Walk and Talk: Meet Bob – Living Proof Walking Is Great Exercise

I’d like to introduce you to Bob. Bob is technically 85 but insists he feels 35. Bob is inspiring and determined. Bob has walked every day since he started with Walker Tracker back on June 12, 2006. Throughout the past 11 ½ years, he has averaged just shy of 8,000 steps a day (7,728 to be exact)! Bob is a big fan of Walker Tracker and we are big fans of him! Recently, I got the chance to meet Bob in person and go on a walk with him through his hometown’s huge flea market that happens every month in Canton, TX.

As we walked and weaved through the stands and vendors I learned that Bob hasn’t always been so healthy and active. In fact, he says he weighs less at 85 than he did in the 6th grade. Despite working in the steel industry and military he remained a big guy for the majority of his life. His blood pressure was 204/105 at one point and he wasn’t feeling like his best self. It wasn’t until one of his highly active stepsons was nearly killed in a cycling accident in 2004 that he had the epiphany that he needed to get moving. He said to himself, “Where will I be in five years if I keep eating and drinking the way I am? I’ll be dead. I said one of my sayings, ‘you can’t do everything but you can do something!’ and I asked myself, what can I do? Well, I can walk!”. Bob hopped online (yes, he is by far the most technically savvy 80 something year old I have ever met) and searched for websites where you can track steps and that’s where Walker Tracker came in.

He happened upon Walker Tracker in its infancy and has praised the site and even promoted it on his own blog – beefitbob.com (did I mention he’s super technically savvy?!).

You can't do everything but you can do something. What can I do? I can walk!Since he began his journey he’s lost over 100 pounds and his blood pressure is down in the 90’s/50’s. He started doing 5K’s, 10K’s and even went to the state capital and had his hometown of Canton, TX declared the ”Walking Capital of Texas”. He’s become a motivational speaker and advocate for health and wellness in his area. He walks the walk and talks the talk. In fact, he even walked to the market to meet up with me! The biggest take away from our time together was “start small”. You may not be able to do everything but you can do something. So figure out what that something is. Is it drinking more water and less soda? Is it replacing chips with an apple for a snack? Is it registering an account at community.walkertracker.com so you can track your steps just like Bob? Start small and once you’ve made that action a habit, figure out your next something.

Try to dampen that ever-impulsive need for instant gratification as much as you can. So often if we do not see instant results we abandon what we were doing. Much of the things that are “worth it” take time and hard work. As Bob might say, the path to health and wellness is a marathon. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul and it takes training and discipline but once you’re there in the thick of it, and you find your cadence and what works for you it gets easier and enjoyable. It’s never too late to start! Take it from a guy who started in his 70’s and is still going strong almost 12 years later! Thanks for walking with us Bob and sharing your story!

Make sure to visit Bob’s website beefitbob.com to find out what WAFOWASL means and join Walker Tracker at community.walkertracker.com to join Bob and many others in a fun place where your success can be celebrated and quantified!

2018 Gift of Walking Winners!

Gift of WalkingWe’re fantastically overwhelmed by all of the great submissions for the 2018 Gift of Walking Donation Program. It was a difficult decision to make, but we did it. Please join me in congratulating our winner:


Community Counseling Solutions

 

They stood out to us for a few reasons. First, our missions are in alignment; we’re both dedicated to improving the well-being of people and have placed a focus on community.

CCS’s mission statement: “Proving dynamic, progressive, and diverse supports to improve the well-being of our communities”.

 

Second, their submission letter deeply resonated with us, here’s a bit about what they do:

“Community Counseling Solutions (CCS) is a non profit agency that provides community based Mental Health, Addictions and Developmental Disability services across four counties in Oregon. These four counties are very rural and we have to be creative when it comes to wellness. CCS has recently implemented an agency wide wellness program and I am fortunate enough to be a part of the committee that develops the challenges that are offered to our staff.”

 

Third, they’d like to grow the program and organize community challenges in the future. They’re already thinking about how to pay it forward. Inclusivity is one of our core values and we’re excited to honor it and support CCS’s goal.

“We would like to incorporate this initially among our staff but eventually tie this into something much bigger where we are able to develop and organize community challenges. Integrating physical health into services we already provide present the opportunity to reduce the stigma that surrounds addictions, mental health and developmental disabilities. CCS is very diverse and progressive when it comes to the services we provide and I feel like the Walker Tracker program would be a natural fit into what we provide within our communities. Please consider CCS as your nonprofit agency for the 2018 Walker Tracker Gift of Walking Program.”

 

CCS is the recipient of a free Activity Challenge on any one of Walker Trackers virtual map routes! Congratulations! We are proud to walk with you.

Destination Vacation ChallengeThat’s not all, folks! We’re offering a free seat in a challenge to all nominees! All eligible nominated organizations for the 2018 Gift of Walking Challenge have been invited to join the Destination Vacation Challenge in April.

 

Thank you all for your submissions, for everything you do, and for inspiring us!

150 Billion Steps

That's really a lot of steps

As of yesterday, Walker Tracker tracked its 150 billionth step, or the equivalent 75,000,000 million miles.

I am really proud of this, and proud of every one of our members who’ve joined us in the journey.

So what does that mean? Collectively we’ve just about walked the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Other, direct impacts are a little trickier to measure, though we can certainly infer a tremendous net-good.

Here’s what we know about our members:

  • We know our members have been active. They’ve increased their health, improved their circulation. They’ve fended off heart disease and diabetes.
  • They’ve cut their medical costs. They’ve lost weight. They’ve regained the ability to do things they weren’t able to before.
  • They’ve driven less. In car-mileage terms, they’ve put about 41 thousand tons less  Carbon Dioxide into the air, or about the equivalent of two hundred thousand trees. Seriously, that’s amazing.
  • They’ve engaged with their neighborhoods more, chatted with workmates and neighbors and friends as they walked, which have yielded improvements to their happiness and social cohesiveness. They’ve altered their routines. Maybe some have had their lives changed.
  • They’ve improved their brains. Boosted their mood. Improved their memory. Enhanced their creativity.  A few profound ideas have surely been had; lightning strikes of inspiration only possible from the most basic and wonderful of ambulatory motions.

Congratulations to every one of you who put in the extra step. That’s a lot to be proud of.

 

Butternut Squash Soup – Winter Comfort Food

Butternut Squash SoupDuring the winter months, warm meals become extra comforting. Here is a quick butternut squash soup recipe for you all to try at home. It is one of my personal favorites, and is perfect to pair with a green salad or roasted veggies. This recipe is from Wellness Mama.


Ingredients you will need (6-8 servings):
•  1 butternut squash
•  1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
•  1 cup chicken or veggie stalk (plus more to thin soup of needed)
•  1 sweet onion
•  2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
•  Salt and pepper to taste
•  ½ teaspoon garlic
•  ½ teaspoon nutmeg
•  A sprinkle of thyme


Instructions:
1. Cut top and bottom off of butternut squash and use knife to carefully cut remaining skin off.
2. Cut in half and scoop out seeds (they are great roasted!)
3. Chop squash into small cubes and dice onion.
4. In a large stock pot, melt the butter and add diced onion.
5. Saute 3 minutes until starting to soften and add squash.
6. Saute an additional 5 minutes until squash starts to brown.
7. Add coconut milk, stock, and spices and bring to simmer.
8. Simmer about 20 minutes until soft.
9. Use a blender or hand blender to puree until smooth.
10. Serve warm or make ahead to reheat for a fast meal addition.

Enjoy!

 

Warm Up This Winter

I can’t say I’m a big fan of cold weather, but I accept it without much complaint. What choice do I have? While I wait for the milder temperatures of spring, I layer up and try to keep my same routines. Besides, there always good that can come with winter. For some, it might be the snow or beautiful scenery. For others, maybe it’s holiday traditions. For me, it’s an excuse to wear cute scarfs, hats, and gloves to brave the frigid climate.

In addition to the proper attire, I need motivation to stay active during the winter time. I like to invite others to activities, like bike rides and walks. Tracking activity with my Fitbit also helps me to remember to move more.

What can motivate you this winter season? Is there a race or sporting event coming up in spring you want to train for? How about rewarding yourself with a trip to the sauna when you complete 12 workouts or other activity-related goal?

Here are some tips to help you stay moving towards your fitness goals during the winter season. You’ll warm yourself up before you know it!

 

Safety First

With the shorter days, it is important to stay visible if you choose to be out in the late afternoon or at night. Always be aware of your surroundings and never assume everyone can see you. It will be easier to see and be seen if you use a flashlight and wear bright, reflective clothing or a headlamp. If you bike, remember to use both a headlight and taillight, as well as reflective stickers on the sides of your bike.


Embrace the Weather

As long as you have the proper equipment, such as insulating layers and water-proof shoes, you can still enjoy the great outdoors. If you live near hills or mountains, take advantage of the weather and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. If you are not near snow, try venturing out to hiking trails or parks. Don’t forget to be careful on slippery surfaces by wearing footwear with good traction.

 

Try Out New Moves

If you prefer to stay active inside, there are plenty of options. If you are a member of a fitness club, you can enjoy the workout equipment and classes offered. Why not try a new gym class, like hot yoga or martial arts class? Look to see if there are indoor tennis, basketball, soccer, rock climbing, or other sports facilities in your area.

 

Stay Home

There are also plenty of at-home workouts online or even create your own, no equipment required. Some squats, jumping jacks, and push-ups will get you breaking a sweat in no time. You can even perform exercises while watching TV or listening to a podcast or audiobook. Try to hit different muscle groups in the upper body, lower body, and core. You could also choose to invest in workout equipment, such as free weights or a cardio machine. Remember to stretch!

 

Have fun and stay warm this winter!

Walker Tracker’s Favorite Podcasts

10 Podcasts Walker Tracker is Addicted To

At Walker Tracker we’re all about motivation to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to working out sometimes that involves listening to music to get just the push you need to get up and get moving. But for me, music isn’t always my best motivation. I often find I’m listening to my favorite podcasts during my workout or when I’m sitting at home. I knew I couldn’t be the only one with a minor podcast addiction, so I asked around the Walker Tracker office and received an overwhelming response of podcast suggestions that I’d like to share with you.

Below is Walker Tracker’s 10 favorite podcasts that we can’t get enough of.  Check out our list and let us know what other podcasts we should add to the list.

 

The Curiosity Podcast
Each week, The Curiosity Podcast interviews experts on a variety of compelling topics. Curiosity has something for everyone. You can find stories about Science and Technology, Amazing Places, Food and Culture, and Mind and Body. That’s just the beginning. Curiosity is the podcast to listen to when you want to learn something new every day.

Lore
Not for the faint of heart, Lore is a critically acclaimed podcast that focuses on real-life scary stories. If you love sitting around a campfire and listening to hair-raising tales then this podcast is for you. Each episode explores the darker side of historical events, places, and people.

The Moth
The Moth broadcasts storytelling from live events they’ve held around the globe. This podcast is famous for its authentic stories of the human experience. Each show has a unique theme and different storytellers who share their personal experiences. One story may bring you to tears while the next can keep you laughing. You’ll never what to expect with The Moth.

Philosophy Talk
“Question Everything” is the best phrase to describe Philosophy Talk. This weekly podcast led by several Professors from Stanford University encourage their listeners to join them in examining a broad range of subjects. Their goal is to challenge their listeners to not only recognize their own beliefs and assumptions but also view issues from a new perspective.

Radiolab
Radiolab investigates a variety of topics on science and philosophy while presenting them in a unique and fun storytelling style. Episodes are broken into a combination of stories, musical cues, and interviews. The interviews are with experts in the field or with people that have an interesting story about the show’s topic.

Song Exploder
If you love music and are looking to learn more about your favorite bands and how they are inspired then give Song Exploder a try. This podcast asks musicians to deconstruct their songs and share their influences and their creative process. Song Exploder has talked with an extensive list of artists from Björk to Metallica. They have over 100 guests bands for you to choose from.

Ted Radio Hour
Ted Talks are famous for their inspiring speakers and subjects. This tradition continues with the Ted Radio Hour. An engrossing podcast that touches on a diverse mix of topics, ideas, and perspectives. Its thought-provoking content will give you something to contemplate throughout your day.

This American Life
This award-winning podcast has been going strong since 1995. Each week This American Life shares stories that follow a specific theme. Well known for its engaging storytelling the show isn’t afraid to experiment by creating unique episodes such as taping a show for 24 hours in all night restaurant or putting a band together from classified ads. With over 600 episodes you’ll find something that piques your interest or check out the host, Ira Glass’ recommended list of episodes:  “New to This American Life”.

The Tim Ferriss Show
You may know Tim Ferriss as a “self-experimenter” and best selling author of “The 4-Hour Work Week”. You can now follow him via his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show. In his show, he interviews notable professionals in a variety of fields and breaks down the steps they took to reach their success to help listeners find tools and strategies that may work for them.

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me
NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me is a quiz show which may cause you to laugh out loud. Each week call-in contestants and the show’s guests, which are experts in the news and entertainment industry, are asked to determine which provided news stories are true and which are made up. You may be surprised by which stories are actually true.

 

These are just a few of the many podcasts that we at Walker Tracker are listening to.  Do you have a podcast you listen to regularly? Share your favorites with us.

Cultivating Gratitude

Many wellness programs focus on getting people moving and improving eating habits. Diet and exercise are important aspects of our health, but let’s not forget to also pay attention to our emotional and psychological wellbeing. In our ambitious, achievement-oriented society, it is easy to focus on what we do not have or who we wish we were. While the negative feeling of inadequacy can lead to motivation, it comes with the risk of anxiety or depression. To keep our mind and body well, let’s try to focus on and be happy with what we have and who we are, through gratitude.

Practicing gratitude is like doing push-ups for emotional and psychological wellbeing because it strengthens resiliency, or the ability to handle stress. Work can be stressful at times, by promoting a culture of positive emotions we buffer the stresses, and spin obstacles or loss into opportunities and gain.

A gratitude journal is a research-backed practice that increases happiness. So, why not adapt the tried-and-true gratitude journal for offices and other communities? An appreciation platform, either online on an organization’s internal website, or a physical bulletin board, promotes community-building and allows everyone to celebrate each other’s contributions.

During this past holiday season, the Walker Tracker team participated in a gratitude wall. It was nice to see the many different things that all of us are grateful for. A gratitude wall allows for everyone’s opinion to be heard, not just those who are more vocal. While it can be a fun exercise, a gratitude board has the potential to create an environment of openness. When we give thanks, we acknowledge what we value, whether it’s meteor showers, dogs, or snail mail.

Speaking of mail, a simple thank you card to coworkers and friends also creates a positive, uplifting environment. Giving praise and expressing gratitude was one of the alternate New Year’s resolutions Ellen mentioned in a previous post. Acknowledging others for their time and effort, increases self-confidence and self-worth, promoting a positive attitude and buffering the negative emotions that can lead to anxiety or depression. High self-worth can also promote engagement in health-promoting activities, such as participating in worksite wellness programs. Practicing gratitude can help you develop beneficial lifestyle habits.

Coming off of the “high” of the holidays, I am feeling very grateful. I am thankful that I am able to provide wellness programing to amazing clients and that I work for an organization that values my work and wellbeing. I truly believe that we all have so much to be grateful for and we don’t need to wait to start experiencing the emotional benefits that gratitude brings. What are you thankful for?

Thanks so much for reading!


Harnessing the Power of Intention for a New Year’s Revolution

Walker Tracker would like to introduce you to Christa King the Founder of Fitlandia and 30 Days to Thriving. Christa has agreed to be a guest blogger and share some of her insights on being healthy in the New Year.  Thank you Christa!

 

You read the title right – a New Year’s Revolution v. a Resolution!

Throw out everything you grew up learning about going on a diet in the new year. We all know by now that quick-fixes and short-term diets don’t work. Yet there’s still something powerful about the intention of making a fresh start and recommitting to yourself that can’t be ignored.

The energy and spirit of resolutions can be married with sound lifestyle changes to make reaching your goals easier and sustainable for life. Let’s get your mind (and body) ready for a reset by understanding why diets fail and practical steps to making change last.

 

Diets FailWhy Diets Fail

Our Thought Patterns Are Powerful. Did you know that over 108M people in the US are currently on a diet, yet nearly 70% will fail at reaching or maintaining their goals? Why? It’s because willpower does not last. That all-powerful emotion has an expiration date and can’t be sustained. Once major stressors hit (job change, divorce, move, loss of a loved one, etc.), our primal brain kicks in to make us feel safe, taking us back to known pleasures in sugar, alcohol and refined carbs (and other things that fire up the pleasure center).

Over the years, we’ve carved some deep neural pathways to provide a temporary relief from uncomfortable. Without creating new thought patterns in response to stress, we will naturally fall back into an old pattern as our brain strives to make us feel grounded again.

It’s in Your Gut. The other reason diets fail us is because we have unresolved gut dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria) sending messages to our brain to go get its preferred food source: sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, dairy, and fruit. This can generate intense cravings for these foods, making it incredibly challenging to avoid. In fact, most “diets” allow for fruit and so most people end up removing “bad” foods, only to find they’re loading up on bananas. The bottom line is that you must first starve the bad bacteria to reduce these unmanageable cravings.

There’s so much power in knowledge so just understanding that your unconscious thought patterns drive 90% of your behavior (that can be changed!) and that you can reduce sugar cravings through a thoughtful detox can go a very long way in setting you up for a successful lifestyle change.

 

The Four Cornerstones of Fitness

There is something so very exciting and powerful about entering a new year. The hope, determination, motivation, and inspiration around us can have a significant influence on our desire to change. So, take advantage of it, but do it the right way by harnessing the four, necessary components to making a permanent lifestyle change including:

Good Nutrition1. Good Nutrition. Ready to clear up that gut, get off processed and packaged foods and start feeling great? Proper nutrition is key and it starts with a whole foods diet. That means reducing and removing (as often as possible) any food with a label on it, and instead, adopting a practice of preparing your own meals. This will ensure there are no additives and preservatives that could be messing with your hormones, robbing your body of needed nutrients, or causing you to be addicted to certain foods. Take a break from sugar, refined carbs, and alcohol, as well to starve the bad bacteria and get your body back on track.

2. Daily Movement. We were meant to move! Make daily movement a part of your everyday routine. Unlike previous dieting myths, you do not have to follow the old “no pain, no gain” mentality. You cannot out train a poor diet so no amount of pushing yourself in the gym will give you permission to binge. Instead, look to exercise as support for your brain health, releasing endorphins, relieving stress, and boosting cognitive function. And for heart health, you don’t have to put in an hour at the gym each day. Even a regular routine of brisk walking can have terrific cardiovascular benefits. If you’re short on time and want to take your workout to the next level, try a 7-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout that you can do anywhere.

3. Positive Thinking. We are what we think. Take that in for a moment. We are, what we think. If you think you don’t have time to cook your own meals or get in exercise, guess what? You’re right. You must adopt healthy thought patterns to drive your behaviors. So, here’s what I want you to do… start catching your negative thoughts and immediately state it into a positive thought. For example, if you catch yourself saying, “Ugh, I hate exercising,” immediately restate it saying, “I absolutely love and look forward to daily movement.” You don’t have to believe it at first. BUT, I want you to attach an emotion to that new thought. Ask yourself how you would feel if you did believe it. Then repeat this practice and watch things start to shift like magic. Just try it for a week, catching yourself each time, restating it into a positive and attaching the good emotions to it. You’re creating a new neural pathway for your brain to follow and your desire and actions will follow!

Community4. Community Connection. Did you know that you’re three times more likely to reach your goals when you’re connected with a like-minded community? Harness this time of year, and find your tribe. Connect with people who you can gain and give motivation and inspiration to, as well as navigate challenges together. This is a powerful force to move you beyond the weight loss.

As you think about the New Year and your intentions for change, know this – you can reach the goals you desire. This is an incredibly powerful time to take the leap and harness the energy around you for change.

If you’re feeling unsure where to start or need an extra boost of support, you can join the next session of 30 Days to Thriving and get everything you need to start your journey of transformation off right.

 

Christa King, CEO & Founder of FitlandiaChrista King is the CEO & Founder of Fitlandia. You can learn more about Christa and 30 Days to Thriving via her website Fitlandia.

 

 

Please, share with us your ideas, revelations, and plans for your New Year’s Revolution!

A Walker Tracker Christmas Story

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Parzybok house, not a creature was stirring, not even a kitty cat; The hiking socks were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that pedometers soon would be there!

Ever wonder how it all started?  Well, I’ve enlisted some help to tell our tale.  Meet Laura Moulton, partner of Walker Tracker CTO & Founder, Ben Parzybok, who has been so gracious as to recount.

“Not too many people know the story of how Walker Tracker came to be, but I think it’s a good one.

Many years ago, Ben’s brother Ezra stuffed each of our Christmas stockings with a pedometer. These were cheap, rattly pedometers that did not record steps very acccurately, but we all gamely wore them on our belts anyway. Since our extended family began competing for the highest step counts, and since we were in different parts of the country, Ben decided to write the code for a website where people could enter their steps, along with commentary about their experience. Word of his website spread, and more family and friends began to participate. In no time, there was a robust walking community of several thousand, entering their steps and encouraging each other along the way. This was during a period of time when Ben worked a regular day job, (generally as a web designer for different corporations), and maintained the Walker Tracker project at night and on weekends. He was also writing novels and being a very hands-on dad to our 2 children at the same time, so it was a lot to juggle.

Around 2010, Ben began to explore ways to make Walker Tracker a revenue-generating company, instead of just a side project. His timing was perfect – many corporations had begun to look for wellness programs for their employees, and the walking program Walker Tracker offered was exactly what they were looking for. Ben took the risk and went full-time with Walker Tracker, and the company has been growing and thriving ever since. I’m so impressed with the caliber of people who have joined over the years – they are a stellar, dedicated team that has become its own kind of family. At home, with our own family, the little kids who played at Ben’s feet while he built the code for Walker Tracker are now teenagers who live for the annual white elephant gift exchange at the company holiday party. We’re grateful to Ben for his creative brain, for his supportive team that makes all the work happen, and for the companies who rely on Walker Tracker to help their own employees thrive and be successful.”

Ben with son Cohen, daughter Sylvie and Laura, our narrator.

Boost Your Mood This Winter

Tracking MoodAs the weather begins to change and the day turns to night earlier and earlier, many of us feel the effects of winter on both our mood and bodies. Here are a few things that I do each week to make myself feel refreshed and chill.

MusicListen to your favorite song.
We all have that one song that instantly makes us want to get up and dance, or even just gets a cheesy grin going. Take a few minutes to re-energize and throw on your favorite tunes.

ShowerTaking a hot bath or shower.
Indulging in an extra long shower or steaming hot bath can help our blood begin to circulate better, making you feel more energized and ready to take on anything. Not to mention the steam will provide your skin with much appreciated spa-like treatment.

1. ExerciseGet moving.
Even just a single set of jumping jacks can leave you with more energy. Walk up and down the stairs at work a few times, do lunges across the hall or take 5 minutes of your lunch to power walk around the block.

InspirationSurround yourself with things that inspire you.
Add plants or vibrant pieces of art to your workspace, glancing at these items a few times a day can remind you of the things that make your heart full.

Meditate.
Take 5 minutes each morning to breath, smile without reason, and say a short mantra that directly reflects your intentions for the day.  

VolunteerVolunteer.
Take a few hours each month to donate your time to your community. Food banks, local YMCA clubs, libraries or soup kitchens are all places that accept and welcome help from those in their community.