Introducing Project Kapowski

a geek trapped in a cool guy's body presents an article by Jason Kemp 2016-07-05

I don’t know what is says about me but the Explore tab in Instagram, for me, frequently shows me photos of fitness athletes of all shape, sizes and genders. Among those there are always before/after photos. I really like before/after photos, they inspire. The right is always better than the left, sometimes obviously, sometimes, if they’re already fit, subtly; whomever’s pictured worked really hard for that.

I’ve made a few of those photos myself. The after, however, has been fleeting. Twice, I’ve had online coaching. The only way to show progress is to report it because my trainer is not going to see me in meat space. Photos are a great way to show progress. So, on a set schedule, my wife would take pictures of me from the front, side and back. I’d ship them off to the coach.

The first time I did online coaching, I would take the pictures, but do little comparing between photos. It just wasn’t easy to do so with loose photos. I could see the photo I just took and notice differences I remember, but I was more concerned with the number on the scale, not the photos. We’re going to come back to scale weight.

The second time I did online coaching was with Precision Nutrition. It’s a year long. They call it habit-based coaching. Rather than give you a program and a diet, they teach you habits that make the good behaviours you need to keep the fat off automatic. My wife and I did it together. She came fourth that year!

I’m currently reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, so habits are at the forefront of my thinking right now. I’m trying make writing a daily habit. The cool thing about PN coaching, if you stick with the habits, is that they become automatic. If, without conscious thought, you do the right things for your body, it’s so much easier to lose fat and keep it off.

The real trick is, of course: you have to truly make the behaviours habits. If they’re habitual, you do them no matter what’s going on in your life. This is hard. I haven’t got there with all of the habits, so I still struggle. I struggle with other aspects; in particular, my vanity prevents me from making it easy. But these don’t fit the narrative, so let’s move on.

As this project of writing an app in public has been swirling in my head, the habit of tracking progress kept coming to the fore. What if part of my struggle is that I’m not tracking the right thing with enough rigour?

Scale weight is probably the worst thing to track because it’s almost an arbitrary number. You trick yourself thinking a lower number is better. You adjust your behaviour to get ever lower numbers. I know this because I’ve burnt myself out several times in pursuit of a lower scale weight. It’s been to my detriment: I have to back off, then I slack off. The cycle continues.

So, what if it was easy to track the right things? What if there was an app that creates the habit, to make it automatic?

That’s Project Kapowski.

P.S. If you thought, Kelly Kapowski from the 90s delight Saved By The Bell, you are picking up what I am putting down. The post header probably gave it away. Project codenames are the perfect place for a little levity. Pick something that can get you a good list, then go nuts. Good examples: Transformers names, planets from Firefly, stuff from Archer, and, yes, last names from characters on Saved By The Bell.