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Gardening

Gardening

Gardening – is it good for you?

Do you like to putter in the garden? I tend to start on one task and then see other things that need to be done so end up spending more time in the garden than I first intended. Gardening can really draw you in and before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by!

Gardening is an excellent way to get some fresh air in addition to increasing physical activity with exercise. Gardening involves digging, pulling weeds, planting, spreading compost, trimming bushes and trees, raking, mowing and even moving rocks. It includes movements like bending, lifting, reaching, pushing and is a great way to enjoy staying fit without doing an organized sport. The benefits of gardening can increase muscle and bone strength, can lower blood pressure and even be a stress reliever. It is fun and creative and has many positive health benefits.

Some benefits of gardening include:

  • Encouraging relaxation & stress release
  • Improving physical fitness
  • Strengthening muscles and joints
  • Increasing hand dexterity
  • Preventing falls by improving balance
  • Improving mental well-being
  • Connecting with nature
  • Incorporating family fun and/or community involvement
  • Producing delicious, nutritious food
  • Encouraging creativity
  • Allowing for Puttering

If you are limited for space, you can start with a simple container garden on your balcony or within your kitchen window. Otherwise you can work with anything from a simple container on your deck to a small garden patch or even a large patch in your backyard. To be involved within your community, investigate shared gardens within your neighbourhood.

Swallowtail butterfly
Ruby-throated hummingbird

Gardens can attract wildlife like butterflies, bees and birds, which help fertilize colourful flowers and they become an integral part of the well being of your garden. It becomes an interactive place and an opportunity to learn about various species.

Gardening tools

To get started there are a few tools you may need such as:

  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can or hose
  • Twine
  • Broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Kneeling pad
  • Sunhat and sunscreen
  • Clippers
  • Weeder
  • Shears

Consider also:

  • Bird feeder
  • Bird bath
  • Ornamental objects
  • Lighting
  • Pathways
  • Outside seating

 

Starting out as a novice can seem daunting but also exciting! There can be so much to learn but the best way is to get your hands dirty and just start. With practice we become more experienced and we can learn by reading and simply with trial and error. When I first created a garden at my first home, I didn’t have much money but started small. We grew veggies from seed and purchased what we could afford. Sometimes you can get cuttings from neighbours, friends or a neighbourhood garage sale. Then when you become more experienced you can experiment with more unusual or exotic plants. You can also share you experience with other novice gardeners and even donate or sell clippings of your own. It really can become a great neighbourhood community builder.

Vertical container garden

In addition to getting your hands dirty by manipulating plants, it also gets you thinking creatively and gets the blood pumping. By combining creative mental thinking with physical movements, it helps maintain physical stamina and keep the mind active at the same time. Doing this along with a family member or neighbour requires teamwork and is a great overall activity to support your health in so many ways. I really love this activity and there is always so much to do that it is easy to get carried away once I start! This is a great way to get “lost puttering”. This spontaneous way of working from one task to another allows the mind to rest from a routine schedule and keeps our minds active while still being imaginative. The physical work involved with gardening can be limited to our own activity level. It is rewarding to produce beautiful flowering plants as well as nutritious, organic food we can ultimately consume.

Gardening has so many benefits and is an excellent activity at any age. It is something that can be enjoyed in almost any climate (perhaps only in summer months in certain areas) but also indoors.

My own backyard

My garden includes mostly perennials (plants that grow back each year), trees and shrubs along with a few herbs. I have a container with some tomato plants and I hope to spend even more time planting, growing and nurturing new plants in my retirement. I also have a few pots of herbs indoors for cooking.

What do you have in your garden?

Please leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

Read also about Bird Watching and Go Outside!

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.

Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC

Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria is the capital city of Canada’s province British Columbia. It is located on the southern most tip of Vancouver Island and is the most southern part of Western Canada. It is about 100km from British Columbia’s largest city, Vancouver, on the mainland. It is accessible by air or by boat. Greater Victoria has a population of about 365,000.

BC Parliament & Queen Victoria statue
Victoria Legislature at night
Detailed ceiling inside Legislature Building

Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, it is one of the oldest cities of the Pacific Northwest, settled by the British in 1843. The city has maintained many of its original buildings including the impressive Legislature buildings and the Empress Hotel. It is also known as the Garden City with its beautiful flower gardens throughout. Many tourists flock to the popular Butchart Gardens.

Butchart Gardens
Victoria water taxi

The harbour is a busy place and is easily walkable. Popular for both boaters and retirees, it has the most temperature year-round climate within Canada with warm dry summers and mild, wet winters with little to no snow. Due to the mild climate, it is home to interesting birds, plants and trees. The economy is primarily technology, tourism, education and BC’s provincial government. The city is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, bus or car. Victoria’s waterfront harbour is a busy place with water taxis, private floatplanes, tour boats and private boats. If you’re thinking of visiting this lovely place, you will be sure to be impressed! The best time of year to visit to avoid larger crowds would be spring (March, April, May) or fall (September, October).

Victoria’s busy harbour
Fisherman’s Wharf
Ogden Point cruise ships
Fisgard Lighthouse

Some of the most popular tourist spots are:

Some useful links:

Have you ever been to Victoria?

Read also about Vancouver Island and Tofino.

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

Boating

Boating

Boating

Do you ever had those days when you’re feeling stressed and just want to get away from it all? A change of scene and a change of pace can do wonders. One activity I love for escaping is boating.

Cruising on Rideau Canal

In my youth, my parents built a cottage on a small lake. The experience I had and the memories that were created at the summer cottage were priceless. My family had a canoe and small aluminum rowboat. We never needed to go far on the water and the cottage was well equipped with the basics. It was a time to be unplugged from school and work. My siblings and I would spend the summers there until we were old enough to work a summer job. There were endless hours swimming, fishing, puttering and exploring. In the evenings, there were plenty of card games, reading in the bunks and even playing hide-and-seek in the dark with other kids on the lake.

My husband has similar memories and we wanted to share like experiences with our own children. We never got our own cottage but instead we invested in a boat. We did quite a lot of research and eventually got our first boat, which was a Princecraft deck boat. Our girls were young at the time, but old enough to help. We trailered it to nearby rivers and lakes and explored everywhere we could. We anchored and fished and swam. We beached it on nearby beaches and picnicked, spending the day out in the sun. Our girls had fun being pulled around on the tube. We even took it on trips and camped on the shore along the way.

Our first boat: a Princecraft deck boat

Boating was a new way to escape! It is a hobby that forced us to slow down and not rush. Boating has its own pace and you simply can’t rush it. This is one reason we really love it now. It forces you to slow down and not get exited about delays. When you’re out on the water, you can feel your heart rate start to slow. The feeling of being out on the water is relaxing, calming but at times can even be exhilarating! The wind and sun feel energy giving and there’s nothing like having a picnic lunch in the boat after a delightful swim to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

An upgrade: 26 foot Regal cruiser

Our next boat was an upgrade. We soon learned that pitching a tent and blowing up 4 air mattresses each evening was tiring! So we sold the Princecraft and purchased a 26-foot Regal cruiser, which we moored at a marina. It slept 4 relatively comfortably and had a mini-bathroom (or head) and kitchenette. We outfitted it with solar power and anchored out many evenings. There is nothing quite like seeing the sunset and sunrise from out on the water…. So peaceful!

Back to a trailerable Princecraft fishing/ski boat

Now that our adult children have moved out, we have downgraded again to a trailerable boat – another Princecraft but this time a fishing/ski boat with a windshield. It suits our needs right now while we are only using it on weekends in the summer. For the winter months it is covered and stored.

Our dream and plans include one day purchasing a 40-foot trawler to live on for a year and travel the Great Loop. This will be a true test of our love of boating. I will be interested to compare living on a boat for a 2-week holiday versus living on it for a whole year!

Boating is a fun activity with the family

Challenges with boating:

  • Finding the right boat – consider how and when you will use it, how and where you will store it, do your research, go to boat shows, get as much info as you can, buy used
  • Ask lots of people – everyone has advice – most boaters love to tell you all about their boat and their experiences
  • Learning how to maintain a boat – changing oil, filters, etc. YouTube is a great resource
  • Learning how to launch a boat and how to trailer – if you are new to this, then practise backing up and learn how to turn the wheel to be able to back a boat down a ramp – it comes with practise
  • It can feel stressful to get your boat launched with other boaters waiting to use the ramp – remember everyone is in the same boat (so to speak) so don’t panic! Most boaters help each other – it’s a good community
  • Some boaters like to drink – this is one part I can do without – drinking and driving any vehicle is a big No-No in my books
  • Always wear lifejackets even if you know how to swim
  • Allow extra time – you can’t be in a rush!

 

Best part of boating:

  • Enjoyment of being out on the water
  • Getting close to nature
  • Fun time with family and friends – swimming, fishing, tubing, skiing exploring
  • Relaxing activities – reading, picnicking, fishing, sleeping
  • Great stress reliever, great weekend activity/hobby, great retirement activity

 

Are you thinking about starting boating?

What are your experiences out on the water?

Please let me know. Leave your comments below…

 

Read about other retirement activities.

Read about how to reduce stress.