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Category: Healthy over forty

Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy Lifestyle

Choose to be healthy

Every day we make decisions that affect our lifestyle. By making good choices, we can increase our life expectancy and quality of life. It can make the difference between being overweight, out of breath and immobile to thinner, vibrant and active. The first possibility may mean we can’t do much but stay home. The second may mean we can see the world and do things we love with the people we love. Either way, it is determined, not only by our genes, but also by all the little choices we make every single day. One bad choice may not make a big difference in the big scheme of things, but many small bad choices could. It’s worth it to all of us to make good choices. If we keep this mindset then we will automatically make better choices.

Which would you choose?

Read more about Lifestyle Choices.

Bird Watching

Bird Watching

Bird Watching

Blue Jay

Bird watching is an excellent activity at any time in life but especially during retirement. You can do it alone or in a group. It’s a great way to get outdoors, close to nature in a new environment or simply in your own backyard. Getting close to nature has been shown to be good for your health. It’s calming and an activity that can’t be rushed. Bird watching (or birding) helps us appreciate Mother Earth and reminds us to be kind to our environment. It’s really fun to try to find a new species to add to your list and try to figure out what you saw.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

To begin bird watching, you need a few things:

  1. Binoculars
    • Borrow some first to see what you like. It’s really worth spending a bit more for better viewing. Also you have to carry them around so make sure they aren’t too heavy! I love our Nikon 8×42 waterproof binoculars (which by the way are great for boating too).
  2. Camera
    • To start out you don’t need a camera, but if you intend to document what you’ve seen, then you’ll need a zoom lens. But even a blurry picture can help you identify a bird.
  3. Bird Book
    • Find a good bird book for your area that has good images and descriptions of behaviour, calls and habitation and migration information. You can also search on the web for information.
  4. Bird Feeder
    • A quality bird feeder that keeps squirrels off will help attract birds to your own backyard. Clean it every once in a while to prevent birds spreading disease. Keep it filled so birds learn to come back. Also consider putting out suet, which attracts woodpeckers. A great option for your regular feeder is the Squirrel Buster available from Lee Valley Tools.

Once you’re set-up, start small and work on identifying the birds in your own backyard. Then venture out for walks around your neighbourhood. Perhaps there’s a pond nearby, so you can find other types of birds. Some people join groups with other birders and even go on trips to find migrating birds.

Osprey
Osprey taking flight

I started making a list of some of the birds I see frequently. I surprised myself because the list is by no means complete but it is actually quite long. I know I’ve missed many birds but it’s really amazing the variety on this initial list! In Ontario, Canada there are lots of beautiful birds including:

  • Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • American Song Sparrow
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Green Evening Heron
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Common Flicker
  • Mallard Duck
  • Canada Goose
  • Rose Breasted Grosbeak
  • Common Loon
  • Common Grackle
  • Bohemian Waxwing
  • American Robin
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Crow
  • Tree Swallow
  • Seagull
  • Phoebe Bird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Slate-coloured Junco
  • Osprey
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Owls – many types

And the list goes on! Wow! My husband and I love spotting different birds while we are out for our walks either first thing in the morning or later in the evening.

What birds have you seen?

Read also Go Outside!

Tips to Help Improve Digestion

Tips to Help Improve Digestion

5 Tips to Help Improve Digestion

  1. Chew your food! No matter how hungry you are or how rushed your schedule, take the time to chew your food properly. Swallowing smaller pieces of food helps with digestion, making you feel more full and prevent overeating. Take the time to enjoy and taste the food!
  2. Drink plenty of water and eliminate sugary drinks and alcohol. Our bodies need water and it’s important to stay hydrated.
  3. Eat fibre. Most people don’t get the recommended daily intake. Fibre lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. It also massages the digestive tract and feeds the probiotics. Women should aim for 21 to 28g of fibre and men should aim for 30 to 38g of fibre. The best way to increase fibre is to increase consumption of whole foods like vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, quinoa, beans and lentils.
  4. Support probiotics. The natural digestive “bugs” in the gut help break down food and stimulate a strong immune system. They help toxins from being absorbed into the body and create essential nutrients. Eating fermented foods, which are full of good bacteria, is important like yogurt (non-dairy is my preference) and sauerkraut. Some newer research also suggests prebiotics are also important. The best foods to support prebiotics are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables.
  5. Exercise regularly. But choose your exercise times wisely. Digestion requires a large amount of blood flow and exercising right after a big meal can cause indigestion, heartburn and bloating. A light walk after a meal is ok because it stimulates the rhythmic digestive muscles. Save the big workouts for before the meal or 2 hours after a meal.

Listen to your body. If you have digestion problems, consider an elimination diet to determine foods that may cause you problems.

 

What tips help your digestion?

Please leave your comments below…

Read also about Intermittent Fasting and Portion Control.

Swimming

Swimming

Swimming – a full body exercise

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It is a good workout because the water provides consistent resistance and makes your body work. It provides an excellent cardiovascular workout but also minimizes impact on your joints. It’s beneficial at any age and for any fitness level…

Kids playing in an above-ground pool

Swimming can be enjoyed as an individual or team sport and is one of the most popular sports in the summer Olympics for breaststroke, back stroke, butterfly stroke and freestyle. There are also relay events and even artistic events such as synchronized swimming.

But swimming as a more casual form of exercise is an excellent way to maintain a healthy weight and keep your muscles toned. It is a low impact activity that has several mental and physical health benefits. Swimming is linked to better cognitive function, lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower risk of high blood pressure and lower risk of stroke. People are typically able to exercise longer in water with minimal effort and minimal joint or muscle pain.

No matter your fitness level, swimming can benefit you! If you don’t know how to swim, make sure to take swimming lessons. It’s a valuable skill that will last a lifetime and it’s never to late to learn!

Water Aerobics Class

Swimming can be a great way to meet new friends. Consider taking a class like water aerobics. There are so many options for swimming in pools in almost every community. Open-water swimming on a natural body of water like a lake, river or even an ocean promotes adventure during the summer months. With a minimal amount of equipment you can go snorkelling to explore under the surface! Be smart and be safe. Swim with a buddy and tell someone where you are. Be aware of your fitness level and choose a safe environment.

Exploring underwater in a lake

The benefits of swimming include:

  • Full body workout
  • Requires minimal equipment
  • Keep muscles toned
  • Increase flexibility
  • Strengthens the core
  • Burns calories
  • Builds endurance
  • Great for cross-training
  • Time to de-stress
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Low chance of injury
  • Don’t worry about sweat
  • It’s refreshing on a hot day
  • Lowers risk of diseases
  • Improves overall health

 

I love to swim off the back of our boat in fresh-water lakes. Where do you like to swim?

Please let me know in the comments section below…

Read also about walkingrunning and strength-training.

Reduce Sugar Intake

Reduce Sugar Intake

How to reduce your sugar intake…

The biggest hurdle to reducing sugar is initially taste. Store bought processed foods all have an excessive amount of sugar (and salt) so our taste buds are used to more sweet flavours. Sugar is hidden in foods you wouldn’t think contain too much added sugar like crackers, condiments, peanut butter to name a few! When we eat this way our blood sugar levels are unstable and puts us on track for conditions like diabetes.

The way we start our day is especially important for setting the tone. I find if I eat something particularly sweet for breakfast, I am constantly craving that sweetness all day. Do you find that too? To help reduce sugar, start breakfast with unprocessed foods like fruit, fruit smoothies, whole grain bread, granola or oatmeal.

Add natural ingredients for sweeteners, like maple syrup and honey. Even fruit itself is sweet (bananas, pineapple, strawberries). Coconut has a natural sweetness, when added to trail mix or granola.

Try not to stock processed foods and sweets in your house. They are difficult to resist and if we keep these foods for treats, then an indulgence once in a while is ok compared to every day. Consider changing your definition of treat from store-bought chocolate chip cookies to a healthier homemade version. Keep them in the freezer so you have to defrost it before eating. If the temptation passes, keep it for another time.

Try roasting vegetables and eating as is or top them on a salad. The simple process of roasting vegetables brings out more flavour and sweetness. They start to caramelize and taste so delicious! Also make your own salad dressings to reduce sugar and oil content.

Be careful with beverages. Fruit juices and pop all contain a lot of sugar and most of us don’t take those extra calories into account. Instead drink flavoured water or herbal teas.

Lastly balance the sweetness with fibre. Fibre slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream giving your liver more time to deal with the calories. You can do this by adding nuts and seeds (like ground flax) and focus on sweets that involve fresh fruit that has its own fibre.

Once you more aware of added sugar in foods, your taste buds will change and you will start to appreciate foods in a more natural state, as they were meant to be eaten. Flavour can be added without the extra sugar.

How did you reduce your sugar intake?

Please let me know if the comment section below…

Read also Understanding Nutrients

Plants for Health

Plants for Health

Add plants to your home

Not only are houseplants aesthetically pleasing, they offer emotional, spiritual and physical benefits. Caring for them has shown to improve happiness levels, productivity and creativity and decrease stress. As proven by NASA, greenery filters indoor air toxins and converts carbon dioxide to oxygen. Read NASA’s Guide to Air-filtering houseplants and a second NASA chart here.

Including them in your home décor can add some zen to your space. It adds life and makes a room come alive. It also has a calming impact by bringing us closer to nature. When you’re choosing a new plant be picky to find the right one for your lifestyle. Consider the time you have to care for it. Also take into account the average temperature, humidity and light conditions in your space to make sure the plant will thrive in the right conditions

Here are some plants that are relatively easy to care for:

Potted Plants:

 

Golden Pothos

 

English Ivy

 

Aloe Vera

 

Spider Plant

 

 

Floor Plants:

Snake Plant

 

Rubber Plant

 

Peace Lily
Bamboo Palm

 

Red-Edged Dracaena

 

Weeping Fig

 

Flowering Plants:

Gerbera Daisy
Azalea

 

Chrysanthemum

 

Which plants do you have in your home?

Feel free to leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you…

Read about Lifestyle Choices.

Portion Control

Portion Control

5 Tricks to master portion control

  1. Learn and serve correct portion sizes. See also Mayo Clinic visual cues guidelines.
  1. Eat off smaller plates. This automatically makes portions look bigger.
  2. Share a meal at a restaurant or set aside leftovers before you start eating. Or at a buffet, survey the whole buffet before taking anything.
  3. Stop eating straight from the bag. Eat mindfully.
  4. Save TV watching for after your meal. Enjoy a meal with your family. Be engaged in conversation at dinnertime. This means you won’t rush your food.

Avoid portion distortion!

What’s on your plate?

Read also How to Lose Weight.

Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking

How to think positively – 10 steps to encourage positive thoughts

Is your glass half empty or half full? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Your attitude and the way you think may actually affect your health and well-being.

Negative thoughts can narrow your focus and can shut your mind off to opportunities or new ideas. If you listen with a more agreeable mind, you are more naturally open to what someone is saying. Our brains don’t process negative words very well. This is evident in young children. For example, when we say, “Don’t touch that” they automatically skip the negative word and hear “touch that”.

Positive thinking can actually make you feel happier and improve your outlook on the future. It also makes you physically and psychologically healthier. You are less stressed, have greater resistance to distress, have an increased life span and are more pleasant to be around. It starts with positive self-talk and each small step leads to more positive thoughts and actions. If you want to improve your thought process to become more positive, consider these 10 steps:

  1. Allow quiet time with yourself. Find a peaceful place to meditate and practice deep breathing. This allows you to get into a relaxed state and helps you think more clearly.
  2. Smile! Even if you fake it as first, it does help change your mood and relieve stress. Remember it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown!
  3. We are influenced by the people around us. Avoid people who sap your energy and motivation. Surround yourself with positive people who can give constructive and loving feedback. Talking to someone can help put things into perspective.
  4. When you face a problem, think of it as a challenge and then a solution will naturally follow. Give yourself credit and be proud of even the smallest achievement.
  5. Don’t play the victim and make excuses. If you make a mistake, remember that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes but that is how we learn. Then move forward. Take charge and don’t be afraid of change. Take one step at a time. Believe in yourself!
  6. Help someone else. Take the focus away from yourself and do something nice for another person.
  7. Explore your creative side. Outlets like art, music, writing and drama allow you to express yourself, to explore your own original thoughts and to think outside the box.
  8. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Keep a gratitude journal. Being grateful makes you appreciate what you already have.
  9. Read positive quotes to feel inspired. Have fun! Always make time for laughter.
  10. Set meaningful goals. Keep visualizing where you want to be. Every small decision you make will keep you in the right direction.

 

Did this article make you feel happier? What steps do you take to keep positive?

Please leave me your comments below…

Read also Ten Tips to Manage StressMindfulness, and Work Life Balance

How to be Healthier

How to be Healthier

15 Ways to be Healthier

  1. Replace sweets with fruit
  2. Shop on a full stomach
  3. Cook your own meals
  4. Eat lots of veggies & salads
  5. Drink plenty of water
  6. Wash your hands regularly
  7. Meditate 10 minutes each day
  8. Read a book
  9. Unplug from your phone
  10. Keep the same bedtime every day
  11. Get outside and get moving
  12. Wear sunscreen & sunglasses
  13. Take the stairs
  14. Nourish close relationships
  15. Be grateful every day

How do you keep healthy?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below…

 

Whole Food Plant-Based

Whole Food Plant-Based

Why I Eat Primarily Whole Food Plant-Based

The main reason I started eating whole food plant-based (WFPB) was initially selfish. I continue to choose it for the best health possible, to feel energized and alive! People eat this way for other reasons too but I do it for mainly for health.

What does WFPB mean? Whole foods means eating little to no processed foods. Plant-based means just what it says: food that comes from plants and not animals. Some like to label it as “vegan”. Vegan means eating mostly plants and no animal product like meat or dairy. But you could actually be an unhealthy vegan by eating more processed foods, fat and sugar. So combining whole foods and plant based is the best of both worlds.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman coined the term “nutritarian”, which refers to nutrient-dense and plant-rich. He allows small amounts of fish or meat and says it should be the “condiment” to a meal rather than the focus. I would say I’m not strictly vegan so I’ve used the term “veganish”. I don’t want to worry too much about eating one wrong thing and feel stressed about it. In fact I’d rather not put a label on the way I eat. The term vegan also emphasizes what I don’t eat and I don’t think of my eating style as a negative thing. I strive for WFPB.

Everyone has their own eating style and I have no judgement over anyone else’s choices but I do feel we have a responsibility to be the healthiest we can be within the resources we have. We each make our own decisions based on what we know at that time. I prefer to base my own health and eating decisions on science and what works best for me.

Eating more plants and less meat is becoming more popular thanks to recent media coverage including the documentary Forks Over Knives and the new documentary Eating You Alive. This eating philosophy is based primarily as a result of scientific studies including The China Study by Dr. Colin T. Campbell and his son M.D. Dr. Thomas Campbell. This 20-year study began in 1980 and the findings were first published in 2005. You can find additional supporting evidence in the book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. It means eating more veggies, fruits, beans peas, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds instead of animal products, dairy and processed foods.

Further research by Dr. Dean Ornish showed that eating a low-fat, plant-based diet could in fact reverse heart disease. Additionally, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn was able to stop and reverse heart disease in patients who were gravely ill. Eating red meat is associated with increased rates of cancer and heart disease. In 2015, the World Health Organization announced that red meat and processed meats are known to be carcinogenic. They can lead to diseases like colon cancer, which is on the rise in North America. Other advocates with evidence to support a WFPB eating style are:

Eating whole foods means eating foods in their natural state. Processing food removes the nutrients and fibre and leaves little nutritional value. Eating whole foods also means less added sugar or fat. Most plant-based food is higher in fibre, lower in sugar and full of valuable phytochemicals and other nutrients. Eating WFPB not only gives you the right nutritional balance, it also leaves you feeling satisfied.

When you eat food that is highly processed, your body doesn’t get what it needs nutritionally and it constantly craves more and you feel hungry. Even if you just ate something, if it’s not nutritionally good, your body may send you signs of hunger because it is looking for the right nutrients. If you keep eating the wrong foods you fill up on empty calories and end up gaining weight. I have discovered that when I eat WFPB, I feel more satisfied and less likely to graze.

Many plant-based foods like fruit and veggies are much less calorie dense and require more volume to increase the total caloric value. You usually can fill up on more and not over eat. It is possible to eat vegan and not eat healthily by eating processed foods high in sugar and/or fat. That’s why the emphasis is on whole foods.

I eat plants mostly for my own health but there are some good side effects:

  • I feel better, have more energy, am less lethargic & have good performance
  • It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight
  • It’s good for the environment
  • It saves me money
  • It doesn’t support animal cruelty

While it’s true that vegans eat a lot of salads, we’d have to eat a huge amount of leafy vegetables to sustain the correct amount of energy. It’s best to eat a wide variety of foods in as many colours and textures as possible. We need fruits, vegetables, tubers and starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes. I try to eat many different colours of food. If you are thinking of trying this lifestyle of eating, start small: start with meatless Monday. Make simple changes that will last and that you feel good about. Do what feels right to you!

What’s on your dinner plate?

Please leave your comments below…

Find some WFPB recipes