Can a weight loss journey change a life? We think it can and in more than one way. Lewis Smith, the owner & developer of Progress has learned this on his own, so we wanted to share with you his story and the story of Progress. A full profile on weight loss, diet and how to turn a goal into a new way of life, while also promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Progress: Tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, age, passions and your company as it stands now.
I’m Lewis from the UK, I’m 37 and I’m married to my wife Jen. I love running, traveling, and especially running in the places where I’m travelling! I also love coding and Apple products, so making apps is my dream career!
How did you get the idea for Progress?
In the run up to our wedding, back in 2011 I wanted to get a bit trimmer to look my best for the wedding photos. Jen recommended a book called the Four Hour Body as a diet she thought I would tolerate.
I did the diet and got great results.
One of the tenants of the book is that tracking your weight isn’t great, and instead you should track body measurements. The author suggested using a spreadsheet. But I hate spreadsheets and I wanted to learn how to make iPhone apps.
So I decided to make an app to use instead of a spreadsheet. When it was finished, I released it on the app store to see if anyone else had this problem. It turned out they did, and I’ve been working on it ever since!
In theory losing weight is easy, but in practice there are a lot of factors working against you.
My objective through Progress is to help you stay knowledgeable and motivated. To give you something extra in your corner.
How did Progress look in the beginning and what upgrades have you made since? How long did it take to build?
Let’s just say it didn’t look great!
It was very basic in terms of features, but the core data structure is still there.
I’ve made many changes since, including tracking photos, extra measurements, integration with Apple Health, and a redesign. Plus lots of small things over the years.
I wish I knew how long it took to build! But I’d say I’ve worked on it on average 1-3 days a week, for 7 years.
How important was privacy for you when you designed the Progress app?
To be honest it wasn’t something I really considered to start with. It’s hard to believe, but the cloud wasn’t as much of a thing in 2012. By default, things were stored locally and I had no access to them.
But especially since adding the photos feature a lot of people ask “who can see these pictures?”. And I totally get why. So, because it’s so important to so many people, I have made it one of the core tenants of the app. All the data is stored in the user’s device and is only available to them.
Can you give us a glimpse of what’s next with Progress?
I am working with a designer to do a complete redesign. I also have a long list of features that I am working though.
You can email me at [email protected] if you have feedback or suggestions. This feedback really shapes the future of the app, so I’d love to hear your comments.
What did you learn about yourself and others while developing and working with Progress?
I’ve gained a lot of empathy for people who are struggling to get where they want to be health wise. It’s easy to think that it’s simple, just “eat well and exercise”. And of course that isn’t wrong, but it misses out so much stuff. The pressure we put on ourselves and the pressure exerted by the food industry and their billion dollar marketing budgets. Not to mention imagery in the media. It might simple but it sure isn’t easy!
I didn’t really understand the dangers in a lot of foods, especially sugar
How was your life before deciding to focus more on having a healthy lifestyle?
I was never hugely overweight, but I also didn’t really understand the dangers in a lot of foods, especially sugar. I did exercise sometimes, but it was never part of a routine, and I didn’t fully appreciate how good it makes me feel.
Sometimes, trial & error is the best way of finding what works best for you.
Did you make any mistakes when you first started?
I’m not sure I made mistakes as such, but we have tried a lot of different diets. I think society looks down on people who are doing a lot of different “fad” diets, but I think experimenting and trying different things is essential if you want to succeed. You learn along the way and you can keep experimenting and looking for things you know you can stick to.
Can you tell us what an average day looks like for you?
6:00: Get up, have a protein bar and some water, meditate, drink coffee, write a little in my journal
7:00: Go to my local Crossfit
8:30: Have breakfast – normally something like bacon, mushroom and eggs
9:30: Go to my co working space and work on Progress
12:30: Have a healthy lunch, normally a salad or leftovers from dinner
13:00: Get back to work on Progress
18:00: Go home
19:00: Have dinner. My wife is a better cook than me, but we take turns 🙂
19:30: Listen to audio books
21:00: Watch netflix
22:00: Go to bed
Weight-loss beginner tip: sign up for 10 trial sessions of different activities
What is your advice for those just starting to exercise?
Sign up for 10 trial sessions of different activities and then go back to the one you enjoy the most. Some people love the gym, some people love Zumba, some people love soccer. You have to try a bunch of stuff and see what works for you, but there will be something you enjoy.
Once you find something you enjoy sticking with it will be easy
Let’s talk gratitude. Who do you have gratitude for? Maybe someone who helped you during this time of change. And how did they help you?
My wife has been incredible both for my health and for my business. She is wise and patient and keeps me on track!
I’m also grateful that I’m healthy and able to do work I enjoy.
And finally I’m grateful that for whatever reason Progress seems to attract loyal friendly customers and that we have a lovely group of people in the Progress Accountability Group.
Over 3800 people have already reached their weight-loss goal with Progress
What’s your proudest moment and accomplishment so far?
I’m proud that I’ve been able to make Progress into a full time business without falling into the traps that a lot of weight loss products fall into, of playing on people’s emotions and promising unrealistic quick results.
It’s also very rewarding to see that people are managing to reach their weight loss goals and that Progress is playing a role in this. I’ve implemented a counter back in December 2018 just to see how many people are hitting their target, and we are now getting close to 4000 people.
Diet tip: only keep stuff at home that is “on plan”
How do you deal with cravings?
I exert as much control as I can over my environment. We only keep stuff at home that is “on plan”. I also quit drinking this year, that has made a big difference in keeping my energy levels up and reducing the times I “fall off the wagon” because I have a hangover.
What is your workout routine? What sports are working for you? At the gym or at home?
I do Crossfit several times a week. Crossfit can be quite different from place to place, but if you find a good one it is amazing.
I also run once or twice a week and I’ve recently joined a local soccer group.
What do you want other people who are struggling to lose weight to know?
Think of everything as an experiment. If you don’t get the results you want or you don’t enjoy it look at it as a learning exercise and start a new experiment. Keep making small changes and eventually you will find something you love.
What are your health & weight-loss goals for this year?
I want to run the half marathon and enter a local Crossfit competition.
I’d also like to keep growing Progress and move even more towards helping people get the results they deserve.
If you want to follow Lewis and find out more about all the apps he’s developing you can find him on Twitter.