Running: One Step at A Time

It’s been a long time coming, but I think I found my way back. To running that is. It’s unclear why I stopped especially when I did. My workouts consisted of three to four times per week running anywhere between three to five miles. I completed four 5k races within one year, improving my time with each race. I’m not competitive with anyone but did enjoy seeing and feeling the effects of being in decent shape. The longest distance I’ve ever run is probably about eight miles but I can’t be scientific about it.

I kept track of my road running efforts using Mapmyrun. It’s a nifty program that creates mileage maps of where you run. It can even calculate calories burned, I guess depending on the time you clock the distance.  I refer to 2010 as the year of my best running.

It feels tentative but I think the funk that has taken hold since 2010 is losing its grip. Why, I wonder, does somebody just suddenly stop doing the things that make them feel healthy and vie for inertia? My best guess is depression. Suffice to say there’s enough life stresses that can cause depression. The trick is knowing that and in spite of recognition, figuring out how to counteract the ugly beast!

An impetus towards getting back on track has been a 6 week challenge to realign eating habits paired with exercises while watching television. The idea of watching Scandal and working on my abs simultaneously kind of feels scandalous!! So far, it’s been going well with the exception of some lower back pain. Exercising actually helped after laying off for one day – so it seems the body remembers what feels good. That’s what I’m telling myself.

I revisited my profile on Mapmyrun and calculated my distance today and was pleasantly surprised. I ran nearly 2.41miles in about twenty-five minutes. I stopped a few times to get used to the pace. Considering I haven’t run in some time – I was happy! It felt great to move about.

A working mantra – running, like any endeavor, is best accomplished one step at a time.

Mobile Apps = Good User Experience

Lately there’s been much talk at the office about eating healthy. I work for a company that produces safety messages in print and flash media. The graphic communications are sold B2B via monthly subscriptions. I guess you can say the company is an advocate for businesses to stay on track with compliance and other workplace issues.

Weight limits in any setting are something that if overlooked can be hazardous to your health. Take a trucker for example. If materials aren’t loaded properly tipping or rollovers can occur as well as any number of negative effects on the vehicle itself: flat tire, strain on brakes, etc.

The weight issues I’m referring to are bodily pounds. Whether you work in an office environment sitting in a cubicle for eight hours daily or you drive a truck for hours on end, the state of your health will be invariably affected by that much inertia. The need for exercise and good nutrition is as important as the very employment that sustains you. Health, I’ve determined is a very personal choice and it ultimately is up to each individual if they want to be healthier.

My company started a ‘get fit’ challenge and the initiative is one that can be applied to any worker. Since so many people have mobile phones, the idea of using readily available apps to eat healthier is right within reach.

Here’s how using mobile technology could make you healthier. A worker wonders what to eat for lunch because she’s forgotten to brown bag healthier choices than what nearby fast food restaurants offer, (or the trucker really doesn’t want to eat another hamburger from McDonald’s).

While there many apps that can tell you what eatery is within your location, a person will need to actually think about the food choices they make. Take the trucker. If McDonald’s is the only restaurant choice there is for the next fifty miles, it’s not the only choice for food. Instead of eating at a restaurant, why not search for grocery stores in the same fifty-mile radius?  While grocery stores may not have prepared meals, they will have healthier food choices. The question arises, at what cost to one’s health does convenience have over exerting some effort towards better food choices?

The app Fooducate is free and available on Android and IPhone systems and users can learn about food labeling, what constitutes nutrition and what brands offer the best bang for the buck. This is really useful information. Even if the trucker decides to eat at McDonald’s, using an app like Fooducate, a user can tailor a ‘fast-food’ order to better suit healthier choices. For example McDonald’s offers two selections for a chicken snack wrap – they are grilled or crispy. Yes the crispy make taste better but it’s more fattening due how it’s prepared – deep-fried. The grilled chicken will have fewer calories due to no coating or deep fry in oils.  I purposely selected McDonald’s not to knock it, but because it has been traditionally known for its fast food.  What I’m advocating is that McDonald’s does offer choices. Ultimately everything a person eats is their choice. Shouldn’t what you fuel your body with be a known substance? Anyone is free to order a snack wrap without the chicken all together or ask for extra vegetables and eliminate the cheese would also be an option.

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Basically mobile, computer and tablet apps are already out there for any user to tap into. The real question to ask is how are we using the technology to make better choices? Some organizations are slower to adopt technology.

Take the Department of Motor Vehicles for example. The DMV has always had an unfavorable reputation when it comes to customer service. While horrendous long lines are just one of DMV’s notable traditions, many offices have upgraded to some 21st century technologies like renewing registration, which can be done online. Even the Department of Internal Revenue Service has integrated online technology giving many an added convenience, e-filing, even though the deadlines are still the same.

The trick to any user experience is to remain open to the possibilities that combine smarts with convenience. Users shouldn’t forfeit good choices in lieu of those that may seem to make our lives easier.

 

Is Safety Ever Overplayed? One Company’s Quest

I work for The Marlin Company, when I’m not working freelance. The core product Marlin produces are communications in print and flash media. All materials cover workplace safety issues, and when you think about it, safety is a subject anyone can relate to. Take the latest weather conditions that recently hit Connecticut.

Whichever the reference ~ Winter Storm Nemo, or in weather geek terminology, Blizzard Charlotte, the northeast was hit with record snowfalls that had many remembering old times, like the snowstorm of 1978. That storm has been indexed as ‘Blizzard of ’78’ and if you Google that search term, the resulting images ironically resembles Nemo! No surprises there – snow is snow. That much hasn’t changed in forty-four years!

Some of my co-workers won’t remember 1978, having not been born yet. I don’t remember it per say because I wasn’t driving then or didn’t own any property. The snow probably was a nuisance, something that interrupted the normal convenience factors of getting around.

The Marlin Company chose to close Monday following Saturday’s downfall. As an employee that news was a godsend, considering the roads were unplowed and couldn’t be navigated anyway.

Local news coverage was non-stop and critics made fun of the media saying they took a natural weather event and turned it into a media frenzy – and that comes at a cost of creating its own panic. How can the media do a better job? Should they merely report and not dramatize? Which would you rather have a pure factual transmission or the many visuals of reporters standing in 15 inches of snow?

My vote is it’s better to have a descriptive report on the conditions. For as many times as safety tips are conveyed, lives are still lost. As reported by Associated Press an 11-year-old Boston boy died when he sat in a running car to keep warm after shoveling. The exhaust pipe hadn’t been cleared and the fumes collected in the vehicle.

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It’s alway better to be informed. What you do with the information is up to you. Today The Marlin Company had a “Lunch and Learn” program courtesy of Diana Minelli, Human Resource Manager. The topic: making better food choices and an introduction to the Cross-Fit brand. Two speaker trainers from Shorline CrossFit presented, David Plumey and Carl Chu, and kudos to them and Diane for giving their time to share tips about the Paleo diet.

Both Plumey and Chu spoke about glycemic index, good food sources for energy and the benefits of exercise. Nothing new, but ever the need to remind people – how to make better choices with food.  A little effort can go a long way! My take away is be inspired. How I know this is when I eat pizza, I feel heavy. When I eat healthily I feel light. Such a simple deduction and yet most people, me included, find it hard to stay away from favorites.

This evening I heeded the inspiration and had oven baked salmon, broccoli rabe with red bell pepper. I baked an egg frittata for breakfast. At some point a person has to make efforts towards changes that promote a better way. Why not now?

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