Walking Tips

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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4 Things Only Fitbit or Wearable Device Users Understand

When I got my first wearable device last year (a Fitbit flex and also a birthday gift from my sister), it opened up a whole new concept for me. I could “compete” with a device or friends at the same time. It would show up on a magical digital dashboard and everyone would see my results. Was this okay? A little concerned at first. I’m a private person but then: Yes! Bring on the positive motivation, I thought to myself. What I did not realize was how it would impact my emotions. I soon learned that this was not limited to my own experiences. Many others understand the struggle(s). ~Clarissa at Walkingspree, USA

Since Walkingspree works with corporations of all sizes, we get to see a lot of step goals met (or not met) and we know how important having your own wearable device is. Sure, it will help you get in shape, feel better, lose or maintain your desired weight, live longer, alleviate or prevent certain health conditions, even make your employer smile and you become a part of a fun filled community.

BUT becoming dedicated to your wearable fitness technology also generates some interesting emotions and reactions.

Check these out and see if you don’t find yourself nodding and smiling in agreement.

Your Day Isn’t Over Unless You Met Your Step Goal and It Is a MISSION. If you’ve ever felt very guilty for going to bed before your screen vibrated and flashed all those blinking dots, showing you met your step goal, you know what we mean. You are the person who checks your fitness dashboard online, counts up the steps and calculates how many times you have to jump on the bed and you know exactly how many steps it takes to wheel the garbage can out to the street. Some wearers have even been guilty of strapping their device on one of their kids to rack up some extra steps at the end of the day (gasp!).

You Randomly Taunt Friends and Co-Workers at Odd Hours. It’s not usually the norm to get up at the crack of dawn just to heckle your friends or random people participating in a walking challenge. Still, something about achieving that step goal before everyone else can make you feel like everyone should know how great life is when you’ve met your step goal before they have. For example, the CRO of Walkingspree, Nathan Pickle, has been known to email his team first thing in the morning to let them all know how great it is to get 10,000 steps before 6:00 a.m.

If You Weren’t Wearing It, It Didn’t Happen. Now You’re Just Mad. If you walk or run without wearing your Fitbit, Garmin or other wearable technology, does it even count? On those days when you forget your device, you wonder if getting out of bed is just pointless, right? If your device isn’t counting them and your friends don’t see them, are the steps even real? Does anything at all matter that day?

Non-Wearers Think You’re in a Club or a Cult. Your friends who don’t wear a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin or some kind of wearable fitness technology appear to be in their own world. You feel sad for them and they think you are involved in a new trend that will go away soon. (Interesting note, you are not involved in a trend. It is officially a way of life. The wearable device market is projected to reach $12.44 BILLION by 2022 so you are definitely not alone in this journey.)

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Take a Leap and Reset Your Life

It’s Leap Day. What are you going to do with your extra day in the year? We all sometimes wish for extra hours in our days. Well, we have an extra twenty-four hours this week.

What’s your “leap?”

Maybe this is the day you decide to do something amazing. Maybe it’s the day you take that leap of faith and start a new life somewhere, start a new exercise program or just start going for a walk once a day. Sometimes, one small step is actually a leap of faith. It can lead to a break through in that one area of your life you really want to repair. You may not see it yet but you know and trust that if you keep moving consistently you’ll see new levels of success, organization, fitness and health.  Why not use a Leap Day or a Leap Year as your jumping point?

For some of us, this could be the perfect day to reset our New Year’s resolutions. The end of February has traditionally been the time of year fitness centers and gyms see attendance start to decline (after the usual rush right after January 1).  We’ve all either done it ourselves or witnessed it: People getting excited, saying this will be the year I tone up, get in shape, lose weight, run a 5K and so on. Then, about two months into the New Year, that zeal and fire just seems to fizzle out. Maybe it’s because we had a huge amount of ‘life’ going on. It could be that you were blessed with a bad winter cold that morphed into the bronchitis attack from you-know-where. Or, it might be that your kids took turns getting sick, one week after another, passing it to you and your spouse. Whatever was going on, your goal of getting in shape, exercising daily, cleaning out your garage, attending church, being more spiritual, stopping smoking, quitting caffeine or just getting more fresh air took a backseat to other things.

Create a ‘Reset Your Life’ Program

Why not let Leap Day (or whatever day you read this!) be THE day you start your  own Reset My Life program? Do something to make it “official.” It might be something as simple as picking up a wall calendar from your local dollar store and making that very first “X” to show TODAY as the day you began to change whatever needs changing or fix whatever needs fixing.

Need more ceremony to go with your new decision? Why not kick things off with more flourish and host an impromptu party? Do it tonight. Light some candles around the house. Play some party music while you organize the closets and resolve to never let them get cluttered again. Trying to eat right? Meet friends for dinner and celebrate ordering healthy food for dinner on your first night resetting your life.  Drink a toast to your new life (with sparkling water of course!) Time to start exercising? Lace up your shoes after work or after the kids get home and start a “Family Walking Night.”

While the saying “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is true, only you can designate the start date of an official “Reset My Life” program and tailor it to your needs.

So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step. Design your life. Truly, it only needs to be one small step at a time. Walkingspree likes to recommend a walking program simply because it is so easy to do and offers so many health benefits that lead to positive lifestyle changes. Still, the reality is, this is your life.

What “leap” will you take today?

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Can Text Messages Improve Your Health?

Depending on whom you are talking to, text messaging can be blessing or a curse.  More and more cities are passing laws against cell phone usage and texting while driving. Relationship experts will tell you it’s impersonal and discourages real communication. Educators will say it is a threat to civilization, professionalism and society in general, because texting condones poor spelling, grammatical errors and slang.

What if text messaging or “Intelli-Messaging,” such as Walkingspree provides for its clients, was proven to encourage healthy habits like exercise and (indirectly) alleviate symptoms of disease, depression and stroke?

A study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association found that using text messaging with a group of patients at risk for heart disease led to significant increases in physical activity levels.  JAHA calls it a “texting intervention.”

48 smartphone users (aged 18 to 69) who were also at risk for heart disease, enrolled in a five-week study. They were divided into three groups:

1)    a blinded group that could not interface with their physical activity data (see their results and stats via mobile app or online) or receive any text messages

2) an unblinded group that could interface with physical activity data (see their results and stats via mobile app or online) but did not receive texts

3)     an unblinded group that could interface with physical activity data (see their results and stats via mobile app or online) and also received texts.

Participants in all three groups were given wearable fitness trackers and set a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day.

Using an automated messaging system like the one that Walkingspree provides its clients, personalized texts were sent to the participants in the unblinded text-receiving group.  These participants received encouraging messages or praise focused on their level of physical activity. Data about their physical activity was obtained using the real-time tracking feature from their fitness trackers. These participants received encouraging text messages three times a day.

The findings concluded that automated tracking-texting intervention increased physical activity.  Participants in the unblinded text-receiving group walked an average of 2,334 more steps per day than the other participants.

The groups that did not receive text messages maintained and spent the minimum suggested time engaging in physical activity. However, the group that received texts increased its total activity time by 21 minutes per day. They showed a 23 percent increase in total activity but they also had a 160 percent increase in aerobic time!  (These participants increased aerobic activity by 13 minutes per day).

Results

When the five-week study was over, nearly twice as many participants in the text-receiving group accomplished the 10,000 steps per day goal compared with the other groups. The study lends support to the concept of wearable tracking devices facilitating behavior and even lifestyle changes.  The researchers concluded that being able to see and interact with physical activity data alone did not yield improvement without the text message intervention. This is why walking and wellness programs like Walkingspree’s are so effective. Devotees of walking have long advocated the health benefits. Walking is consistently proven to combat obesity, alleviate and help prevent Type 2 diabetes, combat depression, lower blood pressure and help prevent stroke.

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3 Myths About Walking


As promoters of walking, we at Walkingspree decided to push three of the most common “myths” about walking into the spotlight.

Myth #1:  You Should Run Because it Burns More Calories than Walking

First, lets consider this: The amount of calories you wipe out on a walk is contingent upon your weight, how far and how fast you walk. For individuals trying to lose a significant amount of weight, there is a certain sweet vengeance in knowing that the heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn per hour. And yes, the faster your walking speed, the more calories you’ll get rid of.

Critics of walking may tell you that running burns more calories and it does. But, is running a viable option for you? Running is not something everyone can do.  Walking, however, is a ‘user-friendly’ exercise that almost everyone can do at some level.

To help clarify the walking vs. running argument, think of it this way: Walking burns about 600 calories an hour. Running burns about 700 calories an hour. Can you run for an hour? And no matter how you answer that question, the answer to this next question is the most important:

Do you want to run for an hour?

If so, great! If not, go for a walk, enjoy the outdoors or use the time for prayer and meditation on the treadmill.

The point: Lose weight while doing something meaningful.

Myth #2: You Can’t Lose Weight By Walking.

Walking Doesn’t Burn Fat.  Walking Doesn’t Reach the Cardio-zone or Fat Burning Zone. You’ve probably heard other variations of these thoughts, yourself.

In reality, we don’t need to over complicate things.  Keep it simple. Just remember: Walking burns calories.

Want to kill off a pound by walking? Burn 3,500 calories and you’re done.

Here’s an example using a person who is 200lbs: If you walk for an hour per day at a 3.5 mph pace, a pound could be gone in just over 10 days and this without any dieting.  And, yes, you could lose more if you incorporated a sensible diet into the mix.

What if the stress of trying to find that magical fat burning zone isn’t necessary to achieve the results you want?

Adjust your nutrition and walking plan to accommodate your weight loss objectives and you’ll be more likely to reach your personal goals.

Myth #3:  You Need Shoes Designed for Walking or “Walking Shoes.”

Sure, there are some well-made walking shoes on the market. Unfortunately, there are also many shoes branded as “walking shoes” that may do more harm than good. If you try on a walking shoe that feels heavy, stiff, inflexible and even overly cushioned, just put it back.You don’t want shoes that could cause you to have extra aches and pains.

Look for lightweight, low heel and proper fit. Many people do great wearing running shoes because they are often designed to be lightweight, flexible and to fit certain strides.

So, while you don’t need any special equipment to go for a walk, a good pair of shoes that allows you to be comfortable is a must.

Study after study shows that walking can reduce health risks substantially. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all the hype out there. Have fun, put on your shoes and go outside. If the weather isn’t good for a walk, visit your local gym, or consider walking “laps” around a shopping mall. There are some great places to walk and great reasons for doing so. Make it about you, being your best self and being intentional about living your best life one step at a time.

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