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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

THE Biggest Loser

Get motivated with trainer Bob Harper, from The Biggest Loser

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Motivation is the key to success

by Ann Blanton

The key to getting fit, is motivation! Most people know that our bodies are not designed to sit still. People want to become physically active, but don’t know how to get motivated enough to begin a fitness regimen.

At first, you might tell yourself to start parking the car a few blocks from work, take the elevator instead of the stairs and join a gym. Weeks go by and you notice parking spaces become available closer to the building, the elevator is in the lobby and you’re too tired to go to the gym. One reason leads to another excuse.

Let’s take a look at the best solutions to get you motivated enough to keep moving.

Set Realistic Goals – Beginning isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The first thing you must do, is find something that you enjoy. You might even need to try a few different things to find what’s best suited for you. Example: You might decide that you want to give jogging a try. If this is something you’re interested in, begin slowly and start walking. Gradually work your way up to a quicker pace or even a brisk walk until you feel you’re ready to break into a jog. If you push yourself too quickly, you’ll get discouraged and give up. Remember, it takes time, patience and commitment to accomplish your goals.

Schedule Your Time Wisely – It’s important to schedule a time everyday that you can set aside for your workout. If mornings work best, pick a time and stick with it. If something else comes up, reschedule your workout for later in the day. Make a note of what you’re going to do and stick with it. Put the note somewhere where you’re able to see it such as on the bathroom mirror on even on the refrigerator.

Keep a Journal – Begin a journal everyday by writing down your goals. Be specific! Doing this will keep you focused and remind you how much you want to accomplish the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Doing this is the mental process of committing yourself to complete your mission. Keeping a journal also has another advantage. If you’re feeling week on determination, reviewing your list will help you to refocus. Keeping track, will also help you acknowledge when you slip-up so you can recommit yourself. Rather than becoming discouraged, you’ll know why you got off track. If this happens. don’t be too hard on yourself. Let it be a learning experience to learn something new about yourself.

Get Support – Find an exercise buddy who shares your interest, so they can encourage and support you in achieving your accomplishments. Look for someone who wants to see you succeed. It’s difficult to stay focused if your friend doesn’t share the same interests or wants to see you fail.

Be Positive – In achieving any type of goals, it’s always important to keep a positive attitude. If you tell yourself that you can’t do something, chances are you won’t succeed. Positive self-talk helps to boost your motivation and your attitude. Remind yourself that you’re trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle because you’re worth it. Positive words lead to positive actions!

Hitting a Slump – If you hit a slump, take the time to look over what you’ve written in your journal to remind yourself why you’ve made a commitment in the first place. Remember how good you feel after you’ve completed a workout.

Never Give Up! Regardless of how discouraged you become, the most important thing to remember and probably the most difficult, is to never give up. If you haven’t met your goals today, tomorrow is another day. It’s all about taking responsibility for your life. Your goals are only impossible if you aim too high.

There is obviously not a motivational solution. Motivation is something that has to come from deep within yourself. The next time you see a parking space close to the entrance or decide that taking the elevator is quicker than the stairs, reach deep down and find your inner motivation.

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”.

Keep Fit and Be Happy!

Keep Fit and Be Happy!

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Plateau Busters

by Ann Blanton

Your high school reunion is right around the corner. You’ve made the decision to exercise regularly and eat healthy so you can look sexy in that little black dress. As a result, you’re dropping pounds, losing inches and building beautiful lean muscle.

You’ve been keeping a journal, faithfully recording your progress and weighing in weekly. You’re down to your last few pounds before accomplishing your goal. Then suddenly it happens. You step on that pesky contraception and the numbers won’t budge. Now what? Don’t panic! That inevitable plateau happens to everyone who ventures into fitness.

You’re fresh out of ideas, but you’ve come this far and refuse to give up. Let’s think back for a moment. Do you remember when you first started taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator? At first, it was a task, but then it got easier. What about the first time you walked around the block, huffing and puffing, walking only short distances. Soon that became easy too because your body adapted. The repetitive movements increased your strength and endurance promoting weight loss until one day the scale stopped moving.

First, ask yourself these questions. Have you lost your motivation? Are you pushing yourself beyond your limitation? Has exhaustion or boredom set in? If your answer is yes, let’s take a look at a few simple solutions.

Stop and Refocus

If you’ve lost your motivation, “find some way to challenge your body right away, as that will shift your energy just by moving and breathing,” says Lani Muelrath, McDougall Health and Medical Center Fitness Expert. “Connect with your vision of your body, energy and physical confidence ideal. This means a vivid mental picture of where you want to be. This then gives shape to your goals and inspiration to your activity,” explains Muelrath.

Reevaluate

By setting high limitations, you’re only sabotaging yourself from all of your capabilities. In this case, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your goals.

Take A Rest

If exhaustion has taken its toll, then it’s time for you to take a well-deserved rest.  Just to let you know, sometimes taking a few days off is crucial so you can get your motor up and running again. When you come back, you’ll be more relaxed and stronger than ever.

Re-energize

Try working out with a friend or family member who can offer support and hold you accountable. Take a class or if you can afford it, workout with a trainer. Practice stretching techniques by doing yoga and spend some mediating to help relieve stress.

Shake things up

Variety is the spice of life! Try something new that you’ve wanted to do but was afraid to try. The possibilities are endless.

“If you like to be with others socially, find a class you can join that will allow more social support. Just move and avoid getting caught up in finding the best way to work out,” Muelrath suggests.

Interval training

The benefits of interval training are astounding. You can burn more calories by adding high intensity to your workout. Here’s an example that is sure to work. Just to simplify, this type of training can be used for most exercises such as walking on a treadmill, elliptical training, aerobics, cycling and swimming. Hence, these are only a few examples. If you’re walking on a treadmill, begin at a normal pace for roughly two or three minutes, then begin to pick up the pace and walk briskly for the same amount of time and repeat for several intervals. You can also increase the incline as you become stronger. If it’s aerobics your interested in, start at a low pace for a couple of minutes and then gradually pick up the pace for the same amount of time and repeat intervals.  You’ll be amazed at how your fitness level will increase, you’ll become stronger and you’ll start dropping those unwanted pounds in no time.

More ideas to help get you started

Drums Alive – This is the most unique and challenging workout you’ll ever try. This foot stomping workout delivers powerful movement and rhythm to the beat of a drum. It’s fun, gets your body moving and brings results.

Half and Half – This exercise includes 30 minutes of step and sculpt, followed by 30 minutes of drums alive for an awesome total body workout.

20-20-20- This workout includes a three and one combination of 20 minutes of cardio, sculpting and abdominal core conditioning for a maximum outcome.

Hoopilates – The name says it all! It begins with traditional strength conditioning with Pilates and fun cardio movements with hoop dancing. If you get bored easily, this workout is for you.

Hip-Hop – Move your body to the beat of reggae for a fun and exhilarating exercise.

Diamond Fit – These boot camp moves include intense cardio, plyometrics, muscle toning, core and abs for a challenging workout that will have your body diamond fit in no time.

Turbo Kicks – If you want to punch and groove to a party atmosphere, with side effects that promote results, give this exercise a try.

Boxercise – This fun energetic, stress-busting class includes boxing techniques that will enhance hand-eye coordination, balance and timing.

These are only a few booty-shaking ideas that will help you accomplish your goals in no time.

Don’t worry if you’re budget doesn’t allow room to incorporate classes that fit into your routine. There are plenty of butt blasting DVDS and videos that you can purchase online or at most retail stores.  Here are a few  suggestions you might want to consider.

Turbo Fire – If you’re ready to sweat to the beat with fire drills and burn nine times more calories with this intense cardio workout, this workout will be just what you’re looking for.

Insanity – Yes, there definitely is a method to the madness! These insane workouts will push you beyond your limit for a more firm and toned physique in no time.

Insanity Asylum – This offers speed, agility and strength with sport drills that will have you slamming and flying like an athlete.

Get on the ball with FitBall – This exercise offers solutions for core, balance and coordination using a balance ball for a total body workout.

Yoga Fitness – Includes deep stretches, yoga postures and Pilates movements.

“Other ways to bust through a plateau are to change the locations of your workouts,” says certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor, Bonnie Hardie. If you exercise inside, maybe it’s time to move your workout outdoors. “You can also change the time of your workouts,” suggests Hardie. If your regular routine is in the morning, try evenings instead.

If you need to bust through a plateau, the key to remember is to live fit and train smart. Never give up and keep your body moving!

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 titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

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

Ann Blanton, writer, nonfiction,  author, published, article, magazine. Fitness Plus, plateau, busters, exercise, aerobics, activity, active, workout, fitness, eat, healthy, pounds, results, progress, muscle, lean, inches, goal, accomplish, numbers, stairs, elevator, walking, repetitive, movements, endurance, strength, weight loss, motivation, refocus, challenge, energy, body, physical, limitations, sabotage, reevaluate, rest, exhaustion, strong, re-energize, support, accountable, class, trainer, yoga, meditate, stress, technique, stretching, variety, interval, training, treadmill, elliptical training, aerobics, cycling, swimming, pace, brisk, increase, incline, accomplish, challenge, cardio, sculpting and abdominal core conditioning, plyometrics, muscle, tone, boxing, energetic, balance, coordination, blast, DVD, videos, physique, firm, athlete, movement, fiction, story, anthology, Heartscape

Women walking

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”.

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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/

 

 

Gym Equipment

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NEW BODY, NEW MIND, NEW YOU-TIPS FOR JOINING A GYM

Have you made a resolution to join a gym, but your busy lifestyle has kept you from achieving your goal. Maybe you’re running around with the kids and by the end of the day you’re too exhausted to work out. Reality finally sets in when you step on the scale and watch as the numbers go up. Sound familiar? Just because you put the kids first, doesn’t mean your health should come last.

Eventually you begin to consider the alternatives and start to put things into perspective. Perhaps you’ve never joined a gym, you’re afraid to commit and don’t know what to expect or where to begin. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help get your started.

Check with your physician – If you’ve never exercised before, it’s probably a good idea to check with your health care professional before beginning any type of activity. Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health, you’re all set and ready to begin.

Do your research – It’s usually  good idea to ask around. If you have family and friends who belong to a gym, ask them for recommendations for facilities that would best fit your needs.

You might also look in your local phone directory for gyms that are close by make a few calls and visit the locations. When checking out nearby fitness centers, make sure they meet up to your standards. You might even decide to talk to an expert and let them walk through the motions. Find out what they offer; what classes are best for beginners and if they provide childcare. Some places have day care services available if you sign up for a membership. If you’re not ready to become a member, a small fee might be included.

What to wear– Most experts will advise you to wear lose fitting garments like shorts and t-shirts, sweats or leotards.

Proper footwear – There are many different types of athletic shoes for most sporting activities, so depending on what you sign up for will determine your needs. If you’re not certain what activities you’ll take part in, cross trainers will most likely be your best option. Always try them on, walk around and make sure they don’t lip up and down. The last thing you need are blisters on your feet. Selecting a good pair of shoes will help your overall performance and prevent injury.

Socks are important too – Choosing the proper fitness socks are just as important as your sneakers. Look for something in the lightweight category. This type of sock will keep your feet dry, prevent odor and free from blisters.

Lockers – Every new client is assigned to their own locker. Towels for shower use are also available. Although lockers are free, you might need to supply your own lock.

Now that you’ve done your research and have learned the basics, here are a few exercise ideas to help you get started.

Activities for beginners – Aerobics for beginners consist of basic, low impact cardio moves with a simple core routine and abdominal conditioning.

Pilates for beginners – This includes an introduction to Pilates, techniques in relaxation, core strength and posture.

Body blitz – This incorporates simple aerobic moves and body conditioning. When your body becomes strong and fit, you can add moderate to high intensity workouts and include strength training with weights.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. If you’re interested, here’s the link to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

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Stretching for good health

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Stretch!

Are you like most people when they first begin to exercise? The morning after, you’re muscles are so sore, you can hardly roll out of bed. You feel as if you’ve already been kicked to the curb and the day hasn’t even started. If you haven’t already figured out the solution, I’ll tell you. The answer is stretching before and after your workout.

Gentle stretching prior to activity is beneficial to warm up cold muscles and helps to prevent pulled or torn muscles. The post workout stretch aids in recovery and avoids injury. Neglecting to do so can make a world of difference between sore muscles and fatigue or increased energy and stronger muscles. Stretching shapes the muscles, making them long and lean and removes the lactic acid.

Now that you understand the importance of stretching, let’s talk about some of the benefits. 

Improves flexibility and range of motion

As you age, simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking something up from off the floor can often become challenging. Regular stretching can elongate your muscles and make daily chores much easier to achieve.

Enhances circulation

Stretching promotes circulation of blood to the muscles and joints, which in turn bring nutrients to the cells and helps to remove waste. 

Develops good posture

Stretching helps keep your muscles from becoming tight and sore, which in turn, allows for better posture and fewer aches and pains.

Relieves stress, anxiety and fatigue

Tense muscles are often accompanied by stress. Stretching relaxes those muscles and brings you a sense of well-being and relief.

Decreases risk from injury

When your muscles and joints are tight, stretching before and after a workout, loosens and protects them from becoming painful after exercise.

Now that you know the advantages of stretching, let’s practice a few techniques.

Calf

This is the muscle that runs along the back of the lower leg. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Put one foot behind the other. The right knee should be straight and the right heel positioned on the floor as you slowly bend the left leg forward. Always hold your back straight and your hips forward. 

Hamstring

Your hamstring runs along the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor, placing one leg against the wall. Relax your heel alongside the wall and bend your knee slightly. Gently straighten your leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

Quadriceps

The quads run along the front of your thigh. Standing next to a wall for support, gently grasp your ankle. Pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold your stomach in tight and keep your knees together.

Shoulders

Bring your left arm above or below your elbow and hold gently. Repeat with your right arm.

Neck

Bend your head forward and gently to the left. Do the same thing on the right. Hold to a comfortable position.

Warm-up

Always prepare your body for what is about to come. Remember to stretch cold muscles to prevent your risk of injury. Don’t rush stretching. Take things slow and easy. 

Breathe

Never hold your breath! Inhale slowly as you begin your stretch and exhale as you complete it.

Cool down

The cool down is just as important as stretching because it gradually brings your heart rate down without shocking your body. It also helps to relax your muscles before stretching takes place. 

Tips:

1. If it hurts, don’t do it! Hold each stretch for at least thirty to sixty seconds. If you feel pain or discomfort, back off.

2. Never bounce while you’re stretching because it can cause injury to your muscle tissue.

3. If you have a chronic medical condition or an injury, seek medical advice from a professional. Modify stretching is always advisable.

4. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a few minutes to stretch your body every morning and again before going to bed to maintain flexibility.

5. Make a habit to stretch daily and your body will thank you.

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