Go To Yoga Moves for ‘Those Days’ – Guest Blogger Jessica Lin

I first met Jessica through yoga.  We taught at the same studio and immediately hit it off (I’m talking first 2 minutes of know one another).  Thus,  I am elated to have her guest blog for Walker Tracker and share some yoga wisdom with our community!  Take it away, Jessica!

 

We all have’ those days’, you know the ones, you feel sluggish, off, and just not into anything. Your brain feels slow, your body isn’t cooperating, or everything seems to just fall short Those days are the worst BUT there is a way to turn them around; if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort. I’m usually all about ‘maximum effort’ but on ‘those days’ I’m all about minimal effort. So, here are my go-to yoga moves to turn any blah day around.

I suggest starting with a few Sun Salutations to warm up the body. This series of movements gets your blood moving and allows new energy into your body. Start small, in as little as three times through and you’ll already start to feel better; you can do as many as you need.

Sun A: Start in Mountain Pose (see below), as you exhale: fold forward from your waist and bring your hands toward the floor. Inhale: lift halfway up,abs pulled in, gaze forward and down, shoulders away from your ears. Exhale: step to high plank pose; hold this posture for a full breath cycle and on your next exhale lower ½ way down (Chaturanga) or all the way down to your belly. Inhale: Up-dog/Cobra Pose Exhale: Down Dog

 

Mountain Pose: Start with hands along your sides, palms facing forward, feet about hip distance apart as you inhale, reach your arms overhead, relax your shoulders away from your ears, spiral your pinky toward one another, draw your abs up and in, actively press your feet down into the earth. Mountain pose helps you to reground to earth, create strength in your body, help find your natural alignment and improve your posture.

 

 

Plank Pose: place your wrists under your shoulders, hips in line with your shoulder, abs in, engage your legs. This pose helps to strengthening and align the body, core, and spine as well as improve respiratory function. Option for Chaturanga from plank – bend your elbows by your sides to 90 degrees, keep the strength of your planks.

 

Cobra Pose: Start with your forehead on your mat, hands under your shoulders, as you inhale lift your chin and chest away from the floor usings your back muscles as you draw your abs toward your spine, gaze forward and down, slightly tuck your chin to keep your neck long.

 

Down Dog: Hands shoulder width distance, push into your fingertips, strong through your upper back as you lift your hips up and back, create an inverted V, relax down through your heels as you draw your abs up and in.

 

Legs up the wall: Super awesome, restorative pose, can be done anywhere anytime. My favorite time is with my legs up my headboard while I’m reading in my bed! Bring your hips all the way into the wall as you bring your legs to rest above you. Relax through your feet, send energy to your breath. Hangout!

 

Happy Baby: Awesome before you even get out of bed in the morning! On your back hug your knees in towards the corners of your chest, extend your feet towards the sky and grab anywhere that feels comfortable (big toe, feet, calves, thighs), make sure to keep your low back down and relax through your shoulders. This pose is fun, relaxing, creates compression in the body to release new energy into the body.

 

Supine Twist: Another great pose for first thing in the morning. Minimal effort needed for this one and it can come before or after happy baby. Start with your RIGHT leg pulled in toward your armpit, left leg extended down, give yourself a little hug around your right shin as you inhale, as you exhale cross your RIGHT leg over to the left, extend your right arm long as you gaze over your shoulder. Hold this side for 3-5 breaths and then switch sides moving slowly and with your breath. This posture is great for digestions, releasing low back tension, and stabilizing good posture.

 

Seated Twist: One of my favorite poses, you can easily do this in an office chair, on the floor, just about anywhere and it’s GREAT for digestion and easing lower back pain. Sit with your RIGHT leg crossed over your left in anyway, place your left hand to the outside of your right thigh as you twist up and over to the right, gaze to the right over your shoulder if it feels good. Hold 3-5 breaths, return to center then over to the left side.

You’ll  be surprised how your ‘blah day’ can change in about 10/ 15 minutes just by doing some of these poses. If you only have a few minutes just take a moment to sit, close your eyes, and breathe. The deepest part of yoga is the breath. At the beginning and the end of everything it comes back to the breath, to taking your time to become aware of the sensations within your body. Take a little moment each day to work on the idea of awareness to help you easily shift out of the funk and into the flow.

 

Join me on my journey to the self via travel, yoga, and exploring the world around me on my blog and social channels! Share your energy and be true to yourself!

 

-Jessica Lin

My Blog: www.myperfectnightout.com

@theonlyjesslin

 

The Jacob Encounter

We’re over the moon to introduce you all to one of our newest rock star Walker Tracker family members.  Drum roll, please…..

Introducing Jacob Martin!

Jacob is our brand spankin’ new full-stack software engineer! His energy is contagious and his bowling game is on point.  Let’s dig a little deeper and see what Jacob is all about….

 

  1. Are you from Portland? if not, where are you from and why did you migrate here?

I spent most of my life in New Mexico, then moved to Portland because I’m a musician and I really love the music scene here.

 

  1. What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy playing guitar, synthesizers, and drums.  I mostly write electronic dance music (a la Daft Punk) and soft introspective folk (a la Elliott Smith).

 

  1. So far, what do you like about the Walker Tracker culture/team/environment?

My primary motivation for joining the team was to work with the awesome people I engaged with during the interview process.  Walker Tracker is full of passionate and accommodating people who really made me feel welcome.

 

  1. What’s something our app does that you dig?

I’ve always enjoyed having friendly competitions between groups (or factions!) in an office setting, and Walker Tracker provides exactly that in an automated service.  Also, everyone wins as contributing to your team also contributes to your personal health!

 

  1. Tell me about your health regime – what do you do for your wellbeing?

Each day, I do at least one 20 minute meditation session, and aim to do it out in nature when possible.  I love hiking and cycling, as well as downhill longboarding and rock climbing.

 

 

Welcome aboard Jacob – we are so happy to have you!

The Walker Tracker Family

Taking Care of Your Mental Health using Art

Believe it or not, I’m trained as an Art Therapist (in addition to being a member of Walker Tracker’s Help Desk).  I’m quite a fan of holistic health care, which I view as promoting wellness in all avenues of yourself.

I believe that mental health is an important piece of wellness, and I’ve noticed that there’s been a recent trend of “Adult Coloring Books”, which are books/magazines with intricate images to color that have been shown to decrease anxiety.  I’ve tried a few of the books, and I found them very similar to coloring mandalas, which are circles that have intricate designs inside them to color (coloring mandalas as a method of decreasing anxiety was my area of focus for my Master’s thesis).  Coloring intricate shapes has been shown to trigger the same psychological response as meditation, and do not require you to have any experience in art.  After you’re finished you end up with a one of a kind awesome image too!

You can always search online for “coloring mandalas” and find some fun images to color.  Just a few minutes of coloring could have beneficial affects on your mood.

If you’re looking for a slight twist on the coloring concept, you can also try Zentangle.  In Zentangle you’re given a square and bunches of doodles to choose from that are very similar to high school notebook style doodles to recreate inside of the box.  You can make the doodles as large or as small as you want.  You can also make them really detailed or simple.  I’ve included an example of my own Zentangle for reference.

This is an example of a Zentangle that this author made

In general, taking a little time out of each day to take care of your mental health can go a long way to maintaining overall well being & a positive sense of self.  What else do you enjoy doing that contributes positively to your mental health throughout the day?  I look forward to hearing from you all!

Some resources discussing the mental health benefits of coloring:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/therapeutic-science-adult-coloring-books-how-childhood-pastime-helps-adults-356280

Image from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/70978/10-intricate-adult-coloring-books-help-you-de-stress

Curry, N. A., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22(2), 81-85. doi:10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441

Van der Vennet, R., & Serice, S. (2012). Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? A Replication Study. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 29(2), 87-92. doi:10.1080/07421656.2012.680047

 

Women in Tech

On January 27th we took some of the team to a very special event here in Portland: SUPER: WOMEN IN TECH Live Storytelling. The night was made by the 6 incredible speakers who boldly divulged their stories to a room full of eager ears.  We listened, we laughed, we related and we all left feeling a bit more empowered.

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Check us out – pictured: some of our mighty crew.

The Walker Tracker team is made up of 70% women.

For those of you who may not know – that is a huge deal in a tech company.  To provide some perspective:  ¼ of people employed in computer and mathematical occupations are women and less than 20% of software developers are women.

Ok, this isn’t really new stuff – why are you writing this now, Taylor?  Because I have the privilege to be a part of a phenomenal team (where women are represented in all departments: sales, development, management and customer service), it is easy for me to be removed from the bigger discussion.  I recently sat down with my friend, Katie, who is a software developer for a medium sized firm in Portland.  She is the only woman on her floor.  Last week it was Portland StartUp week; I attended a presentation on Women in StartUps: Negotiating for Yourself.   The presenter told a story that stuck with me:  she was part of a StartUp venture where the men actually took over the women’s restroom because there were more stalls (the company was predominantly men). Something is telling me – it’s time to pay better attention.

So, if all I can get from you today is 2 more minutes – please take those and watch this trailer for CODE.

 

“CODE documentary exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap.  CODE raises the question: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code?”

We encourage you to check out the full documentary.

https://www.codedoc.co

 

 

 

Here are some (of the many) opportunities for more information:

She’s Coding – http://shescoding.org

Tech Women – https://www.techwomen.org

National Center for Women & Information Technology – https://www.ncwit.org

WIT (Women in Tech) – http://www.womenintechnology.org

Check out the numbers for the largest software companies – https://www.cnet.com/news/women-in-tech-the-numbers-dont-add-up/

Our 2017 New Year’s Goals

Happy New Year to everyone from the Walker Tracker team!  As the old year ends and the new begins, many of us are thinking of what we hope the New Year will bring.  It’s a time of renewal, wonder, joy, and self-reflection.

It’s a long-standing tradition/association to try to better your New Year through committing to a resolution or two, to remind and encourage us to better our lives throughout the upcoming year.  Some of us here at Walker Tracker HQ really love to kick off the new year by setting personal goals or making resolutions.

Here’s what we had in common:

  • Make smaller resolutions throughout the year in order to avoid a large and perhaps unsustainable resolution.
  • Try to strike a better work/life balance
  • Our most successful goals involved equal parts: accountability, forgiveness, and setting the goal up for success

Read on for goals and resolutions from some of our Walker Tracker team:

David

David set 2 resolutions this year: to eat less sugar & eat cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and kale) at least 3x week. David said, “I’m (specifically making a habit of) looking at labels and trying to eliminate all extra sugar.”

When asked about his most successful goal he responded, “I successfully integrated walking in to my life; this was accomplished by getting a dog, Bella, who is in my face every morning at 5:45am.”

 

Ellen

Ellen prefers to take her goals one day/week at a time.  “I am working on taking it day by day and setting small goals that work me towards a greater goal or help to prepare me for what is to come.”

Ellen’s most successful goals have been smaller and more specific in nature: “(if you) stick to a budget of $40/week spending money for the month of January you are setting yourself up for a win. If you can stick to that for 4 weeks, you not only accomplished a goal of yours but you saved some money and then you can give yourself permission to extend your goal into the next month or change it up if it didn’t work.”

Ellen would like to visit Europe for her friend’s graduation from Oxford and the Mediterranean with her husband this Fall.

 

Blanca

Blanca also prefers “mini resolutions”.  “I choose something I know I can do and is actually useful to my own or others’ lives…setting milestone dates or action times really helps me stick to my goal.” Blanca specifically has had a goal of journaling before bed for reflection and gratitude.

Blanca’s most successful resolution ended up incorporating her entire family.  In a previous year, Blanca wanted to be more active outdoors during the Winter.  It became a family tradition to go cross-country skiing at the start of the New Year.

Blanca would like to travel to Eastern Oregon, in particular: Snake River canyon, the town of Joseph (where artisans meet ranchers) and Fort Rock, “…which is this amazing rock formation created by a raised ice age lake bed.”

 

Taylor

Taylor hopes to focus on the single word: balance, to help her achieve better balance for her health, wellness, and happiness.  She specifically cited an unhealthy habit she’d like to try to tackle in 2017: “checking my work email first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed.”  She has now an enforced rule of, “no work/screen time 1 hour before bed & no work email (until she’s been) awake for at least 30 minutes.”

Taylor has found that “should” has been a detriment to successful resolutions.  When she feels that she “should” be doing something that, “really made everything in life a lot less enjoyable.”  So her most successful resolution is giving up “shoulds” in her life.

She’d like to visit Brazil, Panama, or Indonesia and just can’t decide which. Have you been to any of them? Help her choose by commenting below!

 

Stephanie

Stephanie chose to give up her car for the New Year, and to ensure this was successful, she drove her car to her parent’s house and left without it!  She decided to do this because, “Walking more and using public transportation is not only good for the planet but a great way to get to know my new city.” (as Stephanie recently moved here to Portland, OR)

Her most successful goal involved sending out greeting cards to family members, and buying a huge stack of cards at the start of the year really helped her maintain this throughout the entire year.

She’d like to be able to go to New York City this year.

 

Kristina

Kristina would like to focus on slowing down in 2017 as she feels like she’s, “always running from one thing to the next.” She’s going to try meditation to help with maintaining a less hurried lifestyle.

She has found that making a big list of resolutions at the beginning of the year hasn’t been the most helpful.  She feels that picking one thing to focus on is more helpful.

Kristina wants to visit (perhaps due to the chilly weather here) somewhere warm, like Hawaii and in specific, Kauai.  She would also like to visit the beach and do some snorkeling.

 

Torrence

Torrence has specific continual resolutions, “to become a better ally to people of color and to eat more vegetables.”

Torrence loves to visit the woods and in worldly travels, wants to go to Iceland.

 

Abby

I too wish to strike a better work life/balance as a “perma-goal”.

If you’ve set your own goals, feel free to comment below: What are your goals & and what has helped you stick with them? We look forward to helping you with your wellness goals in 2017!

Happy Thanksgiving from Walker Tracker

we challenge you to walk 10,000 steps on Nov. 24th

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

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Happy Halloween from the Walker Tracker Team!

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

 

Planned Maintenance Window: October 22nd 9pm PDT

UPDATE: Infrastructure upgrade was successful. Thanks for your patience!

 

The Walker Tracker websites and mobile apps will be briefly unavailable for a maintenance window at 9pm PDT on October 22nd in order to upgrade infrastructure. We will post updates to our status page. Thanks for your patience.

We’re growing! Introducing: Abby, Torrence and Stephanie

We have an awesome staff at Walker Tracker and are proud and excited to introduce you to our newest team members.

Abby (Customer Support Specialist)

I hail from small towns in Upstate NY (no where near the city).  I lived in Upstate NY for most of my life, and I got sick of this:image

So I moved far away from the snow.

I graduated with my Master’s degree in Art Therapy.  Anyone who’s ever gone through school knows that it can be stressful; so I didn’t have the best eating, sleeping, or in-general living habits during that time!  I longed for a time when I could exercise and enjoy nature again.

Since moving to Portland 2 years ago, I’ve been able to walk around and explore new areas locally.  Walking and casual bike riding are my favorite forms of exercise, but I’m interested in archery and martial arts as well. I use Apple Health with the Walker Tracker app for iOS to track my personal steps. Steps are automatically transferred into my iOS app in real time, so I always know where I stand in a competition.

Abby
I’m back in school studying computer programming.  Joining the Help Desk team at Walker Tracker has been a great mix of my strong background in human services, my past time (walking), and my future in IT.  You might see some comics and doodles from me from time to time in the blog or newsletter, as I can’t completely neglect my artistic side!  It is my pleasure to meet and work with all of the Walker Tracker community.

~Abby


Torrence (Junior Programmer)

slack-for-ios-upload-1

I grew up in rural southern Oregon in a town called Lakeview and I’ve lived in central Oregon as well. I had a very outdoors-oriented upbringing and I spent many weekends of my childhood camping with my dad.

These days, I enjoy cycling, hiking, and I’m trying to assemble enough gear to start backpacking. I’d really like to hike a stretch of the PCT at some point in the next few years. I try to stay active on a daily basis by bike commuting, taking stairs instead of the elevator, and walking to the grocery store. I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years and I try to be mindful of what I consume because I think it contributes to my overall wellness.

I’m excited to flex my coding skills with Walker Tracker and contribute to an awesome company.

Torrence uses a Misfit Shine 2:

The misfit is lightweight and flexible. I like that I can wear it on my wrist or clip it on my shoe, which produces more accurate results when cycling. Also, their support team is extremely responsive.


Stephanie (Business Development Manager)timbers-game

        Everywhere I have lived has been so beautiful it has encouraged me to get out and explore. Hiking the mountains in Idaho, walking the beaches at the coast, and hiking/walking all around Corvallis, Oregon.

For the past 4+ years, I have been working with women battling breast cancer, which really gave me the passion for being active and eating well. While it certainly doesn’t prevent it, living an active healthy lifestyle is shown to greatly reduce your risk of cancer. I’m excited to bring this passion to Walker Tracker and the companies we work with.

I love walking. My favorite thing about living in the city has been being able to walk to work and most places I need to go. I am also very into weight training. I enjoy seeing how far I can push my body and increasing my strength. I’ve been wearing the Fitbit

I am a HUGE Timbers fan, and I am so excited to live in the city, and cheer them on from their hometown!  At one of their games this year I won a jersey signed by the whole team, and, I swear, it made my whole month!

Stephanie wears a Fitbit Blaze and likes that her weight and sleep are automatically transferred to Walker Tracker’s app and website, earning her points in the competition. 

Along with Stephanie came Zoey, another addition to the Woofer Tracker family:steph-and-zoey-hiking

My dog is my little fur baby! I rescued her eight and a half ears ago when I was working at an animal shelter. I loved the idea of rescuing a pit bull mix and making her an ambassador for the breed. She has visited nursing homes, schools, and countless other community events. She is my best friend, and constantly by my side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Blogger: Try a New Taste!

I am thrilled to introduce you to our guest blogger, Ashley, from Dovel Technologies. They have been walking (and running, and swimming, and biking, and – you get the point) with Walker Tracker since 2014.  Quite the model for an encouraging and engaging Wellness program, their communications to participants are meaningful, applicable and continue to draw attention back to overall wellness.  We have the chance to share one of their fun and inspiring emails (below) with our community.  Along with the admin at Dovel, we encourage you to reach out to your participants and drive engagement!

 

Why Try New Tastes?

Many people get in a food rut. We eat the same thing every day because it’s fast, easy, and we like it! The problem is that a limited diet equals a limited number of vitamins and minerals. Trying new foods helps expand your nutritional variety and improve your overall diet. For those of you who are parents (or aunts, uncles, cousins, babysitters, and more), being adventurous by trying new foods sets a good example for kids. And who knows, you may discover a new favorite food!

Not sure what to try? The easiest way is to walk up and down the produce aisle at your local grocery store until you spot something you’ve never tried before, and then google how to prepare it. Here’s a list of 5 in-season fruits and vegetables to get you started:

Jicama. A jimaca (otherwise known as a Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip) is a juicy, sweet, and nutty root vegetable with a distinct crunch. It is most commonly enjoyed raw, but you can cook jicama, too. Its white flesh stays crisp when cooked briefly. Make sure to peel off the thick, papery skin before eating using a chef’s knife (not a vegetable peeler). Jimaca is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.

Spaghetti squash. A spaghetti squash is an oblong, pale yellow vegetable from the squash family that usually weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. Once cooked, the soft inside of the vegetable falls away from the skin in ribbons or strands like spaghetti. At only 42 calories per cup, it makes a great substitute for pasta!

Quince. A quince is a hard, round or pear-shaped fruit that looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and pear. Quinces are inedible raw, but once cooked they develop a slightly grainy texture similar to a firm pear and a lovely rosy amber color. Just one quince contains nearly one-quarter of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C!

Figs. Many people grew up eating Fig Newton cookies as a child, but have never seen the fruit in its natural form! A fig is a soft, pear-shaped fruit with sweet dark flesh and many small seeds. Figs can be eaten fresh or dried. Figs are high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium.

Persimmons. A persimmon is a sweet reddish-orange fruit that resembles a large tomato. These fruits can be eaten fresh, dried, raw, or cooked, which changes the flavor, but they are generally sweet and pulpy. Some people prefer to scoop out the insides of either type, but the skins are edible too. Make sure to let the persimmon ripen to a fully soft state before eating it. Persimmons are a great source of Vitamin C, iron, and calcium.

 

Ashley Raker

Dovel Technologies