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

Posts Tagged ‘challenge

Keep Fit and Be Happy!

Keep Fit and Be Happy!

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skampy/2343649298/

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

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenstein/3748362456/

 

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/

 

 

A definite knockout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stretching for good health

Photo by RobW

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robwallace/738543661/sizes/o/

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”.

 

Let’s take a walk

by Ann Blanton

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

Sedentary Lifestyle

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

Benefits

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

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

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

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

General Health and Longevity

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

Weight Control

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

Tip:

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

Mental Health

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

If the shoe fits, wear it!

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

Begin slowly

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

Pick a time and place

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

Choose a familiar place

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

Have a  back- up plan   

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

Stretch before and after

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

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