My first rental bike ever…

July 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

Zagster installed bikes in our community on July 2nd. I own several bikes, so I wondered how a company could keep all of those bikes maintained and ready for people to rent. I decided to rent one and see what it’s all about.

On July 17th I rented a Zagster bike at the intersection of Schuyler Avenue and Merchant Street in Kankakee Illinois. I adjusted the seat height, hopped on, and took off. I immediately noticed that the front tire was almost flat, and it was really hard to pedal. I twisted the shifter, but it wouldn’t change gears. I looked at the cable at the hub and there was no movement at all. Something was hitting my left foot with each pedal stroke. I looked down and saw a big black cable hanging from underneath. Further investigation showed that this was the cable for the temporary bike lock that was jammed into the frame. Then I tried to stop. The back brake barely worked at all. The front brake was okay (thank goodness).

I returned the bike after a disappointing one block ride. I locked the bike in the rack but the app froze and wouldn’t recognize that the bike was locked. The bike was physically secure but I didn’t want to get charged for a bunch of extra time so I called the support number listed in the app. My call was answered promptly by a friendly young lady who confirmed that the bike was in fact returned and recorded my notes about needed repairs. I was not charged for this 17-minute excursion, thank you.

Since I was fulfilling my curiosity and not needing transportation I didn’t try another bike. Could I recommend renting these bikes to others? How could I in good conscience? They are only two weeks old and the first one I grabbed was virtually destroyed! I really want this program to be a success. I’ll try again later.


Health and Fitness Success in the Long Term – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

November 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lifting My Spirits

Colin and I have been friends for a few years.  We met through our blogs.  Because of his passion for helping others achieve their health and fitness goals, he and his wife transformed their professional lives so that Colin could follow his dream to be a trainer and coach.  He’s researched and written extensively for a long time, as a contributing author for other blogs, and on his own site, Colin DeWaay Training.  Even though I am a NASM trainer and Fitness Nutrition Coach, my teacher duties and my own training keep me too busy to work with clients or to even research and write the kind of informative posts I’d like to have here on this blog.  Colin and I share similar views on everything related to fitness and nutrition, so I asked him if he would be willing write for my blog monthly and he generously agreed.  I’m excited because you will get solid…

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Week 12 of 12: What I Did This Summer

October 8, 2013 § 8 Comments

Front before and after

Front before and after

If this was a grade school writing assignment, it might go something like this:  I lifted weights.  I rode my trike.  I made new friends.  It was fun.  The end.  Since grade school was long ago, let me expound a bit.

Darin Steen’s Fat Loss Lifestyle program is based on five areas of health and fitness:

1. Resistance Training – When I started lifting weights again I had a difficult time completing the workout.  I had no stamina.  The weights I used progressively got heavier until I had to join a gym, Impact Fitness in Bradley IL, because my abilities had exceeded my home equipment.

2. Cardiovascular Training – On day one, a 30 minute brisk walk was about all I could manage.  I progressed to riding my recumbent trike and adding sprint intervals to my ride.  The last few weeks I’ve been using an elliptical trainer at the gym.  I like it because it’s low impact on my knees and it really keeps my heart rate up.  I basically do a 5k on that thing in 30 minutes.

3. Nutrition – I’ve said before that nutrition has been the hardest part for me.  It’s also the area I have the least experience with.  I really never paid attention before.  I’m learning a lot and will continue to learn as I progress.

4. Goal Setting – I had three goals when I started.  a. Reduce body fat from 23% to 15% and gain 9 lbs of muscle.  b. Get off of my daily prescription medications. c. Look better in my clothes.  All of these goals were accomplished or exceeded in 12 weeks!  I actually gained 11.5 lbs of muscle, reduced my waist 7 inches from 48-41, and put almost an inch on my arms.  I made a decision when I started and there were real emotional reasons behind that decision.

5. Social Support – I started posting my intentions and progress on this blog specifically to gain some social support.  I gained a few followers who have been very encouraging.  That support made my progress easier because I couldn’t face the embarrassment of failure and I didn’t want to disappoint my new friends.

This isn’t the end.  There are new goals to be set and accomplished.  I truly have a new lifestyle.  I included pictures of mature bodybuilders in my posts because fitness is ageless and bodybuilding is the closest thing I’ve found to the “fountain of youth”.  I believe that we have the ability to extend our useful lives by decades using information that is already available.

Special thanks to Darin Steen, Mike Neumann, and Tammy White for your inspiration.  Thank YOU for reading my blog and providing the support I needed to get this far.  I love your comments.

Back before and after

Back before and after

For more information about the system that I am following go to

Week 11 of 12: Appearances

September 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

June 4th, 2013-Before

June 4th, 2013-Before

One of my major goals was to look better in my clothes. Since I have reduced my equator by 15%, I think I have achieved a good portion of that goal.

I’m starting to get comments and compliments that I look different. “Have you lost weight?”, I’m asked. Yes, some. “Are you working out?”, I’ve heard. Yes I am. Thank you for noticing.

I gotta tell you though, I’m starting to crave certain foods that I’ve been avoiding. Things like cheese, bacon, butter, mayonnaise, and ice cream top the list. I’ve reduced fat to about 20% of my calories. That’s not a much fat at all considering how much is in the the foods I am eating like chicken breast and eggs. I’m not complaining really, just looking forward to a change of pace.

Waist down to 41 1/2 inches from 48 at the start. Yes, all the effort is paying off!

September 18th, 2013-Now

September 18th, 2013-Now

For more information about the system that I am following go to

Week 10: The Knee

September 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

Marshall Johnson @ 53

Marshall Johnson @ 53

My right knee has been bothering me periodically for several years.  I don’t think I ever injured it but when I would do something out of the ordinary, like go bowling, play tennis, or golf, it would get swollen and sore.  Since I’ve been exercising regularly it’s been regularly swollen and sore.  I decided it was time to get it checked out properly.

“Welcome to your late 40’s Mr. Jackson.  You may feel a little discomfort.” if I may paraphrase what the Orthopedic Surgeon had to say.  He examined my x-rays and told me that I’m starting to get some arthritis in my right knee.  He drained some fluid, injected some cortisone, and told me to stay off of it for a few days.  I’ll probably have to have this procedure done a couple of times a year.

I wan’t surprised by the results of our visit.  I’m thankful that my knee wasn’t injured because I plan to increase the weight that I lift substantially over the next few months.  I see no reason not to proceed aggressively.

Speaking of exercise, this blog has been mostly about nutrition because that has been the hardest part of my body transformation.  The exercise has been easy in comparison.  I love lifting weights and I’m learning to love my interval cardio sessions.

Weight training consists of a full body circuit style session of 16 sets in the 10-14 rep range.  I use compound movements specific to the chest, legs, back, shoulders, and arms.  It takes about an hour to get through those 16 sets including a 10 minute warm-up on the treadmill.

I especially like dead-lifts because it works the whole backside of the body at once.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy but there is a real sense of power when you pick up something heavy off the ground!  Awesome!

I can’t do pull-ups yet but I’ve started doing some negatives to build strength.  Negatives are when you jump up to the top of the movement and lower yourself in a controlled manner to the bottom of the movement.  The other day I decided to super-set my pull-up negatives with some dips since I was going to work my triceps that day anyway.  I thought I would have to do negatives for dips too but to my surprise, after controlling my descent, I was able to push myself back up!  Before I knew it, I was able to do 3 sets of 5 dips, unassisted… at 240lbs!  Wow!

Cardiovascular training is conducted interval style.  Intervals are when you give an all out effort for about 60 seconds in the middle of an otherwise low intensity cardio workout.  I try to do more than one interval during a 20-30 minute session.  It depends on how my heart rate responds.

I’ve done interval training several ways.  In the beginning I did it on my recumbent trike by just adding a sprint into my ride.  Other times I would do it by skipping rope in the middle of a walk.  My new favorite is to add a sprint into elliptical training at the gym.  Sorry trike, the elliptical machine is my new mistress.


I knew this week would be tough.  I limited myself to upper body work outs because of the knee situation.  The limitations were precautionary but necessary in my opinion.  Somehow I still managed to shave 1/2 inch off my waist, down to 42 inches from the start of 48.

For more information about the system that I am following go to

Fat Loss Lifestyle System by Darin Steen

More Sleep = Weight Loss

September 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kelly Garton


Think you can get by on 5 or 6 hours of sleep or less and still lose weight? Wrong! Getting enough sleep is vital to losing weight permanently and keeping it off. Personally, this is one area I still struggle with. Learning to balance eating healthy/less, exercise, and getting plenty of sleep along with other factors like working, shopping, errands, social commitments, family, etc can make it seem impossible to get enough rest. One would think with the whirlwind of “things to do” that need our time and attention we would simply pass out when bed time comes.

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep is important because sleep helps to regulate two hormones. One hormone is called ghrelin. Ghrelin tells your body when to eat. If you are sleep deprived, than you will have too much ghrelin in your system which will trigger additional hunger. The second hormone is called leptin. Leptin tells…

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Week 9 of 12: Mental Toughness and Fun Stuff

September 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

2012 Mr. IllinoisI read a blog post today by Tammy White.  She described how frustrating it is when life gets in the way of training and the mental battles that accompany interruptions.

I’ve had similar concerns lately.  In my last post I had pictures comparing my body at the start of this 12 week program and at the 8 week mark.  I had more mental stress about showing my body to the world in that post than I did on day one, but I did it anyway.  I think the reason is because I’m seeing and feeling changes that the camera just doesn’t capture, which is frustrating.  That, and I have a very specific image in my mind of what my body will look like in the future.  I have to remind myself that I am a work in progress.  Progress takes time.  I have time, so I keep doing the work.

Another mind mess is that my right knee keeps swelling.  I shot my first 18 holes of golf, ever, last May, at the TPC Scottsdale.  I must have twisted the hell out of it because it hasn’t been the same since.  I keep thinking that it’s not that bad and it will heal, but it hasn’t.  I have an appointment to get it checked Monday.  I’m hoping it’s not serious, is easily fixed, and I can keep training.  I’m concerned, it affects my workouts, and it’s stressful.

We all have times of doubt in life.   We reach points in time when we have to decide to stop, backtrack, change direction, or press forward.  Pause, evaluate, adjust, and proceed.

Enough of that!

Two big, and positive events happened for me this last week.  One, I joined a gym!  I decided to join Impact Fitness in Bradley, IL.  Impact is the home of Mr. Natural Illinois, Mike Neumann.  He conducts a group training class there that is highly recommended by Darin Steen, the author of the system I am currently

I had a chance to talk to Mike recently.  He asked me,”Why did you decide to join our gym?”  We got interrupted and I didn’t really get to answer but I had a very distinct reason.  I joined Impact Fitness because that’s where the bodybuilders are!  There are lots of places in Kankakee to work out but the people who are serious about bodybuilding go to Impact Fitness.  It seems like everyone has a plan for an upcoming bodybuilding show and they talk about it openly.  I enjoy the energy there.  I feed on it!  Hang around people you want to be like, right?

Darin Steen @ Natural Universe

The other big thing that happened was that I attended my first bodybuilding show! (as a spectator of course)  It was the INBA PNBA Natural Universe.  Darin Steen was competing in the Open Mens class against some stiff competition.  He took 4th place and qualifies to compete in the INBA PNBA Natural Olympia in November

It was all very exciting and inspiring!  I was impressed with the way the competitors interacted with each other on stage and off stage.  Everyone was personable and friendly.  They were complimentary, respectful, and kind to each other.  Some people were old friends and other people met for the first time.  It was a pleasant atmosphere of good people doing what they love to do!  I will be going to more shows nearby before the season is over.  My interest is sparked!  If you’ve never been to a bodybuilding show I highly recommend it.  It’s high energy and fun!

This weeks results:

My calorie reduction plan is working well.  In the last two weeks I’ve lost 7 pounds of scale weight.  That seems aggressive to me so I will check my body fat next week and see if I’m losing fat or muscle.  I may have to add some calories.  This isn’t a race.  Also, my waist has reduced by another half inch to 42.5 inches.

For more information about the system that I am following go to

 Fat Loss Lifestyle System by Darin Steen