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

Posts Tagged ‘enhance

Girl sleeping

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Sleep deprivation and weight gain    

by Ann Blanton

Our bodies need the basic necessities to function properly. These requirements include: food, water and sleep.

Maybe you’ve been packing on the pounds but don’t know why. You’ve been eating a healthy diet and exercising, but instead of losing those unwanted pounds, you’re gaining. You’re doing whatever it takes, yet the numbers on the scale keep adding up.

Do you drink more coffee throughout the day and eat comfort foods to “boost” your energy levels? If this is the case, then you might want to ask yourself this question. Are you getting the adequate amount of sleep? If the answer is no, then perhaps sleep deprivation is sabotaging your ability to lose weight

How less sleep causes weight gain

Some researchers say it could be mayhem with your fat cells if you don’t get enough shut-eye; which can lead to weight gain and other health problems such as obesity and diabetes. New studies show that too little sleep and the quality of sleep may play an important role in the activity of hormones and appetite. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that can equally affect the appetite.  

Because energy levels might be much lower with reduced sleep, an individual is  more likely to make inappropriate food choices and therefore, exercise less. The end result is obviously packing on the pounds. The ability to make good or bad food choices are often comprised when sleep is diminished.

New research shows that an additional 300 plus calories were consumed by women who have slept as little as four hours a night compared to those who sleep nine hours. Then again, men have been known to eat more than 200 calories with inadequate sleep patterns. Individuals who sleep less reported more cravings, usually foods that are high in carbohydrates, high fats and sugary foods. On the other hand, those who sleep more have less hunger.

So how much sleep do you need?

Each person has their own individual needs, but depending on age, determines how much sleep is required. Let’s take a look at some examples according to different stages of life.

Newborns -12-18

Infants – 14-15

Toddlers -12-14

Preschoolers – 11-13

School age children – 10-11

Teens – 8 – 9.50

Adults – 7-9

Individuals who get at least seven to nine hours each night, are more able to keep their weight controlled, have fewer cravings and less late night snacking.

So, if you’re a night owl and stay up late with late with David Letterman or Jay Leno,  it’s time to “hit” the sack earlier and get a few more zzz’s.

Tip:  Get in the habit of going to bed every night at the same time and get up at the same time each morning.

Scripture from Psalm 62:1 –  My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.

As always, I appreciate 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/ I’ve also had a short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published in a book of short stories titled, “Heartscape”.

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Weight Loss Boss

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Weight Management – Why women gain weight

by Ann Blanton 

If you’re someone who gets frustrated or discouraged every time you step on the scale, you’re not alone. Every day weighing can sabotage you from accomplishing your weight loss goals, so you might want to limit yourself from getting on that pesky contraception.

First, it’s important to know that daily weighing is not required. There are many causes why the numbers on the scale increase rather than decrease. Let’s discuss what some of those reasons are.

Sodium

Salt does not make you gain fat. Why? Because it contains no calories. Yet, weight gain is certainly a temporary possibility if consumptions are too high. This is simply because it causes your body to retain water. The body naturally tries to eliminate extreme amounts by diluting it with water. Then again, weight loss is more likely if your consumption is too low. For this reason, it removes water. Foods that are highly processed are more likely to have higher contents of sodium.

Glycogen

I like to think of glycogen as a tank that’s filled with stored carbohydrates. On any given day, if you fail to take in  adequate amounts of carbohydrates, your glycogen supply will diminish. When this happens, your appetite could slightly increase; and your body will replace its fuel with water. It’s not uncommon to experience shifts in water weight up to approximately two pounds daily without changing your activity level or calorie consumption.

Muscle

If you’ve been including weight training along with cardiovascular activity into your daily routine, don’t be alarmed if you see increased weight gain.  Long lean muscle has positive effects on the body for many reasons. It boosts metabolism, protects the bones against disease such as osteoporosis by preventing bone loss, gives you with a sexy physique and provides confidence by increasing your self- esteem.  What’s more, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

Menstruation 

Let’s take a moment to talk about why weight fluctuations are often a result of menstruation. Fluid retention or edema is frequently the culprit during this time of the month, because hormonal changes are usually taking place. At this time, some women experience difficulty with bowel movement that can also lead to water retention.

During the pre-menstrual cycle, magnesium levels typically plummet. When this happens, it creates a lower production of insulin levels. As the levels drop, sugar cravings take place.  Most often, the end result is  weight gain.

Peri–Menopause  and Menopause 

Weight gain often becomes a problem for women who are approaching the years of peri-menopause and menopause, particularly around the mid section. Although a hormonal imbalance takes place for many women, hormones alone are not entirely the problem. The difference between genetics and lifestyle principles are also linked. Along with the aging process, metabolism clearly slows down and muscle mass begins to decline. Failure to do something about this, your body composition will change from a reduced amount of muscle to additional fat.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can often be the cause of many negative effects  on the body. Lack of sleep decreases your energy level, affects motivation to exercise and often results in eating more than what’s normally required for the body. Little or no sleep causes a rise in ghrelin; the hormone that stimulates the appetite. So, if you’re not dropping those few extra pounds, perhaps you’re not getting enough shut- eye.

Stress 

Let’s face it, stress is a way of life! With today’s economy, who wouldn’t be stressed. Acute stress may lead to appetite loss, whereas, chronic stress may enhance appetite. Prolonged stress triggers the hormone cortisol by releasing it into the body. When this happens, it affects metabolism; it can also lead to depression, sleep deprivation and obesity. The best way to reduce stress is through physical activity.

Hypothyroidism 

The tiny butterfly gland located in the middle of the neck can wreak havoc on the entire body if it’s not controlled. Hypothyroidism (underactive), is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid by not producing enough of the hormone, T4 (thyroxine). When levels become low, it instantly signals the brain and tells the thyroid to release more T4. When this happens, if affects the metabolic rate which in turn affects the body to burn fat, as a result, unexpected weight gain.

Medications

It’s not uncommon for certain types of prescription medications to cause weight gain. This is because some medications can increase appetite, quench your thirst for sugary drinks, increase water retention and reduce the ability to burn fat. If this is a concern and you experience these side effects, you might want to talk to your health care professional.

So, what do you think,  is it true, does the scale really lie? The next time you step onto the scale, take all these facts into consideration.

Stop by often. I always appreciate 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. I’ve also had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

Women walking

You can look and feel good at any age

photo by: Sangudo

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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”.

Who could say “no”, to these adorable cuties

Photo by: Sara Jones

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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,

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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”.