Posts tagged Marina Hodson
Dirt-Free Gardening

Submitted by Marina Hodson

It would not be spring if I did not write at least once about gardening, but what about those of you who don’t have a green thumb or simply are unable to get out and get dirty? Don’t despair, gardening is still for you.

Whether you lack the interest, aptitude, or option to actually garden, it can still be a way to get outside and get involved. This time of year, options for gardening-related activities abound. Why not attend one of the many local plant sales, for example? Even if you have no intention to buy, similar to attending a yard sale, plant sales can simply be a fun morning out and a way to make some new acquaintances. Many of the plant sales are run by the volunteers of your local Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society and going to check out some of their meetings can be sociable and informative regardless of whether you choose to put your new knowledge into action. 

Looking for something on a bigger scale? While you have missed your opportunity for this year, why not check out Canada Blooms in 2020? Hosted in Toronto early each year, it is Canada’s largest garden and flower show and sure to put you in the mood for spring.  Of course, if you don’t want to wait until next year, you can always opt for one of Ontario’s Botanical Gardens or experience the splendour of Ottawa’s tulip festival, one of the largest displays of tulips in the world.

So whether you like to get dirty or not, take the time to stop and smell the roses. There is more to gardening than meets the eye.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Finding Hidden Treasure...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

As spring continues to evade us, you may be trying to find reasons to venture outside for some fun and activity. Well the search is over, or just beginning if you try geocaching!

If you have ever driven through Highlands East in Haliburton around the area of Wilberforce, you may have seen the signs advertising the “Geocaching Capital of the World.” Don’t be fooled into thinking this is merely a tourism ploy - Highlands East is in fact rated as one of the top geocaching destinations in the world. Whilst I have to confess that I do not know what the criteria are that would add you to the list, I do nonetheless find it intriguing.

If you are not yet familiar with geocaching, it is the outdoor recreational activity of searching for and, ideally, finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. Yes, it is a good old fashioned treasure hunt. With smart phones a common accessory, most of us have access to GPS (global positioning systems) at our fingertips and with a little bit of practice, you too can be a treasure hunter. You will definitely not get rich, as you will be leaving the treasure for the next seeker, so the joy is in the find. I guess it’s a little like catch-and-release fishing.

So, why not try an activity that you can do with the whole family or set up a little competition with your friends as a way to get outside and active?

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Mourning Winter...

Submitted by Marina Hodson


As we approach the spring Equinox I enter stores to the Canadian salute of “I am so ready for this snow to be gone”.

I have to say, I probably am too. I have my first seeds sprouting in my living room and the snow is collected in ugly black piles in parking lots, but there is a part of me that mourns the departure of the season. I shall miss the sparkling “diamonds” of the early morning snow fall, the wonder of the snowmobile ride and the ability to assess my animal companions by the prints in the snow by my door each morning.

 So as one season departs, let us embrace the joy of spring! Put on your walking shoes and enjoy the feel of grass and pavement without the fear of falling as we await the first blooms. For me, it means a transition from my basement treadmill back to nature, and while I will miss the beauty of the sparkling snow banks, I will embrace the brown and grey surroundings as I transition. My heart beats in anticipation for gardening and healthy outdoor living as we move to the beauty of the greenery.

I know this is a difficult time in Central Ontario, but enjoy the anticipation and move back to the outdoors to stay active as we see the colours return. 

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Have a Heart...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

February is obviously known for hearts related to Valentine’s Day, but it is also heart month for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I have recently been thinking about heart health as my husband is trying to address his high blood pressure and it certainly brings home the reality of looking after our hearts. Being in his 40’s and exercising regularly, we felt assured that such things as high blood pressure were on the worry list for our neighbours not us, but lo and behold – not so.

Following a visit for an unrelated health check, a reading of 185 over 80 brought things into instant focus and made me re-evaluate how we eat and in particular how much caffeine and sodium we consume. We are already active and at a healthy weight, both important contributing factors, and his age and gender are strikes against his blood pressure outside of my influence so that left limited control for me. 

First off, I am NOT his doctor, so I told him to go see him instead. I may work for a health care facility, but at the end of the day, this may require medication and that is outside of my purview. What I am, however, is the cook in the house. So I did review what we eat and overall we eat very healthy, but whilst I don’t have a sweet tooth, I like my salt. So that was the main adjustment. Of course in your home, make sure you limit fried and fatty foods, get your fruits and vegetables and then like myself, assess your sodium. I think the most eye opening was the unknown sodium consumption. I already tried to limit how much salt I used in my cooking, but on looking at things like the stock and sauces I use, it started to add up quickly.

So start by checking your blood pressure to assess your heart health and make sure you are looking after yourself and your loved ones.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

It's Sneezin' Season...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

This past Christmas, my husband had the flu for the first time in his life. Both of us tend to be healthy and rarely catch any of the bugs going around, so it came as such a shock to him that he would barely believe it was “just the flu” as he was quite certain it was far more serious and likely life-threatening.

While it completely knocked him out of commission for several days, he is fortunate in that he does not have a compromised immune system, is in his 40s and has no other illnesses. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. In Canada the flu leads to approximately 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths each year.  Particularly at risk are young children and adults over 65, so protect yourself and those around you.

  • First and foremost – wash your hands thoroughly and frequently! Good hand hygiene is the number one way to protect against both flu and colds.

  • Of course you should get your flu shot every year as it has been proven to reduce your likely hood of getting ill. As the flu virus is different every year, it is important to have the shot annually for your best chance of protecting against the current strain.

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze using a tissue or your upper sleeve. 

  • And disinfect common surfaces such as keyboards, phones and door handles which may be touched frequently and by different people.

So protect yourself from the flu this season, but if you are one of the unfortunate ones to come down with it, remember to stay home to limit exposure to others and get plenty of rest and fluids.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Where's the Beef?

Submitted by Marina Hodson


On Tuesday, Canada revealed its most recent edition of Canada’s Food Guide.  The first iteration, called “The Official Food Rules,” was introduced in July of 1942 in an attempt to mitigate nutritional deficiencies during wartime food rationing.

Over the years, the “Food Guide” has formed the basis of many Canadians’ nutritional knowledge, basing their healthy eating on the four food groups. Unfortunately, recent interviews by CBC showed that many Canadians have never heard of it, leaving me to question how valuable was the guide and what impact, if any, will it continue to have.

In my personal life, while I have not always followed it to the letter, it has definitely been the basis of what I consider to be a healthy diet. Certainly, the new pictorial provides a quick glance reference to remind us that our healthy diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables which should ideally constitute 50% of our meal. Gone are milk and milk products as well as meat and alternatives from the 2007 edition, having been replaced by “Protein Foods.”

Additionally, what has been added and what dietitians and nutritionists will find heartening, is very basic and common sense eating advice such as drinking water, cooking more frequently, and sharing meals with loved ones. 

So why not take this opportunity to restart your healthy habits for the new year using Canada’s Food Guide as inspiration?

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Fall Prevention Tips

Submitted by Marina Hodson

When I started writing this column two years ago, it was shortly after my British mother in law fell on the ice.  As I drove through the freezing drizzle yesterday, it seemed an opportune time to revisit this topic.

According to Canada’s Public Health Agency, one in three Canadian seniors will fall at least once this year and half of those will fall more than once; of such incidents, 40% result in hip fractures.  The good news is – falls can be prevented!

  •  Start by eating well and keeping fit – inactivity increases your risk of falling so engage in daily physical activity.  Walk or participate in community activities which help to maintain your flexibility and balance such as Tai Chi.

  • Have your health care provider review your medications to see whether any of them might make you dizzy or sleepy, this should include both prescription and over-the counter medicines.  If you do require medication which may cause dizziness, adjust your activities and never mix medication with alcohol.

  • Put safety before fashion and make sure you choose proper footwear and use your safety aids.  Nobody thinks any less of you for looking after yourself and using a cane or walker when needed.

So get out there and enjoy Canadian winter safely and wisely. 

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Have a Holly Jolly...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

While some may call this the best time of the year, others among us may be fretting about the number of things left to do before the big day.

We all know the perils the season brings to our waistline, what we may lose sight of is that it can also threaten our overall well being at times.  So how can you protect yourself and ensure you will be healthy and happy to enjoy this special time with special people?

  1. Continue to exercise and be active. It is easy to let your exercise routine be the first thing to fall off your ever lengthening to do list, but not only will that disrupt your routine and make it harder to get back to exercising in the new year – exercise will give you the energy and stamina to face those other Christmas chores!

  2.  Protect yourself against colds and flu. Whether in the mall, at the office lunch or just meeting up with friends, this busy social time of year leaves us exposed to contagions.  So if you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to get your flu shot and remember the best protection is good hand washing.

  3. Take time for yourself. While this is the season to think of others, running yourself ragged will not benefit anyone. Remember that it should be about being with loved ones and nobody will notice whether you remembered to dust the top of the fridge before they arrived.

So look after yourself as we move into this very special time of year.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT


Submitted by Marina Hodson

No Man is an Island
— John Donne

This famous phrase, first written in a religious text in 1624, may never have been more appropriate than it is today. Despite our electronic connectedness, loneliness and isolation are becoming ever more frequent complaints in today’s society.

While we all need some solitude from time to time, a 2013 study published in the Journal Psychological Science actually found that social isolation increased people’s likelihood of death by 26 percent. It is no secret that we are a social species, but the importance interacting with others has on our overall physical and mental health has long been underestimated. In fact, health risks associated with social isolation were compared in magnitude to the dangers of smoking cigarettes in a frequently cited 2001 study by James House.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; unlike many physical ailments, loneliness is much easier to target. Even surrounding ourselves with others, without direct interaction, has been shown to have positive effect and a smile and kind word are free and easy to share. So make an effort to say hello to someone you don’t usually speak with, strike up a conversation in the grocery line or just have a coffee out. It will do your health good.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Let's Talk Junk Food...

Submitted by Marina Hodson, Executive Director of Kawartha North FHT


So it is the season of candy and that seems the time to talk about what we eat.

We hear that term and maybe we are immediately drawn to see the golden arches, but let’s be honest, maybe sometimes we are not the best judge of what constitutes those items in our daily diet that we should be reviewing.

It is easy to identify the obvious culprits like that double cheeseburger and fries, but what are the unknown items we add daily that are upping our calorie count, adding to our sodium intake, and otherwise eliminating our efforts at maintaining a healthy diet?

Here are some of the things we don’t want to think about that may be gratifying in the moment but decrease our good health incrementally.

  • How about that small iced cappuccino you love at 360 calories?  Not an entirely unreasonable treat on occasion, but how about when you upgrade to the large one daily with the extra toppings that may top out at one third of your daily suggested caloric intake?

  • It is often the liquids we like to discount, how about the soda you are consuming?  If it is full of sugar, each can may contain an average of 39g of sugar.

  • But if you are watching what you drink and are trying to stick to water, how about you weekend breakfast?  One of our staples, our much loved bacon, contains 30mg of cholesterol per ounce and almost 70% of its calories come from fat.

All that being said, just be aware of what you are consuming. Never treating yourself to that piece of cheesecake will likely lead to failure of any healthy diet - just know what you are consuming. Enjoy that candy, but don’t have the whole Hallowe’en bag tonight.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT