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

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Girl sleeping

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Sleep deprivation and weight gain    

by Ann Blanton

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

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

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

How less sleep causes weight gain

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

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

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

So how much sleep do you need?

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

Newborns -12-18

Infants – 14-15

Toddlers -12-14

Preschoolers – 11-13

School age children – 10-11

Teens – 8 – 9.50

Adults – 7-9

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

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

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

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

As always, I appreciate all your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ I’ve also had a short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published in a book of short stories titled, “Heartscape”.

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Weight Loss Boss

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitchcakes/

Weight Management – Why women gain weight

by Ann Blanton 

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

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

Sodium

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

Glycogen

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

Muscle

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

Menstruation 

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

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

Peri–Menopause  and Menopause 

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

Sleep Deprivation

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

Stress 

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

Hypothyroidism 

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

Medications

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

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

Stop by often. I always appreciate your comments.

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

Got Milk!

                        Got Milk?

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Milk does the body good

by Ann Blanton

As children we were told to drink milk because it helps to build strong bones and teeth. But, as adults, we don’t think it still applies, so we have the tendency to slack off. This couldn’t be further from the truth; simply because this creamy white fluid is a natural source of vitamin D and calcium.

An important mineral called calcium help to maintain strong bones and muscles, including the most vital muscle of the body – the heart. Without it, the body will take calcium from your bones, which is the only other source that it has. It can also put you at risk for thin and brittle bones later in life. It takes one single cup to get one third of your daily calcium requirements.

There are many health reasons why you can benefit from vitamin D. Let’s take a look at some of those causes.

1. Vitamin D provides calcium balance in the body that can prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.

2. It also regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension.

3. Relieves aches and pains by reducing muscle spasms

4. Helps fight against depression.

5. It also aids in the secretion of insulin.

To reap the benefits, any amounts will suffice. However, according to experts, three eight ounce glasses daily will provide you with all the calcium you need, plus seventy- five percent of vitamin D. This tasty wellness drink provide important nutrients from protein which include vitamin A, B12, D, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin and niacin.

The importance of these vitamin include:

Vitamin A – Facilitates the immune system, normal vision and good skin.

B -12 –  Assists healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue.

Vitamin D– Helps in the absorption of calcium.

Niacin – It’s important for the significance of the nervous system. It also keeps enzymes functioning normally and helps the body process sugars and fat.

Potassium – Helps to keep a good blood pressure

Phosphorus and Riboflavin – Strengthens bones and gives you energy

Disease Prevention – Osteoporosis

It’s crucial to build strong bone mass during childhood and throughout adolescence, in order to prevent osteoporosis.  Although milk is the preferred source of calcium for overall bone health, there are other ways to stop bone loss. These tips contain:

1. A healthy lifestyle of no smoking or the intake of alcoholic beverages.

2. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.

3. Weight bearing and resistance training exercises

4. Bone density testing

Memory Loss – Vitamin B-12 is an important key factor to maintain the nervous system. Some scientists have discovered that milk has the best source of B-12 that can decrease the damage to the brain. Studies show that by drinking two cups daily, can protect against memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes – Some studies show that milk may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle aged or older women.

More diseases – Other findings such as chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke and colorectal cancer have also declines due to the consumption of milk.

Weight Loss – New research shows that milk can also help fight against the battle of the bulge. Two glasses of milk each day can help you drop those unwanted pounds. Typically, adults who have consumed the highest amounts of calcium and vitamin D, lost an average of twelve pounds over a period of time.

Beauty benefits – Hair, Nails and Skin

Research has discovered that the essential vitamins found in cow’s milk can provide, healthy, beautiful, shiny locks. The proteins and lipids work to strengthen hair, while the calcium promotes hair growth and aids in hair loss.

Nails – Fingernails need the proper nutrition to grow just like the rest of your body. Calcium is one of the minerals that can help. Although calcium may support healthy nail growth, it will not help them grow faster.

Skin – Vitamin A is an excellent source for good eyesight, but it also tackles skin problems like wrinkles and pigmentation changes. Because milk is high in hormones, if you’re acne prone, you might need to reduce your intake.

Whole milk is also high in fat and calories, therefore, if you’re watching your weight, you can switch to the low- fat version.

Stop by often. I always appreciate all your comments.

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/   I’ve also had my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

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

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