A Call to Action

I was recently in DC presenting at the America Walks Summit where the Surgeon General was a keynote speaker addressing his recent Call to Action on Walkable Communities.  As I was listening to his presentation I couldn’t help but think what a call to action meant.  Many folks know of it as CTA’s within the Internet of things, it’s literally a call to create some sort of action or response.  America WALKS

In this essence it was a way to tell Cities that you need to take a more proactive approach in creating safe, active walkable communities.

 Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities recognizes the importance of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. It calls on Americans to be more physically active through walking and calls on the nation to better support walking and walkability. Improving walkability means that communities are created or enhanced to make it safe and easy to walk and that pedestrian activity is encouraged for all people. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.

In support of this call to action, America Walks issued Micro Grants where over 500 organizations responded with their efforts on community health and engagement.  As we visit with many Cities and Non-Profits we see a growing trend with community health and engagement as these organization see several benefits such as economic development.  Who doesn’t like to take a nice walk with a friend or loved one and stop in a local store for coffee a glass of wine or some groceries. It’s tremendous and inspiring to see what is going on within various Cities and Non-Profits, for example:

  • healthy tennesseeIn Tennessee – Healthier Tennessee is an effort led by Governor Bill Haslam and made possible by The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, a non-profit corporation dedicated to enabling and encouraging Tennesseans to lead healthier lives.

team of mules

  • In Maury County Tennessee they launched a Community Challenge to lose the weight equivalent of a team of mules (8,000 lbs.).

 

  • Eat SmartIn North and South Carolina there is an initiative called Eat Smart Move More which is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.

 

  • In Oklahoma there is a significant community health initiative but they have also been successful with their built environment initiatives – The Oklahoma City Trails are a network of paved walking, running, bicycling and skating paths that will eventually stretch all across Oklahoma City and many of its suburbs.Indianapolis
  • In Indianapolis it is one of the top 10 places to walk run and bike and they are home to the largest half-marathon in the US with several trails that connect unique cultural enclaves, restaurants and attractions. There downtown path also has a barrier that separates bikes from motorists.

 

 

 

These are exciting developments and I can’t wait to see more in 2016! As we approach the end of the year it’s typically a time to reflect on accomplishments and set new goals. For me, I am hopeful to further spread the word on what Cities are doing to engage their communities, meet someone new each week to share their accomplishments and further my passion that I have been working on for nearly 4 years – which is to bridge the gap between technology and the built environment to engage communities, reward healthy behaviors and create social connections.

It’s a challenging endeavor when you bootstrap such an operation and try to employ social media, gamification and the concept of community – but we are seeing the idea gain traction, in fact this recent article talking about 2016 was inspiring to see the word community and social media used – after all social media is great but aren’t we looking for more community connections…

So what is your call to action in the New Year?  As an organization is it to put on more events in your community, to host a Mayoral Walk, develop a new trail or as an individual is it to loss weight, run your first 5k, half marathon or marathon.. Is it to run a race in multiple cities or just get out within your community and get engaged? Drop me a note as I’d love to hear from you as we share accomplishments and inspire others.

I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year – see you all in 2016!


The Wake-up Call – Falling off track!

Staying Active and eating healthy is not easy!  It requires a change with many things such as sleeping!  If you want to exercise in the morning, you’ve got to wake up earlier or change something within your current habit to support 30 – 60 minutes or more of exercise!  You’ve got to determine how many times per week and stick with it, believe me it’s hard as I have had plenty of days where I didn’t want to do anything where I felt tired or too stressed.  However, the minute I did, afterwards I felt great, but again it’s hard.  

Also you’ve got to consider eating differently, don’t have cookies or donuts in the morning or throughout the day – especially if your co-workers bring in such food.  Go for the carrots, not the cookies – again easier said than done as I’ll admit my diet could and should change.  I get plenty of exercise but I can’t say I eat the best as I typically have a snack every morning.  You just don’t know what that is doing to your body unless you take those steps to find out as my next guest can speak towards.

I met Suzanne by way of social media – gotta love these tools, what did we do before, pick Suzanne_Picup the phone?

Meet Suzanne Tamm —

I started off by asking Suzanne why she exercises and what her inspiration is, Suzanne replied ‘I started walking and running a long time ago in my 20s now I’m 48. I’ve had spurts on and off over the years but most recently I began walking and slow running since 2012. In the late 2000s I had gotten ‘way’ off track and for the first time in my life I faced enormous weight gain.’

‘In 2011, I was 50+ pounds overweight and had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a fatty liver from poor eating habits and generally not doing enough to care for my health. It was a wake up call! My doctor at the time told me “I don’t want to see you become a statistic. I remember being so ashamed of what I had become. It took me several months to hear his plea, but once I did I began cutting out fatty foods, sugar and generally eating much better.’

‘I did not follow any particular diet, just focused on portion sizes and ingredients. After I began to lose weight, I felt more comfortable getting outdoors and using my home treadmill to start a cardio routine. I have lost over 50 pounds and my blood work is textbook perfect! I have reversed my liver damage completely and my cholesterol is very low. My blood pressure is better than average! I see people who knew me a few years ago and they do not recognize me. My health is my biggest inspiration that keeps me going! I walk or run at least 1 mile a day and I am currently on a 110+ day streak!’, Suzanne stated.

Wow – that is amazing 110 straight days, I know I can’t say that – so I then asked Suzanne about her favorite event, Suzanne replied ‘My favorite event is a virtual race. I love doing virtual races because it allows me to do them as I can and at a pace I am comfortable with. I am not a fast runner so I find public races a bit daunting. I usually sign up for the “walk” portion of a race if there is such an option. But by far, the virtual races fit me the best! I just completed the #girlsrunfast 10K virtual run/walk on Thanksgiving Day!’Virtual Race

As an event organizer I encourage walkers, as Suzanne stated the event is a social opportunity to meet others while making it ones personal experience.  I then asked Suzanne how often she worked out and if she kept a log,  Suzanne replied ‘Currently I walk and/or run at least 1 mile every day. I do track my events and weekly workouts. I use my Apple Watch, which is my go-to tracker. I also use the app “RunKeeper” which is very useful as it calculates my weekly and monthly progress in miles, total distance, total elevation and total calories burned, etc. I love comparing month-to-month progress!

I went on to ask Suzanne about her goals for 2015, Suzanne stated ‘My goals for 2015 were pretty simple – to be as active as possible. I believe I exceeded this goal and I am very proud of my progress. In October I set a goal to walk, Treadmillrun, or hike a 5K every single day. I exceeded that goal, doing 107 miles in October! That’s dedicated exercise miles, not just walking around the house or running errands… just plain tracking when I was out on the trails or on the treadmill or elliptical. If I added my daily steps it would probably be a lot more than 107 miles!’

Wow that is inspirational, speaking of inspiration, Suzanne told me what keeps her inspired – her continued great health. Suzanne went on to say, ‘Also my loving family who is very supportive and has come to understand my “runner’s personality” – i.e. that I have to get my exercise on every single day, even if that means getting up to use a hotel treadmill at 4:30am on the morning before an out-of-town college visit (Hello Ithaca NY and Cornell University!!). The other people who keep me inspired are the many on Twitter and Instagram who share their progress every day. It’s a great community and we are extremely supportive to one another. I never thought I’d say that Social Media is a blessing, but it truly is in this case! Suzanne replied.

I then asked Suzanne if she met someone new to running or walking what would she tell them, Suzanne stated ‘Start slow! I have made the mistake of trying to do too much too fast more than a couple of times. We runners and walkers are a bit stubborn in this regard…  it’s really not worth injuring oneself. I had a person tell me once not to worry about pace but just enjoy the run. That was the best advice I have ever gotten on running and I have to remind myself of that every single day. Don’t worry about what others are achieving just enjoy yourself!! If you compare yourself to others I really believe you are setting yourself up for disappointment,’ Suzanne responded.

open roadSuzanne went on to tell me, ‘My mind wanders a lot during a run or walk! I think of projects I’d like to do at home, work related issues, people I should call since we’ve been out of touch for a while, the birds, the bugs, the wonder of
our great Earth. My mind is all over the place! I find it fascinating and just let it happen organically. It’s really a Zen thing :),’ Suzanne stated.  I certainly know what she is talking about as I come up with some pretty amazing inventions but the minute I get home I can’t recall a single one of them!

earthothonI then asked Suzanne if she belonged to a run club, Suzanne responded ‘I don’t belong to a local club. I do, however, belong to the #Earthathon relay which formed on Twitter- it is a relay race of teams that “race around the world”. My team, “RunderfulRunners” recently completed 25,000 miles, or one time around the Earth! It’s a fun way to get to know others from all over the World and work on a collective goal. I also am an Ambassador for #FitFluential, which is a fitness-minded community, #MoveItMonday which encourages everyone to get up and move on Mondays and continue throughout the week, and #PHLHeartHealthy-or the American Heart Association, Philadelphia Chapter who encourages a healthy heart and body through proper diet and exercise. I love being an Ambassador to these great causes and they also help keep me positive and motivated!’

I went on to ask Suzanne if running has helped with her career, Suzanne stated ‘Absolutely! I am a pet sitter and accredited dog trainer. This career requires being in tip-top shape, as I work with animals of every size, shape, and strength every single day, keeping up with my running and walking keeps me physically fit, which helps tremendously in my career!

So I asked her about 2016 goals, Suzanne responded ‘My goals for 2016 remain pretty simple – be as active as possible all year long, hopefully every single day of 2016. I am sure I will create my own challenges again like I did in October by doing a 5K every day. I also have a goal to hike more of the Appalachian Trail, which I am fortunate enough to live near. The AT is a very challenging hike but it is invigorating! I hope to be able to hike a full day on the AT, and perhaps camp out for one night, an experience I have yet to enjoy.’

Thank you Suzanne for sharing your story and I too hope your 2016 goal of hiking a full day comes to fruition!  We’ll check in later next year on progress 🙂

Happy Holidays – Dan..