It's Just A Thing That I Do

Wherein I explain how the insane becomes routine

People would look at me and think or say, “How can you walk ten miles every day?”

This happened moments after whoever I was talking to would learn that I had lost over 100 pounds. Then people would invariably ask, “How?”

It started with a New Years Resolution, but unlike dozens of failed Resolutions, I started a small, easy, achievable first-step. I went to bed earlier to make sure I got over seven hours of sleep per night. Independantly, I started using my treadmill every day.

Little did I suspect this was my first Habit Hack.

My fitbit was recording and reporting the number of steps/day. I felt anxious until I reached my daily goal of 10,000 steps. This got me into the habit of arising early to exercise first thing.


The alarm rings:

  • get up,
  • weigh myself,
  • get on treadmill,
  • walk a few miles,
  • then wake up.

After I woke up, I’d curate the stats that my scale posted to the cloud. Watching the pounds decline felt good.

If you’ve read The Power of Habit, you’ll recognize the pattern:

  • trigger,
  • activity,
  • reward.

As pounds left, I felt better, and this motivated me to walk a little longer.

Instead of considering the 10,000 steps target alone, I started looking at my calories-burned target. Fitbit will let you input your current weight, target weight, and rate of weight loss, then calculate the calories-burned target to achieve it.

I walked 5 miles, but that didn’t burn enough calories. So I walked a little longer, and I got a little closer to that target. Each day started with: alarm, weigh, walk, reward. As I got closer to the calories-burned target, I went to bed earlier, and got up earlier. And walked longer.

This made the impossible happen. I lost so much weight that I began to believe I could lose enough to escape obesity. The ridiculous ideal weight figures published by governments and medical associations started looking achievable.

Trigger, activity, REWARD.

Do this for a few months and you quit thinking about it. And quit thinking it odd. I walk. Walking is just a thing that I do.

This is how one does the impossible.

P. S. I have a friend who lives a few blocks from me. After I had gotten fit we started walking the neighborhood together each day in the morning. He had occasion to talk to the county sheriff who had seen us and recognized my friend. He said, “Didn’t I see you the other day walking with a tall thin guy?”

Tall thin guy?

A person trained to observe and accurately describe people called me a tall, thin guy?



Steve Poling

Masters degrees in math and computer science. Poet in several computer languages. I write stories about Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft, steampunk, and SF.

Grand Rapids, Michigan