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

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Healthy fats to lower your cholesterol

Cholesterol lowering properties

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Lower your cholesterol without medication

by Ann Blanton

Your doctor just phoned with the numbers for your cholesterol. You’ve been doing everything to keep your numbers in check with good nutrition, exercise, good sleep habits and minimal stress. So what gives?

Maybe you’re a smoker or consume alcohol on a regular basis; if this is the case, it’s time to ‘kick’ the habit. High cholesterol is also a condition that’s heredity, so if it runs in your family, it doesn’t matter how good your health habits are, you’re still at risk.

Let’s take a look at some ideas to help lower your levels without taking prescription medications. There’s no guarantee you’ll lower your cholesterol by following these steps; so  follow your doctor’s advice and do whatever he tells you.

Lifestyle changes

It’s crucial to pay special attention to your diet. You should allow at least five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You’ll want to maintain a diet that is made of 2/3 fruits and vegetables, and 1/3 of other foods. Cholesterol lowering foods such as avocados, onions, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, oat bran, olive oil, chili peppers, fatty fish including salmon and tuna, flax seed and beans such as black, kidney, pinto and  navy, play an essential role in lowering LDL and sometimes raising HDL levels.

Exercise

You already know that exercise is the best way to a healthy lifestyle. Specialists have reported that thirty minutes of brisk walking three times a week can help reduce cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. That should be enough to get your motor up and running. Plus, it’s fun, easy and no gym membership is necessary. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.

Nutrition

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. A few simple tips might be all you need. Eat a diet that is rich in good fats such as salmon, nuts and olive oil. Avoid foods containing saturated and trans fats such as lard, margarine and processed packaged snacks. These foods include, chips, cookies and baked goods.  Saturated fats consist of fatty meats, whole milk, cream and cheese. You don’t have to cut out all the fats,  just the unhealthy ones.

Sleep habits

Good sleep habits are a top priority to help fight infection, maintain good heart health and longevity. “Sleep deprivation often leads to bad food choices and snacking,” says cardiologist Frank Pearl. If you’re sleep deprived, it can cause the overproduction of insulin which causes the body to make more cholesterol.

Fish oil and heart disease

It’s time to discover the truth about fish oil. Does it prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol? Let’s take a look at the facts.  A diet that is rich in omega threes, including salmon, sardines, mackerel and cold water fish, will reduce the development of heart disease according to some researchers. This is only because they’ve been investigating fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements.

Although fish is known to decrease heart disease, it’s unknown if fish oil supplements have the same results. Then again, fish oil can reduce certain heart possibilities. Fish oil has been found to decrease certain blood fats called triglycerides, raise HDL, the good cholesterol and thin the blood. This is why eating fish helps to prevent heart attacks.

Stress and Cholesterol

Stress is a significant factor that often increases the affect of unhealthy lifestyle choices. These behaviors involve poor eating habits, inactivity and smoking, all of which are linked to high cholesterol. Usually all individuals have some kind of stressful situations in their life, but major stressful events can be difficult to avoid and eventually lead to poor health.

So, rather than going through the drive through at McDonald’s why not grab a salad instead. Your heart will thank you.

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 also had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

As always, I appreicate all your comments.

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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”.

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

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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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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It takes a lot of dedication and commitment, no matter what your age.

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I thought it would be a good idea to start posting some of my published articles on my blog. For those of you who are interested, you can read them here. “Mastering Metabolism”, was one of my first articles published. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Mastering Metabolism

by Ann Blanton

If you want a metabolism that blasts through fat like a vehicle burns through fuel, you’ll have to eat more food and exercise in a certain way.

When foods are absorbed, they’re broken down into proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and then digested by the body. This allows the body to function, grow and repair itself.

Many individuals believe that their metabolism slows down with time. This is true, because people become more sedentary. Your metabolism naturally slows approximately five percent every 10 years. But, regardless of what pace your body’s metabolism has, good nutrition and exercise are necessary to keep your body in perfect balance.

You’ll notice a significant difference in your metabolic rate if you eat a healthy breakfast every day. “A healthy breakfast gives you energy to start your day, especially when taking in carbohydrates from cereal and fruit,” says registered nutritionist Geoffrey Axiak.

Consume most of your calories early in the day. If possible, make dinner your smallest meal. Doing this helps your body to process and burn food while you’re awake and moving around.

Water is the most important source of nourishment for your body. “Water before breakfast purifies the body and makes your metabolism more efficient,” explains Axiak.

Because water is the body’s lubricant, it flushes out toxins and keeps the kidneys functioning properly.

Foods such as celery, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are considered high-energy foods. “Fruits, especially grapefruits and apples, will boost your metabolism,” says Axiak. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, barley, oatmeal and popcorn also are high-energy foods.

Cardiovascular exercise is one way to stimulate your metabolism. It makes your body use more calories, because the large muscle groups need more calories to perform during your aerobic activity. When your body sees this increased need, it drives its energy need during regular activity. After weeks and months of requiring more energy, you may see results through increased fat loss.

“Resistance training can also increase your life expectancy because it increases your capabilities by keeping your joints, bones and muscles stronger for longer so you can do more of the things that make up living,” comments Jonathan Ross, 2010 Idea Personal Trainer of the Year. “Aerobic activity might save your life, but strength training makes it worth living.”

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