Nice vs Mean: Managerial styles and employee health

There’s a fascinating article at the Harvard Business Review that ties together a number of studies on the efficacy of being a nice boss versus a stern, removed one. Despite many changes in how businesses are run in the 21st century, the long-lasting stereotype for how to be a boss remains: It’s better to be respected than liked.

Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.

The study goes on to list the incredible number of benefits that warm, self-sacrificing bosses can expect from their employees, including:

- A lower stress workplace (Consider the effect of the whole plethora of symptoms related to high-stress on the productivity of a workplace, including “Trouble learning new information”, “Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion”, and “Difficulty in making decisions”, absenteeism and finally, employee loss)

- Higher effectivity — employees trust a kinder boss

- Higher levels of citizenship and productivity

- Better client outcomes

Read the article at Harvard Business Review: The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss

Why counting counts

What’s all this tracking business, anyway? Everyone seems to be hopping on the bandwagon to get the brand new fitness devices. In 2014, interest in purchasing wearable fitness devices quadrupled (according to a CEA Study). There seems to be a few outstanding reasons why:

  1. Motivation – we need a reason to be active.
  2. Monitoring fitness goal progress – Like Pearson’s Law, which we at Walker Tracker firmly believe, “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improved exponentially.” This one rings true for me; I look back at my step log from a year ago to check in and make sure I’m progressing or at least maintaining my activity level.
  3. Monitoring physical activity level and intensity – how hard did you work?

For all those competitive folks out there – it’s a great way to make fitness fun.   On Walker Tracker you have the option to compare your steps with your friends or challenge them in a competition. Need more reasons to join in the tracking revolution?   Here is a bit on what we use and why we count:

Taylor – My Fitbit keeps me motivated and is a constant reminder to move more. I can tell the difference in my daily activity if I put my wristband on in the morning compared to when I forget. It’s also fun to reach a goal everyday – breaking my long term goals into manageable pieces makes it easier and more fun!

Steve – I’ve been using the Withings plus activity tracker on my hikes here in the PNW and in the city.   It’s a good reminder to push myself to walk more on those rainy weekdays when motivation is lacking. The elevation tracking feature and heart rate monitor is a cool added bonus that gets infrequent use but is good to have. Comes with a free app so I can pair it with my android phone for weekly overview and better stats.

Nikki – I use the exercise app, Run Keeper! It keeps a log of my exercise, sends me motivational push notifications, let’s me take a photo of my exercise/run, and accurately tracks my distance and elevation. This app is great for everything from trail running to walking with a friend.

Jillian – I like mapmyride because it has virtually ALL activities as options (even hiking with light/medium/heavy backpack options). I like how it tells me when I have PR’d (beat my personal record) on a course (running or biking) and also tells me what other people have don’t that course and how well they did. Its also neat know when I do a “climb” on my bike and how long it was and what the grade of the road was.  I can control my music through the app, but I don’t usually use that feature. It will also allow me to record an outdoor activity, like a hike, even if I don’t have internet…it just downloads the information as soon as I am back within cell range. And of course being able to post to Facebook is fun too.

Ben – I have worn a tracking device non-stop since December of 2005. Since it’s in my job description to test new devices, I often wear two or three. Currently I’m wearing a Fitlinxx Pebble, a FitBit One, and I’m using both Moves App and Healthkit’s internal pedometer on my phone. None of them agree with each other, of course — and that’s been my experience with all devices so far. However, accuracy is less important than our ability to judge how we do relative to previous days. And this is what I was most struck by (and still am) — the ability to turn something that was formerly subjective (how much physical activity I got in a day) into objective, quantifiable data. I’m a strong believer in one of our own mottoes, ‘that which is measured, improves’ — and this has certainly been the case for me. The measuring of my own data has made me more mindful and healthier.

Blanca - I wear a Fitbit Flex daily. I love how easily it syncs to my account and it is pretty generous with step counts. To be honest, I didn’t spend more than a couple of weeks making manual entries before I switched to a wireless device and I haven’t looked back since.

The drawbacks of the Flex are that it took me a while to get used to putting the wrist band on first thing in the morning and I occasionally forget to charge it/misplace the charger. The Fitbit doesn’t track outdoor cycling well (if at all) so I still need to convert any biking on the Walker Tracker activity converter.

I also wear a Fitlinxx Pebble, which gives me less steps and therefore I assume a more accurate count of my daily activities. Because the Pebble is worn at the waist and not the wrist it doesn’t give me extra steps for washing dishes and other arm-shaking movements that don’t really deserve much credit. That being said, occasionally it feels like I just didn’t get the credit I deserved which could be user error (the Pebble should be secured tightly to the waist or shoe). The Pebble, like the Fitbit doesn’t accurately track outdoor cycling steps.
Another plus to the Pebble is that it uses a coin battery, so I don’t need to remember to charge it before heading on a long hike or weekend adventure.

The many gifts of giving

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill.

This time of year it can be easy to get caught up in the what you might get or what you need to get for others but it is also a great time of year to focus on giving to your community. Volunteering is a great way to build relationships with your family, friends and coworkers and depending on the volunteer opportunity, a great way to get physical exercise. Here are some suggestions on opportunities that I have personally done with friends and coworkers over the last few years that I really enjoyed.

Contact your local senior center: See if there are opportunities to go and clear some driveways or sidewalks and check in on seniors in your area after a snowy storm. Knowing that someone is around and looking out for them means a lot to seniors and their families who may not live nearby. Plus you’re getting active by shoveling the sidewalks and drives.

Contact your local police and fire department: One year a bunch of coworkers and I got together and along with the fire department dressed up a fire engine and went out to neighborhoods to collect canned food. Weeks prior we put fliers on their door informing them of the event. That night we turned on the lights on the engine, had Santa waving from the truck and as we collected literally bags full of food, we handed out candy canes. It was chilly, but we walked alongside the engine and had a great time seeing the smiles and excitement on kids faces.

Local community gardens: If you live in a warmer climate this is a good one for you. Seek out a community garden in your area and see if they are holding any events where they might be preparing for winter, harvesting, or overhauling the garden. I have done this in several different states and the most recent was for Neighborhood Impact. See if there is a Neighborhood Impact in your area and what opportunities might be available to participate in. http://www.neighborimpact.org/

There are a few things you will want to do in order to coordinate an volunteer activity.

1. Have one person be the point of contact and coordinator.

2. Take an assessment of the availability of those on your team or in your family or friends. See what opportunity fits best for the most people.

3. If you’re doing this as a work team make sure that the place you are volunteering for is compatible and approved by your company.

4. See if there are people in your group that already volunteer regularly and if their organizations need any help during the holiday season. That also helps with them becoming the point of contact and coordinator of the event.

5. Invite friends and family to join if possible.

Not only are you going to get to spend some quality time together but you will be staying active and helping your community out too. Make it a monthly tradition if you can. Try out several different opportunities to keep it engaging or if you find a really great organization see if they have predictable events that you can be a part of. Life can get pretty hectic but taking some time to step away and help others always helps put things in perspective and replenishes the soul. I don’t know about you but around the holiday season I get overwhelmed and it always helps me to help others. Stay Merry & Bright!

Holiday Potlucks and Parties: How to be Nice and not Naughty

It’s the most fattening time of the year.

Oh yes people, you know it, I know it and if you’re not careful your thighs and belly will know it too. It has been studied that people who gain weight during the holiday season do not tend to lose it. So perhaps it is only one pound this year but after five to ten years it turns into five to ten pounds and that is just the weight that you gain during one single part of the year! Ouch. A large part of this season is about giving and sharing. Giving and sharing lots and lots of unhealthy food through potlucks and parties. If you happen to be one of these folks start a new tradition, bring something healthy and delicious. Make it a point that if you do a plan a potluck or host a party that only one dish is a sweet treat and the rest of the dishes are on the healthier end of things. Here are some suggestions on hosting a potluck or party and how to ensure that people do not leave feeling cheated out of tasty treats but also not feeling like they cheated on their diets or healthy lifestyle.

1.Have a sign up sheet. When it comes to office gatherings and bringing in a dish, set up something so that not only do you not have repeats of dishes but you can also guarantee that the majority of them aren’t too naughty. Set up categories such as: Veggie, Fruit, Carb, Starch, Meat/Fish, Drink and Sweet and then make a note to keep it healthy. This is a great way to bring holiday cheer and challenge some of the chefs to be conscious about their dishes. Try to exclude pasta dishes and cheeses as these pack in a lot of calories in a small serving. Instead, encourage hummus for the veggies to be “dipped in” or homemade guacamole and lightly salted tortilla chips as the snack.

2.When setting up your buffet table, start with the healthy stuff first. People are likely to load up on the first few items when going down the line and then widdle their way down through the rest. I’m sure you have said it plenty of times yourself while walking the buffet line, “I ran out of room on my plate!”. Set it up so that the salad or other veggie options are first, then the fruits followed by the starches which are followed by the meat/fish dishes and then carbs and lastly, the sweets and drinks. This will encourage people to load up instead on the healthier options leaving little room for the breads and sugar.

3. Use smaller plates and cups. Choose the 7 inch option rather than the 9 inch for the plates. Also, choose the smaller 8 ounce cups rather than the regular 12-16 ounce. People can always go back for more if they want but if they are given large enough plates they will pile them with food and feel like they should either finish their plate or end up tossing their plate with a lot of food still on it.

That doesn’t sound too difficult does it? It’s all about strategy. Teams do not win games without strategy and you will not win the battle against the holiday bulge without one either. Also, take it upon yourself that if you happen to be one of the folks bringing a dish, that you make it a healthy option. If you are going down the line at the buffet, look at what is available and make sure you heap up on the healthy things and leave little room for the rest. Remember, you can always go back for more but give yourself about ten minutes between finishing what you have and going back for more. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to register “I’m full”. Changing these little things can make a big difference and this is all great knowledge for the rest of the year too.

Below are some suggestions for healthy dishes that are making my stomach growl:

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Winter Jeweled Fruit Salad

Haricots Verts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Polenta Wedges with Tomato Tapenade

 

 

Maintain, Don’t Gain! Holiday tricks to try

Depending on where you look, studies state that most Americans gain 2-5 pounds during the holidays.  So, what’s the big deal? Well, most of us don’t lose that weight in the months to come. The foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats, and the lack of exercise wreck habit on your body.

Here are some easy ways to avoid this damage:

  1. Eat before you go! Sounds counter-intuitive, but if you come to a dinner party hungry you are more likely to over eat. Grab an apple before you go (the fiber will keep you full) or drink some water before you eat.
  2. Pay attention to more important things! Focus on catching up with friends and family instead of the food/drinks.
  3. Try a different pace! Instead of filling your plate or trying as much food as you possibly can, try a few things and enjoy them thoroughly. Eat slowly, this will help you fill up on less food. Put your fork down between bites, again, a great way to pace your eating.
  4. Count those toothpicks! If there are an abundance of canaps (those cute appetizers on toothpicks, that are easy to eat – in excess) make sure to set a limit. If it’s 5. Stick to 5.
  5. Buffet, no way! If you can’t avoid the buffet-style meals, take some measures to avoid overeating: choose a small plate, don’t stack your food, and limit yourself to one single serving.
  6. Control your alcohol intake! Not only is this important for calories but also controlling your food intake. You may keep eating even after you’re full, because you don’t feel satiated. Try water, tea, or club soda for a change.
  7. Ditch the sugar! This is nearly impossible during the holidays, but you can limit yourself to small portions and a single flavor. If you think you can sample one bite of several sweets, think again. I know if I’m going to do dessert it’s going to be chocolate. I pick the richest chocolate thing I can find and the smallest piece there – and enjoy it like I’ll never have chocolate again. After it’s gone; I’m done with dessert.
  8. Bring something! Not only is your host going to thank you but you now have control over a single dish. You can bring a healthy salad, or even a less sugary/fattening dessert to avoid the fiasco in #7 altogether.
  9. Keep your spoon out of the pot! Limit the tasting while you cook. These calories can add up quickly.
  10. Walk, walk, walk! My favorite by far! You can grab you friends, family, or pup and head out for a stroll. Not only does this burn calories, and get you away from the food, but it also keeps cravings and hunger at bay.

 

Exercising out of the Box

Are you getting a little bored with your regular workouts? Hey, I’ve been there plenty of times. Not only is it good to change things up to stay motivated but it’s also an excellent idea to keep your body guessing and therefore losing weight or building more muscle. Below are the top four fitness trends that I think are great for getting you out of that rut into having that awesome butt!

Barre Classes:

I have personally taken these classes and love them. If you are a former dancer or if you have never danced but always wanted to try something that doesn’t make you feel like a fool, Barre classes are for you. Don’t think this is a new craze either. The Barre method has been around for over 50 years! It started in London and was developed by a German dancer named Lotte Berk and was brought over to the U.S. in the last few decades. The classes may seem easy enough since it’s composed of smaller movements for the most part but with lots of pointed toes and standing on your tip toes like a ballet dancer, your muscles fatigue quickly. Depending on your instructor more cardio may be incorporated or the use of yoga mats, balls and light weights. This is definitely a class to not be overlooked or passed up you WILL be sore the next day and depending on your body type, this may be the catalyst to getting those nice long and lean muscles.

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Nike Studio Wrap Shoes ($55)

TRX Training:

Developed by a former Navy Seal to get a great workout even when deployed in the most remote areas, TRX training can be done virtually anywhere you can attach a TRX band. There are classes you can attend to learn good technique and different exercises or if you want to venture out on your own you can purchase the band and subscribe to the TRX site to get workouts. This is a very inexpensive and highly effective workout that can be done in your office, at home or even from a telephone pole or tree if you’re more of an outdoorsy type. With the band, you can get a full body workout and transition from one workout to the next. It will also help you with flexibility. Who knew you could do so much with one band? This has got to be a great workout considering Navy Seals take their workouts very seriously and are some of the most highly trained individuals in the military. To purchase a band and get more information, visit the TRX Website.

Pole Fitness:

Who said swinging from a pole upside down and being able to hold your body weight suspended from a pole was just for exotic dancers? Not the lady’s that came up with Pole Fitness. I have also tried this workout and can say that there was not one time after going that I was not sore. This is great for getting strong arms and legs. I also loved this workout because it makes you leave the rest of the day behind and focus on your body and feeling confident no matter your size or athleticism. This is a huge workout worldwide and there are global competitions that when you see the performances make your jaw drop. This is a great workout that is fun and flirty!

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Be sure to wear a tank top and shorts. You need a lot of skin to grip the pole with. I love this razorback tank from www.bflyactivewear.com.

Body Weight Exercise:

Well this one is a no brainer. It’s going back to the basics and talk about cheap! You would barely need anything to keep up this workout. It’s all about using your own bodyweight to make yourself stronger. Now days there are more than just regular push ups and crunches. There are planks, burpees and mountain climbers. There are tricep pushups, v crunches and criss cross lunges. So many new and different takes on the age old workouts. Add intervals of 60 seconds of nonstop exercise and 10-20 seconds of rest and ramp up the workouts. Try a bootcamp class, HIIT class or there may even bodyweight class that is available in your city. It might be best to try out a class first because the biggest risk with these types of workouts is doing them with bad form or improperly.

No matter what you may be into there is probably a workout out there for you. Try something new and outside of your comfort range, you may be surprised to find a new hobby or passion. This is also a great way to get out there and meet new people.

 

The Evolution of the Pedometer

It seems nowadays the new fitness trend is pedometers. From the Fitbit and Fuel band, to the Jawbone and Pebble not to mention the countless apps that are available for your phone, they are everywhere and do a lot more than just track walking. The idea of the pedometer however is not a new one at all.

One of the greatest minds to have lived, Leonardo da Vinci, sought to track the distance a Roman soldier walked all the way back in the 15th century. He drew plans to develop a device and viola! the first pedometer was recorded.

leonardo

Leonardo’s Pedometer http://itsjustlife.com/davinci/inventions/

The next piece of pedometer history is a little more muddled. Some credit Swiss watch makers who made watches that were motion sensitive and self winding with inventing the mechanism that would be used in later pedometers to record steps. Some credit the French with the first timepiece that Thomas Jefferson later tinkered with as having created the first pedometer. No matter what though, it is well known that Thomas Jefferson did show an interest in recording and measuring steps and did indeed create the first pedometer in the U.S.. Whether it happened by adapting a French watch, or by his own creation will remain a mystery since he did not patent any of his inventions.

Below is an excerpt from Padover’s The Complete Jefferson, P. 969-970 and a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on May 3rd 1788:

“I send your pedometer. To the loop at the bottom of it, you must sew a tape, and at the other end of the tape, a small hook … cut a little hole in the bottom of your left watch pocket, pass the hook and tape through it, and down between the breeches and drawers, and fix the hook on the edge of your knee band, an inch from the knee buckle; then hook the instrument itself by its swivel hook, on the upper edge of the watch pocket. Your tape being well adjusted in length, your double steps will be exactly counted by the instrument, the shortest hand pointing out the thousands, the flat hand the hundreds, and the long hand the tens and units …”

Thomas Jefferson introduced the American public to the pedometer and some even called them “Tomish Meters”. Popularity for the pedometer did not take off in the United States until the 1930′s and even then it was only popular with long distance walkers which eventually gave way to it being marketed as a “Hike-o-meter”. Fast forward thirty years to 1965 in Japan, a man named Y. Hatano put forth a pedometer called the “manpo-kei” which in english translates to 10,000 steps meter. By 1985 research by Hatano himself was widely accepted as to showing that 10,000 steps a day was the proper energy output for a person to balance their caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight.

Pedometers have come a long way from Jefferson and Hatano’s time. In those days the device needed to remain vertical and a tiny pendulum made up of a lead ball swung within the device with each step and then one would multiply that by two (a step for each foot) to obtain a total. However, problems arose with recording when things like a rocky or uneven path was walked or the person bent down and threw off the pendulum. Todays pedometers use what is called an accelerometer that measure movements in three ways. Up/Down, Forwards/Backwards and Left/Right which is constantly checked on every second. A computer evaluates whether the movements captured resemble a step and a calculation is made. There is still room for error with modern pedometers but accuracy is usually within about five percent.

And now a crude, but visual journey of the pedometer:

1860 pedometer

British Mid 1800′s pedometer by Negretti & Zambra

german pedometer

Western Germany 1950′s Ankle Pedometer

walk a matic

1960′s Pedometer

 

Fitibit_Flex

Fitbit Flex 2014

Sources:

That Ten Letter Word

Motivation: it’s empowering, at times elusive, and requires discipline. However, without it there cannot be success.

Finding my motivation, especially when it comes to working out, has been a constant evolution. Often times I find my motivation is a reward or something I have been deprived of. Some of my motivations require a lot of discipline so I understand if they might not work for you, but perhaps they can inspire you to find something that will motivate you to get out and get active.

1. A good book or magazine. If you’re a fan of walking on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym this is a good one. I find a great read I really enjoy and reserve it for the gym only. The catch is, you CANNOT read it unless you’re on that machine. Suggestions I have would be “The Hunger Games”, “Orange is the new Black”, “The Da Vinci Code” or any other read that keeps you turning pages and therefore moving.

2. New songs you love or a station you adore. Have a jam that you really love? A new CD you just acquired? You can also tie in the above “books” idea by getting a book on your device and listening to it. No matter what it may be save it for the times when you’re moving and being active. This one takes a lot of discipline but even just creating a new playlist that you reserve for working out ONLY can be a great motivator and keep you going longer and stronger.

3. Fun clothes for working out. I love finding great clothes to workout in. They lighten and brighten my mood and once I change into them I am instantly ready to get out there and get going! It does not have to cost an arm and a leg for a decent workout wardrobe. If I am out at a store with active clothes available, I check out and see what is on sale. However, if I reach a specific goal I spoil myself with a splurge.

4. Invest in the right equipment. There is nothing worse than getting going and then having a wrench like an injury thrown into the mix. If you have invested in a gym but have never touched a weight in your life, get a half hour personal training session to curb the fear of weights and show you proper form. Getting into walking and/or running? Great shoes ARE A MUST. They will save your joints and keep you going. Yoga your thing? Get a nice mat, towel and water bottle. These things are imperative but can also a little expensive which is another aspect to their motivation. You paid for it so you better use it, right?

5. The last one I’ll leave you with: a PARTNER. There have been days when I do not want to go for jogs or walks and I know that goes for my partner too. Having another person to hold me accountable and whom I know wants/needs me to be there for them is an excellent motivator. Perhaps you like doing it on your own, but having someone hold you accountable and cheer you on or heck, whip your butt into going, can be the difference between, “I’m not feeling it and I’m not doing it,” to “I’m not feeling it but I’ll do it, if not for me, for them.”

No matter what your motivations may be, keep it relevant and recognize when it stops working. You might need to get a little creative but that’s alright, just as long as you are staying active!

Lost Lake Butte Trail

For our summer vacation this year my fiancé and I went out to a local campground called Lost Lake. The lodge and family friendliness reminded me of the movie “Dirty Dancing” and there was so much to do in and around the lake! Despite getting extremely sunburnt our second day we decided that we wanted to get a hike in. There are many trails to hike in the area but one we had heard really great things about was the “Lost Lake Butte” trail.

We started early right after breakfast since it was going to be hot that day and we wanted to hike while it was still relatively mild. Round trip the trail is 4.6 miles and I would say moderate in difficulty. There are a lot of rocks and tree roots popping up on the trail and it is a steep climb with several switchbacks. At first, once we got to the summit I didn’t see anything too worth while but after walking a little further we were rewarded with this…

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A gorgeous view of the north side of Mt. Hood! It was definitely worth the hike! We spent a good chunk of time up there taking in the view. If you are around Hood River or even the Portland area I highly recommend this hike! If you are nowhere close I ask you, where is a piece of nature nearby that you’ve been meaning to go to? Give yourself time, start early, bring snacks and water and go out for a little adventure one of these weekends. We saw kids literally running up this trail so don’t be deterred to bring your children also!

If you’ve recently gone on a hike, no matter where you are, share them with us! We’d love to hear about them and see your pictures too!

Walk With Purpose

There always seems to be a walk for something. Walk for Breast Cancer, Walk for Alzheimers, Walk for MS and so on. I do not think I know one person who hasn’t been affected by a disease somewhere in their lives. Personally, Alzheimers hit close to home for me with my grandma. These walks are usually short (5k or 3.1 miles) and help you to do a small part to support research and those suffering. Why not challenge yourself to find a walk to participate in for the end of the summer or fall? It’s true that often times these walks ask for a donation, but it is for a great cause and sometimes that money is just the extra bit of motivation needed to follow through. Get a few friends together, maybe find a cause that you and your co-workers would like to walk for. It’s great for families to do together also! Below I have listed some websites that you can click on and see if they have walks in your area.

Walk to End Alzheimers

Race for a Cure (Breast Cancer Awareness)

ZERO cancer (Prostate Cancer)

Relay for Life (American Cancer Society)

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes 

NAMIwalk (Mental Illness)

Light The Night (Leukemia & Lymphoma)

Those of course are just a few suggestions. I am sure that if you search for “insert cause+walk” in a search engine, you’ll more than likely find a walk or run to participate in. Now get out there, get inspired, get fit and make a difference!