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

Archive for October 2012

Namaste

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Positive vs Negative Stress – What’s the Difference?

by Ann Blanton

In a stressful society, life can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, stress will  play a major role in your life. How you handle those situations is entirely up to you. It’s about taking control and not letting stressful circumstances get the upper hand. There are ways to manage those upsetting incidents, but first you have to learn to accept the things you cannot change. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? But, it’s not as complicated as you may think.

The first response you imagine when you think about stress, is usually  a negative reaction. What you don’t know, not all stress is considered bad or harmful.

Take a good long look at your life and get in touch with your feelings and emotions. The goal is to manage your time wisely and make time for what’s important. It’s significant to come to terms with your stress levels and learn how to deal with it head on. Like it or not, it’s a part of life.

When you feel agitated, consciously choose how you’re going to react. You can either freak out or shrug it off. If you don’t learn to control stressful situations and allow your worries to bottle up, it can become destructive  to your body. Take several deep breathes and train your mind to stay calm and relaxed. Speak up. Never be afraid to let others know how or what you’re feeling. It might sound difficult, but with practice, it’s not impossible.

Categories of stress – Characteristics of stress can be divided into four groups. Each type can either be positive or negative. Let’s take a look at how each stage works.

Eustress – This is known as positive stress. You might feel like this after a roller coaster ride or watching a scary movie.

Positive stress produces chemicals known as endorphins and serotonin which provides contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration. Maybe you’ve felt a rush of excitement after a promotion or winning a marathon. As a result of satisfaction, your body physically creates positive stress.

Distress – This is identified as a negative aspect of stress. This type of stress can make you feel angry, discouraged or frightened. Being overwhelmed with distress, can often cause you to feel worried or experience psychological anguish.

The majority of people consider negative stress when they’re in pain, anxious or afraid because an excessive amount of adrenaline is being released into the body. Once the problem has been resolved, the bad stress is replaced with positive stress.

Chronic– This is the most serious type of stress. It’s also known as long term, which can lead to significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Some causes can be financial, sickness or death.

Sufferers feel as if they have no control over certain situations. The best way to manage chronic stress is to seek medical attention immediately and find out the source of the problem.

Acute – If you feel threatened or afraid, it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response and kicks your adrenaline into overdrive. It  prepares your body for emergencies. Acute stress is also known as a short term stressor that can be caused by trauma such as car accidents, being chased by a dog, robbery or rape.

There are many sides of stress; we just need to learn how to cope with different stages as they happen.

So how do you cope in stressful situations?

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’ve also just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

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Reverse the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

by Ann Blanton

As we already know, the world has gotten quick and easy. These days, all it takes is a drive-through at McDonald’s, or popping something simple into the microwave with a push of a button.

For decades, lack of exercise and poor eating habits have increased the population of childhood obesity. It’s easy to recognize, but much more difficult to treat.

So what should we do to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity?

In today’s society, it takes both parents working to make ends meet. This means less time to plan and prepare the proper nutrition and no time for exercise.

Today’s generation, spends more time watching TV, sitting at a computer and playing video games.

Hence, what does this mean for our children and adolescents who are overweight or obese? If we want our children to adopt a healthy lifestyle, isn’t it up to us as parents and grandparents to reverse the epidemic and set better examples?

It’s just as important for parents to include physical activity into their busy lifestyles too. After a busy day at the office, most parents neither have the time or the energy to exercise. So moms and dads, if you’re thinking you can get off the hook easily, think again.

When you think of exercise, you instantly think of a gym membership. You don’t need a health club or expensive equipment to incorporate physical activity into your children’s lifestyle. If you already belong to  gym, that’s great. You’re already setting a good example for your children.

If you have school aged children, here are a few suggestions that might be helpful.

School activities – Ask your children what type of activities they might be interested in and let them decide if they’d like to participate. If your child is older, you might suggest things like team sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, football and wrestling or you can even join the swim team. Although these activities are geat for both genders, some children might not be interested in team sports. In that case, there are other opportunities such as gymnastics, dance classes, karate and tennis or volleyball.

Regardless of your child’s age, never force them to do something that they’re not ready to do. Doing so will only sabotage them to fail before they begin.

If you have younger children or maybe your income is limited, there are lots of things you can do. Let’s discuss a few helpful hints to make family time into fun time.

Rather than watching TV after dinner, take a leisurely walk with your kids. Pet owners, take your dog with the family for a stroll around the block, shoot hoops in the driveway, jump rope, play catch or toss around the Frisbee. On the weekends, you can go for a bike ride, take a hike or to swimming at the local YMCA.

Healthy Nutrition – Even in a busy world, it’ up to you as a parent to find the time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for your children. Make a grocery list, plan your menus carefully and read the labels.

Fresh is always better! So when you’re pushing you’re shopping cart down the produce isle, check out all the beautiful colors of fruits and vegetables.

Each color provides most of the vitamins and minerals for your optimal health, so fill your cart with lots of delicious produce.

It’s not to say that you have to stop

Healthy children mean happier and more confident individuals.

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 just had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “:Heartscapes”.

A definite knockout

Photo by Evil Erin http://www.flickr.com/photos/evilerin/3217909825/

Background: Elementary school teacher Tracy Zak dreamed of being thin her entire life. As a child, she was physically active and competitive, but lacked discipline to make healthy food choices. At 5 feet 6 inches tall she tipped the scales at 230 pounds. For those of you counting, that’s 47 percent body fat and a size 22. Though she had a strong passion for boxing and climbing, her weight kept her from fulfilling her interests.

The Challenge: After many attempts at dieting, at the age of 37 she made one final attempt to change her life. At first it was a struggle, but gradually she turned old bad habits into healthy good ones. Rather than going to fast food restaurants, she cooked for herself, learned portion control and set realistic goals. Because of bad knees, exercise became a challenge, but with determination nothing stopped her. “It hurts to workout, being obese,” she said. Yet she refused to give up. She pushed herself to the limit, exercised for 20 minutes and then soaked in an ice bath.

The Turning Point: Zak knew if she didn’t turn her life around, she would end up like her mother, who has type 2 diabetes. “I knew I was headed in that direction,” she explained. Two months into her journey, Zak participated in her first fitness challenge. Although she didn’t win, she entered a second challenge, became a champion, won $1,000 and went to NYC. Dropping 80 pounds in eight months, Zak now has a body fat percentage of 22 and is wearing a size 8.

Staying Motivated: Zak says that her students keep her motivated. “They are my biggest supporters,” she reports. “The boys think it’s cool that their teacher is into sports and likes boxing, and the girls have a good role model.” Zak also sports several tattoos to mark her accomplishments. “I did it for myself. You haven’t seen anything yet,” she says.

Goals: Her number-one goal for the future is to fight her first boxing match by the time she turns 41, and then open a fitness center and become a P.E. teacher. The sky is the limit for this champ.

I would love to hear your feedback, so send me all your comments.

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/Recen Recent ly,  I’ve just had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

Ann Blanton, writer, author, published, nonfiction, article, magazine, Fitness Plus, champ, 40, background, elementary, school, teacher, thin, life, child, physically, active, competitive,  healthy, food, choices, scale, pounds, percent, body, fat, boxing, climbing, weight, challenge, diet, struggle, habits, portion, control, realistic, goals, knees, exercise, obese, diabetes, journey, fitness, motivated, students, support, sports, role, model, tattoos, accomplishments, story, book, anthology, fiction, Heartscape