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

Posts Tagged ‘exercise

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

Who could say “no”, to these adorable cuties

Photo by: Sara Jones

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahakabmg/3949023496/

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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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”.

 

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

Photo by puck90

http://www.flickr.com/photos/puck90/3563817003/

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”.

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”.

Drink up! The Nutrient of Life!

Water is by far, the most important nutrient on earth! Water is 80% of the body’s weight that performs and supports the internal functions of all plants and animals. Common sense tells us that we all need it, and without it, our bodies simply cannot perform appropriately.  When your body is well hydrated, all the internal organs function at a higher capacity.

Water helps to regulate the body’s temperature. It makes up ninety two percent of the blood and almost ninety eight percent of intestinal, gastric,  salivary and pancreatic juices. Water holds all nutritive factors in solution and acts as a transportation medium for all these substances. Drinking water for health, helps to keep the blood thin, as it should be. But when you’re dehydrated, the blood thickens which can make it much more difficult to pump. What’s more, it makes the overall function of the body slow and unproductive.

Many believe that drinking water is only to quench thirst, but, in reality, it’s the most important source of nourishment for the body. It might be possible to go without food for days, maybe even weeks, but without water, a person would be in dire straits.

On average, an adult body loses about three and a half quarts of water on a daily basis through breathing, perspiration, urination and bowel movement. Because half of the human body is made up of water, it’s important to replace what is lost. The only way to do that, is to drink plenty of fluids every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Some people wonder how much water they should be drinking daily. That depends on your activity level, health status, the climate in which you live or if you’re pregnant or nursing. A good way to determine your daily consumption is based on your total body weight divided by two. Example: Let’s say that you weigh one hundred and fifty pounds; divide that by two, equals seventy five. So every day you should be drinking no less than seventy five ounces of fresh, clean water.  Are you drinking the expected amount for your total body weight?

Water and Exercise

Because sweat is a liquid, it diminishes the body’s internal water supply. If you sweat excessively during exercise and don’t replenish the fluids that are lost, it can lead to illness and other problems such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness and muscle cramps. With that said, it’s critical to adequately replace whatever you lose while exercising. Hydration enhances physical performance, helps digestion, maintains balance of electrolytes and transports nutrition. Remember to always drink more water before, during and after exercise to keep your energy levels high and to aid in recovery.

Water and Weight Loss

Drinking water also helps to speed up your metabolism and acts as a natural appetite suppressant for weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should be drinking an additional eight ounce glass for every twenty five pounds you are over your ideal weight. The advantage is the positive effect water has on your metabolic rate. Usually, women have less water than men; but overweight people have less water than a thin person because fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue.

Ask yourself this question. How many times have you felt hungry and reached for a snack? Your body was asking for something and you merely assumed it must be food. Maybe you were  just dehydrated and needed water. The next time, reach for a glass of water and see if that helps. Some people wait until there thirsty to drink water. If you wait until thirst sets in, you’re probably already dehydrated.

Water flushes toxins from the body

Drinking water detoxifies the liver and kidneys and carries waste away from the body. 

Water assists fluid retention

If the body doesn’t get enough water, every drop of liquid you put into it, it will hold onto. So what’s the solution? Drink more water. When the body recognizes it has a continuous amount, it will stop hanging onto every drop. A diet that is high in sodium will also cause water retention. To combat this, drink more water to help flush the sodium through your kidneys.

Muscle Tone

If you lift weights to build long lean muscle mass, you must keep your body well-hydrated because water helps muscle tone by giving it the usual capability to contract. It also lubricates the joints.

Can you drink too much water? Absolutely. It’s called water intoxication. When I talk about too much water, I’m referring to excessive amounts under normal circumstances. Too much water in your system causes the dilution of necessary electrolytes in the blood stream, which has implications to control the heart beat. Recommendations are to drink eight to twelve glasses of fluid with additional fluids from the foods that you eat to help support exercise and hot climates.

Tip:

If you plan to stay hydrated, drink cold water; but drink warm water if you want to stay full longer.

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/

Hello fellow enthusiasts, welcome to the first entry of my blog. My name is Ann Blanton and I’m a writer of nonfiction. I also enjoy exploring the wonderful world of fiction, but my first love is based on facts. I dedicate the majority of my time writing on topics that I’m most passionate about. Those subjects focus on physical fitness, nutrition, health and everything else in between.

I’ve been putting pen to paper for as long as I can remember. I enjoy reading a good book as much as I love writing-well almost. My reading preferences are magazines-fitness and nutrition of course, most books and labels. And no, I don’t mean clothing labels. Yeah, I guess maybe I do, but in this for instance, I’m referring to ingredient labels.  OK, so maybe that sounds weird, but isn’t reading clothing labels strange too? If I didn’t read descriptions on boxes, cans, bags, containers, etc., how would I possibly know nutritional facts, calories and other useful information to encourage healthy eating habits?

From the age of twelve, exercise has always been a huge factor in my life. My favorite class all throughout school was P.E. Participating was not only fun, it revved up my metabolism, kept me toned and conditioned and continuously kept me motivated.

I’ve devoted thirty years of my life helping others promote good health habits into their lifestyle. I’m not only a writers, I’m also a wellness coach, teacher and motivator and I’ve designed many successful programs for individuals who are serious about living healthy lives.

Being the fanatic that I am, my all time favorite reality show is The Biggest Loser. I never imagined it could be possible, for contestants from all around the globe to lose weight, get healthy, learn about good nutrition, plus get beneficial results in such a short period of time. Trainers like Jillian Michael’s, Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince, says it all; the transformations are astounding! Are you a fan? If so, tell me why you love the show.

As an additional bonus for including exercise and proper nutrition, my healthy lifestyle has reflected a good example on my husband and my son. It’s also a habit I plan to pass on to my new grandson.

In 2010, I graduated from The Long Ridge Writers Group and was nominated one of the most persistent writers for sending out 123 queries in a single year. I’ve taken a freelance writers course at Penn Foster and graduated with high honors. Currently, I’m a student at The Winghill Writing Academy.  I plan to further my abilities and continue to thrive as a successful writer.

Finding a reliable critique partner that you can depend on, is very important if you’re a writer or if you’re thinking about becoming one. Why? Because I said so. I’m joking. Whoever you choose as your buddy, they should be as committed to their profession as you are. Two years ago after putting an ad in a newsletter, my writing pal found me. She emailed me, we hit it off immediately and we’ve been buddies ever since. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. Donna, my friend, if you’re reading this, as I know that you are, thank you for all that you’ve done to help me succeed as a writer. I also appreciate you’re encouragement convincing me to finally start a blog. You Rock! By the way, your check is in the mail. Kidding!

Stop by often and I will answer all of your comments.  I’ll be posting at least twice a week, maybe more if I don’t have any deadlines pressing.

So what do you do to keep fit?

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 will also have my first short story published as an anthology in Heartscapes in a few short weeks.