Goal Setting

5 Ways You Can Work It Like a Dog

5 Ways You Can Work It Like a Dog

Watching my dog Maya is a great source of inspiration and positive emotions for me.   Throwing a ball or a Frisbee over and over across a field for her to retrieve can sometimes bring me the same benefit as meditation. She’s a three-year-old German Shepherd with a huge amount of energy. Sometimes she forgets to mind her manners. ‘Ladylike’ is not the word I would use to describe her. (You should hear her burp. Ugh.) Yet, she has some qualities that we can all benefit from. I’ve often thought that anyone with an important objective, a fitness goal or perhaps an entrepreneur with a dream, would do well to emulate Maya when she has her mind set on something.

That being said, Maya and I put together some tips so that you, too, can work it like a dog.

1.  Never Give Up. Be Relentless. When Maya wants to play ball or fetch, she will follow you around the house trying to push her ball or Frisbee into your hands. You cannot escape her. Want to unload the dishwasher? Maya drops her ball in the dishwasher. Walking on the treadmill? Expect a Frisbee to land under your feet. Maya does not give up. Eventually someone gives in and tosses the ball or rolls it a little distance. But they respond. We think that’s how life is, too.  Work it like a dog. Don’t give up. Never stop trying. If you believe in someone, in some cause or that a personal dream is worth having, follow Maya’s example and don’t take “no” for answer. Your health, your dreams, your family, your future is worth the effort.

2.   Keep Excited, Stay Focused. Maya loves few things more than she loves going to the lake. In fact, when we get about a mile away from it, she KNOWS where she’s going and she cannot sit still. It gets very loud in the Jeep as she barks, yips, turns in circles and tries to climb over the seat. And once we are there? Well, the poor soul left holding the leash better hang on tight, because Maya is going in that lake one way or another. She’s so happy, she can’t think of anything else. Wouldn’t it be great if us humans could be that way even after we aren’t little kids? So excited about our end results (getting in shape, walking 10,000 steps/day, improving our health), our destinations and our dreams? Maya keeps this enthusiasm whether it’s time for a walk, going outside to see her best friend dog, Freckles (lives next door), or jumping on the trampoline with our son. Yes, Maya plays on the trampoline. Just try and keep her away from that fun! She approaches life with passion and excitement. Whatever it is, Maya’s down with it. That’s how I want to be, too. Everyone has their own beliefs about life, love and happiness. My personal belief is that life, living it and just the whole journey of it – good or bad – is a present from God. My personal belief is that God hopes we will do our best to enjoy the journey like Maya does.

3.  Recover from Disappointments Quickly Because It’s Loyalty to Your Goals. Maya is a pro at this. If she doesn’t get to go outside when she wants to, she’ll sit by the door and make little groaning noises. Imagine a dog making that sound a kid makes when told “no.” “awwwwnnnh….” But 5 minutes later, she’s in your face trying to steal a kiss whether you called her over or not. She’s happy to be with you. If she gets into trouble for getting in the trash or coming into the dining area during dinner, no worries. She’ll put her head down, fold her ears back and look really, really sad. But the whole time? She’s waiting for a better moment. Maybe she’ll try again. Or maybe she’ll go get her ball and try to get you to play instead. The point is: Maya does not let disappointment ruin her day or her overall mission. I want that personality trait for myself. How many times have I let a discouraging word or experience ruin my whole day? Maya’s got the right idea. Summary: Don’t give up because of a setback. Start over the very next day! Keep stepping!

4.  Don’t Be Afraid to Get Close. Maya does have issues with respecting “personal space.” She will randomly get in your face for a kiss or to sniff you. She has to be reminded she is 75 lbs. and cannot just run and jump into your arms. Still, she watches “her” people closely. She reads emotions on faces. If you sit down at the table to work, on the swing to enjoy your morning coffee, or on the couch to watch T.V., you can expect Maya to push her 75 lb furry hide right behind your kneecaps where she will stay pressed up against you because she enjoys being close.   Humans should also try to get closer to others because they care. Maybe not closer in physical space. If you invade the personal space of someone you don’t know that well, it could lead to negative interaction… a punch in the nose or possibly an arrest warrant… You get the idea. Still, we can all take the time to chat a little more, ask a few more real questions (not just business) and let those we interact with see that we’re real people. Go for a walk with someone you care about. Maya recommends taking your dog for a walk. Studies show that people who exercise with a friend or in a social setting are healthier. One study showed that people who exercised in groups (as opposed to alone) showed the least decline in physical health and cognitive ability.

5.  Wag Your Tail Often. Right. If you wag your own tail excessively, you may get some interesting looks. The point here is that Maya is always smiling. Dogs wag their tails when they’re happy. Maya is happy ALOT. That tail wags everywhere. Books get knocked off shelves, glasses turned over and things just go flying when that bionic happy tail starts wagging like crazy. Remember the saying that you should smile because people will wonder what you’re up to? Or what about this little fact: It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

Maya and I think you should smile like crazy and often. Chaos might ensue at your house, at school or while you are working. But it will be fun and if you use your smile while pursuing your goals, it’ll work like a magnet. Just ask Maya: Whatever she hits with that happy tail usually causes people to come running.

Clarissa Mayse is Walkingspree’s Marketing Manager. She logs the most steps on her Alta fitness tracker when she is out with Maya and highly recommends letting your dog help you achieve your step goals.

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Plan a Summer Walking Vacation (or Staycation)

Planning your summer vacation (or staycation)? How about making it a walking vacation?!

Guided walking tours run the gambit, from architecture to history to shopping to haunted houses! After deciding on your destination, check with the local tourism bureau for river walks, hiking trails or guided tours. Most museums offer self-guided tour material and maps, and some even offer audio-guided tours for a fee.

Another great resource for self-guided walking tours is Volkssports or IVV clubs. (Google: ivv walks)

Volkssports, meaning “people” sports, are non-competitive fitness groups that originated in Europe. The American Volkssport Assocation’s website says “Volkssporting is an international sports phenomenon that promotes personal physical fitness and good health by providing fun-filled, safe exercise in a stress-free environment through self-paced walks and hikes, bike rides, swims, and in some regions cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Walking is the most popular of all U.S. volkssporting activities and has been identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as the most beneficial form of exercise.”

These walking clubs have associations in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and offer a wealth of information about permanent trails selected by club members. The trails may go through scenic or historic areas, and may be in cities, towns, parks, or rural areas.

How about these ideas for a walking vacation?

  1. The Royal London Trail from Hyde Park, to Kensington, past Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in England.
  2. Enjoy more than 120 pieces of art at the Benson Sculpture Gardens in Loveland, Colorado.
  3. Following the San Antonio Riverwalk through the King William District, past The Menger Hotel, where Theodore Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders, an onto the “The Alamo.” (San Antonio also has “ghost tours” where participants can walk from location to location downtown in hopes of encountering paranormal activity).
  4. Vist west Texas and walking the grounds around and up in the hills surrounding Ft. Davis where the settlers heading west would stop for rest, refuge and supplies.

Throughout the year, individual clubs also organize walking events designed for all fitness levels. No membership is required and it is a great way to experience your destination.

QUICK TIPS

Don’t forget to:
- Pack sunblock and insect spray.
- Wear a hat, a good pair of sunglasses and your pedometer.
- Carry water and snacks.
- Don’t overdo it, take regular breaks and remember you have to walk back!

Botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, zoos … oh, so many opportunities to get your 10,000 steps a day!

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Why Your Employer Wants You to Wear a Fitbit (or Apple Watch, Garmin, etc.)

Corporate wellness programs are embracing wearable technology like never before. Experts point towards wearable fitness trackers (think Fitbit, Apple Watch and Garmin devices usually worn on the wrist) as performing larger roles in company wellness programs around the nation. Trends show we’ll see approximately 13 million wearable devices incorporated into the U.S. workforce in just two years (2018).

So, what is the big attraction?

Why does your employer think it’s a great idea for you to wear a fitness tracker?

One of the key reasons is that employers are able to receive greater savings from insurance companies based on the amount of participating employees and their results. Employers are seeking creative and fun ways to motivate you, the employee, while decreasing their health care costs. Everyone can agree that being healthier, getting fit and living longer are great goals to aim for. Still, there is no denying that it’s easier to motivate if more immediate rewards are on the table. With that in mind, more companies are taking steps to incentivize employees to help them become more active. Some employers offer decreased insurance premiums in exchange for wearing a tracker and reporting daily steps. Participating companies have been known to offer material rewards like blankets, t-shirts, gift cards and company discounts.

This is just the beginning. In late 2015, Target Corp. presented its 335,000 employees with the option to receive free or discounted Fitbits in an effort to encourage more walking and being active. On March 1 of this year, Qualcomm and United Healthcare revealed a new program, which allows employees to earn up to $1,460/year for reaching step and other designated goals. Several companies recently announced that their employees could purchase an Apple Watch for $25 in exchange for reaching their monthly fitness goals over a two year period – or they would have to pay the full price of the watch. This is all in an effort to encourage employees to be more active.

Why Count Steps?

Keeping track of our steps helps us to be more mindful of how active (or inactive) we are. The World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Center for Disease Control, U.S. Surgeon General, American Heart Foundation and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommend that we take 10,000 steps a day because it improves our health and decreases the risk of so many different diseases.

Why 10,000 steps a day?

It turns out that the 10,000 steps a day recommendation originated in Japan back in the 1960s. Dr. Yoshiro Hatano and a team of Japanese researchers undertook studies, which showed the average person takes about 3,500 to 5,000 steps per day. He also theorized that if people were to increase their steps to 10,000 steps per day, they would be more physically fit inside and out.

Traditional Style Pedometer

Dr. Hatano’s calculations went on to demonstrate that if people were to increase their daily steps to 10,000, they could burn up to 500 extra calories per day and possibly lose up to 44 pounds in a year. Because of this study and its influence, one or two pedometers have long been present in most Japanese households. In fact, up until the recent surge in popularity of fitness trackers, annual sales for these devices regularly topped the seven million mark in Japan.

It took over twenty years for the modern pedometer’s popularity (or devices like Fitbit and other fitness trackers) and Dr. Hatano’s research on 10,000 steps/day to impact North America. With obesity rates increasing steadily, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that other researchers and consumers began to take a second look at Dr. Hatanos’ 10,000-step research.  Today, 10,000 steps is considered the “norm” when it comes to setting a daily step goal and some fitness trackers and walking programs are automatically set to 10,000 steps when you purchase them.


Everyone (Not Just Your Employer) Wins When You Wear a Fitbit or other Activity Tracker

Walking is a proven activity when it comes to lowering heart rate, decreasing blood pressure and even helps to combat depression and anxiety.

A walking program helps prevent stroke and high blood pressure. The Stroke Association and the American Heart Association both state that walking for up to 30 minutes can help prevent and control high blood pressure.  High blood pressure can lead to strokes and according to the Centers for Disease Control is connected to an estimated $51 Billion in health care costs.

Walking reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Current statistics show that 86 million Americans are classified as “Pre-Diabetes.”   The American Diabetes Association released a report stating that the total assessed cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, comprising $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. The cost of diabetes alone is enough to make corporations sit up and take notice when structuring their yearly health care benefits.

If your employer is offering an incentive to help you live a longer, healthier life, this benefits you in the long-term as well as your employer for as long as you’re employed. Providing you with a fitness tracker or discounts on a fitness tracker is a win/win situation. As you track your steps and become more active, you’ll feel better, be in a better health and, ideally, visit your physician less often which means less health care claims for employers and less time taken out of your life on medical or physician visits. More time for you and doing the things you care about is definitely something to smile about.

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Instant Benefits of Exercise: 3 Things a Walking Program Can Do for You NOW

We hate to wait in line. We get impatient if a website takes longer than two seconds to load. In some cities, they have what’s known as a “honk-o-second.” That’s the teeny little space between the time the light changes to green and the person behind you honks before you can move your foot to the gas pedal.

And with a walking program or any other exercise? We get frustrated because we want results and we want them NOW. We hate to wait.

Remember the “goldfish statistic?” In early 2015, Microsoft Corp published the results of a study showing that the average American has an attention span of 8.25 seconds and reminded us that a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. Ouch.

Speaking of your attention span, there’s another statistic that shows you’ll only read about 28% of the average webpage (approximately 593 words).  By the end of this paragraph, you’ll be at 178 words. So, hold on to you’re span, baby! We promise to get you what you need with just a few more.  Ready?

3 Things a Walking Program Can Do for You NOW

  • Improve Your Memory. Studies show that completing 15 minutes of moderate exercise leads to faster reaction times on working memory tasks directly after exercise. These findings imply that concentrated sessions of cardio exercise may help circulate your attention and memory resources more effectively. This helps to enhance your mental functioning. One of the most motivating conclusions in a published study showed moderate exercise can provide immediate benefits no matter your age. So, lace up your shoes, strap on your Fitbit or other wearable device and start your own walking program.
  • Provide Confidence and Improve Your Mood. Yes, that’s correct. One study surveyed nearly 2,000 young people over 23 different trials. They found that consistent exercise greatly improved self-confidence and provided a mood boost. Exercise significantly helped those showing anxiety and signs of depression.
  • You’ll Have Radiant, Glowing Skin. Everyone enjoys looking healthy and happy. A rise in your body’s temperature will increase blood flow to your skin.

You can do this! And you won’t even have to wait months and months to see results. It only takes 20 minutes of moderate cardio exercise to improve your mood and make you feel better.

Another study researched college students who exercised (jogging) at three different levels of intensity. Most of us would assume that those exercising at the highest intensity would benefit the most, right? Turns out that no substantial difference between intensity or mood benefits after exercise was reported.

This means that even if your really tired and can’t push yourself as hard, you’ll still finish your workout or your walk feeling better. It’s a win-win all the way around.

Document Your Feelings for Posterity (or Yourself)

You’re almost to the end of this page with a few words to spare.  If you finish it, you can pat yourself on the back for not being part of the 28% we mentioned earlier. We’re leaving you with a tip to help you keep exercising.

It’s easy to forget how great it feels when we are consistently exercising. So, we recommend an audio reminder. It’s quick and easy: Use your phone. Record a voice memo describing how you feel after exercising.  That’s it. Each time you feel like dragging your feet on the way to the treadmill, replay your audio clip. It’ll make you feel good about exercising. Immediately. No waiting. We like that.

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Using Photo Food Logs in Your Wellness Program


Face it, you want variety in your wellness program and a good wellness program includes smart meal choices. It’s Friday and after a week of rotating out meals with ground beef, chicken (or fish sticks for those with young kids), you may want to put together a meal that engages your senses, and makes you feel like it’s a special occasion.

Whatever recipe you choose, whichever wellness program you participate in, did you know that impressing your friends by posting dinner pictures on Instagram and Facebook can help you reach your weight management goals?

Introducing the Photo Food Log…

Instead of writing down everything you eat or using a food and calorie-tracking app, take photos of your food. Just pick up your phone and start snapping shots at each meal. It’s fun and it really helps you understand what you’re doing with your meals and food intake. Facebook and Instagram aside, you’ll be doing something healthy for yourself. If you decide to post your pictures online, you may find that your friends are happy to give you a thumbs-up and provide another form of motivation for you.

When you include a photo food log in your wellness program, you can look at your meals at the end of each day and mentally note what changes you’d like to make the next day. Another way to monitor your progress is to evaluate your photos on a weekly basis. For example, you can take photos of all your meals – then at the end of the week, take stock of your progress. Are you losing weight? Maintaining? How do you FEEL? Are you feeling healthier, better and more energetic? If so, your photos are a good reminder of what to keep doing.

If you feel tired, lethargic and generally not at your best AND your either gaining or not losing weight, you know that your pictures need to look different the next week.

The Importance of Food Tracking

Maintaining a daily food journal, whether written or photographic is an efficient way to track the calories you consume daily. Walkingspree members can also use Walkingspree’s online food tracker.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood benefits of a food diary is the power of knowing what you’re taking in. Almost everyone thinks they know exactly what they eat daily. You might even go so far as to believe you know the amount of calories you’re consuming at each meal.  Still, the reality is most people eat more than three times daily. The majority of their extra calories undoubtedly come from eating between meals.

Bottom line: When you are able to see what you eat everyday, you’ll know which foods to cut from your meal plans.

A study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, discovered that women (who were overweight or obese) who were participating in a diet program only or diet plus exercise program all lost weight but the women who kept daily food journals actually lost an extra six pounds over the women who did not keep food diaries of some sort.

A Food Journal Can Help You Eat More of the Right Foods

Ever wonder if you are getting enough veggies? Well, when you record your entire daily food intake into a food journal – or when you photograph your food, you’ll begin to notice patterns and trends in how you feel as well as whether or not you reach your daily goals. Some people find that making sure their meals have a variety of color ensures their vegetable intake is optimal. Think red bell peppers or tomatoes, yellow squash, orange peppers, green peas, black beans, white cauliflower, green broccoli, purple eggplant. If you are purposefully building a colorful plate, you will usually have plenty of vegetables in your meal. With a photo food journal, you’ll enjoy taking colorful photos when you do this. You might even find yourself arranging food to make the plate “look prettier.”

Food Journals Can Adjust Your Habits Gradually

If you are writing down, digitally tracking or photographing your food, you might be surprised to notice, over time, that your eating habits change. You’ll find yourself naturally selecting healthier ingredients or menu options. It is as simple “if you feel better and healthier – you’re probably eating healthier.”

And, in any wellness program, that is always a good thing!

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