How was 2020 for me, what I've learned and what to look for in 2021
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How was 2020 for me, what I've learned and what to look for in 2021

Description
Career, tech, blogs, health and plans for 2021
Tags
Career
Growth
Year Review
Date posted
Dec 31, 2020
What a crazy year! 2020 has been mental in many many ways. Before it even began I had some big plans for it and now let’s review what happened.
 

Career

Since the end of 2019 I had some desires to change my job as I wanted to find a new challenge.
 
I was looking for something very specific and in order to give my best, I was interviewing at 1 company at a time and not multiple ones. Given that some of them were quite big names with really lengthy processes, it took me a few months to get an offer.
 
I have to admit that looking for something very specific during the pandemic where many companies were letting tons of people go didn’t make my search any easier. But reaching to final stage interviews and then get rejected meant only one thing. I was really close. Like in everything else in life, if you insist on something, you will eventually at some point make it.
 
In July I got an offer from Feedr which was a really exciting opportunity and accepted to start working there as a Senior / Lead software engineer. The journey has only just started.
 

Talks

I gave 2 talks this year. 1 around Feburary at JS Monthly London where I talked about TypeScript.
 
The second one was in September at Danny Thompson’s discord community called Commit your code! where I talked about how to automate your Github profile README with Github actions. Here’s a link to that blog post.
 
Talks are great to meet people and also build your personal brand. Looking forward to doing more of these talks in 2021.
 

Blogging

This is one of the best new habits that I have started and I am really trying to do it as often as I can.
 
Including this one, I have written a total of 15 blog posts this year. The reason why I love blogging is because it takes the chaotic information we have inside our heads, puts some structure to it and helps us write it down so that i finally makes some sense.
 
I write my blogs in my personal website harrisgeo.me and also in dev.to where the community is great and have had many interesting conversations. Twice this year dev.to shared my articles on Twitter which was unexpected but felt really good.
 
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and
 
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I have also created a newletter which you can subscribe to if you want to be notified once there’s a new blog post. I hope this keeps me motivates to interact more with my subscribers and keep blogging consistently. ## Side projects
 

Code Gen Library

There have been a few side projects that I have been working on but my favourite one was code-gen-library which is a code generator tool for React components and utils that I use a lot in other side projects and decided to open source it. You can check it out here or read this blog post about the idea behind it.
 

Food recipes web app

This has been a bit of a bigger side project that I have been working on and off since Christmas last year.
 
I had some great conversations with colleagues and people from the indie hackers London community and feedback I got was that my idea has some decent product potential.
 
This project began as a way to improve my devops skills by developing a full stack web app and then figure out how to host it. It ended up being a playground where I was often trying new tech and guess what. Yes it’s still not ready yet 😂.
 
I have been working on some ways to simplify it and I hope that it will go live early in 2021.
 
Speaking of food recipes, now let’s forget about programming and tech for a while and talk about health.
 

Health

At the beginning of the year, sometimes while sitting down I had a weird pain on the bottom right part of the abdomen. It really scared me and tried a few doctors but they couldn’t find anything. It ended up being some kind of nerve that is trapped between 2 muscles called meralgia paresthetica which goes away with some stretches.
 
Before I figured out that it was a nerve thing, I suspected that it had to do with the fact that I gained a few kilos over the Christmas holidays.
 
At the end of December last year, my wife and I went to Greece to see my family which was 2 weeks of lots of eating and drinking. After that we went to Serbia to visit my wife’s family where the feasts kept going on for a wee bit longer.
 
Once we returned to London, I realised that I had to do something immediately as my weight was getting out of control. So the nutrition was the first thing that had to be improved.
 

Nutrition

I don’t consider that my nutrition is bad but the problem is that it is not consistent. That means that multiple weeks or months of eating all the right things can be ruined by a few days of careless eating while being on a holiday.
 

Intermediate fasting

What I did was I tried intermediate fasting aka 16/8. That meant that for a few days I had to be fasting for 16 hours and only eat within the rest of the 8 hours left in the day. Oh boy at the beginning it was really weird having to get to lunch break without eating a single thing.
 
However we humans tend to dramatise things quite often. If you really thing about it, 16/8 really is “skipping breakfast”. Once I started thinking about it like that, it became way much easier. Now it’s the end of December and I don’t remember when was the last time I had a meal before midday.
 
What is really great about 16/8 is that if you split the food in 2 meals, that means that if you consume 2500 calories per day, that is 1250 calories per meal. I don’t know about you, but that is a meal that will satisfy even the hungriest wolves out there.
 

Eat more fatty food

I came across the book Eat fat, get thin which talks about how the macronutrient fat is really good for you if you eat more “good fats”. If you really think about it, the Mediterranean diet which is considered to be one of the healthiest and most recommended diets on the planet, is full of fatty food! We eat a lot of cheese, we put olive oil in almost every single dish amongst many others.
 
So yes I tried this diet for a month and it was surprising how much my extreme appetite just disappeared. Literally I stopped feeling hungry all the time and the food was delicious. Apart from that, my weight was going down, I felt more energetic and that made much happier. The key ingredient is that by introducing more fats, the carbs were cut down and that made the big difference. This was a low carb diet and would totally recommend it to everyone. Later on in the year I tried the ultra low carbs diet called Keto.
 

Keto

With Keto the results were even more extreme. All of the recipes were crazy. I was wondering how the f can you eat that kind of food and lose weight.
 
Keto is a diet where you eat a very small amount of carbs per day and it forces your body to enter a phase called ketosis where it uses its fat for energy instead of the carbs of the last meal. As you can imagine, it is really popular if you want to lose weight.
 
The secret is that the food has a lot of fat and protein which will satisfy our appetite with much smaller quantities. A Keto meal would literally be 1/3 of the portion comparing to a standard meal and it would totally fill me up. The smaller portion also made a huge difference in how light I felt after having such a meal.
 
I tried Keto diet for 2 weeks and lost around 3-4 kg. I am no expert but Keto felt like the kind of diet you should be doing for a small period of time because of its extreme impact on the body.
 
While trying these 2 diets, I found some delicious recipes which I will start sharing once my food recipe side project is finally up and running. Now let’s talk about the workouts.
 

Workouts

There is a famous ancient Greek phrase “healthy mind in a healthy body” which is really true. Working out helps keeping your body healthy which in turn keeps the mind healthy. A few years ago a friend introduced me to running and sooner after that I felt in love with that sport.
 
It is amazing how going for a jog around the park or any other area that has some nice views can really brighten your mood. The feeling you get after a 5-10km run in a comfortable pace cannot be compared to anything else. It really is something that motivates me to do a lot of stuff throughout the day.
 
In 2020 according to Strava I did 97 runs with a total of 686 km which translates to 76h 32m of activities. Here is my profile. Crazy right? Also, that only refers to the workouts that were recorded in Strava and it doesn’t count any runs I did before starting to use this app around April this year. It also doesn’t count any strength training, HIIT sessions or any long walks. To add more, when the first lockdown in UK began, my wife and I started doing some yoga at home which also felt really good.
 
Speaking of lockdowns, when the second lockdown began in UK, in order to keep being sane, I had to set a workout goal so that I focus on something to keep my head busy. On Strava there are these challenges which are quite motivating and I joined a few.
 
One was 100 km of total running distance in November which felt doable. Then based on the progress I had on that, I could extend it to 200 km. I did the math and it was possible. I simply had to do 50 km per week. Every Sunday I do a longer run of more than 10km so basically I had to figure out a pattern I had to follow in order to achieve that.
 
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Another achievement here was that I ran my second half marathon which felt really good. No need to mention how much my body has changed over this challenge. This will totally be a challenge that I will keep doing more often with different variations. Enough about health, now let’s talk about other hobbies.
 

Hobbies

Traveling & photography

These are 2 of my favourite hobbies which sadly did not have much of a chance to do because of the pandemic. However, in late January before the virus got spread everywhere we managed to visit Iceland which is the 40th country I’ve been to.
 
As a Greek guy that grew in a hot country, I am a big fan of cold destinations as they are different from what I am used to. Some other places I really enjoyed were Norway, Lapland and Isle of Skye in Scotland. All the people I’ve met while traveling told me that I would love Iceland if these are the kind of places I like. That couldn’t be more true.
 
After traveling a lot and seeing many places, it is difficult to be impressed with something new. Iceland did not disappoint us at all. It was a really cold place with tons of stuff to see. While being outside of Reykjavik every single place we visited was worth a photo. Here are some photos I took from there.
 
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Once that pandemic is over, I totally recommend to everyone to visit this amazing country.
 

Conclusion and 2021 goals

Yes 2020 has a heck of a year. A lot of things happened, both good and bad. I think that keeping yourself busy is a great way to go through difficult periods. I really hope that this madness will end soon. Even though it feels weird to say that, I have really missed going to the office.
 
In 2021 I am looking forward to:
  • finish my food recipes project
  • take Twitter more seriously and connect with more people
  • do more talks in Meetups
  • learn some proper AWS
  • write more blogs
  • attempt to run a Marathon
 
I am pretty sure that more things will come up, some of the items in this list will change but who cares. Planning on the go can be a lot more fun.
 
How was 2020 for you? What plans do you have for 2021.