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Dream Achieved: Jeremy McConnell

One of Jeremy McConnell’s greatest joys in life is getting down on the ground to help his four-year-old daughter construct buildings out of lego.

Not too long ago he thought moments like this might not ever happen.

Jeremy has built one of the most successful construction company’s in Alberta, a business that continues to thrive in tough economic times.

That success came at a cost, “I didn’t have a work life balance,” says Jeremy. “It was work and whatever happened after.”

His philosophy had always been whatever the challenge put your head down and get it done. Realizing that wasn’t going to work anymore he reached out to Carolyn de Voest for help.

“We started working on what does balance look like.”

“Slowly, but surely we have been able to focus on vacations that step away. Not a working vacation. (A vacation) where you are disconnecting, focusing on relaxation and recharging.”

“Making sure that time at home is at home. Disconnecting from work in the evenings. It is now the day is done I am going to go focus on my family and myself.”

He also began to focus on his physical health. He joined a private health care organization in 2017. At the time he weighed almost 350 lbs.

As he expected the information he was provided with was hard to hear, “I joined a private health care organization that does a very thorough physical every year. My doctor had me in and said, ‘Your liver is failing and your kidneys are right behind.’”

“I was falling apart. She said, ‘You have two years tops if you don’t make major changes.’”

He made the commitment to making those changes. He continued to create balance in his life and started working with a dietician. Unfortunately after a year his body still wasn’t responding. He eventually developed metabolic syndrome and got to the point where he was on the verge of needing a liver transplant.

“No matter what I was doing with diet and exercise my brain chemistry was literally locked and it couldn’t change.”

It was no longer a matter of choice his body simply wasn’t going to burn fat.

“It was at that point I had to make the decision whether I was going to go the surgery route. The only option was a full bypass surgery.”

“I wanted to retire with my wife. I wanted to see my daughter graduate maybe even see some grandkids one day. I didn’t work my butt off to this point to call it in. My wife and I looked at it and said we have to do it.”

It has been just over a year since his surgery and Jeremy has lost almost 150 lbs. The procedure has put him on the right path, but he knows that isn’t the end of his journey back to health.

“My biggest fear is getting to that point and starting to trend the other way. Falling into old habits.”

“I still need to use and check in with my dietician. She still checks the weight and the circumference of my waist and chest making sure nothing is slipping in the diet and nothing is slipping in the exercise.”

“Now that I am stabilizing we are saying ok now this is what we can do in the way of exercise. To this point it has just been steps, just walking.”

Last summer he trained for the MS Bike Tour and is looking forward to downhill skiing this winter. Both activities he couldn’t do a short time ago.

He feels the biggest keys to what he has been able to accomplish up to this point has been achieved through being resourceful, realistic and mindful.

Just two years after being told he may not make it to this date he continues to get the opportunity to do things he never thought he would be able to again, “It is heartwarming. It is like experiencing new things all over again.”

The changes he has made have also affected how he approaches his business and career in a very substantial way.

“Sometimes trying to assess how major changes like my health have affected business, the people around what and me I do can be a challenge. Sometimes those changes are subtle some are more drastic.”

“Confidence is something every entrepreneur has (sometimes too much) but it gets crushed when you can’t carry yourself. Now I am not concerned with how I will be received in a meeting. No thoughts of “wow that’s a big dude” etc. I walk into meetings physically confident, and stronger mentally.”

“My staff has said they notice a difference in my demeanour. I’m calmer in tough situations and handle myself better. The timing of change couldn’t have been better planned. With the economic outlook in Alberta still not strong, and many companies struggling, I’m glad I don’t have to have that burden of bad health on my back while I navigate our business through these times.”

“We look forward with a positive outlook and solution driven thoughts to make us successful and without past burdens.”