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

Posts Tagged ‘habits

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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Nutritous fruits and vegetables

Nutritious fruits and vegetables

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Good Nutrition for Adults

by Ann Blanton

Your body is the only home that you’ll truly ever own. Treat it like the temple that it is!

The first step to a healthy lifestyle is a well balanced nutritious diet. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you want to live a life free from diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and most types of cancer, you need to get on the right track and learn healthy nutritional habits. If you have good eating habits, you can save yourself a lot of time visiting the doctor’s office.

People who eat healthy have a higher immune system than someone who has poor eating habits. Proper nutrition and a healthy immune system will keep you strong throughout your entire life time. Your immune system can be affected by many things such as environmental pollutants, pesticides, antibiotics, allergies, inflammation, and chronic fatigue. Healing can take place much sooner with a strong immune system. However, the only way this is impossible is by having proper nutritional health.

Try making small adjustments weekly and cut back on foods that you know can be harmful to your health. Add at least two healthy food items to your shopping list and always stock up on fruits and vegetables. It’s essential to include at least five fruits and veggies into your diet every day. Get rid of all temptation and leave the comfort foods behind. Have you ever heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind?” Well it’s true; if it’s not in the pantry then you won’t be tempted.

Carbohydrates 

Many foods have carbohydrates and are an excellent source of energy for your body. Learn the difference between the carbohydrates that are good for you versus the ones that are not. If you eat too many carbohydrates at once, it can cause your glucose level to be too high.

Good carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber 

1. Fresh fruits and vegetables in every color, shape and size

2. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal and cereal

3. Dried peas, legumes and lentils. (These are also a great source of protein).

4. Non-fat or low fat dairy items such as milk, cheese, yogurt and margarine. Cook and bake with egg whites or egg substitutes

5. Wheat pasta, wheat flour and sweet potatoes

Carbohydrates to avoid

1. White bread

2. White rice and pasta

3. Fruit juices with sweeteners

4. Cakes, cookies, candy and chips

5. Regular soda

Good sources of protein

1. Lean meats and poulty without the skin

2. Low fat cheese, yogurt and eggs

3. Natural peanut butter and soy products such as tofu

4. Fish

Healthy fats are also heart healthy

1.  Nuts, almonds, walnuts and seeds

2. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel

3. Avocados

4. Olive oil

You don’t have to avoid foods that you crave altogether, just eat them in moderation.

 

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 my first short story published titled, “Shattered Spirit”, as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

I always appreicate all your comments.

 

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How to Begin a Safe Exercise Program

by Ann Blanton

There are hundreds of reasons why people refuse to workout. They’re too busy, too tired, don’t have time, don’t feel like it, can’t make the commitment or they just plain old hate to exercise.

Some people want to start an exercise regime, but don’t know where to begin. How many times have you made a resolution to get in shape? How many times have you actually kept that promise? You might have even convinced yourself that exercise programs don’t work anyway, so why bother.

Current studies show that individuals are living well into their eighties and nineties. Thus, maybe getting in shape so you can make the best of your golden years isn’t such a bad idea after all.

As you probably already know, getting fit has many health benefits. It gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, makes you look and feel better, boosts your self-esteem and even improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you naturally feel more attractive. Plus, exercise also helps to fight the signs of aging and most diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

If you want to start a regime, but don’t know how or where to begin, this article will help you learn the fundamentals and get on the right track to fitness. Even if you’re busy, you’ll be able to fit this plan into your lifestyle. There’s no time like the present, to put those goals into action; so let’s get started.

Consult a Physician 

If you’re new to fitness or have a medical condition that might worsen during physical activity, it’s a good idea to seek the advice from a physician you can trust.

Make a Commitment

Making a commitment might sound simple to some, but dedicating yourself to stick to an exercise routine on a daily basis is entirely different. First, it’s important for you to decide what time of day works best for you and then stick with it. For many, mornings can be effective because that’s when most people have their highest level of energy. Morning exercisers find that working out early helps them to get their day off on the right track. If mornings don’t work for you, then schedule a time that does and commit to that time every day.

Set Realistic Goals

If you set expectations that are too high, you’ll only sabotage yourself before putting your plan into action. Remember, changing bad habits doesn’t come easy. It’s always best to make small changes weekly, but most importantly, be reasonable.

Be Optimistic

A positive attitude is usually contagious. If you have a negative attitude, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure even before you begin. Furthermore, a good attitude will change your entire outlook on life.

Motivation

Staying motivated is probably one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when beginning an exercise program. The same routine is bound to get boring over time. To prevent exercise “burnout”, try to plan an activity that you enjoy, something exciting and fun, so you can keep your workouts fresh and enjoyable. Approximately one-third of all exercisers quit within the first year because of boredom.

Exercise with a friend

If you exercise with a friend or family member, you’re more likely to be consistent. Plus, it’s also a good way to stay accountable.

Start a Journal

Keeping an exercise log is a good way to keep track of all your accomplishments. If you become discouraged or frustrated, rereading all your victories is a good way to keep you motivated.

Toss out the scale

How many times have you stepped on that little contraption, only to have it ruin your day? If you’re answer is “many”, then you might want to hide it, toss it and forget all about it. As you become leaner and  start to build muscle, the numbers on the scale will probably go up. Don’t get discouraged. It’s more important to focus on your well-being and less on what the numbers say.

Begin Slowly

If you try and do too much too quickly, you’re only setting yourself up for sore muscles, fatigue and possibly even injury. Some exercise programs can be intimidating, so it’s best to take things at your own pace. As your body becomes stronger, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity.

Include Variety

Diversity can be just as important as the exercise itself. Over time, your body adapts to the same routine; so if your goal is to lose weight, you might want to “shake” things up, so it doesn’t slow down the process.

Rest and Recover

Some people might dive full force into working out and then feel guilty taking a day off. It’s important to always listen to your body. You might want to allow yourself a day off in between workouts so you can come back and feel stronger than ever.

Reward yourself

Some people like to reward themselves for their accomplishments by splurging on sweet treats. Instead, and only if you can afford it, why not treat yourself to small inexpensive gifts such as a manicure, pedicure or maybe a new exercise outfit.

Never give up

Like many people, there will always be days that will be discouraging or maybe you won’t be satisfied with your progress. Don’t use this as an excuse to throw in the towel.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy body.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/

 

 

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Reverse the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

by Ann Blanton

As we already know, the world has gotten quick and easy. These days, all it takes is a drive-through at McDonald’s, or popping something simple into the microwave with a push of a button.

For decades, lack of exercise and poor eating habits have increased the population of childhood obesity. It’s easy to recognize, but much more difficult to treat.

So what should we do to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity?

In today’s society, it takes both parents working to make ends meet. This means less time to plan and prepare the proper nutrition and no time for exercise.

Today’s generation, spends more time watching TV, sitting at a computer and playing video games.

Hence, what does this mean for our children and adolescents who are overweight or obese? If we want our children to adopt a healthy lifestyle, isn’t it up to us as parents and grandparents to reverse the epidemic and set better examples?

It’s just as important for parents to include physical activity into their busy lifestyles too. After a busy day at the office, most parents neither have the time or the energy to exercise. So moms and dads, if you’re thinking you can get off the hook easily, think again.

When you think of exercise, you instantly think of a gym membership. You don’t need a health club or expensive equipment to incorporate physical activity into your children’s lifestyle. If you already belong to  gym, that’s great. You’re already setting a good example for your children.

If you have school aged children, here are a few suggestions that might be helpful.

School activities – Ask your children what type of activities they might be interested in and let them decide if they’d like to participate. If your child is older, you might suggest things like team sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, football and wrestling or you can even join the swim team. Although these activities are geat for both genders, some children might not be interested in team sports. In that case, there are other opportunities such as gymnastics, dance classes, karate and tennis or volleyball.

Regardless of your child’s age, never force them to do something that they’re not ready to do. Doing so will only sabotage them to fail before they begin.

If you have younger children or maybe your income is limited, there are lots of things you can do. Let’s discuss a few helpful hints to make family time into fun time.

Rather than watching TV after dinner, take a leisurely walk with your kids. Pet owners, take your dog with the family for a stroll around the block, shoot hoops in the driveway, jump rope, play catch or toss around the Frisbee. On the weekends, you can go for a bike ride, take a hike or to swimming at the local YMCA.

Healthy Nutrition – Even in a busy world, it’ up to you as a parent to find the time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for your children. Make a grocery list, plan your menus carefully and read the labels.

Fresh is always better! So when you’re pushing you’re shopping cart down the produce isle, check out all the beautiful colors of fruits and vegetables.

Each color provides most of the vitamins and minerals for your optimal health, so fill your cart with lots of delicious produce.

It’s not to say that you have to stop

Healthy children mean happier and more confident individuals.

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 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

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

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Choosing Healthy Lifestyle Habits

by Ann Blanton

It’s typical to view your lifestyle habits as a stressful time, especially if you’re your own worst critic. There are four key elements that can make the change more successful, enjoyable and have a positive experience. Whatever the change, the fundamentals that make it possible are information, awareness, goal setting and a good support system.

Information

You’ll be amazed at how many health ideas you can discover by simply reading books and magazine articles on nutrition and weight control.

Awareness 

Sit in on a fitness class or better yet, take the “plunge” and jump right in with both feet. Eventually the process of change will become second nature. You’ll have fun and soon you’ll have an enjoyable lifestyle.

Support System 

A strong support system is an extremely important aspect in changing your lifestyle. Losing weight or to quit smoking are riddled with hurdles especially if you go at it alone. A lot of people including family and friends are negative when it comes to lifestyle change. Sometimes you have to find new friends and avoid certain family members. Some of us have to do it alone. It might be more difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Goal Setting 

Goal setting goes hand in hand with a strong support system strategy. The process of setting and visualizing goals helps you achieve your goals and gives you a road map to follow. The map will help you identify where you are on the road to accomplishing those obstacles. Ask yourself these questions : Where am I now? And where do I want to be? If you can answer those questions, then you are well on your way to meeting your ambitions. 

Good Nutritional Habits

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Examples:

1. What should I eat?

It’s important to eat at least five fruits and vegetables daily, lean protein, healthy complex carbohydrates, fiber, whole grains and low fat dairy products.

2. When should I exercise?

Working out in the a.m. is usually best for most people because that’s usually when energy levels are at their highest. Some people find that if they wait until later in the day, other responsibilities will hinder their fitness goals. If the only time you have is afternoons or evenings, then set aside a certain time schedule and stick to it each day.

3. When should I relax?

With busy lives, it’s very important to take a few minutes every day to relax. It doesn’t matter if you only have five minutes, sit back, close your eyes, clear your mind and take time to unwind from the pressures of the day.

Goal setting can be as simple as taking fifteen minutes to write down a list of goals that you want to accomplish. Once you’ve made a sizeable list, put them in the order in which you wish to achieve them. Spend time every day on at least one new goal and make it become a reality.

So what are some of your goals?

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 short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.