Wilde about gardening!

Keen gardener, top performer and detox queen, Kim reveals her secret for good health and happiness. There’s nothing so easy as a smile.

The healthiest thing anyone can do each day is smile! We live in an increasingly detached world of emails and text messages, and although you can text a :-), it’s no substitute for the real thing.

Smiling, just like exercise and meditation, makes our brain produce endorphins that give us a sense of pleasure and wellbeing. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Laughter is the best medicine’, and studies confirm there is a high correlation between humour and a stronger immune system. So, it’s official… smiling is good for us and those around us. If you asked me what would be my top health tip, it would be simply that… smiling.

Last year my family bought a dog, and I must say that walking Jess (see right) has been a great way of getting out and walking off calories, as well as being a great stress buster. Taking on a dog is not to be taken lightly. It’s like having another child, but I think we humans function better with less time on our hands to stew, and Jess certainly gives us something to do as we haul ourselves out of the house for lots of walks.

With two young children and a dog, family life is always going at full speed, but I make time to work out three times a week with a personal trainer. I do an intensive 20-minutes of cardio training, which is essential for burning fat as well as increasing my energy levels, followed by a full body work-out including the all-important abdominal area. This, coupled with walking and gardening, provides me with a balanced exercise regime that helps keep me healthy inside and out.

And, for the past four years I’ve been performing again – 80’s revival concerts with Heaven 17, Human League and Bucks Fizz. Singing and jumping up and down on stage is brilliant fun, and also a great way to keep fit… no wonder my dad still loves performing. For a 66-year-old man he’s in great shape!

Food – of course – is fuel for the body, and what you put into your system will dictate the quality of its performance. This is vital for children who are still growing. My children eat fruit for breakfast, and vegetables with dinner, but like all kids they love chocolate and fizzy drinks. All naughty treats are kept to a minimum, but I don’t believe in banning them outright as I’m sure this only makes them more appealing.

This is true with us adults, so instead of saying ‘don’t’, I prefer the word ‘avoid’ – somehow this small window for indulgence helps support me in making generally sensible decisions about what I eat.

My diet is varied, consisting of fresh organic fruit and veg, oily fish a couple of times a week, rye bread which is high in fibre, and chicken, fish or soya for protein, I avoid refined foods, in favour of wholemeat alternatives, and drink lots and lots of water.

Having said all that, I must confess at this point, last night my husband Hal cooked me a pork roast dinner with all the trimmings (yes, bread sauce too!) accompanied by a rather cheeky glass or two of red. Naughty but VERY nice!

With spring here, there’s plenty to do in the garden, from pruning summer flowering shrubs like Buddleja and Caryopteris to sowing vegetables. But gardening is not purely physical, it also has the ability to bring balance and harmony into our lives. This ancient Zen verse sums up all my feelings about gardening and happiness. Have a read and see if it works for you too.

Spring has its hundred flowers,
Autumn has its many moons.
Summer has cool winds, Winter has snow.
If useless thoughts do not cloud your mind,
Each day is the best of your life.

Wu Men Hui Kai (1183-1260) Taken from ‘A Zen Garden’ by Judith Glover (Frances Lincoln, £9,99)