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

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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/

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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”.

Who could say “no”, to these adorable cuties

Photo by: Sara Jones

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Got Stress-Adopt A Pet

by Ann Blanton

Often, humans provide an emotional gap; pets provide the support to fill that gap. Stop and think about it for a second. Who’s always there for you? Our four-legged furry friends, that’s who. They listen when no one else will, they never judge you and they’re always happy to see you.

Companionship and unconditional love

If you fulfill your pets needs, they can be your constant companion for a long time. When you look into your pet’s eyes, suddenly your mood is lifted. Many pet owners say, owning a dog or cat has helped to lower their blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and eased depression. Something as simple as rubbing your pet’s fur can minimize your stress level and lower your heart rate. Having a pet in your life can open a window of opportunity to break away from all the problems of life.

A feeling of purpose

Pets can definitely give our lives a sense of meaning. Caring and nurturing for another living thing helps you to feel as if you’re accomplishing something of importance. Our furry friends depend on their owners for all their needs including food, water, exercise and health care.

Exercise

Your best friend will always remind you of the significance of exercise. Dogs need just as much exercise as humans, so take your friend for a brisk walk. Taking your pooch for a walk will help enhance your overall health and make you want to exercise more.

Friends

Walking your pooch can often be a good conversation starter. You have the opportunity to meet your neighbors or if you go to the dog park, you can meet other dog owners and their dogs. Meeting new people will give you the ability to develop new friendships, which can also benefit stress reduction.

Safety

Man’s best friend can warn you when strangers are near. Large breed dogs can provide a measure of safety if someone threatens you. Cats have a keen sense of danger and have been known to wake their owners in an emergency.

Comic relief

Frequently, pets offer comic relief because they’re always doing something silly. Watching your pet bustle around the house in the morning can instantly lift your mood so you can begin your day with a positive attitude. Who doesn’t like to watch kittens play? Dogs stare at themselves when they see their own reflection and bark at the “stranger” in the mirror. A cat will pounce, throw things in the air and catch it and run from one end of the house to the other for no apparent reason. Dogs chase their tails and leap in the air to catch a fly. They can be trained to fetch your slippers, catch a Frisbee or walk calmly by your side.

Good for the handicapped and elderly

Some pets have been taught to lead the blind, alert the deaf when the phone rings, warn a child when a seizure strikes and warn a person with life threatening allergies.

Each of us are handicapped in our own way and need the unqualified love given by a companion animal for those times when life just seems too hard. The dog or cat can be a way of connecting to other people, to decrease the “differences”. Other children may want to come play because of the pet. Neighbors may be more inclined to realize an elderly person needs help once the animal opens the conversations. Most dogs and cats thrive even on three legs, which can be a positive demonstration to children and adults facing amputations,” says holistic veterinarian, Christina Chambreau.

Cuddle factor

Whether your dog gives you a big wet kiss or you snuggle with your kitty, it can benefit greatly by reducing stress. At times your cat may startle you when they unexpectedly jump on your lap. Maybe you don’t always feel like taking your pooch for a walk, but honestly, what would you do without him?

Stop by your local animal shelter and adopt a pet and watch your tension fade away.

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/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirits”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

Ann Blanton, writer, author, published, nonfiction, article, magazine, Fitness Plus, stress, reduction,  adopt, pet, four-legged, companion, furry, friend, humans, emotional, gap, enhance, park, neighbor, safety, breed, large, stranger, protect,

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Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

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Trimming your midriff is only one of the rewards from eating this satisfying snack

Pecans are a rich-flavored, buttery treat containing very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol or sodium. According to the new dietary guidelines to help slim down your waistline, four or five weekly servings are recommended. Other ways pecans can benefit your health include boosting brainpower, lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. Let’s take a closer look at each health-promoting benefit.

Boosting brainpower

Pecans contain vitamin E — a natural antioxidant that provides primary elements for neurological protection. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that promote normal and healthy brain function. Researchers suggest regular consumption can protect against cell damage, enhance brainpower and help fight against diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Lowering cholesterol

The healthy, monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants found in this tasty nut could be just what the doctor ordered to help lower cholesterol. You don’t need to go nuts; you only need a handful to increase HDL, good cholesterol, while decreasing LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Controlling weight

Nuts have always been given a bad rap because of the high fat content, but studies show that the high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts can promote weight loss. Because they’re healthy fats, you’ll feel full longer and not be as tempted to reach for the unhealthy fats found in junk food.

Supports heart health

Heart disease is considered the number-one killer in the country. Nutrition research has discovered by eating one ounce of nuts on a daily basis, you’re less likely to have cardiovascular disease. This crunchy snack can help reduce blood clots that can often lead to fatal heart attacks, thus improving the health of the lining of the arteries. Although the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have proof that nuts reduce the risk of heart disease, they suggest the evidence to the food companies.

Now that you know all the benefits that this flavorful snack provides, go nuts for pecans. Grab a handful and reap the delicious benefits.

Nutritional facts and information – This healthy nut provides more than 19 vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc and several of the B vitamins. Calories per serving size for 20 halves are 196; total fat is 20.4 grams. A serving has zero carbohydrates, no cholesterol or sodium and 2.6 grams of protein.

Pecans are no longer just for baking pies and cakes. You can add pecans to any of your favorite breads, casseroles and salads. The next time you make pancakes, toss in a few pecans for an additional fabulous flavor.

If you’re looking for a new pecan recipe to start your day, here’s one you’re sure to enjoy.

Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

1 and 1/4 cups wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat bran

2 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 and /2 cups fat-free milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, bran and  baking powder. Using another bowl, combine the egg, egg white, milk and oil; add to the dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.

Add mixture into a pre-heated waffle iron until golden brown.

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

Good Heart Health

You already know that all nuts are good for your health, but when it comes to heart health, the walnut stands out above all the rest. Like all nuts, they have no cholesterol, few carbohydrates and are low in sodium. While they’re great for baking, make fabulous snacks and complement salads, they’re also high in calories and fat, so eating them in moderation is key.

Protect Your Heart

The unsaturated fats that are found in this heart smart nut, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are considered “good” fats and can lower LDL, (bad cholesterol) levels, thus, while boosting HDL, (good cholesterol), levels. It’s important to replace unhealthy saturated fats and incorporate walnuts as part of a healthy well-balanced diet. In comparison to other nuts, it only takes about seven walnuts to obtain the benefits from this regal nut.

Omega 3-fatty acids

The rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in walnuts, decrease the risk of heart irregularities, plaque build-up and sudden death. They also contain large quantities of manganese and copper. Manganese is a mineral found in trace amounts in the human body, typically in the bones, liver, pancreas and kidneys. They also have important enzymes and antioxidants that help to fight free radical damage.

Lowering Cholesterol Properties

“Omega-3 fats directly control the size of LDL cholesterol particles in addition to oxidation properties that make the particles less cohesive, reducing the possibility to cause plaque. C-reactive protein (CRP) is noted to be a risk factor for heart disease and other heart problems,” says certified sports nutritionist, Lawrence Sanchez. “Walnuts can lower the risk by increasing the elasticity of arteries, thus reduce inflammation. What’s more, the omega 3’s can also help reduce triglycerides,” he adds. 

Vitamins and Minerals

The vitamins and minerals that are found these succulent nuts are in abundance. Rich supplies include A, B6, C, E calcium, iron and zinc. There are also considerable amounts of potassium, magnesium, selenium, folate and thiamin.

Weight Management

Because this mouth-watering snack is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, it can help to manage your weight, simply by satisfying your hunger for longer periods. It takes approximately a handful, (30 grams) to satisfy your cravings. The end result is usually eating less food during the day. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight can help to keep your heart strong and in good physical shape. This does not mean that a few walnuts will counteract with an unhealthy diet.

The latest studies show that a moderate intake of healthy fats can be the outcome of a successful and long-term weight loss plan.

Nutritional Value

Walnuts contain 185 calories for a one-ounce serving, 18.49 grams of fat, 3.89 carbohydrates and 4.23 grams of protein.

Are you protecting your heart by eating these delectable nuts?

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”.

Stretching for good health

Photo by RobW

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robwallace/738543661/sizes/o/

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”.

 

My beautiful grandson, Xavier

Grandchildren are God’s gift for being wonderful parents, or at least, so I’ve been told.

Other women have always told me how incredible it was to be a first time grandmother. I have to admit I never thought I would see the day, but now that day has come, and I know how they feel. For me, being a first time grandmother is like falling in love all over again.

I thought I was prepared for my grandchild’s birth, after all, I’m a mother too; I know how it feels to love someone so completely it hurts. When I saw my newborn grandson, I was overjoyed with gratitude and bursting with pride. In that instant, I realized I had gone through a rebirth of my own. I had progressed from being a women, then to a mom and now to a grandma. I was staring at the next generation of dark hair, olive skin and button nose. I wish I could have froze that moment in time so it would last forever. My grandson, Xavier, is the most beautiful baby in the world; and Grandma is smitten.

When I heard his tiny cry of life, my troubles appeared so trivial; they seemed to fade away. I want my precious boy to know that I will be there for him always, to cherish, spoil, hold, teach, play, protect and guide him, but most of all, to love him with all of my heart every moment of his glorious life.

Isn’t it funny how a new life has a way of transforming those around us into responsible, loving and more caring individuals? We look at things with a fresh perspective and view life differently. All my thoughts are focused on today instead of yesterday and I thank God for his greatest treasured gift of all, my new beautiful grandson. I now find joy in embracing the second half of my life in my new role as Xavier’s grandma.

I would love to hear from you, so please send me your comments.

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

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