OPINION: Kennesaw’s walking wonder, 4,023 days straight. And counting

Credit: Tracey Floyd Viars

Credit: Tracey Floyd Viars

Day after day, week after week, year after year, Tracey Floyd Viars pops up on my Facebook feed, victoriously hoisting her camera above her 5-foot frame and flashing the feigned smile reminiscent of a beauty queen atop a parade float.

Last month I noticed she was closing in on 4,000 days straight, a testament to stick-to-itiveness, doggedness and predictability.

Each day, she posts a log — “POWERwalk #3,992/3,992 days” — to mark the ever-growing achievement. Usually she follows the notation with a “!” because, well, why wouldn’t she?!?

I had planned to meet up with her earlier, in late December as she approached Day 4,000 (which comes to almost 11 years of Walking Every Single Day). I thought our conversation would dovetail nicely with the New Year’s resolutions, of our annual yearning for betterment.

However, I didn’t get around to doing that. I should work on my own habit of procrastination.

Some day.

Viars, who works in commercial real estate and is a Kennesaw city councilwoman, said she started her journey around Christmas 2011 to work off some seasonal stress. She hit 30 days, then 60 days, then a year. That’s about when she realized she had a “Thing,” a healthy obsession that had to be feed.

Credit: Bill Torpy

Credit: Bill Torpy

At 1,000 days, some friends lined her route with posters and flowers to note the achievement. Usually, she aims for five miles or, at least, an hour of brisk walking.

“I got so crazy with this thing, I couldn’t stop,” Viars told me. “I was so caught up on it.”

Simply put, it’s an enforced habit. “You wouldn’t leave your house without brushing your teeth,” she said. “Walking each day is like that for me.”

Her proclivity is reminiscent of the U.S. Postal Service motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Although Viars’ rallying cry might be: “Get your butt out of bed, Sunshine, and put one foot in front of another whether it’s rainy, snowy, hot, if you’re sick (including COVID) and even if you don’t want to do it. Especially when you don’t want to.”

Usually, she knocks it out in the morning, otherwise the day can get away from you.

People often tell her, “You’re lucky you have a job or schedule that allows you to do this.”

To that, she says, “It’s not lucky; it’s prioritizing. I’m not less busy than anyone else.”

You make your own luck.

The most common New Year’s resolutions are to exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, save money, boost your career, and, increasingly, to soothe one’s mental state.

The act of making resolutions has ebbed and flowed through the years and I’ve read that there’s currently an ebb, as people increasingly believe they are setting themselves up for failure, frustration and unneeded self-flagellation.

Some studies show just one in 10 folks making resolutions actually carry through for the full year. And a healthy percentage bale before March.

The Atlantic magazine said, “You might figure that declaring resolutions doesn’t hurt, even if you don’t complete them. But that’s not necessarily true. The very act of goal setting can undermine results if it feels like homework: One study that directed people to practice flossing, yoga, or origami making found that focusing on the desired result actually predicted lower achievement.”

Credit: Zippia

Credit: Zippia

Scientific American magazine recently featured an article saying, “Leaving aside a cherished objective may benefit psychological and even physical health.”

Or just give up; it’s healthier for you.

When I caught up with Viars, she was walking inside the new Kennesaw Rec Center because of rain. She was walking with Kimberly Haase, an Acworth businesswoman who wants to volunteer with the Kennesaw Business Association and had some ideas to run by Viars. Haase offered to go out for coffee. Instead, Viars said, “Why don’t you walk with me?”

Viars views her daily post-walk Facebooks posts as a built-in accountability, a bit of self-generated pressure. The daily walks allow her to clear her head, think and see different parts of the town that she represents on the council.

She’s been called the “Selfie Queen.” I asked if there’s a reason for the unrelenting sameness of the downward angle of the photos. “Gravity. Gotta take it up above,” said the 56-year-old mother of three grown boys. “Ask any woman of age.”

As for New Year’s resolutions, Viars has bought in this year. She recently added a “6-week metabolic reset” because “I don’t pay attention to what I eat.”

How’s it going?

“It’s killing me, I like to eat and drink what I want,” she admitted.

Maybe I should call back in a month to see how that’s going.