- Associated Press - Saturday, July 29, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Thirteen months ago, Caye Ribas was grousing about his weight. So, his daughter, Gabeé Brown, bought him a Fitbit exercise tracker for Father’s Day.

“She said, ‘Dad, just start walking,’” Ribas said.

This 64-year-old isn’t one to do things halfway.

Ribas strapped on his Fitbit on July 3, 2016, and started walking. And walking. And walking. Much of it was up and down the street where he lives, taking the occasional puff on his cigar as he goes.

Eventually, he decided he ought to go somewhere - figuratively, if not literally. An online search revealed that it was 2,367 miles from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Diego.

“About four months into it, I thought it would be kind of cool to walk across America,” Ribas said. “So I’d tell people I’m walking across America. They’d look at me and say, ‘When are you leaving?’ I’d say, ‘I left three months ago.’ People would look at me like I’m crazy.

“It’s just a figure of speech. I’m not walking across America. I’m going to walk enough miles to walk across America.”

And, he did just that. And a little bit more.

According to his Fitbit, in one year, Ribas took 5,193,157 steps, walked 2,434 miles and burned 728,672 calories. He’s 37 pounds lighter than when he started without changing his diet.

“When you lose 728,672 calories, you can eat anything you want,” Ribas said. “Some weeks I burn 20,000 calories.”

Ribas had not been totally sedentary before his year of ambulating. He figures his work renovating and maintaining rental properties requires 5,000 to 8,000 steps a day. He had run several road races, including a half-marathon, and he was training to run a marathon two years ago. But he got sick after a race in a cold rain a few weeks before the marathon and had to drop out.

But, once bitten by the Fitbit bug, Ribas set a goal of 15,000 steps a day.

“If I was going to bed at 10:30 or 11 o’clock, if I look at the Fitbit and only have 12,000 steps, I’d take my pajamas off and put on my walking shoes and go take off and start walking,” Ribas said.

It’s become a nightly ritual. With music in his headset and a cigar in his mouth - he allows himself one a day - Ribas goes up and down his street for an hour or so before returning home, showering and going to bed.

“The neighbors think I’m crazy,” he said, adding he only puffs on the cigar while walking.

Ribas kept a log of his steps, miles and calories burned each week. He averaged 48.6 miles per week, with a high of 61.13 miles the week of Oct. 2-8 and a low of 30.16 miles Dec. 11-17.

“My mother-in-law is 87 years old, and her saying is, ‘If you rest, you rust,’ ” he said. “She told me that a long time ago, and I’m a firm believer in that. I don’t stop.”

He’s even resumed his goal to run a marathon. But he hasn’t begun training because his walking challenge hasn’t ended.

“I’ve got to come back to Louisiana. I’m stuck in San Diego,” Ribas said. “I’ve got to figure out how many miles from San Diego to Baton Rouge. I’ve got to get back home.”

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