The Lifestyle Digs

Year Two of Maintaining a Healthier Lifestyle

It is year two of maintaining a healthier lifestyle!

Last year I wrote A Year of Maintaining a Healthier Lifestyle and two years ago I wrote A Year to a Healthier Lifestyle.

Let me work provide some updates from a year ago. So get set for my annual epic post!

PORTION CONTROL AND WILLPOWER

Three years ago a doctor read off the results of my blood work and noticed my blood sugar levels were getting towards the high end of the normal range. She cautioned that I don’t want to cross into diabetes territory and suggested losing weight would help keep the blood sugar in check. Portion control and willpower was her advice.

Yeah, right. Easier said than done. Willpower and portion control is a daily battle for me, that I don’t feel like I’m winning.

It’s not easy. I’m a compulsive over eater. I would keep shoveling food in if I could get away with it. I keep reminding myself I’ve got keep my blood sugar levels down because I don’t want diabetes. This is something I can control. Especially since fear is a great motivator for losing weight.

For the most part that works.

My ideal weight is 110 pounds and I managed to get there a couple of years ago. Once there, I decided staying within 3 pounds one way or the other would be realistic. And ideally, staying on the lower side of those 3 pounds would be the way to go.

Losing weight is not easy. Keeping the weight off is not easy. About 80% to 90% of people who lose weight gain it back.

Why?

Metabolism, genetics, and behavior play a huge role.

Only 20% of people are able to maintain their weight loss after one year. Within two years people will regain 70% of their lost weight. Yikes!

It was really hard work for me to lose weight. I couldn’t let that go to waste now, could I?

I’m happy to say I’m still within 3 pounds of my goal – yay me! But I’m on the unhappy side. In 2020 my weight stayed a pound or so below 110, but in 2021 it’s been on the wrong side.

It’s not easy…

STEPPING ON THE SCALE DAILY

Some people say forget the scale, and others say to weigh yourself daily.

Maybe I’m a slave to my scale, but I check my weight daily and that gives me a chance to make any corrections to my eating for the next couple of days. In theory, that is. Reality doesn’t always work out as planned.

We had a record breaking heatwave in British Columbia in June, and I guess the heat was making me swell up or water weight gain. I did go a little higher for a few days, and then just like that that weight was gone again when the temperature dropped. It was so weird. I was barely eating, but I was drinking lots of iced tea.

Water weight gain a few pounds in a couple of days.

Creepy stuff!

COVID

It’s been a tough past year for just about everybody.

I was part of the great unemployed/hours slashed demographic. Fortunately, Canada came up with a program called CERB where people making less than $1,000 month due to the pandemic were eligible for $2,000/month.

The CERB program ran for 7 months, and I was eligible during 5 of those months.

In British Columbia, there was a program to help renters who were affected by the pandemic. Basically if you were collecting CERB – you were eligible. This provided me with $300 a month towards my rent for five months.

For a few months I wasn’t struggling too bad financially. Unfortunately, when CERB and rental assistance programs ended, that was when my finances nosedived.

I was so ready to get a Covid vaccine and get my life back on track. I even wrote a post about it. Click the picture below to go there!

When a Covid-19 Vaccine is Available, Will You Take It?

I’m happy to report that I’ve had both my vaccines! Yay! I got the Pfizer vaccine when my age group came up at the end of April, 2021. And my second dose of Pfizer was in the middle of June.

Got my Covid-19 Vaccine at Cloverdale Rec Centre!

As of late July, 2021, over 80% of British Columbia’s population who are eligible for vaccination have received one dose. Just over 60% are fully vaccinated! Yay!

ALL FUN WORK MUST COME TO AN END? 😢

Last year I was doing really fun work that didn’t seem like a job at all. I was working on call as a contract driver. A lot of cross border runs driving pick up trucks and sometimes SUVs.

It was pretty interesting being a cross border driver when the US/Canada border is closed.

And it still is closed for visitors who are driving! Turn that car around!

The longer drives to Seattle and some places further south were where the money was made. Due to Covid and border problems, the company, which is a Canadian importer, eventually hired US drivers who now got to drive the trucks to Seattle and further south.

Damn!

The company hired more local drivers to do the cross border runs, and then there just wasn’t all that much work.

OLD JOB IS MY NEW JOB

In October I got an email from the owner of a company I worked for a few years ago, covering a maternity leave. She was wondering if by any chance I might be available for part time work. Another maternity leave. A newer employee that I didn’t work with the first time.

Seeing as how the truck driving work was dwindling, I said I’d be interested in part time work, so I could still drive trucks occasionally, and she was flexible. I thought the part time work would be a good balance between sometimes being a truck jockey, and taking care of my dog and my horse. Plus provide a little steady income.

I started back to work there in November, 2020. I let the scheduler for driving the trucks know I only wanted to work one day a week, which was pretty much all I was getting at that point anyway. And then that work just dried up all together.

Which sucked because that was an income stream that I needed as part of my work/life balance.

SOLD!

In late March, 2021, my boss – at the one job where I was working part time! – called me on my day off. She wanted to let me know she sold the company and the switch was happening the next day.

Wow!

My co-workers have been with the company for 20 plus years. One lady works from home and has worked for the company 30 years. This was a bigger emotional issue for all of them who have more time invested in the company that I do.

The new owners have their head office in a nearby town and had no plans to make any changes with the acquisition.

Or so they say…

I do administrative work and data entry. They must have someone at the head office who already does that. It was my guess that me and the bookkeeper – the lady who works from home – would be the first two to leave the company. I figured the new owners would want to keep the staff around to soothe over the customers during the transition, but a few months down the road. Adios amigos!

I really thought I’d be the first employee to go.

But nope, the bookkeeper chose not to stick around with the new company.

JOB SEARCH IS ON. AGAIN…

It sucks looking for work.

Especially since ageism is alive and well in Canada.

Ageism is Alive and Well in Canada for Older Jobseekers

Different changes were happening to me all around the same time. A few things became very clear to me.

The number one being – I needed more income!

More Monthly Income is Needed

I couldn’t afford to live on part time pay without a second source of income. Plus the uncertainty of how much longer the new owners would keep me around. Sure, they were very nice and welcoming and helpful.

They even sent a bouquet of flowers to my house as a welcome gift. It arrived while I was at work and my landlords put it on my sundeck. But they were sure curious. Must have thought I had a new boyfriend! Ha ha!

I set up my job alerts on Indeed, and checked out the current ads. Then I was thrilled to see a company I used to work for had an ad up. I worked there on a contract for a year and a half until the work slowed down. I really liked working there and was sad it ended. The ad was pretty much my old job and had been up for nearly two weeks. Knowing how they’re procrastinators, I was hoping they hadn’t hired anyone yet.

I still had the former’s General Manager’s cell phone number, so I called and left a message saying I’d seen the ad, the company I was working for had just been sold, and I was looking for another job and would love to come back there if they hadn’t hired anyone.

She didn’t call me back. I was a little pissed. If nothing else to tell me I was too late and they’d just hired. Again the old procrastinator thing, maybe.

At my age I’m kind of picky where I work. Proximity is a must so I can come home at lunch and let Shadow out to go potty.

GOALS

I had to set a few goals for myself. They all revolved around me making more money. Story of my life!

It’s been on my mind ever since Whistler passed away that I’d like to get Cajun around other horses again.

The problem is the cost of horse boarding. Around here it’s usually $700 and up for full board, though sometimes cheaper at farms with less amenities. Not every horse farm has a huge covered arena, heated lounge, and showers!

In order to afford horse boarding I’d need a full time good paying job. If I’m working full time, it’s going to be too hard to keep Cajun in a self boarding stable where I do all the work. Even self-boarding stables are getting expensive, starting around $300. And that’s just a place to keep the horse. The owner buys and transports in the hay and feed and does all the work. With a full time job, that’s tough getting out to a boarding stable at least once a day.

My goals were simple:

  1. Find a good paying job close to home.
  2. Find a new stable to keep Cajun.
  3. Increase my savings/investments.

MY HORSE’S SELF-BOARDING STABLE

Life with Horses and the Trouble with Farriers

In April a few odd things were happening around the farm where I keep my horse, Cajun. I’ve been keeping horses there on and off since 1988, shortly after the couple bought the farm. They’re in their 70s now, and he’s not doing so well health-wise. Last year he mentioned they’re thinking about selling and wanted to give me a heads up to find somewhere else to keep Cajun. Their farm is such a convenient place for me. I figured I’d just hang on as long as I could.

I usually deal with the husband, he’s the one that comes down to the barn and is outside puttering around.

In early April I was sitting on my chair in the upper pasture letting Cajun graze and keeping an eye on him. The wife came down and was talking about cleaning up the place, and she wanted all the trailers that are parked by the barns to be removed. There are a few camping trailers and utility trailers and I have a horse trailer. She asked if I could take the trailer out.

Bottom line is I don’t own a truck, haven’t used the trailer in years, and maybe it’s time to let it go. My landlord is really good at helping find solutions. He towed the trailer home, power washed the interior, put it up for sale, and a day later it was sold!

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

I’m thinking the owners are going to put their farm up for sale. Why else would they want customers who pay to keep their trailers stored there to move them along? It’s passive income and no work for them.

A couple of weeks later a sign was posted on the other barn where customers store things that the farm owners are planning to sell and asked all clients to vacate everything stored inside and around the barn by the end of August.

Nothing was ever said to me about moving my horse. A horse in the pasture that someone else looks after isn’t such a big deal. And it’s still a little income.

I felt the push was on and that I needed to prioritize finding a job so I could afford a new stable for Cajun.

NEW JOB!

To make a long story short, I sent out about 8 job applications over the six weeks following the sale of the company where I’d been working, that resulted in a couple of interviews.

I got the job I really wanted working administration in an accounting department!

It’s about a block away from my old company, you know the one where the GM didn’t phone me back. I go home for lunch every day so Shadow can have a potty break.

Am I devoted to my animals or what!

The new job comes with health and dental benefits and a retirement savings plan with an employer match. New staff start right away with the benefits because this company is all about employee retention.

All kinds of employee perks. A few days after I started, the company ordered an ice cream truck for treats for all the staff. The next day they brought in lunch. Apparently lunch is always ordered the day before a stat holiday, except for Remembrance Day. Not only that, to give the staff a head start on the long weekend, they close a couple of hours early!

My department had a welcome lunch for me, ordered from a popular restaurant and delivered.

Yikes! For sure I’ll need to keep an eye on my weight and willpower not to pig out.

And how did I manage to snag a great job while staring down ageism?

British Columbia was still under a face covering health law at the time of my interview. Meaning that all indoor places that are open to the public and workplaces, people wear face coverings except when they’re at their desk.

I really think the face mask helped disguise my age.

Being a Cross Border Driver when the US Canada Border is Closed

I prepared really well for this interview, studying the company. Then I did an online search for questions asked at interviews, and specifically for accounting related jobs. I was able to throw out a few key words, and I have a good attitude, so it all worked out for me.

I hope this is my last job!

There are four of us working as accounting clerks. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with me, but a couple of weeks after I started working there, one of the other ladies found a job somewhere else and left. They’re currently interviewing for her replacement, but this might help seal the deal for me. I’m under a 3 month probation, but things are going well. My supervisor is impressed with my speedy data entry and willingness to help out and get the work done. Enthusiasm!

CAJUN’S NEW BOARDING STABLE

Once I got the job offer, I started looking for boarding stables and made a few calls.

Full.

Not taking on new boarders.

Can put you on a wait list.

Yikes!

And we’re talking horse boarding stables at over $700 a month! Where are people working that they can afford these high boarding fees? And one place that was $750 a month plus tax didn’t provide grain. BYOG! Bring your own grain and they’ll feed it to my horse. But wow! Wow!

Anyway, I did find a spot for Cajun and have moved him to his new home. He shares a small field with three other horses, but I think they have room for a couple more boarders. There are round bales of hay for the horses to eat because the pasture isn’t sustainable.

There are paddocks with shelters, which would be my preference for him to go in if the weather is bad or he has a medical issue. There’s an 8 stall barn that’s pretty nice and Cajun has one stall if he needs it, but he’s an outside horse. He’s not used to being stabled.

There’s a small covered riding arena, more like a round pen that’s attached to the barn. There’s an outdoor arena. Arenas are not my thing. It’s a ride along the road to some trails, so I’ll have to see how he does. I don’t usually ride Cajun on the road because he can be unpredictable.

At least he’s around other horses again.

My cost? A staggering $500 a month full board, everything included. So relatively a good deal.

We’ll see.

LONG TERM BOARDING?

The big question is: will this farm be long term boarding for me and Cajun?

It’s about a half hour drive from where I live, which is a bit longer than where I’d been keeping him. And it’s not too bad, especially since I’m not doing self-board and don’t have to be there daily.

I wanted Cajun to live somewhere with other horses and other people around who can keep an eye on things and let me know if something has happened to him.

When I was looking at the farm, the fellow let me know it was a family owned farm, so I liked that. There’s a secondary home on the property where a young family lives.

Now I’m sure it is a family owned farm. Just not his family! Like I was kind of led to believe. I think the real owners of the farm rent out the barn and horse facilities, and from there he runs a horse business on their property.

Believe it or not, this is not unusual for this part of the world. People buy a horse property, but they don’t have horses. They see a money-making opportunity and rent out the horse facilities. Usually to a trainer who will then bring in their own clients.

I’ll just have to see how it goes…

That’s the thing with horse boarding stables. You just don’t know what it’s really like until you’re in there and getting a good look at how things are run.

Meanwhile, back at MY farm…

Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago my landlord was tossing out some ideas. To fence in part of one pasture and then move his tractor out of the lean to at the back of the barn and build a stall there.

So there’s a possibility that Cajun might come home to live with me, which would be totally awesome and an ideal arrangement.

Anyway, the plan has not been executed yet, so whether or not it goes ahead, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!

FINANCES

In my post Managing my Money during the Coronavirus Pandemic, I talked about my Covid adjusted financial plan.

  1. Incur no debt
  2. Don’t look at the current value of my investments
  3. Don’t sell any stocks
  4. No unnecessary spending
  5. Build up my emergency fund
  6. Try to save a little for next year’s TFSA

My baby steps pandemic inspired financial plan first appeared in a different post, but then I just ran with it in other posts.

Nobody cares more about my money than I do

I’ve been doing pretty good with the Covid adjusted financial plan.

Most importantly – no debt! Yay!

Compare it to losing weight.

It’s hard to lose weight, and it’s hard to maintain the weight loss.

It’s hard to lose debt, and it’s hard to maintain a debt-free life.

But it’s so worth it on both counts!

Now that most of my stocks have bounced back or exceeded where they were a year and a half ago, I look at their values more often. It’s not so scary now!

The stocks that weren’t doing so good before the pandemic, still aren’t performing any better.

My REITs are still lagging where they used to be, but they’re catching up.

Last year I got my emergency fund back where it should be and I also managed the full $6,000 contribution for my TFSA – Tax Free Saving Account. As for as I know the max we can contribute to our 2022 TFSA will also be $6,000. Due to my limited income during the first half of 2021, I’m lagging a bit from how much I should have saved by now. I’m confident I’ll be able to catch up before the end of the year.

It’s time to re-evaluate my financial plan. Financial plans are always a work in progress and they change as our needs and wants change. Stay tuned for an upcoming post!

WHAT A YEAR!

As you can see I’ve had quite a year with a lot of changes.

There’s been a lot of uncertainty when it comes to work, income, and horse boarding.

All stress inducing. And I’m happy to say I’ve kept my weight in my desired range.

I’m glad for my health. This past year I’ve had no Covid scares, nor has anyone in my circle been infected with the coronavirus.

Staying healthy – body, mind, and financials – is my goal for another year of maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Until, next year’s update – stay well everyone. And thank you for reading The Lifestyle Digs!

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on July 29, 2021.

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MORE READING:

Owning a Horse on a Budget
Motivated by Fear: my Weight Loss Plan
Figuring Out Your Money

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