The Lighter Side of Thanksgiving

Welcome back, Jessica – Thanks for blogging for us again!

In true Walker Tracker style, we’re happy to advocate for a balanced approach to enjoyment and wellness during the holiday.  That means spending quality time with your family, friends and community, staying active, and having a ton of fun along the way. Check out the post below for tips and tricks from Jessica Lin to lighten your holiday.

Cheers!

Thanksgiving kicks off the Holiday season with a bang and sometimes it can be the start to a downhill slide on the health scale as we flow into Holiday + New Year celebrations. It’s super important during this time of the year to find a balance between everything. When we get over stimulated or stressed we oftentimes find our otherwise healthy habits beginning to slip. With family, friends, co-workers, parties, vacations, travel and the pressure of the end of the year upon us, I hope to share with you a few things to stay in tiptop physical and mental state to remain on a positive path as we move into 2018. We all know there’s nothing worse than starting your New Year feeling like crap, weighing an extra 10 lbs, and embarrassed from our over drinking at the company holiday party.

The most important thing to remember during this time, heck all of the time, is to stay balanced and know that you don’t have to do it all. This time of year it’s about enjoying your time with your loved ones and allowing yourself time to reset before we head into a New Year. Here are a few ways to stay healthy and sane over the next two months!

Take time out for SELF-CARE. In the midst of all the planning, prepping, and partying it’s easy to get caught up and have your feet swept off the ground. Stay rooted by scheduling time for you. What makes you feel shiney and new again?

1. Warm bath/ soaking tub action (If you’re in Portland, OR, I highly suggest treating yourself to a day of soaking and relaxing at Knot Springs)
2. Curl up and catch up with someone you love over tea/ fire
3. Light candles or a fire and leave the screens for an hour to connect with your friend and family, share stories and some laugher
4. Dive into a new book and take time each night before bed to read

With so much eating going with dinner parties, large family gatherings, holiday meals, etc. it’s easy to feel bloated, heavy, and uncomfortable; to not feel your most fit and healthy self. We can derail our healthy eating habits quickly over the next two months but it’s super easy to stay on top of it with a few simple changes. If you’re bringing any dishes, or you’re the captain of the ship and cooking the whole meal, here are a few easy swaps to help keep your holiday dishes on the ‘lighter’ side without losing any flavor integrity.  

  • Skip excess butter or use a butter substitute such as ‘I Can’t Believe it’s NOT butter’ or vegan butter (my preference) – taste is just as great and is ½ the calories
  • Dress your turkey
    • Turkey
      • Use pomegranates, oranges, clove, vegan butter, dash of EVOO and spices to give your turkey the perfect golden brown and highest level of juiciness (stick the cloves in the skin of the bird, melt butter with EVOO and mix with oranges/ poms to coat the bird, then sprinkle with herbs and spices, slice the oranges and ¼ the poms and put them into the roasting pans with everything)
    • Stuffing
      • Use gluten free bread for the stuffing and rice flour to make gravy over gluten heavy flour and breads


  • Make your mash with light sour cream or vegan sour cream over heavy cream
    • Sour cream is my favorite since it enhances the flavor and gives your taters a kick
    • Keep skins on the potatoes to get the most nutrients from your food!
  • Use a dash of Jacobson salt at the very end to reduce sodium intake and make food taste AMAZING!
  • Use fresh herbs to increase flavor in your dishes so less salt is necessary over all

The most important part of staying on track over the next two months is remembering to use some portion control, drink water as well as wine with your meal, and pace yourself as you enjoy all of the amazing food. If you allow yourself time to ENJOY each bite, it may end up saving you a second serving and a few hundred calories. No matter how you end up eating, remember to move and you’ll find a way to balance everything and bounce back after the New Year a little quicker than those who don’t!

Take a post Meal take a walk with your family. Resist the urge to sit and wallow in your overindulgence. I highly suggest taking a break between your meal and pie to walk away from the table, put on your coat and get outside. It doesn’t have to be a long walk but get everyone in the family to join, it’s a nice moment to connect with each other, enjoy the change of seasons, and to digest. By taking this time to walk between courses you will allow your food to settle so you can feel your fullness and not push yourself to over-indulgence. I learned this from my Grandmother and we always take a little walk around the block after we eat to connect and enjoy each other with full tummies and happy hearts.

Play a game post pie – my suggestion is to put on some music and play a game that requires a little bit of movement and tons of laughter. Did you know that laughter burns 3 calories a minute?! Some of my favorite food-coma fighting games are:

  • Charades
    • Create your own categories and clues and break into teams
      • Male v female
      • Generations
      • Cousins V. Aunts & Uncles
  • Cards Against Humanity – great for a good laugh – older crowd only
  • For children give them an opportunity to put on a post-meal performance
    • Gives them something to do before the meal to connect with each other
    • Post meal excitement and “dress rehearsal” while the ‘adults’ go for their post-meal walkabout
    • Memories to last a lifetime

The holidays are a time to come together and that should always remain at the forefront of this time of the year, but there is no reason why you can’t stay focused on your health goals as well. Don’t let the Holidays plow you over or derail you. Tap into yourself and allow yourself balance and control over these next few weeks. If you indulge in food make sure to move, if you drink to excess make sure to hydrate and sweat to help the body to detox. There are so many ways to find balance and all of them are fairly simple, you just have to allow yourself a little time and space to see where and how you can make them work for you.

Keep it Fresh

A few years ago, I had my workout routine down. I made it to the gym on a regular basis and felt great afterwards. But after a while, going to the same exercise classes and working out on the same exercise equipment started to feel stale. Has this ever happened to you? It’s not surprising. While we are creatures of habit, change and challenge can help to keep us motivated in our healthy routines.

Here are some tips on how bash boredom and get excited about exercise, or at least make it more enjoyable.

 

Change It Up

If you regularly list to music during your physical activity, even a new playlist can help prevent boredom. It’s even better to shuffle the songs, so you never know what’s coming up next.

What muscle groups are you neglecting? Switching up your physical activity to target different muscle groups will not only bash boredom, but it also will decrease your risk for injury or help you stay active while recovering from hard workouts or injuries.

Try variations of your favorite physical activity, like aerial yoga, pool cycling, indoor obstacle course, or Bollywood dance.

Personal training sessions can provide personal evaluation and motivation, and introduce you to new fitness techniques and equipment.

 

Enjoy the Challenge

Set a goal for yourself. Setting challenging, yet attainable, goals for yourself will help keep you motivated. It is important to continually evaluate your goals so you keep being challenged. Once a challenge gets too easy, it will seem more like a chore. Continue to test your limits. Sign up for a race or similar fitness event. Maybe join a training team or group to help reach your goal.

Don’t forget to reward yourself. Avoid workout burnout by making your workout more game-like, with points and rewards. Log your workouts on the Walker Tracker app and receive points for logging and meeting goals. (Ex. Each time you reach a new points level, treat yourself to a massage.)

 

It’s important for your physical activity to be enjoyable to keep you moving. Maybe boredom is why trying to work out regularly never stuck before. Why not give it another try? Even if you are still enjoying your current fitness routine, it is a good idea to include variety often to keep things interesting and fun. What can you do this week to “spice up” your fitness routine?

My favorite superfoods

We hear a lot of talk these days focused on superfoods. But how should we incorporate these unique items into our daily routine? What even is a superfood? Lucky for you guys, I’m a bit of a superfood hoarder, as well as adventurer.

A superfood is technically defined as a food that is consumed for a health or wellness benefit. Not only are superfoods packed with unique vitamins and nutrients, they usually taste pretty good too.

One of my favorite things to date is Jackfruit. Surprisingly, this exotic fruit has been popping up on a lot of menus here in Portland lately. So here you are, I’ve compiled a list and a few tips on how to use my favorite superfoods.

1. Chia Seeds. You’ve all probably heard of this food by now, but I like to continuously remind people that they are around due to the omega-3 load these little seeds pack! They are also rich in fiber, protein and minerals. I like to add mine to water with fresh lemon, blend into smoothies and top oatmeal. You can get creative and create a tapioca like pudding with the seeds as well! Here’s a recipe to check out.

2. Cacao Powder. This has become a staple in my morning smoothies. Cacao beans contains 40 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries, and has the highest level of iron of all plant sources. Mix into oatmeal, blend into smoothies, or indulge in a dark cacao bar.

3. Avocados! Who doesn’t love a good avo? I could personally top everything with a little avocado, and have been found to mix it into my smoothies and even use one to create a facemask. All the good fats in avocado make this a top contender for my favorite superfood.

4. Lentils, the forgotten bean. I’m all about the lentils. My favorite way to prepare them is to create a korean bbq flavor, mixed with brown rice and veggies (found here). Lentils provide a good amount of iron, and are high in protein.

5. Nutritional Yeast. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you already know that nutritional yeast is a must have in your kitchen. It provides us with the vitamin B 12 that is most commonly found in animal proteins. It also can be used as a vegan substitute for several types of cheeses. My favorite snack is air popped white corn sprinkled generously with nutritional yeast!

6. Pitaya. Did one of those colorful smoothie bowls catch your eye this summer? Chances are it was a pitaya bowl! This fruit is a beautiful fuchsia color, and has a flavor similar to guava. Pitaya is loaded with vitamin B, magnesium and fiber. Pitaya may also be referred to as dragon fruit.

7. Bee Pollen granules. This past spring I finally got to be relieved of some allergies by taking local bee pollen daily. I sprinkled it on smoothies. It is 40% raw protein, making it extremely nutrient dense.

8. Turmeric. This is the anti inflammatory root you’ve been dreaming of… maybe. Turmerics main component, curcumin is one of the most powerful anti inflammatory in the world. Try out my favorite recipe for Golden Milk next time you need a warm, winter drink.

9. Jackfruit. Another awesome substitute for meat! Jackfruit is a watermelon sized fruit that contains small, “meat” like textured pods. I’ve prepared jackfruit slow cooked and seasoned with Mexican spices for tacos and burritos. It contains vitamin B, niacin, potassium and magnesium.

 

And there you go! Get out there and be a superfood adventurer.

Introducing Emily of the Walker Tracker Team

Hello! My name is Emily and I am the newest member of the Walker Tracker team. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I developed a love for cycling. I have been living in Portland for a year now and I feel quite at home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I was attracted to the environmentalist and bike cultures, and, not surprisingly, I discovered an excellent wellness culture, as well.  

I am joining Walker Tracker as a program manager with a health research background. I look forward to using my research and communications skills to help promote a culture of wellness. I am always seeking opportunities to learn, especially when it comes to new developments in the health and wellness field, and I enjoy sharing what I learn with others.

When I am away from my desk, I hope to be either on a walk (really!), riding my bike, or out catching up with friends and colleagues. If I feel like staying inside, I could be working on a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle or getting lost in a book. A couple of my favorite places around town are Powell’s Bookstore and Laurelhurst Park. I also enjoy visiting local farmer’s markets and volunteering at various local organizations.

My current favorite health tip is: Re-learn how to play. This can be a challenge if you are like me and value productivity, but having fun is essential for the wellbeing of people of all ages. You will be more productive and joyful, when you take time to play. We all have our own ideas of what play can be. For some of us, it’s a 10-mile hike, for others a family game night. Whatever brings you joy, do that. Let’s find time to have more fun!

Be well,

Emily

Walking to Your Next Big Idea

Walking to Your Next Big IDeaIt’s no secret that walking can help to boost your creativity in a big way! Charles Dickens, Aristotle, John Muir, and Beethoven are among just a few of the many famous minds who attribute regular walking to their genius.

A study done at Stanford University found that walking, regardless of where, can boost creativity by up to 60%. The study also found that creativity levels remained elevated even after the walk had ended. The same results applied whether participants were getting their steps inside or outside—so rain or shine there are no excuses!

 Does this mean walking meetings are a good thing?

They can be! Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) have all been known to hold meetings on foot. Walking meetings can be a great way to brainstorm creative ideas, as well as solve problems. Fredrick Nietzsche famously said, “all great thoughts are conceived by walking.” In addition to a boost in creativity, the increase in energy one gets from taking a brisk walk helps those who spend the majorly of their workday at a desk maintain higher levels of productivity (not to mention the health benefits).Barbara Oakley,

Barbara Oakley, engineering professor at Oakland University, said, “walking allows us to subconsciously process and think in a different way.” So next time you have writer’s block, are stuck on a project, or need inspiration for that next big idea, get up and take a walk!

You can find the Stanford study here.

Introducing McKenzie – the Newest Member of the Walker Tracker Team

Hey Walker Track community! My name is McKenzie, and I am a new addition to the Walker Tracker team here in Portland, Oregon. I was born and raised in Portland, therefore I have grown up around a plethora of like-minded people who enjoy wellness, good coffee and nature as much as I do. I recently graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Public Health. My area of focus was Health Promotion and Healthy Behaviors. The last 5 years at OSU have provided me with a ton of awesome information to share with you.

I have most recently been spending my free time experimenting with plant-based cooking, and strive to make every meal I share with others a learning experience. I am passionate about vegetarian lifestyle and strive to surprise my friends and family with amazing, nourishing vegetarian and vegan meals. I love discovering new hikes in our beautiful state, surfing, taking yoga and dance classes, drawing, painting and challenging myself by learning to use new art mediums. I also always keep an eye out for the newest trends in wellness, whether it be a new superfood or a crazy theory that getting less sleep can make you happier…

I am a huge fan of all types of music, bonus points if it’s live! I can usually be found at a local show, or at a weekend festival dancing with friends (one of my favorite ways to get active). There’s nothing quite like the amazing energy a crowd groovin’ to the same beat provides.

So there’s a bit about me, make sure to keep an eye out for some upcoming posts on the blog!

Ciao,

McKenzie

Is sitting the new smoking?

Is sitting the new smoking? I have heard this question quite a bit over the past year. There is no doubt science is starting to show that sitting is really bad for us, and our lives are becoming more and more sedentary. At Walker Tracker we work to help bring movement to the workplace, which can often be the biggest contributor to the amount people are sitting each day.

 

Recently I came across an article by Susan Scutti titled “Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise” (find the article here) referencing a study that tracked not only how active the participants were, but also how frequently they were getting up and moving. The results? Long uninterrupted periods of sitting are really bad for us.

 

Currently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. The article suggests we need similar guidelines for sitting, but more research needs to be done to determine just how often we should be getting up and moving, and for how long that movement should be

 

One finding of the study was, “people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death.” Keith Diaz, the lead author of the new study and an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine, offered the following, “if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods, the best suggestion I can make is to take a movement break every half hour. Our findings suggest this one behavior change could reduce your risk of death.”

 

So even if you make a point to hit the gym after work, it might not be enough to combat the hours you spent sitting during the day. Make a point to set a reminder to get up every thirty minutes or so to get those steps in! Not only will this help keep you healthier (and alive longer), but I bet you will see an increase in productivity and creativeness in your day as well. Check back for more on that in a future post…

Hiking Adventures To Promote Social Wellness

I’d like to introduce you to a company close to my heart.  We’ve known each other for 25+ years and they offered me my first job (albeit digging through boxes and boxes of files when I was 13 or so).

Welcome to the show, CIDA!  CIDA just happens to be the company my father built.  They are extremely dedicated to their employees’ wellness and well-being and I count myself lucky to get the insider scoop.

Sometimes word of their initiatives trickle into my inbox from my dad (by way of a forward with some emoji’s sprinkled on top – he really loves those things…).  It’s exciting to learn how their team supports each other in healthy habits and activities.  The latest: a series of hikes they’re doing together this summer.  It’s my honor to share with you some insight from Mya, the Director of Interior Design, who put this together.

Now to the good stuff!

 

Taylor:  What inspired you to set up the CIDA hikes?

Mya:  My main reason for scheduling these hikes was to promote social events with our employees outside of work hours, as we tend to work pretty diligently during the work week.  While I, myself, have a hard time breaking away from my desk to socialize, some staff do take walks during lunch together.  Many of our staff do take hikes with family and friends on the weekends and I thought it would be fun to try and coordinate these monthly as a group and even pair it with events as the seasons change (berry-picking, pumpkin-patching, Christmas-tree-hunting, etc.).

Punchbowl Falls, one of the hikes on the menu for this summer!

 

Taylor:  CIDA was named one of the Top 100 Companies to work for in Oregon (2017)!  That is amazing.  What core values lend themselves to both the company’s mission and your internal company culture?

Mya:  Thanks!  We are all really proud that our employees voted us into this amazing category!  One sentence from our mission statement really seems to speak to both of these; we have high standards, we encourage people to grow, and we enjoy what we do. CIDA understands that for an employee to become the best professional they can be, they need support, guidance and understanding from the organization. We know that investments made for employees pay off to happier clients and staff, a better built environment and an improved broader community. Most of all, we enjoy what we do!!

 

Taylor: What kind of ROI do you see with participants of your events/wellness program?

Mya:  Our staff definitely seem happier after non-work events/social gatherings together and certainly gain health benefits when these include active tasks.  These group activities increase our social bond and encourage us to get to know each other, and our family members, on a personal level, which of course makes us all more invested in each other.  Those bonds make our working environment more like a family situation than purely co-workers.

 

Taylor:  I love that these hikes focus on both social and physical wellness.  We’re hearing a lot lately about social well-being, community and belonging as leading wellness trends – do you have any other fun ideas up your sleeve that you’d be willing to share with our community?

Mya:  CIDA has always coordinated a summer picnic/camp trip, which does tend to include hikes, lawn games, water balloon fights and the like.  We have also had teams for various events like the OHS Doggie Dash and just participated in the Rappel for Her event put on as a fundraising event for Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest.  CIDA also takes part in the annual Summer 10,000 step challenge where we engage in some healthy competition with other small businesses in our area. This challenge is organized through our health insurance who also points out that insurance premiums are lower when groups are healthier.  Fridays have historically been “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” at CIDA, which we all know decreases stress levels and creates a happier work environment, but you can bet that at least one dog is in our office randomly each week at any given moment (my two are here with me today).

 

Taylor: Who leads the wellness program at CIDA?  Do you have a Team or Champions or volunteers?  How does leadership play a part in getting folks involved?  Leadership buy-in is often a contributing factor to participation levels in our programs.  Do you find that having the President + leadership team involved boosts participation?

Mya:  I’d have to say that Rachel Johnson typically heads our wellness program (strongly support by our president, Jennifer), as she is generally the one to coordinate the details for most events, but all employees are encouraged to offer suggestions and to maintain a “captain” role in any event that they may bring into the office.  Because CIDA is open to these events, our staff know that they are welcome to bring opportunities to our attention.  This allows a wide variety of events and activities, as well as, a sense of ownership in our company and our larger communities.  Involvement by leadership definitely boosts participation and CIDA has always had the kind of leaders that get in there with the team and make any task fun.  This definitely crosses over into the non-work activities as well.  CIDA really is a no-ego type of an office – we are all in it together.

 

Taylor:  Any other advice for companies looking to start a wellness program (or bring new life to the one they have)?

Mya:  Just to look for, and be open to, opportunities.  Often times your staff lead you to these by their passing conversations.  I think that’s how the CIDA Hikes came about and it just seemed appropriate to coordinate an office-wide hike.  So far the response has been amazing!  We kick-off CIDA Hikes this Saturday and plan to do them the first Saturday of every month.

 

 

 

 

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: 

Social wellness is super important.  Building and finding a community helps you stick with your healthy habits, encourages you to try new things and can keep you engaged long term.  So, by all means, Community-up!

You could apply this across many of your communities; here are some ideas:

In your workplace: invite some co-workers to join you in an activity/class/adventure.  With your family: start a friendly competition that challenges you all to reach goals, now – you have others to check in with and hold you accountable.  With your friends:  plan a weekend hike or trip that support a healthy lifestyle (hint: a healthy lifestyle is broad, don’t let it feel constricted to exercise.  Maybe you go to a spa to de-stress or cook together, creating a fun and social outlet around a meal).

 

Who is CIDA?  Find out more on their website – http://www.cidainc.com

 

Please, share your ideas, successes and calls to action with us.

 

Cheers!

Taylor

Infrastructure maintenance notice

Just a quick heads-up:

Walker Tracker will be undergoing an infrastructure transition on the night of August 3rd, starting at 8pm Pacific time.

Please follow this status notice for updates

 

NYC Partner: Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions

Are you in the New York City area?

We’re happy to introduce our newest Walker Tracker partner: Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions.  We’ve joined forces to improve engagement and depth of your wellness program at discounted rates.  Read on to learn more about their offerings and how, together, our services can lead to longterm engagement and healthier employees.

 

“Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions, a leader in corporate wellness programming, is at the forefront of the preventive medicine movement. Headed by a physician, we bring the power of lifestyle medicine to the workplace. We emphasize medically sound information using an engaging, supportive approach. Through our expertise and guidance, numerous individuals have altered their eating habits, lost weight, increased activity, and effectively managed their stress. Moreover, we frequently identify undiagnosed or ignored elevated blood pressure. Our approach often results in previously unmotivated individuals becoming enthusiastic participants in their health and well-being.

For information about our services visit our website: www.corporatewellnessMD.com

Physician-Based Corporate Wellness Solutions is pleased to be partnering with Walker Tracker to provide onsite services. Together, the Walker Tracker platform coupled with an onsite exercise seminar and individual medical screenings, will achieve the core objectives of a corporate fitness challenge: the encouragement of employees to safely increase physical activity, consider health-related consequences of lifestyle choices, break harmful habits, and become more fit in a health-promoting atmosphere.”

 

 

Questions? Ready to engage?  Get in touch!

sales@walkertracker.com