MNCYCLIST's SparkPeople Blog MNCYCLIST's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community My Back is Improving About every year-and-one-half or so, my lower back goes out. It starts with feeling slight muscular discomfort, and then within days gets so bad that I can hardly walk and find it hard to function day to day. Yesterday I woke up with the back feeling pretty good, but after sitting in a stiff chair at a meeting for an hour, I could hardly get out of the chair and walk across the room. <BR> <BR> So, I took some ibuprofen and headed home to get bed-rest and work from there all day. By God's gr... Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:36:24 EST Lower Back Pain - Any Suggestions? I just got over a cold, and now my lower back hurting and making it hard to walk or function. This is the third time this has happened over the last few years, and I'm wondering if any of you all have suggestions as to how to get through this, and what to do about it long term. Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:39:16 EST When skipping exercise is the right thing to do I'm usually pretty disciplined about doing my exercise everyday, and I planned to go out to the golf range, strike some balls, and then go for a walk. But I have been struggling with a summer cold and I'm very weak and dizzy, and I thought it best to forego the workout today. Normally I think it's best to just push through no matter how I feel, but today I think it was the right decision to stay down and I hope to feel better tomorrow so that I can go for a bike ride and a walk by the Mississ... Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:57:33 EST The Tour of France is Coming! J'aime Le Tour de France! July 1-23 - the best in the world compete in the greatest bike race in the world! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> Wed, 14 Jun 2017 09:36:30 EST My View at Breakfast <img src=""> <BR> Every morning is I sit to eat the first meal of the day, I get to look out my window and see this. I feel so grateful to live in this place, and get to watch the birds day after day and marvel at the wisdom, power, and grace of God seen in creation. Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:52:29 EST Golfing Today <img src=""> <BR> Today I got to go play a round of golf with a good friend of mine. While I hit some good shots here and there, I also had some horrible holes and therefore ended up with the terrible score. But overall, I was happy with my game and look forward to getting out again later this week. Besides the details of golf, it was a beautiful day in the Minneapolis area and I had a wonderful time spending some ... Mon, 12 Jun 2017 19:49:41 EST Awesome Walk Today I had the privilege today of walking for about an hour while meditating on John 6:1-15, the story of Jesus feeding 5000 plus with only Five Loaves and two fish. I'll leave the details for another time, but it was such a great time of faith stretching meditation and also of pursuing health. And to top it off, I got to do this on the shores of the Mississippi River, and it is just about a perfect day. So I'm very grateful to the Lord, and I'm grateful to SP for helping me pursue health for the... Wed, 7 Jun 2017 14:29:12 EST Tilling and Planting Today We have a fairly big yard but two areas are completed shaded and the grass has given way to bare ground. So later today I plan to till up the ground, prepare it for seeds, and then plant those seeds this evening or tomorrow. I'm eager to do this job and see that grass grow! <BR> <BR> Hope you all have a great day! Tue, 6 Jun 2017 11:22:35 EST Day Off...Probably Going to Golf Today is my one day off per week, and oh am I tempted to go golfing! There's a little executive course near my house that's very challenging but not very busy so that I basically get the course to myself. I just love going for a long stroll, taking my time, enjoying the day, and getting to golf a little. It's set to be a perfect day in the Minneapolis area, so I don't think I'll be able to resist! <BR> <BR> How about you? What you up to today? Mon, 5 Jun 2017 09:23:55 EST I'm Sleepy It's been a long day, a good day, and I'm sleepy! Time to crash, night-night, ya'll. Sun, 4 Jun 2017 23:03:38 EST Day of Meditation I am the preaching pastor of a church near Minneapolis and since I was behind in my normal message preparation, I had to devote my entire day to that. This means that I had the privilege of meditating on and writing about the words of Jesus in John 5:31-47. My message, "The Testimony of the Father," will be available on our website by Monday if you're interested ( For now, here's the text itself. Enjoy! <BR> <BR> "If I [Jesus] alone bear witness about mysel... Sat, 3 Jun 2017 19:55:25 EST Another Beautiful Day! It's another beautiful day in the Minneapolis area, and I look forward to doing my work outside today. I am a white-collar guy, but I can work from just about anywhere so today it's work in the park with my bike and fishing pole by my side! <BR> <BR> What are your plans for today? Fri, 2 Jun 2017 09:51:01 EST Get to go Golfing! It's a beautiful day in the Minneapolis area: 75 degrees, sunny, slight breeze. So I'm going golfing on a little 18 hole executive course. It's not a busy one, so I'll be out there by myself and I'm really looking forward to it! <BR> <BR> God bless your day! Thu, 1 Jun 2017 14:33:13 EST Caffeine - The Key Obstacle in my Journey Over the years, I've walked away from SP a number of times and for a variety of reasons, but every time I've done so, I've gained weight. This time I've gone almost all the way back to my original starting weight of 242. That was in 2009, but after joining SP, I steadily lost weight over two years until I reached a low of 202 and then settled in at 205. But from 2012 to now, my weight has been going up and down and I've never again reached 205. <BR> <BR> In some ways, I'm okay with that, bu... Wed, 31 May 2017 11:51:29 EST It's a New Month! I've been off of SP for a month or so due to extreme busyness. I've done a pretty good job with eating but not quite as good with exercise because at this time of year I have to give 6 hours per week to picking up leaves--no kidding, we have that many trees on our property! But the leaves are by and large done, and so this week I'm back to the gym and back on SP. I'm glad to be back, and looking forward to a great month. <BR> <BR> The basic plan is to be in the gym this month doing a basic ... Tue, 1 Nov 2016 11:49:35 EST 2.5 Day Prayer Retreat During our vacation this year, the Lord did some good things in our lives, one of which was helping me to see that I need to make sure and give prayer--long periods of a prayer--a high priority in my life. One of the ways I plan to do that is taking a 24-30 hour prayer retreat once per month, but for this month circumstances are such that I'm able to take 48-55 hour retreat. So I'm off tomorrow after church and heading up to a state park in central Minnesota where I plan to read my Bible, mem... Sat, 20 Aug 2016 21:33:13 EST Today's Fitness Plan August is a month of recovery and transition for me. July is a huge cycling month with our big 300-mile bike ride taking place near to the end of it, and over the years I've struggled after that to keep on keeping on. The issue is that I get tired and burned out on exercise, and then tend to make an all or nothing at all decision. This year I'm determined not to let that happen, so I set aside all of August to recover and transition. This has been a good call! <BR> <BR> So today it's into t... Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:51:17 EST Getting Ready for a 5k My main sport, and fitness love, is cycling. But over the fall and winter, I've decided to add jogging to the mix again. The last two times I did this, I advanced quite a bit in aerobic endurance which is very important in cycling. <BR> <BR> So, I'm doing the CP25K program again, starting the first or second week of September. To be ready for this, I've been walking on a treadmill three times per week at 3.5 to 4.0 mph for 30 minutes. My goal this year is to complete a 5k in less than 30 mi... Thu, 18 Aug 2016 08:14:21 EST Nice Short Bike Ride Today Took a quick 11.1 mile bike ride today and averaged 15.8 mph without pushing much at all. In years past, i was riding at 18.5 - 20.0 mph on a regular basis but given how bad a shape I let myself get in last year, I feel very good about this. My speed goals for the fall are (1) to make 17.0 mph normal for any given ride and (2) to hit 25-30 mph on a flat sprint without help or hindrance from the wind. These goals are easily achievable but will take work and consistency, but my mind is primaril... Tue, 16 Aug 2016 21:44:21 EST New Running Shoes Now that the heart of the 2016 cycling season is behind me, I'm in the initial phases of my fall/winter training plan which includes working back up to jogging a 5k and then a 10k. So I got some new shoes today (my old running shoes are two or three years old), and wow can I run faster! Not really, but I love them. They're Nike Air something or others and they fit my feet very well and feel so comfortable that I actually forgot about them in the middle of my workout today. And indeed, that's ... Wed, 10 Aug 2016 23:39:42 EST Back to Work Today After three weeks of vacation, I had to go back to work today. I say "had to" because I was just beginning to truly relax and yet it was time to jump back into the fast-flowing river that is daily life. This morning I tried not to think about it too much, and within 2-3 hours I was back in the groove and getting important things done and enjoying my work. In fact, the saddest part of my day was when I ran out of time and had to quit until the morning! So, thanks to the Lord for his grace and ... Tue, 9 Aug 2016 22:32:29 EST An Eight-Pound Northern Pike! Last Saturday my wife and I went for a 7-mile canoe trip down the Saint Croix River, and near the end of out time there she landed a big one! It was quite a fight getting it into the canoe and on the stringer but she did it. Today it's time eat! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <img src=" Mon, 8 Aug 2016 08:44:15 EST Back from Vacation My wife and I had a wonderful time at the Wild River State Park near the Saint Croix River and just north of Taylors Falls, Minnesota. Three of the seven days were brutally hot and humid so that we had to hibernate, but the other four days were as close to perfect as you can get! During the week we... <BR> <BR> 1. Took at 34 mile bike ride along County Road 16 into Taylors Falls and back--such a beautiful and memorable ride. <BR> <BR> 2. Had a good, vigorous workout at Anytime Fitness when... Sun, 7 Aug 2016 20:44:50 EST Seven Days on the Saint Croix River! Today my wife and I have the privilege of heading out to the Saint Croix River where we'll be camping in a travel trailer, fishing, cycling, swimming, relaxing, reading, and enjoying one another. We plan to leave in about three hours and I can't wait to go! Sun, 31 Jul 2016 10:00:16 EST 42.6 Mile Bike Ride in Minneapolis Yesterday It's been several days now since we returned from our 300 mile bike ride. Since I'm still on vacation and yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day, I decided to drive to a town called Hopkins where there's a very cool coffee shop and easy access to the Minneapolis bike trail system. I had no specific plan other than to take it easy and enjoy the day, but I ended up going all over the city and putting in 42.6 miles. <BR> <BR> In a way, it was more like 4 or 5 different rides as I would ride... Sat, 30 Jul 2016 12:03:02 EST Savoring my Food Today Today is Day 4 of the "Fit Food Challenge" and the assignment for the day is to savor our food. The idea, as most of you know, is that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain and the stomach to agree that the stomach is full. So, the assignment is to take a full 20 minutes to eat at least one meal today, savoring the flavors and textures and smells. I generally eat slow anyway, but 20 minutes is a long time! I will do it, though, and I look forward to seeing how it goes. <BR> <BR> Hope you ... Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:26:28 EST Measuring EVERYTHING Today is Day 4 of the "Fit Food Challenge," and the daily task is to carefully measure every piece of food we eat as much as possible. Thankfully, this task is also included in the "30 Day Plateau Busting Challenge" and so I've been measuring pretty carefully for the last couple of months...and it's worked. <BR> <BR> I hit a plateau for an entire month and that challenge helped me to break through. I then hit another plateau for about three weeks, and doing that challenge again helped me to... Thu, 28 Jul 2016 03:25:14 EST Re-organizing the Cupboards Today Today is Day Three of the "Fit Food Challenge," and the challenge for the day is to reorganize the cupboards. I'm on vacation and, like yesterday, have been wanting to do this for a long time, so I'm very grateful for the challenge! <BR> <BR> Hope you all have a great day. Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:39:47 EST Re-organizing the Fridge Today Today is Day Two of the "Fit Food Challenge," and the challenge for the day is to reorganize the refrigerator with the specific goal of storing fruits and veggies in a healthy way and keeping them where they can be seen and thus eaten. I've been wanting to clean out the fridge for many months, anyway, so I'm glad for the challenge. Tue, 26 Jul 2016 09:24:20 EST The Ride Across Minnesota - 288.3 Miles on a Bike This week...well, I guess it was last week as the ride was Wednesday to wife and I rode in The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM) which is a 5-day, roughly 300-mile bike ride designed to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. My wife has MS, so the ride is a big part of our lives each year and we're glad to have ridden in it again as we've had to miss the last two years. <BR> <BR> It was hot out there! Temps in the mid-to-high 90s with high humidity. Just another day in Florida,... Mon, 25 Jul 2016 21:00:49 EST Late Summer-Early Fall Exercise Plan Today is Day 18 of the "30 Day Plateau Busting Challenge," and the assignment for the day is to write a blog about our exercise plan for the coming month or so. For the last few months I've been working toward a bike ride that my wife and I take each year. It's called The Ride Across Minnesota or TRAM for short, and it's a 300-mile, 5-day bike ride that raises money for Multiple Sclerosis research. This year the ride is from July 20-24, so we're just about there and my mind is beginning to tu... Mon, 11 Jul 2016 10:54:44 EST Not Feeling Well but Pressing On My wife and I were supposed to take five 30-mile bike rides in a row this week, but on Monday evening, at the end of a Fourth of July party, I started coming down with something and I've been under the weather and very weak for the last three days. So I had to decide to abandon the plan but since the big ride isn't until Wednesday, July 20 (300 mile bike ride over five days), we can still get five straight days of riding in from Friday to Tuesday and have plenty of time for recovery. <BR> <... Thu, 7 Jul 2016 11:12:12 EST Planning another 30-mile bike ride today My wife and I are in training for a long bike ride later this month, and so we're scheduled to take a 30-mile bike ride today. It would have been best to do it this morning but we have an 11:00 am appointment and thus didn't have enough time to squeeze it in as my wife is not exactly a morning person! So we're hoping to do it after our appointment, but it's supposed to be 89 degrees in Minneapolis area today and for us that's pretty hot. My wife has MS and the heat really makes her body shut ... Tue, 5 Jul 2016 11:06:34 EST 32.4 Mile Bike Ride Today In preparation for the MS ride coming up on July 20-24, my wife and I took a 32.4 mile ride and mostly flat roads with some fairly strong crosswinds. It was a very nice ride on a beautiful Fourth of July day in Minnesota, for which we are both grateful to the Lord. <BR> <BR> Hope you all have a great Fourth! Mon, 4 Jul 2016 16:41:08 EST 111 Miles on the Bike this Week I took only three rides this week, but logged 111 miles. 64, 20, and 27, basically. So now it's two days off and then five 30-mile rides in a row next week to get ready for the big week on July 20-24, our 300-mile 5-day journey around the middle of Minnesota. Fri, 1 Jul 2016 23:30:31 EST 64-Mile Bike Ride Yesterday My wife and I are in the midst of preparing for The Ride Across Minnesota, a 5-day, 300-mile bike ride that will take us throughout the center of the state and raise about $1 million for MS research. So, yesterday we took a 64 mile ride that went into the wind for the first 18 miles, dealt with crosswinds for the next 13 miles, enjoyed tailwinds for the next 10 miles, dealt with more headwinds and serious rolling hills for the next 14 miles, and finished up with tailwinds for the final 9 mile... Wed, 29 Jun 2016 00:44:11 EST Non-Scale Victories and Portion Distortion Today is Day 4 of my second round on the "30 Day Plateau-Busting Challenge" and the challenge for the day is to carefully measure all foods so as to avoid portion distortion. I wasn't able to blog yesterday, though, so I've decided to share the exercise I completed for yesterday's challenge to identify non-scale victories. We'll see how it goes tomorrow, I may post about portion distortion then, but for now here are my non-scale victories. <BR> <BR> Recent Victories: <BR> 1. I have been b... Mon, 27 Jun 2016 10:50:15 EST Non-Scale Measurements I'm stuck. In my first 60 days or so back on SP I lost 16-18 pounds (depending on the day!), but then my weight loss stalled and I haven't been able to lose anything since then. This is the same place I got stuck last year and no matter what I tried, or how hard I tried, I could not break through the plateau. And the thing is that it's nowhere near my goal weight, so it's not as if I'm asking my body to do something unreasonable, but for whatever reason I just can't get below 228-230 (I'm 6'1... Sat, 25 Jun 2016 09:22:19 EST Five 20+-MIle Bike Rides this Week My wife has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and therefore most years we take a 300-mile, 5-day bike ride called The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM) to raise money for MS research. This year we're riding from July 20-24, starting in Saint Joseph and then traveling to Sauk Center, Fergus Falls, Wadena, Little Falls, and back to Saint Joseph. <BR> <BR> To prepare for TRAM, I set aside several weeks wherein I take five rides in a row, giving all I have to give each day and then trying to recover and be r... Fri, 24 Jun 2016 14:56:35 EST A Bike Ride Interrupted...Again Yesterday I was unable to ride my bike because a huge thunder storm rolled in. I was going to take the ride this morning, but I ended up not being very productive last night and so I must get some work done today which means that busyness is going to interrupt my ride again. No problem, I have five 20-mile rides in a row coming up next week and I want to be rested and ready and strong for each of them. <BR> <BR> This evening I have a bunch of guy friends coming over to cook steaks, enjoy ea... Sat, 18 Jun 2016 08:31:21 EST A Bike Ride Interrupted Well, I supposed to take a 50-mile bike ride today, but just as I was getting everything in order, I noticed that a powerful thunderstorm was rolling into town. It's here now, the wind is blowing hard, the thunder is roaring, somewhere the lightning is striking, and soon the rain will be falling. <BR> <BR> I'm bummed that I couldn't ride today, I was really looking forward to getting some time alone to think and just enjoy life. But I'm glad that the storm is here because I love storms, and... Fri, 17 Jun 2016 18:17:10 EST I've reached THE Plateau Again Several years ago I got in the best shape I've been in since I was 20. I was 205 (6' 1"), I was cycling and doing strength exercise, eating well, and feeling great. However, I got a little obsessed with the whole health and fitness thing, and ended up burning out a bit. So I put on 5 and then 10 and then 15 pounds and stayed there for a long time, at 220 that is. I tried to get back to 205, or even 210, and was never able to do so. <BR> <BR> Then I hit a very stressful 18-20 months of life.... Thu, 16 Jun 2016 09:19:06 EST 47.1 Mile Bike Ride Today It was supposed to be a 41 mile ride, but I ran into unexpected construction and, walla, it turned into a 47.1 mile ride! The weather was decent, overcast but warm, but the winds were a bit high - WNW at 10-15 mph. <BR> <BR> During the first eight miles I had a cross-tail wind and that felt great, but then I turned right into the heart of the beast and ended up riding 22 miles straight into the wind. That was the section on which I hit the construction and thus had to add 6 miles, but about... Wed, 15 Jun 2016 23:10:49 EST 22-Mile Speed-Endurance Bike Ride Had a great day and then ended it with a really nice 20-mile bike ride. It was a little warm, but the wind was basically still and the traffic was low and I had a great time! Taking a day off the bike tomorrow, I'll probably go for a little walk with my wife in the city (Minneapolis), but either way I'll be preparing for a 40 mile ride on Monday. <BR> <BR> Anyhoo, got to get up early so I better hit the sack. See ya'll later, hope you had a great Saturday. Sat, 11 Jun 2016 23:08:42 EST 22 Mile Climbing Interval Ride Today Today I took a 22.8 mile bike ride on a route that has 19 rolling hills of various lengths and grades with about 5-6 lesser bumps along the way. The plan was to warm-up for about 10 minutes and then climb each roller as fast as possible at a cadence (pedal speed) of 70-90 rpm depending on the grade. <BR> <BR> The ride went exactly as planned and I had lots of fun along the way, but I must say that those hills showed me just how out of shape I am! But that's okay, over time I will gain aerob... Wed, 8 Jun 2016 14:13:35 EST 22-Mile Speed-Endurance Bike Ride Today I completed a "speed endurance" workout that goes like this. After a 10-15 minute warm-up, push the pace to the point where you almost feel you can't sustain it and then keep pushing for three minutes at a high cadence (pedal speed), which for me is 90-95 rpm. Recover for two minutes and then repeat. <BR> <BR> The route I chose today was a simple out and back, the first half of which was into a 10-15 mph wind and the last half of which was with the wind. It can be hard to compete inte... Mon, 6 Jun 2016 11:37:16 EST Eating without Distractions Today is Day 13 of the "Small Changes Challenge" and the challenge is to put all distractions away while eating both meals and snacks, and simply to enjoy the pleasure of eating. Unfortunately, I read the challenge too late in the day to take it (I woke up at 6:15 and literally went full-speed with various things until about 6:00 p.m.), but I plan to do so tomorrow. <BR> <BR> To be honest, I NEVER eat without some kind of media in hand or near me. I see it as a great time to multitask or to... Sun, 5 Jun 2016 22:43:42 EST Cycling Training - Week One in the Bag This week was week one of an eight week plan to get ready for The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM), a five-day, 300-mile bike ride to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research, a disease with which my wife lives. The plan for this week was to do five 16-mile rides in a row at a fairly intense pace, and all in all, it went well. I'm riding much slower than normal because I'm still very out of shape but I'm riding faster than I was a few weeks ago! In fact, I got stronger and stronger as the week went al... Fri, 3 Jun 2016 11:47:17 EST What Are Your Favorite Healthy Snacks? Today is Day 10 of the "Small Changes Challenge" and the challenge is to discover new healthy snacks at or under 200 calories. I have a number that I love to eat, but I'm curious...what are your favorites and why? <BR> Thu, 2 Jun 2016 12:53:28 EST Stretch, Massage, and Fuel - My Post-Workout Routine This week is week one of my preparation for my big annual bike ride, The Ride Across Minnesota or TRAM for short. TRAM is a 5-day, 300-mile ride that raises money (usually about $1 million per year) for Multiple Sclerosis. My wife has MS so the issue is close to our hearts and a constant part of our lives. But, praise be to God, she is still ambulant and so she'll be riding this year, too--for the sixth time! <BR> <BR> Anyhoo, as I was finishing up my third 15-mile training ride this week I... Wed, 1 Jun 2016 19:33:19 EST