Colon, GretchenIn January, we announced that our staff had committed to living healthier lifestyles by participating in two health and wellness challenges – a weight loss challenge and a 1 million steps challenge.

As we’re coming into the home stretch of our 1 million steps challenge, we sat down with Gretchen Colon, Senior Vice President of Advancement & Communications, to learn about her tips and tricks to 1 million steps.

What’s your trick to getting in steps during the day?

Since our 1 million steps challenge started in January, I’ve been using my iPhone to track my progress. It’s a really cool feature that I didn’t even know was on there.

I’ve also been using the Nike + Running app that tracks my miles, pace and lots of other stats. The trick is remembering to pick up my phone and stick it in my pocket wherever I go.

To get more steps during the week, I’ve started pacing our driveway while I wait for my daughters to get on the school bus. This has helped me achieve an extra 2,000 steps each morning. On Saturdays, I’ve been going on eight-mile runs.

My biggest step days were on spring break with my family while walking around Walt Disney World and then downhill skiing and snowshoeing in Colorado. (Side note: we ran into Lakesiders while standing in line at a restaurant in Denver. Small world!)

Where’s your favorite place to walk or run?

I love running in the country with no music, listening to the birds sing and seeing the open fields. I also love the short six-mile loop around the Marblehead Peninsula because you always have the water in view. That’s the best.

What’s your favorite healthy snack or healthy meal?

We cook together as a family with the kitchen getting pretty messy. I’ve been making fruit smoothies with Kale since Josh Hilgenberg wrote his recent blog with the recipe. I was certainly a Kale skeptic until I tried it. I started making my salads with Kale, too. Overnight oats is my go-to fast breakfast.

What’s your biggest challenge in getting steps during the day?

I have three daughters who play soccer and their schedule is the biggest challenge to exercising every day or getting enough steps. We have soccer practice every night and games on Saturday. The girls are also a motivator to keep track of my steps. At least one of them asks each day how many steps I’ve taken. They also want to know how many steps, Shirley Stary, Kevin Sibbring and Dan Dudley took that day. The girls are a little more competitive than I am.

Do you like to walk/run in the morning or night?

Coffee comes first in the morning. In college, I would get up at 5:30 a.m. because we had morning and afternoon cross country practices, and I hated running early. Now, I run at lunch or head out the door right after dinner is finished.

This winter, I learned about the Blue Zones Project. It’s the research of living a healthy, happy life. You can check out the stories about people who live to be 100.

One of the pieces of research is that you need a close network of people… we’ve created our own little network at Lakeside, with our staff dedicated to health and wellness. I’ve enjoyed participating in these employee wellness challenges.

We receive weekly updates about everyone’s progress, and those messages have really helped motivate me each day. It’s energized everyone. I entered both the weight loss challenge and 1 million steps challenge. I have even more energy since I am making sure I get 11,000 steps each day and watching what I eat.

When traveling for Lakeside last month, I walked the hotel parking lot with Jessica Kidd, Director of Annual Giving, so I could get my steps in that day or headed to the gym with other Lakesiders while out of town for different Lakeside gatherings.

Do you know how many steps you took today? If you aren’t counting steps, get out your smartphone and download one of the many free apps available. If you have an iPhone, head to the little app with the heart and set up your steps dashboard. It’s easy. The goal is more than 11,000 a day. Are you ready?