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

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High fiber foods

Foods high in fiber

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Digestive Health – The facts on fiber and why it’s important

by Ann Blanton

If you want to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, the key component is to eat a high fiber diet. Most people don’t even come close to consuming the amounts that are required on a daily basis. On average, most adults obtain as little as ten to fifteen grams of fiber a day.

What is it?

Fiber is a main factor for a healthy well-balanced diet. It’s a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest and comes from plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. Without being broken down into nutrients, fiber passes completely through the digestive tract rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Why it’s important

Fiber offers cancer fighting properties and prevent certain types of cancer. The edible section of plants are opposed to absorption and have maximum helpful elements to fight against disease..

Other health factors for a high fiber diet include: a reduction in blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, glucose levels and inflammation. It also promotes weight loss because it produces fullness in the intestines by decreasing food intake.

How much is enough

The recommended intake should consist of 14 grams for every one thousand calories you take in on a daily basis. So if you’re consumption is two thousand calories, you should be eating at least 28 grams of fiber.

To determine how much fiber is enough, depends on your age and gender. Women 50 and younger, should aim for 25 grams a day. Those 51 and over, should be getting 21 grams each day. Men 50 and younger, should include a maximum intake of 38 grams, and men 51 and over should try to get 30 grams on a daily basis.

Types of fiber

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble dissolves in water and is found in most fruits   It forms into a gel in the digestive tract and allows food to move quickly through the system. Soluble fiber also maintains healthy cholesterol levels and promotes a much healthier cardiovascular system. Insoluble fiber is quite the reverse and does not evaporate in liquid. Instead, it adds bulk to the stool and passes quickly through the stomach and intestines unless there is fat, protein or soluble fiber to slow down the process. Both types are recommended daily for a well-balanced diet.

Soluble fiber foods

The foods listed below foods are high in soluble fiber and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients and can also help reduce cholesterol levels.

Plums, pears, prunes

Grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes

oatmeal

Brussel sprouts, broccoli

lentils

carrots

chick peas

kidney pinto and lima beans

Insoluble fiber foods

Foods that are high in insoluble fiber incorporate the kernel and the bran. The bran is the outer portion that covers the kernel. Here is a list of the following foods.

Whole grain breads and cereals

Wheat bran

Whole wheat flour, bread and cereal

Granola

Seeds and nuts

Popcorn

Beans, lentils and brown rice

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries

Grapes and raisins

Cherries

Pineapple

Peaches, pears, nectarines and apricots

Apples, oranges and melons

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce and collards

Corn and peas such as snow, snap and pea pods

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts

Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions,  green peppers, celery and garlic

Eggplant

Cucumbers and tomatoes

Tip:

You should never eat these foods alone or on an empty stomach. Insoluble fiber foods should always be eaten with large quantities of soluble fiber to keep the gastro colic reflex steady  This stimulates the movement into the gastrointestinal tract.

Benefits

There are many health benefits from eating a  high fiber diet. Some of them are listed below:

Lowers bad cholesterol levels, LDL

Reduces the risk of certain types of cancer such as prostrate, breast, ovarian and uterine. According to clinical studies, there are conflicting results whether a high fiber diet can prevent colon cancer.

Lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, which are small pouches in the colon

Improves blood sugar levels and Diabetes

Helps prevent heart disease

Relieves irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Reduces the formation of gallstones and kidney stones because it regulates blood sugar

Skin breakouts and rashes

Inhibits the severity of a stroke and the chances of recovery

Assists healthy weight management

So, get in your daily dose of fiber and greatly improve your health.

Always, I appreciate your feedback, so leave 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 also had a story story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

John 6:35: And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

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”.

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

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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/

 

 

Namaste

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Positive vs Negative Stress – What’s the Difference?

by Ann Blanton

In a stressful society, life can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, stress will  play a major role in your life. How you handle those situations is entirely up to you. It’s about taking control and not letting stressful circumstances get the upper hand. There are ways to manage those upsetting incidents, but first you have to learn to accept the things you cannot change. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? But, it’s not as complicated as you may think.

The first response you imagine when you think about stress, is usually  a negative reaction. What you don’t know, not all stress is considered bad or harmful.

Take a good long look at your life and get in touch with your feelings and emotions. The goal is to manage your time wisely and make time for what’s important. It’s significant to come to terms with your stress levels and learn how to deal with it head on. Like it or not, it’s a part of life.

When you feel agitated, consciously choose how you’re going to react. You can either freak out or shrug it off. If you don’t learn to control stressful situations and allow your worries to bottle up, it can become destructive  to your body. Take several deep breathes and train your mind to stay calm and relaxed. Speak up. Never be afraid to let others know how or what you’re feeling. It might sound difficult, but with practice, it’s not impossible.

Categories of stress – Characteristics of stress can be divided into four groups. Each type can either be positive or negative. Let’s take a look at how each stage works.

Eustress – This is known as positive stress. You might feel like this after a roller coaster ride or watching a scary movie.

Positive stress produces chemicals known as endorphins and serotonin which provides contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration. Maybe you’ve felt a rush of excitement after a promotion or winning a marathon. As a result of satisfaction, your body physically creates positive stress.

Distress – This is identified as a negative aspect of stress. This type of stress can make you feel angry, discouraged or frightened. Being overwhelmed with distress, can often cause you to feel worried or experience psychological anguish.

The majority of people consider negative stress when they’re in pain, anxious or afraid because an excessive amount of adrenaline is being released into the body. Once the problem has been resolved, the bad stress is replaced with positive stress.

Chronic– This is the most serious type of stress. It’s also known as long term, which can lead to significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Some causes can be financial, sickness or death.

Sufferers feel as if they have no control over certain situations. The best way to manage chronic stress is to seek medical attention immediately and find out the source of the problem.

Acute – If you feel threatened or afraid, it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response and kicks your adrenaline into overdrive. It  prepares your body for emergencies. Acute stress is also known as a short term stressor that can be caused by trauma such as car accidents, being chased by a dog, robbery or rape.

There are many sides of stress; we just need to learn how to cope with different stages as they happen.

So how do you cope in stressful situations?

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

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

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

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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”.