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.

Weight Loss Boss

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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”.

Stretching for good health

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Stretch!

Are you like most people when they first begin to exercise? The morning after, you’re muscles are so sore, you can hardly roll out of bed. You feel as if you’ve already been kicked to the curb and the day hasn’t even started. If you haven’t already figured out the solution, I’ll tell you. The answer is stretching before and after your workout.

Gentle stretching prior to activity is beneficial to warm up cold muscles and helps to prevent pulled or torn muscles. The post workout stretch aids in recovery and avoids injury. Neglecting to do so can make a world of difference between sore muscles and fatigue or increased energy and stronger muscles. Stretching shapes the muscles, making them long and lean and removes the lactic acid.

Now that you understand the importance of stretching, let’s talk about some of the benefits. 

Improves flexibility and range of motion

As you age, simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking something up from off the floor can often become challenging. Regular stretching can elongate your muscles and make daily chores much easier to achieve.

Enhances circulation

Stretching promotes circulation of blood to the muscles and joints, which in turn bring nutrients to the cells and helps to remove waste. 

Develops good posture

Stretching helps keep your muscles from becoming tight and sore, which in turn, allows for better posture and fewer aches and pains.

Relieves stress, anxiety and fatigue

Tense muscles are often accompanied by stress. Stretching relaxes those muscles and brings you a sense of well-being and relief.

Decreases risk from injury

When your muscles and joints are tight, stretching before and after a workout, loosens and protects them from becoming painful after exercise.

Now that you know the advantages of stretching, let’s practice a few techniques.

Calf

This is the muscle that runs along the back of the lower leg. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Put one foot behind the other. The right knee should be straight and the right heel positioned on the floor as you slowly bend the left leg forward. Always hold your back straight and your hips forward. 

Hamstring

Your hamstring runs along the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor, placing one leg against the wall. Relax your heel alongside the wall and bend your knee slightly. Gently straighten your leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

Quadriceps

The quads run along the front of your thigh. Standing next to a wall for support, gently grasp your ankle. Pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold your stomach in tight and keep your knees together.

Shoulders

Bring your left arm above or below your elbow and hold gently. Repeat with your right arm.

Neck

Bend your head forward and gently to the left. Do the same thing on the right. Hold to a comfortable position.

Warm-up

Always prepare your body for what is about to come. Remember to stretch cold muscles to prevent your risk of injury. Don’t rush stretching. Take things slow and easy. 

Breathe

Never hold your breath! Inhale slowly as you begin your stretch and exhale as you complete it.

Cool down

The cool down is just as important as stretching because it gradually brings your heart rate down without shocking your body. It also helps to relax your muscles before stretching takes place. 

Tips:

1. If it hurts, don’t do it! Hold each stretch for at least thirty to sixty seconds. If you feel pain or discomfort, back off.

2. Never bounce while you’re stretching because it can cause injury to your muscle tissue.

3. If you have a chronic medical condition or an injury, seek medical advice from a professional. Modify stretching is always advisable.

4. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a few minutes to stretch your body every morning and again before going to bed to maintain flexibility.

5. Make a habit to stretch daily and your body will thank you.

I would love to hear your feedback, so send me all your comments.

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

 

The Benefits of Probiotics

by Ann Blanton

We all crave more energy to help us get through our busy lives. When the body is functioning normally, it takes approximately eighty percent of your energy to digest and eliminate the foods that you eat. No wonder so many people are dragging around by the end of the day.

According to Webster’s dictionary, Probiotics is defined as, “usually dairy food or a dietary supplement containing live bacteria that replaces or adds to the beneficial bacteria normally present in the gastrointestinal tract.” Probiotics also mean “for life”, which is why studies have proven that taking Probiotics is as necessary as taking a multi-vitamin.

You probably already know that good health begins in the digestive tract. The human body consists of trillions of bacteria and microorganisms typically in the gut. Individuals need to continually refill the good bacteria in the abdomen to boost balance in the digestion. The body stays healthy when intestinal floras flourish.

Chronic or acute conditions such as poor digestion, obesity, urinary tract infections and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can become problematical if they’re not imbalanced. An overgrowth of the yeast fungus, also known as candidiasis, might also be a concern.

“Friendly” flora or “good” bacteria is found in the digestive tract, skin, mouth, rectum and the vagina. In other word, Probiotics keep our stomach, intestines and colon clean and healthy. It supports normal function of the colon, digestion, elimination of waste and prevents yeast, bacteria and parasites. When the “good” flora decreases, the “bad” bacteria and yeast take over. Once this happens, it throws the entire digestive tract off balance; causing the body to become prone to illness, Candida, yeast infection and digestive problems.

Frequently, antibiotics can also kill the “good” bacteria in the large intestine, which makes disease more susceptible. Physicians should always recommend Probiotics in combination while taking antibiotics.

Bad eating habits, chlorinated drinking water, stress, a low immune system, steroids and birth control pills are factors that can interrupt the healthy balance with the bacteria in the body.

Improves digestion 

In order for the body to fight off infection, improve digestion. elimination and boost the immune system, you might want to include Probiotics into your diet. By taking Probiotics, they also promote regularity and improve mineral absorption.

There are many sources of Probiotics available in pill form, capsule, liquid or powder. Foods that contain Probiotics include fermented products. Webster’s dictionary defines fermented as: “any of a group of living organisms, as yeasts, molds and certain bacteria that cause fermentation.”  Many of these products may already be included in your diet, such as sour cream, yogurt with live cultures and cultured buttermilk. It’s known that “good” bacteria in yogurt can help with diarrhea, gas and bloating. Those who are lactose intolerant and have difficulty digesting milk products, may find drinking acidophilus milk easier to tolerate.

Has this information been useful in learning the advantages thatProbiotics can provide?  What benefits have you gained?

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 published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

Let’s take a walk

by Ann Blanton

Walking is the easiest and least expensive way to get where you’re going, especially with the price of fuel on the rise. The biggest challenge is to make a commitment and stick with it, so let’s put those hard earned dollars back in our pocket, tie up those sneakers and let’s get moving.

Sedentary Lifestyle

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and have no physical movement, you’re at a higher risk for cancer. This is because inactivity or sitting for long periods of time are linked to increased inflammation and other statistics for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some studies show that walking daily can decrease the risks of developing cancer significantly. 

Benefits

The benefits of walking are endless. Not only does it lower the risk of most diseases, it also gives you more energy, lifts your mood and boosts your immune system.

Let’s take a look at other advantages that walking provides.

  1. Reduces the risk of coronary disease and stroke
  2. Lowers  blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
  3. Increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis
  4. Improves physical and mental well-being

Walking for fitness can vary according to an individual’s age and level of activity. Typically, a brisk walk is best. A simple way to learn to walk briskly is by taking the “talk test”. This means to walk as fast as you can while carrying on a conversation without becoming out of breath. Depending on your fitness level, this might take a few weeks to achieve.

General Health and Longevity

Because walking helps to strengthen your bones, joints have a better range of movement and muscles are more flexible.

Weight Control

It’s recommended to walk briskly at least three times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes if you want to lose weight. For more experienced walkers, a maximum of five days a week for sixty minutes is advisable. Maintaining your weight and fitness level can be accomplished by walking three to four days a week for forty-five minutes.

Tip:

To burn even more calories, don’t forget to swing your arms.

Mental Health

Walking is man’s best medicine! If you’re feeling down, walking can ease the burden and lift your mood. When endorphins are released into the body during activity, it alleviates pain and creates a sense of well-being.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

If walking is something you’re serious about, it’s important to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. If you neglect your feet, you’ll feel discomfort and make it more difficult to walk.

Begin slowly

When beginning a walking program, don’t set unreasonable expectations. Beginners should start slowly and walk every other day. When you begin to feel stronger, than add an extra day or two into your routine. If you can’t walk for long periods of time, don’t get discouraged. As you become more advanced, your distance will gradually increase.

Pick a time and place

Decide what time works best for you. Some people find it enjoyable to walk early in the morning, while others find it a way to relax at the end of a long day. What works best for you? 

Choose a familiar place

It could be something as simple as a walk around the block, a nearby park or a walking path. It’s important to “shake” things up a bit once you’ve become comfortable with your routine. To prevent boredom, you might vary your routine by choosing different places or directions to walk.

Have a  back- up plan   

What do you do when the weather doesn’t permit you to walk outdoors? If it isn’t life threatening, you beat the bad weather, dress accordingly and brave the elements.  What’s your back-up plan?

Stretch before and after

This is important to prevent injury and soreness. It also helps to tone your muscles. Plus, it limbers and conditions the muscles to be long, lean and strong. Conditioned muscles helps you to handle exercise better.

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

Foods with vitamin DMost of the time, it’s a good idea to use sunscreen, but it’s okay to enjoy the sun’s rays for about ten minutes without it. By getting a good dose of vitamin D and then slathering on the sunscreen, you get both benefits.

Also referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin, vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it’s stored in the body and can be made naturally. Two other forms such as D2 and D3 are also important.

We depend on what we eat, the sun and taking a multivitamin to supply us with enough vitamin D; unfortunately, the sun is not always readily available to everyone.

Studies prove that by taking this supplement, you can prevent breast and colon cancer by cutting the risk by fifty-percent. What’s more, you can decrease the possibilities of other types of cancer such as skin, colon, and prostrate, when taking vitamin D. Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis can also be prevented.

Dosage

Depending on your age will depend on how much vitamin D you should be taking. This is because the older you are, the less vitamin D your skin will produce. Adult males, females and pregnant and lactating women under the age of fifty should take 200 units, fifty to seventy years of age should take 400 units and those over the age of seventy should consume 600 units. Children from birth to five years, should be consuming 200 units every day.

Foods

Dietary sources that include vitamin D include: fortified milk, salmon, tuna, sardines, eggs and cod liver oil. Fruits and vegetables are another good source of vitamin D. In fact, it’s almost impossible to get optimal levels from the foods that you eat. You’d have to eat at least two or three servings of salmon or sardines, drink five glasses of milk and take a spoonful of cod liver oil and that still wouldn’t be sufficient.

Benefits

This wonder supplement has been known to control blood pressure, reduce stress and tension and reduce spasms that are caused from aches and pains. It also helps fight depression, improves skin health and increases cardiovascular strength.

Vitamin D Deficient

This is common if you live in a place where sun exposure is infrequent or if you’re housebound. Signs that may occur are: muscle pain, depression, mood swings, fractures, low energy, fatigue and sleep irregularities.

Prevention

A good way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is by limited unprotected sun exposure, take a good quality multivitamin along with vitamin D and eat a diet that is rich in whole foods. If you’re someone who’s fortunate enough to live where there’s plenty of sunshine, get out and enjoy the rays. If not, then you might consider taking it in supplement form. So, how do you get your dose of vitamin D?

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’ll also have my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled,  “Heartscapes”, in a few short weeks.