Posts Tagged ‘walking’

A few years ago I participated in the Muscular Dystrophy Association Lock Up fundraiser–I use the word participated lightly.  My boss had me arrested and I graciously adhered. The organization came to my office, picking me up in a black limo, and then taking me to a mock jail at the Sun Trust building, downtown Orlando.

I spent a few hours there making phone calls to clients and friends asking for “bail money” while being served brunch. Honestly, not a bad way to spend a morning.

At the end of my sentence, I turned in the money collected; then I stood in line waiting to be photographed with stripes and handcuffs leaning against rails. Out came the lip gloss and mirrors as all of the other women touched up their makeup and brushed their hair. Some people posed, others offered larger than life smiles. I did none of the above.

I accepted my picture and tossed it into the dark abyss of my purse. Once home, I buried the image deep inside my nightstand. I don’t know why I didn’t throw that picture away. But I couldn’t. I knew something deep was captured in that moment that I needed to recognize. Yet, I just wasn’t ready to look.

Recently I unpacked the remaining boxes from a move to the city. Stopping as I ran my hand across the slick surface of the photo, I sat back on the bed and drew in a deep breath. The picture stared at me. The woman in the picture appeared as a stranger. Sad and uncomfortable posing, trying her best to offer some resemblance of a smile, she stares into the distance, trying unsuccessfully not to look pained. The backdrop jail suits her.

The truth is my weight does make me feel like a prisoner.

Oh, I haven’t always been overweight.  I have had the pleasure of eating Twinkies and slugging Coke without thinking twice about counting carbs or calories. There was a time when the only exercise equipment I purchased was a little black dress and a pair of heels for dancing the night away. My pantyhose size coincided with the beginning of the alphabet not titles of royalty.

I refer to my thinner self as if she’s an actual person, separate from me. I feel like the thin me is an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I miss her. I pull out pictures of her and reminisce. I still keep some of her clothes in my closet. The closet that’s divided into three sections: I’m fat, didn’t think I could get any bigger, and damn, I’ll never get into those again.

This prison is made up of diets, Weight Watchers meetings, low-fat, low carb, running, walking, sweating and starving. It’s a scary place to visit and once you’re here, the truth is, it’s hard to leave. In the lonely confines of these walls there is no beautiful imagery, no breathtaking views, only guilt and shame.

Today, I’m putting my mug shot up on my mirror right beside an old picture of my long-lost friend. I hope together they can inspire me to make a new friend. I can emerge as a new person, not the prisoner of fat or the thin young Twinkie eater. Fearlessly, breaking the chains of guilt and fear I’ll be new and improved, low carb, low-fat, and a healthier version of me. I will be free.


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On average, Americans spend more than 7.5 hours working weekdays.  Our jobs can many times feel like our home away from home. So it’s important that employers recognize our commitment to the workplace and understand the need for balance and a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t working as hard on your health and wellness, mental and physical ability diminishes over time. Many companies are working on plans to prevent employee health problems by creating health and wellness programs in the workplace.

Recently I talked with Shannon Muller, HR Generalist, of The Conti Group about their Building a Better You employee wellness program. Launched this year, the program has met with instant success. Part of that success is due to Conti’s partnership with employees—the program is designed with employee feedback and contributions. Building a Better You encourages employees to lead a healthier lifestyle at work and home, providing the tools, resources and support to make it happen.  

Happy Feet: When did Conti start a wellness program? 

Shannon Muller: Conti initially began researching and developing plans for a wellness program in 2010. After we were sure we had a good plan in place and management support behind us, the program was launched in early 2011. We surveyed employees to gauge their interests and make sure we were developing a program to which they would respond. We even opened up for program name suggestions from employees and selected Building a Better You, from a list of great suggestions.  

Happy Feet:  Explain how your wellness program works? 

Muller: The program is designed to attract the variety of personalities and interests of our employees. The idea is to educate and motivate employees to live healthier lives and there are a variety of ways to do that. We host lunch & learns on various topics, we distribute newsletters and healthy recipes, we spark the friendly competition amongst coworkers and we offer incentives for participation. As you know we have the Conti Walking Competition, for which, we provided pedometers to participants and they submit weekly step counts competing against coworkers. I have recently incorporated bonus point values for other healthy habits including eating fruits and vegetables or taking vitamins. 

We also recently held a Health Screening event at our corporate office to allow employees the convenience of being screened without leaving the office and plan to begin a Weight Watchers at Work program in the fall.

Here’s an excerpt from the Conti Newsletter discussing the company’s committment to its employees: Conti cares about its’ employees and wants to see each one of us live healthy, balanced lives. There are so many benefits to making healthier choices in your life such as, increased energy and motivation as well as decreased stress and tension.  Healthy choices improve your overall physical, mental, and emotional well being and can enhance your outlook on life.

Happy Feet: How have employees responded overall? I know the walk program has sparked a little competitiveness on the Whitestone Bridge project. 

Muller: Employee response has been great! As mentioned before, we surveyed employees to be sure the plan would catch their attention. Nearly 50% of employees signed up for the Walking Competition and are especially competitive.  The Health Screening appointments filled within 3 days of announcement. Employees respond to my various emails and announcements with excitement and suggestions. They offer their recipes and links for helpful sites on fitness and nutrition. It is great to see how many people appreciate and enjoy the program.

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“I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power.  You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” 

~Jesse Owens~

There’s no better way to start a fitness program than signing up for a 5k. It’s an unwritten contract with the healthy you who lurks beneath the surface. You can walk. You can run. You can walk and run. There’s no right way to do a 5k—it’s what makes sense for you. Whether you walk to earn funds or awareness for a non-profit or sign up for a marathon that pushes your limits, these events inspire a healthier you.

You can find events sponsored by a cause you already support or search for one you’d like to learn more about, like the Susan G. Komen for the Cure or Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT). Although my 5k experience is limited, both 5k events I walked left me feeling accomplished and motivated. In an effort to reignite my fitness plans, I’m registering for the Purple Stride Manhattan, taking place May 22, 2011. My goal is to run this one.

As I work towards this May event, I’ll be reading all of the great Facebook and Twitter posts about upcoming walks, fitness, motivation, goals, and success stories. I’ve already found great information and tools there. After perusing the awesome Twitterverse, and getting a little help from my friends, here are a few upcoming walks you may want to check out, whether you do it this year or train for next year.

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary: Portland Marathon 2011

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Sunday, October 9, 2011   

7:00 AM

Downtown Portland, Oregon


Runner Sarah Bowen Shea shares her Portland Marathon experience.

I ran the Portland Marathon in 2010. I’ve lived here 11 years and run numerous (now 7) marathons, yet it was first time I’d done the Portland Marathon.
The race is renowned for being incredibly well organized and very well supported. Both true. They introduced a new corral system in 2010 that worked very effectively, ensuring runners would not have to dodge walkers–and that walkers wouldn’t have to be jockeyed by runners. While Portland doesn’t have the crowd support of, say, NYC or Chicago, I felt the spectators were very enthusiastic (especially given it RAINED the entire time–only 3rd time in 39 year history of race that ANY rain has fallen during it) and fairly well spaced out along the route. The volunteers were incredibly helpful and energetic, and the water stations worked like clockwork.
The course has its scenic sections, and a few drab spots. The city has an industrial edge to parts of the Willamette River and the course spends a fair bit of time in this industrial district. But it also crosses a lovely bridge (designed by same man as Golden Gate Bridge) and then hugs a bluff for several miles.
The finish line area is top rate–a smorgasbord of healthy, enticing options and LOADS of eager, helpful volunteers. Each finisher gets a rose (Portland is the Rose City) and a sapling. It’s very memorable and charming.

Sarah is the co-author of Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, dubbed “a bible for active parents” by the New York Times. She is also a contributing editor for Runner’s World and Shape magazines. On Twitter you’ll find Sarah @SBSontheRun and on Facebook at: Run Like a Mother: The Book.



The Overnight

June 4 – 5, 2011

New York City, NY

My family and I participated in the AFSP Central Florida Out of the Darkness 5k in 2008 and held every February. It’s a very upbeat, inspirational event. The Overnight is the signature “big sister” event. Although I personally have not participated, I’ve interviewed others who have, and it’s always the same story: a life changing event worth every mile, all 18. Registration is now open for the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in New York City on June 4th through 5th. The 18-mile, sunset to sunrise, walk raises funds to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a national organization that funds suicide prevention research, education, and advocacy initiatives as well as programs to support people personally affected by suicide and mental disorders. More than 2,000 people are expected to participate. To register, donate or learn more about The Overnight please visit www.TheOvernight.org or call 888-The-Overnight.



NYC Half 2011

March 20, 2011


New York City, NY

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 Runner Tina Shoulders shares her excitement about the upcoming NYC Half.

I started running about spring of last year after run/walking for about 6 months and lost more than 50 pounds in the process. I started to fall in love with running and decided I would make it my superpower. I decided to run for a cause, so in November I signed up for the NYC half Marathon with Team In Training to raise money for blood cancers, one of which my father is in remission from lymphoma. I could have chosen a marathon but decided to go with a half because it is still a challenge, and I am a born and raised ,diehard New Yorker—I  want my first marathon to be NYC. I am half way there, doing the NYC half Marathon on March 20.

I am chronicling the journey and more at www.beautifulathlete.com. Make sure to check out the Heart & Soul Magazine post on Tina’s transformation. You can also find Tina on Twitter @laidbackchick.


The San Francisco Marathon

July 31, 2011

San Francisco, California

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Runner Luis Bueno shares an excerpt from his upcoming (Happy Feet) guest blog post, revealing his passion for running and The San Francisco Marathon.

Perhaps it’s the difficulties the San Francisco Marathon presents that seize my attention. Marathons are difficult enough. Getting to mile 20 is a challenge but the last 6.2 miles is mentally exhausting. The San Francisco Marathon sees those challenges and raises them quite a bit higher.

San Francisco is, of course, notorious for its hills. The mere mention of the city to runners can cause grimaces and shivers. Imagine, then, having to ponder such monstrous challenges that a marathon presents and having to play them out on a never-ending hill. The course is obviously not all uphill, but a sizeable portion is. It’s a steady wave of hills. However, there are also some amazing and unique sights – starting on The Embarcadero and running past Fisherman’s Wharf; smelling the freshly baked sourdough bread past the Boudin bread factory around Mile 2 instantly made my mouth water; houses overlooking the sea on the Presidio; an oasis of flowers that is the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park; trudging around AT&T Park at Mile 25 and of course running across the grandiose and historic Golden Gate Bridge.

The hills are the fun part of the race. Hills add spice to any run, and running up and over a hill can cause you to throw your arms up in celebration. Take that challenge and multiply it by 26.2. and you get the San Francisco Marathon.

 You can follow Luis on Twitter at @runnerluis and be sure to check out his blog at muddyrunner.blogspot.com

If you have a favorite walk or run that you would like to promote and tell our readers about, please feel free to post and include links. We’d love to hear all about it. 

 (Jesse Owens quote courtesy of Quote Garden.)

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Are you already feeling the pain from constant holiday travel? Sprinting through airports? Tackling the mall at peak hours? Driving and crying from fatigue and body aches? Are your dogs really barking now? Well take a break from the hustle and bustle, unleash those puppies, and read on for fast relief.

Unless you think there’s a chance you may show up on the next edition of TMZ, don’t wear uncomfortable shoes to catch your flight. You put a lot of wear and tear on your feet, legs and back while running through the airport and sitting for long hours on cramped flights. Don a track suit, jogging pants or a comfy pair of jeans and slip into a pair of flip flops or tennis shoes. Leave the strappy heels and knee-high boots for getting your groove on at holiday parties.

The same goes for those never-ending mall excursions. If you leave work and drop by the mall, stash a pair of comfortable shoes in your car to slip into before spending hours on your feet. And take intermittent breaks to refuel. Get off your feet for twenty minutes every two hours—enjoy a Starbucks or an Aunt Annes pretzel.

And speaking of food, if you volunteered to be the Iron Chef of the holidays, nominate a few other family members as kitchen assistants, taking some of the pressure off the cooker. Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, you’ll spend endless hours on your feet cleaning, preparing, and cooking. Little ones too welcome the chance to take part in the preparations—setting the table, cleaning vegetables, and putting ice in glasses. Here’s a holiday secret, consider it an early gift: no one will know if you allow a local grocery store or restaurant to help out with the meal as well. Not everything needs to be homemade. If you disagree, then ask who would like to bake the desserts or bring the green bean casserole.

Now it’s a family affair, everyone involved, and you have more time to relax and enjoy those closest to you. After all, that’s what the holidays are all about.

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Last summer, I interviewed Angi Farrugia for Lake Mary Life Magazine. Angi dedicates much of her time to walking, running, and hiking for local charities. Although she endured her own health issues in 2005 and then again last season, Angi continues on her exciting journey. She participates in the Dublin Adidas Marathon in just a few days. “The energy around me during an event helps keep me motivated,” says Angi. You can visit her website for updates and news. I asked Angi for her top tips on training for a 5K. “I love being able to help out Newbies,” Angi says. Eager as always to share advice and helpful hints, Angi offers essential tips in training for beginners, helping you prepare for your first 5K adventure.

A PHYSICAL: Get with your doctor and make sure everything is ok. If you’re on any kind of medication or have been inactive for a while, your doctor may come up with a specialized plan for helping you meet your goals. You can also go over any diet concerns.

SHOES:  Shoes should be fitted for your feet. Fleet Feet, Track Shack, running stores are the best for this. Big retail stores don’t train employees with enough information to get you into a good shoe, and this can cause injury for your feet, knees, and shin. Leaving shoes in the car isn’t good either. For marathon seasons, I have 2 pairs, one for short distance trainings and the other for the long. Your feet WILL SWELL when you’re finished running/walking and it’s important to get into a pair of sandals as quickly as you can: Instant relief from throbbing sore feet.

NUTRITION: Carbs are good for storing energy. I use power gels, because my diet has minimal carbs in it, if any. Power gels come in a variety of flavors and are great for carb loading while training. I’m still keeping my carb intake down, because I only consume the power gels during training. Running and cycling stores have different kinds of nutrition available. Don’t wait until race day to try out a new product; this may not agree with your stomach. Use your time before the event to figure out what works best for you. Do NOT change ANYTHING on race day.

HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE!: Stay hydrated ALL the time . . . even when you are not training. I start off my trainings with water, and then as I start to sweat, use Gatorade/Powerade to replenish lost nutrients.

WALK vs. RUN: Don’t expect to be able to run a mile your first time out. Use a ratio method: 1 minute walk, then a 1 minute run . . . 4 minute walk, then 2 minute run.  Whatever works for you. There are stopwatches that will beep every interval or use a simple stopwatch and switch off when you need to.

RUNNING (WALKING) BUDDY?:  Someone training with you is one of the biggest motivators. You don’t want to let each other down by not showing up for a scheduled run/walk. And the company is not only good for safety reasons but helps pass the time and miles away.

STRENGTH TRAINING: You should not train every day. This can lead to injury. Alternate days with strength training as this will help strengthen all the muscles you use when you’re running/walking.

DON’T SKIP TRAINING:  TRY not to skip training. If the weather is bad, most gyms have daily rates to use their treadmills. You may even be able to find an inexpensive treadmill at a yard sale or in your local paper. Maybe a neighbor or coworker would be willing to loan you their treadmill during your training. If you must skip training, alternate with your strength training and get back on schedule as soon as you can.

APPAREL:  Dri-FIT clothing is the best material for running/walking. It helps to wick sweat away and keep you dry and comfortable. Finding a pair of shorts that work best for you can be challenging. Sometimes those cute little skirt shorts can cause chafing and, although fashionable, can cause major discomfort. BODYGLIDE is a good roll on product to keep clothes from rubbing skin raw in certain areas.

PEDICURES: Pedicures are NOT advisable while training. The tougher your feet are, the less prone to blistering. Keep nails short. If nails are kept long, they can break off or be pulled off.

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Have questions regarding your Happy Feet® insoles? We’ve got answers. We want to ensure that you get the most value out of your insoles. From care instructions to proper wear, we’ve addressed your questions and provided easy, simple ways for you to care for and enjoy the benefits of Happy Feet. 

How do I insert the insoles?

Remove all foreign material, grit, and sand from shoes, before inserting Happy Feet®. Work Happy Feet® into each shoe, until they lie flat and snug. For perfect fit, occasional trimming may be required. Trim toe area only.

Which side is up?

Happy Feet® insoles are reversible. You may wear them whichever way feels most comfortable to you.

Do you carry children’s sizes?

We do not currently manufacture children’s size Happy Feet® insoles.

What is thong cut?

Thong cut is to wear with sandals.

Can Happy Feet® be worn with my orthotics?

Yes, you can wear your orthotics and Happy Feet® together. If you are unsure, please check with the physician who prescribed the orthotics to you.

Do I leave my shoe insole in or take it out when wearing Happy Feet®?

Leave the insoles your shoes came with. If your shoe is too tight with both the Happy Feet® and shoe insole, you can try removing the shoe insole.

Can I trim the sides?

No, this will cause the insoles to leak.

How do I clean my insoles?

Care Instructions: Hand or machine wash with soap and water. For maximum durability, keep Happy Feet® clean. Wash weekly and air dry only. Happy Feet® are not micro­wavable.

What’s the best way to become used to my new insoles?

Happy Feet® Massaging Insoles are designed for everyday use, with particular benefit for those who spend hours on their feet. We recommend you grow accustomed to your Happy Feet® insoles over a 2-week period. Starting at two hours per day, gradually extend to full-time use to help feet adjust to increased blood circulation (at first your feet may feel warm). Happy Feet® feel different. You might experience a “weird” sensation the first time you wear them. No surprise, since Happy Feet® are not ordinary insoles. After a few days, the “weird” feeling will be replaced by therapeutic comfort.

If we didn’t answer your question, let us know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our FAQ Page. Visit our website at www.happyfeet.net for more information.

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