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

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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

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Women walking

You can look and feel good at any age

photo by: Sangudo

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FIT AND FABULOUS OVER FIFTY

Have you ever wondered why your sister in her fifties who leads a physically active lifestyle, looks forty something? What about your forty-year old best friend who has no physical activity and looks fifty?

With regular exercise, you can actually reverse the signs of aging by at least ten years. You no longer have to settle for that tummy bulge, arms that wave back and that sagging rear view. You can look just as attractive walking away as you do walking into a room. Now if that doesn’t get you motivated, nothing will.

Today, baby boomers have tossed all those excuses not to exercise out with yesterday’s trash. Studies show that baby boomers are becoming fit and active at fifty and beyond and are in the best shape of their lives.

Typically, when a person reaches a certain age, they’ve learned to accept most of their imperfections. Maybe you’ve made a promise to yourself to be in good shape by the time you hit the  big 5-0. Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out the way we plan. As we age, it’s more difficult to remain physically active.

Getting in shape has many benefits. It makes you look and feel better, gives you more energy, helps fight against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer. It also helps you sleep better and improves your sex drive. When you feel confident about yourself, you feel more attractive. The possibilities are endless.

With that said, let’s explore other fundamentals that can help you stay healthy for many years to come.

Muscle Toning – There are a number of reasons why you should build strong beautiful muscles with strength training. Building muscle increases your metabolism, enhances energy, keeps your body in perfect balance, keeps your bones in ailment, supports your skeleton and burns calories at rest.

Fitness club owner Dan Neal, focuses mostly on baby boomers and the quality of life. Neal says, “As a person ages, the importance of muscle toning is a necessary factor because the older you become, the more muscle you lose. Toning keeps you stronger, more vibrant and helps to prevent injuries.”

Stretching – It’s just as important to stretch before and after a workout as it is to do the actual workout itself. Failure to stretch can make it difficult to achieve simple daily activities such as putting on your shoes or reaching for something on a shelf.  Lack of stretching can also cause muscle tightness, soreness and injury. A good way to improve flexibility is by doing a series of stretching exercises daily. According to Neal, stretching improves stiff joints as well as strengthens the stabilizer muscles.

Balance – You can learn balance techniques by practicing yoga. Balance building exercises are important so you can react in certain situations to prevent falling or breaking a hip.

Watch what you eat – It’s essential to learn the difference between which fats are healthy versus which ones are unhealthy. “Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and avocados are examples of good fats,” says licensed nutritionist, Patricia Harris. “Cakes, cookies, candy and soft drinks are a few examples of foods that contain empty calories so it’s important to avoid these foods,” states Harris.

In terminology, empty calories are described as foods that are high in energy, but low in vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients. That’s not to say that you have to eliminate these foods altogether, just enjoy them in moderation.

Because of the low quantities of sugar in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, grapefruits, melons, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, these foods keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

So, if you’ve hit that important milestone or you know someone who has, it’s never too late to get in shape and stay fit and active for a lifetime.

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

Gym Equipment

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NEW BODY, NEW MIND, NEW YOU-TIPS FOR JOINING A GYM

Have you made a resolution to join a gym, but your busy lifestyle has kept you from achieving your goal. Maybe you’re running around with the kids and by the end of the day you’re too exhausted to work out. Reality finally sets in when you step on the scale and watch as the numbers go up. Sound familiar? Just because you put the kids first, doesn’t mean your health should come last.

Eventually you begin to consider the alternatives and start to put things into perspective. Perhaps you’ve never joined a gym, you’re afraid to commit and don’t know what to expect or where to begin. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help get your started.

Check with your physician – If you’ve never exercised before, it’s probably a good idea to check with your health care professional before beginning any type of activity. Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health, you’re all set and ready to begin.

Do your research – It’s usually  good idea to ask around. If you have family and friends who belong to a gym, ask them for recommendations for facilities that would best fit your needs.

You might also look in your local phone directory for gyms that are close by make a few calls and visit the locations. When checking out nearby fitness centers, make sure they meet up to your standards. You might even decide to talk to an expert and let them walk through the motions. Find out what they offer; what classes are best for beginners and if they provide childcare. Some places have day care services available if you sign up for a membership. If you’re not ready to become a member, a small fee might be included.

What to wear– Most experts will advise you to wear lose fitting garments like shorts and t-shirts, sweats or leotards.

Proper footwear – There are many different types of athletic shoes for most sporting activities, so depending on what you sign up for will determine your needs. If you’re not certain what activities you’ll take part in, cross trainers will most likely be your best option. Always try them on, walk around and make sure they don’t lip up and down. The last thing you need are blisters on your feet. Selecting a good pair of shoes will help your overall performance and prevent injury.

Socks are important too – Choosing the proper fitness socks are just as important as your sneakers. Look for something in the lightweight category. This type of sock will keep your feet dry, prevent odor and free from blisters.

Lockers – Every new client is assigned to their own locker. Towels for shower use are also available. Although lockers are free, you might need to supply your own lock.

Now that you’ve done your research and have learned the basics, here are a few exercise ideas to help you get started.

Activities for beginners – Aerobics for beginners consist of basic, low impact cardio moves with a simple core routine and abdominal conditioning.

Pilates for beginners – This includes an introduction to Pilates, techniques in relaxation, core strength and posture.

Body blitz – This incorporates simple aerobic moves and body conditioning. When your body becomes strong and fit, you can add moderate to high intensity workouts and include strength training with weights.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. If you’re interested, here’s the link 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”.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/victoriajz/6824964899/”>VictoriaJZ</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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”.