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

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You can look and feel good at any age

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FIT AND FABULOUS OVER FIFTY

Have you ever wondered why your sister in her fifties who leads a physically active lifestyle, looks forty something? What about your forty-year old best friend who has no physical activity and looks fifty?

With regular exercise, you can actually reverse the signs of aging by at least ten years. You no longer have to settle for that tummy bulge, arms that wave back and that sagging rear view. You can look just as attractive walking away as you do walking into a room. Now if that doesn’t get you motivated, nothing will.

Today, baby boomers have tossed all those excuses not to exercise out with yesterday’s trash. Studies show that baby boomers are becoming fit and active at fifty and beyond and are in the best shape of their lives.

Typically, when a person reaches a certain age, they’ve learned to accept most of their imperfections. Maybe you’ve made a promise to yourself to be in good shape by the time you hit the  big 5-0. Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out the way we plan. As we age, it’s more difficult to remain physically active.

Getting in shape has many benefits. It makes you look and feel better, gives you more energy, helps fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer. It also helps you sleep better and improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you feel more attractive. The possibilities are endless.

With that said, let’s explore other fundamentals that can help you stay healthy for many years to come.

Muscle Toning – There are a number of reasons why you should build strong beautiful muscles with strength training. Building muscle increases your metabolism, enhances energy, keeps your body in perfect balance, keeps your bones in ailment, supports your skeleton and burns calories at rest.

Fitness club owner Dan Neal, focuses mostly on baby boomers and the quality of life. Neal says, “As a person ages, the importance of muscle toning is a necessary factor because the older you become, the more muscle you lose. Toning keeps you stronger, more vibrant and helps to prevent injuries.”

Stretching – It’s just as important to stretch before and after a workout as it is to do the actual workout itself. Failure to stretch can make it difficult to achieve simple daily activities such as putting on your shoes or reaching for something on a shelf.  Lack of stretching can also cause muscle tightness, soreness and injury. A good way to improve flexibility is by doing a series of stretching exercises daily. According to Neal, stretching improves stiff joints as well as strengthens the stabilizer muscles.

Balance – You can learn balance techniques by practicing yoga. Balance building exercises are important so you can react in certain situations to prevent falling or breaking a hip.

Watch what you eat – It’s essential to learn the difference between which fats are healthy versus which ones are unhealthy. “Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and avocados are examples of good fats,” says licensed nutritionist, Patricia Harris. “Cakes, cookies, candy and soft drinks are a few examples of foods that contain empty calories so it’s important to avoid these foods,” states Harris.

In terminology, empty calories are described as foods that are high in energy, but low in vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients. That’s not to say that you have to eliminate these foods altogether, just enjoy them in moderation.

Because of the low quantities of sugar in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, grapefruits, melons, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, these foods keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

So, if you’ve hit that important milestone or you know someone who has, it’s never too late to get in shape and stay fit and active for a lifetime.

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/ Recently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology, in “Heartscapes”.

Don’t worry, be happy!

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Coping strategies for stress

by Ann Blanton

In today’s world stress is an important concern for just about everyone. With unemployment at an all time high, gas prices on the rise, and food costs soaring through the roof, most people even with a two household income are barely scraping by. The issue of how to stay healthy in a society that’s constantly changing is often a question of how to cope with stress. Undeniably, the major source for stress is life.

So how is stress defined?  Often stress determines the emotional and physical endeavor that is caused by our response to pressure from the outside world.  It’s a physical and psychological reaction from a source that’s a disruptive or stimulating event.

So what can you do to stop the vicious cycle of stressors in our lives?

Unfortunately, eliminating all stress related issues from your life is virtually impossible. The good news however, is there are ways you can reduce stressful situations in daily living.

What are the secrets of stress reduction?  Regrettably, there are no secrets. It basically depends on the individual and how they cope with certain situations. Sometimes you have to learn techniques to turn a negative into a positive. Let’s take a look at a few example.

Acceptance –The first and most important rule is to learn acceptance. Learn to change the things you can control and accept the things you cannot. Then move on.

Be positive – As difficult as this may seem, your attitude affects how you handle most stressful situations. It also affects how you handle yourself. “The person who has a positive outlook has learned some valuable life skills. They’ve learned to edit their thoughts. They’ve also learned that they have the power to choose their attitude rather than depending on circumstances to dictate how they will feel,” says expert and life coach Levya Braman.

Those who are optimistic are able to cope more effectively. If you turn a negative into a positive, eventually, situations will turn out to your advantage. Another approach is to stay away from those who are always negative.

Exercise regularly – Working out on a daily basis helps to get your endorphins pumping and your blood circulating. It also creates a natural high and is the key to happiness. It’s difficult to be in a bad mood after a good workout.

Diet – Eating a healthy nutritious diet is not only good for the body; it’s also good for the soul. After all, you’re good eating habits should become a healthy way of life. No more yo-yo syndromes or roller coaster rides of ups and downs.

Sleep – It’s important to get plenty of restful sleep. It’s not necessarily the quantity of sleep that you get, as much as the quality.

Balance – There are three major components of keeping your body in perfect balance. These factors include exercise, good nutrition and restful sleeping patterns. Practice these habits to optimize these elements for your body, mind and lifestyle.

Laughter – Laughter is definitely life’s best medicine. There’s nothing like having a good laugh to brighten your mood and lift your spirit. Do whatever it takes to comprise laughter into your lifestyle, whether it’s telling a joke or watching a funny movie or your favorite sitcom. When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

So what do you do to relieve stressful situations in your life?

If you take the time to practice all of the above, everything else will naturally fall into place.

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 had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, Heartscape

Off we go into the wild blue yonder

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Leap of Faith

by Ann Blanton

Background: Don Yeager served four years in the Navy during the Vietnam war. For the last 15 years, he’s currently been working as a project lead for a company who writes technical maintenance for Honeywell’s aeronautical equipment. Because of personal problems, Yeager suffered a bout with depression at the age of 59. Eventually, he picked himself up, joined a gym and got himself back in shape. “Keeping active makes me feel good, look good and gives me a better frame of mind,” he says.

When he’s working out: At 63 years young, Yeager works out at the gym five days a week. Twice a week he works out with his trainer, Al Roos. The rest of the time, he manages on his own. He also enjoys tennis and takes a yoga class. He even took a “leap” of faith and did the unexpected. Yeager went skydiving and crossed it off his bucket list. “It took my breath away, but I accomplished something that was out of the ordinary. It would equate the experience to being a dust ball sucked into a vacuum,” he said. “I proved to myself that I could do it.”

When he’s not working out: Yeager finds  pleasure decorating and working on his house. He also enjoys working in his garden, traveling and socializing with others.

Staying Motivated: Yeager’s motivation is to feel good and stay young so he can enjoy retirement. “You have to do things for yourself to keep yourself motivated,” he says.

At meal times: Like most, Yeager likes a succulent lean piece of beef and mashed potatoes. He also indulges with a peanut butter or oatmeal raisin cookie.

However, he only treats himself to these tasty treats once a week. The rest of the time, he enjoys a hearty bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh blueberries, leafy green salads with tomatoes, sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with red wine vinaigrette, turkey or chicken breast and barbecued vegetables. To top things off, he enjoys homemade yogurt or a delicious Granny Smith apple.

Goals: Yeager wants to travel to Europe when he retires. He also wants to learn to play the piano and bungee jump. Most importantly, he plans to be healthy and happy.

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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How to Begin a Safe Exercise Program

by Ann Blanton

There are hundreds of reasons why people refuse to workout. They’re too busy, too tired, don’t have time, don’t feel like it, can’t make the commitment or they just plain old hate to exercise.

Some people want to start an exercise regime, but don’t know where to begin. How many times have you made a resolution to get in shape? How many times have you actually kept that promise? You might have even convinced yourself that exercise programs don’t work anyway, so why bother.

Current studies show that individuals are living well into their eighties and nineties. Thus, maybe getting in shape so you can make the best of your golden years isn’t such a bad idea after all.

As you probably already know, getting fit has many health benefits. It gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, makes you look and feel better, boosts your self-esteem and even improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you naturally feel more attractive. Plus, exercise also helps to fight the signs of aging and most diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

If you want to start a regime, but don’t know how or where to begin, this article will help you learn the fundamentals and get on the right track to fitness. Even if you’re busy, you’ll be able to fit this plan into your lifestyle. There’s no time like the present, to put those goals into action; so let’s get started.

Consult a Physician 

If you’re new to fitness or have a medical condition that might worsen during physical activity, it’s a good idea to seek the advice from a physician you can trust.

Make a Commitment

Making a commitment might sound simple to some, but dedicating yourself to stick to an exercise routine on a daily basis is entirely different. First, it’s important for you to decide what time of day works best for you and then stick with it. For many, mornings can be effective because that’s when most people have their highest level of energy. Morning exercisers find that working out early helps them to get their day off on the right track. If mornings don’t work for you, then schedule a time that does and commit to that time every day.

Set Realistic Goals

If you set expectations that are too high, you’ll only sabotage yourself before putting your plan into action. Remember, changing bad habits doesn’t come easy. It’s always best to make small changes weekly, but most importantly, be reasonable.

Be Optimistic

A positive attitude is usually contagious. If you have a negative attitude, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure even before you begin. Furthermore, a good attitude will change your entire outlook on life.

Motivation

Staying motivated is probably one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when beginning an exercise program. The same routine is bound to get boring over time. To prevent exercise “burnout”, try to plan an activity that you enjoy, something exciting and fun, so you can keep your workouts fresh and enjoyable. Approximately one-third of all exercisers quit within the first year because of boredom.

Exercise with a friend

If you exercise with a friend or family member, you’re more likely to be consistent. Plus, it’s also a good way to stay accountable.

Start a Journal

Keeping an exercise log is a good way to keep track of all your accomplishments. If you become discouraged or frustrated, rereading all your victories is a good way to keep you motivated.

Toss out the scale

How many times have you stepped on that little contraption, only to have it ruin your day? If you’re answer is “many”, then you might want to hide it, toss it and forget all about it. As you become leaner and  start to build muscle, the numbers on the scale will probably go up. Don’t get discouraged. It’s more important to focus on your well-being and less on what the numbers say.

Begin Slowly

If you try and do too much too quickly, you’re only setting yourself up for sore muscles, fatigue and possibly even injury. Some exercise programs can be intimidating, so it’s best to take things at your own pace. As your body becomes stronger, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity.

Include Variety

Diversity can be just as important as the exercise itself. Over time, your body adapts to the same routine; so if your goal is to lose weight, you might want to “shake” things up, so it doesn’t slow down the process.

Rest and Recover

Some people might dive full force into working out and then feel guilty taking a day off. It’s important to always listen to your body. You might want to allow yourself a day off in between workouts so you can come back and feel stronger than ever.

Reward yourself

Some people like to reward themselves for their accomplishments by splurging on sweet treats. Instead, and only if you can afford it, why not treat yourself to small inexpensive gifts such as a manicure, pedicure or maybe a new exercise outfit.

Never give up

Like many people, there will always be days that will be discouraging or maybe you won’t be satisfied with your progress. Don’t use this as an excuse to throw in the towel.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy body.

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/

 

 

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

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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

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

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Choosing Healthy Lifestyle Habits

by Ann Blanton

It’s typical to view your lifestyle habits as a stressful time, especially if you’re your own worst critic. There are four key elements that can make the change more successful, enjoyable and have a positive experience. Whatever the change, the fundamentals that make it possible are information, awareness, goal setting and a good support system.

Information

You’ll be amazed at how many health ideas you can discover by simply reading books and magazine articles on nutrition and weight control.

Awareness 

Sit in on a fitness class or better yet, take the “plunge” and jump right in with both feet. Eventually the process of change will become second nature. You’ll have fun and soon you’ll have an enjoyable lifestyle.

Support System 

A strong support system is an extremely important aspect in changing your lifestyle. Losing weight or to quit smoking are riddled with hurdles especially if you go at it alone. A lot of people including family and friends are negative when it comes to lifestyle change. Sometimes you have to find new friends and avoid certain family members. Some of us have to do it alone. It might be more difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Goal Setting 

Goal setting goes hand in hand with a strong support system strategy. The process of setting and visualizing goals helps you achieve your goals and gives you a road map to follow. The map will help you identify where you are on the road to accomplishing those obstacles. Ask yourself these questions : Where am I now? And where do I want to be? If you can answer those questions, then you are well on your way to meeting your ambitions. 

Good Nutritional Habits

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Examples:

1. What should I eat?

It’s important to eat at least five fruits and vegetables daily, lean protein, healthy complex carbohydrates, fiber, whole grains and low fat dairy products.

2. When should I exercise?

Working out in the a.m. is usually best for most people because that’s usually when energy levels are at their highest. Some people find that if they wait until later in the day, other responsibilities will hinder their fitness goals. If the only time you have is afternoons or evenings, then set aside a certain time schedule and stick to it each day.

3. When should I relax?

With busy lives, it’s very important to take a few minutes every day to relax. It doesn’t matter if you only have five minutes, sit back, close your eyes, clear your mind and take time to unwind from the pressures of the day.

Goal setting can be as simple as taking fifteen minutes to write down a list of goals that you want to accomplish. Once you’ve made a sizeable list, put them in the order in which you wish to achieve them. Spend time every day on at least one new goal and make it become a reality.

So what are some of your goals?

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 short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

Who could say “no”, to these adorable cuties

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Got Stress-Adopt A Pet

by Ann Blanton

Often, humans provide an emotional gap; pets provide the support to fill that gap. Stop and think about it for a second. Who’s always there for you? Our four-legged furry friends, that’s who. They listen when no one else will, they never judge you and they’re always happy to see you.

Companionship and unconditional love

If you fulfill your pets needs, they can be your constant companion for a long time. When you look into your pet’s eyes, suddenly your mood is lifted. Many pet owners say, owning a dog or cat has helped to lower their blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and eased depression. Something as simple as rubbing your pet’s fur can minimize your stress level and lower your heart rate. Having a pet in your life can open a window of opportunity to break away from all the problems of life.

A feeling of purpose

Pets can definitely give our lives a sense of meaning. Caring and nurturing for another living thing helps you to feel as if you’re accomplishing something of importance. Our furry friends depend on their owners for all their needs including food, water, exercise and health care.

Exercise

Your best friend will always remind you of the significance of exercise. Dogs need just as much exercise as humans, so take your friend for a brisk walk. Taking your pooch for a walk will help enhance your overall health and make you want to exercise more.

Friends

Walking your pooch can often be a good conversation starter. You have the opportunity to meet your neighbors or if you go to the dog park, you can meet other dog owners and their dogs. Meeting new people will give you the ability to develop new friendships, which can also benefit stress reduction.

Safety

Man’s best friend can warn you when strangers are near. Large breed dogs can provide a measure of safety if someone threatens you. Cats have a keen sense of danger and have been known to wake their owners in an emergency.

Comic relief

Frequently, pets offer comic relief because they’re always doing something silly. Watching your pet bustle around the house in the morning can instantly lift your mood so you can begin your day with a positive attitude. Who doesn’t like to watch kittens play? Dogs stare at themselves when they see their own reflection and bark at the “stranger” in the mirror. A cat will pounce, throw things in the air and catch it and run from one end of the house to the other for no apparent reason. Dogs chase their tails and leap in the air to catch a fly. They can be trained to fetch your slippers, catch a Frisbee or walk calmly by your side.

Good for the handicapped and elderly

Some pets have been taught to lead the blind, alert the deaf when the phone rings, warn a child when a seizure strikes and warn a person with life threatening allergies.

Each of us are handicapped in our own way and need the unqualified love given by a companion animal for those times when life just seems too hard. The dog or cat can be a way of connecting to other people, to decrease the “differences”. Other children may want to come play because of the pet. Neighbors may be more inclined to realize an elderly person needs help once the animal opens the conversations. Most dogs and cats thrive even on three legs, which can be a positive demonstration to children and adults facing amputations,” says holistic veterinarian, Christina Chambreau.

Cuddle factor

Whether your dog gives you a big wet kiss or you snuggle with your kitty, it can benefit greatly by reducing stress. At times your cat may startle you when they unexpectedly jump on your lap. Maybe you don’t always feel like taking your pooch for a walk, but honestly, what would you do without him?

Stop by your local animal shelter and adopt a pet and watch your tension fade away.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link if you want to check them out.

http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirits”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

Ann Blanton, writer, author, published, nonfiction, article, magazine, Fitness Plus, stress, reduction,  adopt, pet, four-legged, companion, furry, friend, humans, emotional, gap, enhance, park, neighbor, safety, breed, large, stranger, protect,

support, companionship, unconditional, love, dog, pooch cat, kitty, blood pressure, cholesterol, reduce, depression, fur, food, water, exercise, health care,

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Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

Photo by sielju

http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenlagirl/3152941102/

Trimming your midriff is only one of the rewards from eating this satisfying snack

Pecans are a rich-flavored, buttery treat containing very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol or sodium. According to the new dietary guidelines to help slim down your waistline, four or five weekly servings are recommended. Other ways pecans can benefit your health include boosting brainpower, lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. Let’s take a closer look at each health-promoting benefit.

Boosting brainpower

Pecans contain vitamin E — a natural antioxidant that provides primary elements for neurological protection. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that promote normal and healthy brain function. Researchers suggest regular consumption can protect against cell damage, enhance brainpower and help fight against diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Lowering cholesterol

The healthy, monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants found in this tasty nut could be just what the doctor ordered to help lower cholesterol. You don’t need to go nuts; you only need a handful to increase HDL, good cholesterol, while decreasing LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Controlling weight

Nuts have always been given a bad rap because of the high fat content, but studies show that the high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts can promote weight loss. Because they’re healthy fats, you’ll feel full longer and not be as tempted to reach for the unhealthy fats found in junk food.

Supports heart health

Heart disease is considered the number-one killer in the country. Nutrition research has discovered by eating one ounce of nuts on a daily basis, you’re less likely to have cardiovascular disease. This crunchy snack can help reduce blood clots that can often lead to fatal heart attacks, thus improving the health of the lining of the arteries. Although the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have proof that nuts reduce the risk of heart disease, they suggest the evidence to the food companies.

Now that you know all the benefits that this flavorful snack provides, go nuts for pecans. Grab a handful and reap the delicious benefits.

Nutritional facts and information – This healthy nut provides more than 19 vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc and several of the B vitamins. Calories per serving size for 20 halves are 196; total fat is 20.4 grams. A serving has zero carbohydrates, no cholesterol or sodium and 2.6 grams of protein.

Pecans are no longer just for baking pies and cakes. You can add pecans to any of your favorite breads, casseroles and salads. The next time you make pancakes, toss in a few pecans for an additional fabulous flavor.

If you’re looking for a new pecan recipe to start your day, here’s one you’re sure to enjoy.

Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

1 and 1/4 cups wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat bran

2 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 and /2 cups fat-free milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, bran and  baking powder. Using another bowl, combine the egg, egg white, milk and oil; add to the dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.

Add mixture into a pre-heated waffle iron until golden brown.

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