Life: Age, Surgery, Fat and Remote Work

11PM, I ran out of things to read today, things to do for work (just finished a powerPoint) and I’m delaying my Winter motorcycle projects until January to focus on a big December of work and personal activities. I went into work from home mode the 1st week of March…30 weeks ago. I think the biggest time measurement I’ve had is seasons. The fact it snowed after I began working from home and the fact it’s snowed again already and I’m still at home. I’ll remain here through April at least….1 full year.

Long time readers know remote-work isn’t hard for me. I really enjoy my work when solo and alone. I’d prefer an empty house, no offense to Heather but I truly love being alone when I need to focus and get things done. She’s been working beside me all year with the dog sometimes in the middle. The major inefficiency about my current situation is that I’ve had 13 interns this year all start & end remotely and 6 more join in January also remote. Managing 19 people in 12 months without meeting them face to face is really hard and the daily social time and relationship forming…it doesn’t happen. I’ve become a company-expert in remote management, onboarding, training and off boarding this year because I’ve had on and let go of more people than any manager at our 4,000 person company. That’s the hardest part is collaborating with people every day who for which you’ll never have an in-person interaction with.

A week ago, I realized that I never posted a birthday post this year. I’ve done one every year for as long as I can remember but it’s not the first time I’ve skipped a year yet it has been a while. 34 happened while I was riding my motorcycle over mountain passes in Colorado so I think I get a pass for leaving you all in the dark and through the last 4 months of writing, the big stuff has made its way onto this blog in the individual Life posts.Thanks for reading, all 3 of you.

I did gain quite a bit of weight this year. I was down to 240 and before you laugh, 200 is about as low as I can go responsibly. I was 190 and I have a photo and I was seriously skin & bones like scary skinny so 200 is skinny and 215 is really where I want to be. I weighted in at 260 at the doctor last week. Two big areas are to blame. The first is the daily routine of suiting up on my bike from May – November and riding to and from work, walking to lunch, walking to meetings. That wasn’t an extra 1000 active calories a day. Second, and you know I’m always honest here, I had a few beers that were ‘expiring’. I know, I know and this is unrelated to my surgery I swear but I had a few cases (about 50 beers) of high-degree imperial stouts that were from 2013-2014 and I knew if I didn’t drink these $40 a bottle beers, they’d go to waste so I slowly started making my way through them. I’d open one and drink it over two days but at 19-21% ABV a bottle, these were 3,000 calories basically doubling my calorie intake the few nights a week I drank. These weren’t IPAs. So I packed on a lot of pounds in the Spring and instead of going to motorcycle off-road rallies, camping trips or long distance travel where I usually drop 15 pounds, COVID-19 kept me home and so I never had my winter weight burn-off. I basically held Winter weight all Summer and kept drinking high-degree beers. Bad combo and obviously I regret that. 

Unrelated, seriously, I have formed a 2 centimeter long stone in my gallbladder. It won’t get lodged in the bile ducts but if I had a heavy meal that was higher in fat (about once every 2 weeks), I’d get 3-6 hours of pain in my stomach that’d keep me up all night. First attack was in May and then June and in September. Then in October, I had 3 days in a row of attacks all related to poor food. I went to a doctor in November, the visit was inconclusive, my liver was healthy and the battery of tests were all normal. They ordered an ultrasound and there it is…that beautiful gallstone. Just one, but it’s a big one! 

I booked a surgery for December 10th so I could have a full 14 days after Thanksgiving to follow the doctor’s diet requirements which are a grueling and mind-altering 500 calories a day. That’s one 8% beer or an omelet and 2 pancakes before adding syrup. I could cheat to 800 but he really wanted me to stay low because his experience after doing dozens of gallbladder removals a week for the last 10 years is that 30% of Americans have some form of fatty liver or liver hardening and it makes his camera-based surgery much harder and for my own sake, if I want to go home the same day and be back at work on Monday and not be cut wide-open resulting in a 2 week hospital stay, it’s in my best interest that I make his job as easy as possible and that means Fiber, Greens, Fruits, Juice, Water, Black Coffee and probiotics. Flush my system out, drop about 10 pounds and give him a lot of space to work with a malleable liver. 

I’ve been on that diet for 5 days and this is the first day I had any sort of light-headed feelings. I’m doing 150 calorie shake for breakfast, salad without dressing or cheese for lunch with a bit of vinegar added and dinner is lean and light like cod, salmon, stuffed tofu peppers, steamed vegetables. I do have a mid-day serving of super greens powder and two packs of Metamucil. If I want to cheat and have 750 calories, I can do three cups of frozen berries at night which are my regular snack when watching TV. I just want a slice of cheddar cheese but that’s 130 calories. Even my vitamins are 5 calories each. Staying sub-500 is REALLY hard and some may say even dangerous but I can’t afford to be out of work the rest of December.

If all goes well, I’ll enter 2021 back under 250 pounds and 3 pounds lighter thanks to my gallbladder being out and I will have reset my palate for salty and high fat foods and broken any craving for cheese or soda and seriously reset my alcohol tolerance down to normal beers again. I did a basement beer cellar count and heather and I have almost 2,000 bottles down there. I really need to find some friends who drink. 

Another good stage and this is a professional one is that my side-hustle is getting a bit more mature. We have 2 new hires that will make my role much easier. First, I’ll take an immediate pay cut but I’m going to get back nights & weekends which is something I haven’t had in 3 years. The ability to not have to work after hours unless I want to will be great. In addition to that, the other hire is going to help me re-brand our service structure not to make more money but to narrow down our portfolio of services and if clients want more, we can offer more. One area I’m trying to shift to is project management as a commission. Right now, if I manage an 80 unit condo complex, their $2500 a month paid to the company for which I see $1000 of that covers at my ‘worth’ of around $30 an hour 33 hours of my time. I regularly do about double that so what we can do is narrow down my scope to be purely the 33 hours and then additional services like managing a multiple hundred thousand dollar project will be paid out by commission. If 40 units need a new roof and I’m being asked to spec, write an RFP, get bids, coordinate with insurance, contractors, town approval and oversee the project to completion, I should do a commission base on that because that project makes the $1000 I make per month completely lost and it’s a losing contract. All of my client’s units are 30-40 years old so I’m experiencing a lot of money lost months. It’s unsustainable if I ever want to raise a family and take a weekend off work. So this all kicks in January 1st and we’re going to end 2021 I think with contracts and service offerings that align better with my skills and I think 2022 will be a year where I work half as much, make what I do now and can focus more on being married, getting a larger house with a garage and continue my day job and doing the work that really brings me the most joy. 

It’s 11:30 and my watch is dinging me to go to bed. I have had two days in a row of 5:30AM meetings and tomorrow, 7AM is the first meeting. Busy times these are. Oh final note, I did finally buy a proper home office chair, the standard Herman Miller Aeron. Fantastic. I’ve been using it for 4 days and love it. My home office is nearly complete. I just need one of those feet space heaters and we’re good!

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