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

Posts Tagged ‘healthy

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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Free range chickens

Home, home on the range

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Farm raised chickens vs. free range- what’s the difference?

by Ann Blanton

Farm raised

Have you ever noticed the yellow color of a chicken purchased at your local market? The reason behind this is because these birds have been raised where they can scarcely move, stretch or engage in normal behaviors. The overcrowded space is so limited, these poor chickens can barely flap their wings. Confided circumstances such as these put stress on chickens. When chickens are stressed, they naturally produce disease.

These birds have been raised in coops with other chickens that sit around in their own feces and have been injected with antibiotics and hormones. This hardly sounds appetizing right? No wonder people are concerned about the foods they eat and where it comes from. Consuming healthy protein is a major factor for a healthy lifestyle, eliminate disease and increase energy level.

Free range

This in itself is pretty self-explanatory. It simply means these little guys are free to roam. They’re not raised in chicken houses like farm raised birds; they’re not diseased because they don’t sit in their own feces or the feces of other chickens. Unlike there farm raised friends who live six weeks, free range chickens live, approximately eight weeks longer. A diet for a free-range bird consists of natural grass, grains and seeds, and are not addicted to drugs.

Beware 

Be cautious of farmers who say there hens are free-range. If their diet consists of corn, soy and synthetics, they are not free-range. 

Which eggs are best?

Considering the conditions of the farm raised hens, eggs produced from free-range chickens are naturally healthier, more nutritious and are much healthier for the planet.

Nutritional facts:

Approximately free range eggs contain 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, twice as many omega-3-fatty acids,  triple the amount of vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and as much as 6 times more vitamin D.

Remember, the answer may differ depending on the farms.

Tip:

When thawing a chicken, do so on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.  By applying this helpful tip, you can prevent salmonella from spreading. Placing a chicken on the top shelf will allow the juices to drip on the lower shelves, which can spread salmonella to other food items.

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 as anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

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.

 

Keep Fit and Be Happy!

Keep Fit and Be Happy!

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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

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”.

Don’t worry, be happy!

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Coping strategies for stress

by Ann Blanton

In today’s world stress is an important concern for just about everyone. With unemployment at an all time high, gas prices on the rise, and food costs soaring through the roof, most people even with a two household income are barely scraping by. The issue of how to stay healthy in a society that’s constantly changing is often a question of how to cope with stress. Undeniably, the major source for stress is life.

So how is stress defined?  Often stress determines the emotional and physical endeavor that is caused by our response to pressure from the outside world.  It’s a physical and psychological reaction from a source that’s a disruptive or stimulating event.

So what can you do to stop the vicious cycle of stressors in our lives?

Unfortunately, eliminating all stress related issues from your life is virtually impossible. The good news however, is there are ways you can reduce stressful situations in daily living.

What are the secrets of stress reduction?  Regrettably, there are no secrets. It basically depends on the individual and how they cope with certain situations. Sometimes you have to learn techniques to turn a negative into a positive. Let’s take a look at a few example.

Acceptance –The first and most important rule is to learn acceptance. Learn to change the things you can control and accept the things you cannot. Then move on.

Be positive – As difficult as this may seem, your attitude affects how you handle most stressful situations. It also affects how you handle yourself. “The person who has a positive outlook has learned some valuable life skills. They’ve learned to edit their thoughts. They’ve also learned that they have the power to choose their attitude rather than depending on circumstances to dictate how they will feel,” says expert and life coach Levya Braman.

Those who are optimistic are able to cope more effectively. If you turn a negative into a positive, eventually, situations will turn out to your advantage. Another approach is to stay away from those who are always negative.

Exercise regularly – Working out on a daily basis helps to get your endorphins pumping and your blood circulating. It also creates a natural high and is the key to happiness. It’s difficult to be in a bad mood after a good workout.

Diet – Eating a healthy nutritious diet is not only good for the body; it’s also good for the soul. After all, you’re good eating habits should become a healthy way of life. No more yo-yo syndromes or roller coaster rides of ups and downs.

Sleep – It’s important to get plenty of restful sleep. It’s not necessarily the quantity of sleep that you get, as much as the quality.

Balance – There are three major components of keeping your body in perfect balance. These factors include exercise, good nutrition and restful sleeping patterns. Practice these habits to optimize these elements for your body, mind and lifestyle.

Laughter – Laughter is definitely life’s best medicine. There’s nothing like having a good laugh to brighten your mood and lift your spirit. Do whatever it takes to comprise laughter into your lifestyle, whether it’s telling a joke or watching a funny movie or your favorite sitcom. When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

So what do you do to relieve stressful situations in your life?

If you take the time to practice all of the above, everything else will naturally fall into place.

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

Off we go into the wild blue yonder

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Leap of Faith

by Ann Blanton

Background: Don Yeager served four years in the Navy during the Vietnam war. For the last 15 years, he’s currently been working as a project lead for a company who writes technical maintenance for Honeywell’s aeronautical equipment. Because of personal problems, Yeager suffered a bout with depression at the age of 59. Eventually, he picked himself up, joined a gym and got himself back in shape. “Keeping active makes me feel good, look good and gives me a better frame of mind,” he says.

When he’s working out: At 63 years young, Yeager works out at the gym five days a week. Twice a week he works out with his trainer, Al Roos. The rest of the time, he manages on his own. He also enjoys tennis and takes a yoga class. He even took a “leap” of faith and did the unexpected. Yeager went skydiving and crossed it off his bucket list. “It took my breath away, but I accomplished something that was out of the ordinary. It would equate the experience to being a dust ball sucked into a vacuum,” he said. “I proved to myself that I could do it.”

When he’s not working out: Yeager finds  pleasure decorating and working on his house. He also enjoys working in his garden, traveling and socializing with others.

Staying Motivated: Yeager’s motivation is to feel good and stay young so he can enjoy retirement. “You have to do things for yourself to keep yourself motivated,” he says.

At meal times: Like most, Yeager likes a succulent lean piece of beef and mashed potatoes. He also indulges with a peanut butter or oatmeal raisin cookie.

However, he only treats himself to these tasty treats once a week. The rest of the time, he enjoys a hearty bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh blueberries, leafy green salads with tomatoes, sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with red wine vinaigrette, turkey or chicken breast and barbecued vegetables. To top things off, he enjoys homemade yogurt or a delicious Granny Smith apple.

Goals: Yeager wants to travel to Europe when he retires. He also wants to learn to play the piano and bungee jump. Most importantly, he plans to be healthy and happy.

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