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We are organizing a major online walkathon in which teams compete to get fit and raise money, called the Walk for Good. The mission of the Walk for Good is to create a fun and engaging way for participants to start and stick with a daily walking program while helping other to stay motivated and to raise funds for charity. Our charity partner, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, aims to support all injured service members with a special emphasis on the Hidden Injuries of War – Traumatic Brain Injury and Combat Stress.

 

If you’re looking to find the motivation to help yourself and others improve their health and wellness there are a host of ways to participate.

 

Become an Event Sponsor – If you run an organization that desires to align with the powerful message of empowering community-minded people to get healthy and help others, we provide an event for daily engagement over extended two month period.

 

Become a Team Sponsor – Team sponsors support 5 person teams by covering the registration fees for teams. Team sponsorship is a great way to help your employees, customers, friends or family participate in an uplifting, team-building event.

 

Become a Team Captain – Team captains recruit and organize 5 person teams. Encourage your friends or co-workers to make the strides for themselves and others to a healthier lifestyle. Reconnect with old friends or make new ones while supporting an important cause.

 

Join a Team – Take action to help yourself and support the men and women of our armed forces that need your help. Stay motivated to stick with your health and wellness goals and reap the benefits of creating a habit of daily physical activity.

 

Become a Donor – Support your friends and co-workers to complete the 6000 mile journey across Asia along the Silk Road. Your support not only keeps them motivated, but provides needed funds to ensure our troops return to a home front that can support their unique needs,

 

Be a Cheerleader – Support your friends and our cause by providing encouragement and support as they move along the route and raise money. Share their accomplishments and spread the word of their involvement. Help spread the awareness of the important activities of our charity partners.

It’s hot, but we still want to walk. There are many steps you can take to avoid heat stroke.

Water

20 minutes prior to your walk you should drink 16 to 20 oz. of water. You should carry and drink about the same amount during your walk. When you finish walking, drink water again. Don’t rely on thirst to tell you when to drink; it’s not always an adequate guide to your body’s need for fluid.

Go Slow

Another important preventive measure is to slow down your pace and intensity when the temperature is high, especially during the first few days of a hot spell. By walking for a shorter time at a lower intensity early on, you’ll give your body a chance to adjust its cooling mechanism to the heat.

Mornings and Evenings

During hot weather, you should schedule your walking workouts for the coolest part of the day — early morning or evening. Avoid walking late in the morning or during the afternoon when the sun’s rays are most powerful.

Find Cover

Plan to walk in shaded areas, such as parks, forest preserves, and tree-lined streets. If there’s a breeze, walk with the breeze at your back during the first half of your walk. Then, for the second half of your workout, when you’re hot and sweaty, walk into the breeze.

Dress for Success

Proper clothing can also help you beat the heat. In hot, humid weather, wear as little as you can. Choose breathable fabrics that will allow your sweat to evaporate. Invest in fabrics that wick your perspiration.

Don’t dress to increase sweating, ,it’s a misperception that the more you sweat, the faster you’ll slim down: You’ll promptly regain that lost weight as soon as you rush to the water fountain.

Top it Off

When you dress for hot, sunny weather, don’t forget to cover your head. The head is the first part of the body struck by the powerful rays of the sun. By protecting your head, you can help control your body temperature when you walk.

Screen the Sun

To protect your skin from the sun’s burning rays and help ward off skin cancer, be sure to apply a strong sunscreen to all exposed areas of your skin. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. You may even want to try a waterproof sunscreen, since you’ll be sweating quite a bit.

Know When to Say When

Perhaps your most important protection against heat illness is knowing when to slow down and when to get inside. Regardless of your physical condition, you need to take into account more than the temperature of the air.

Mark Zuckerburg likes to take walks with people to get to know them better and to conduct business. See the linked article. But what he is doing is nothing new. Aristotle was said to walk with his students as he taught. The Japanese discovered decades ago that it was to the businesses advantage and the workers advantage to stretch and do calisthenics together in the mornings before settling into the workday. And perhaps with the right rewards, like those offered by MamboWalk.com, we can create more productive meetings and a healthier team.

9 Reasons To Take a Walking Meeting

1. Physical activity energizes people and makes them more alert.

2. Different environments can inspire new ideas and stimulate creativity.

3. Time outdoors, in nature, with fresh air and light, improves physical and mental well-being.

4. Walking and talking side by side cuts through hierarchical work distinctions and sets people at ease, which enhances a positive working spirit.

5. Walking burns calories, stimulates oxygen flow around the body that increases brain function that increases the ability to solve problems faster.

6. Walking and moving allow the mind to become more flexible and can help stimulate the right side of the brain.

7. Being outdoors can increase confidentiality that can allow colleagues to work privately with out interruptions.

8. Engaging the mind and body is a more holistic way to work.

9. It saves office resources when there are fewer machines running which makes the workplace more sustainable and green.

How to run a working meeting:

1. Organize everything you’ll need for the meeting beforehand and include an agenda.

2. With everyone’s permission consider taping the meeting with a recorder that can be synced to a computer.

3. Make sure everyone gets the memo about wearing comfortable shoes.

4. Consider the walking meeting for early in the workday to set the tone for the day and/or late in the afternoon when colleague’s energies are spent.

5. Figure out how long the walking meeting should be with a consideration of the workers fitness levels.

6. Check the weather and provide a few umbrellas so the weather doesn’t become a barrier to conducting the meeting outside.

7. While walking meetings are well suited for small groups, with some committee planning, meetings can accommodate larger groups.

8. Natural settings such as parks or trails work best, but urban settings with sidewalks can be stimulating and convenient. Avoid noisy roads that are distracting and dangerous.

The walking meeting can break up a workday, help people stay fit, and make for a more joyful working community. Ready to walk the walk with a walking meeting?

TLS

If you are doing a charity walkathon through social media with friends from all over the place, what’s stopping you from walking in some of the most beautiful places in the world. You and your friends can monitor your steps and choose exotic places all over the world to meet and encourage one another virtually.

One such place could be the Skikoku Pilgrimage in Japan. You could support a cause like Japanese Tsunami relief while visiting some of the treasures of Japan itself.

(Please credit Walkopedia.net and Nils Wetterlind’s for the details below.)

INTRODUCTION

The Shikoku pilgrimage was founded by Kōbō-Daishi (Kukai), 774 – 835AD, who was the founder of the Shingong arm of Buddhism. It circles the whole of Shikoku, the smallest and least developed of the four main Japanese islands, for some 1200 kilometres in all.

There are 88 temples along the route, most of which were visited or founded by Kobo-Daishi himself. There are four main ‘clusters’ of temples; clockwise, from north, in Sanuki Province, Awa Province (where I was), Tosa and Ehime. Each cluster will take you about a week on foot. Most non-pilgrims tend to focus on one or other of the clusters. The rest of the temples are mainly scattered, few and far between, on the south and west coast.

This is an extremely important pilgrimage for Japanese Buddhists and, although a lot of people nowadays travel by bus or car, walking (or as I did, bicycling) is getting more popular again in recent years. It is a pilgrimage full of ancient rituals, lots of interesting trivia, and is deeply rewarding on all levels.

THE PILGRIMAGE

BEGINNING
You start the pilgrimage not on Shikoku island, but on Mt Koyasan, south of Osaka. Kukai built a series of temples here, and is now ‘resting in eternal meditation’, as they rather elegantly put it: the senior monks bring him food and drink every day. You go from Osaka Namaeki station on a rickety and increasingly scary (but beautiful) train ride up the mountain, and then take a cable car up to the top of the mountain. Go early, it’s a 90 minute trip, you’ll want to have at least 5-6 hours here, and then you have to take the bus down to Tokushima, on Shikoku island (another 3 hours).

Koyasan is a quite amazing temple town with about 3,000 inhabitants, perched right on top of the mountain. The first thing to do is to go to Kongobuji, the main temple; here, you get your Nokyocho (stamp book). In each temple in Koyasan and on the pilgrim route, a monk or a nun will stamp it and write beautiful calligraphy for a fee of 300 yen, as proof of your visit. You then walk down to Okunoin, Kōbō-Daishi’s grave, on the other side of Koyasan. Here, you ask for protection during your pilgrimage. Then walk back up and visit as many of the other temples as you fancy, and then go back to the cable car and head off.

You must start your pilgrimage on Shikoku island at Temple 1, Ryouzennji, but after that you can hop and skip and jump in any direction and order you fancy. I recommend that you, after Koyasan, head back to Osaka and take the Highway Bus from Nanbaeki station to Tokushima and stay the night there. I stayed in the excellent (and cheap, 6,000 yen) Sunroute Hotel just opposite the bus terminal. You can find this, and tons of other hotels in Tokushima, on line.

PLANNING – SLEEPING & EATING

From now on, though, you won’t find anything online at all, and it is imperative that you book your accommodation well in advance, especially if you are going in the busy season. By far the coolest thing to do is to stay in the temples that offer accommodation: Shukubós, they’re called. Each room sleeps up to four, but you always get a private room if you have booked, i.e. you are not expected to share a room with strangers. A typical Shukubó room is just a square room with tatami mats, with a closet full of futons and blankets. If you’re by yourself or just the two of you, pile up the futons and you’ll be fine, otherwise it might take some getting used to. The Shukubós I stayed at had fabulous communal baths with great showers and hot tubs, steam rooms etc. You eat communally, dinner at six sharp, you eat what you are served, simple but delicious Japanese food. Many people plan their pilgrimage according to where the Shukubós are located; you should, too. There is only one way to get hold of them that I have found, and that is through the ‘Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide’ which I bought at Temple 1, and which you must order from shikoku@buyodo.co.jp or http://www.buyodo.co.jp. This vital book has all the info you need: perhaps buy a decent 1:50,000 road map as well, as the maps in the book are often of different scales, and a bit confusing if you want to walk in a non-chronological fashion. You must then find a Japanese person somehow to call and book each Shukubó well in advance for you: and be aware that almost nobody you will deal with during all of this speaks a word of English.


Your other choice is Ryokans, traditional style Japanese inns: you’ll take pot luck here, though: some are wonderful and others are little more than a suburban house with three guest rooms and zero atmosphere. Go for Shubukós if you can.

Both the Shukubós and the ryokans will include a Japanese breakfast in the rate. If miso soup, fermented beans and rice is not for you, tough. As for lunch, it’s pack-a-snack wot rules. Unless you happen to be in the middle of a town, like at Temples 16 & 17, it’s hard to find restaurants. Luckily, every supermarket and convenience store (Circle K is their 7/11) sells really great, healthy fresh foods; little sushi things, goyozas, udon noodles, etc. And every now and then, you’ll walk past a wee ramen place (Shikoku is famous its udon noodles), so just stop and grab something. 1000 yen will feed you heartily and deliciously almost anywhere in Shikoku. But it is very sporadic, so always carry food, because there may not be any at all to be found on your way.

IN THE TEMPLES

At Temple 1, which you get to by taking the train from Tokushima to Bandoueki and then walking for 20 minutes along the marked road, you buy your Hakui, a white cotton vest, which identifies you as a pilgrim, and a wooden staff. You can buy lots of other stuff, like a silly hat, rosaries, special prayer name slips and so on. Go pilgrim crazy, if you really must. You are then probably the sort of person who has little Buddha statues in your back garden (the garden gnomes de nous jours). For the rest of us, a white vest and a staff will suffice in order to show respect without inducing ridicule.

You can also learn all the various Buddhist temple rituals and memorize the Sutras before you go, and this is of course all fine, and kind of the point, if you are a practicing Buddhist. If you are not, here is what you need to do in the temple in order to be respectful:

Enter temple gate: bow towards the main building
There will be a cleansing stone nearby with little water scoops. Fill the scoop, rinse your right hand, then your left, then your mouth, and then hold it up facing you, and let the remaining water run out.
Ring the bell (or, more likely, gong the gong) once; this marks that you have arrived to worship.
Go to main temple, light a candle, toss a coin in the offering box, and say a little prayer of your choosing.
Now go and get your stamp and calligraphy, then turn around at the entry gate and face the main temple, bow once, and leave.

Every temple has its own history: some temples have profound and very meaningful stories attached to them, like a certain spot where Kōbō-Daishi had an insight which has since affected millions of people; some are rather disturbing (‘….and if you can’t see your reflection in the pond next to the southern Hall, you will die in three years’) and some are ridiculously mundane (‘Kōbō-Daishi once ate a mackerel in this place and there is a statue of him holding said mackerel in the eastern Hall’). For me, the buildings temselves and their setting mean more than their history: Temple 8, for example, is where I found what I needed to find on this journey, but it wasn’t becasue ‘there is an ancient pine tree that looks like a dragon’ in the gardens.

WALKING THE WALK (OR BIKING THE BIKE)

Now you’re on your way, for whatever amount of time you have given yourself. I had a bad foot, which I hoped had healed by the time I set out, but it turned out it hadn’t, as I found out rather painfully between Temples 3 and 4. I was really rather despondent, hobbling along pathetically along the small village road in quite a lot of pain. Luckily, after about half an hour, I passed a little bicycle shop. Aha! Kōbō-Daishi looks after his pilgrims, you see. So I bought the cheapest bike, one of those typical schoolgirl bikes, no gears, and a little basket up front. Ten thousand yen. I later gave it to the rather bemused monk at my last temple. I named the bike Gerald. Smugly, I pedalled up the mountain to the next temple, looking rather ridiculous on my little girlie-bike: but who cares, and personal dignity has never been one of my main aims in life anyway. My smugness came to an abrupt end as I promptly got a puncture (‘panku’) and had to push the bike 4 km to the next temple. Aha! Kōbō-Daishi gladly takes you down a notch if you get too comfortable, you see. But a kindly old monk organized for the ‘panku’ to be fixed by a man who arrived in a spotless white overall, bowing profusely, and who took the bike away and returned it an hour later, still bowing, refusing to accept payment. I had spent the intervening time sitting in the sunshine, drinking green tea and eating cookies that I bought from the little stall outside the temple gate. Life is good on ‘Ohenro-san’ (pilgrim walk). You will, by the way, quite likely be given small gifts along the way by non-pilgrims. Accept graciously, it is extremely rude not to. This is important.

For what it’s worth, I’m glad I pedalled around the countryside on my schoolgirl bike, rather than having walked. My bottom hurt like, well, buggery I guess, and my knees ached, but I was still travelling under my own steam, and saw an awful lot more than I otherwise would have, given the limited amount of time I had. I am also sure that the sight of a Gajin-san in a white jacket pedalling away on a small girl’s bike, knees up to his chin, provided much merriment to the locals, which is of course every foreign visitor’s solemn duty.

It is very easy to get lost on the Ohenro-san, especially if you don’t go in a numerical order. I got severely lost twice, losing three or four hours both times. The official signs are old and few and far between, and also in Japanese, so not much use to you and me. So look out for these little stickers, that are placed strategically throughout the route:

The thing is not to worry too much. As long as you are in one of the four clusters, all you need to do is to get yourself to the next temple, which you can do in a few hours, tops, and there will be a kind person to help you with whatever you need. Almost anything can be achieved by bowing a lot, using the words ‘Sumimasen’ (Excuse me, please), ‘Gomennasai’ (Sorry, please forgive me) and ‘Aroigato Gozai-mas’ (Thank you so very much) a lot, bowing some more, and pointing at maps and aching feet or whatever. And always, always smiling and talking softly.

You will also have transcendental moments when standing all by yourself in places like this:

WHEN TO GO

I went early December, after the main season has finished, but I think I got the very very best of the Ohenro-san: crisp, clear, fresh air, turning leafs making the scenery ridiculously beautiful and, best of all, I was the sole visitor in more than half of the temples. Just me and the monks (or the nuns). During holidays and peak times there will be 47 buses in the car park and 700 ‘bus pilgrims’ in every temple, which I gather can reduce the spiritual experience somewhat.

I would say, contrary to most of the websites that I have read, that mid-November is the earliest you should go. Shikoku being on the same latitude, roughly, as Greece and southern Italy, the weather will hardly be arctic in winter. Japan gets steaming hot and very humid May through October, which you can’t protect yourself against. So go in the early winter or very early spring, and pack a sweater.

The Mambo Health Gaming (MamboHG) team has been thinking quite a bit about the many positive market and social trends we are witnessing. We are optimistic these trends will continue and additional future development looks positive as well.

With MamboHG’s first product, MamboWalk, we are acting on the positive trends in fundraising, social networks & gaming and health & wellness.

Fundraising

The growth in walkathons has been incredible over the last 20 years and the growth of online giving has also been growing at rapidly for the last several years. It is great to see two highly beneficial social goods are both moving to the same trajectory. At MamboWalk, we are inspired by these trend.

Yet there are a lot of barriers for charities to put together a viable event. The logistics of putting on a major walkathon are time consuming and expensive. There are also barriers created for the walkers, for many of the major events the minimum dollars raised can be as much as $2500.

Still, these drawbacks have not been enough the stifle the growth of the walkathon. We believe that many charities and walkers lack the resources to do a major charity walk, instead would be interested participating in a MamboWalk.

Social Media & Gaming

Also worth noting is the growth of social gaming (like Farmville) and the technology of geolocation (foursquare). Social media is no longer in its infancy. The ideas around what makes social online games fun and engaging are codifying. Due to the success Facebook, there is an audience that understands the current social and casual game mechanism.

Health & Wellness

People are looking for ways to engage in better health behaviors. Healthcare costs are rising. So, groups such as businesses and insurers are search for engaging healthy activities. Walking works. Providing a way to engage in wellness each and everyday is a core goal of MamboWalk.

The Mambowalk.com team is optimistic. We believe in folks desire to do good by doing great!

This great blog by Wendy Bumgardner examines just what an expensive proposition a Walkathon is… and asked if the money is getting to the finish line.

At MamboWalk.com our goal is to help charities raise more money and at the same time help people get fit. I would love to chat with Wendy sometime to learn more about her mission!!!

Charity Walk Backlash?

Are charity walks and runs worth they money put into them? Smart Money has a feature article on the history and evolution of charity walks, runs, rides and extreme sports. They bring up many debating points and feature one critic who staged an anti-walk “Walk to Prevent Walking.” Smart Money: Are Charity Walks and Races Worth the Effort?

I’ve walked and volunteered for several large charity walks, including the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk (when hosted by Pallotta TeamWorks) and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Both of those involve raising thousands of dollars in order to be allowed to participate, plus have a challenging walking distance to complete each day. Similarly, I’m signed up for the For A Cause France 2011 walk/ride and must both fundraise and train to complete a half marathon a day for five days.

Do charity walks bring in new money?
What was the net effect? Were my sponsors just paying to send me on a walking vacation? Each time I walked I was able to raise the minimum from friends and relatives, and in addition I chipped in what the organizers said was the overhead cost to participate. Wouldn’t that same money have gone to breast cancer charities without me asking? I think not. I think that these events energize their participants as fundraisers to generate money that wouldn’t come through other means.

Would I have raised $3000 per year for breast cancer charities without signing up for a walk? In my case, no. I never did before. And I’ve never fundraised except when required to participate. For example, I’ve been on relay teams where fundraising was suggested for a designated charity, but not required, so I didn’t fundraise (nor did other team members.) It takes time, effort, and stepping out of your comfort zone to ask people for money. It’s not something I do unless I have vowed to do it for a specific event. I think the same is true for most participants. They are not fundraisers apart from the events.

Do the charities really get enough income from these walks to justify the effort? That is a budgetary decision each charity makes each year. If they weren’t worth the effort, charities would move on to different methods of fundraising. The free market decides whether they are worth the effort. Any successful charity stops doing things that don’t work.

Splitting the market
I agree that the market is glutted with 5K/10K charity walks and runs in many cities. Often there are several to choose from on prime weekends, all competing for routes, racers and donations. But if competition is really so fierce, smart charities will look for better ways to raise funds.

What justifies the overhead costs?
The overhead costs don’t go into a black hole. Much of it pumps up the economy of the locale where the event is held. Overhead costs for these events include food, beverages, support vehicle rentals, and fees to local governments to rent parks, close streets and control traffic. That helps support the economy of the city where they are held. Participants often travel, at their own expense or included in the fundraising minimum, and that is also money into the economy for hotel nights, restaurant meals, and more. In boom times maybe this all seemed wasteful, but in a recession that is money those local communities sorely need and seek out.

Energizing participants to walk
But what sucked me into these events back in 2001 was the incredibly energy they generate in turning people into walkers. Those joining in are often new to fitness walking. They have hundreds of questions about shoes, blisters, walking clothing, training, energy snacks and sports drinks. Signing up for one of these events is a great way to motivate yourself to start a walking fitness program and stick with it.

My RFAC.org France walk is less than three months away. I finished my first half marathon of the season last weekend and I’m doing another one on July 4. I am far more serious about my distance training this year with that challenge looming in September than I was last year without it. Multi-day walk training schedule

The cause is worth the effort
I myself questioned before signing up whether it was worth it from the charity perspective. I’ll be funding the event overhead as my own donation. Meanwhile, I’ll be bringing in at least $2500 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure to fight breast cancer. That’s a good thing. Since making the decision, one of my colleagues was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of the research done over the past 15 years, she has a better chance of being a long term survivor.

Many charities and participants say that raising awareness for their cause is a big benefit of hosting a big, visible event. There are many opportunities for press interviews about the charity and the cause. People see a sea of pink shirts walking and they may be more inclined to do breast self exams and get a mammogram. While pink ribbon-labeled products seem to be everywhere, that wasn’t the case before these charity walks ramped up. Other diseases and causes hope to break into that same level of awareness.

What do you think?

Walk 4 Life Games is a brochure published by the National Health Services in the UK. It has some great games to keep you and your family engaged while adding footsteps to you daily routine.

There are old standards like “I-Spy”… the one that I think is pretty cool, especially in the age of a camera on every phone is “Stroll, Sketch and Snap” which is a destination game that requires you to document your travel through drawings or photos.

Mambowalk.com is interested in hearing about your experiences with these games.

In doing some research for a blog on behavior, I found this blog and thought it said it all, enjoy. The MamboWalk Team

How Do We Change Behavior?
By Scott Asalone on July 11, 2011 – 8:52 am 2 Comments

Scott Asalone, MAPP ’08, is an author, speaker and entrepreneur. He is a partner and co-Founder of ASGMC, Inc. and works both nationally and internationally specializing in identifying and unleashing the best in people and organizations. His blog is called The Greatness Project. Full bio.

During a recent course that I taught with my business partner Jan Sparrow, an executive turned to us to say, “All this stuff is great and I want to change my behavior, but how do I make sure it sticks long term?”

This is an important question for positive psychology practitioners, whether as professional therapists, life coaches, and consultants or as individuals wanting to implement personal positive behavioral changes. It is not easily answered. Recently in studying long-term, positive behavioral change I came across an article by Brendan I. Koerner about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Reading the article I realized there is much that AA can teach all of us about long-term change even in the face of addiction. Though they admit their failure rate is very high they still have created an astounding record of behavioral change. Let’s explore four of the elements of AA as an opening for a dialogue about creating long-term positive behavioral change.

Gain commitment.
Commitment is the key element for AA to have any chance of succeeding and most likely individuals who attend a meeting are present because they intend to try to change. Perhaps the same can be said of those who engage life coaches, or therapists. They do so believing they will create long-term positive behavioral change.

The situation rapidly deteriorates in many corporate settings where “classes” of employees are gathered to learn about a topic. The “prisoners” as we call them, can range anywhere from 10 – 90% of a class. (Yes, we do take a poll). From the corporate perspective we’ve tried a few strategies to gain commitment. First we get the prisoners to acknowledge their imprisonment. Talking about the elephant in the room always helps. Also, each participant creates and signs a contract on the action plan they agree to.

Supported learning

What do you do to encourage and insure commitment?

Build self-efficacy. AA gives members constant support to continue their change. In each meeting they get to hear from others who were in their situation and choose sobriety.

In assisting behavioral change in corporate settings we use Bandura’s strategies. We highlight links to past accomplishments, provide mentors or role models, offer verbal persuasion and engage them to the point where they believe they can continue their behavioral change.
What do you do to build or help build self-efficacy?

Form groups or relationships. One of the keys behind long-term positive behavioral change is the power of the group. Whether through accountability or support, individuals are more likely to continue change within a supportive context. The meetings provide this opportunity in AA.

In corporate settings, even in large group meetings, we have people create triads or partnerships and ask that they check in with each other on a regular basis.
How do you create a support group?

Instill new habits. One of the most difficult parts of change is that we tend to revert to what we’ve always done. As my business partner says, “The familiar is seductive.” Changing habits is the toughest part of long-term behavioral change. AA recommends 90 consecutive days of meetings when you first join them. Part of the reason for this recommendation is that AA is structured to be every bit as habit forming as alcohol.

We’ve also initiated a 90 day process where, after workshops, we ask our participants to work on their behavioral change for 90 days. We check in at 30, 60 and 90 days. One of our most popular workshops on connecting emotionally with clients has increased productivity in financial advisors minimally 17% compared to the control group if they continue with it at least 90 days.

What are you doing to instill the new habits?
Long-term positive behavioral change is a goal that many individuals desire. Those of us who build on positive psychology hope to identify, explore, and disseminate what changes people’s lives for the better. AA’s strategies of commitment, confidence, community, and consistency can assist in creating long-term positive behavioral change. What are your strategies?

References
Ashford, S.A., Edmunds, J. and French, O.P. (2010) What is the best way to change self-efficacy to promote lifestyle and recreational physical activity? A systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Health Psychology. 15(2) 265-288.
Kelly, J.F., Magill, M. and Stout, R.L. (2009). How do people recover from alcohol dependence? A systematic review of the research oon mechanisms of behavior change in Alcoholics Anonymous. Addiction Research and Theory. 17(3), 236-259.

Koerner, B.I., (2010). The Secret of AA: After 75 years, we don’t know how it works. Wired. 18(7).

Vaillant, G. (2001). Interview: A Doctor Speaks. First printed in AA Grapevine Magazine, 57(12).

A recent study of approximately 34,500 people over a nine year period concluded that the survival rate of fast walkers is longer than that of slow walkers. The Journal of American Medical Association determined that ‘gait speed’ might be one of the better indicators of longevity.

The study found that people who walk at least 2.25 mph tend to live longer than those who walk slower. However, it is not simply a matter of choosing to walk faster. Your body walks at a speed that it finds comfortable in relationship to a persons vitality or health. So, just trying to increase your speed in not the key.

“Your body chooses the walking speed that is best for you, and that is your speed, your health indicator,” said Studenski. “And that’s what it really is: an indicator. Going out and walking faster does not necessarily mean you will suddenly live longer. You still need to address the underlying health issuers.”

So, the best bet to increasing your walking speed is to start working on the underlying health cause of walking slow. These include lack of walking regularly. By walking daily, you will improve those things that contribute to walking briskly. You speed depends on your energy level, movement control and coordination. Some of these things can be improved by more walking.

Pay attention to your speed the next time you walk. If you are not walking as briskly as you used to, try to determine what health issues are holding you up. Is it cardio vascular, balance, weight, coordination or something else? See if you can pinpoint one thing and start working on that issue and continue to walk.

MamboWalk.com is a game you play everyday with friends to improve your fitness and help the causes you cherish. Because the game measure how much walking you do a day as one of the ways to earn rewards or points, MamboWalk.com will give you a great excuse to go out a see how fast you walk and think about the things you need to do to walk faster.

Recently, I picked up Joseph T. Hallinan’s book “Why We Make Mistakes; How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in a Second, and are Pretty Sure We are Way Above Average”… And while the title reminded me of the line from Garrison Kiellor’s, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ radio program, the gist of the book reminds me much more of the struggles most of us having in making good choices about our diets and wellness.

Especially interesting is that we seem to be “hard-wired” to commit many of our mistakes. Ironically, we tend to make mistakes even when we are consciously and actively trying to improve our health.

5 Health Mistakes We Need to be Aware We Make

We Look but We Don’t See
We Walk and Chew Gum, but not Much Else
We are in the Wrong Mind Frame
We’d Rather Wing It
We Don’t Constrain Ourselves

When we look at things, food included, we tend to spend more time on the context of the item than the details. When it comes to food, this is especially true. Food is largely contextual: popcorn at the movies, turkey at Thanksgiving and cake for your birthday. Hallinan says that the meaning matters, details don’t. Each of these foods has a meaning within their respective context. Contextual foods, by their very nature, tend to be foods in which we over indulge. So, the challenge is to recognize that we are very unlikely to be in a detail mindset when we are eating foods in context – we eat automatically without mindfulness. How do we combat this? Look for all the occasions at which food is in contextual and see if you can stop for a moment and focus on the details. Does the popcorn come in different sizes, unbuttered? Can we opt for the a smarter choice and still enjoy the context. Would one scoop of ice-cream instead of three satisfy the context of a treat at the beach? Of course it can! Yet, our lack of awareness of the details of our choices causes us to make poor decisions. Knowing we have this propensity to overlook the details, can often be enough to help us make better choices and make less mistakes.

We can drive and eat fast food but not much else. For example, have you ever been driving with a snack and suddenly you find yourself wondering when you ate the last bite? You ate all the food without knowing you had finished. Whereas, we pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, we are not computers. We simply don’t we move from one thought to the other and back processing both things as we go. The positive part of being surprised that you ate the entire burger without knowing IS that you were actually paying attention to what you needed to do, DRIVING. You were consumed by what you needed to do at the time. The mistake is not bad driving, the mistake is that you could not manage the details of what you ate and you likely ate too much. So, with this in mind, the drive-thru is the place you needed to make the right choice. The trick is to order only the amount you require when at the window, don’t buy the biggest thing and rely on a judgement to take place when you are on the road.

We are anchored buy all kinds of sensual stimulants. When French music is playing more wine is sold. When football is on TV more pizza’s are ordered. These are also context foods and in these cases the context was created for us from our past memories. Additionally we are susceptible to being ‘anchored’ to a ‘new’ context that might not have existed previously. Anchoring devices can make us look at things incorrectly because they set our relativity. For instance, there is no difference in price between $.50 a can of soup and 4 for $2. Still, stores use this all the time because they know the mistakes we make. Even if you only need one can, you have already been introduced to the idea of buying four. ‘Hey, everyone is doing it, must be a good deal’. We find it challenging to forgo ‘deals’ like this or buy individual items in offers that are bundled, even when we have no intention on buying the more than a single item. So, be careful not to let your mindset be altered. Challenge yourself: find “2-for” and “5-for” offers, then just buy one, see how you feel.

The food we choose is one of the most important decisions we make. Still, there are times when we pay very close attention to our choices and other times when we simply wing it. I have a friend who studies every label in detail at the supermarket yet eats out at restaurants 4 times a week and have no clue as to the details of his meal. He has chosen a shortcut system that suits him – when he is in a restaurant he permits himself to wing it. We think we make better choices than we actually do. We are pretty sure we are well above average. We analyze all the labels, don’t we? Yet, for many of us, a huge percentage of the food we take in is “unsupervised”.

So, yes this takes to the last item – constraint. Our eating “mistakes” are a function of our ability to create and follow the guidelines we make for ourselves. However, I bet you are not surprised to find that we are not all the good at that either. We not only fail to follow our own guidelines, we tend to make the same mistake over and over again. Or when we make the mistake again, we simply create another guideline with the hopes it will keep the guideline we just failed to comply with – in check. I think that the trick to all of this is to make the guidelines you want to follow, and then create a system to follow them without consciously following them. A good software user interface designer once told me that you want to get your user on the luge run and have them follow through the process by making all the turns and making progress, but never leaving track. I think we can all benefit from this idea when it comes to making mistakes in healthy behaviors. Spend time thinking about where we make these mistakes and see what paths we can create for ourselves that keeps us on track and at the same time moving forward.

Stay tuned to Mambowalk.com for another way to make charitable giving fun and rewarding.

MamboWalk is a game you play every day to help you improve your health and make a difference in the world. Team up with friends to get fit, help charities and earn points to bid on cool stuff. Are you game? It all starts with taking that first step.

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