First Month Challenge Report


First Month Challenge Report:

As I start the second month of the Whole Body Challenge, I am pleased to see signs of progress toward my goals to gain strength and mobility, and to   walk further with the walker.

I weighed in at 133 lbs, which is where I was before. That is perfect, because I do not want to lose weight, I want to gain weight.

Everyday, I do an upper body warmup and firm-up to prepare for walking and the stress on arms and shoulders of getting on the leg lift tower. I press the ball in for isometric conditioning, and 10 reps with the 5lb dumbbell.

I am feeling a little more strength as I transfer to and from my power chair.

I am getting more days walking 180 ft with the walker. Also evidence of a little more strength was doing 10 squats and 50 reps on the stepper.

Today I was able to do 3 sets of leg lifts, one at 10 reps, and 2 at 5 reps – so gaining some strength there also.

If you are curious what the “Whole Body Challenge” is –  or would like to join me in the Challenge – check it out.   Big Prizes!


The Weigh-in

The Weigh-in

I am 84 years old and starting the Whole Body Challenge.  I am dealing with residuals from encephalitis, a virus in the spine and brain wall fluids, that I had when I was 15.  The virus left me almost completely paralyzed and with muscle weakness and atrophy, muscle spasticity, loss of balance, and unequal muscle tension that gradually caused severe scoliosis.

The first challenge was the weigh-in.  Not having a scale, Betty went to Walmart and bought a digital scale.

Because I have a poor sense of balance,  I cannot stand or walk without holding on to something.  Holding on to the kitchen sink I stepped on the scale, and lifted my hands a little, but quickly.  The scale read: E  — for Error.

Multiple attempts all read: E    Betty got on the scale, and it worked fine.  Apparently I could not stand still enough to get a weight recorded.

We traded the scale with a friend who had a mechanical scale with a slightly bigger platform.  Hurrah, we got a reading, almost — I think.

The scale was too close to the sink for me to balance more than a couple of seconds, but did read 132 pounds.  Last week, we did a little better and got a reading of 133 pounds.  This week, February 20, we got the scale positioned where I could balance better, and we got another reading of 133 pounds.  Hurrah!

One of my Challenge goals is to GAIN weight, not lose weight,  so I’m off to a good start! 😃

If you are curious what the “Whole Body Challenge” is –  or would like to join me in the Challenge – check it out.   Big Prizes!


I met my Valentine Feb 14, 1965

I met my Valentine Feb 14, 1965

My position as an Instructor at Penn State was contingent on my working on a doctoral degree.  After 2 1/2 years, my doctoral program was not going well, and I was looking for a job at a small college.

A colleague acquaintance, used a transparent ploy to “set me up” to meet a graduate student friend of hers.  In November, she gave me a college bulletin which had an article about the speech department at a small college in Ohio, and told me I had to return it “in person!”.   It took me several months of praying to get up the courage to call the girl.  By “coincidence”, I arranged to return the bulletin on February 14th, 1965, Valentine’s Day, when the graduate women’s dorm was having an open house.

When I met Betty, I knew immediately that my prayer was answered!  We talked for a couple of hours about things we had in common, then I walked across campus to a pay phone and called my mother in Michigan.  “Guess what Mom, I just met the girl I’m going to marry.”

Mom’s response was, “don’t get hurt.” 

After my carefully planned courtship, I proposed to Betty May 1st, 76 days later.  We married August 14, on her birthday.  Now, 55 years later, I can safely say — I didn’t get hurt, I got blessed! 

Happy Valentine’s Day Betty!

My Whole Body Challenge

My Whole Body Challenge

I decided to take The Whole Body Challenge because I need to increase my mobility and strength in order to drive to our company Convention in Orlando in August.

I am starting with residuals from encephalitis, a virus in the spine and brain wall fluids, when I was 15.  The virus left me almost completely paralyzed and with muscle weakness and atrophy, muscle spasticity, loss of balance, and unequal muscle tension that gradually caused severe scoliosis.

Twenty years later, climbing the mountain of recovery, I could walk without crutches or cane, and was completely functional again.  Regrettably, apparently the brain remembers and starts recreating the symptoms of the virus, now called post-encephalitic syndrome.  Loss of balance started in 1980, followed by a slow downhill slide when I needed a cane, then crutches, then a walker, and finally a power chair for mobility.

After another near death experience with heart attack, congestive heart failure, and blocked coronary arteries in 2016, I was again left nearly paralyzed and was sent home under Hospice care with the expectation that I would die!   I could not sit up in bed without help.  The first time I got off the bed, with 2 men holding me up, I could not lift my foot off the floor!  

God answers prayers, and I “graduated” from Hospice.  After a gradual comeback in the last three years, and adding the Gel to our nutritional regime, I can walk with a four wheel walker up to 120 feet, with someone acting as a safety catcher holding me with a gait belt.

By adding the KG4, KetoDay and KetoNight, that have nutrition for the brain, I hope to offset the post encephalitic syndrome, and gain 2 lbs. of muscle weight.

My first goal in the Challenge is to walk with the walker 300 feet, or 100 yards.

For leg strength, do 25 squats while holding on to the kitchen sink.  I can now do 7. AND, do 100 steps on a stepper. I started at 20.

For upper body strength, do 3 sets of 10 lifts on the leg lift tower.  I can now do 1 set of 10. 

I am grateful for our company for providing an amazing incentive to motivate me to make a huge leap forward in regaining and maintaining strength and mobility.  I am excited to be in the company of real “mountain climbers”!

If I can inspire someone or challenge someone to make changes for better health, I would consider that a blessing.  

For more information about the “ Whole Body Challenge” and the training and incentives — check out

19. At the End of His Day

19.  At the End of His Day

 “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.  The wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16 KJ)

Daddy lived for 92 years in an amazing time in history.  Born in the 19th century, his life spanned from the first flight of the Wright brothers airplane, to seeing live on TV,  the first man step on the moon.  In his youth, his family traveled by horse and buggy, and he eventually drove home in a Buick LeSabre.

Daddy was an amazing man.  He was gentle, honest, kind to everyone, he trusted people because he was trustworthy.  A few times he was taken advantage of.  I never heard him raise his voice.  Daddy was generous to everyone.  He did tax returns for neighbors, mostly free of charge. 

He volunteered for the Michigan National Guard, and was deployed as a medic to Germany in WWI. Wounded and decorated with a Purple Heart medal, I’d call Daddy a hero.  He rarely spoke of wartime experiences.

Daddy was faithful to go to church and Sunday school; we were the Sunday school orchestra, with Daddy playing his violin, Mom on the piano, Jan played sax, and I my trumpet.

Daddy was indeed a “flower” who flourished in his day.  Now he is gone, and I wanted to be sure that he would be remembered.   I promised my sister Jan that I would write, “Memories of Daddy.”  I regret that it took so long, and that I can’t send her a copy.  I hope she can read it from where she is, and know that our memories of Daddy has been written as promised, to be passed on to future generations.

Robert Z. Hicks, 2020

18. The Ultimate Tiger Fan


Daddy and his brother Steve loved baseball.  After high school, they played for the Ionia team.  Steve was the pitcher, Daddy was the catcher.  When Daddy and I played catch in the driveway, I used his big catcher’s mitt and mask.

Daddy took me to see a Detroit Tigers game when I was little.  I only remember that Rudy York was the player Daddy pointed out.  Before we got TV, he always listened to the games on the radio.  He sat on the settle with his eyes closed, apparently asleep, but never missed a play.  Mom used to say she hoped the Tigers were not playing the day of her funeral. 

As a surprise, Mom sent a post card to Ernie Harwell, the legendary Tiger announcer of the day, that Bob Hicks, a fan in Ionia, was celebrating his 80th birthday by listening to the game.  Ernie read it on the air, July 8th, and we all yelled “Surprise!”

17. Daddy the Game Player

17.  Daddy the Game Player

Daddy taught me to play checkers when I was young.  He always beat me.  I found a book in my mail order catalogs, “How to Win at Checkers,” which explained the perfect game. When I started beating him, Daddy quit, and we moved on to chess.  When I started beating him at chess, we moved on to cribbage.  Daddy always won at card games, but I enjoyed playing with him.  We played our last game of cribbage when he was 90, the last time I saw him.

The family game was “Pedro”, which was a game something like Bridge, where the players bid based on their perceived ability to take “tricks”.  Daddy usually paired with Mom, and I with my sister Jan.  Daddy was the best player and most aggressive bidder, Mom was the most timid, and Jan and I were cautious, but could hold our own after I got into my teens.

Pedro was also the game used at the local Grange Hall for card parties.  After I was old enough, we used to go to compete.  Daddy was a frequent winner.  Daddy was the game player.

16. The Red Tomato Caper

16.  The Red Tomato Caper

What am I doing crawling on my hands and knees in the dirt in the middle of the night?  I was following Daddy, with Mom behind me as we snuck into our neighbors garden sometime after midnight.  I hoped their dog didn’t discover us – he was a big dog and I knew he slept outdoors.

Early in the spring, Daddy and I had visited the Yonans who had the apple orchard just south of us.  Narsai Yonan always had a big garden, and Daddy wanted to see what he had planted early.  Narsai was showing us his tomato plants which were growing nicely.  “I’ll have a ripe tomato by the Fourth of July,” he announced proudly.

Daddy countered, “Really?  I’ll bet you five dollars you don’t have one ripe by the 4th.”  Narsai accepted the bet.

So here we were, crawling in Yonan’s garden the night of July 3rd, looking for a tomato!  There were lots of big green tomatoes, and none were ripe, which was exactly what Daddy wanted.  While I held the flashlight, Mom painted a big green tomato a bright red with her nail polish.  Mission accomplished – we went home.

The next day we went down and called on Narsai.  Daddy said, “we came to see who won the tomato bet.”  There were no ripe tomatoes in the garden south of the house.  Finally, Narsai led us to the place where he spotted the red tomato, and picked it.  Daddy, with a straight face declared, “Well Narse, it looks like you win the bet,  and handed him five dollars.”  Narsai looked a little bewildered, but played along with the joke and took the money.  We went home, laughing all the way.

Daddy was a fun loving guy, and always came up with good things to laugh about.

A Cutie Christmas Story

 A Christmas Cutie

There are lots of programs and ways each year to celebrate the birthday of our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth. Is your church doing a Christmas Eve service?  I remember going to a church program that had the choir singing, and a narration of the Christmas story.

One of our friends called to tell us about her family going to church for a program featuring a live nativity scene. When the scene ended, her granddaughter looked up and asked, “Grandma, where is the mouse?”

Of course, she had read my book, “Mouse in the Manger”, so we had a big smile over her innocent question.  We are delighted that children are reading and remembering Micah the mouse who was present at the birth of Jesus.  Hopefully, they will also remember who He is, as savior of the world.

Just in case you don’t know where the mouse is, link over to and take a look. The story of the birth of Christ is not just for Christmas, but all year long. In fact, it is a good baby shower gift for all life long.

Enjoy Christmas, and have a wonderful, blessed New Year!


15. Daddy the Joker

15.   Daddy the Joker

One of my mail order purchases required a $10.00 money order, so I went to the bank and bought it.  The clerk who helped me was a lady I knew from church, so we were chatting about the choir, and other things when she printed out the money order.

At home, as I prepared an envelope to send for the mail order, I noticed the money order didn’t look quite right – too many zeros. So, I called out to Mom and Daddy, asking if they always put so many zeros on money orders.  It read, $1,000,000.00.

Oops, the lady at the bank had misplaced the decimal point! 

I said, “Wow, we better take this back to the bank and get a correct one.  Daddy said, “No, let me have it, I want to have some fun first.”  That night, Daddy reported going into the diner he frequented and ordering a cup of coffee.  Then he asked the owner if he could cash a money order for him. “Sure,” the man said.  He took the money order check and headed for the cash register, suddenly stopped and came back to Daddy.  “Hey Bob, this is for a million dollars!”  Daddy was laughing, and quipped, “You don’t have that much in your cash register?”  He explained the mistake I am sure.

Next, Daddy took the money order to the post office and asked for a roll of stamps. The clerk was the husband of the lady at the bank who gave me the million dollar money order.  When Daddy explained where the money order came from, he was just a little concerned that his wife would get in trouble.  I’m sure Daddy reassured him we would not make a fuss.

Finally, Daddy took the money order back to the lady at the bank, who was aghast at her mistake, and relieved to make the exchange.  Enough fun for one day, Daddy brought me the $10.00 money order so I could finish my purchase order.