2023 review, in numbers and thoughts
Reading Time: 7-10 minutes
I was kind of waiting to write the best 2023 review that I could. I postponed, moved the task for days in a row, hoping that I would find the inspiration and that I would connect the dots even better than I did last year.
It’s like I wanted to perform on the review, maybe because I thought I didn’t perform so good looking at the data I collected over the past 12 months.
But the reality is, like always, ready to punch you in the face. So here I am, gathering my thoughts as best as I can, to wrap up my 2023 and plan, theoretically at least, my 2024.
At the beginning of 2023, I told my self that I needed to stay healthy, divulge and read more, and do the rest of the things more or less the same. And some things I did, actually, do better.
I stayed more healthy, if by that you mean burning more calories. But I did not have a better year overall, fitness-wise. According to data collected by my Apple Watch, Strava, TrainingPeaks, and some manual entries, I actually burned less calories, cycled less, did way less exercise minutes. But the worst thing is that I drank a lot less water.
Issue #1: Water Intake
I track water with my HidrateSpark PRO bottle, that does it automatically, and I drink on that bottle more than 90% of the time, even when I’m traveling. So I’m confident that the numbers represent my actual drink intake.
Water intake is the biggest issue because it’s directly related to my weight: during 2023, I trained a lot more than I did in 2022, but looking at the chart provided by the Health app, I see that I actually gained weight, from around 76 kg to around 78 kg. Also, my lean body mass hasn’t grown that much, from around 59.5 kg to around 60.2 kg. So yes, I’ve been experiencing body mass redistribution, but not that much - I thought I could get a lot leaner. My upper body is bigger and stronger now, but my belly has some fat still - I see it too big.
Over the year, I learned that drinking more is critical in lowering body fat. According to some studies, drinking water helps eat less, increases calorie burn by 2-3%, helps remove waste from the body and is necessary to burn fats, among all the benefits. But I need to drink a lot more than I do now.
In 2023, I drank roughly 1 liter per day. That’s really low, especially if I think that I exercised a lot. So, in 2024 I need to drink a lot more, at least an average of 2 liters per day, possibly reaching 3 liters per day. That’s going to be very hard, but I have some tools I can leverage to get that done more easily: buy a bigger, 1-liter bottle to use at home so that in order to drink what I have to, I only have to refill the water twice or three times per day, instead of 4 to 5 times like I do now, using a 620 ml bottle. This seems like a weird thing to do, but it helps me remove some friction from the ‘drink’ activity - my wife bought a 2-liter water bottle, and she just drinks one bottle per day at least, but it’s too big of a leap for me, so I’ll ‘only’ jump to the 1-liter bottle.
Issue #2: VO2 Max
I don’t think I need to change my exercise routines - I would just like to add some other activities to my 3-times-per-week weight training, something like running, swimming, or even playing tennis or golf, albeit these last two at home, on my VR headset. I like what I did, but there’s also one small tweak that I could make: use the stairs more. In 2023 I climbed 80% less stairs. Seems like an insignificant metric, but climbing stairs helps me keep my heart in check, by raising my heart rate quickly like I’m running at 60-70% of my pace. Choosing to take the stairs instead of using the elevator will increase my VO2 Max week after week, and I’ll feel better overall.
The VO2 Max measures the maximum volume of oxygen that can be pumped in my lungs when at peak effort. The higher it is, the better. That is also related to the breathing rate, and it basically means that I don’t get dizzy and tired when I take two or three floors by stairs.Also, and this is the best outcome, it helps reducing the base heart rate, which in turn reduces risks or getting ill. It is a snowballing effect, I would say.
So, the second goal for my 2024 is take the stairs instead of using the elevator as much as I can.
And I would also add, as an extra goal, to run at least 500 km. That’s really not much, just below 10 km per week, but it’s enough considering I do weights 3 times per week.
And to love exercising, I could buy some nice tools to be active even when I can’t go out or if I want to diversify a bit. Something like GOLF+ or Tennis Esports on my Meta Quest 2, or something on my Nintendo Switch. Still TBD, honestly, but not everything needs to be set in stone from the beginning. Some could just be ideas to refine as we get on.
It’s not all bad, though. I did burn more calories during rest, which means that I’m increasing my metabolism, and I did log more workout hours. But I always like to focus on what I could improve, not on what I accomplished.
Even though I ‘promised’ myself to relax more or les the same, I didn’t do that as much as I liked. I did play much more, completing 11 games, up from 2 in 2022, in over 150 hours on the Switch and almost 250 hours on the PS5. I watched less TV shows and just a bunch of movies more than last year, but the biggest fail has been to not spend as much quality time with my wife and my family as I wanted to. This is something that you cannot measure with data points, but it’s something that you feel, if you see yourself prioritizing work most often than not.
I was lucky to discuss about these things a lot during the past 6 months, and I took some steps to ensure that this would not happen anymore: I started therapy, and it only took me 5-6 sessions to make some sense out of me. I also started removing apps from my phone on the weekends and reinstalling them on Monday, so that it would be harder to get connected with my work peers. My wife helped a lot, and I couldn’t have done this without her.
So for 2024, my goal is to be consistent and spend more time with my wife, family and friends and having great experiences with them.
I’m starting to spend less on random things from Amazon and more on concerts, stand up comedy events, travel and culture.
Since relaxing and traveling will be somewhat connected in 2024 for me, I plan to travel more, prioritizing leisure travel over work travels. I plan to make not more than 7 work travels this year (I made 5 work trips in 2023) and at least 5 leisure travels (I did 4 in 2023).
Traveling is good for me, especially when I travel by train or by plane, because I get to forcibly relax for a few hours. I often used this time last year to read and play on my Switch - I only watched a handful of TV shows or movies, I only want to do that when I’m tired.
I’m satisfied with my travel data: I went to 9 different countries, visiting some new like Egypt, Morocco and Turkey. I’m particularly happy that I got to finally visit another continent, Africa, because I think every continent has a fundamentally different culture, and I love diversity.
Related to travel is my reading goal: I smashed my reading goal of 10 books by almost 100%. This was possible because I listened to some audiobooks and I read while on flights and on the train. I remember reading two books from cover to cover in two separate flights. For 2024, I plan to read at least 15 books, but just because I don’t want to get pressure from this goal. I actually think I will read more than 20, to be honest.
But I also read a ton of articles: Matter reports that I read the equivalent of over 30 books, but I also managed to change my workflow from Matter to Reader + Readwise, that I find more customizable for my reading workflow. In 2024 I don’t plan to read more articles, but I plan to review, revisit my notes more often, so that I don’t forget what I read over time.
In 2022, I told myself I would divulge more in 2023, and I did it: I wrote more articles overall (12 vs. 7 in 2022) and I made more talks (5 vs. 4m in 2022). This is exactly the kind of growth I want to keep up with: sustainable growth. I plan to write a few more articles in 2024 and make more or less the same amount of talks. This could be my plateau, I don’t think I want and like to do more than this.
Since I’m now comfortable with what I earn, I won’t be measuring what I earn, but the percentage of savings. In 2022 I basically didn’t save anything, except for some investment in stocks and the crypto I accumulated since 2017. But in 2023, me and my wife made a precise savings and investment plan, and sticked to it before paying ourselves. So in 2023 I personally saved 22.33% of my income. For 2024, I plan to save at least 30% - 70% of this to be saved in cash and the rest in stocks and commodities. I really don’t like ETFs or ETNs, I always hand-pick every stock or commodity.
Building is the last thing I wanna do, for two very different reasons: first, for work, I think I’m pretty good at building a business by now, so I don’t need to put more effort into it; second, for my life and family, we’re more oriented towards relaxing than building, at least for 2024. Who knows, but at least that’s what we think now.
According to my journal, in 2023 I worked and lived towards the goal with this priorities:
- Make Money: 216 days
- Stay healthy: 177 days
- Relax: 143 days
- Read: 83 days
- Travel: 83 days
- Build: 29 days
- Divulge: 26 days
What I intend to do this year is more like the order I analyzed my 2023 in this article:
- Stay healthy
- Make money
It’s a never ending process, but it’s what I like most about it!