I had lunch with my friend Dave yesterday. We went to high school together at Oak Hills High School, about half a mile from where we had lunch at Aroma’s. Dave — writer, teacher, husband, and father of two teenagers — has lost about 65 pounds over the last couple of years, mainly with a walking program. He walks about an hour now, every single day. During bad weather, he uses the elliptical machine in his basement. He looks spectacular.

Dave in 2009 with our high school friend Wayne

Dave uses a similar rule to mine about never doing more than he sets out to do. He gives himself a range. On a tired day, he can stop at the low end of the range, and on a day he’s feeling good, he can go to the top end. No farther. Just as it did for me, it took him awhile in life to figure this moderation strategy out.

Dave now

Dave started by walking his dog down the block and back. He got winded just from doing that. He kept doing it anyway. Now he can walk four miles within an hour if he wants to, and he’s done several charity 5K walks and races.

“You can’t look at other people and compare yourself when you first start,” he says. “You have to realize, they’ve been doing this for years!”

Neither of listens to music or puts earphones in our ears when we exercise outside. We like to feel the intrinsic goodness of being outdoors. However, on an indoor machine, it’s music or the TV or whatever it takes! Dave values his hour walk as his “time to think.” We both crave how much better we feel after exercise — and we’ve found that neither of us lets the people at work get to us the same way anymore.

It’s interesting how I keep hearing the same strategies, arrived at independently, from long-term exercisers.