Ann Blanton Let's talk health, fitness, nutrition and everything in between

Archive for July 2012

Let’s take a walk

by Ann Blanton

Walking is the easiest and least expensive way to get where you’re going, especially with the price of fuel on the rise. The biggest challenge is to make a commitment and stick with it, so let’s put those hard earned dollars back in our pocket, tie up those sneakers and let’s get moving.

Sedentary Lifestyle

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and have no physical movement, you’re at a higher risk for cancer. This is because inactivity or sitting for long periods of time are linked to increased inflammation and other statistics for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some studies show that walking daily can decrease the risks of developing cancer significantly. 

Benefits

The benefits of walking are endless. Not only does it lower the risk of most diseases, it also gives you more energy, lifts your mood and boosts your immune system.

Let’s take a look at other advantages that walking provides.

  1. Reduces the risk of coronary disease and stroke
  2. Lowers  blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
  3. Increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis
  4. Improves physical and mental well-being

Walking for fitness can vary according to an individual’s age and level of activity. Typically, a brisk walk is best. A simple way to learn to walk briskly is by taking the “talk test”. This means to walk as fast as you can while carrying on a conversation without becoming out of breath. Depending on your fitness level, this might take a few weeks to achieve.

General Health and Longevity

Because walking helps to strengthen your bones, joints have a better range of movement and muscles are more flexible.

Weight Control

It’s recommended to walk briskly at least three times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes if you want to lose weight. For more experienced walkers, a maximum of five days a week for sixty minutes is advisable. Maintaining your weight and fitness level can be accomplished by walking three to four days a week for forty-five minutes.

Tip:

To burn even more calories, don’t forget to swing your arms.

Mental Health

Walking is man’s best medicine! If you’re feeling down, walking can ease the burden and lift your mood. When endorphins are released into the body during activity, it alleviates pain and creates a sense of well-being.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

If walking is something you’re serious about, it’s important to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. If you neglect your feet, you’ll feel discomfort and make it more difficult to walk.

Begin slowly

When beginning a walking program, don’t set unreasonable expectations. Beginners should start slowly and walk every other day. When you begin to feel stronger, than add an extra day or two into your routine. If you can’t walk for long periods of time, don’t get discouraged. As you become more advanced, your distance will gradually increase.

Pick a time and place

Decide what time works best for you. Some people find it enjoyable to walk early in the morning, while others find it a way to relax at the end of a long day. What works best for you? 

Choose a familiar place

It could be something as simple as a walk around the block, a nearby park or a walking path. It’s important to “shake” things up a bit once you’ve become comfortable with your routine. To prevent boredom, you might vary your routine by choosing different places or directions to walk.

Have a  back- up plan   

What do you do when the weather doesn’t permit you to walk outdoors? If it isn’t life threatening, you beat the bad weather, dress accordingly and brave the elements.  What’s your back-up plan?

Stretch before and after

This is important to prevent injury and soreness. It also helps to tone your muscles. Plus, it limbers and conditions the muscles to be long, lean and strong. Conditioned muscles helps you to handle exercise better.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/  Currently, I’ve just had my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

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My beautiful grandson, Xavier

Grandchildren are God’s gift for being wonderful parents, or at least, so I’ve been told.

Other women have always told me how incredible it was to be a first time grandmother. I have to admit I never thought I would see the day, but now that day has come, and I know how they feel. For me, being a first time grandmother is like falling in love all over again.

I thought I was prepared for my grandchild’s birth, after all, I’m a mother too; I know how it feels to love someone so completely it hurts. When I saw my newborn grandson, I was overjoyed with gratitude and bursting with pride. In that instant, I realized I had gone through a rebirth of my own. I had progressed from being a women, then to a mom and now to a grandma. I was staring at the next generation of dark hair, olive skin and button nose. I wish I could have froze that moment in time so it would last forever. My grandson, Xavier, is the most beautiful baby in the world; and Grandma is smitten.

When I heard his tiny cry of life, my troubles appeared so trivial; they seemed to fade away. I want my precious boy to know that I will be there for him always, to cherish, spoil, hold, teach, play, protect and guide him, but most of all, to love him with all of my heart every moment of his glorious life.

Isn’t it funny how a new life has a way of transforming those around us into responsible, loving and more caring individuals? We look at things with a fresh perspective and view life differently. All my thoughts are focused on today instead of yesterday and I thank God for his greatest treasured gift of all, my new beautiful grandson. I now find joy in embracing the second half of my life in my new role as Xavier’s grandma.

I would love to hear from you, so please send me your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link if you would like to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

I will also have my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes,” in a few short weeks.

Foods with vitamin DMost of the time, it’s a good idea to use sunscreen, but it’s okay to enjoy the sun’s rays for about ten minutes without it. By getting a good dose of vitamin D and then slathering on the sunscreen, you get both benefits.

Also referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin, vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it’s stored in the body and can be made naturally. Two other forms such as D2 and D3 are also important.

We depend on what we eat, the sun and taking a multivitamin to supply us with enough vitamin D; unfortunately, the sun is not always readily available to everyone.

Studies prove that by taking this supplement, you can prevent breast and colon cancer by cutting the risk by fifty-percent. What’s more, you can decrease the possibilities of other types of cancer such as skin, colon, and prostrate, when taking vitamin D. Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis can also be prevented.

Dosage

Depending on your age will depend on how much vitamin D you should be taking. This is because the older you are, the less vitamin D your skin will produce. Adult males, females and pregnant and lactating women under the age of fifty should take 200 units, fifty to seventy years of age should take 400 units and those over the age of seventy should consume 600 units. Children from birth to five years, should be consuming 200 units every day.

Foods

Dietary sources that include vitamin D include: fortified milk, salmon, tuna, sardines, eggs and cod liver oil. Fruits and vegetables are another good source of vitamin D. In fact, it’s almost impossible to get optimal levels from the foods that you eat. You’d have to eat at least two or three servings of salmon or sardines, drink five glasses of milk and take a spoonful of cod liver oil and that still wouldn’t be sufficient.

Benefits

This wonder supplement has been known to control blood pressure, reduce stress and tension and reduce spasms that are caused from aches and pains. It also helps fight depression, improves skin health and increases cardiovascular strength.

Vitamin D Deficient

This is common if you live in a place where sun exposure is infrequent or if you’re housebound. Signs that may occur are: muscle pain, depression, mood swings, fractures, low energy, fatigue and sleep irregularities.

Prevention

A good way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is by limited unprotected sun exposure, take a good quality multivitamin along with vitamin D and eat a diet that is rich in whole foods. If you’re someone who’s fortunate enough to live where there’s plenty of sunshine, get out and enjoy the rays. If not, then you might consider taking it in supplement form. So, how do you get your dose of vitamin D?

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ I’ll also have my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled,  “Heartscapes”, in a few short weeks.

Drink up! The Nutrient of Life!

Water is by far, the most important nutrient on earth! Water is 80% of the body’s weight that performs and supports the internal functions of all plants and animals. Common sense tells us that we all need it, and without it, our bodies simply cannot perform appropriately.  When your body is well hydrated, all the internal organs function at a higher capacity.

Water helps to regulate the body’s temperature. It makes up ninety two percent of the blood and almost ninety eight percent of intestinal, gastric,  salivary and pancreatic juices. Water holds all nutritive factors in solution and acts as a transportation medium for all these substances. Drinking water for health, helps to keep the blood thin, as it should be. But when you’re dehydrated, the blood thickens which can make it much more difficult to pump. What’s more, it makes the overall function of the body slow and unproductive.

Many believe that drinking water is only to quench thirst, but, in reality, it’s the most important source of nourishment for the body. It might be possible to go without food for days, maybe even weeks, but without water, a person would be in dire straits.

On average, an adult body loses about three and a half quarts of water on a daily basis through breathing, perspiration, urination and bowel movement. Because half of the human body is made up of water, it’s important to replace what is lost. The only way to do that, is to drink plenty of fluids every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Some people wonder how much water they should be drinking daily. That depends on your activity level, health status, the climate in which you live or if you’re pregnant or nursing. A good way to determine your daily consumption is based on your total body weight divided by two. Example: Let’s say that you weigh one hundred and fifty pounds; divide that by two, equals seventy five. So every day you should be drinking no less than seventy five ounces of fresh, clean water.  Are you drinking the expected amount for your total body weight?

Water and Exercise

Because sweat is a liquid, it diminishes the body’s internal water supply. If you sweat excessively during exercise and don’t replenish the fluids that are lost, it can lead to illness and other problems such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness and muscle cramps. With that said, it’s critical to adequately replace whatever you lose while exercising. Hydration enhances physical performance, helps digestion, maintains balance of electrolytes and transports nutrition. Remember to always drink more water before, during and after exercise to keep your energy levels high and to aid in recovery.

Water and Weight Loss

Drinking water also helps to speed up your metabolism and acts as a natural appetite suppressant for weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should be drinking an additional eight ounce glass for every twenty five pounds you are over your ideal weight. The advantage is the positive effect water has on your metabolic rate. Usually, women have less water than men; but overweight people have less water than a thin person because fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue.

Ask yourself this question. How many times have you felt hungry and reached for a snack? Your body was asking for something and you merely assumed it must be food. Maybe you were  just dehydrated and needed water. The next time, reach for a glass of water and see if that helps. Some people wait until there thirsty to drink water. If you wait until thirst sets in, you’re probably already dehydrated.

Water flushes toxins from the body

Drinking water detoxifies the liver and kidneys and carries waste away from the body. 

Water assists fluid retention

If the body doesn’t get enough water, every drop of liquid you put into it, it will hold onto. So what’s the solution? Drink more water. When the body recognizes it has a continuous amount, it will stop hanging onto every drop. A diet that is high in sodium will also cause water retention. To combat this, drink more water to help flush the sodium through your kidneys.

Muscle Tone

If you lift weights to build long lean muscle mass, you must keep your body well-hydrated because water helps muscle tone by giving it the usual capability to contract. It also lubricates the joints.

Can you drink too much water? Absolutely. It’s called water intoxication. When I talk about too much water, I’m referring to excessive amounts under normal circumstances. Too much water in your system causes the dilution of necessary electrolytes in the blood stream, which has implications to control the heart beat. Recommendations are to drink eight to twelve glasses of fluid with additional fluids from the foods that you eat to help support exercise and hot climates.

Tip:

If you plan to stay hydrated, drink cold water; but drink warm water if you want to stay full longer.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

The Best Time to Exercise

The best time to exercise is the time that’s most beneficial for you. If it’s convenient, stick to a schedule. By doing this, exercise will become a habit and not a chore. Regardless of when you exercise, you’ll accomplish the same benefits.

Many people focus on morning exercise because that’s when their energy level is the highest, they’re well rested, more focused and it jump starts their metabolism and keeps it that way for hours. When your metabolism is elevated, you naturally burn more calories. It also puts you in a positive mood because you’re doing something that’s good for yourself. Exercise in the a.m., is easier for many to make exercise a part of their daily routine.

What do you do if you want to work out, but there’s not enough time to fit exercise into your hectic schedule because of work, school, taking care of the kids or other obligations? I’ll share how I manage to fit exercise into my busy schedule and I hope you pass some of your ideas on to me too. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a morning exerciser. Every day at the same time, I tie up my sneakers and workout. Eventually it naturally became a habit. If something unexpected comes up and I can’t get my morning workout in as planned, I try to reschedule later in the day.

Then again, some people prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evening because it’s a good stress buster from all the pressures of the day. Muscles are also more flexible and it’s easier to find a friend to work out with. Plus, your body temperature is at its peak and injuries are less likely.

Exercising in the evening works for many, but be careful because your cortisol levels are at their highest in the evenings, and exercising to close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Everyone has their own opinion what works best for them. So what time works best for you? Are you a morning exerciser like myself, or do you work out in the afternoons or late at night? If you’re an evening exerciser, does it interfere with your sleep habits? If so,  how do you handle it?

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

I will also have my first short story published as an anthology in a book called “Heartscapes”, in a few short weeks.

Hello fellow enthusiasts, welcome to the first entry of my blog. My name is Ann Blanton and I’m a writer of nonfiction. I also enjoy exploring the wonderful world of fiction, but my first love is based on facts. I dedicate the majority of my time writing on topics that I’m most passionate about. Those subjects focus on physical fitness, nutrition, health and everything else in between.

I’ve been putting pen to paper for as long as I can remember. I enjoy reading a good book as much as I love writing-well almost. My reading preferences are magazines-fitness and nutrition of course, most books and labels. And no, I don’t mean clothing labels. Yeah, I guess maybe I do, but in this for instance, I’m referring to ingredient labels.  OK, so maybe that sounds weird, but isn’t reading clothing labels strange too? If I didn’t read descriptions on boxes, cans, bags, containers, etc., how would I possibly know nutritional facts, calories and other useful information to encourage healthy eating habits?

From the age of twelve, exercise has always been a huge factor in my life. My favorite class all throughout school was P.E. Participating was not only fun, it revved up my metabolism, kept me toned and conditioned and continuously kept me motivated.

I’ve devoted thirty years of my life helping others promote good health habits into their lifestyle. I’m not only a writers, I’m also a wellness coach, teacher and motivator and I’ve designed many successful programs for individuals who are serious about living healthy lives.

Being the fanatic that I am, my all time favorite reality show is The Biggest Loser. I never imagined it could be possible, for contestants from all around the globe to lose weight, get healthy, learn about good nutrition, plus get beneficial results in such a short period of time. Trainers like Jillian Michael’s, Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince, says it all; the transformations are astounding! Are you a fan? If so, tell me why you love the show.

As an additional bonus for including exercise and proper nutrition, my healthy lifestyle has reflected a good example on my husband and my son. It’s also a habit I plan to pass on to my new grandson.

In 2010, I graduated from The Long Ridge Writers Group and was nominated one of the most persistent writers for sending out 123 queries in a single year. I’ve taken a freelance writers course at Penn Foster and graduated with high honors. Currently, I’m a student at The Winghill Writing Academy.  I plan to further my abilities and continue to thrive as a successful writer.

Finding a reliable critique partner that you can depend on, is very important if you’re a writer or if you’re thinking about becoming one. Why? Because I said so. I’m joking. Whoever you choose as your buddy, they should be as committed to their profession as you are. Two years ago after putting an ad in a newsletter, my writing pal found me. She emailed me, we hit it off immediately and we’ve been buddies ever since. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. Donna, my friend, if you’re reading this, as I know that you are, thank you for all that you’ve done to help me succeed as a writer. I also appreciate you’re encouragement convincing me to finally start a blog. You Rock! By the way, your check is in the mail. Kidding!

Stop by often and I will answer all of your comments.  I’ll be posting at least twice a week, maybe more if I don’t have any deadlines pressing.

So what do you do to keep fit?

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ I will also have my first short story published as an anthology in Heartscapes in a few short weeks.