Over the course of this summer, I've been working toward two long-term goals. The first, which I've been working on for a few years now, is financial independence via self-publishing my hilarious comedy/fantasy novels and short stories. The other, which I started at the beginning of my summer vacation, is not being a big fat bag of shit via walking on the treadmill.
These two goals may not seem, at a casual glance, to have anything at all to do with one another. After all, every hour I spend on the treadmill is an hour I could have spent writing. And staring frustratedly at a blank screen, occasionally typing out a sentence only to decide it sucks and go back and delete it, doesn't burn a whole lot of calories. But these two activities have more in common than you think. Let's take a look at how.
1. Time and Dedication
There are only two ways to lose weight. Consume less calories through what you eat and/or burn more calories through exercise. You could argue surgery as a third method, such as liposuction or sawing your legs off, but those aren't options I'm going to cover in this blog post.
Likewise, the only two paths toward greater wealth are to spend less money or earn more. Cooking meth and robbing banks are the sawing your legs off equivalent here.
It's important to be honest with yourself about how much sacrifice and effort you're willing to make with regard to whichever paths you choose.
For example, I know myself well enough to realize that, with my poor impulse control, I won't be giving up nachos, pizza, or beer anytime soon. I don't do moderation well. I could make an earnest effort to deny myself the foods I enjoy, but I wouldn't give me a week before I finally said "Fuck it. I'd rather be fat."
I am, however, willing to put in an hour a day on the treadmill. I walk at a rate of seven kilometers per hour, which is about as fast as I can walk without jogging. You might scoff at such a paltry effort, but again, I'm being honest with myself about what I'm willing to commit to. Just like with the food and beer, I could try to push myself to go longer or faster, or even to throw some weight-training into the mix, but after weighing the increased speed with which I would shed fat and build muscle against how much more time that would take and how much more it would suck, I'd just go buy a bag of Doritos or something and get back to writing my books.
I don't know how accurate the calorie counter on the treadmill at my gym is, but it says that my hour of walking burns about 415 calories every time, and that doesn't even take into account the two frozen Gatorade bottles I use as dumbbells. (More on that later.) While that may not be much, it's 415 calories more than I was burning before. With no other changes to my lifestyle, that's a net loss which results in less of me to love.
The same goes for my financial situation. I'm not what I consider a big spender. I don't go out much, I don't buy a lot of crap, and we eat most of our meals at home. But we've got two kids, and kids are expensive. They need food and clothes and books and toys and Taekwondo and piano lessons and art classes and all of that shit. It adds up.
I could start cutting back on giving my kids the kind of life I want them to have, or I could put in the time and effort required to pump out some more books. I'd much prefer to do the latter.
2. The Small, but Ever Growing Fruits of Your Labor
I self-published my first book, Critical Failures, way back in June of 2012. As I was living in Korea, and had cleaned out my bank account during a previous visit to the States (kids are expensive), I didn't have a bank account for Amazon to direct deposit to. The best option I had was for them to mail a paper check to my parents house, with which I would open a new bank account with during my next visit. Amazon has a threshold of $100 that you must reach before they'll bother mailing you a paper check. The timing of my next visit to the States was convenient, as it fell in line with when I received my first check... a good seven months after I'd published my book.
That's right. It took me seven goddamn months to earn my first $100 in self-publishing. That was before I started developing and experimenting with strategies, hitting Twitter hard, putting some effort into my Facebook page, blogging, and, most importantly, putting out a bunch more titles.
But as I kept at it, slowly collecting good reviews, running promotions, and writing more books, sales began to pick up. Two years later, I was able to post this picture on Facebook...
That's my first rental house, paid for entirely with money made from my books. Each one of these I acquire adds an additional revenue stream flowing into my bank account, bringing me that much closer to the financial independence goal. I liken this to the increased energy, muscle toning, and metabolism boost that I'm told will eventually happen after continuous exercise. But I'm only two months into that journey. I've lost four kilograms so far (That's about nine pounds, for you 'Muricans.) I won't be on any swimsuit model calendars anytime soon, but it's movement in the right direction.
3. Shit. I can't think of anything else.
In lieu of a third entry, I'll take you along on a mind-tour of a typical hour on the treadmill. Think of it as motivation.
I start off by grabbing two recycled 1-liter Gatorade bottles out of the freezer to use as dumbbells. They aren't going to give me Schwarzenegger guns, but they give my arms something to do while I walk. I prefer Gatorade ice bottles to actual dumbbells because they start to melt, giving me a nice, cold drink of water during scheduled intervals during my walk.
Some warnings to those who might consider following my example.
1. If your skin is more sensitive to cold than mine, there might be a risk of frostbite. If your palms turn black and start to fall off, maybe put the bottles down.
2. These are two 1-liter blocks of ice. If they slip out of your hands, you could break the shit out of your toe or television or whatever.
3. Condensation forms on the outside of the bottle, leaving two splatter puddles behind you. If you're at a public gym, they might not appreciate that. I haven't had any complaints yet, but that could be because no one at my apartment's gym speaks English.
With that out of the way, let's go for a walk!
The worst part of the treadmill is that it's so boring. Most people watch TV or listen to music, but I'm not a huge fan of Korean television, and my bald head gets far too sweaty for headphones. So I walk in silence, alone with my thoughts, the treadmill's timer, and the distance calculator. I spend a lot of my time working out fractions in my head.
At 7km/hour, for one hour, every 0.07 kilometers is 1% of the journey.
Got your walking shoes on? Let's go!
0:36 / 0.07 km: Good start. Just do that 99 more times.
1:12 / 0.14 km: Way to go, Bob! You just doubled your time spent walking. Now you just need to do all that 49 more times. At this rate, we'll be finished in just a few minutes!
1:48 / 0.21 km: Hang on... That's not how math works.
2:24 / 0.28 km: Fuck, these bottles are cold.
3:00 / 0.35 km: Sweet! We're at 5% already! I just have to do that 19 more times. No problem!
3:36 / 0.42 km: What should I blog about this weekend?
4:12 / 0.49 km: Maybe I could blog about walking on the treadmill, tie it into writing somehow...
4:48 / 0.56 km: That idea fucking sucks. Who wants to read that shit?
5:24 / 0.63 km: I'll save it for a day when I'm really starved for ideas.
6:00 / 0.70 km: Ten percent! I just have to do that ten more times. I can do that. Time to put these bottles down for a minute. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck. *Grab bottles*
6:36 / 0.77 km: I've still got so much work to do on CF4.
7:12 / 0.84 km: That ending I've got planned... Is it as awesome as I think it is, or is it so incredibly stupid?
7:48 / 0.91 km: It's both.
8:24 / 0.98 km: I have to remember to do a Katherine chapter soon.
9:00 / 1.05 km: Fifteen percent! I'm a quarter of the way there already! Oh shit, wait. Fifteen minutes is quarter of the way there. Oh shit, wait... Not fifteen percent. Have I only been at this for nine minutes? But I've done a whole kilometer already. That means I'm one seventh of the way there. I just have to do that six more times.
9:36 / 1.12 km: Fuck, this sucks.
10:12 / 1.19 km: Ten minutes. We're into double digits now. That's one sixth. I just need to do that five more times.
10:48 / 1.26 km: The ice is starting to melt. I can feel the water starting to slosh around a little.
11:24 / 1.33 km: Why aren't there any hot women in this gym?
12:00 / 1.40 km: Twenty percent! One fifth of the way there! I just need to do that four more times. Time to give my hands a break. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck. *Grab bottles*
12:36 / 147 km: I might be able to make an interesting blog post about this.
13:12 / 1.54 km: No, seriously. You can't. It's impossible. There's nothing interesting about walking on a treadmill. Next idea.
13:48 / 1.61 km: But what if I -
14:24 / 1.68 km: Fucking drop it already!
15:00 / 1.75 km: Twenty-five percent! Now we're quarter of the way there for real. That's halfway to halfway. Now I just need to do that three more times.
15:36 / 1.82 km: Fuck, this sucks.
16:12 / 1.89 km: Fuck, this sucks.
16:48 / 1.96 km: Fuck, this sucks.
17:24 / 2.03 km: Two sevenths of the way there. This still sucks.
18:00 / 2.10 km: Thirty percent. I don't know why, but I was more excited about twenty-five percent. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck. *Grab bottles*
18:36 / 2.17 km: All I'm saying is that, if we could make an entertaining blog post about the recent payment changes in the Kindle Unlimited program, we can make -
19:12 / 2.24 km: Hang on. Are we bringing up that treadmill blog idea again. I'm telling you, it's going to be boring as shit. Think of something else.
19:48 / 2.31 km: Umm....
20:24 / 2.38 km: We just passed twenty minutes! That's a third of the way! I just need to do that two more times.
21:00 / 2.45 km: Thirty-five percent. That's something, I guess.
21:36 / 2.52 km: Blegh. I really hate the gulf between the twenty minute and thirty minute marks.
22:12 / 2.59 km: Boring, boring, boring.
22:48 / 2.66 km: Shit, shit, shit.
23:24 / 2.73 km: Blah, blah, blah.
24:00 / 2.80 km: Forty percent. Whoopty shit. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Ooh! Sold a book. Sweet! *Grab bottles*
24:36 / 2.87 km: Is there a such thing as amphibious trees?
25:12 / 2.94 km: What?
25:48 / 3.01 km: You know, like, trees that wouldn't die if they were submerged in water. Also, three sevenths!
26:24 / 3.08 km: Why are we thinking about amphibious trees?
27:00 / 3.15 km: Twenty-five percent. Nearly halfway there.
27:36 / 3.22 km: I was just thinking it would be cool to have those growing through holes in the bottom of a swimming pool. You could swim among the trees, and it would feel like you were flying in slow motion.
28:12 / 3.29 km: What the fuck, man? The weekend is right around the corner, and we don't have shit to blog about. Get your head in the game! Is it too soon to tell another group of douchebags to eat a dick again?
28:48 / 3.36 km: Probably. We don't want to come off as too negative.
29:24 / 3.43 km: Then I got nothing.
30:00 / 3.50 km: We're at the halfway point! Hellz yeah! What we've done once, we can do again. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck.
It is here, dear readers who have bothered reading this far, at the halfway point, where we allow ourselves a first drink of our deliciously cold water.
You don't want to drink too much water from the first bottle, because you'll be drinking an equal amount from the second. We want to try to make sure that both of our arms are lifting equal amounts of weight.
And you don't want to drink all the water from both bottles, because:
a.) More water = more weight, and we want to burn whatever calories we can.
b.) Having some water sloshing around in there speeds the rate at which the remaining ice continues to melt.
and c.) With all the water gone, the remaining ice will make a loud knocking sound against the plastic bottle which will be very annoying to you and those around you.
The second half-hour should be much easier than the first. Think of it as going back home after a long car trip. We'll be passing the same landmarks, but from the other direction.
30:36 / 3.57 km: Okay fine, so pitch me this treadmill blog idea.
31:12 / 3.64 km: Walking on a treadmill is like earning a living as a self-published writer.
31:48 / 3.71 km: I can't believe we're even entertaining this. In what ways?
32:24 / 3.78 km: You've got to work at it a little every day for the benefits to really pay off.
33:00 / 3.85 km: Fifty-five percent!
33:36 / 3.92 km: What else have we got? That one flimsy comparison isn't going to make for a blog post by itself.
34:12 / 3.99 km: We could compare a growing fanbase to increased metabolism or something.
34:48 / 4.06 km: Four sevenths! Anyway, that's really stretching it. Anyway, we'll need at least one more for a proper list post.
35:24 / 4.13 km: Writing and Walking both start with "W"?
36:00 / 4.20 km: What the hell is wrong with you, were we dropped on the head as a - Hey, we're at sixty percent. Give the arms a rest. We're coming back to this. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck. *Grab bottles*
36:36 / 4.27 km: I'm just pitching ideas.
37:12 / 4.34 km: Your ideas suck. We need to get back in the zone, like when we wrote that Self-Publishing for the Wrong Reasons post.
37:48 / 4.41 km: And something with the potential to go viral like that Douchebag Expats in South Korea post.
38:24 / 4.48 km: This treadmill bullshit sure as hell isn't it.
39:00 / 4.55 km: Sixty-five percent.
39:36 / 4.62 km: Hmm... What if we -
40:12 / 4.69 km: We're two thirds of the way there! What we've done twice, we can do once more!
40:48 / 4.76 km: I was just thinking, we could -
41:24 / 4.83 km: Only 19 minutes left! We're in the teens!
42:00 / 4.90 km: Seventy percent! We're getting close now. Put those bottles down. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* We sold two more books! Awesome sauce! *Grab bottles* I'm sorry, you were saying?
At seventy percent, we allow ourselves a second sip from each of our water bottles.
42:36 / 4.97 km: What if we did, like, a play-by-play as to what was going through our mind during our hour on the treadmill?
43:12 / 5.04 km: Five sevenths! So you not only want to write about boring shit, you want to make the reader of our blog post suffer through our boredom with us?
43:48 / 5.11 km: Exactly! What do you think?
44:24 / 5.18 km: I think 'FUCK YOU!'
45:00 / 5.25 km: Seventy-five percent! Holy shit, we're three quarters of the way there! What we've done three times, we can do once more! Just fifteen more minutes. That's nothing.
45:36 / 5.32 km: Remember that 'GoT Rape?' post we were thinking about, talking about people's reactions to all the rape in Game of Thrones?
46:12 / 5.39 km: I don't know if we have the balls to post that. Besides, nobody's talking about that anymore. Shelve it until we see what kind of rape they throw at us in season six.
46:48 / 5.46 km: What are people talking about these days?
47:24 / 5.53 km: It's all election bullshit.
48:00 / 5.60 km: Eighty percent! That's four fifths! What we've done four times, we can do once more. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck. *Grab bottles* Twelve minutes is nothing! Hey, if we go through with this treadmill thing, I just thought of a use for that redneck guy from the Shitheads post.
48:36 / 5.67 km: Ha ha. Nice one. But the idea, on the whole, still sucks. Could we do anything with the election?
49:12 / 5.74 km: This is the C&C blog. We don't really do politics here.
50:24 / 5.88 km: Those were fun. Hey! We've only got ten minutes left! We're five sixths of the way there. What we've done five times, we can do once more!
51:00 / 5.95 km: Eighty-five percent! Only nine minutes to go! Single digits, baby!
51:36 / 6.02 km: Six sevenths of the way there! What we've done six times, we can do once more!
52:12 / 6.09 km: I think we need to poo. Oh shit, I'm sure of it. Come on, you goddamn nachos! You had your chance to get out an hour ago. Just give me another eight fucking minutes, huh?
52:48 / 6.16 km: Don't think about it! Think about the blog!
53:24 / 6.23 km: Fuck the blog! We've got a state of emergency here!
54:00 / 6.30 km: Ninety percent! We're nine tenths of the way there. What we've done nine times, we can do once more! Just hang in there a little while longer. *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* Nothing. Fuck. *Grab bottles*
At ninety percent, we allow ourselves to take our third and final sip from our bottles. Most, if not all, of the ice should be melted by now.
54:36 / 6.37 km: Come on man. Less than six minutes to go. We can do it!
55:12 / 6.44 km: Five minutes left! We're eleven twelfths of the way there. What we've done eleven times, we can do once more!
55:48 / 6.51 km: Do the gym bathrooms have toilet paper in the stalls?
56:24 / 6.58 km: I don't know. We better bring the sweat towel, just in case.
57:00 / 6.65 km: Ninety-five percent! We're nineteen twentieths of the way there. What we've done nineteen times, we can do once more!
57:36 / 6.72 km: Why did we use so much fucking cheese? I don't think we're going to make it.
58:12 / 6.79 km: Come on! We've only got two minutes left! That's twenty-nine thirtieths! What we've done twenty-nine times, we can do once more!
58:48 / 6.86 km: Oh my god, this is the longest fucking two minutes ever.
59:24 / 6.93 km: Under a minute to go! We're at fifty-nine sixtieths. What we've done fifty-nine times, we can do once more!
1:00:00 / 7.00 km: We fucking did it! *Wipe sweat* *Check book sales* (It's part of the ritual.) Nothing. Fuck. *Snap a picture for posterity*