Introducing Our Newest Walker Tracker Team Member – Jessica Nelson Kohel

I’m joyful and excited about introducing you to our new addition: Jessica Nelson Kohel! As Head of Product at Walker Tracker she’ll be guiding our product roadmap, connecting all our teams, and helping us to launch the best features you could (or, perhaps, already did) ask for! She’s bright, she’s witty, she’s extremely organized, and her dog Pepper is stealing hearts in our Portland headquarters. Welcome, Jessica!


Meet Jessica!

I am very excited to join the Walker Tracker team and combine my health & fitness interests with my web technology background. I love working for start-ups and watching the ways in which we can grow and deliver new features and experiences to our users. I am really looking forward to doing this for a company that emphasizes movement and promotes a healthier lifestyle for our members.

More about me…I am a native Oregonian (originally from Eugene, Go Ducks!) and am happy to call Portland home after spending 10 years living in both Seattle and Los Angeles. When I am not working, I enjoy hanging out with my husband, our 3 year old daughter, and our amazing French Bulldog mix, Pepper. We love to travel, eat at Portland’s amazing restaurants, and do any number of the amazing outdoor activities Oregon has to offer. I also love to cook, see concerts, and garden in our awesome back yard. You can also find me doing Goat Yoga on a random Sunday here and there.

Pepper!

Father Knows Best: Our Dads Share Healthy Tips to Live By

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and we’re recognizing the men who helped shape the lives Walker Tracker employees. Read on for the activities we used to do with our dads, healthy habits they tried to teach us and what motivates them to keep moving everyday.


Are there any healthy activities you like to do with your kids in the past or present?

We hiked and camped together.Jan Parzybok, father to Ben Parzybok, Founder/CTO

Yes, walking and just being with her. She makes a cloudy day sunny.David Welsh, dad to Taylor Welsh, CEO

When Jill was growing up we’d go on bike rides, camping and she’d tag along with me when I’d go surfing on the weekends. I also enjoyed supporting her and her high school crew team at races.Buz Moran, pops to Jill Moran, Marketing Assistant

When Cy was a kid we rode bikes around the neighborhood and at Sunriver, and played a lot of basketball. As adults we like to walk and talk on the wooded hiking trails around Kings Valley.Rick Cooper, father to Cy Cooper, Business Development Executive

Do you have any healthy habits or healthy tips you live by and tried to install in your Walker Tracker child?

Walk through your stiffness and/or pain.Jan Parzybok (Ben)

Maintain a healthy diet, we tried to limit sweets and candy (but Jill’s grandma sometimes had other ideas), early to bed and early to rise, encouraging her to read was important to her mom and me.Buz Moran (Jill)

Cyan Cooper and father, Rick, working hard.

Low fats, low sugars, lots of fruits and veggies, moderate amounts of meat and grains, lots of water, no smoking, moderate alcohol.Rick Cooper (Cy)

What inspires you to get up and get moving every day?

Surprises, there is always something new and wonderful each day. The excitement of living and participating keeps one healthy and emotionally fit.David Welsh (Taylor)

Life. I like getting up and going to work every day and living an active life. I don’t want to get stale and miss out on life.Bill Green, dad to Stephanie Green, VP of Business Development

Raising and providing for my family, taking our two dogs out for their walk, catching the early waves, going bike riding or hiking before it got too hot or crowded.Buz Moran (Jill)

Is there anything you’d like to share about your Walker Tracker son or daughter?

She is the most amazing young woman!!! She works hard and plays hard. She enjoys the journey (most of the time) and is positive and uplifting. She brings sunshine into peoples lives. She is a joy to be around.David Welsh (Taylor)

Stephanie Green and her dad spending time with family.

Stephanie definitely got my energy, and is like me in that she doesn’t sit still. She constantly is go go go, so she found the perfect job! Stephanie is determined. She knows what she wants in life and is going to get it, and, heaven help me, now I have a granddaughter who is the same way.Bill Green (Stephanie)

Like his mom, Cy has always been a highly kinetic person. As a kid and young adult he was almost always in motion, biking, inline skating, skateboarding, playing soccer, snowboarding, or dancing. Even when he’s sitting still, his mind is in constant motion–analyzing, processing, philosophizing, planning, strategizing, formulating, visualizing…Rick Cooper (Cy)

I am patiently waiting for Ben’s third novel.Jan Parzybok (Ben)

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So, I Ran A Half Marathon – 2018 Eugene Marathon Recap

Running is my favorite way to push the limits of what I think I’m capable of doing. It challenges me physically and mentally. It gives me a sense of freedom. It’s my form of meditation… my minutes of zen.

I love long distance running, and the half marathon is my preferred distance. So, naturally, when I realized my next half marathon would be my 20th, I wanted that race to be at my favorite of them all–the Eugene Marathon.

Why This Race?
In a sense, Eugene is a bit of a homecoming for me. I left my comfort zone to attend the University of Oregon. I was 18 years old, nearly 900 miles away from the only place I ever called home, I knew one person and, like all teenagers, I was discovering who I was without the influences of home.

Eugene is where I started to really fall deeply in love with running. Before I started running for sport, it was just our dry land conditioning workout during crew practice. I started running in college as a way to stay active, but I soon found that it allowed me to discover my new city, and that time on my feet revealed more and more about who I am. I come back to Eugene every spring to continue that journey of self discovery. Plus, I get to take home some pretty cool hardware.

So, How’d the Race Go?
I went into the 2018 Eugene Half Marathon without any expectations, and the weather the night before was helping keep them low. It was absolutely pouring rain. Not your typical misty Oregon rain; it was falling in sheets. When my alarm went off at 5:40am, I immediately checked the weather: 48 degrees, overcast, chance of rain at 11am.

PERFECT running weather.

I went through my usual pre-race routine: coffee, bagel, water, banana. Got dressed, pinned my bib to my tank top, and jogged the 1 mile to the start line.

As I walked to my starting corral, the excitement started to build. I didn’t have a race goal in mind. My only goal was to raise money for a local organization and I achieved that weeks ago. There wasn’t much else for me to do, but cross the finish line on historic Hayward Field healthy and happy.

My view of the 2018 Eugene Half Marathon start line.

Let me be honest here. I may say I don’t have expectations, but I always want to best myself. Which is why I positioned myself between two pace groups–one that would be too fast to maintain for 13.1 miles and one that would be a comfortable race pace.

“1, 2, 3 and GO!”

Off I went jockeying my way up Agate St. to claps, cheers, and cowbells. Before I knew it, I’m passing the mile 1 flag to a chorus of watch chimes. As a pack, the runners wind through a neighborhood and start running up Amazon Parkway. It’s a gradual climb and descent that covers miles 3-7.5 and usually where I start to feel the burn. As I started the descent, I popped a Clif Shot Blok (ginger ale flavor, highly recommend) in my mouth and think I’m feeling pretty awesome. Way better than I anticipated.

I get to Mile 6 and look up to realize I caught up with the “too fast” pace group. I start telling myself, “Just don’t pass them. You’ll blow up. Draft them to conserve energy for the last 2 miles.”

I stick with this group as we run up the hill at mile 8 and back past Hayward Field. My right shin starts to ache as we cross over Franklin Blvd. But it always starts to ache at that spot and I always get through the race. “Don’t even focus on it.”

I follow the pace group to about mile 11 where the half and full marathon course splits. “Less than 2 miles to go. Let’s do this.”

Typical pose of a runner crossing the finish line. Must record accurate time!

Once I got to Autzen Stadium, there’s about a mile to go and I methodically start to pick up my pace. I held back until I saw the flag for mile 26, knowing that meant I had .2 miles to go, so I let my legs and heart do their thing.

Every time I approach the gate to Hayward Field, I start to feel like I’m truly “running in the footsteps of legends” (the Eugene Marathon’s tagline). Those legends carry me to the finish. For .1 miles I feel like I am one of those legends.

I crossed the finish line, got a high five, a medal and the rush of accomplishment. And yes, I always cry just a little. Especially when it occurs to me I beat my personal course record by a minute and was only 40 seconds away from a personal record.

Why I Run
First off, the running community is extremely supportive whether you are crushing it or driving the struggle bus. Shout out to all the friends, family, volunteers and other runners along the course. Your support is an extra boost us runners need.

But the main reason I love running so much is the mental and physical challenge of pushing myself. Every training cycle and race I learn a little more about who I am, what drives me and my reaction to certain situations. I could go into a race after an exceptionally strong training cycle and blow up. Will I quit? No. Will I adjust and recalibrate? Absolutely.

What about you? Do you have an activity you love? Something that pushes you? Share with us in the comments or post on social media @walkertracker. Global Running Day is June 6, 2018, and here at Walker Tracker we’re getting a head start with a month-long Run the World Challenge from June 1-30, 2018. Join today!

4 Surprising Ways that Mindfulness Meditation WILL Transform Your Life

This week Walker Tracker is excited to have Lena Franklin join us a guest blogger. Lena is a Mindfulness-based Psychotherapist and is the head of content for Welzen.

Welzen is a wonderful app which provides a variety of mindfulness tools to assist users in developing their own meditation practices and improve their wellbeing.

In honor of May being designated as Meditation Month Lena is sharing her insights on how meditation can provide you with inner peace along with emotional balance and joy.


 

Our minds are regularly engaged in an inner dialogue that involves stories about work, marriage, financial status or that strange look our friend gave us. We experience 60 – 80 thousand thoughts a day and…wait for it…the majority of those thoughts are negative. Wow, right? So, in order to transform our lives, we must transform our thoughts.

In a world where you truly need to disconnect to find a signal, carving out time for stillness and silence is imperative to our health and happiness. Essentially, meditation can create a greater sense of inner peace, emotional balance, love, and joy. It’s energizing to realize that we hold the power to increase our sense of internal happiness, the feeling state our society is frantically striving for.

But we need to make a fundamental shift if we’re going to begin experiencing the deep inner joy and contentment we’re seeking. THE shift: Move from focusing on external to internal consciousness. What does this mean? Well, instead of grasping and clinging to external materials and life circumstances to be happy, look within…deep within…and stay there for periods of time. Through our great teachers of stillness and silence in mindfulness meditation, you’ll be transformed. Here’s how:

1.) Self-Love

In order to love our lives and those precious people in our lives fully, we must connect with an authentic sense of love for ourselves. Through mindfulness meditation, we’re able to gain a felt sense of our wholeness beneath the not-so-accurate thoughts of being deficient human beings. When we can finally drop into mindful presence, receiving and accepting ourselves in the present moment, no matter what is going on externally, we begin to appreciate our imperfectly perfect selves. And through this appreciation, we learn to love ourselves more — embracing the goodness of our true self beneath fear and self-doubt.

2.) Compassion Cultivation

I like to say that “to journey inward is our highest calling” because to go within through the practice of meditation is to be courageous enough to see what’s there. We all experience thoughts and feelings we’re not so proud of. The Buddha taught that because we are humans living on this earth, we suffer. This very suffering is the connective tissue that binds humanity together as one. To honor our inner distress (without pushing it away) with compassionate presence is to transform the way we walk through the world. When making compassion meditation a daily practice, we honor not only ourselves but all of humanity.

3.) Profound Peace

We’re constantly looking externally to grasp at the next exercise fad, supplement or treatment that will bring us the peace and joy we’re so desperately longing for. A fundamental tenet of mindfulness meditation is the belief that peace exists within the depth of our being. Again, this is the shift from external to internal consciousness. The more we’re able to be present with the ebb and flow of our inner landscapes (thoughts, feelings and body sensations), the more quickly we’re able to find that profound inner peace when we need it. It’s a choice. When we choose to go inward, we choose to walk the path of peace. Peace is our natural state as human beings.

4.) From Stress to Serenity

Mindfulness meditation gives us an inner tool to begin witnessing our thoughts without judgment or attachment. With dedication and practice, we can start to see that our thoughts are real experiences, but they’re not necessarily based on truth. Much of our stress as human beings stems from negative thought patterns that loop in our minds. Shifting from the busyness of our mind into the presence of our breath decreases cortisol, the primary stress hormone that floods our bodies when we’re caught in our maladaptive thoughts. Meditation is our tool to shift from stress to serenity.

Cultivating a meditation practice is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the world. You see, the amazing capacity for peace, love, and joy thrives within. And beneath the turbulence of daily living, we can begin to reclaim the essence of our power, transforming our lives from the inside out.

Our Moms Share Healthy Insights

In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday we are taking time to appreciate the women who molded some of the employees at Walker Tracker–their mothers. We asked our moms to share healthy habits they tried to teach, the special activities they did with us as kids, and what inspires them to continue to live healthy lifestyles.

Once you see these responses, it’s obvious… we got our passion for wellness from our mamas. Who doesn’t love seeing embarrassing childhood photos? Scroll down for some photos these moms shared.

Are there any healthy activities you like to do with your kids, past or present?

Oh gosh yes. Bicycling, swimming, gardening, chatting and eating special meals. And I love walking – city walking as well as walking in paths in the woods, and also tramping through woods without paths, checking out the plants and the animal traces.Rosemary Rinder, mother to Blanca Garcia-Rinder, VP Customer Success

We used to bike and go on walks on the weekends.Oristela Guidos, mom to Emily Guidos, Program Manager

Nash and I love to go for walks and he thinks it’s pretty interesting when I try to do yoga at home.Ellen Nelson, Program Manager, mama of Nash Nelson

We did yoga together and worked in gardens together. Cy helped me build my blueberry raised bed out in Kings Valley a few years ago. We hiked Opal Creek.–Julie Cooper, mom of Cyan Cooper, Business Development Executive

We’d go on nature walks, camping on the beach, walking in our neighborhood and go on lots of bike rides.–Jeannette Moran mama to Jill Moran, Marketing Assistant

Being active is key to living a healthy life. Our favorite activities to do together are walking, indoor fetch sessions in the winter, swimming in the summer (Zoey is quite the little river otter!), and the occasional game of tug-o-war when we are feeling feisty!–Stephanie Green, VP Business Development, dog mom to Zoey

Are there any healthy habits you tried to install in your children?

Daniel Griego’s family

Eat healthily, exercise, get enough sleep & nourish friendships.–Melissa Reglin, mother to Taylor Welsh, CEO

Eat whole organic foods, get involved with sports, music and art!!Teresa Griego, mom of Daniel Griego, Developer

Do you have any health tips you live by?

Walker Tracker is a very integral part of my life, it created a certain kind of mind-set for me around movement (I never “took a walk” just to walk before Walker Tracker) and it is a way to actually “keep track of oneself” –sort of grounding one to their embodiment-be in one’s body.Jenni Fallein, mother to Ben Parzybok, CTO and Founder

Ellen & Nash on a walk

Ellen Nelson and Nash on a hike.

Tip 1: I love Michael Pollan’s recommendation on food: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ Tip 2: Stay close to your family and friends.–Rosemary Rinder (Blanca)

Everything in moderation & quality over quantity.Ellen Nelson (Nash)

My life is one big health tip. I try to recognize space in my life. Time for meditation and relaxation.Julie Cooper (Cyan)

Make good food choices and move everyday.Jeannette Moran (Jill)

Eating vegan these days! Walk walk walk!Melissa Reglin (Taylor)

Always talkie while you walkie.Stephanie Green (Zoey)

What inspires you to get up and get moving every day?

I’m an obsessive-compulsive pedometer carrier and it inspires me to move on a regular basis. I do also love that I can get credit for my other obsessions like yoga, swimming, skiing and gardening and I try to be really prudent about what I “claim.”Jenni Fallein (Ben)

My family is a huge blessing and has always inspired me to get up and moving everyday!!Teresa Griego (Daniel)

My children (and now my grandchildren) inspire me to get up and get moving so I can try to stay ahead of them… or even just keep up!Shawna Green, mother to Stephanie Green

My family, I want to be healthy and live longer to enjoy them.Oristela Guidos (Emily)

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Walker Tracker on the Move – Staff Challenge Recap

Almost a month ago, I posted about our staff challenge and the results are in! Congratulations to Blanca Garcia-Rinder, our V.P. of Customer Success, for winning the Walker Tracker Rise and Grind Challenge! Our runner-ups include yours truly in second place and Kristina Peltier, our Marketing Manager, in third place.

Walker Tracker on the move.It’s always nice to take a moment to highlight the effort that was made as a whole group. During the challenge, we tracked 4,474,307 steps! But more important than the numbers were the beneficial experiences from participating in the challenge.

Taylor Welsh, our President and CEO, shared her experiences during the challenge:

“This challenge was a great motivator to focus on better sleep habits and being consistently active. Coinciding with the Rise and Grind challenge I began working out in the mornings instead of evenings. Man oh man did that make a difference in my energy levels throughout the day and quality of sleep at night.”

It’s experiences like this that demonstrate the power a wellness challenge has on forming healthy habits. The simple act of tracking wellness metrics creates personal awareness (e.g., is that really how little I sleep?). Awareness can motivate you to start making lifestyle changes that will help you reach your personal goals.

Once the goals are set, then motivation is key. Challenges can feel long when the initial excitement wears off, so it can be a ‘challenge’ to stay motivated.

Kristina shared a tip that kept her moving through the challenge:

“Schedule time for yourself.  Every day I would set aside time to go to a workout class or go for a walk. If it was on my calendar I would follow through and do it. This is how I made sure that I had steps or activities to add to my challenge tracking on a regular basis.”

It’s no surprise she was among the top finishers.

What will keep you motivated? It might be extrinsic (a cash prize or gift), or it may be intrinsic (feeling great about yourself for achieving a goal, no matter how small). Figure out what motivates you, then you will rock the challenge!

Back at the office, we’ll reflect on the fun we had during this past challenge for just a bit before we prepare for the next challenge because we walk the walk!

What do you and your friends do to stay motivated in a challenge or active regularly? We’d love to hear how you stay inspired.

Walker Tracker being active.

A few members of Walker Tracker taking a break with an afternoon walk.

Welcome aboard Tiana and Michel

Hiring managers, have you ever ran into that moment where you have two stellar candidates and you just CANNOT make up your mind no matter how many lists you make? What do you do?

HIRE THEM BOTH!

We’re proud to introduce two new members to Walker Tracker’s Customer Success team: Tiana Le and Michel Waissman. Tiana and Michel work with our program members to help them navigate the site, troubleshoot issues and most importantly, they wrap up every ticket with words of encouragement. Not only are there here to support our participants but this dynamic duo have hopped right into making new challenge themes and overhauling our materials to make the self-help articles accessible and even, dare I say? fun!

Let’s hear from them:

Meet Michel

Hello Walker Tracker world!

Michel, Walker Tracker Support SpecialistI enjoy being part of a software company working to increase awareness and participation in human health.  It really makes my day when I am able to help a participant with an issue and they respond with positive feedback about their engagement.  Users have mentioned how much they love the Walker Tracker platform, and not only does that make me happy for our team, it motivates me to stay healthy too!  Personally, I stay active by biking and doing body-weight exercises. So, my favorite feature of Walker Tracker is that I can choose from a large variety of activities, including cycling and body-weight, to convert into steps.  This feature has allowed me to gain insight into my exercise routine and has motivated me to stay on top of it.

When I’m not at Walker Tracker, I spend my time in nature, with music, or learning about software.  I enjoy hiking and learning about the birds, plants, and animals that I come across. Recently, I encountered a pileated woodpecker in Forest Park, Portland.  They are stunning creatures! I have played music my entire life and spend my time listening, learning, and making all sorts of sounds – when in doubt I play the blues.  Find me with headphones on learning about the software that makes the world go ‘round and working to make a better user experience for Walker Tracker customers.

Walk on!

 

Meet Tiana

I love working for Walker Tracker because we are a company that I believe will help strengthen our communities. Health is so important, and sometimes it can be easy to forget about keeping up with health and fitness, especially with a busy work schedule. I think it’s amazing that Walker Tracker is helping companies and teams incorporate health into the community.

I enjoy working in Customer Success, it’s exciting for me to see what users are experiencing and think of ways that I can help them achieve a smooth Walker Tracker experience.

My favorite Walker Tracker feature, other than being able to view other people’s steps, is posting photos! I love seeing the photos that other people in my competitions are posting.

I am very into health and fitness. I strive to eat the cleanest diet possible by using local, organic and non-gmo produce and foods and a heavy reliance on vegetables! I also enjoy going to the gym as often as I can. If I can’t make it to the gym due to a tight schedule, I will go on a quick hike or walk in my neighborhood.

My favorite hobbies include making music, listening to music, creating websites, and researching/watching things that I find interesting. My mind is always looking for new information so I spend a lot of time researching and learning as much as I can when I have free time!

 

We’re so glad to have Michel and Tiana working with us and supporting our members who couldn’t be in better hands.

Now, where to put TWO desks when you only planned on one?

Meet Walker Tracker’s New Team Member – Jill Moran

Hey there! I’m Jill and I recently joined the Walker Tracker Marketing team! I’m originally from Long Beach, CA, but decided to ditch the sunshine for moody Portland in December 2010 and I haven’t looked back.

Why did you move to Portland?
I went to the University of Oregon and felt like I left a part of me in the Pacific Northwest after moving back to Southern California. I found an amazing program in Book Publishing & Technical Writing at Portland State University, so I packed up and headed for Portland.

What’s your ideal weekend?
Going on a long run (I’m always training for something), lots of coffee, finding some time to read, checking out a new brewery, watching a Portland Timbers match, getting some yummy food.

What’s your favorite word?
Accoutrement.

Important question… team cat or team dog?
Team any cute, cuddly creature! But if I must choose, team dog all the way.

Walking For Water – World Water Day

Every day, I turn on the faucet without a thought, unable to imagine what I would do if nothing came out. It seems like I am always hearing about how important hydration is for health, especially while being physically active, and I do my best to stay hydrated throughout the day. I recently learned that if you held all of the water in the world in a gallon jug (~3.85 liters), there would only be about a tablespoon of fresh water. With such a statistic, it does cause me to pause and think about how blessed I am to have fresh water on demand, as well as wonder what can be done to help the 2.1 billion people lacking access to safely managed drinking water services (United Nations World Water Development Report 2018). This reflection is timely, as today is World Water Day, a day to draw attention to the importance of fresh and clean water.

On Sunday, April 29th, Walker Tracker is participating in the Carry5 Walk For Water, a fundraiser for Water 1st International. The walk involves carrying water for 5 kilometers in solidarity with the 1 billion people who lack access to clean water. Walker Tracker is supporting Water 1st International because sustainable water and sanitation projects improve health & wellbeing, as well as create opportunity in the world’s poorest communities. Every $85 raised provides one person with clean water and a toilet FOR LIFE.

Walking for your health is important, but you might also consider being physically active for a cause that is important to you. Many nonprofits hold walking fundraisers. Another option, if your nonprofit of choice does not hold a similar event is to create your own fundraiser by asking for donations based on your own physical activity. You could participant in a local 5k walk/run or sports tournament and ask coworkers, family, and friends for donations. You would be helping your health and your cause. A win-win. What will you walk for?

To donate or learn more about Water 1st and the Carry5 Walk visit https://water1st.org/carry5/portland/. Stay tuned for updates on our walk.

Introducing Our Newest Walker Tracker Team Member

We are excited to welcome a new member of our team, Nick Buckingham. Nick is joining our growing business development team. We asked Nick a little about himself, and here is what he had to say: 

How long have you lived in Portland?
I have lived in Portland pretty much my whole life, with a couple of years in Northern California. I left Portland a couple years ago to spend a very short time period up in Seattle. This was short lived because nothing really compares to Portland. 

Are you team dog or team cat?
I’m definitely team dog. I have one puppy, named Emma. She is a very sassy dachshund. 

What is something important about you people should know?
I have a six-year-old son that keeps me on my toes daily.  

How do you like to be active?
Mostly outdoor activities including trips to the beach and hiking almost every weekend.

What is a fun fact about you?
I enjoy writing in my free time, as well as reading when I can, and I just completed my first manuscript- a fiction novel.