected to me. It was a thrill. Once I hit 20-30 users, where records are showing up no matter what weight you search, I’m going to announce it to all my friends and to some larger online communities.

I hope that TheyGotFit takes off and becomes something, but if 3 users are all I’m lucky to get, it’s still a great exercise, and a fantastic stepping stone to my next project – whatever it may be.

Until then, check it out!

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Working out is… working?

About a month and a half ago, I made a commitment to start going to the gym. Because I wasn’t working full-time during this period, I had the time and resources to invest in making my workouts count. For 6-or-so weeks, I went to the gym 4-5 times per week.

Every time I had tried this prior, I would fail in my fourth week. However, this time around, I saw the dangers coming, and I buckled down. I also had the luxury of not having to work every day, so, I established a routine. Each morning, I’d get up early, eat a quick breakfast – mostly Cheerios -and rest up for 30 mins. Then I’d go to the gym for a 1.5-2 hour workout. I’d come  back, drink a protein shake, and eat a healthy lunch that I often cooked myself.

Sometimes I’d slip up and order takeout. Some days, I’d go out with friends and eat food I knew was undoing my progress. I allowed myself 1-2 break days between heavy workouts. But, all-in-all, I never took more than 2 days off. Every day, I was at the gym, working and getting stronger.

Six weeks later, I had lost about 10 pounds, and I felt great. I could move. I started noticing results. Eating crappy, fat-and-sugar-laden food started becoming both psychologically and physically taxing on my body. And I was building momentum. I knew my body was thankful for what I was doing. Going to the gym every morning was still hard – I had only been going about 5 weeks, after all – but it was consistently rewarding. Working out wasn’t fun. It was work. And work was paying off.

Last week, I started a full time job, my girlfriend was in town, and then I visited my college for a concert. As a result, I took 6 (!) days off from the gym.  I hadn’t done that  in six weeks. In addition, my new job feeds us lunch every day and the office is stocked with snacks.  So, I slipped.

And you know, not going to the gym was easy. I felt guilty, sure, but it also felt amazing to instantly regress into my old self. With no gym and lots of crappy food , I instantly regained about 2-3 pounds, and I noticed it very quickly in the mirror.

I’ve been spending long hours at work, but yesterday – on my third day in -through sheer willpower, I forced myself back in the gym. I had to go after work, so I had to bring my gym clothes with me and change out of my work clothes. I was full of the greasy lunch I had, not my regular workout breakfast.  I was tired after a long day of staring at the computer.

When I got there, the gym was pretty busy – normally, when I’d work out in the morning, the gym would be nearly empty. I had to work in with other people, and swap my regular exercises, and wait for machines. It sucked, and the little voice in my head kept telling me this was the worst and that I need to quit. Still, I got through the workout. It wasn’t my best, I didn’t leave it all out there, but it a was respectable effort. I went home wondering how often I could bear with it. I went home at nearly 10PM, exhausted, uncomfortable, and with bleak expectations. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep it up.

Getting up today was not easy, especially on 6 hours of sleep, but once I did get up, something amazing happened. I felt better. I didn’t ask to feel better. Yesterday, I was a little proud of making it to the gym, but was mostly focused on not being able to sustain it in the future. Today, however I really felt the effects of my workout. I feel stronger. I feel more confident. I feel like my body is grateful for helping it flush out the crap I’ve been feeding it. Today, I feel really proud of myself for having the perseverance to come back and work out.

I’m teetering on the precipice, and my fate hangs in the air. My birthday is in less than two weeks, and six weeks ago, I resoled to end the year in the best shape of my life. To be fair, I’ve been in pretty bad shape, mostly, so this isn’t a very hard goal. But, at any rate, I was well on my way to accomplishing this until I started my job. And now, it’s do or die. It’s very possible that I’ll end up quitting like I always do, and re-reading this post with a sad smile as a fat sloth down the road. But that’s not my intention. I didn’t feel good working hard at the gym yesterday, but I feel great today. I want to keep feeling like this. I want to stay true to my mission. It may be the most uncomfortable thing in the world, but I’m coming back to the gym tonight.

You are in a fight against an opponent you can’t see, but oh, you can feel him on your heels, can’t you? Feel him breathing down your neck. You know who that is? That’s you. Your fears, doubts, and insecurities lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out of the sky.

Coding: Builder vs. Creator

I really enjoy coding, but don’t think I’d be happy working as an engineer for someone else’s company. If I though I could be happy doing that, I’d be enrolling at Flatiron School or General Assembly in a jiffy. I took part in the pilot class of Codecademy Labs back in the winter of 2015, and had a fantastic time learning – now I’m even helping out with the Codecademy Advisor program. It’s a lot of fun, especially because I feel like such a beginner, but I love to teach and feel that it greatly enhances my own learning experience. I’m not a fast learner at all, and I oftentimes need a concept explained to me numerous times before I really get it. So, I’m happy to offer exactly that to people I work with. I’m happy to explain something as many times as I need to for the student to understand.

I do love building, though. I write music– I studied music composition in college – and the creative process is strikingly similar. I never paid much attention to all the buzz about how math and music go hand in hand, because I never got caught up by math, but I do think programming and composing are very similar. They both have concrete tools, guidelines, appreciation for beauty and minimalism and design principles, and endless way to create a gorgeous end product. So, I find myself approaching composing and programming very similarly. In both, it’s hard for me to find the discipline to work consistently every day. I tend to work in spurts, for 4, 6, 8 hours one day, and then break for days on end. When I do make myself code/compose consistently, however, I find that it results in my best work.

I don’t think I could be a programmer for someone else’s product, but I am full of fire to create my own. I need to figure out a way to balance how much I’m learning with my awesome day job and find the discipline to code consistently. I have only just scratched the surface of what I can create with code.

Codecademy

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I’m sitting in the gorgeous Codecademy offices for my class, and Zach Sims keeps popping in. I want this. I want this more than anything else in the world.

Instant Happiness

Myers Briggs

I’m always really skeptical of personality tests. The Myers-Briggs is super popular, though, so I always thought I knew my type (ESFJ.) Well, today I took another three or four tests and did some reading and thinking, and changed my mind somewhat. The description that fits me best is ENFP.

With a grain of salt, of course.

Musical Spark

Once Dan and I started looking into music discovery, possibilities began springing up – I’m excited to see where this goes.

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Bagpipes and Music Libraries

I’ve been involved in a crazy HONY-inspired project to get a musician a new set of bagpipes. We raised over $1700, and the project is a success. You can read about it here:

www.lookingforbagpipes.wordpress.com

I‘ve been thinking about music and music discovery a lot. How do our music tastes make sense? How does liking one song connect to liking another? Pandora is great, but I want to do it differently. I am constantly amazed by the ability music has to make me feel better. Understood. Alive. 

I want to share that with everyone.

Copyright - 2014 - Maxim Pekarsky.

Copyright – 2014 – Maxim Pekarsky

Original Content

I’m becoming ever more convinced that we are ultimately judged by the original content we put out. 

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