Alternative New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is approaching which creates an excellent chance to instill new habits. Check out some alternative resolutions below that are beyond the usual eat better, lose weight goals of years past.

 

A Year of Praise 

Do you recall the last time you were told good job or thanked for your kindness? Didn’t it just make your day? With this resolution, your goal is to make it a point to genuinely thank people for going above and beyond or for their kindness. You could turn someone’s day around completely with a simple “Thank you so much for making sure I got…” or, “You’re so kind to go out of the way to…”. Leave a positive review for a place, don’t bother with the bad ones. Ask to talk to someone’s boss or manager when they’ve given you excellent customer service. Don’t stop when it comes to strangers. Make it a point at home to tell your significant other thank you for cooking dinner or thank you for folding the laundry. Praise your children, co-workers, and friends. Brag about them and their accomplishments. Too often we expect good behavior and service but that isn’t always the case and instead of admiring those that do give it, we tend to point out those that do not. Make it a year of praise and see how lifting others up will end up lifting you as well!

 

A Year of Snail Mail

Are you like so many others and avoid the mailbox because it just has bills, statements, and junk? It’s a treat to get a card from someone! Start off your year with going through the calendar and marking everyone you hold near and dear to you and the date of their birthday. Next, mark anniversaries, weddings, graduations, holidays etc. Now, go to the store and walk straight to the card section. Grab some thank you cards, some birthday cards (bonus points if you find a different card for each person), and cards to fit the other occasions that will be celebrated this year. When you’re checking out, ask for a book of stamps. Now, put those cards someplace out in the open with a pen and the stamps right next to them. Make it a point to send out cards throughout the year. True, you will need to go back to the card section throughout the year because not all holiday cards are available year round but, as you get accustomed to sending out cards it may become a habit to swing by the card aisle. You will inevitably put a smile on someone’s face when they open the mailbox and see a handwritten card addressed to them. Who knows, you may get a few cards back in return!

 

A Moving Year

Whether your challenge is to walk more, exercise more, drink more water, eat better etc. there is a challenge to get involved in that can help keep you inspired and held accountable. If you’re not already registered with Walker Tracker, sign up for a free account at community.walkertracker.com where you can track your steps and walk along virtual routes to keep you motivated. Find some friends to cheer on and invite friends and family to join as well. If you upgrade to PRO you can even create your own challenges that you can invite your friends and family to participate in!

To keep that step count up, check out another great site, the 52 hike challenge. This global challenge asks you to go on one hike each week of the year. Share your pictures on Instagram and tag them with the hashtag #52hikechallenge and see where others who are doing the challenge are.

Have kids that you need to get outside? Check out Hike it Baby. Choose from your location and find a group of parents that get together with their kids and go for walks and hikes. Their motto is “No one is left behind” and you can choose from paved trails to wooded wilderness hikes. It’ll be fun for your kids and you to get out into nature and meet new people.

 

Picture a day

If you’re the sort of person that says, “Where did the year go?” then this challenge is for you! Try to take a picture every single day of the year. Sure, you will inevitably miss some. Make sure to post the picture somewhere (your Walker Tracker account perhaps?) with the date, why you took that picture, and who is in it, if anyone. At the end of the year, and for years to come, you will be able to look back and see just where that year went and all the wonderful, crazy, lazy, interesting things you did during 2018.

 

No matter what you choose to focus on in 2018 remember that every day is a new day and keep on trying. Post your goal somewhere where you will see it often to help remind yourself of your intentions for the day.

May you stay inspired and flourish!

Happy Halloween!

Here at Walker Tracker, we love any excuse to celebrate. Birthdays, achievements, national coffee day… you get the idea, and Halloween is no exception. It’s not very often that you get to dress up and go to work and it’s not only acceptable but encouraged!
You may have noticed that your map has been haunted by ghoulish shades of black and red in honor of All Hallows Eve. Enjoy the fun colors while they’re here and

halloweenfinal
Happy Halloween from the Walker Tracker Team!

(80’s Jazzercize instructor, Pregnant Unicorn, Jack from the Titanic & The Queen of Halloween)

 

WOOP your goals into reality

There is far more to achieving your goals than mere positive thinking. Research has shown that only having positive fantasies of your goal makes you feel like you have already put in part of the work and you are less likely to achieve it. Reworking your positive fantasies into the new method referred to as WOOP: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, & Plan is far more likely to help you realize your goal.
Wish – Identify a wish (goal) that is important to you
Outcome – Think of the best outcome of your wish being fulfilled (positive fantasies)
Obstacle – Realize your personal obstacles and challenges within yourself
Plan – Plan on how you will overcome your obstacles
Try out the researcher’s app to help you with your goals. It’s available for Android and iOS: http://woopmylife.org/app/

Get Active – in your community!

If you are looking to get in some steps and activity while also being an all around great civic asset to your community, consider volunteering with a local organization! From dog walking at your local Humane Society to being a nature guide at a local park, even planting or gardening for your local parks and recreation district there are a number of ways to get involved.

Check out http://www.volunteermatch.org/ and enter in what you care about, such as walking, animals, community or environment. There is something for everyone. Why not make your community better while also improving yourself? Everyone wins!

Share with us where you like to volunteer in your community below.

Stretch it out

I don’t know about you, but my neck and shoulders are constantly bothering me. We spend a lot of our daily lives looking down. Down at our computers, phones, reading, or just avoiding that awkward eye contact with the stranger on the bus. It is a recipe for neck, back and shoulder pain that is hardly relieved by a massage every once in awhile. Some good ways of helping relieve and avoid building up tension and pain in these areas is stretching. Yes, you have probably heard this before, but take a chance and set a timer on your phone for every hour or make it a point that whenever you get up to go to the restroom you take a chance to stretch. It’s easy, helps reduce stress and will keep your neck, shoulders and back able to hold up that big noggin’ of yours!

Try out the stretches below a couple times a day and feel refreshed, relieved and relaxed:

While sitting in your chair imagine a string running through the top of your head pulling it straight up. Shrug your shoulders up and roll them back so that you are sitting up straight.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.26.25 AM

Take your right hand and stick it straight out to your side. Point all your fingers straight out.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.17.00 AM

Let your arm fall to about your hip height or whatever point at which you begin to feel a stretch from your neck through your fingers. Keep your gaze forward. Breath in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4. Do this breathing sequence four times.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.17.28 AM

Then look up to the left while doing the 4 count of breaths in and out.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.17.55 AM

Look up and to the left and repeat the breathing.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.18.16 AM

Look down and to the left, continuing the breathing routine. Repeat on the left side.

If you have a wall available nearby walk up and place a hand on it. Stand about a foot away from the wall.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.24.07 AM

Place your hand low on the wall and turn away until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for a count of 15 seconds.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.24.19 AM

Place your hand a little higher about shoulder height and once again turn away from the wall until you feel a stretch, holding for 15 seconds.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.24.36 AM

Finally, place your hand high on the wall and do the same turning until you feel a stretch and holding for 15 seconds. This will stretch your pectorals which get all bunched up while hunching over your computer/smartphone/book etc. 

If you’re especially limber, pat yourself on the back for being kind to your body and stretching.

 

The 5:3:1 method that can transform your work day

Stress, you can’t escape it. Whether it’s stress from work or life in general, it has its way of creeping into your life and stealing your happiness. There is a difference between good and bad stress. Good stress lasts for short periods of time and is usually related to a task that has a determined end point. Bad stress however, lasts for long periods of time, alters your mood and makes you feel sick. Thankfully there are three things you can do throughout your day that can help combat stress. I challenge everyone, myself included, to try out these three simple things that neuroscientist Richie Davidson has determined to help reduce stress and bring happiness back into your day.

First, before you start work, take 5 minutes to meditate. But, “How do you meditate?” you might ask. Well don’t you worry (get it: stress=worry), the folks at Mindful have you covered. Visit their page here to learn how.

Second, write down 3 good things that happened throughout your day. These can be small but they help bring attention to the fact that although the day may have been challenging, there most likely were at least 3 things that went well. I have the saying, “Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day” displayed in my house as a reminder of this.

Lastly, perform 1 act of kindness every day. A great opportunity to do this is while you are at work. It brings happiness to both you and the person you help.

These are all pretty reasonable and easy things to do that can really make a difference in your work and every day life. What have you go to lose except a little stress?

 

A Step Up in Heart Health

It’s always great to hear success stories coming from our programs! It’s amazing how taking a walk and getting active can change someone’s life and inspire others. Our collaboration with Hadassah in their Every Beat Counts campaign is motivating their participants to walk from their headquarters in New York all the way to Jerusalem while fundraising and promoting heart health for Jewish women. 

Their program administrator and health rockstar, Eliana (who is also participating) has been featured in a Jewish parenting blog and shares her experience with their Walker Tracker program titled “Every Step Counts”. Thanks to little changes in her routine Eliana has been able to almost double her daily step goal. Check out her blog post and story titled “I’m Walking Off My Baby Weight With Hadassah” on Kveller and get some inspiration from a fellow walker!

Movin’ and Groovin’

Every morning when my fiance and I get up to go workout (4:30AM ouch!), we walk into a gym that is blaring some sort of techno, electronica or hip hop. Although I usually cringe at the music and quickly shove my headphones in to listen to my own version of motivational music, I know why they play that music. It’s upbeat, it’s lively, it’s what is needed to get us awake and moving at that early hour of the morning, if it were silent I’d probably sneak into the sauna and sleep. Think about it. You’d be hard pressed to find a gym or exercise class that doesn’t have some form of music happening in the background. Can you imagine putting your all into a silent spin class or salsa-ing in Zumba to no Enrique Iglesias or Shakira? Music = motivation and it helps to set the mood and fuel the workout.

In a study conducted by the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University they found that the beats per minute (bpm) of a song had a direct correlation to the performance of a cyclist on a stationary bike. The quicker the pace of the song, the faster they peddled and the slower the song the slower they peddled which resulted in the bikers heart rate dropping and a decrease in their overall performance. Not only is music important to your workout but the type of music you listen to is important. Now, I am not here to tell you to listen to a certain genre or musician but I can tell you that the agreed upon beats per minute of a song for a steady paced workout should be anywhere from 120 to 140. So how might you find out whether your favorite song is within that range? Check out this handy website that tells you the beats per minute of almost any song you are wondering about. When it comes to taking a stroll, stick to around 115-118 bpm. Power walking today? Go for 135-140 bpm. If you’re looking to run try to stick in the 140-160 range.

It really is remarkable what you are able to accomplish when you have a good soundtrack accompanying you. Perhaps you’ll find that some of your favorite songs are great for the type of workout you are wanting to accomplish or branch out and listen to some tunes that are outside your norm. I love asking my friends and family what some of their favorite upbeat songs are and giving them a try (although my fiance really digs heavy metal so that doesn’t work so well for me). I also like making a great playlist and not letting myself listen to any of the songs in it unless I am working out which is another great motivator to get me going. Now salsa/dougie/two step your way over to your tennis shoes and get movin’ and groovin’!

 

Stumbling doesn’t equal Falling and Falling doesn’t equal Defeat

So, a new year has begun and we’re already halfway into the first month. Can you believe it? I would like to sit here and be able to say that I am not a New Years Resolution sort of gal but I am. Sometimes you need a designated date to say, “Today I will mark a new beginning”. I hope that whatever resolution you have picked you are sticking with it. It’s been said that it takes a minimum of 21 days to make a habit so you’re already 15 days into at this time. Keep going.

Have you already had a hiccup that threw you off of your goal? Pick yourself back up and KEEP GOING. I want this to be an underlying theme for this year. Keep Going. My two big sayings in life is, “It’s better late than never,” and “No more looking back with ‘I would’ve, should’ve or could’ve’.” How do I stick to my sayings? I just KEEP GOING. It’s important to note that you mustn’t trudge on and lose sight of the original goal. Always keep that ending in mind, but know that sometimes you might have to change the path to get there. So you thought you’d run a half marathon by May but you got overwhelmed in work/life and haven’t had time to run everyday like you thought. It’s okay, KEEP GOING. Instead of “by May” change it to “I am going to run a Marathon this year”. Tweak your path to running in the mornings before work or much of anything else can intrude and crumble your plans.

Look, we are all mere humans. We are going to sabotage ourselves at certain times and make poor decisions but that doesn’t give you an excuse to give up. Part of keeping going is to get real with yourself and get rid of the excuses. No more BUT’s and CANT’s. Realize that a lot of the time the word that should go there is WONT and won’t is a choice.

So KEEP up the great work, or, get back GOING on that goal either way just KEEP GOING.

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!