What a year it was. 2020 was a year that we will all look back on as being completely unique. As far as memorable years, it’s right up there with the events of September 11, 2001, though these events have persisted for the majority of the year instead of a more focused impact.
When I look back at everything that happened professionally, it truly is a lot. After starting the year working through the final days of removing a member of my team, which had all its own challenges related to interpersonal relationships and stressors that the process wasn’t happening as fast as I and other members of the team would have preferred. I had hoped that once that was complete, the rest of the year would smooth out and get a bit easier. However, that really wasn’t the case. Instead, meetings with our consulting company, before ultimately discontinuing the usage of the company made for some interesting days.
In 2019, I had made the jump to a completely new industry, and as a result, had a lot of domain knowledge to acquire about Jail Management Systems, how they work, specialized terminology involved, as well as a unique tech stack. Fast forward to 2020, and I had the time to become proficient in TypeScript with NestJS and Dojo. However, as the year went on, the lack of community support for NestJS, and especially Dojo began to worry me about being in a tech stack that would be difficult to convince future employers would be relevant to their open positions.
When reflecting back on previous positions, it seems that one of the reasons that I see developers voluntarily leave positions is related to the product managers that end up controlling what gets into the projects the developers are working on. Its not necessarily that the issue is what makes it into the project, rather its the ever-changing requirements that cause developers to become frustrated that they are attempting to hit a moving target. When you combine changing requirements with a deadline that seems to be firmly set, and no removal of features required by the deadline, when it comes to be review time, the developer, and especially the lead developer is caught in a Catch-22, as no matter how well they perform, they don’t have a chance to meet the deadline that was set with the assumption that requirements wouldn’t be changing or requiring massive rework of the product. Another way that I’ve seen product managers end up causing developers to leave the company is when they interfere with promotions that developers otherwise would receive because it may make the product manager look bad. I understand that when there is a lateral move, there may be reasons to prevent the developer from moving. However, when it is a promotion, it means that you would prefer to keep a developer in a position below what the organization wants them to be in for the purpose of making yourself look better. If there is the need for the developer to continue working in the existing role until a replacement can be found and train the replacement before assuming the responsibilities of the promoted position, that is to be expected.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic took effect, one of the things that I looked at was that I really didn’t want to change positions voluntarily when so many have had issues maintaining employment due to no fault of their own. Instead, I had an opportunity arise via referral that was too good to pass up, allowing me to work again with one of the best developers I’d ever worked with as well as work full time from home, even when the vaccines allow people to return to offices. When you combine those perks with stressors from the position I was in at the time, and it made sense to make the move.
With the move to Bushel, I left behind Dojo and NestJS, and completely switched tech stacks. For years, I’ve had recruiters contacting me for Java positions while never mentioning Java on my resume or in any experience. It was always the easiest way that I had of weeding out those recruiters that were running purely automated tools across a huge swath of resumes and mass emailing developers. Well, now that I have had the ability to pick up Kotlin and Java, and JVM development in general, I can’t filter those recruiters out as easily as I now have professional experience with Java. With Kotlin, I’ve found that the syntax and developer ergonomics rival those of TypeScript with NestJS, and you get a huge performance improvement by running a JVM language instead of a purely interpreted language. I’m sure there is more to learn, and get accustomed to the nature of a consulting company, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to make the move for the 4th quarter of 2020.
I can’t say that I’ve ever really had a desire to write a year in review type of post before, I’ve had a couple people ask me to do so this year, and its because of what is coming in this section.
When I was growing up, I was always an athlete, and, as a result was mostly physically fit and looked to others as someone that was healthy. Unfortunately for me, I was able to stay at a healthy weight due to the massive amount of calories that I was burning while working out and practicing for my various activities. When I got older and started working in a desk job, and had an injury that prevented me from being (temporarily) as active as I had been before, my weight started to increase. After more than 15 years of being at a weight that I always looked in the mirror and thought that I had some weight to lose, but I wasn’t as big as that guy, I realized that I weighed way more than I should.
I had attempted dieting in the past, and after losing about a half to a third of the weight that I needed to, I ended up gaining it all back, and most times gained even more weight back than my starting point. As a result, my first effort in this round of attempting to lose a significant amount of weight was to greatly increase my physical activity by joining and spending 4-5 days a week doing a cross-fit type workout. I was making good progress, losing about 20lbs over 3-4 months, gaining a ton of strength in the various lifts, and muscle mass. However, COVID-19 hit, and closed my gym permanently, and I gained back those 20lbs and a bit more.
A Wakeup Call
After an annual checkup with my doctor, I realized that I had to seriously work on getting my weight under control and back to a healthy level. I had convinced myself that whatever efforts I could make alone weren’t going to work unless I had some sort of outside accountability to ensure I didn’t deviate from my eating and workout plan. I had heard about Sota (State of the Art) Weight Loss on the radio for a few years at this point, and had thought that those people that did their plan must have had more weight to lose than I did. However, I was ready to investigate what their plan was, and after a consultation call, I realized that it was something that I could do and succeed at. By the time that I started Sota Weight Loss, I was firmly over 300lbs, at a weight that I had never thought that I would reach. Seeing that number on the scale was truly an eye opener for me.
The Sota plan includes a weekly checkin to make sure that I was adhering to the eating plan and getting my exercise in, plus it was a weigh in point to make sure that I was making progress. While I wish I could say that everything went smoothly and that I lost my target amount of weight each week and never strayed from the eating plan, that simply wasn’t the case. There were a few weeks where life events took precedence and the stressors had me eating off plan and losing less than what I should have. However, on average, I was able to lose the target amount of weight each week. After months of work to ensure I lost weight, I can now say that I’ve lost 101lbs from my peak weight in 2020.
Over the 22 or so weeks of my weight loss plan, during my walking/running workouts, I’ve traveled 389 miles. At the beginning of this journey, I was only able to travel about 1.7 miles in 30 minutes. If I were to only walk for 30 minutes at this point, I would routinely travel 2.1 miles in those same 30 minutes, if not further. However, at this point, most of my walking workouts are 40 minutes or longer, some even over an hour for a maximum distance traveled of 4.3 miles.
Back when I was in High School, I was a basketball player. One of the requirements at my school to be able to play basketball was to participate on the cross country team, which ran a 5K at their meets weekly in the fall. I used to absolutely hate having to practice for cross country and go to the meets. Now, I routinely travel the same distances, albeit a bit more slowly now than before, and I look forward to my ability to have a daily walk or run.
With previous dieting efforts, this is the part that had always failed me, where I had longed to go back to my previous ways of eating and somehow not gain weight back. With Sota, I still have regular checkins monthly to help hold me accountable to ensure that I don’t gain the weight back. I currently have no desire or cravings to go back to eating the way I did before, but its something I have to be cognizant of so that it doesn’t become an issue.
In addition to the health benefits of losing this weight, the following are definitely benefits to losing it:
- When looking at a picture of me after the weight loss, hearing someone say
You look tiny!
- Being able to wear clothing sizes that I had not worn since I was in college.
I promise, this is it. When looking back at 2020, it truly is a year that we will not soon forget. After watching reruns of American Ninja Warrior earlier tonight, the thing that struck me about this year is that I lost the weight equivalent to the American Ninja Warrior contestant, Kacy Catanzaro, which is hard to wrap my head around.